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PINNot only has it been a “real” winter here this year (the last few years, we’ve been spoiled with some serious mildness), but it has also been an extra tiring season being pregnant this winter.  We are definitely at the age with our kids where they geared up and ready to go and not as easily compliant for nap times.  I still benefit from a rest in the afternoon with our rest-time hour, but this pregnant body has been craving a lot more slow-downs than it’s been getting.  To the mamas (and papas!) out there that go on to having more and more wonderful gifts added to their families, I look up to you with awe and wonder.  How you are surviving with the minimal sleep and coping with the wear on your bodies is a miracle in itself!

In getting prepared for what is soon to be coming our way in a month or so(!), I’ve been flip-flopping with what control of my time actually means.  For starters, “being in control” seems like such an oxymoron as a parent.  As much as you can plan, the course always changes, even if it be ever so slight.  When I was sharing with my midwife about fears/worries/concerns about coming up to the labor of this babe, I found my mind stuck in the hours of labor I went through to have Elkan.  She asked what I would like to see different about this experience, and I blurted out – “I just want to be in control.”  Of course, I meant that I wanted to be in control of the outcome … I wanted to know that I would be holding a baby in my arms.  A baby that I would hold and watch for many years grow into a beautiful person living his/her beautiful purpose.  She quickly pointed out that labor is not something you can be in control of (which, I also obviously know and have experienced!) but rather something you need to be in surrender to.  Whether or not I want it to go a certain way, I need to embrace and surrender to the process.  That means a lot physically, but even more mentally … spiritually.

Parenting as a whole has been a process of learning surrender.  Letting go of my expectations of me, my children, the simplest outcomes, and so on.  Surrender is something that Jesus talks about doing every day:

“…if anyone wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me…” – Luke 9:23

It is quite simple to toss around the word, but when it comes to acting it out, I can’t really say that I easily do this each and every day.  I make a plan and try to stick to it.  I set a list of goals to see through and I go off of that to feel like I am accomplishing that what I feel like I am “in control” of.  But when it really comes down to it, all of those “things” can have variables thrown at them, so where does that leave me then?  Not in control anyways!

Surrender doesn’t have to be an act of giving up but rather a controlled response to what may be the impossible for us to deal with alone.  I know, I need God’s help to see me through the pains of labor and the long path of parenting.  But if I don’t surrender – willingly – I am then forced, in a double sense, to a point where I actually cannot move forward and I need to (1) and I need to take whatever option is in front of me (2).  Sure, we all need to get to those points for it to be a true heart surrender sometimes, but for the most part, it would just seem like the smartest option to surrender before then – no?!

As a parent, or maybe in a circumstance where you need to surrender on the daily(!), how do you approach it?  And who or where do you surrender to?

 

pic pix: my feet at the playground, winter 2016, Calgary, AB

 

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PINMy epiphanies.  I call them that because they have been like revelations … to me.  Maybe I am the last one to jump on the housework train of what ‘making-life-easier’ looks like!  Even though at least one of these things has been around for a very long time, I am just letting the awesomeness into my life now!  I feel if my Gramma were to read this, she would just smile knowingly, not ‘told-you-so’ like, but lovingly.  And sorry (not sorry!) if you’ve been in an earshot vicinity around me in the past while, you may already know the things I am about to share, so … here you go again!

PIN1. Grocery shopping on Fridays … not Mondays

How does this happen?  A lot of people I know grocery shop on Mondays and I myself was a passenger of that habit up until about a year and half ago.  Even employees at the local grocery store have said that Sundays and Mondays are the busiest days at grocery stores.  I suppose, it’s because we all think stocking up our fridge at the beginning of the week will be freshest, best, and easiest for meal planning.  At least that’s what I thought…

We host a life group on Fridays and I started getting groceries Friday mornings so that I would not have to stress about having things ‘on hand’.  It forces me to think about the next week a couple days earlier (Thursday nights instead of Sunday nights), but really, the freshness of my food is about the same.  What has also been beneficial is 1. the stores aren’t as busy Fridays and 2. we have food for the weekend and we are less likely to eat out compared to before.  When getting groceries on Mondays, we were tired of what we had left over from the week and we would be tempted and give into that temptation to just go out to eat on the weekends.  Now, because our groceries are fresh, we’ve curbed that habit more and still have a meal plan for the next week.  It’s some food for thought, anyways.

