Friday, February 29, 2008

Welcome to (the) Amazon

Last week I officially became an Amazon Associate. What does that mean? If someone purchases a book (or other product) through one of the Amazon links on my site, I will receive a small commission on the sale.

Why have I chosen to become an Amazon Associate? I like to write book reviews and I love to read. I can easily include links to Amazon on my site. Though I don't expect to make much on commissions, I'm hoping to earn enough pocket change to satisfy my biblio-addiction now and then!

So if you feel like buying some books, simply link through the Amazon icon on my side blog. Alternately, you may click on any book image on my site. (I'm in the process of updating all the book reviews.)

Happy reading!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

A Change of Heart

So much for tender love notes...

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A Love Note

Our five-year-old was in a particularly affectionate mood today. This morning I discovered the following message spelled out on the fridge :-).

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Budding Artists

The children spent most of this morning drawing pictures. I love seeing the boys, especially, develop in their skill and ability. I'm amazed that their drawings of people and objects are actually recognizable! It is a very cool process to observe.

Here are some of the kids' best works of art:

Our three-year-old drew a red, ripe strawberry.

Our five-year-old's drawing blew me away. He spelled nearly all the words completely by himself. I especially like the frog wearing a dress and the dinosaur munching flowers.

This drawing depicts a dancing snowman!

Little Sister coloured (scribbled) some of her own drawings. I think she was more entertained by watching her crazy older brothers, though.

And here's a photo of man who helped produce such cute kids. Isn't he handsome?

Monday, February 25, 2008

Our Daily Routine

I am obviously pregnant these days, and I seem to have the same conversation with people everywhere I go. The interchange usually goes something like this:

"You're expecting! That's great. When is your baby due?"

"The baby's due at the end of April."

"Really? And is this your first?"

"Um, no. This baby will be our fourth child."

"Your fourth! My goodness, you must be busy! How do you keep up with it all?"

At this point in the conversation I will usually give a prepared answer such as:

"Well, we've been blessed with great kids."


"I think it is easier to have our children close in age because they all play together."


"I pray lots and take naps." (Sometimes both at the same time...)

While all of the above statements are true, I think one aspect of our family life is key. We stick to a daily routine. I strongly believe that young children thrive on routine. Kids feel secure when they know what to expect during the day. Our own children are very well behaved --- most of the time. Throw a monkey wrench in their routine, though, and they can get very cranky very quickly. (And so can Mommy, unfortunately!)

Our days flow pretty much the same way all week long. We don't stick to a rigid schedule, per se, but each day has a predictable routine. The only scheduled "anchor points" of our day are meal and sleep times.

Here's a sample of a typical day:

  • We all wake up at around 7:30 or 8:00am. (I would love to be a morning person, but I am just not. It's a shortcoming I am learning to accept...)
  • Get everyone dressed, with hair combed and teeth brushed. Make beds and tidy rooms. (The kids know this all has to be done before they can play downstairs.) I usually lay out the kids' clothes the night before. Our five-year-old is big enough to get himself completely ready in the morning.
  • We eat breakfast at about 9:00am each morning. I try to set out the dishes and non-perishables the night before.
  • After breakfast I always clean up the dishes, wipe the table, etc.
  • Our mornings are flexible. The kids play, do crafts, read books. Our daughter still sometimes needs a morning nap. We might go out and run some errands or invite friends over for a play date. I often start supper prep in the morning when I have the most energy. I also do some cleaning and laundry. (If I do a few chores every morning the work doesn't become overwhelming.)
  • I start making lunch at 12 noon. The kids are allowed to watch a video at lunch time. (This tradition started a couple of years ago in order to stave off the "midday grumpies"! It also gives me a few peaceful minutes to get lunch ready and/or cleaned up.)
  • We always clean up the toys and tidy the living room / kitchen area before we eat lunch.
  • Lunch finishes by 1:00pm. I clean up the kitchen and start the dishwasher if it's full. I get the kids' coats and boots on. We aim to be out the door and in the van by 1:15pm.
  • I drive our five-year-old to junior kindergarten. (On the weekdays.) His school starts at 1:30pm. I usually return home with the other two children by 1:45pm.
  • I put the little ones down for naps. I lie down in my own bed and read and/or sleep. This quiet time is sacred! I have a hard time functioning without it!
  • My alarm is set for 3:00pm. I haul myself out of bed, wake up the other two children and get everyone bundled into the van. (On non-school days the little ones will often sleep until 4:00pm.)
  • Our son is finished school at 3:30pm. We come home and have an afternoon snack. Some days I will squeeze in an errand on the way home. (It is easier to run short errands when I already have the kids bundled in the van anyway. For example, every Monday we go grocery shopping after school. On Mondays I bring a snack for the kids to eat in the van.)
  • We often have a bit of free time between snack time and supper time. The kids play. I'm usually pretty tired by this point of the day. If supper prep is minimal I will play downstairs with the kids.
  • I start making supper by 5:00pm. Making supper always seems to take longer than I think it will! Ben comes home by 6:00pm and I try to have supper on the table when he arrives.
  • Ben and I believe family meal times are extremely important. We eat supper together nearly every night. This is another sacred time of the day!
  • After supper I clean up the kitchen and do the dishes. Ben plays with the kids. (I like this arrangement because I can work much more quickly without the kids in my hair. And Ben hates doing the dishes.) We tidy up the toys in the living room / kitchen area. Our family often cleans the downstairs play room after supper as well.
  • Ben and I try to start the kids' bath time by 7:00pm. Our bedtime routine is pretty much set in stone. We have baths, brush teeth, put on jammies, do Bible time and pray. It's the same every night. The kids love this particular routine.
  • Our kids are often in bed by 7:30pm, and most certainly no later than 8:00pm (unless we are out for the evening).
  • Ben and I breathe a big sigh of relief!
  • This is our free time of the day. I usually work on my blog. We often read. I sometimes work on projects (sewing and crafts). I might go out for coffee with a friend. Ben and I talk. Ben often catches up on his work.
  • We head to bed at about 11:00pm.
I like our daily routine because it is predictable, but fairly flexible. Few things are set in stone. The routine is great for our kids and it keeps me sane!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Menu Plan Monday
February 25, 2008

