Thursday, April 23, 2015

All Because of a Little Gesture!

 
If you've visited here for any length of time, you've probably clued in that in the past few years I've struggled with depression.  A depression that has gotten worse as the weeks go by.  For someone who hardly ever got down for more than a day, this has been quite the adventure that I never wanted to experience!  It's an experience that I am learning to embrace.  It's an experience that is teaching me things that I didn't know I needed to learn.  Some of the things I've learned are things I knew in my head, and perhaps even in my heart to a point.  But all of it is taking on a new level of importance!
 
I awoke this morning in a grumpy mood!  I've been sick, and I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired.  I knew my day would be yet another day in trying to catch up on all the appointments that need to be booked, return phone calls, try to get rid of all the dust bunnies that have accumulated after 3+ weeks of little to no housekeeping happening, and the never ending loads of laundry...including washing all the bedding! 
 
I finally managed to roll out of bed and stumble downstairs...to find my sweet, sweet man building a fire in the woodstove, a smile on his face cause he knew the warmth of the woodstove on a cold and cloudy day would warm my heart!



 
 
You see...that's what I'm learning at a deeper level.  The importance of the little gestures that tell those around us that we love them!  I don't know what a gesture like that would do for you, but my hubby's sweet gesture inspired me!  It put a spring in my step and the energy began to flow!  Suddenly my day didn't seem so gloomy!  The laundry pile didn't seem quite so big!  And most importantly...I noticed that the love shown to me was being passed on to my kids!  I really want them to know how much I value them, and it's coming through loud and clear today in my words and actions!
 
So dear friends...let's keep this good thing going!  Let's pour ourselves into those around us!  Let's step out of our comfort zone and say something nice to someone, smile at a stranger, or do something sweet for someone...you never know the impact it will have on the entire world!!
 
May God richly bless your day!!!
 
 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Life Around Here...

 
 
I had no intent of not blogging for so long.  But life has a way of throwing us it's fair share of unknowns.  We were expecting to have a relaxing Easter break, which didn't happen.  I had planned to do some painting.  The master bedroom and possibly the girl's room.  At the last moment I changed my mind and painted a few small items instead.  I'm so glad I did!
 
I had oral surgery on the 8th to remove 2 wisdom teeth which had been a major pain for the past 10 years.  The procedure itself went very smoothly and I was back on my feet the next day doing laundry and a few other household chores.  I had some pain and decided to take Oxycocet over and above the ibuprofen 600 that I was already on.  I began to feel dizzy and things went down hill from there.  Long story short...I became very sick, vomiting for most of the night, spent the next 4 days flat out in bed sleeping.  The following 6 days were a bit better...I was able to walk a bit and sleep a little less.  I am finally able to eat small portions, but I still have a headache most of the day.  I tire very easily and love, love to sleep!  My doctor thinks I probably reacted to my meds, which aggravated my ulcer (which I thought was healed!).  So hopefully, I will be 100% within the next week or so!
 
While I was sick, Malia had another appointment with the plastic surgeon.  The surgeon was impressed with how well the last graft had taken.  Martin came home quite optimistic that perhaps the last FAMM Flap surgery had been more successful than the surgeon had hoped and that perhaps the oral surgeon could proceed with the bone graft.  Malia had appointment with the oral surgeon yesterday and the news was not what we had hoped for!  :( 
 
As it turns out, the oral surgeon needs soft tissue in order to do the bone graft.  Although the last graft did take, it didn't take well enough.  There simple is not enough soft tissue.  Soooo....that means Malia will need another surgery.  This time she will have tongue flap surgery.  It's what the surgeon originally considered, but then decided to go with the FAMM Flap as it is not as uncomfortable/invasive. The tongue flap apparently has a greater success rate so the hope is that the tongue flap will work!
 
We have no idea as to when this surgery will happen.  We do know that if the last graft had taken, Malia would have had surgery in May for the bone graft.  Does that mean that she'll have surgery in May?  Or this summer?  We have no idea, although I have requested that they wait till fall for the next surgery.  Malia is DONE with surgeries for now!  She is completely overwhelmed and we all need a break!  We will be planning our summer holidays and if a surgery day is presented to us for this summer....I'm hoping I'll have the guts to say no!  At this point we all need a long, relaxing break!  I'm thinking 3 months in Jamaica may be just what we need?!?  Haha!  Who am I kidding!?!  We'll try to take a few days to go camping and hopefully we get some R&R!
 
As always....Malia does not know what is happening in regards to her surgeries.  She does know that she will need more surgeries, but we've told her to relax and enjoy this beautiful weather...so please...do not mention surgeries when she is around.  We REALLY just want her to enjoy being a little girl, without worrying about her next surgery date.  Thanks!
 