2. Making multiple meals at a time

I also know quite a few people that do this and I commend them.  Setting an afternoon aside to make a couple meals actually goes a long way (if I get to this trick of the trade, my time is usually Tuesday afternoons).  Instead of the 4 ‘o clock panic to get food ready, on the days that I’ve prepped my meal the day or two before I am able to play with the kids outside or get a dessert ready or … read a book <gasp! a mother having the time to read a book?!>.  That wonder of one afternoon of ‘working’ has made MORE time for me to enjoy the day with my kiddos.  It doesn’t happen every week, but I’ve been trying to meal plan better so that I can have that luxury.  Or as my husband puts it, make more ‘good mothering days’ – Mama’s happy so the kids are happy.

PIN3. Storing dairy in ‘nice’ containers

Ok.  This is more of an aesthetic thing, but deep down, it makes me and my heart so happy.  First off, the cumbersome 4L plastic bottles in my fridge take up so. much. space.  Sure, you can rest them on their side, but they don’t fit fridges well.  Secondly, I like to see *clean* and *fresh* when I look into the fridge (even though, it may not always be that way it’s what I like – ha!).  Glass and stainless steel have definitely helped with that.  As a third item, it’s easier to make chocolate milk (as I now store the milk in 1L portions).  So important, I know.  And lastly, the cream especially seems to stay fresher.  It’s a win, win, win, win situation!  I use these guys and other pretty glass carafes to store my milk.

PIN4. China Markers for the win

In conjunction with my last point (using glass to store milk), I needed a way to track the due dates on the bottles/containers I was using.  Before using china markers, I would sometimes use masking tape to label leftovers and other items in the fridge.  But since discovering these useful markers, I will not go back.  You can write on glass, plastic, metal, film, and most non-porous surfaces, you don’t need a sharpener, AND the markings are water-resistant!  They are at any ‘ol stationary store (i.e. Staples) and they come in three different colors – white, red, black.  So great for writing notes on our lunch boxes, leaving notes on the fridge, labeling everything, marking coffee beans – decaf/regular – in the coffee grinder, really … so many things!

PIN5. Minimal dishes method

Life changer right here.  This is the one that thing that I know my Gramma would definitely agree with (smart lady).  I follow a gal on instagram who posted her minimal methods for mothering/housemaking a while back that really impacted me.  Their family of 6 lives in a little house (160 sq.ft – I’m not kidding!) and she obviously had to pare down with the amount of things, in all rooms, they could use.  Though, we are not living nearly as tight as they are, I resonate with her opinions about less stuff = less work.  Simpler is easier and cleaner – physically and psychologically.  Because we host some large groups a few times a month (averaging 20-30 people coming over for dinner each time), I like that I can serve everyone with a real plate and not have to use paper plates everytime.  So, what we did is cleared out all the ‘extra dishes’ and put only our daily dishes on one cupboard that we can pull from.  Six (Matt’s dad lives with us too!) big plates, six bowls, six little plates, six cups.

By condensing the amount of dishes we are allowing ourselves to use, it forces us to wash our dishes right away so we can use that dish for the next meal.  Hand washing has overtaken our kitchen by storm and I can honestly say, we typically only use the dishwasher once a week.  Cleaning up dinner takes a fraction of the time if I can get my working dishes done before everyone sits down to eat.  I am a natural procrastinator, so you would think, leaving the dishes in the dishwasher to be washed later would bring me more peace, but this method brings more peace of mind to me.  Seriously!  Try it for one week, and let me know how it changes you <smile>.

