Friday, August 30, 2013

Island Innocence

My husband and I sat in the secondary hospital waiting room (after being promoted from the initial emergency waiting room) with a handful of other people.  There were a few elderly ladies, a 50-ish gentleman, and a couple 20-somethings.  The room was getting full, only a couple seats remaining.  Another patient was ushered in and one of us called out, "Welcome to the party" and then we all went on chatting with each other, discussing ailments, the weather, the best places to go exploring and discovering mutual friends.

I was in the midst of conversation with the 20-ish young man beside me, talking about his recent visit to Italy, when another patient entered.  "Welcome to the party."

I was trying to thinking of a clever follow-up to that statement.  In my mind, I got as far as "All we need is..." and I got stuck.  Board games?  Pizza?  What makes a great party?

"All we need is a fiddle!" piped up the young world-traveler beside me.

Yes!  That is what I love about "the island" and its inhabitants.  The big headlines on the front of the newspaper generally revolve around things like an overturned truck carrying milk from the local dairy, the soccer hopes of the boy selling lemonade down by the pier, and local dismay at a lighthouse being decommissioned.

Life is so innocent on the Island.  The big excitement for the kids is either the Toy Factory (where you can have your signature engraved on your hand-made wooden car) or the soap-making shop (where you walk by the goats that will be milked later that evening so they can make more soap.)

The Toy Maker can't pass up a chance to play with the kids.

I'm pretty sure this was the kids' favourite place to be on the Island.

There's award-winning ice cream (best in Canada), numerous beaches (too many to count), and lighthouses (which you can climb for a buck or two.) And of course there are the ceilidhs (pronounced like the girl's name, Kay-lee), which always revolve around the fiddler.

I enjoyed the Island three years ago and fell in love with it all over again on our recent visit there.  The pace, the beaches, the people.  Yes, we will go back  That's not the problem...  It's remembering to come home!

This is a good day on the Island.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

24 Hours of "7 year old Boy"

I may not always make it clear to you, but the reason I wanted to write this blog was to have snapshots of life that my kids could go back and read, later down the road, when they are curious about our earlier life. Perhaps their ability to remember will be as bad as mine so they'll be glad to have things recorded.  Perhaps they'll want to see "Mom's perspective." 

I want many snapshots of life that they can enjoy.


Yesterday, in the middle of a very busy morning, my youngest said, "Mom, will you play Risk with me?"

He had already asked me a few times and each time I said, "Not today, Buddy.  I've got a lot of stuff to get done before Grandma and Grandpa get here."

But this time my answer was different.  In my impatience at his persistence, I said, "No!  I have a lot of Mom-Stuff that needs to get done."

Already expecting the "No," he started walking away.  It took me about 10 seconds to call him back. "Buddy, I want to re-phrase that.  Part of being a Mom is playing games.  And another part of being a Mom is making sure things get done around the house.  I need to be the 'get stuff done around the house' Mom before I can be the 'playing games' Mom."

"That's not any different from what you already said," he answered sullenly.

"Well, the ultimate result is the same, but I don't want you to think that I can't play because I'm a Mom.  I'll do the cleaning and the fun stuff because I'm a Mom.  But today, the cleaning has to happen first."

It didn't make much difference in his mind at the moment, but at least he still knows that Mom plays games with him.


We have a mourning dove that lives in the trellis right outside our door.  There are actually two babies and a mom who live there.  If you do not know the coo of a mourning dove, listen to it before I go on:
Mourning Dove Coo (click on the play button if it doesn't start automatically.)

The seven year old in my house has been getting into a lot of trouble lately.  He is having a hard time learning to come talk to a grown-up when his words aren't effective at swaying the opinions of his siblings.  His current course of action is hitting, which isn't proving to be especially effective.

Anyway, after one such event he had been disciplined appropriately and told to spend some time in his room until he was able to behave properly around the rest of us.  As I peeled carrots at the kitchen sink I could hear him wailing down the hall, behind his closed bedroom door.  With his window wide open our neighbours were all able to hear him too, including the mourning dove.  It didn't take long for the mourning dove to answer back to this mournful coo that it heard.  I couldn't help but laugh at the mourning dove who was certain she was having a meaningful conversation with my child, the one loudly protesting the grave injustice of discipline to which he had been submitted.


