memorable moments

This is just a whole whack of pictures, moments and memories shoved into one mixed up blog post. The last few weeks have been a blur of activity, family fun, and vacation.

The kids are having their last picnic lunch up in the tree fort (their cousin left the next day after a 3 week visit)

On a side note.
We just received news today that our foster baby Cece has been made a "permanent ward" which means that she is now legally adoptable. I didn't expect that it would happen this quickly. Now begins the process of applying and praying that we will be her forever family. I would feel much more confident if she had already been in our home for a year. After a year they assume that there is a "significant bond" between the foster parents and the child. Under that she will go into the general adoption pool and could go to someone else already on the wait list for a baby. I guess 4 months is still considered an insignificant bond....
What may work to our benefit is that , in all honesty, a lot of people want a "healthy white baby".
She wouldn't be considered either.

I am happy that at least she is freed to be adopted by a family and won't spend her childhood bouncing around the system or dysfunctional family members. It would ease the pain of loosing her a bit knowing that she was going to a loving family.

I don't have much information yet on our chances of adopting her, the timeline or the hoops we have to jump through but we are wanting to get that ball rolling as soon as possible.

Daddy snuggling his "Angel"...we already have a "Princess".
This is probably the most bizarre and disturbing picture I've ever posted.
Yes, that is my clothes line.
Yes, that is my son.
That is my son sitting on top of a clothes line pole.
Just hanging out...checking out the view.
Aili came running into the house and told me to grab my camera. So I did.
As I walked out of the house ,I gasped and then calmly told him he needed to come down. Of course, I snapped a few pictures while my heart threatened to jump out of my throat. He casually slid all the way down.

Trying to get four Burlando kids to all look one direction is not an easy task!

...and a lot of little adventures.

Miss Cece was doted on by her Auntie and cousin (I warned you this post was random). I have never met a nine year old boy that is so baby crazy. He was the first to rush to her rescue if she so much as sighed in discontent. He bottle fed her, snuggled her and made her giggle. I have so enjoyed getting to know our nephew. He is a very sweet and funny little boy who cracked me up on a regular basis. Auntie Brook was like a second mom to Cece. I admit, it was very nice to have the extra set of capable arms.

Brook (my husbands sister) getting her baby fix.

One of the favorite activities at Family Camp was the climbing wall.
A lot of my family attended camp this summer. The picture below is my dad with Silas and another one of his grandsons. So sweet.
This is my beautiful 91 year old grandma. I hope that I am as healthy and fit as she is when I'm 91! She sets the bar pretty high though...
The kids played SO hard all week at camp.
My nephew at the climbing wall.
Roman doing what he does best....climbing the walls.
Silas and Daddy watching evening fireworks.
Our campsite that looked more like a shanty town.
More monkeys.

mmmm....camping treats.

The weather was gorgeous for camping, despite the forecast of rain all week. We did have one thunderstorm approach but I think it mostly missed it.....which is a good thing considering how ugly it looked from a distance.
Silas collecting strange things at the lake.

One of the camp horses.
This was the first year that the camp hosted a citizenship ceremony. People originating from all over the world came out to the camp that afternoon to recite their pledges and receive Canadian citizenship.

Roman enjoying horseback riding in a slightly unconventional way.
Me and my dear friend and sister in law had way too much fun together this past 3 weeks.
They left yesterday. We are going to really miss them! The kids all got along amazingly and I enjoyed having someone to chat and laugh with all day. I wish they lived closer.
We won't let much time go by without another visit I suspect....not another 20 years anyhow.
I just realized that I forgot to include pictures of my husband sailing his Hobiecat. Don't worry Honey...your boat deserves a post all it's own.




1. to undergo or cause to undergo moral, spiritual, or physical renewal or invigoration
2. to form or be formed again; come or bring into existence once again
3. (Life Sciences & Allied Applications / Biology) to replace what was lost or damaged by new growth, or to cause (such tissues) to be replaced

In that day their burden will be lifted from your shoulders, their yoke from your neck; the yoke will be broken .... Isaiah 10:27
3 siblings (and their families) all together for the first time in over 20 years.

2 first cousins, only 4 months apart in age, meet for the first time.
1 mother and a son from Seattle stand in a Canola field on the Canadian prairie for the first time.

4 cousins quite possibly having too much fun in a pool.
1 little boy falling in love.

