Sunday, September 30, 2007

Recommended Reading:

MaryJane Butters is a fascinating woman. If you are interested in cooking, crafts, organics or country life, you will greatly enjoy her books. She writes with practical wisdom and creative flair. MaryJane's books are also filled with beautiful photographs.

I like the country-crafty aesthetic, and gleaned several ideas from MaryJane's books. (My family and friends may receive a few MaryJane-inspired gifts this Christmas!) I find MaryJane Butters appealing because she an approachable, "country" equivalent of Martha Stewart. Less pretension, more old-fashioned fun.

MaryJane also has a comprehensive website. Her online store is worth a visit, as are her "farmgirl" web forums. Check out her line of organic foods and cute "farmgirl" crafts.

Fun. Friendly. Frugal. MaryJane's farm is worth a visit!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Breakfast Time

Last night our three kids slept over at my parents' house. This morning my son happily reported that he ate some "really yummy flatjacks" for breakfast.

Thursday, September 27, 2007


I was caught up in a frenzy of productivity. The bathrooms sparkled, the furniture gleamed, the carpets upstairs were spotless. I wiped my brow and admired the fruit of my labour.

I heard my eldest son wander up the stairs. "Hi Buddy," I called out to him.

"Hi Mommy," he said as he entered the room. My son handed me a full bottle of water. Thinking he wanted help opening the bottle, I loosened the cap and handed it back to him.

"No, Mommy," my son corrected, "I brought this water for you."

My heart melted at his thoughtfulness. "Thanks, sweetie!" I greedily guzzled most of the cool water, believing it to be fresh from the fridge. I passed the bottle back to my son.

"I'm glad you like it!" he said, "I went into the garage and found a dirty old bottle in the recycling bin. I filled it up with water from the bathroom just for you!"

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Digital Nasal Evacuation

Special thanks to the intrepid travelers, my sister Lori and her husband Matt, for the following article.


Article from The Eye Magazine (A serious local magazine):

"Driving in Uganda can definitely be described as a hazardous sport and a source of stress for many visitors. This can be made a little easier for The Eye readers by being aware of the local laws.

As in many countries, Uganda has attempted to reduce road deaths by passing laws that make the wearing of seat belts compulsory and banning the use of mobile phones while driving. Following the success of these two laws, some pressure groups are considering putting a motion before parliament making it illegal to pick your nose while driving.

The motion is due to be debated immediately after Easter. A representative from Mpicki district who spoke to The Eye said, "Definitely this law needs to be passed. The Movement Government is determined to reduce road deaths from all causes and any activity that interferes with concentration is a cause of accidents. We are a caring government and also courageous. We will face this problem head on".

A senior official in the ministry of health, Mr. Francis Onasalwa said, "Digital nasal evacuation, to give it its proper medical term, is an important part of respiratory hygiene. However it can be dangerous while driving, especially if trying to change gear at the same time. If the urge is overwhelming we would advise drivers to pull over or get a passenger to help".

The Eye interviewed some well known Kampala drivers for their opinions. A famous musician Miss Julia "fingers" Downing said, "I can play keyboard and turn the pages at the same time, so why shouldn't I drive and pick my nose at the same time?" Dr. Pick Stockley also was unhappy with the new legislation: "I am too busy all day to pick my own nose, and it is hard to find good staff these days and my wife won't let me pick my nose when I get home. That 40 minutes in the car at the Jinja road roundabout every evening is one of the few pleasures left at my age, and now even that is going to have to go. I am disgusted". "

Matt and I had a real good laugh when we read this one.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Happy Birthday To You

The cupcakes are fresh from the oven.

Tomorrow is my sweetheart's 28th birthday. What a young, handsome, irresistible guy! Could I have married anyone better? My husband is the man of my dreams.

Happy Birthday, Ben!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Welcome Fall!

A blustery day. A warm quilt. A hot cup of tea. A delicious book.

Few things in life are more wonderful.