PIN6. Beeswax Wrap

This is in no way near the end of my list for any particular reason … I LOVE this stuff!  I won an IG giveaway from this Canadian company a while back and little did they know, that I had been counting my pennies to take the plunge into solely using beeswax wrap (I haven’t used saran for over a year now … much to my family’s chagrin!).  I loved their product so much, that I went and bought myself a few more packs and don’t think I’ll ever be able to go back to plastic wrap.  It is so moveable/modlable, it keeps fruit + veggies + cheese incredibly crisp and fresh, does not have lingering odors attached after you wash it (yes, I even have tested it with onion) … I am sold on it and you should be too!  Invest the $18 in the variety pack, and I will guarantee you will be ordering some more.

7. Setting the dinner table right after lunch

That, is literally it.  Though it may seem small, it is a mighty time saver!  Matt, who typically doesn’t notice details right off the bat, came home after three days of this little trial of mine and said how welcoming it felt to come home to a set table (even though he didn’t know dinner wasn’t even ready yet – ha!).  Double win for this lady right here!!

So…that’s it for my latest “wow things” in and around the kitchen and I hope you enjoy/comment/try some of them out.  And please share if you have had any epiphanies in the kitchen lately – I’d love to hear and try them myself!  I’m all about ‘not reinventing the wheel’ so send those tricks on over, ok?!

 

pic pix: stuff photographed out on the porch, in freezing temperatures might I add!

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PINWhen I woke up this morning, I couldn’t believe that it has been an entire year.  They say time flies.  And yes, it most definitely does, but it feels like a lifetime that our baby boy was alive in my womb.  A journey that has only begun but yet is a forever etching that seems like it’s always been there.

I’ve never known this kind of grief or sadness before and it has made me realize all the more, that I really can’t understand the pain others endure.  We all know what pain is, but what we each experience, is so individual.  So much so, that sometimes, it felt easier to just be alone.  Although I’ve been in the presence of people, at times it has felt easier to keep silent because I know I will still feel alone even after sharing (a big reason why it was difficult to blog).  It’s a hard thing to articulate – as I knew (and know) that those that surrounded me love me, care for me, and have been there to listen.  ‘Journey‘ is the only way I can describe how the pain has/is being dealt with ❤

We recently watched the movie The Shack (*spoiler alert* – I am talking about the movie if you haven’t seen it).  I have some mixed opinions about the story itself, but there was a part in the ending that served as salve for my aching mama heart.  The dad caught a glimpse of his little girl in heaven, so happy, so beautiful.  God’s character in the movie, Papa, gave the father a choice that he could either be in heaven with his daughter or with the rest of his family on earth (until they would one day see her in heaven again).  Papa said that Missy (the daughter) would not know the difference between the next moment or 45 more years.  As time in heaven is different, something we obviously do not understand, for him to stay on earth would be like the blink of an eye … she would not be in the state of missing him.

As I’ve mentioned before, I am so grateful for the hope of heaven, and the hope of seeing and being with Elkan one day again.  But a question I’ve asked so often is how come he couldn’t be part of our family longer here on earth?  Why did it have to be so short?  I’ve put my thoughts within the time constraints of this earth and have been irked at the fact that Elkan will be “waiting for us” for what could be, possibly years.  After hearing the perspective of how heaven’s on a different clock, I was given a new peace.  He is not missing us.  And though, he IS waiting for us … it is in the best place, with the Father who loves him so, and within the best way of time.

Each day is definitely a new step, part of this journey on earth without him.  Yet, the reminder of him allows us to venture forward with him too.  The name Elkan means God creates.  Each and every day, we are new creations walking in the light.  God has created us for today … we are to live that way!  Our time here may be short, but there is so much meaning and purpose packed in a single day, let alone, our lifetime.  We miss the mark sometimes, longing for “another life”, literally and figuratively, and I don’t want to take my breaths here on earth for granted.