I am pleased with how last week's menu turned out. All three recipes last week were new and they all tasted delicious. In particular, I will make the bean soup and the crock pot chicken recipes again soon.

Phew. I can certainly feel my body slowing down lately. I have been relying on simple meal plans and my crock pot a great deal. I am hoping to put a few soups and casseroles into the freezer over the next few weeks before the baby arrives. This week I plan to make a double batch of Thursday's meal and freeze the leftovers.

Here is my proposed menu plan:

Monday: No cooking! (supper with my parents)
Tuesday: Turkey soup (from the freezer), homemade whole wheat bread
Wednesday: Whole grain spaghetti with tomato sauce, salad greens
Thursday: Spanish rice with beans, salad greens
Friday: Leftover night
Saturday: Thyme chicken and roasted winter vegetables, brown sugar spice cake with vanilla frozen yogurt
Sunday: No cooking! (supper with Ben's parents)

If you would like to browse other great menu planning ideas, please visit Menu Plan Monday at Org Junkie.

Friday, February 22, 2008

A Little Life Lesson

Don't choose the line behind the Hummer at the car wash.

Unless you like to wait ;-).

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Recommended Reading:

Peace Like a River
by Leif Enger

"This is a stunning debut novel, one that sneaks up on you like a whisper and warms you like a quilt in a North Dakota winter, a novel about faith, miracles and family that is, ultimately, miraculous."
--- Publishers Weekly (starred review)

I have read few books that compare with Peace Like a River. Enger's writing is hauntingly poetic and conveys his insightful understanding of human nature. This novel was beautifully crafted and a joy to read.

Peace Like a River was more intense than most novels I enjoy. A few scenes were quite graphic and troubling. At the same time, hope, redemption and the miraculous were central themes of the story. I appreciated Enger's honest portrayal of people and events.

I highly recommend Peace Like a River. It was an engaging and rewarding read.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Bookish Crafty Goodness

I've read several great craft books over the past few weeks. I love the fact that the world of craft is enjoying a renaissance. It's cool to be crafty! Here's a brief review of my favourite reads:

by Sabrina Gschwandtner

I received this book for Christmas and it was one of my favourite gifts. Every artist's biography was utterly inspiring. I enjoyed the range of projects and people Sabrina Gschwandtner interviewed, and I also appreciated the fact the Gshwandtner included instructions for numerous projects. (However, I do not intend to knit a gigantic fibreglass teddy bear any time soon...)

Mr. Funky's Super Crochet Wonderful
by Narumi Ogawa

I could become slightly addicted to amigurumi (Japanese crocheted toys). They are cute, soft, easy-to-make and downright fun. I actually had to force myself to return this book to the library. I was scared that if I held onto it, I would start too many new projects!

Generation T: 108 ways to transform a T-Shirt
by Megan Nicolay

My husband leafed through this book and commented, "I can't really see you wearing anything in here." An honest enough statement. Most of the projects in Generation T are much too punk for my taste. However, this book gave me some great ideas for my own t-shirt modifications. I may not wear a "t-shirt bikini" any time soon, but I will certainly use some of the tips and techniques I've learned in future refashioning projects.

