Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Hmmmm. I love a good retreat.

These days, I'd pick a cabin in the woods....

This would come complete with a hot cup of coffee, a lake or river nearby and a hammock nestled close by in the trees. Oh and a stack of really really good books. Oh and NO bugs! My loving family would be more than welcome to come along, but there would be PAQ moments for EVERYONE!!

a ride in a VW convertible...
Red? Model not included --- ha ha ha!

Or yellow perhaps? Cruising along the California coastline. Again, family is most welcome to come along, as long as we get to listen to my music.... with NO complaints :)!!

...or.... perhaps most realistically...
a trip to a favorite used bookstore which Jon & I discovered a few years ago when we were out and about, footloose and kid-free (they were staying at Grandma & Grandpa's), celebrating our 10-year anniversary :P...

... or try something new (I've only been wanting to go here for a few years now! It's an MCC based used book store in the north end of Winnipeg, with OF COURSE, a coffee house attached ;)....).

We all need a retreat... and our wee one is no exception!
Lately she has discovered our puppy's kennel!!! She LOVES tents and crawling through things, but this last week, if all is quiet, and she is no where to be seen, I go and check here....

Just this afternoon she discovered she was a wee bit lonely in there all by herself, so she managed to get her dolly in as well :).

Every one needs a little spot to call their own - even if it's just for a little while!

Retreat? Where would you go? What would you do?

Something we have to practice every day

Something shared...

with a friend....

is something....


"Give away your life; you'll find life given back, but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity." Luke 6:38, The Message

Friday, June 24, 2011

Through the eyes of a child...

Yesterday morning me and my gals were getting ready to do a grocery and dollarstore run.

The excitement was almost palpable!

I had suggested the night before (after checking the temperamental weather to see if there was, in fact, sun forecasted for the next day) that instead of racing home after our shopping expedition was complete, we should pack a picnic and head to a park to burn off some steam first. (Not that I would have steam to burn off, more or less longing for a nap under a shady tree, but after being cooped up in a cart all morning, and getting along reasonably well, my girls would love to run free for a little while!)

Little M was still groggy from the night's sleep - and among her first words to me was this little revelation:

"Mommy, I've really seen some vans DO this. They really really do!! They drive into a McDonald's parking lot, and drive up to a little window. That little window OPENS UP and they pass McDonald's food INTO that van!! I think our van should try that. Yep. I really really do. I've really really seen that mommy." All the while she's super-animated, nodding and motioning with her hands about vans driving and stopping at a window and grabbing a bag for the road :).

I burst out laughing. Oh the magic of drive thru. I guess we've not really done that before - but somehow she's picked up on this possibility. I explained that yes, that there was, in fact, something called drive thru, and that though I already had our picnic packed for the day, we could try it sometime. Get McDonald's and THEN head to a park.

We went on to have a delightful morning and afternoon. And we (finally, around 1:30, which is pretty late with little ones and a baby who wasn't able to have her bottle because her mother forgot it at home!) managed to find a fun park to play at. But I can assure you, the PAQ at the end of the day was divine!!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The hunt for "One Word"

Oh dear. I read a post.
So many interesting thoughts start that way.
If only I could finish those thoughts too! Maybe.

Inspired by a friend of mine to hunt for one word to live by, I was on a mission. My vocabulary isn't very extensive, but I do enjoy fishing around for just that right fit. Kinda look the BEST pair of jeans in your closet. Just gotta fit right. Or else it is a GRUMPY day all around ;).
Anyway again.

Ever since finding the word picaresque  in a novel (Angela Hunt, don't ask me which one, I was delirious with joy and fatigue at the time, probably read it during a mid-night feeding session!!) I've wanted to use it in a blog post. From the context of the book, I knew it had something to do with the concept of journeying. Exploring. Pressing on. Good thing I "googled it" before using it as my "one word." Ahem. This is what I discovered:


  [pik-uh-resk]  Show IPA
pertaining to, characteristic of, or characterized by a form ofprose fiction, originally developed in Spain, in whichthe adventures of an engagingly roguish hero are describedin a series of usually humorous or satiric episodes that oftendepict, in realistic detail, the everyday life of the commonpeoplepicaresque novel; picaresque hero.
of, pertaining to, or resembling rogues.
1800–10;  < Spanish picaresco. See picaro-esque

un·pic·a·resque, adjective

picaresque, picturesque (see synonym noteat picturesque).

2.  prankish, rascally, devilish, raffish. 

