Monday, June 30, 2008

The Absolute Cutest Dessert

I stumbled across Pioneer Woman's blog this weekend. Ree's photography is stunning and I thoroughly drooled over her terrific recipes. Take a peek at this terrific recipe for Springy Flower Pot Desserts. It's perfect for a hot summer day.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Welcome to Canada!

Today's the day! I've been waiting four long years for this day to finally arrive. This evening we will meet my dear South African pen pal and her family for the very first time. I can hardly wait to go to the airport!

This week the children and I constructed a welcome banner for our South African friends. I wrote "Welcome to Canada" in large letters across the banner. The kids used crayons, markers and stickers to decorate the rest of the large roll of paper. Everything went smoothly until our five-year-old decided to add his own welcome message to the banner.

(Last weekend a mission's team from Tanzania spoke at our church. They talked about their experience working with African orphans and presented a slide show. One image must have stuck in the mind of our impressionable kindergartner...)

Our five-year-old, using primitive phonetic spelling and a big black crayon, added the following words to the banner:


Oh dear. Welcome to Canada. Don't mind the mushrooms...

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Due Reverence

Our two-year-old daughter is positively fascinated by nail polish. A few days ago I painted her tiny toe nails for the very first time. You'd think she'd died and gone to heaven! For the rest of the week our little girl's been prancing around, showing off her "pwetty" pink toes.

I enjoy sporting my own "pwetty" toes. Several days ago I stole a few moments to paint my toe nails a lovely shade of red. Our sweet girl is now quite enthralled by her Mommy's toes as well.

Our daughter is so enamoured, in fact, she's taken to kissing my feet.

That's right. You have to teach 'em while they're young. ;-)

Friday, June 27, 2008

Word of the Day

Mastication, time for mastication
Mastication, time for me to chew

(Sung to the tune of Alouette)

I am amazed by the things our five-year-old learned in junior kindergarten this year...

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Small Offerings

Our baby boy has already been included as "one of the kids". His older siblings smother him with love and attention. I often find tiny offerings resting on the baby's tummy --- small toys or stuffed animals. (I've even discovered the occasional cheerio.) Our little timbit is certainly a well-loved boy.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A Day of Firsts!

Ben and I stayed up until the wee hours of this morning packing and sorting boxes. We got a great deal accomplished. Unfortunately, we did not get very much sleep! (Funny how those kiddies still want to be fed breakfast first thing in the morning...)

Thankfully, our accommodating babe slept like a champ last night. He went for eleven straight hours! It was a new record! Our baby boy is only ten weeks old but he's a chubby little dude. He has lots of reserves stored up to make it through the night.

In other news, our newly minted two-year-old has decided to potty train. All by herself. This morning she asked her big brother to take off her diaper. Then she sat down on her potty and proceeded to tinkle for the first time. Wow! I think our daughter will be potty trained before her three-year-old brother gets the hang of it. I'm not sure if the timing is opportune (what with the move next week) but we're going for it nonetheless. We need to use fewer diapers around here.

Monday, June 23, 2008

I Need Me Some Tums

The week of craziness has begun. I keep telling myself to take each day one step at a time. (One step at a time. One step at a time. One step...) Four big events will happen within the next ten days:

1. Ben's parents and sister will move into their new house on Saturday.
2. My South African friends will arrive in Calgary on Sunday (after four long years of waiting and praying).
3. We will take possession of our new house next Monday.
4. Our family moves next Wednesday.

The packing is going well and the pile of boxes in our garage continues to grow. Thankfully, Babe is consistently sleeping through the night so my energy reserves are better than usual. We have a number of hectic days ahead of us!

I recently read an appropriate motto for this busy season of my life --- eat the frog. The saying basically means to tackle the least appealing task first. Each morning I wake up to a long list of items and I'm trying my best to eat all those frogs.

Here's to hoping I don't croak in the midst of it all! (I couldn't resist.)

