Monday, July 28, 2008

mega family VBS

It is VBS week in our neck of the world and some of our best friends are here to spend it with us. My friend and her 6 kids are here for the week bringing our household total to 12 kids and 3 adults, 2 dogs and 10 cats (okay the dogs and cats don't live in the house). They arrived last night and here's our tally of happenings in the first 24 hours.

8 litres of milk (it's being rationed or it would have been waaaaaaaaaaaaaay more)
3 loaves of bread
1 box of spaghetti
3 lbs of hamburger
16 corn dogs eaten
2 bags of chips
a lot of cold cuts
a lot of cereal

5 skinned knees
2 skinned elbows
3 skinned palms
6 missing children
6 baths
2 loads of laundry
1 monster thunder storm

I'd say we're doing pretty well!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Some Montreal Pics

These are a few pictures of our trip to Montreal. I loved the architechture there. Alot of the city, particularly the old part is built of brick and stone - built to last, to withstand fire and all that. It's beautiful and feels so solid. Glass and steel seem so out of place there.

We took in MANY museums and such things. YOu can see the top of the Biodome, taken from the top of the Montreal Tour which rises over Olympic Stadium. We took the funicular up to the top of the tower, it's a beautiful view but not really worth the exhorbitant amount they charge you for the privelege. We had great Thai food at a little restaurant called Just Noodles, probably my favorite meal the whole time we were there. Abby and I put on a tremendous amount of miles walking to various spots. We were a little tired by the time we hit the Botanical Gardens, Abby decided to take a little break in the Chinese Garden. We learned a great deal about the history of Montreal and about quite a few other things, I'll save that for another post since I'm supposed to go practice the song we're singing tomorrow right now.

Friday, July 25, 2008

gifts (136)

126. fresh cherries - sweet red juice dripping, so good you just can't stop eating them
127. Linda at the Co-op for letting me get my apricots early
128. 38 jars of preserved fruit sitting on my counter
129. huge, yellow, sweet apricots, not those bland things that you eat and feel like it wasn't worth the effort, tast, sweet, yummy apricots, some for jam and some for canning!
130. The room air conditioner that Kelly purchased on the 23rd. Oh how lovely that was today with all my steamy cooking!
131. Decorations saved from another party so I could quickly make the family party look like a festive event.
132. The clean kitchen after the first wave of canning is finished.
133. The 8 and 9 year olds who volunteered to wash and stem the cherries and then pack them into jars, it was a joy to work alongside them.
134. My four year olds overflowing gratitude for doing the simple task of mending a pair of his pajama pants - that kind of gratitude makes you want to hit the mending pile so maybe you can get another round of that!
135. My new CD that came in the mail today, it has the most wonderful song on it called "The Gift" that totally speaks to my spirit - I love the song, so I purchased the CD - the rest of the CD is good, too. Artist - David Nevue, CD - Sweet Dreams and Starlight - solo piano
136. After a week of 'counting my steps' I realized that I average about 10000 steps every day, I thought that goal would be difficult to reach but I guess it might not be so hard after all.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The gift of my son (125)

Today was my third son's birthday. My little Samuel turned 6 and was very happy about it...he told everyone he saw today that it was his birthday. The mean mommy had the nerve to schedule dentist appointments for him and his brother on his birthday, how nasty is that? On the upside, my kids love going to the dentist and, because we were in the city, his birthday party got to be at the Fun Factory. The kids had a blast. One of the benefits of having a large family is that you are a party when everyone is together!! So today my gift list is going to be focused on this wonderful boy I get to call my son!

115. I am grateful that I get to be his mom.
116. His adorable little smirk is always a treat to see.
117. I love it that his personality is so incredibly different than his siblings.
118. He is a fiercely loyal young man.
119. His heart is healed! Thank you Jesus. His physical heart and his spiritual heart were dealt with all on the same weekend, what a blessing to be there when your child gives their heart to their Creator.
120. I continue to be amazed at the change wrought in his health since his heart surgery, you would never know now that he was born with a defective heart.
121. I love his zeal for learning, over the winter he decided to learn to he did. And this summer he decided he wanted to learn French so he started on the same program that his older sister is taking.
122. He is so darn cute!!
123. He loves condiments (especially ketchup) - I don't know if that's really a gift or not but I'm putting it in.
124. He likes cherry tomatoes - no one else in my family does except me, so it's nice to have someone to share them with.
125. He is a gift, simply because he is..........I love that boy.