As you can imagine, these past weeks have been more than a little stressful.  We appreciate your continued prayers! 
 
We are weak, but not defeated.
We are bruised, but not broken.
We may be weary,
but in His strength we will NOT be moved!
 
 
I'll be playing this song by Rend Collective on repeat for the next while!  Because we ARE CONQUERORS!!
 
 


Friday, April 3, 2015

Easter 2015


We spent the past week doing some Easter crafts.  One of my favourite crafts is a stained glass cross.  It's so incredibly easy to prep and easy for my little kids and enjoyable for older kids too.  I used cut up tissue paper, waxed paper (2 pieces for each cross), glue, and construction paper for the black part of the cross.



 
My littles also made these cool cotton ball Easter Egg paintings.  I took clothes pins and clipped them to a cotton ball.  One for each color.  Then the kids painted their picture.  Once it was dry we traced and cut the egg shape.
 
 
We also made the simple egg craft pictured on the right.  I used scrapbooking paper I had on hand.  The kids cut the paper into strips and glued them onto construction paper.  Then they took another piece of construction paper, cut out the egg shape and stuck it onto the paper with stripes.  This is such a wonderful craft for kids learning to cut, because it really doesn't matter how straight they cut.  The end result is beautiful regardless of how the stripes look!
 
The egg crafts now hang on our art line in our basement.
 

 
We also decorated boiled eggs.  I loved how Jackson was so intent on coloring the eggs!  Oh to see the world through the eyes of a child!!
 




We ate the eggs for a light lunch, along with fruit, crackers and salad.
 



While the little kids painted the craft I mentioned above, Morgun and I blew out some eggs to decorate with stamping.  I LOVE how these eggs turned out!
 
We colored the eggs using a simple water, vinegar and coloring mixture. 
 

 
Then we picked our favourite stamp and stamped, with black ink, on tissue paper.
 
 

 
Once the ink was dry, we used mod podge to glue the tissue paper to the egg, being very careful not to rub the tissue paper.  Once this was dry, we covered the tissue paper with another coat of mod podge.
 


The end result!  I think this is officially my favourite way to decorate eggs!  I love the touch of elegance they add to our home!

 

I especially LOVE the blue eggs placed in an antique bowl!  These bowls were used for weddings and funerals in one of our local conservative Mennonite churches.





We had our traditional Easter Hunt, which all of the kids enjoy...cause that's how we roll!  :)  Morgun had trouble finding his basket, because his Dad found the perfect spot...tucked into the inside of an old upright radio!
 



I've been meaning to mention that Malia recently got glasses.  She was having difficulty seeing things that were far away...something we didn't notice because we don't do any school work where she has to look at a board.  I had noticed her sit on the floor occasionally to watch TV, but never put 2 and 2 together.  Oops!
 
I think the glasses give her that perfect "smart, nerdy, goofy" look!  This girl warms my heart and her beauty stops me in my tracks!
 


 
And last, but not least...I simply have to share our absolute favourite thing about Easter.  Each Easter we tell the kids what Easter is all about using these Resurrection Eggs.  It's a dozen plastic eggs, each containing an item related to the Easter story, beginning with the Passover Supper.  It comes with a little booklet that gives scripture references for each egg and a bit of a reading for each item. We spread the opening of the eggs out over several days.  It's really helped our kids understand what Easter is really all about!



Matthew 27:33-37 -33 They came to a place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull).                                                             
34 There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it.
35 When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots.                                                            
36 And sitting down, they kept watch over him there.
37 Above his head they placed the written charge against him: THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS.  
 
Luke 24:6-7 -6 He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee:                                                            
7 'The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.'
 
 
1 Peter 3:18 For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit,


Monday, March 30, 2015

I Said Yes!!


Twenty four years ago the love of my life asked me to marry him...and I said "YES!!" 
 
It is one of the best decisions I have ever made! 


We only have a few pictures of our engagement and the ones we do have were not taken by a professional.  Neither Martin or I had a camera and it was back in the day before cell phones!  Yikes!  That makes us sound really old!
 
Thankfully, the success of a relationship is not hinged on the perfect picture!
 

 
I remember thinking it wasn't possible to love anyone more than I already loved Martin.  I was wrong!  The love we shared 24 years ago was indeed rich and genuine.  However, it wasn't the kind of love we share now.  This love we have now is so much deeper, so much stronger, and so incredibly beautiful!
 
According to statistics, our marriage should have dissolved years ago.  We dated for 5 months before our engagement and were married less than a year after we started dating.  I was the tender age of 19 and Martin was 24.  We were both far too young and na├»ve to really know what we were doing.
 