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Grand Master Plan

I have been asked the following question fairly often lately: What do I plan to do with myself when all the kids are in school during the day?

Considering our fourth baby is still pre-born, I have a few years ahead of me to prepare! As well, I know that my plans should be flexible and are subject to God's will.

I do have a plan, though :-).

Through my university years and into early motherhood I taught piano lessons part-time. It was a great job. I love teaching kids (and adults) and I love the piano. I also appreciate the flexibility of working for myself, setting my own hours, and developing my own lesson plans.

Eventually Ben and I plan to move into a larger home. (Within the next three or four years.) We hope to buy a home with an office/den space that I can convert into my own piano studio. In the past, I traveled to my students' homes to teach lessons. I look forward to having my very own studio space!

For the past couple of years I've been working on my ARCT diploma in piano. I've completed two of the required exams so far. I'm hoping to take my third exam in August and the fourth in December. The biggest challenge, my ARCT performance exam, will take at least two more years of study I think.

I may not have my own piano studio for another five or six years, but I am already planning and dreaming about it. I'm slowly working toward my goal of finishing my ARCT diploma and joining the Alberta Registered Music Teacher's Association. I know my plan is in God's hands :-).

That said, my husband is chiding me for not doing my music homework this evening. It's time to turn off my computer and hit the books!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Menu Plan Monday
February 18, 2008

Over the past few weeks I've been working on cleaning out our freezer. We purchased a large order of organic chicken and beef two weeks ago, and I would like to use up our older meat before we cook the new pieces. This week's menu should take care of the last bits stored in our freezer!

Here is my proposed menu plan:

Monday: No cooking! (supper with my parents)
Tuesday: Slow-cooked pulled pork sandwiches on whole wheat buns, raw veggie platter
Wednesday: Vegetable bean soup with spinach, whole wheat buns, cheese
Thursday: Leftovers
Friday: Slow cooker chicken and dumplings, green salad
Saturday: Encore performance
Sunday: No cooking! (supper meeting at church)

If you would like to browse other great menu plans, please visit Menu Plan Monday at Org Junkie.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Baby, Baby, Baby, Baby

I can hardly believe our growing baby is 30 weeks old today. We are 3/4 of the way to meeting him face to face! Our baby is turned head-down already, but he often rolls between the posterior and anterior positions. He has lots of room to move and groove, twist and turn. Perhaps this baby's birth position will remain a mystery until the last possible moment, just like his older sister's did :-).

Our entire family has been felled by February colds this week. It's not been horrible, but I could certainly use a good dose of cough suppressant. And a full night's sleep. (Both are hard to come by for a pregnant mama.) Here's to hoping our family is on the mend soon!

Last night I realized I have not read a single pregnancy-related book or article this time around. How unusual! Through my last three pregnancies I devoured anything and everything related to birth and babies. I suppose I am saturated. I have no great desire to read anything more on the subject. Maybe it also has to do with the fact that I don't have as much time or energy these days...

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Too Cute

"Mommy. There's play dough all over myself!"

I looked my three-year-old over from head to toe. "Umm ... Buddy. I don't see any play dough."

"Look, Mommy! It's all over mine finger!" He held his index finger up for inspection.

I stepped closer.

A miniscule dot of yellow play dough clung to my son's fingernail.

I smiled and gently flicked off the offensive speck. A look of immense relief flooded my son's features. "Thanks, Mommy!" he exclaimed as he ran off to play.

Do you think we might be raising a neat-nick?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Facts of Life

Yesteday I stumbled upon the following conversation between our young sons:

Little Brother: Hey! Did you know Elmo hatched out of an egg?

Big Brother: Did not.

Little Brother: Did too!

Big Brother: Did not! Furry animals can't hatch out of eggs. They get born from their mommy's tummy.

(Long pause)

Little Brother: But Elmo's not an animal. He's a furry monster!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

What's in a (Key) Word?

Ben and I were bored the other night. We could have turned in early. Instead, being wild and spontaneous individuals, we decided to check my site statistics on Google.

We learned some interesting things.

Did you know someone visited this blog using the search terms "make smores with solar energy in a casserole dish"? (Sounds like an interesting cooking activity to me...)

The terms "bulging tummy button" and "echolocation glasses" also rank well on Google. (Number sixteen and number three respectively.)

And here's the best part of all --- The Ink Spot was Google's number one pick for the following phrase:

"Nasal Evacution"


Monday, February 11, 2008

Menu Plan Monday
February 11, 2008

Another week. Another menu plan. I have been really tired these past few days, and have decided to keep our menu simple and easy. We will be eating several meals from my stash in the freezer.