Monday, July 21, 2008

good night

This evening I have enjoyed a little tour through the blog world. I haven't done that in oh-so-long. It was lovely to go and 'visit' places I haven't been to in a long while. Realized some of my links aren't good anymore and I really need to change them. Bought some delicious fabric from freshsqueezedfabrics (Randi's Etsy shop on I have to say - that link is good still). Laughed a little at Fish in My Hair (that link isn't good anymore). Anyway, I think I should probably go to bed now, I'm rather tired and don't have anything eloquent to say...

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Progress not Perfection (114)

Progress not Perfection
a fresh flowers original
copyright 2008, lani wiens

This morning as I sit at my computer and listen to the birds sing and my little girl babbling at my side my heart is peaceful and full. The Lord has been showing me a few things lately and for a change my heart has been able to take it in and His words are speaking to my heart and bringing about a gradual change.

I've been really ready for a change. There are times when the Spirit lets us gets good and discontent with the way things are so that when we're finally fed up with the way things are we're willing to go through the necessary adjustments. I think God smiles at that, "Finally," he says, "I was wondering how long you'd put up with that."

I am a self-proclaimed perfectionist. I would love it if my home was clean and decorated like a magazine photo shoot. I would be thrilled if my children didn't have to be told to do their chores, were always kind to one another and spoke with respect and reverance for their God. You know those kids, the ones who do their devotions on their own from the time they're two, were potty-trained perfectly at 8 months and spoke in complete sentences from the womb. That's what I'm talking about. I'd like some of those. And me. In my perfect world I'd wake up with my make-up done, my hair would always look like someone is gently blowing a fan on me and I would NOT have this extra bubble in the middle that refuses to go away. My words would be gentle and sweet, I would never yell at anyone and my teeth would be a glistening white. Did I mention that my garden would never have a single weed...they wouldn't dare.

So, that's my dream state. My reality, of course, is far from that. With all the kids home for the summer the snowstorm in which I shovel is a strong nor'easter with no signs of letting up!! I've been walking consistently for over 2 months and that bubble just won't budge. I get a little upset with my less than perfect children now and then and they don't have devotions every day unless it's with the rest of the family at the breakfast table. All of this imperfection can get a person feeling a little down, why bother with this anyway if I'm never going to achieve my lofty goals?

Between my husband, the Spirit of the Lord and a few weeds my heart started getting a new picture as I cried out in my desperation for something to change. The questions started coming..."Who do I clean for and why do I do it?", "Why do I want my children to behave and obey?", "For whom am I weeding these gardens?" Those questions set me back on my heels. I realized that much of what I was doing wasn't in obedience to the Lord it was to impress whoever happened to be nearest. I didn't want anyone thinking that perhaps I was less than perfect or ...gasp...that my dear children were not angels. My husband and my Lord told me very clearly to change my goal.

If I keep perfection as my target I will constantly be frustrated and angry that my goals are blocked and not being reached by my imperfect self and all the imperfect people who share my home. My goal needs to be progress. My new question needs to be, "Are we heading in that general direction?", "Are the things I'm working on moving toward completion?", is it better than yesterday?

Unfortunately the weeds are going to keep coming. My little boy is going to keep using bathroom talk in his everyday speech until he figures out that it isn't popular or funny. The snowstorm is going to keep blowing and I need to lower my standards of what clean looks like in my house. At the same time I will continue to encourage myself and my children toward the goal of greater cleanliness, deeper devotion, a more weed-free existence.

God actually calls us to perfection. Jesus says in Matthew, "Be perfect, therefore as the Father is perfect." As Angela Thomas says, God isn't going to lower His standard for us so that we can feel better about ourselves. God keeps the standard high and lovingly directs us toward it. He is well aware of the fact that we aren't going to get there as long as we're wearing these fleshly coverings but he constantly urges us toward that goal and rejoices in the progress we make. And on the days we don't make progress he wraps us in his grace and mercy and says, "Let's try again tomorrow."

That's the kind of home I want my kids to grow up in. I have been legalistic, controlling, and critical towards their lack of perfection and I've had to repent and ask their forgiveness time and time again. God's grace and mercy cover over a multitude of things and when I choose to live there I can see the beauty happening around me. I can appreciate the wonder of small things going on all around me that show me that progress is really happening. Here are a few to get your heart started toward progress..........I'm going to count them as part of my 1000 gifts list, because that's what they are, little gifts in my imperfect world that the Lord gives me to remind me He loves me and loves the progress that I'm making. I can receive his gifts of mercy and extend them to others.

95. My son was finally allowed to run the lawnmower after a year of begging to be allowed to do so, the look of pure delight on his face as he worked was a gift, especially for this son who doesn't like to work much, and he did a great job, too.

96. Lightning flashing and thundering rumbling as the first drops of rain fall.

97. Eager faces pressed up against the window watching the 'light show', not complaining that our outdoor evening had to get taken inside (and not complaining about their tin-foil packet meals simply because they made them).

