Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Storybook Trio

Little Brother as a fearsome dragon, Little Sister as a beautiful princess, and Big Brother as a noble (albeit rather goofy) knight.

Monday, October 29, 2007

One of Those Days

Suffice it to say, our young heroine enjoyed a interesting day ...
  • Flaky toaster + smoke detector + mom out of the room = mild heart attack
  • Stinky diaper + artistic toddler + extra-long "nap" = a big mess

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Menu Plan Monday
October 29, 2007

This week is shaping up to be more busy than usual for our family as we have two big evening events. Of course, on Wednesday it is Halloween. We're planning to attend the annual costume carnival at our church. On Thursday we will celebrate our middle son's third birthday. What a big boy!

Hop on over to Org Junkie's new site for more great meal planning ideas. Be sure to check out the Menu Plan Monday Mr. Linky.

Here is my menu plan for the upcoming week:

Monday: No cooking! (Supper at my parents')
Tuesday: Leftovers from the weekend.
Wednesday: Beef taco skillet, brown beans, corn and green salad.
Thursday: Spaghetti pie, cheese toast, green salad and birthday cupcakes!
Friday: Leftovers.
Saturday: Chicken and rice soup (from our freezer), homemade bread.
Sunday: No cooking! (Supper at Ben's parents')

Beef Taco Skillet
(A Campbell's soup recipe)

1 lb. lean ground beef
1 can tomato soup
1/2 C. salsa
1/2 C. water
6 flour tortillas cut into 1" pieces
1/2 C. shredded cheddar cheese

1. Cook beef in 10" skillet until well browned, stirring to break up meat. Pour off fat.
2. Stir in soup, salsa, water, tortilla. Heat to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook for 5 min. Stir. Top with cheese. Makes 4 servings.

Creamy Mexican Fiesta: Stir in 1/2 C. sour cream with soup.

Ranchero Style: Use corn tortillas instead of flour tortillas and shredded Mexican cheese blend instead of cheddar.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

It's Got Teeth Like ...

My almost-five-year-old son likes to experiment with words. That child's vocabulary puts me to shame sometimes. Today he casually made the following statement about our pet hamster:

"You know Hazelnut? Well, she's very malicious ... If you put your finger in her cage she'll bite it right off!"

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The View From My Back Window

This is what we woke up to this morning ...

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Only in Calgary

Today the weather was unseasonably warm. It must have been at least 20 degrees C. I saw several people wearing shorts. In October.

I just looked outside.

It's snowing.

Quiet Evening

Our kids have been very tired these past few nights. This evening they were all asleep by seven thirty. I must admit, I really like the nights our children go to bed early. I can have two or three hours all to myself, to plug away at the little projects I have on the go.

Tonight I have been sewing the quilted wall hanging for our kitchen. It's getting close to completion! The top is pieced together and I just finished pinning and trimming the "sandwich". I believe I will work on the quilting part a bit tonight, and hopefully finish it up tomorrow. The finished quilt will measure roughly 48" by 24". It's the perfect dimensions to hang behind the long side of our kitchen table.

I'm uncommonly pleased with how this project is turning out. I've been working without a pattern, and was unsure how everything would look. All of the materials for the quilt have come from my (teeny-tiny) fabric stash. The only thing I purchased were the fabric markers! I laughed this evening because I (barely) had enough cotton batting in my stash to construct the sandwich. It's a good thing the batting doesn't show --- I had to piece it all together like a mismatched jigsaw puzzle.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Book Review:

No Sheep For You
by Amy R. Singer

I am a knitting newbie. I picked up some needles for the first time (in a long, long time) about a year ago and started making an afghan. (I have since learned a valuable lesson --- start with a small project.) My afghan is about 1/5 done. At that rate, I figure I have about four more years of work ahead of me.

I'm not exactly a gifted knitter, but someday I'd like to be. I love browsing through magazines and books about knitting and crochet. My collection of "some day" patterns is ever growing larger. Fiber arts are enjoying a renaissance in the world of crafts, and hip new books on the topic seem to come out every day.