While the thought of a satirical story of everyday life would be entertaining, I just cannot see myself as a really "good" rogue. I think I'm a bit to ... reserved ... for that. Sarcastic, perhaps. Prankish? Rascally? Probably not. 
So. Great word. I'm sure it would be fun. But, not my "one word."

I also thought about the word sojourn. However, apparently it has the connotation of "visit," as in "visiting a land for a holiday," and while this earth is not our eternal home, too much happens here to be a "visit." I prefer to reserve that term for the time I make it out to a quiet cottage, down by a lake, I will emphasize the word QUIET :). That will be a sanity sojourn :).

Then I thought about the word journey. I liked the adventure/epic theme in the first word. But somehow, journey just seemed overused. Kind of like my overuse of !!!! 

Kept fishing around. Pilgrim sounded a bit old-colony, and I kept thinking of that guy, some western fellow, (perhaps he was picaresque ;P), saying, "hey there, pil-grim." Ech.

But... journey... movement... a sense of adventure....

pilgrimage is a journey or search of great moral or spiritual significance. Typically, it is a journey to a shrine or other location of importance to a person's beliefs and faith. Many religions attach spiritual importance to particular places: the place of birth or death of founders or saints, or to the place of their "calling" or spiritual awakening, or of their connection (visual or verbal) with the divine, or to locations where miracles were performed or witnessed, or locations where a deity is said to live or be "housed," or any site that is seen to have special spiritual powers. Such sites may be commemorated with shrines or temples that devotees are encouraged to visit for their own spiritual benefit: to be healed or have questions answered or to achieve some other spiritual benefit. A person who makes such a journey is called a pilgrim. In America, the term pilgrim is typically associated with an early colonial protestant sect known for their strict rules of discipline.

It is the progression from one point of being to another. From beginning to end. For me, it is the essence of the adventure each of us is on - the movement from not knowing God to a deeper knowing of Him.

There are all sorts of characters along this journey that play a part in this epic story. People that have drawn me near to the heart of God, either by their teaching or their example. Others that have driven me to God by driving me to my knees ;). There is risk and romance ;), love and pain, anger, brokenness, confusion, despair, hope. There is adventure. There are seasons of routine, day-in day-out normalcy.

Recently I reread a passage that has spoken to me on numerous occasions:

5 Blessed are those whose strength is in you, 
   whose hearts are set on pilgrimage. 
6 As they pass through the Valley of Baka, 
   they make it a place of springs; 
   the autumn rains also cover it with pools.[d] 
7 They go from strength to strength, 
   till each appears before God in Zion. Psalm 84:5-7

There have been times when I would've preferred a safe, predictable life. And really, by many standards, that is precisely what I do have. However, blessed are those... whose hearts are set on pilgrimage... those who are not content with the "not knowing,"who are willing to risk going near the heart of God; risk the exposure, the awestruck wonder, the change.

According to my understanding, the Valley of Baka is a dry, desert place. Just like seasons in my life, where there are times of relational dryness. Things feel disconnected, especially, even most keenly with the One who knows me better than I know myself. In fact, I'd say most days, that's how I feel right now. And yet, even in the midst of those times, particularly because of those times, there are oases of learning and knowing and growing that can make it a blessed place. It has the potential to go deeper because it becomes something I am less tempted to take for granted.

It took a while for me to connect to the concept of moving from strength to strength. As a person who has struggled intensely with anxiety, I tended to think of life in terms of from catastrophe to catastrophe, with perhaps a little plateau in between. What a IMMENSE RELIEF it was for me to embrace the understanding that I could step from "strength to strength" while enduring the trial or valley that often lies in between.

Okay, there is much more I could say, but I think I've (sort of :P?) made my point.
If I had to pick a word, it would be pilgrimage. A journey with highs and lows, of many awkward moments (like the time I tore my shorts on a fence at a baseball game AND held them shut as I ran the bases or the time I tried downhill skiing and ended up in a fence), of many many many laughs and a few (more than a few!) tears too. At the heart of it - a growing, deepening, widening understanding of Who this Creator King is and how He is worthy of praise.


PS - You'd think that all I do all day is sit around mulling things over till I'm almost cuckoo :)!!! That is not the case. I actually do dishes, laundry, vacuuming, gardening, and a whole lotta child rearing in there too, just for fun :)!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Birthday baby

I have a theory. It goes like this. Brace yourself. It's very insightful.

First birthday parties are more for the mamas (and maybe for the papas too ;P) than they are for the kiddo in the spotlight!!