I took the van in for an oil change today.  For the half hour that it takes, I usually walk 500 metres down the road to the grocery store.  Today, I had the boy of these two stories with me.  I told him I'd buy him something special for lunch while we were waiting for the oil change.  As we walked, hand in hand to the store, we chatted about the rest of the day and what we needed to do.  He skipped and I watched for cars. We settled on getting a peach for him from the store, as long as there was a ripe one, of course.

I smiled at his happy little face, bobbing along beside me.  "I'm glad you came with me today," I said.  "I really like having just you around!"  He smiled up at me and said a hearty "Me too!"

On our way back to get the van, he asked if he could run part of the way.  He just couldn't contain it any longer.


So many different experiences with the same boy.  His energy, his impatience, his joy, his emotions - on display for all to see...  It's just a snapshot of one day.

He's so different from the boy of two years ago.  And in another two years, he'll have changed so much again.

Sunday, August 18, 2013


Our sermon today was about being broken people and letting God use us just as we were, broken, rather than waiting for us to become more refined, closer to perfection.  I've been thinking about that quite a bit today.  I am seeing my own brokenness.  As I was then and as I am now.

In all honesty, during the sermon, I was distracted.  I was thinking about something else, a recent event that had wriggled its way under my skin and was irritating me.  I kept going over it in my mind and it brought me to tears more than once.  I had been reminded of a crime that I committed in my youth.  Too many times to count.  Oh, it wasn't a crime against the legal system but against another human being, which is, in my estimation, far worse.

You see when you commit a crime against the legal system, you are brought before a judge and punished accordingly.  If you are a juvenile, the crime will not follow you for the rest of your life.  It remains hidden.  If you continue to commit crimes once you are old enough to be accountable, those crimes can follow you.

When you commit a crime against another human being, regardless of your age, you run the very real risk of having that sin thrown back in your face time and time again, even if it was committed when you were young and stupid.

So I sat there today, silent tears falling, reliving a stupid sin that I committed over and over as a child, which has not been forgotten by the victim of my sin.  It is hard to live with that.  Despite my apologies for the way I acted so many years ago, that sin lives on in the life of the person I hurt.  I do not know how or why it has stayed with that person.  Perhaps it is their own insecurity.  Perhaps it is a strong sense of justice.  Perhaps it is something else known only to God.  I just can't say.

But I realized this afternoon that the sermon I should have paid more attention to was telling me I have been forgiven, and I do have a loving Father who doesn't want to throw my past sin in my face.  When I recognize my own failures and bring them before Him, He wipes the slate clean, sets me on my feet with a loving embrace, and watches me go.  When I see where I've been and where I am now, and when I thank Him for his gentle teaching, I see Him beaming with pride that I finally got it.

I'm still learning, but I'm so thankful to not be in the beginner's class anymore.  And I'm so thankful for a Father who doesn't show me test scores from the early grades so He can remind me of my stupid, juvenile mistakes.

He takes my brokenness and makes it something beautiful.  Forgiven.  Restored.

Brokenness Aside
by All Sons and Daughters

Will your grace run out
If I let you down 

‘Cause I am a sinner 
If its not one thing its another

You are a Savior 
And you take brokenness aside
And make it beautiful, beautiful 

Friday, August 16, 2013


While this may seem to be me patting myself on the back, please understand that it is written only to express my thankfulness to my mother for teaching me something so valuable, and to share that valuable gift with those who don't know about it yet.


My nine year-old daughter had a Diet Coke the other day.  (It was in our cooler from the church picnic.  We did not choose it or buy it, but it came home with us nonetheless.)  I think it's the first one she's ever had. She didn't especially enjoy it.  She looked at the can and read it.

"Mom, why is it called Diet Coke?"

I explained about the chemical component of diet pops, called aspartame, and how it replaces the sweetness of sugar so that people don't consume as many calories when they choose to drink pop.  I explained that aspartame-laced pop has been shown to be just as bad, if not worse, than sugary pop.

Then she asked, "Why do people go on diets anyway?"

Well...  This was a new conversation at our house.  We haven't spoken of diets before.  I explained that sometimes people look at themselves and think that they aren't healthy.  So they decide to go on a diet.  And then I told her that the problem with diets is that they aren't a permanent change and that if you want to be healthy and do your best to keep sickness away, you need choose healthier eating as a permanent part of your lifestyle.