No Sheep For You is a fun, informative book. The pages are brimming with fiber art eye candy. (You have to love the cheeky cover photo.) I will admit, some of the information (and all of the project patterns) were over my newbie knitter head. I gleaned as much as I could and simply drooled over the luscious photographs.

Amy Singer's writing style is witty and unpretentious. She explains complex manufacturing processes in simple terms, in ways even a fiber newbie can understand. Amy is well-known within the knitting community as the founder of (Hooray for Canadians!) She's an expert in her field, and it shows. No Sheep For You is filled with helpful information and gorgeous projects.

I greatly enjoyed browsing through the pages of this book, and highly recommend it to other knitting aficionados.

Hello in There!

Today I had my second appointment with the midwife. We heard the baby's heartbeat for the first time :-).

Monday, October 22, 2007

Letting Go --- Getting Organized

Today I started a new project. It's something I can work on a few minutes at a time, whenever I get a spare moment or two. Basically, I am making two super-organized binders --- one for my recipes and another for interesting craft projects.

I have piles of Canadian Living and Martha Stewart magazines gathering dust on my bookshelf. Yesterday a friend also blessed me with a delicious stack of Everyday Food. I've dog-eared many of the magazine pages, but the truth is, I rarely look at them (or remember what's on the pages I was interested in). Therefore, I've finally decided to defile my sacred magazines and (gasp) tear out the pages I like. I'll recycle or give away the old magazines and gain valuable new shelf space!

Somewhere around here I have a big box of plastic page protectors. (I just have to find it!) I also have another box of old, but still good, binders. I found a stack of binder tabs in my office supplies drawer. I plan to protect and categorize every recipe and craft page I've saved. Hopefully, I'll end up with a couple of terrific, functional new home-management binders.

Some of the categories I plan to use for the crafts binder:
paper crafts
crafts for kids

Some of the categories I plan to use for the recipes binder:
main dishes (I will likely break this down further: chicken, beef, fish, casseroles, etc.)

I'm sure the categories I require will become self-evident as I sort through my mess of recipes. I love doing this kind of stuff. Here's to some happy organizing!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Thought for the Day

Baking Christmas cookies during the hungry stage of pregnancy is a dangerous proposition.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Room to Breathe

Yesterday I started working on a quilted wall hanging for our dining area. (Or rather, corner of the kitchen). I've had the idea bubbling in my brain for several weeks. I had each of the children draw on a square of fabric with permanent pens. The three large squares are surrounded by a grid of small patchwork squares and then bordered by wide strips. (I will post pictures as the project progresses.) In all, the wall hanging will measure around 4o" wide by 18" tall.

This afternoon I was able to piece together most of the top. (I only have the borders left to finish.) The little ones took long afternoon naps. Ordinarily, I would take a nap as well, but my eldest son was home from school and Ben was at his office. My big boy contentedly played Lego on the floor of my bedroom while I sewed ... for nearly two hours.

It was a delightful afternoon.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


Today was one of those rare days ... a day where there were enough hours to get everything done. I crossed many items off my "to do" list. (Well, except for cleaning the bathroom, but that's what tomorrow is for!)

I'm sure my productivity was greatly enhanced by the fact that my mom took the boys to the playground this morning. Thank you, Mom! It's amazing how much can get done in an hour of uninterrupted work.

So here's to a (very nearly) clean house, a freezer full of meals, and an unhurried weekend stretching before me.

That stack of new library books is sure lookin' good ...

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Recommended Reading:

Safely Home
by Randy Alcorn

Some books change your perspective on life. They challenge your faith and strengthen your love for God. My friend recommended Safely Home to me with the following disclaimer: read this book, but know that you will never see life in the same way again. My friend's statement was true. Safely Home has altered my view of Christianity, the persecuted church, and my eternal destination.

Though this book is a work of fiction, it is based on Biblical and cultural research. Most of the story takes place in China and follows the journeys of two men. Ben Fielding is an American businessman, obsessed with his pursuit of the almighty dollar, seemingly successful in every area of life. Li Quan is a poor, working class, Chinese citizen. His family belongs to a persecuted Chinese house church. Ben and Quan met as university students and became close friends through their college years. Most of Safely Home occurs in China, where Ben stays with Li Quan's family in a small rural village.