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Menu Plan Monday
June 23, 2008

The packing and sorting continues in Inksterland. I am feeling good about everything we've accomplished so far, and think we are well on track for the big move next Wednesday. With all the craziness my menu plan will be somewhat sketchy this week. It does help to have a flexible plan, though.

Here is my proposed menu plan for the week:

Monday: Spanish rice casserole (from the freezer), fresh veggie crudites (I will make a tray of vegetables for quick meals and snacks throughout the week)
Tuesday: Scrambled eggs, toast, fruit salad
Wednesday: Homemade soup (from the freezer), whole wheat rolls, veggies
Thursday: No cooking! (supper with my parents)
Friday: Pizza, veggies
Saturday: Slow cooker spaghetti sauce, whole wheat spaghetti, bread, green salad
Sunday: Leftovers

Check out Menu Plan Monday at Org Junkie for other great meal plans and recipe ideas.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Friday, June 20, 2008

Spring Reading Thing 2008

Wow! I just realized today is the first official day of summer. We've had terrific weather in Calgary all week and (fingers crossed) we have officially left the rainy days of spring behind. I am looking forward to spending lots of time outside with the kids this season.

Our family has enjoyed an eventful few months. Most notably, we had a new baby and bought a beautiful new home. Knowing our baby was due in April (but not expecting to buy a new house!) I chose a short list of books for this year's Spring Reading Thing. My selections included:

Sew Everything Workshop

by Diana Rupp

The Riddle of Amish Culture
by Donald B. Kraybill

The Creative Family
by Amanda Blake Soule

by Randy Alcorn

Seventh Day
by Bodie and Brock Thoene

A New Song
by Jan Karon

Surprisingly, I finished my entire book list before our baby boy arrived on April 15. (I guess I was too tired to do much else but read those last few weeks!) I particularly enjoyed two of the non-fiction selections, Sew Everything Workshop and The Creative Family. I ended up purchasing both books for our home library.

Shortly after the birth of our baby, I chewed through Jan Karon's entire Mitford series. I also read her latest novel, Home to Holly Springs. I spent many late nights rocking the baby, reading about Father Tim's (mis)adventures. I appreciate Jan Karon's dry sense of humour and the series' quirky characters. I am currently enjoying the Mitford Cookbook and Kitchen Reader. This book is less a cookbook and more a walk down Mitford's memory lane. I love the way Karon includes excerpts from her novels and personal commentary along with the recipes.

For some reason I have become infatuated with cookbooks lately. (Please take a look at my reviews here, here, here and here.) I did not always enjoy reading recipes. In the past I would habitually skip the recipe sections of women's magazines. Now I can't seem to get enough of cookbooks and food magazines. This spring I discovered the Taste of Home series of cookbooks and I recently subscribed to the magazine. I also love Martha Stewart's Everyday Food. Whenever I need a recipe fix I've started the habit of picking up a new cookbook or magazine from our local library.

This spring I also enjoyed reading Randy Alcorn's novel Deadline. To be honest, I don't often read books by male authors (for no particular reason). I found Deadline to be more intense than the books I usually like but Alcorn presented some intriguing ideas. I currently have Alcorn's follow-up novel, Dominion, waiting on my bookshelf.

I am also currently reading Bodie and Brock Thoene's Gates of Zion. I was initially excited to start the Zion Chronicles series because I love the Thoenes' A.D. Chronicles. Unfortunately, Gates of Zion feels quite flat and story's characters are disappointingly one-dimensional. What a difference twenty years of writing experience can make! I am amazed by the Thoenes' rich character development throughout the A.D. Chronicles series. I enjoyed reading Seventh Day this spring and am looking forward the the eighth installment in the series. (I may leave off the Zion Chronicles once I finish the first book.)

I always enjoy participating in Katrina's seasonal reading challenges. I think she's done a terrific job with the Spring Reading Thing. Thank you, Katrina! I'm looking forward to a summer filled with delicious books and I hope Katrina will host Fall Into Reading again in the autumn :-).