Tonight over dinner, I was telling the kids about a book I had just started reading.  It's called The Kitchen Counter Cooking School by Kathleen Flinn.  I'm only on page 22, but I love it already.  The author tells of an encounter with a woman at the supermarket...

This woman had filled her cart with Lipton Sidekicks, Hamburger Helper, canned soups, canned pastas, canned other-stuff, and a value pack of ground beef. Except for the beef, she had not shopped the perimeter of the store at all.  As the two ladies stood side by side looking at the meat section, the author mentioned that whole chickens were on sale for $0.99/lb that week.  The shopper looked terrified and said that she would have no idea of what to do with a whole chicken, let alone what kind of recipe to put it in.  The author took her over to the store butcher, who showed them how to cut up a chicken.  The author then bought a recipe book for the woman and made notes in it so the woman would be able to prepare the foods she wanted.  By the end of their conversation, the author had convinced this shopper to put back most of her prepackaged foods and replace them with whole, fresh, real foods.

As I read on, I was struck with the realization that I had taken cooking for granted my entire life.  My mother cooked my dinner from scratch most nights.  When I got married, she gave me a well-organized binder of her recipes, printed on her home computer.  I'm happy to say that 14 years later, I'm still using it.  I used two recipes from it tonight.  (Well, I used one.  My 11 year old son used the other. He baked the brownies and I made the hot fudge sauce. So we indulged a little.  At least it was homemade, right?)

The point, Wanda.  What's the point?

Right.  The point: One of the most important things* I can teach my children is how to plan, purchase and prepare a home-cooked meal.  This is something I've taken for granted my entire life and I'm just now realizing it.

(*Much like the Best Selling Books lists, I'm assuming everyone knows how awesome the Bible is.  Of course, the most important thing I can teach my kids is to love and follow God and his Word, as Christians.)

As I shared with the kids how thankful I was that my mother taught me how to plan, purchase, and prepare a home-cooked meal, the oldest perked up and echoed back "Just like we're learning that from you!"

I'm not the best cook and I have many flops in the kitchen.  But I'm happy to see my kids yearning for the joy of getting messy in the kitchen and crafting a culinary creation.  There's a satisfaction that comes with knowing my kids will have the tools to choose to eat well when they leave our nest.

And that Diet Coke?  My daughter dumped the rest of it down the drain, saying, "It tastes weird, Mom."


If you want some recipes to start with, Pinterest is a great place to look.  Crock Pot recipes are usually easy, although they do sometimes use tinned soups or store-bought bouillon cubes.  But start slowly so you don't get overwhelmed!  No one's asking you to become Amish and grow your own wheat.

Homemade, from scratch (including tortillas, but not sour cream), Mexican lasagna
The recipe for the Mexican Lasagna (seasoning and tortillas, too) can be found here.
And if you're interested, I've got some recipes over here on my other, less-updated blog, Scratch That... although a good number of them are sweets.  What can I say?  I love to bake.  Everything in moderation, right?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Hand of Providence

11 years ago my hubby and I bought a used dining table set with chairs and a hutch.  It was a pricey purchase for a young family just moving into their first house, but those items served us well for 10 years.  This winter we finally replaced the table with a hand-made, Mennonite-crafted table that can expand to seat 12-14 people.  My husband calls it his "Precious."  (He also calls our wisteria plant his "Precious," but that's irrelevant to this story.)

So we got rid of our old table and chairs.  Free on Kijiji (which is the Canadian version of Craiglist.)  They were gone within 45 minutes of listing them.

Once we made the decision to educate our children from the comforts of our home, we realized that we needed to create more learning space in our dining/living room area.  I decided that the hutch needed to go.  It's a nice piece of furniture, free of scratches, complete with working light.  I listed it on Kijiji for $200.  After a week, the only call we had was from someone 1.5 hours away, who had no idea he was calling a house so distant from his own.

So I dropped the price down to $150. 

Our goal was to put a couple desks across the wall of the dining area where the hutch resided.  We started looking for desks (again, on Kijiji.)  I found and picked up a solid wood desk for $40.  It just needed to be refinished.

Still no bite on the hutch.  So I dropped the price to $100.