Randy Alcorn's novel is unique because it describes heaven, and God's perspective of His persecuted church, in startling detail. I am currently reading Alcorn's non-fiction work, Heaven. It is an extensive study of our eternal home based on solid Biblical research. I believe Heaven is a good companion read to Safely Home, and heartily recommend both books. Truly, these books have changed my perspective of eternity. I am no longer afraid of death, and am, in fact, looking forward to the day I will walk with Jesus through the streets of my eternal home.

The subject matter of Safely Home is, at times, difficult to wade through. Alcorn does not shy away from controversial topics. Some scenes vividly describe persecution, torture, slavery, and even death. I believe Christians in North America often live in a bubble of isolation. We are not exposed to great suffering or persecution for our faith. However, the persecuted church is real, and martyrdom is a daily reality for Christians in many parts of the world.

Therefore, I highly recommend Safely Home with the following disclaimer: read this book, but know you will never see life in the same way again.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Clever Girl

Our little girl is so lovable and mild mannered. She almost always wakes up in a good mood, talking and singing in her crib. Our Pumpkin Pie turned 16 months old a few days ago. She can say many words but most of her babbling is sweetly incoherent.

Yesterday I opened our daughter's bedroom door. She was sitting up, smiling in her crib. "Hi baby," I cooed as I turned on the lamp. I opened her dresser drawer. "What would you like to wear today?"

I wasn't really expecting an answer to my question. Imagine my surprise when Baby Girl replied, "How 'bout a shirt?" clear as day. A complete sentence!

"Did I just hear what I think I heard?" my husband called from the other room.

What a clever girl! Maybe our Pumpkin Pie's babbling is not all gibberish after all. Of course, we'd like to claim our daughter is a genius. (But the truth is, she has two older brothers to keep up with. Our Baby Girl has to compete somehow!)

Monday, October 15, 2007

The List (Part 2)

Here are some gift ideas for Ben and me ...

For us both:
  • A bench to match our kitchen table. We've seen a couple styles we like at Ikea. We are looking for a bench with a back but no arms, in a finish that matches our existing furniture.
  • A few large bulletin boards for the basement playroom. We would like to set up an "art gallery" for the kids' artwork.
  • A date night. We would definitely enjoy a night out without the kids. Ben and I always like to receive movie vouchers and restaurant gift certificates. (A night in a hotel would be awesome!)
  • The new Paul Brandt CD, Risk.
  • Classic board games.
For Ben:
  • A hand-held multimeter.
  • A set of small plastic drawers for organizing tiny electronic doodads.
  • A new pair of slippers. (Ben is fairly picky about his slippers.) Ben would like plain, unlined, quality leather slippers with rubber soles.
  • Dress shirts. Blue and white shirts match well with his charcoal gray suit. Ben's collar size is 16 1/2.
  • A gift certificate for a new suit.
  • Socks. The perennial Christmas favourite!
For Lindsay:
  • A family-sized waffle iron.
  • A new skillet.
  • Casserole / serving dishes (like Corning Ware or Pyrex).
  • Wooden mixing spoons.
  • A mini loaf tin and/or a mini muffin tin.
  • A large, clear plastic quilting ruler.
  • Card making supplies. (Things like cardstock, fancy papers, stamps, inks, pens.)
  • The newest Pride and Prejudice movie on DVD.
  • A gift certificate to Thyme Maternity.
  • Martha Stewart's Homekeeping Handbook. (I have seen this book in the discount aisle at Superstore.)
I hope we've furnished you with some helpful ideas, our family :-). Thanks for your generous gifts!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The List

I have received several requests for our family's Christmas "wish list". Apparently, some people get their Christmas shopping done before the 24th of December ;-). Here are a few ideas for our kids' gifts. Tomorrow I'll post a list for Ben and myself.

I would like to send a great, big thank you to all our family. You are much too generous; our family is abundantly blessed.