3 little boys trying to look cool.
1 Super Aunt sewing sock animals with her niece Aili. (My kids are soaking up the attention from their new Auntie!)
Our daily thunder storm.
2 cousins, who share two different shades of the same Burlando features, having some good messy fun.
7 cousins, 1 sister, 2 brothers, 2 sister in laws united as family.


The enemy pressed the yoke on our necks as he led us with cords of falsehood and ties of bitterness.

God now leads us "with cords of human kindness, with ties of love. I lifted the yoke from their necks and bent down to feed them"(Hosea 11:4).


Family Camp, house guests and miracles

I have a couple really fun and exciting weeks coming up. Weeks I should be preparing for rather than writing...but I'm so excited that I had to share.

Our first big event is having two very special house guests. My sister in law and my nephew will be staying at our place for a whole week and then going to "family camp" with us for another week.
My husband met his sister for the first time in about 24 years (as well his 9 year old nephew) last month. I have yet to have the honors of loving on them in person. Three more days and all the verbal, emotional and spiritual hugs we've given each other over the past 18 months will materialize into an actual physical embrace.

It amazes me how some friendships, the deepest kind of friendships, can be forged without ever being in the same room. I have seen this in blog sphere where women connect and openly share life together. Through tears, support, long phone conversations, mutual grief and genuine honesty develops lifelong friendships...with people they don't meet in person until much later. I wouldn't have believed it possible until this year. On the contrary I've learned that you can hang out with someone for years and never really know who they are.

The best kind of friends are those you can share openly and honestly your fears, hurts, dreams and hopes...and they get it. With these friends there is no shallowness or phoniness...that has all been burned away. There is no insecurity or striving to be something we're not. No obligations or guilt trips. The kind of friends who keep each other accountable, build each other up (even if that means challenging in love), move each other closer to God, and are willing to get past the masks we wear to get to the heart of any given situation. I have a few of these 'kindred spirit' type friendships. They are always a blessing and a gift from God. They are the comfortable friendships that you can talk about anything from sock shopping to deep dark shame and still come away feeling like you're understood...and with a sore belly from laughing so hard.

I thank God for bringing those kinds of people into my life. I pray I can also be that kind of a friend to others. The one who asks "How are you?" and actually wants to know the answer.

I am SO excited to finally meet, physically, my dear friend and my nephew for the first time. To say they have been estranged from the family during the past 2 and a half decades would be a polite understatement. I won't describe the mess behind the childhood and adult years of total separation.....because God is bigger than all of that.
He has brought 3 siblings back together...as well as three sister in laws and 7 cousins. My sister in law now has family, blood family, for the first time in decades. Family that will not abandon or give up on each other.

This visit is a testament to God's restorative power and His Spirit working in each of our hearts individually ....painfully scraping away years of fear, bitterness, ignorance, hurt, confusion and lies. He has replaced it with forgiveness, grace, truth and love. It has been a long, difficult, painful, wonderful year and a half since the Lord unexpectedly crossed our paths and decided to reclaim what was lost. To regrow what the locusts had eaten.

I have never in my life witnessed a life so beautifully restored from years of physical, emotional and spiritual destruction. I have never seen such gut wrenchingly beautiful forgiveness and grace in the midst open hostility and incredible heartache. I have also never, in my own life, experienced such deep turmoil. This has been a year of extremes.

I have witnessed God's hand in so many impossible yet incredibly tangible ways. Hers has been a journey of untold sorrow yet unmistakable healing. Through it all, God had a plan to redeem a lost lamb.

I am so grateful that we are able to be a part of that story. I can keep the drama silent but I will never keep silent God's goodness. That I will shout from the rooftops...or my soap box...or my computer.

We serve a mighty God. A God who puts the lonely in families, who cares about the orphans and widows. A God who is not willing that any should perish but loves each one. A God who brings justice and searches hearts. A God who cannot be fooled by masks or distracted by smoke.

Family camp will be 7 days of camping together at the same bible camp that I attended as a child. Our days will be filled with normal camping stuff.... swimming, campfires, sitting on the beach, sailing and eating too much junk food.
On top of all that we get to enjoy fellowship with other believers, some great music and worship time, special speakers, group sports activities, children's programs (Yay for someone keeping the kids entertained!) , and optional adult morning classes.