So what makes our marriage work?
 
It's actually a fairly simple concept.
 
GOD
 
Yup!  That's it! 
Basically what that means is this...God is the center of our marriage.  Even before we started dating, God was at the center of our lives and we committed our relationship to Him.  We spent many, many hours praying and seeking God's will even before we started dating.
 
Simply put...I love God.  Martin loves God.  God loves us.  So if I love Martin as I love myself, and Martin loves me as he loves himself and we both love God, it's next to impossible to allow a disagreement, or those irritating qualities to become something that tears us apart. 
 
It means that both of us give 110% to our relationship.  It means we put the other before ourselves. It means that we are committed for the long haul.  The big D isn't an option.  So we either live a miserable life or we work at making our marriage a safe and beautiful place to be.
 
Now that doesn't mean we don't face our fair share of problems.  Trust me, we do drive each other batty!  There are days when we really do not like each other.  We get rip roaring mad at each other!  And for good reasons too!
 
But the good news is that with God, we can work things out.  With God, we can forgive.  With God, we can grow stronger.
 
You may wonder what all of this actually looks like in our day to day life.  Here are a few practical things that have served us well.
 
* NEVER, and I mean NEVER go to bed angry, or without resolving an issue...even if it means you stay up till 3 am!
 
*Make greeting each other at the end of the day a priority.  A 15 second hug or kiss says a lot to your partner.  It says "I missed you! I love you! I'm so glad you're here!"
 
*Communicate!  About everything!  That means both of us have to listen carefully!
 
*Take time for each other...every day!  It's very difficult for us to have dates or alone time.  Most evenings we try to sit down and chat for at least a few minutes or hang out together...even if it is watching a TV show.  We love to cook up some yummy shrimp or make a delicious cracker dip, add some wine and make a date of it!  We love going for walks together.  Not only does it give us some exercise, but it's the perfect time to talk about all those things we can't talk about when the kids are around.
 
*Flirt with each other!  Seriously!  Who doesn't like to feel wanted and attractive!?!
 
*Look for ways to make your spouse feel special.  A simple chocolate bar can be the perfect way to say, "I love you!", without spending a pile of money...and it doesn't take a lot of time to buy a chocolate bar!
 
*Make your relationship with God a part of each others life.  By that I mean pray together.  Share what God has been teaching you.  Study the Bible together.
 
*Say "I'm sorry" and mean it!
 
*Compliment each other.  About the little things and the big things. 
 
*When you think about the past, focus on the good things and never forget why you fell in love in the first place!
 
Happy 24th Engagement Anniversary Martin!! 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


Friday, March 27, 2015

Cooking Without Meat...and Tofu!

 
A few posts ago I mentioned that we often eat a meatless meal.  I was asked to share some of our favourite recipes.  If you're hoping to find some meals made with the disgusting, jiggly stuff called tofu, you've come to the wrong place.  Lol!  I really don't like tofu!  If you're thinking all of these meals are packed with protein, you'll be disappointed.  These are some simple meal ideas that are somewhat nutritious, but not all of them are packed with protein.  I honestly don't think that eating one meal a week without protein will harm us.  Having said that, I do try to pack in as much protein and nutrition as possible.
 
Eating meatless meals is not something we initially set out to do.  It just happened.  Actually it started as a "Oh!  I forgot to take the meat out to thaw.  I'm starved!  What's the fastest thing I can make for supper?"  This usually happened after Martin and I had both worked a full day.  The days before kids.  So, it started more as a "lets fill our tummy's" than a desire to spend less on groceries.  And we certainly weren't concerned about eating all that healthy. Over the years, it's become a way to save money on groceries and still eat healthy...for the most part.
 
You'll notice I use whole wheat flour for almost everything.  I grew up eating only white bread and everything was made with white flour.    Over the years, I slowly switched to using mostly whole wheat flour.  I started using only 1/4 whole wheat flour and worked my way up to using 100% whole wheat.  It's not easy to switch to whole wheat, but once you do, you'll never regret it.
 
Some of our all time favourite meals are actually generally thought of as a breakfast meal.  Truth is, who has time to make a big breakfast?  We usually don't.  So we have these meals for supper instead.
 
I triple this recipe for my family and usually we'll have enough left over to pop into the toaster to enjoy the next morning for breakfast.  They also freeze very well and can be popped into the toaster straight from the freezer.  Make sure you place a piece of wax paper between waffles. 
 
I make these using only whole wheat flour.  We find that whole wheat flour fills us quicker and the feeling of "I'm hungry" 30 minutes after having waffles, doesn't happen when I use whole wheat. 
 