(I will update this post as I think of things.)
  • Ben and I prefer "gifts of time" over stuff. We would love for our family members to take the kids on special outings. Some suggestions might include: swimming lessons, a special date, tickets to a child-friendly show, a special sleepover, a meal at a restaurant.
  • We also favour "fun family experience" gifts. Some examples might include: zoo passes (ours expired in July), science centre passes, hamster land passes (Let's Play), restaurant gift certificates.
  • We plan to buy our children a kitchen centre for Christmas. Toy dishes or pretend food would make good gifts. I especially like the Melissa and Doug line of toy food because their products are high-quality and durable. I have seen these toys at Scholar's Choice.

  • Some DVDs our kids might enjoy: Ratatouille, Veggie Tales --- The Wonderful Wizard of Ha's, Veggie Tales --- Moe and the Big Exit. (Update: We now have Little Joe and Moe and the Big Exit.)

  • Clothes are always welcome gifts. Our kids' sizes: Big Brother is size 6, Little Brother is size 4, Little Sister is size 18-24 months. Our children could use new pajamas.

  • Our family loves books. Some favourites include: anything by John Lithgow, anything by Robert Munsch, the I Spy books, the Can You See What I See books. There are many good children's books out there. (Update: I bought the children an I Spy gift set and the Christmas version of Can You See What I See.)

  • Craft supplies make great gifts. We are especially low on paper, glue and tape. The boys love glitter glue.
  • The boys might like ice skates or plastic sleds (crazy carpets or disks, easy to store in our tiny garage). The kids could use new mitts and hats, especially Little Sister. Big Brother's coat is blue and black, Little Brother's coat is orange, Little Sister's coat is purple.
  • The boys may enjoy a magazine subscription. Two good choices are Clubhouse Jr. (from Focus on the Family) and Chirp magazine (Owl's little brother).
  • Basic Lego building sets --- the ones with the classic blocks --- would be a hit with our boys.
  • Little Sister loves dollies. I favour soft, well-made, fabric dolls without plastic parts.
We would prefer not to receive toys that require batteries. Our house is chaotic enough as is!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

A Mystery

Apparently, baby brain has set in with a vengeance. This evening I lost our supper.

Earlier this afternoon I ran downstairs to retrieve a casserole from the freezer. I thought I set the casserole on the kitchen counter to thaw. At five o'clock I went to put our supper in the microwave. But where was the casserole? It had vanished into thin air.

These days I often function on autopilot, but until this evening I had never misplaced an entire meal. I searched the house high and low.

"Did you look inside the microwave?" my helpful husband suggested, "How about the fridge? Did you put it in the dishwasher?"

After several minutes of furious searching, I finally found the long lost casserole ...

On top of the washing machine.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Two Tiny Bright Spots in an Otherwise Ordinary Thursday
  • I stopped in at Superstore to pick up a few groceries this morning. The store had several bags of dinner rolls for sale on the discount rack. (Surplus from the Thanksgiving weekend?) I bought three bags of 24 rolls for only $1.19 each. They made some tasty little sandwiches, and the excess will fill my freezer.
  • My four-year-old son loves to be the first student through the classroom door each day. His teacher stands in the doorway to greet the children as they enter. This afternoon she was wearing a new dress, and my son immediately took notice. "I love your dress!" he said as he ran past. The teacher's surprised grin made my day.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


If you like to cook (or if you just like to drool over pictures of food) check out Tammy's Recipes. This blog site is a terrific resource for busy moms. Tammy's site includes many posts related to homemaking and frugal living as well.

I especially enjoyed the recipe for Orange Vanilla Dream Cheesecake. I know what I'll be taking to our next potluck ...

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Captain Hook Drives a Jeep

"You know, honey, I'm desperate to pee. Think we could pull in for a pit stop?"

Thud. Crunch.

"Uh oh."


This weekend we drove out to Saskatchewan to spend Thanksgiving with my family. The trip takes about seven hours by car. Unfortunately, our return voyage took slightly longer than we had intended. In Medicine Hat our van was graciously rear-ended by Captain Hook.