We went last year and it was a great balance of family time, adult time and alone time. It was refreshing both physically and spiritually.

We are so happy to have our sister and nephew join us this year.

It also happens to be the big "50th Anniversary" of the camp this summer so there should be a really good turn out and lots of extra special events.

I was looking through the blog set up for this anniversary week and found the list of morning classes.

I found one that sounds PERFECT. I can't wait. I hope that it isn't full before I get a chance to sign up.

It's a class about writing what God is doing and has done in your life....about writing truth.

" Knowing yourself, being known to others and hearing what God reveals in the process of writing is the focus of the workshops. The Christian life is about seeking truth. Writing is a natural way to record that search and can aid us in living an examined life. Together, we will explore ways to effectively take experiences and thoughts and put them in the form of the written word. Please bring a computer or paper and pen as well as any writing you would like to share with the group."

Wow. I'm so there. Me and my laptop will be the nerds in the front row :)

That is why I write this blog. To know myself, to be known, and more importantly to make known the one I serve with my whole life. It's my living testimony and my journal. It's my being real, genuine and vulnerable about my own journey of life and faith. It is me living an examined life rather than a hidden one. In the process I've discovered that I love to write...even if I don't know the first thing about how to do it properly.

Anything that helps me communicate in a clearer way will be great. Sounds like fun too! Between the upcoming visit and looking forward to camp I'm on cloud nine.....unfortunately there isn't a whole lot of packing and cleaning being done on that cloud. I'd better get back down to grimy bathroom reality.

The past year has been exhausting, terrible and beautiful but very soon...I'm going to bask in the simplicity of a genuine relationship built out of hard work and a lot of prayer.


New kitties

After a few years of being pet-less and after many months of all three kids begging for various kinds of animals including anacondas, rats and dinosaurs....we decided to adopt two kittens. Since kittens are in abundant supply at any nearby farm we didn't have to look long to find two freebies. The kids spent the first two days outside ALL DAY with their new toys ..I mean...pets. At one point all three kids and two kittens were hanging out inside this doghouse (now cat house).
The whole crew. One of the rare pictures that includes me . Everyone is eating some left over birthday cake while I feed Cece. That look on my face is me trying to figure out how quickly I can get all those kids bathed and put to bed.

We had a nice busy summer weekend first visiting my sisters family at their new house and the next day visiting good friends on their farm. They have a little lake at their farm so the dads and kids went sailing. I had good intentions of taking some pictures but by the time I was done being an uninvolved mom visiting with my friend INSIDE the house (and feeding baby away from the mosquitoes) the kids were cold and done. Oh well there will be more weekends to take pictures of my little sailing prodigies.

Silas and his buddy Oliver looking a bit eccentric while they enjoy their rides. Future farmers?

Silas has a nice scab on his chin. Over a week ago he fell and scraped most of the skin off his chin. The next day he looked at his big ugly scab. His shoulders slumped and his head hung down as he sighed in frustration:
"That was my BEST chin. Now its RUINED. Mom can I buy a new one?"
I assured him it would heal.
My laundry utilizing a rare non rainy day. The one thing that is usually in unlimited supply on the Canadian prairie is wind and sun.
Just a little glimpse of this years garden. We are eating a LOT of salads but so far not much else is ready yet. In a couple more weeks we should have lots of fresh produce.

I'm glad my kids like salad. We have been eating a lot of "Taco Salads"

This is my healthy spin on a not always so healthy favorite.

I fill the plates with lettuce, and what ever other colorful veggies I have...tomato, peppers, green onions.
Then a few black olives, some fresh cilantro, a little shredded cheese, a hand full of kidney or pinto beans ( I usually cook them up a pot at a time and keep them in the fridge), then I crush a few Tostitos on the top to give it some yummy crunch.
for dressing I just drizzle a combo of plain yogurt and salsa over the tops.
super fast , super yummy, super healthy.
No cooking involved.

Last week I sliced fresh mango up on their plates as well. Made a yummy fruity side dish.

Speaking of supper....it's 5 pm and I have NO idea what I'm making for supper tonight.
Must go.



No sugar...no cream....just the hot, bold truth...
It is your choice to swallow, but if you chose to not swallow, it still remains the truth.
And you miss out on a great cup of coffee...

I love a good cup of coffee.

Keep it real. I don't have time for foam.

Espresso post inspired by Ashley!