Waffles With Vanilla Sauce and Strawberries
 
1 2/3 cups Whole Wheat flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs, seperated
3 2/3 cups milk, divided
6 tbsp. vegetable oil
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Fresh or frozen strawberries
 
Combine flour, baking powder, and salt.  In another bow, beat egg yolks lightly and add 1 2/3 cups milk and oil.  Stir into dry ingredients.  Set aside 1/4 cup batter in a saucepan.  Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.  Fold into remaining batter.  In sauce pan, heat sugar, the remaining milk and the 1/4 batter you set aside earlier. Boil until thickened and add vanilla. (Note: If using whole wheat flour, you will want to add extra white flour to your sauce, about 2 tbsp., to help the sauce thicken better)
Top waffle with white sauce and strawberries.  Enjoy!
 
We also like to add some not so healthy pudding and whipped cream to this meal.  There is nothing better than a piping hot waffle loaded with homemade chocolate pudding and whipped cream!  I use my mother-in-laws chocolate pudding recipe.  I make several batches of this and store it in an air tight container and use as needed.
 
Chocolate Pudding Mix
 
1 1/2 cups, plus 2 tbsp. cocoa powder
3 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/3 cups cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
 
Combine ingredients and store in airtight container
 
To make pudding simply combine...
 
1 cup pudding mix
2 tbsp butter (optional)
2 1/2 cups milk
1 tsp vanilla
 

Cook until thickened.  We prefer to have our pudding warm for serving on top of waffles.
 
 
I'm not a big breakfast person, but do enjoy omelettes for supper.  I don't follow a recipe for omelettes.  I simply use what I have on hand, but will usually include the following.
 
Omelette
 
6 eggs
2 tbsp milk
salt
pepper
green, red, or yellow peppers
onions
mushrooms
hot peppers
cheese
favourite Epicure Spice
 
Mix eggs and milk.  Pour into greased frying pan.  Sprinkle with veggies and spices. Cover and cook until fluffy.  Flip and sprinkle cheese on top.  Cook until done.  Serve with a slice of homemade whole wheat bread.
 
For those Friday nights when we feel like eating out, we turn to this delicious and simple meal.
 
Italian Bread Wedges and Salad
 
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tbsp instant yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup warm water
2 tbsp vegetable oil
Parmesan Cheese
Mozzarella Cheese (or whatever cheese you happen to have on hand)
 
Topping
 
1/3 cup Italian dressing
1/4 tsp salt
dash of pepper
1/4 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp thyme or pizza spice
 
Mix first 6 ingredients in a large bow.  Knead in additional flour if needed.  Form a ball; cover.  Let rise for 30 minutes.  Spread dough on a greased pizza pan.  Mix topping spices in a bowl.  Brush onto dough.  Sprinkle with cheese.  Bake at 450 degrees F for 15-20 minutes.
 
Serve with your favourite salad.
 
I like to add this salad as it has some protein in it and it compliments the meal nicely.
 
Corn Chip Salad
 
Chopped lettuce (use your favourite)
cornchips
kidney beans or black beans, drained and rinsed
corn, cooked, cooled and drained (optional)
Catalina dressing.
 
Mix all ingredients and serve.
 
 
My youngest 3 kids LOVE Chinese food!  Actually we all do!  So one of our all time favourite meals is...
 
Vegetable Stir Fry
 
4 cups sliced vegetables
broccoli, cauliflower, celery, zucchini, onions, mushrooms, carrots, peppers
peanut oil
1 cup broth ( I use chicken bouillon and water)
2 tbsp soya sauce
2 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt (optional)
2 tsp cornstarch
Optional:  add almonds, peanuts, sesame seeds
 
Heat oil in wok.  Add chopped/julienned veggies; stir fry for about a minute.  Add liquid and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes or until veggies are the desired tenderness.  Add all or desired options.  Serve over rice or your favorite Chinese noodles. 
 
I'll share a few more recipes in the next couple of weeks.  Hope you can enjoy a meatless meal!...even if you don't like beans or tofu!  ;)
 
 
 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

This Boy!

 
This boy continues to amaze me!  He is so incredibly happy...except when he's not!  If he's not happy, he's sure to let the entire world know!  He's a confusing mixture of tough big boy and soft as mush mama's boy.
 
He loves all things boy.  He loves his plasma car!  He dreams of playing hockey (like Morgun does!).  He constantly talks about skateboarding.  He loves anything related to cars!  He loves to climb, sing at the top of his lungs, and giggle!
 