Ben flipped on the hazard lights. I checked to see if the kids were okay. We both got out to survey the damages.

"Well @#$%," swore Captain Hook, "I just don't know what happened."

The front fender of his new Jeep Liberty rested snugly against our van's back bumper.

I rubbed my eyes. "Why don't we all pull over into that hotel parking lot over there," I suggested.

We returned to our respective vehicles. Ben put the van into drive. He stepped on the gas. The wheels spun and our van didn't budge.

"Umm. I think we are stuck." It was a statement of the obvious.

As luck would have it, the Jeep boasted two nasty tow hooks. One of the hooks had pierced the metal bumper of our van. We were stuck fast. Like a fish on a line. No amount of pulling could separate our vehicles.

"You know, I think we had better call the police," I said.

Captain Hook's wife pulled out her cell phone. A few minutes later our kids were enthralled by blue and red flashing lights. Two friendly officers surveyed the scene.

We filled out paperwork.

The kids munched pretzels and played with stuffed animals.

"Looks like you are really stuck," one of the officers observed. He shuffled his boot through the gravel.

I smiled politely. "Aren't you supposed to help us get un-stuck?!" I asked internally.

I cleared my throat. "Do you think we should call a tow truck?" I suggested, "Maybe he could get us apart."

The officer pulled out his radio. A few minutes later the tow truck arrived. The kids gleefully took in the show.

"Gee," commented the tow truck driver, "Looks like you are really stuck."

I silently groaned, "Yes. But it's your job to get us un-stuck."

I really needed to pee.

"I suppose I could hook up your van and pull you apart," the driver suggested.

Not a great plan. The frame of our van could be torn to pieces.

"Look," said Captain Hook, "I've called my buddy. He's going to bring me some tools, and I'll try to unbolt the hook from the frame of my Jeep."

A much better plan.

After a few more minutes, Buddy arrived. Captain Hook lay on the ground under our van's rear bumper. Mild grunting and cussing drifted up from under the vehicle.

The tow truck driver fidgeted. He fetched tools.

The police officers filled out their paperwork. Slooooowly.

I gave up, abandoned the scene, and dashed to the hotel washroom.

Finally, after nearly an hour of effort, the stubborn bolts came loose. The hook pulled free. The kids cheered from their car seats and I breathed a long sigh of relief.

We shook hands with Captain Hook and his wife. "Happy Thanksgiving!" I wryly declared.

The police officer pulled us aside. "By law, you must now replace all three of your children's car seats. I would suggest you do that today. You will need to destroy the old seats. Your insurance will cover the cost." We blanched at the prospect.

"Well. Umm, good thing the accident happened across the street from the mall." I smiled weakly.


We finally arrived home three hours later than planned, well past the kids' bed time. Our van now sports a stylish new dent, a puncture wound, and a "damaged vehicle" sticker courtesy of the Medicine Hat Police Service.

I spent most of this morning dealing with the insurance company. I also received a friendly phone call from Captain Hook.

My week has suddenly become a lot more complicated.

However, I am thankful. Thankful no one was hurt in the accident. Thankful the damage appears to be superficial. Thankful the weather was pleasant yesterday. Thankful our kids were extraordinarily good. Thankful the mall was open so we could buy new car seats.

We just didn't expect to meet a pirate on our way home from Thanksgiving dinner.


Thursday, October 04, 2007

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!

Our family is off to Saskatchewan tomorrow morning. We'll be celebrating a good, old-fashioned Thanksgiving with my extended family. I'm looking forward to catching up with my relatives and eating vast quantities of turkey with all the trimmings.

Happy Thanksgiving to my Canadian friends! Safe travels!

Book Review:

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

I have struggled with shyness for most of my adult life. Large, noisy parties tie my tongue in knots, and I would rather visit the dentist than pick up a telephone. I especially dislike small talk and have trouble initiating conversation with strangers.

Though God has created me to be quiet and introverted by nature, I cannot let shyness keep me from being a godly, grace-full woman. I'll never be bubbly or exceptionally outgoing, but I have made a resolution to become more friendly and open. I cannot hide myself away in fear.

