Yesterday, I was driving to the City to take Cece to her first biological family "visitation" and driving is often the place when I relax , think and pray.   As long as there isn't chaos in the back seats...even then I'm pretty good at tuning it out.   My mind wandered, as it very frequently does, but instead of going an imagination tour of what might be, would could be, what I would say if, how I would feel if...
My mind wanderings surprisingly came as flashes of mostly forgotten, not usually thought about, moments of my life.   It did occur to me that  my  life flashing before my eyes while driving down a highway is a little strange.    I  allowed the moments and memories to come anyway.   What struck me was how blessed I feel by beauty, love, relationships and family.  There have been many horrible, stressful and dark moments in my life but none of them came readily to mind.  Also, I thought it strange later that I didn't even think about the big events or things we make sure to remember.    The moments that my mind focused on were everyday, normal, beautiful, moments of life.
Sights, sounds, smells, people, childhood memories poured into my mind.   Little girls playing house, riding my  horse Toby, playing with cousins,  finding kittens in a musty barn, school recess, popcorn, crunching snow, getting my hair rolled up in curlers, my grandpa, dorm life, camping with friends, drinking tea with my mother in law, tiny china tea pots on a window ledge, family laughing...
These all came and went with a detail of memory that I didn't know I had filed away.  It was kind of strange but wonderful to revisit some of the moments that my 33 years of life have been made of.

  Maybe hearing about a recent tragic death in our community got me thinking how life is made of moments...and in only a moment it can be taken.

 Maybe knowing that I will never have tea with my mother in law again, as she battles the final stages of terminal cancer had me remembering  moments of beauty and goodness.   The memories of beauty will be safely guarded and revisited and will out weigh the memories of ugliness.

The moments in our life seem so insignificant at the time.  They make up days, seasons and years.  Although brief, each one of our moments sets the course of our life.  Tragedy happens in a moment, the course of life can change in a moment,  mistakes are made in a moment, accidents break our bodies in a moment.   Beauty is created in a moment.   Smiles, hugs, and gestures of kindness, taking a moment to listen, to share, to trust, to believe, to forgive, to pray, to decide, to encourage, or to love...all changes the course of our moments and those around us.
How will we remember our lives as we look back?  Will it be a rush of work , money, things, deadlines, stress, bitterness, guilt, exhaustion, ....or will it be blowing dandelions with a toddler,  having tea with your grandmother,  reading Goodnight God with your kids curled up on your lap, bathing a baby,  enjoying a sunset.   All those moments so easily missed so easily lost in the rush of life.
Our moments  in an instant can change the lives of those around us.   We don't live in a bubble.  Everything we do, or neglect to do, has an impact on others.  When each moment is bathed in the light of eternity they take on a new sacred significance...even those mundane moments.

You may have seen this video before but I recently just came across it.   It seems a little strange at first but it is a good reminder that life is made up with moments and what we do with those moments not only can change our life but can change the course of eternity.

This life is brief.  It flies by and seems to fly faster as the years go on.   At some point our time runs out.  Some lives last only for a brief moment in this word, some have an extensive collection of moments that span 90 years.
What is even more significant than living to the fullest,each one of those moments we are given, is what  we choose to do with the One who gave them to us.
That one choice, how we respond to the One who is the Creator of beauty, will determine if we will enjoy His presence when our time ends and our eternity begins.  In this life, by the mercy of God, we all enjoy sunsets, baby giggles, and the magnificence of nature.  The rain falls on the righteous and the unrighteous alike.   Those things are just a tiny sampling of the untainted beauty that lies ahead.

We can see some of the attributes , the extravagant love, the intricate order, the creativity, and the grandness of God through his creation.   God calls to us, reaches out to us and woos us through the moments he blesses us with everyday.  He not only uses  beauty but he also uses the pain in our lives to reach us. When our independent security is shattered we can see reality much more clearly.  C.S Lewis said 'pain is God's megaphone to rouse a deaf world'.

 God gives us those things even when we hate him.  Even though our world rejects Him.  

He gives us the freedom of choice.   We are free to choose an eternity separated from Him, the source of all things good.   Thats a heavy reality.  An eternity void of light, laughter, peace, joy, relationship, love.....all things that come from God whether we choose to acknowledge it or not.  Ignorance will run out of bliss.

It only takes a moment of humility and surrender to change the orientation of our hearts.