…Love is deep as the road is long
And moves my feet to carry on
It beats my heart when you are gone
Love is deep as the road is long
Nobody knows how the story ends
Live the day, doing what you can
This is only where it began …
– The Lumineers

I know I don’t know some of the pains you have experienced or are going through, but what I do know is that there is a special reason you were placed right where you are – in the family you belong to, the day you were born, the lives you touch daily … down to the freckles you may have on your nose!  God, the Creator, made you to be you and live the life you have.  Don’t miss it, friends.  Live the day doing what you can …

pic pix: shots from last January on the porch, 19.Jan.2017, at home

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PIN

Isn’t it funny how day by day, nothing changes, but when you look back, everything is different? – C.S. Lewis

When I started my original blog (back in 2009), I never once thought I could get so busy with my life that sharing my ramblings and ebbs of life would or even could go under the radar.  Or, in other words, it has surprised me that I’ve had such a radio silence over here.  This space has been an area for me to not only process thoughts but refine them.  It’s not just a journal for me, writing words then simply publishing anything that comes to mind.  It’s become somewhere I am challenged to clarify my mind’s chattering and clutter … somewhere I search out what I really mean and find truth to encourage with.  I’ve missed it, to say the least!

In some ways, I don’t even know how to begin because much has transpired between today and my last post (last June!).  Just jumping in may be the best only to get back “into it” persay … how can something so part of one’s life slowly make it’s way to ‘later’ pile?

Instructions for living a life: Pay attention.  Be astonished.  Tell about it.  – Mary Oliver, ‘Sometimes’

Change.  That is the only reasonable explanation I can think of.  Change that has not yet settled me or my life currently.  Change that is still very much up in the air.

For 2017, I was anticipating a lot different results … having Elkan here being number one on my mind.  Last Christmas (2016), I remember talking to him and telling him how next year would be his first Christmas, that he’d already be 5 months old, and so on.  Additionally, I didn’t think we were going to have a garden because we were going to have a summer baby but, did we ever have a garden last year!  A little unruly and not as well planned, but a beautiful, creative expression nonetheless.  Which then led to harvesting – another change in the plans!  What a job that has been and a major learning curve for this gardener-wannabe.

We were praying for another gift of a child … and though we had no idea how things would pan out, we have been graciously blessed with this pregnancy and our newest addition will be here in a couple short months – March 2018!  This is yet, another big change we could have never planned or had control of.  A change that has this mama still unable to completely have her footings at times, in the most excited kind of way!

But at the end of it all, and through all of life’s busy-ness and our lack of control in the midst of it, the changes that came our way last year were hard but beautiful.  Unanticipated but embraced.  Unexpected yet thrilling.  Unfathomable yet no other way teachable.

Change isn’t always going to produce the outcomes we hope for.  Daily, change inhabits our rhythms, but how often do we view it as a gift and not a hiccup?

Like previous years, Matt and I have contemplated over a word that we will strive to improve on and increase in for the specific year.  In 2017, we chose s t e w a r d i n g.  2016, s t e a d y , s l o w , s i m p l e.  For 2015, i n t e n t i o n.  For this new upcoming year, we have come to the word…

p e r s i s t : to last or endure tenaciously; to continue steadfastly or firmly in some state, purpose, course of action

Despite the changes being hurled at us, or the unexpected surprising us, we want to take this year, and endure tenaciously.  Already, I know as we enter the territory of adding another family member to this tribe, we are in for a grande and wonderful delight, let alone ALL the other unforeseen beauties this year has for us.  Sadness, grief, joy, heart swells of pride, pain, delight … this year will be a year we persist through with confidence, with purpose.  

Regardless of what it holds, I want to strive to view it and live life as the gift it is.  So change, c’mon!  Bring it!

 

pic pix: camping in the smoky air, outside of Sand Point, ID,

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PINSummer was our best season: it was sleeping on the back screened porch in cots, or trying to sleep in the treehouse; summer was everything good to eat; it was a thousand colors in a parched landscape…” – Scout Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird

There’s just something about a calm summer’s eve and the other night, we got to experience it.  No wind, the beating hot rays from the sun that hadn’t fully set, kids playing the endless outdoor games, easy dinners on the porch, a little bee-keeping, picking away at the garden til 10pm … the perfect summer eve.  Literally, all that we were missing was a summer peach pie or some cool root beer floats and some nearby water for an after dinner swim.  Every part of the night screamed summer. View full post »

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