98. The sound of an army of 6 children fighting together an unseen foe.

99. The first pink lily turned its beautiful face to the sun (even with weeds surrounding it).

100. Standing with my children and enjoying the flowers...they didn't even notice the weeds, just the beauty that was there.

101. Sitting in the quonset with my oldest and youngest watching our pretty kitties come for their food. Jet black, gray and white, tabbies, so pretty, each unique.

102. Dewy sleep-warm cheeks pressed to mine early in the morning with soft kisses and lisping, "morning mommy..." coming from rose red lips.

103. The roots of weeds giving way before my fingers.

104. The first salad totally from my garden. Crisp lettuce, abundant dill, sharp green onions - a warm egg sliced on top with oil and vinegar dressing accompanied by homemade Italian cheese bread and butter, a little tomato soup made by my 8 year old on the side and a skor bit square for dessert. YUM!! No restaurant meal holds a candle to that.

105. The scent of fresh laundry coming off the line, drenched in sun.

106. The scent of pungent fresh dill........mmmmmmmmmmm love that smell.

107. Verbena and shea butter lotion, another heavenly scent.

108. Cooperation between two tiny people to perform the task of unloading the dishwasher, they entered the joy of working for the family wholeheartedly.

109. Jesus Loves Me sung at the top of 2 year old lungs.

110. Late evening walks hand in hand with the one I love.

111. Dogs protectively circling us as the coyotes howl.

112. A quiet house after a late evening walk.

113. Jasmine tea sipped out of beautiful cups purchased in Montreal.

114. Walking over 10000 steps in one day!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

gifts (94)

78. A wonderful holiday to Montreal with my husband and big girl.

79. A very cozy bed while we were gone.

80. Happy accidents that put us in the right place for Abby and I get to be able to get around easily.

81. History - such a legacy our country has, truly a gift.

82. Wonderful folks who took care of our other children while we were away.

83. Summer camp!! Christopher had a great time.

84. Reunion - it is such a treat to see little legs churning as fast as they can to meet you with wild cries of, "Mommy!!" or "Daddy!!" on their lips.

85. Home - often I take HOME for granted, there are so many who do not know the concept of HOME, of safety and love and familiar walls that comfort you and cradle you. HOME is a gift.

86. Baking bread in my kitchen, the warm yeasty scent rising up to meet me.

87. The pungent scent of fresh herbs picked fresh off my counter to go into savoury bread.

88. Kelly was taking time to worship at the piano this morning, I woke to the sound of his beautiful voice rising in praise to the Lord, in the background I could hear the tiny warble of Elizabeth joining him in praise - a wonderful way to awaken.

89. For a delightful change all the children were delighted with the small gifts we brought back from our trip, no complaining, no comparing...just delight....a rare gift indeed.

90. The gift of many hands to share the labour, the house is quiet now as Kelly and five of the kids are out weeding in the gardens.

91. Rain in July, a rare commodity in our part of the world.

92. Vibrant green and yellow in the fields, healthy crops.

93. The view from my kitchen window, green healthy trees, contented dogs and children playing in the soft grass.

94. It truly is a gift to feast my eyes on the familiar things of my home, listen to the hum of the washing machine declaring that we are back, feeling the chair beneath me as I write, tasting the fruit of my labour in the kitchen - all these things are a gift to a travel weary soul.

Monday, July 07, 2008

picture gifts (77)

72. Elizabeth's first ponytails!
73. Pajama pants from mom/Grandma.
74. Got the quilt finished that I wanted to make for Kathrin to take home.
75. Canada Day! What an amazing country we live in! 76. Carebear and Firestarter who let us crash their party! What fun.
77. Family (I may have said it before but I'll say it again) - this is my husband's clan.


I am desperately tired at the moment. Why are holidays like that? We're in between events today. We got home from family camp last night - how good was that time? So much fun. Tomorrow we leave for our Montreal adventure. So exciting! HOwever, the washing, packing and unpacking have left me a little tired.

65. So thankful for my husband, who's birthday happens to be today. He never reads my blog but if he did, he'd see himself at the top of my list today. He is such an incredible gift to me. He could probably count for at least 100 of this 1000 gifts list easily.

66. The gift of family camp at Westbank Bible Camp. A wonderful holiday for our whole tribe.

67. Sisters - the biological ones, the in-law ones, the spiritual ones - who can live without a sister?

68. My son who turned 12 just the other day - a pleasure to call him my own.

69. The incredible gift of anticipation as each of our children gets ready for their adventures this week.

70. Grandma Camp - that's were my three little ones are headed, they can hardly wait...

71. Dear friends who are taking the other two boys.