Our life's memories ,and the impact we have on others, will be a collection of both good and bad moments.
However, God does not look at our life as merely collection of good and bad moments that He balances and weighs while we cross our fingers and hope we come out on the side of "good".

 None of us are inherently good.   We do not have a cosmic checking account of debits and credits. One "bad", one debit, separates us eternally from a Holy God.  We all have major debt that we cannot pay.  God is love but he is also distinct, Holy, and continually Good.  There is no sin or compromise with sin in God.  That's what makes him trustworthy.   He is consistent, Holy, just, righteous, and good.

 It is impossible to come to God by our own religious effort, good deeds, or "goodness".  He doesn't grade on the curve.   That is why he provided our Savior, Jesus Christ.
  God is perfect.
We never can be.
God is a God of both justice and mercy.   Jesus was sent to perfectly bridge that gap.   He satisfied the justice and made way for grace.
To be completely transparent with you....the peace, assurance and joy that comes from knowing I am prepared to die is indescribable.  There is no need to fear.
  No, I don't necessarily feel ready to leave my life and  my children.  I hope God has a lot more for me to do here  in this life before he takes me home , but our days are numbered and only God knows when that day will come.   It could come today...it could come 70 years from now.   All I need to do is be prepared before that day comes.  In all honesty , part of me rejoices when I imagine the day when I run across the finish line into His waiting arms.

"Now listen you who say "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money". Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow.  What is your life?
You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 
Instead you ought to say"If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that".
As it is , you boast and brag.  All such boasting is evil.  Anyone,  who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins. "
James 4:14



Survivor Gianna Jessen Part 1

I remember meeting this amazing young woman when we were both teens. I can't remember the circumstances but I heard her speak at a small gathering and even then she left an impression on me.  She is now arguably one of the most "dangerous" woman in America because she declares life.  She speaks truth. Truth no one wants to hear.   Truth  is dangerous to those who would rather not know, for those who have already hardened their hearts, closed their minds and drawn a line. Who is worthy of life and who is not.  Who deserves compassion and who does not.

Whether you consider yourself adamantly "pro-choice" , passionately "pro-life" or somewhere in between. Please take a few minutes to watch this in it's entirety.   I only found the youtube version in two parts.  Please watch this one and then scroll down to find part 2.  It just gets better.

She is incredibly articulate and compelling as she shares her own miraculous story of surviving the silent Holocaust. What was intended for evil...God is using for good.

She speaks for the estimated 46 million victims who's voices have been effectively and legally silenced.  They have been silenced by a multi million dollar industry that kills for profit.  It kills for convenience.  It exist under the disguise of "womens rights".

To quote Gianna "If abortion is merely about women's rights than what were mine?....there was not a radical femanist standing up and yelling about how my rights were being violated that day.... my life was being snuffed out in the name of women's rights. "

In fact, I would not have cerebral palsy if i had not survived all of this..
When I hear the appalling , discusting argument that we should have abortions because the child just might be disabled...UGGG...the horror that fills my heart.  Ladies and gentlemen there are things that you will only be able to learn by the weakest among us and when you snuff them out you are the one that looses,  the Lord looks after them, but you are the one that will suffer forever...."

(don't forget to scroll WAY down to the bottom of my blog and hit pause on the music first)

"Women you are not made for abuse...you are not made to sit and not know your worth and your value.  You are made to be fought for ...forever."

"What arrogance, what absolute arrogance that the stronger should dominate the weaker...should determine who lives or dies.  Don't you realize that you cannot make your own heart beat?!...it is the mercy of God that sustains you...even when you hate him."

"and If you think I'm a fool..well.....it's just another jewel in my crown."

"How much are you willing to take? 
How much are you willing to risk to speak the truth in love and graciousness and stand up and at least be willing to be hated
....or at the end of the day is it all about you?"
This video is so much more than political agenda or standing for an "issue".   Her words touch on the value of life,  our own humanity, disabilities, joyful affliction, rejection by her own broken biological family...being hated for standing for truth.