If you would like to read the wrap-up posts from other Spring Reading Thing participants, please click here.
Word Scramble

My five-year-old son watched intently as I applied my makeup. "Hey Mommy, I like the brown eye light the best," he said. (Perhaps he meant eye shadow?)


Our family gobbled down a particularly sweet melon for supper. The next morning, my three-year-old casually commented, "Mommy, I sure loved that yummy candy-loup!"

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Dr. Shrinky Strikes Again
(Did Anyone See Where I Packed the Lifeboat?)

The bedroom was a sea of half-filled boxes and plastic bins. The baby wailed hungrily as I rushed to finish my task. The three eldest children happily occupied themselves somewhere downstairs.

I stole a quick a moment to sit and nurse the baby. My five-year-old appeared at the top of the stairs. "Mommy?" he said, "I need a drink of water."

"Well, you're a big boy," I replied, "Mommy's busy. You go get one yourself."

"Okay." He hobbled up the last two stairs and carefully walked past my bedroom door.

Something wasn't right. "Wait a second, Buddy," I said, "What happened to your feet?"

"Well ... they're just all wet, Mommy."

A tiny alarm bell sounded. "And how did they get all wet?" I asked.

"I just gave my feet a bubbly wubbly bath, that's all."

For the first time, I realized the tap was running downstairs. "And where did you give your feet a bath?" I nervously asked.

"In the kitchen sink, Mommy."

I hastily burped the baby and buttoned my shirt. "Where are your brother and sister?"

"Playing with the bubbly wubblies!" my son exclaimed.

I ran downstairs. The super villains stood on chairs in front of the kitchen sink. Water overflowed onto the counter and spilled down to the floor. My new bottle of dish soap stood nearly empty.

Dr. Shrinky looked up and grinned. "Mommy! Mommy!" he exclaimed, "Bubbles!"

Dr. Shrinky at work.

The apricots and baby monitor receive a soapy bath.

The floor needed a wash anyway, right?

The super villains attempt to hide the evidence.

The sensitive side kick is caught in the act.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Book Review:

This book is awesome. If I had to choose a single cookbook to keep on my shelf, this would be the one. Homemade claims to include "702 ways to save money and the earth ... how to make hundreds of everyday products fast, fresh and more naturally". I believe it fully lives up to the promise.

Would you like to make your own multigrain bread? How about marshmallows? Ketchup? Maybe lip balm? Or toothpaste? I especially appreciated the numerous recipes for non-toxic, natural cleaners. Homemade contains terrific recipes for food, health and beauty products, home remedies, pet care products, cleaning agents and gardening aids.

I read every single recipe in this book. I liked the ingredients and instructions because nothing was scary, complicated or intimidating. Many products I always wondered about are included within Homemade's pages. I now feel confident enough to attempt making things like pickles or my own bathroom cleaner.

Homemade is an excellent resource for any homemaker. This book may very well become my go-to wedding gift for new brides. I borrowed my current copy from the library but intend to purchase a book of my own very soon. I feel sure the investment will quickly pay for itself. Our family's health and budget will reap great rewards.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

More of the Quotes

"Mommy! You can't put a lid on the jar without holes in it. My worms will defecate!" (From the mouth of the aforementioned five-year-old.)
Another Quote for the Day

"No. You can not use power tools!" (From the mouth of an exasperated dad to his over-ambitious five-year-old son.)
Quote for the Day

"I don't like rocks with crocs. I just like 'dem with feet." (From the mouth of an incredibly cute three-year-old).

Monday, June 16, 2008

Book Review:
Taste of Home Casseroles

I have mixed feelings about this cookbook. I enjoy many Taste of Home recipes because they are simple, delicious and unfussy. I prefer down-to-earth ingredients and unpretentious dishes. Most of the time, I love making casseroles because they are easy and can freeze well for later meals.

This book contains over 440 casserole recipes. The recipes are divided into categories such as Poultry, Beef, Pork, Seafood or Meatless Classics; Quick and Easy; Side Dishes; Breakfast and Brunch; and World Favorites. I love the extensive indexes at the end of the book. I also appreciate the handy serving suggestions for sides, salads and desserts.