I must confess, I am a hopeless bookworm. I read to learn, to grow, to relax and to escape. At times, books are my best friends and my closest companions.

Therefore, I am pleased and excited to participate in Callapidder Days' Fall Into Reading challenge. This will be the second reading challenge I have undertaken. Last spring I enjoyed reading, writing and sharing the world of books with bloggers across the globe. I am once again looking forward to connecting with my fellow bookworms!

If you would like to take a peek at other participants' book lists, please check out the Fall Into Reading Mr. Linky at Callapider Days. To date, more than one hundred readers have already registered. Better yet, choose a book list of your own and join in all the fun!

Without further ado, here is my proposed reading list:


by Randy Alcorn

How to Talk to Anyone: 92 Little Tricks For Big Success in Relationships
by Leil Lowndes

No Sheep for You: Knit Happy With Cotton, Silk, Linen, Hemp, Bamboo and Other Delights
by Amy R. Singer


Safely Home
by Randy Alcorn

On Every Side
by Karen Kingsbury

These High, Green Hills
by Jan Karon

Happy reading, everybody!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Baby, Baby

Our baby is nine weeks old today. (Actually, to be completely accurate, he/she is technically seven weeks old today. Every expectant mother is considered to be two weeks pregnant on the day she conceives.) According to the babycenter website, our little one is roughly the size of a kidney bean and has webbed fingers and toes. Interestingly enough, our real baby is about the same size as my "baby in a bubble" on the side blog.

This week I visited the midwife for my first prenatal appointment. I will be seeing the same two midwives throughout my pregnancy. (The lady I saw this week was the midwife who delivered my daughter. It's so comforting to meet with someone I like and trust.) The baby and I are both healthy and doing well. The midwife even tried to find the baby's heartbeat with her doppler, but it was a bit too early to detect it. My uterus is measuring big for my dates. (The midwife thinks it feels more like 12-13 weeks.) However, I am not overly concerned as my uterus measured large throughout the first trimester of my last pregnancy as well. At least I have a reason for the little baby belly already poking through the front of my shirt. (Maybe my belly is not a result of all those yogurt drinks after all!)

The past couple of days I have been feeling slightly less nauseous. I think the nausea improved when I stopped taking my prenatal vitamins (on the advice of my midwife). Instead, I am taking one small folic acid supplement, an omega 3-6-9 capsule, and some alfalfa tablets. I'll try and go back on the prenatal vitamins in my second trimester. Here's to hoping the "green fog" days are nearing their end!

Friday, September 21, 2007

I Do Love My Kids ...

... but why does my two-year-old son insist on snuggling right beside me while he fills his diaper ... at the precise moment when I'm feeling most vulnerable to losing my breakfast ... and why is he so resistant to potty training???

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Busy Hands, Warm Heart

Early this morning I turned on the furnace for the first time since last winter. The nip of fall is certainly in the air.

Please take a moment to read Amanda Soule's lovely post about knitting through the cool days of autumn. Her writing and photos capture the spirit of the changing season beautifully. My 4 1/2-year-old son read the post with me, and he is now anxious to try knitting a scarf of his very own.

On a related note, I found this book on the Craftzine blog. I was sad to discover that it is not yet available at our local library. Christmas is coming, my family ... :-)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Who Ordered the Snow?

I'm fairly certain I saw white flakes falling from the sky this morning. Isn't it still officially summer for the next couple of days?

I like winter and all, but September is a bit too early for snow to make an appearance!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Recommended Reading:

The God I Love: A Lifetime of Walking With Jesus
Joni Eareckson Tada

I stumbled upon this book in our local library, and on a whim I brought it home. I was vaguely familiar with Joni Eareckson Tada's life story and ministry. I thought her memoirs might prove to be an interesting read.

To describe them as merely interesting is a gross understatement.

Joni is an amazing woman of faith and her life is a powerful testimony of God's love and faithfulness. Joni is also a gifted writer and an amazing storyteller. She vividly describes rich memories from her childhood, including a detailed account of her tragic diving accident at the age of seventeen.