See, "first birthday party" means - WE SURVIVED THE YEAR! We've navigated sleepless nights, transition upheavals, breast-feeding, first cereal feedings, sibling adjustments, shopping outings with three kids piled on one stroller. Tummy troubles and family travels and nap time habits. We've gotten to know this little peanut and her many and varied preferences. We've gotten TWO teeth and a bit of rest. What a journey it has been!!

First things first. The cake. I am NO Betty Crocker. I don't enjoy baking much; kitchen duties are not the first things I sign up for. However, I do enjoy putting together my kids birthday cakes. Go figure. A glutton for punishment - perhaps. This year I thought I'd try playing around with fondant because I am inspired by a friend who gave it a whirl. (Joy, if you're reading this, you inspire me on so many levels. Fondant included ;P.)

Anyway, discovered that fondant can also be pretty pricey. Since we do want to reserve a bit of money for the kids RESP I came up with Plan B - Gum paste. Well, there's the pre-made version and the mix version. I bought the mix because, again, it's a bit cheaper. Of course, if you're really adventurous, the cheapest route is just to google a recipe and mix it all yourself. I didn't want to push my luck!

Gum paste is a TON of fun - once you figure out some of the .... kinks. It takes a bit of messin' around (and at 11:30pm, I didn't have a whole lotta energy left for that!) but once you got it, it's fun! Jon heard a lot of muttering under my breath (and some a bit louder than that!) but eventually TADA. Birthday cake.

I have learned to take pictures of the cake that moment they are done - because no matter how hard I try, something always appears different the next day. Like the time the gel writing ran and looked --- odd. Or the smarties bled color OFF the smarty and onto the cake. Again, didn't look as nice. This time, sure enough. The gum paste started to get a bit soft and the color started to blend into the whipped topping. All in all, it still looked okay.

Secondly, it's always fun to add a few final touches. I don't go all out in decorations. It's just not my thing. I have read of gals that literally STAPLE table clothes to the walls just to make an "underwater scene." Since I want to stay married, and I'm almost certain that "unnecessary holes in the walls due to stapled table clothes in an effort to create a birthday party theme is not allowable" was part of our wedding vows (right up there with for better or worse, as long as we both shall live), we keep it simple around here. A little bit of clip art and a little bit of color. Voila. Eat. Drink (punch or pop is what we serve!). Be merry.

The weather was lovely, and we were able to enjoy the great outdoors a bit before moving in for supper. Supper. Food. Ah. Again, kitchen issues. We decided, due to temperamental MB weather we would not bbq. I have a bbq "issue" (namely I hate it because I either burn it or undercook it, and let's just say it's not my thing. Although I have not given up, and do practice and someday... maybe someday.....) and I didn't want Jon to have to BBQ in his rain suit. Again. Because he's already done that once in a down pour this spring and I felt kinda bad about that ;). Except that he looked kinda cute, but I'm not sure that's exactly what he wanted to hear :). So, we went with p.i.z.z.a.

Now, if you've known me for a length of time you'll know I have a "history" with pizza. Love to eat it, have not given up on making it, but have struggled to get it "right." It either comes out too doughy in the middle (YUCK!) or ..... well, that's it. Usually squishy in the middle. I've tried all sorts of remedies for this and have yet to find one that I am satisfied with.

So, I used that mighty google tool again. Prebaked all my pizza crusts (poke them with a fork so that they don't get all big and fluffy) and then REBAKED them the next day with the toppings. Turned out FABULOUS. Because I used a light-colored heavy aluminum pan the crusts did not get overbaked at all. They were crisp on the outside yet barely even brown. I wasn't sure about the "rebaking" step, since there were many different theories on this out there. However, I popped them into a slightly cooler oven (375F) and could get away with baking them a full 17 minutes - toppings were done rather than precooking all the pizza toppings as well (a bit labor intensive!). Piping hot pizza, out of the oven. Served a crowd, simply, cleanly (as all the mess was made the day before) and I could enjoy MINGLING rather than COOKING!

See what I mean about first birthday parties being for the mamas :)? 

Here she is, my little one year old. Becoming a rather a dainty eater, so even though we gave her icing, this is about as crazy as she got!!

She is a sweet little gift, through and through. She's taught me so much already; I'm sure there'll be more lessons on the horizon as we move through toddler hood and into the preschool years ;). 

Now, pardon me. I think I'm going to enjoy a lazy-daisy Monday ;P.


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