Unfortunately, I was disappointed with many of the recipes in Casseroles. To be blunt, if I routinely served these meals to my family we would become very fat. In my opinion, potato chips should never be used as a casserole ingredient. As well, what dish requires four pounds of cheese? I was disturbed to read comments such as "I serve this meal at least twice a month" and "my children always licks the platter clean" attached to horribly unhealthy meals.

Granted, Casseroles contains numerous recipes for nutritious meals as well. I also realize that, by their very nature, creamy casseroles are often sinfully rich. Many recipes can be adapted with low-fat, low-sodium ingredients and healthy substitutions. On the whole, I did like Taste of Home Casseroles. I even included two recipes from the book in my menu plan this week (with a few changes). I simply feel this cookbook should be used with discernment, and some of the recipes are best avoided altogether.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Menu Plan Monday
June 16, 2008

Ahhhhh! We are moving to our new home in less than three weeks. I am valiantly continuing my mission to clear out the food in our freezer before we move. (I appear to have an overabundance of ground beef in that freezer.) Last week, I cheated on my menu plan and we ordered pizza Friday night. This week I will repeat a couple of the old "freezer meals" to make up for the missed days.

As an aside ... our family is enjoying a new root vegetable. I have one question, however. How do you pronounce jicama? Is the "j" pronounced like "h" as in jalapeno? At any rate, jicama is pretty tasty. The round, squatty version of the vegetable tastes better than the long, tubular one.

Without further ado, here is my proposed menu plan for the upcoming week:

Monday: No cooking (supper with my parents)
Tuesday: Sloppy joe pasta (gotta use up some ground beef), fresh fruit salad
Wednesday: Homemade soup (from the freezer), multigrain bread
Thursday: Leftover night
Friday: Wild rice chicken casserole, steamed broccoli, honey glazed carrots
Saturday: Supper with friends
Sunday: Leftover night

Thank you, Laura, for hosting Menu Plan Monday each and every week. Head on over to Org Junkie and check it out!
"We Are NOT Super Heroes"

Pardon me. My boys have politely corrected their mother. Today our sons have decided not to be super heroes. Instead, they are pretending to be super villains. (Apparently, playing the bad guy is a lot more fun.)

Our three-year-old has taken on an especially villainous persona. He will no longer answer to his given name and now prefers to be called Dr. Shrinky.

Ooooooo. I'm quaking in my flip flops.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Our Birthday Girl

How did it happen? Our Baby Girl turned two years old yesterday! She's hardly a baby anymore...

Our little sweetheart is a total girly girl and loves to dress up. She received several pretty dresses and two new pairs of shoes for her birthday. I think she was in heaven! We will have a hard time choosing which new dress she'll wear to church tomorrow morning.

Yesterday we invited our close family over for a small birthday celebration. We ate very delicious sprinkles cupcakes (the mix was a gift from my good friend, saved for a special occasion). Our birthday girl modeled her new clothes (adorable) and her older brothers entertained the guests with an impromptu performance. (It may have involved super heroes. The whole plot was somewhat fuzzy.)

Our Baby Girl is practically all grown up, it seems. Can't she stay small forever?

The birthday girl and her big brother.

Blowing out the birthday candle.

The super heroes.

Friday, June 13, 2008



The thunder reverberated through our house. The kids looked up in surprise and our five-year-old quickly hid under the table.

"I don't want the lightning to get me!" he cried.

"Don't worry, Bud," I said, "That lightning was very far away."

"But what if it hits our house!" he exclaimed.

"It won't ... But do you know what happened when I was a little girl?" I asked. "One time when I lived in Saskatoon we had a big, big thunder storm. There was a Dairy Queen a few blocks away from our house and lightning went right through the roof of the restaurant!"

Our son's eyes grew round. "Whoa," he said, "I bet the lightning melted all the ice cream."