 
 
 
His Daddy is his hero!  He loves helping out whenever he can, and grins from ear to ear the entire time.  There is no one that can make this boy feel so proud of himself as his Daddy can.  And there's no one that can hurt his feelings like his Daddy can.  When Daddy has some firm words for Jackson, the tears tumble out and the sobs begin...and don't want to stop!
 

 
Jackson despises the girl's dressup clothes, but loves to wear their necklaces and fairy wings.  He loves playing with his sisters, especially if he can pretend to cook and serve food.  I'm thinking that's a wonderful skill for him to have!  Can't wait to have him cook for me...hopefully!
 
He still loves to color, loves stickers and loves puzzles.
 
Jackson really has us stumped on one issue...sleep!  He's never been a really good sleeper.  He often cries, or wails at night.  As in make you jump out of your skin wail.  Sometimes it's 1-2 times a night and sometimes it's 4-5 times a night...or worse.  Initially we thought he was simply adjusting.  Things seemed to get better for a bit and then he'd get an ear infection and cry again.  We finally figured it out and got an antibiotic ear drop prescription to be used any time he had an infection.  If we caught the infection early enough, the crying only lasted 1-2 nights.  We also began using a variety of vitamins, probiotics, etc to help him calm down.  He stopped crying in pain every time I lifted him to change his diaper.  His crying at night was cut down by more than half.  We thought we were on the right track!  He still cried or wailed several times a week, but we could usually trace it back to him watching something scary...like Curious George!  Seriously!  He has nightmares from watching almost anything!  He's now limited to watching Diego, Dora, Berenstain Bears, and Franklin.  All in all, we felt we had it mostly figured out.
 
And then...I left home for 5 nights to go to my Grandma's funeral and Jackson had ear surgery.  I was away for 1 night due to Malia's surgery shortly after that.  That was at the end of January, beginning of February.  Jackson has only slept through the night a handful of times since then.  And we are at a loss! 
 
 
So to all my fellow adoptive moms...help?  Any ideas or suggestions as to what is going on?  Could my being gone for a few nights set him back that far?  Could it be related to his surgery? (He shut down completely on the day of his surgery and it took about a week for him to be back to his normal daytime self)  Could it be connected to Malia's surgery?  Or all of the above?
 
We welcome your input and prayers!  This mama needs her sleep!
 
PS:  I'm working hard to invent a caffeine capsule so I don't have to drink more coffee to stay awake!  I really don't like coffee! :)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Discouraged?

 
 You ever have one of those days where you find it hard to not be discouraged? 

Today is one of those days for me.

The day started well enough.  A soft white snow was falling this morning, creating the perfect opportunity to enjoy a mocha and the warmth from the woodstove.  We started with school work, laundry and other mundane household tasks. The kids were all having a relatively good day.  I decided to start a craft while the kids played outside.  Sounds pretty ideal if you ask me!

And then came the anticipated phone call from the surgeons office.  I was expecting to book a day for a follow up surgery for Malia to sever the graft.  That's not what happened.

Instead of a surgery date, we now have an appointment (in 3 weeks) with the surgeon to see if the graft actually took. The surgeon is not confident at all that the graft will actually take! 

So hard not to sit down and cry! 

So I'm managing not to cry, but I'm so incredibly discouraged!  Sometimes it seems as though nothing works out for us!  I know that's a complete untruth, but when I'm down in this ugly space of discouragement, it's hard not to listen to that lie.

Instead of crying, I'm going to keep reminding myself of these verses...ALL day and week long if I have to!!

So for now I will make every effort to rejoice...in everything...health, soft white snow, mochas, content kids, but mostly God's faithfulness and unfailing love.
 
Romans 12:12 ESV    
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
 
 Philippians 4:4-6 ESV
    Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.



I will pray without ceasing, not forgetting to be thankful!
 
            Colossians 4:2 ESV    
Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.
 
Psalm 55:22 ESV
Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.
 
2 Corinthians 5:7
For we walk by faith, not by sight.


I will cling to HIS promises for He is with me!  He will never leave me!  He gives me strength!  He will make even this into something beautiful!  He will make a way!
 


Joshua 1:9 ESV    
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
 
 
2 Corinthians 4:8-9 ESV    
We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed
 
 
Philippians 4:12-13 ESV    
I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
 
Romans 8:28 ESV    
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
 
 Psalm 34:17-19 ESV
When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.  The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.  Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.

And I am confident in this...that in the end I will still praise, glorify and honor HIM!

1 Peter 1: 6-9
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith-more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire-may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
 

PS:  Please keep in mind that we have not, nor do we have any intention of telling Malia this turn of events.  So please do not talk to her about it.  Thanks!