Joni Eareckson Tada is a quadriplegic and has been confined to a wheelchair for her entire adult life. However, she has not allowed her significant disability to hinder her from serving God or other people. If anything, Joni credits her disability with forcing her to rely heavily on the Lord's provision each and every day. She simply could not function without the supernatural strength of God and the physical support of loving family and friends.

I am not unaware that God placed this book across my path this week --- a week when I have felt tired and inadequate. His timing is perfect and His love for me is sure. Joni's compelling story of suffering bolstered my own faith in God's perfect provision. God is surely chipping away at my perfectionistic and self-sufficient tendencies. This book helped me to grasp the Lord's unfailing love, even in the midst of difficult circumstances.

This book is deep and engaging read. I highly recommend it to Christians who wish to be challenged in their faith.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

My "Marvelous" School Kid

Tomorrow our big boy will start his third week of school. So far he loves his teacher, his classmates and all the activities. My son especially enjoys playing with one particular toy in his classroom. It involves a series of stackable towers and tubes, and several small, round marvels.

"They are called marvels," he insists every time. And nothing will change his mind on the matter!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Adventure in Africa

This week my sister and her husband left for Uganda. Lori and Matt will be away for the next four months teaching school in a small village called Lukojjo. Here is a snippet of the first impressions of their new home away from home:

We have a room attached to the girl's dormitory with a separate smaller room for the bucket shower. Rain water is collected in three big tanks at the school and we fill up two big jerry cans for washing every morning (it has been raining about half of the time). There is also a pit latrine just outside the room with several creepy crawlies to keep you company while you're squatting. I know it sounds basic, but we are actually really impressed with our accommodation as we were expecting far, far worse. I actually feel really guilty considering that the boy's dormitory is about the same size as our room and it will shelter 30+ kids (bunk beds stacked side by side) ...

...We will be teaching primary 5 and primary 6 English and science every morning (4 hours) and then also a one-hour physical education class every day. This is something brand new to the school (Matt's idea I'm sure you gathered) but they seemed really open to the idea. This will be quite challenging considering there are no balls, no sports equipment of any sort, no running shoes, no nice big flat field. But we'll manage I'm sure. As a muzungu girl, I'm also expected to hang out with the younger children, sing songs, teach them games, play with them, etc. which I'm looking forward to. We will also be participating in community outreach visits a couple times per week - not quite sure what this will entail, but probably some sort of HIV/AIDS awareness talk.

The culture shock hasn't really hit us yet. I'm not sure if it will. Being that we've been to Africa before, we weren't nearly as stunned by the poverty and filth as we were in Ghana. In fact, it was strangely comforting to be back in these conditions. Once you look beyond the garbage and poverty, you realize that the landscape is simply stunning. I guess the rains haven't stopped since May so it's very, very green and lush.

Our family will certainly miss Uncle Matt and Auntie Lori this fall. We're praying God will keep them healthy and safe.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Win a Free Book

If you would like a chance to win a free book, take a minute to fill out this survey from Bethany House Publishers. Bethany is looking for reader input in choosing cover art for an upcoming publication. Fun!
Why I Love My Husband ... Reason #147

Yesterday he came home from work early and surprised me with one dozen long-stemmed roses ... and two flats of Yop.

What's not to love?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Humbled and Amazed

The past few days have been difficult. I've been feeling sick and tired, and have had a hard time keeping up with everything. We've had stress, upheaval, sickness and sorrow running through our extended family as well.

However, God has been faithful. (I'm sorry if that sounds cliche, but it's true.) He's teaching me to let go of perfectionism. Every day this week He has gently chipped away at my crumbling facade of self-sufficiency. He is slowly teaching me to become more dependent on Him and on my wonderful family and friends.

This morning, within the span of approximately five minutes, I received two incredible, unexpected blessings. Last night I fell asleep early, feeling exhausted and overwhelmed. Little did I know that God had some wonderful surprises in store for me today! His blessings are new every morning!