My friend recommended I read Leil Lowndes' How to Talk to Anyone. This book offers 92 bite-sized communication tips and tricks. The chapters are short and filled with funny anecdotes and scenarios. How to Talk to Anyone is a quick, often entertaining read.

I gleaned a few helpful suggestions from this book, especially from the section entitled "How to Direct Dial Their Hearts" (tips for talking on the phone). Unfortunately, I found most of Leil Lowndes' communication tricks to be artificial and contrived. Many of the suggestions were downright manipulative. As I read her book I often thought, "I don't think I would like to meet this author in real life. I'd be scared she'd try and pull a fast one on me!"

How to Talk to Anyone has armed me with a few new communication tools. However, I prefer to take a more genuine, heartfelt approach. I don't simply want to appear to be interested in the lives of others. I would rather actually become more focused on other people's lives and needs. It's a hard road! We humans are a selfish lot, but I'm praying God will help me take my eyes off myself and my own social fears.

Are you interested in reading other bloggers' book reviews? Check out the Fall Into Reading 2007 Mr. Linky hosted by Callipidder Days.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Homemaking During Difficult Seasons

I am thankful to be feeling much, much better this week. The nausea is finally moving on. I feel almost normal again! Unfortunately, our entire family was felled by colds a few days ago, but we are now on the mend.

This article
from the Biblical Womanhood site beautifully expresses my own philosophy regarding homemaking during difficult seasons. I wish I had read it a few weeks ago!
Easy Ravioli Bake

I made this dish for the first time tonight. This recipe is great because it's a "no brainer" (I can prepare supper while half-asleep and chasing after three tiny whirlwinds). Everyone in our family loved the casserole, and I doubled the recipe so we have enough for leftovers tomorrow.

Well ... I have to be perfectly honest. My four-year-old was not thrilled by the ravioli. He negotiated a deal to eat a second helping of broccoli rather than finish his casserole. Go figure.

Special thanks to Laura at Org Junkie for this recipe. It is originally from the Kraft Canada website.

2 tsp. Italian dressing
1 medium red pepper, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 can (19 fl oz/540 mL) pasta sauce
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper (optional)
1 pkg. (350 g) ravioli, cooked, drained
1/2 cup KRAFT Part Skim Mozzarella Shredded Cheese

Preheat oven to 350°F. Heat dressing in large skillet on medium heat; add peppers and onions. Cook and stir 2 min. or until vegetables are crisp-tender. Stir in pasta sauce and crushed red pepper.

Spread 1/2 cup of the sauce mixture onto bottom of shallow 11x7-inch baking dish.

Cover with layers of half each of the ravioli, remaining sauce mixture and cheese. Repeat layers. Cover with foil. Bake 25 min. or until heated through. Serves 4.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Ladies Man

Yesterday afternoon I ushered my son through his classroom door. Another mom gently pulled me aside in the hallway.

"I have to tell you ... my daughter could not stop talking about your son all weekend."

My eyebrows shot up. "Oh?" I asked, hoping my son was not about to get in trouble.

"Absolutely," the other mother giggled, "She says your son is her boyfriend."


"Oh, really..." I smiled.

"Yep. She told me your son helped her make supper in the play kitchen on Friday afternoon ... and that she gave him a kiss on the cheek."

This was definitely news to me.

"She says she sits beside your son all the time."

Oh my.

"She sang his name all weekend long, and couldn't wait to come see him at school on Monday."


"Didn't your son mention any of this to you?" the poor girl's mom asked.

I looked down at my shoes. "Well, no. Not really," I sheepishly replied.

For goodness sake! The boy's only four years old!

As I drove the kids home at the end of the school day, I gently asked my son about his new "girlfriend". He gave me a blank look and asked if he could have a peanut butter sandwich at snack time.

Good. Just the answer I was hoping for. I want to hang on to my little boy for a while longer yet.

Monday, October 01, 2007


I suppose the phrase "MaryJane-inspired" could be interpreted a couple of different ways ...