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Another Milestone

Tonight we're trying an experiment. Our baby boy will be two months old this weekend. Up until now, he's been sleeping in a cradle at our bedside. For the first time tonight we laid him to sleep in the crib in his sister's room.

Our (almost) two-year-old was overjoyed to share the room with her baby brother. Her response was totally adorable. Ben and I heard her singing and talking through the baby monitor for more than an hour after bedtime. She sang endless repetitions of "Twinkle, Twinkle" and "ABCDs" to her little brother. He blissfully slept through it all.

I'm not sure how our experiment will turn out in the wee hours of the morning. Babe is often up twice in the night. However, last night was his best sleep yet --- eight and a half straight hours! All of our children have moved into their own rooms at about this stage, so I am praying Baby sleeps well tonight. At the rate he's growing, I don't think our big boy will fit in the cradle much longer anyway...

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Tongue Tied

"Mommy! Mommy!" my (almost) two-year-old called out, "I find a gooey!"

"You found a what?" I asked.

She held out her little, chubby hand. "I find a gooey!"

I bent to examine the miniscule object grasped between her fingers.

"It a gooey! A gooey!"

Oh yes. It was a googly. A tiny googly eye.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Deep Intercession

We were gathered around the kitchen table, finishing the last bites of supper. Our five-year-old suddenly slid from view and disappeared under the table.

"Whoa Buddy!" I exclaimed, "What are you doing under there?"

Our son's head popped up from under the table. He paused for a moment. "Umm. You know. I was just praying," he mumbled.

"You were praying???"

"Well ... in Sunday school we learned that you should pray where nobody can see you," our preschooler explained.

My husband swallowed a laugh. I hid my smile behind my hand. "I'm just curious. What were you praying about when you were under the table?" Ben finally managed to ask.

"I was just asking God to help me be a better Christian. And to not lie too much."

"Ah, I see," Ben replied, "Well ... amen!"

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Menu Plan Monday
June 9, 2008

Here's my proposed menu for the upcoming week:

Monday: No cooking (supper with my parents)
Tuesday: Spanish rice (from the freezer), spinach salad with pears and almonds
Wednesday: Soft tacos (meat from the freezer), veggie fixings, baked beans (from the freezer)
Thursday: Leftovers
Friday: Whole wheat spaghetti with meat sauce, steamed broccoli, cupcakes (for a special birthday girl!)
Saturday: Homemade soup (from the freezer), whole wheat rolls
Sunday: Leftovers

This week I made my mom's white bean dip for the first time. It's low-fat, nutritious and tastes yummy with raw veggies. The recipe is much like hummus.

1 onion, chopped
6-8 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 lemons, juiced
1-2 tbsp. olive oil
2, 15 oz. cans white kidney beans
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a small skillet. Cook onion and garlic over low heat until very soft, brown and caramelized (about 15-20 minutes). Combine onions, garlic, kidney beans and lemon juice in food processor. Blend until smooth. Add extra olive oil if needed. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with raw veggies, pita crisps, etc. This dip freezes very well.

Special thanks to Laura at Org Junkie for hosting Menu Plan Monday each week.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Thought for the Day

"Preschoolers and Tesla coils are not compatible."

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Whoa Baby!

Yesterday our baby boy had his last visit to the midwives' office. His official weight was 14lbs 2oz! He gained more than five and a half pounds within seven weeks!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

A Peek at My Bookshelf

This afternoon the kids and I spent some time at the library. I love visiting the library because it's a bit like shopping ... except it's free. I enjoy the "thrill of the hunt", searching for hidden treasures. If I could, I'd spend thousands of dollars buying books. The library is a far less expensive substitute!

Last night I finished Jan Karon's latest novel, Home to Holly Springs. It was a terrific read, though certainly darker than her bucolic Mitford series. I have now started chewing through Bodie and Brock Thoene's epic Zion Chronicles series. As a fan of Christian historical fiction, I am almost embarrassed to admit I haven't read these iconic books.