So today I am grateful for the caring, beautiful, generous people God has placed in my life. I feel blessed beyond measure, and totally undeserving.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

I made this cake for my sister's (un)birthday party last weekend. This recipe is a delicious way to use up extra zucchini (and no one will ever guess the cake's secret ingredient).

I "glazed" the cake with chocolate icing. (To be honest, I baked the cake an hour before the party and iced it hot. The chocolate icing melted into a yummy glaze ... but it was completely intentional, right?)

1/4 C. butter
1/2 C. vegetable oil
1 3/4 C. sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 C. buttermilk or sour milk
2 1/2 C. flour
1/4 C. cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cloves
2 C. grated zucchini
1/4 C. chocolate chips

Cream together butter, oil, sugar, eggs, vanilla and buttermilk. Sift dry ingredients and add to creamed mixture. Mix in zucchini and chocolate chips. Bake in a greased and floured bundt pan or a 9"x13" greased pan at 325F for 45 minutes.

(From The Best of Bridge Series: The Best of the Best, p. 311)

Monday, September 10, 2007

Love is...

Our son studied us across the dinner table. "Mommy. Daddy. Did you know you guys have unconditional love?" he asked.

My husband raised his eyebrows. "Oh really," he said, "What exactly does it mean to have unconditional love?"

"Oh that's easy," replied our wise young son, "It means you love humans and not porcupines."

Sunday, September 09, 2007

The Green Fog

This has been a difficult week. I feel as though I have the energy level of a drunken sloth. Our new back-to-school routine combined with pregnancy nausea have simply knocked me flat. The kids have been going to bed at seven-thirty every night, and I have followed close behind.

How soon I forgot! Was I always so exhausted through these early weeks of pregnancy?

I am looking forward to Thanksgiving next month. I figure I'll be coming out of this fog around the first week of October. In the meantime, I am praying that God will help me keep my emotions, attitude and tongue in check. This difficult season is an opportunity to grow and stretch my character.

Or at least become intimately familiar with the floor of my bathroom ...

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The Looooooong Day

I am ready for bed. The children have been asleep since seven thirty. Today was an exceptionally long day for us all.

We woke up a bit earlier than normal. This morning I was scheduled to teach my first preschool music class at the YMCA. I fed the kids breakfast, loaded them into the van, drove to the Y, dropped two of the children off at the babysitting, took my toddler with me to class, and (almost) set up all my materials before the parents arrived.

The class went great. It was a parented class for two- and three-year-olds and had fifteen children registered. (A full house!) The little kids were all so cute. They loved "I'm Gonna Shake My Sillies Out" and "I Had a Little Turtle". I am genuinely looking forward to next week's class.

(As an added bonus --- I was so busy with the class I forgot to feel sick for an hour. I enjoyed the brief reprieve from my general pukiness.)

My original plan was to hang around the Y until it was time for my son to go to school. Unfortunately, I underestimated our time constraints. We had a lot of time to kill. We ate lunch, played at preschool gym, cleaned up after preschool gym, visited the bathroom a bazillion times, wandered all around the building, and visited the library. We finally left for school a half hour early (it is a five minute drive) and waited in the parking lot practically forever. Lesson learned: Next week we will go home for lunch after the music class!

Thankfully, the little ones and I enjoyed blissful (but brief) naps while my son was at school. My eldest son enjoyed eating two snacks in the afternoon. I told him that he was a lucky boy to receive a school snack and a home snack. I think he needed them both, though! He ate raisins, animal cookies, a peach, a nectarine and a plum. That child has a hollow leg!

(An unrelated aside --- Do you know what is really cool about having a school-aged child? Book order forms!)

All that to say, I am exceptionally tired and am ready for bed. Time to log off, shut down, and head on upstairs to sleep...

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

First Day of School

Our big boy went to Junior Kindergarten for the first time today. He took to school like a duck in a pond. All I got was a quick "Bye Mom!" at the door. He ran into his classroom and played hard the entire afternoon.