After another week of no phone calls, we were desperate to get rid of this intruder in our home.  It had served us well, but at this point it was preventing me from setting up for school in the fall.  We made a decision.  The hutch would go to whoever could lug it out, no charge.  Free. 

It's time was up.  It had served us well but had to go.
We called Habitat for Humanity - Restore.  They didn't want it.  "Hutches just don't sell."  You're telling me!

I re-listed it on Kijiji, for free this time.  I got a call within minutes.  And then another one.  Then a third.  I changed the heading to "Sold Pending Pick-Up" and took the phone number off the ad so we wouldn't get more calls.  By the time I checked our emails, we had 11 emails asking if the hutch was still available.

Two days later, the first caller decided she couldn't haul it away with her SUV.  I called the second caller.  No answer.  I called the third caller.  He came and picked it up the next morning.

We were free!!!  It was gone.

Hubby started looking around Kijiji for a second desk that could fit in the spot once occupied by the monster of a hutch.  We needed a desk that was, at most, 20 inches deep, and solid wood so it would be durable through many years of school in that room.

He got to about the fourth page of the listings of desks and found a desk that appeared to be perfect.  And it was free.  But the listing was two days old.  Surely there was a problem with this desk.  We measured the wall and the first desk.  We had a total of about three inches of clearance with the dimensions of this newly found desk.  Hubby called.  The only caveat was that it was heavy (a beast, really) and had been relegated to the basement of this man's house.  We had to haul it out.

Hubby grabbed our 18 year old nephew and hopped in the van to nab this gift from God.

The fact that no one threw their back out lugging the desk out of that house and into ours was also a gift from God.

The desk now sits against the wall of our dining room.  I smile every time I look over there.  The timing of all this was impeccable.  The (non-existent) price differential between the hutch and the desk is just amazing.  I see the hand of God through all of this.

It's just one more scenario that weaves its way into our lives to show us that God is most definitely directing our paths. We serve a great God.

$40 for these two desks.  Definitely a gift from above.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

"New Mother" Adventures

One of my favourite bloggers, Green Grandma, invited me to write about my experience with breastfeeding for World Breastfeeding Week, Aug 1-7 2013.  I tried to come up with something serious and insightful. But when I started writing I just kept coming back to this familiar scene that played itself out time and time again.  So, for every new mother who has soaked through a shirt and sprayed her baby in the eye, read this:

...and know that you are not alone!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Baa Baa, David's sheep

I'm in the middle of preparations for our Vacation Bible School, which starts tomorrow.  As I scramble to get everything in place, the phone keeps ringing.  We've had two more families enroll at the last minute.  This may not seem like a big deal to most of you, but it's huge for us!  We can't have too many kids, but we want to make sure there are enough to make some noise.  So it's nice to see our registration pages filling up.  Who knows what seeds we're planting?

One of the last things I've done is put together the songs that we'll sing.  I've had some floating around in my head but I needed to finalize them today.  I wanted to re-write the words to Baa, Baa, Black Sheep to go along with our theme, but didn't really know if it would happen.  I sat down tonight to work on it and (with the help of came up with something that will pass for a song this week.  I think it's cute, even if a bit forced in rhythm at times.  Here's what I came up with:

Baa Baa Psalm 23

The Lord's my shepherd, I will want no more
He makes me lie down by the water's shore

My soul's refreshed, I'm on the right trail
God's in charge, even when I fail

The Lord's my shepherd, I will want no more
He makes me lie down by the water's shore

I walk through hard times and He comforts me
He sets a table before my enemies

Anointing on my head, and goodness by my side
I feel His love around me when He is my guide

All the days of my life I want to yell
“In the Lord's house, that is where I'll dwell!”

I'd love to challenge you to rewrite a psalm to your favourite kids' tune.  It's just fun and it's a great way to get kids singing about God!


Thursday, August 1, 2013

Sweet Rice, Edelweiss

More awesomeness from my house this morning...

Girl:  Mom, do you remember the rice song on my mp3 player and how I told you it wasn't on there?

Me:  What rice song?

Girl: “Sweet rice.”    The one from The Sound of Music.

Me: You mean "Edelweiss?"

Girl: Well, I thought it was called "Sweet Rice" so when I saw "Edelweiss" I didn't know that's what it was.  But then I heard the song that was called Edelweiss and then I knew that it was the rice song, so I don't need you to put it on there anymore.