I rarely have time to browse the library stacks with the children in tow. I like to search the library catalogue online instead. I have a long list of favourites saved under my online library profile. Every week or two I select a few favourites and place my holds. This week my picks included a new Taste of Home cookbook, Randy Alcorn's Dominion and a collection of short stories from Karen Kingsbury.

Surprisingly, I've waded through a good dozen books over the past couple of months. What else is there to do during a marathon nursing session in the wee hours of the morning? Now that Baby has become an efficient nurser, I must catch my books in fits and starts. I am looking forward to settling into our new home this summer and finding time to eat a few more good books.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The Week at a Glance

(I'm writing this out mostly for my own benefit. I know it's not exactly fascinating subject matter...)

I'm a routine-oriented kind of girl. I like to know what to expect each day and am not much for surprises. I believe children thrive on routine as well. For the most part, I try to keep our family's daily activities as consistent as possible.

I've been thinking about my daily chores and tasks. Now that the new baby has settled into a somewhat predictable pattern, I feel I can re-commit to a regular housekeeping routine. I like to break my homemaking duties into daily and weekly segments. Here's my schedule of weekly tasks and events:

Monday: Grocery shopping and errands (after school), supper with my parents
Tuesday: Big laundry day, piano lessons (in the evening)
Wednesday: Ironing, library trip and errands (after school)
Thursday: Laundry, clean lower level (dust, vacuum, bathroom)
Friday: Change sheets, clean upper level (dust, vacuum, bathroom)
Saturday: Laundry, clean basement level (dust, vacuum, bathroom, hamster's cage)
Sunday: Church, make menu plan and shopping list, supper with Ben's parents

I prefer to do the laundry three days each week. On Tuesdays I usually wash four or five loads, and I try to be diligent about folding and putting things away promptly. I figure the job's not done until everything is neatly out of sight! On Thursdays and Saturdays I usually only have two or three loads to wash. It's a good laundry day if I can get everything washed and put away before supper.

I'm a big believer in tidying, organizing and clutter-busting. I try to keep the house reasonably clean at all times. Every day I pick up the toys and such. When the house is tidy I can dust, vacuum and clean the bathrooms very quickly.

My weekly housekeeping routine might change a bit when we move next month. (Our new house is bigger. It also has a fancy front-loading washer!) As well, my son has only three weeks of school left. Our weekdays will be more flexible through July and August. I am looking forward to having many friends over to our new house for play dates this summer!

Monday, June 02, 2008

Taming the Lego Monster

I'm scared to go into my basement. I think a monster lives down there. In fact, I'm pretty sure one does. We call him the Lego Monster.

He came to live with us about two years ago and made himself right at home. The monster quickly took over the playroom. I suspect this particular monster has digestive issues. How do I know this? He vomits. Legos. All over the floor.

I've forgotten the original colour of the carpet down there. It is perpetually coated with thousands of tiny plastic pieces. Have you ever tried to clean up after a messy Lego monster? I am nearly at the end of my rope and require some sage advice.

Perhaps I should limit the monster's food supply? Feed him a small daily selection of the choicest plastic pieces? Maybe he needs a special table all to himself? A homemade drawstring bag? Or maybe a designated Lego mat?

I need help!

I'm not willing to bring the Lego monster along on our move next month. He'll have to find a new place to call home. Until then, it's down to the basement I go, to once again do battle with the monster.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Menu Plan Monday
June 2, 2008

I'm still cleaning out the food in our freezer because we have only one more month until our family's big move! Here's my proposed menu plan for this week:

Monday: No cooking (supper with my parents)
Tuesday: Veggie lasagna (from the freezer), spinach and orange salad
Wednesday: Encore performance
Thursday: Slow cooker Thai chicken (from the freezer), basmati rice, steamed cauliflower, green peas
Friday: (Supper with friends) homemade pizza, veggie crudites with white bean dip
Saturday: Leftover buffet
Sunday: Homemade chicken soup (from the freezer), fresh honey wheat bread

Menu Plan Monday is hosted by Org Junkie each and every week. Thanks, Laura!