(I just wish he would have posed nicely for his obligatory "first day of school" photo. This is the best one I got!)

Monday, September 03, 2007

Menu Plan Monday
September 2, 2007

Happy Labour Day!

I have not been participating in Menu Plan Monday much lately, and I need to get back into the routine. The pregnancy nausea has been catching up with me these past few days. It helps to have a plan when cooking is the last thing on my mind! (I will also cut myself some slack over these next few weeks. My family will survive if they have to eat toast and soup for a few nights! I'm also grateful to my mom and mom-in-law for all the supper invitations.)

Here is my menu plan for the upcoming week:

Monday: No cooking! Supper at my parents'.
Tuesday: Homemade chicken soup (from the freezer), grilled cheese sandwiches, veggie sticks.
Wednesday: Pork chops in mushroom sauce, brown rice, peas, creamed corn.
Thursday: Leftovers.
Friday: (We are expecting guests.) Spaghetti with meat sauce, parmesan toast, caesar salad, berry crumble with ice cream.
Saturday: No cooking! Party at my parents'. (I will make a zucchini chocolate cake. Yum!)
Sunday: No cooking! Supper at Ben's parents'.

I also plan to bake a batch of pumpkin chocolate chip muffins. These are a family favourite:

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

4 eggs
2 C. white sugar or 2 1/2 C. brown sugar (I use about 1/2 as much)
1 C. oil
1 tbsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1, 14oz. can pumpkin
3 C. whole wheat flour
1, 300g. package chocolate chips (or 2 C. raisins)

Beat eggs. Add sugar, oil and pumpkin. Mix well. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until just combined. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 20-25 minutes. Yields 30 large muffins.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Don't Try This at Home

The recipe claimed to produce "The Best Oatmeal Ever".

The recipe lied.

Inspired by yesterday's trip to the Highland Games, I decided to serve my family oatmeal for breakfast. I found a recipe for tasty crock pot oatmeal. The instructions were simple: mix milk, oatmeal, sugar, apples, salt and cinnamon; turn the crock pot on low before going to bed; enjoy a hot, hearty breakfast in the morning.

I followed the instructions and turned on my crock pot at eleven.

In the wee hours of the morning I woke up to a delicious aroma. "Mmm," I sleepily mused, "That oatmeal is smelling good." I silently patted myself on the back for my immense culinary prowess and foresight.

At seven thirty the clock radio blared "God of Wonders" and rudely snapped me from my dreamland. I groaned as waves of nausea rolled over my body. What was that awful smell?!

I threw on my robe and staggered down the stairs, where my worst suspicions were confirmed. My sweet, bubbling oatmeal, my culinary masterpiece, my ode to efficient home economics, was reduced to a blackened mass of charcoal in the bottom of the crock pot. Delicious breakfast my eye.

I gagged and threw open all the windows. The crock pot was quickly banished to the patio, but the terrible aroma of burnt oatmeal stubbornly lingered throughout the house. (My family was forced to eat cheerios for breakfast instead.)

Burnt oatmeal and morning sickness is a combination I sincerely do not recommend.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Highland Games

Our family had great fun at the Calgary Highland Games this morning. The kids had a blast learning about their Scottish heritage. The day started out cold and rainy, but the sun made a brilliant appearance just after lunch. (And our family has the sunburns to prove it.) Highlights of the day included the sheep dog trials, the mock medieval sword play, the pipe bands and the highland dancers.

As we drove to the Games, my eldest son asked if our family was Scottish. (My husband is a full-blooded Scot. My own ancestry is mixed, and I don't have a drop of Scottish blood in my body.)

"Well, Buddy," I said to my son, "You are not all Scottish, but you are half Scottish."

"Which half, Mommy?"

I smiled to myself. "Which do you think is your Scottish half?"

My son thought for a moment and then replied, "I think my top half is the Scottish half ... and my bottom half is the cute half!"

The military pipe band marches in the opening ceremonies.

Daddy and his kiddies watch pipers practicing.