Monday: No cooking! (supper with my parents)
Tuesday: Hamburger soup (from the freezer), whole wheat buns
Wednesday: Turkey pot pie (from the freezer) with biscuit topping, cabbage salad
Thursday: Encore performance
Friday: Baked chicken and onions, rice pilaf, steamed broccoli
Saturday: Leftovers
Sunday: No cooking! (supper with Ben's parents)

Please take a look at Menu Plan Monday on Org Junkie for more great meal plans.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Show Your Geek Card

Does life get any better? Check out the latest Craft pattern podcast. Our young son will be drooling (or maybe clucking?) over this one.

May the glue gun be with you...

Like Father, Like Son

Thursday, February 07, 2008


This evening at supper Ben tried to explain the difference between comedy and tragedy. The concept appeared to be over the kids' heads.

"But Daddy," our five-year-old protested, "If a boy had a mommy and daddy, and the mommy and daddy both died, and he was an orphan, that wouldn't be a tragedy."

"Well, what would you call it?" Ben asked.

"I would call it a traumady."

Wednesday, February 06, 2008


I have waged battle against my sewing machine and have emerged triumphant.

In honour of the hard-won success, I present the latest Threadheads video for your viewing pleasure...

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Try, Try Again

I like to feel competent. God has graciously given me many gifts, and most of the time I learn things quickly and easily. I don't often fail. (Which can be a mixed blessing.)

The past few days been tough on my ego.

I am learning to sew and have tackled a couple of new projects. Let's just say ... progress has been slow. My seam ripper is seeing lots of action! As it turns out, my multi-talented husband is better at reading patterns than I am. (Thanks, for your help, honey.)

I have also been preparing to take a music exam. Unfortunately, tonight's music lesson was less than stellar. I came away from the class with instructions to redo several hours worth of work. How frustrating! Just when I thought I understood the material!

What am I learning through all this? I am discovering that mistakes are great teachers. For example, I'm learning how to properly sew ribbing and how to follow a simple pattern. (In minute detail!) I'm learning that clever, complicated solutions to a musical problem are not always the best solutions. I'm also learning that "nothing ventured means nothing gained."

My ego is feeling bruised tonight, but I think I'll live. I am trying to take risks and try new things. So what if everything doesn't work out perfectly the first time?

That's what true learning is all about.

Monday, February 04, 2008

I Once Was Lost ...

Many people we know have visited Las Vegas in the past week or two. Perhaps our lovely weather has played a hand in their travels. (Pun absolutely intended.)

This morning our five-year-old son asked numerous questions about the aforementioned city.

"You know, Mommy," he said, "I don't think they should call it Las Vegas."

"Oh really?" I commented, "What do you think the city should be named?"

He thought for a moment and then replied, "I think they should call it Found Vegas!"

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Menu Plan Monday
February 4, 2008

Last week I was blessed with several nights away from the kitchen. Everyday chores are becoming a bit exhausting for me, so I appreciated the break.

Our family enjoyed last week's Spud Special Soup a great deal. The recipe was super-simple to prepare. I had intended to add some leftover turkey sausage to our soup, but I think the sausage had been in the fridge a bit too long. It was blue and fuzzy. (Delicious.) Instead, I pureed the potato soup in the blender until it was smooth and creamy.

Homemade soup is a favourite meal for our family. It is also a favourite game. Our kids love to make soup in their play kitchen. I'm convinced their "soup game" is inspired by the movie Ratatouille. Our three-year-old has a well-loved stuffed rat, and his toy often plays a prominent role in the kids' game.

Last week our five-year-old son helped me cook the Spud Special Soup. As we sat at the table enjoying our meal, he loudly proclaimed, "This soup tastes like rat patootie!"

I think the insult was unintentional.

At any rate, here is my proposed menu plan for the upcoming week. I am recycling the layered taco pie from last week. (I have a large stash of cooked taco meat in my freezer.)

Monday: No cooking! (Supper at my parents')
Tuesday: Layered taco pie, brown beans, corn, green salad
Wednesday: Encore performance
Thursday: Orange-molasses glazed chicken, brown rice, steamed green beans with almonds, cabbage salad
Friday: Leftovers
Saturday: Lasagna, green salad, cheese toast, saskatoon berry pie (with berries from my freezer)
Sunday: No cooking! (Supper with Ben's parents)

If you would like to see other great menu plans, check out Menu Plan Monday on Org Junkie.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Get a Website

Yes, it really is my husband in the chicken suit. The man is a dedicated business owner.