That part hit me like a freight train.  22 months ago I was faced with a tragic and uncomfortable truth.  I made the difficult decision to stand firmly in reality (even painful reality) rather than denial and speak truth soaked in grace, forgiveness and love. It has been undeniably one of the most stressful and heartbreaking seasons of my life.    I have refused to take part in  heart wrenching injustice, blame, bitterness and brokenness... and I am currently hated for it.  I did not call to account like a prophet, point a finger, or demanded vindication for the wounded (not that I haven't wanted to at times).... but I am labelled dangerous just the same.  It didn't take much.  All it took was stepping  across that line from the land of blissful make believe into complicated truth, showing love and grace to someone whose voice had been effectively snuffed out.   Snuffed out because it spoke truth no one wanted to hear.   Maybe I am dangerous.  Maybe standing for grace, honesty, compassion, integrity, forgiveness and healing...in the middle of chaos, deception and destruction is dangerous to the one who desires to destroy us.     I can only hope so.  In that case I will gladly wear the label.   At the end of the day it's not about me.

Gianna's view on being hated...encouraged me.  Keep standing.  "So, no matter what you say in all your anger and brokenness  and rage it is not mine to carry.  And I won't".  My Savior was despised and rejected too.
 "How much are you willing to take? 
How much are you willing to risk to speak the truth in love and graciousness .."

Gianna was just one more throw away baby.  A bundle of cells.   A fetus.

I cry a silent prayer of gratitude to God for sparing my own precious Cece's life from being snuffed out.
Unwanted and inconvenient in the eyes of the world...in the eyes of her own flesh and blood.
She could have so easily been disposed of.
Her smile, that is pure sunlight ,could have been extinguished before it ever brought a single person joy.
...but God saw her.
She does not belong to anyone but Him.
She is the beloved daughter of the One that set the earth in it's place.  He created the stars and He created her.  She is His girl.
When we mess with one of God's precious little ones we are going to answer to Him for it.
God preserved her.
He was with her as she was knit together in her mothers womb.
He was with her as she was placed in my arms for the first time.
He will be with her as we face an uncertain future together.
She was not destroyed.   God has a plan.
He has a funny way of using the most unlikely people for his purposes.
Like a 2 lb baby  born in an abortion clinic.

Abortion Survivor Part 2

This is part two of the video posted above this one.  Please scroll up to watch the beginning if you haven't already.   You will want to watch this second part too.


Te Extrano

                               I miss Mexico.  I miss our amigos.  I miss the kids.
 I miss Pollo Loco quesa-tacos.
I am particularly missing, thinking about and praying for these little ones.
I wish I could visit and check on the kids that call me Tia.
I worry about them.
I wonder if Minerva and Alvaro are still in school?  Will Carmela and Ramiro ever be able to attend school with their older siblings?  How is the new baby?  Are they being cared for?  Are they hungry?
Are they being abused? Are they sliding further into the cycle of poverty and all that goes with it?

What future will they have?

 I miss my princesses Minerva and Carmela.
I miss these princesses too.

 I miss hanging out with these girls...
 and this boy.
 I miss the girl we sponser (right) and the other little girl that is growing up so quickly.

I miss taking trips to the ocean, going out to eat at taco stands , and going on adventures with our friends.
I miss our friends.  All of you...who probably aren't reading this because of the mission's handy dandy internet blocker or because you don't read English.   
I miss baking with these little ones.
I miss the ocean.
 Silas misses his amigos too.
In fact, everyday, at least one of my three kids begs to go back.
Back to hanging out in this casa.

I miss these boys  and all the rest of the kids in the Learning Center. 
I miss fish tacos.
I miss shopping at globos.
I miss Spanish church.  
I miss worshiping with my Mexican brothers and sisters.
I miss the palm trees.
I miss oranges picked fresh off a tree.
I want to go back.  We all want to go back.
We just aren't sure at this point when that will be, or how it will happen,
where we will live or how long we will stay. 
We had hoped to drive down for a brief visit this winter but as long as Cece's adoption is still in limbo it would be tricky.  
We are now hoping next winter we can go back for another 6 months...although I think we have now (if our adoption plans are successful) outgrown the trailer for more than camping trips.  We'll hope and pray and watch to see how God provides all the little (and big )details that would have to fall into place.  

I feel like I'm caught between two worlds.
When we live there it feels like home.  I am content and I am happy.
Although I missed having an actual house and I missed being a foster mom.  

When we live here it feels like home.  I am content and I am happy.
Although I miss Mexico and everyone there.  
I miss serving and working.

Right now we are foster parents, we are farmers, we are a Canadian family...
but we are also missionaries at heart.  
We miss our other home. 

I feel torn.   I know I was made to love and care for children in need of love and care.  Period.  I've known that since I was a child myself.   God gave me that passion and calling early on in my life...it just took quite a few years for that to materialize.
There are SO many children here that need homes and a family to love them.
There are SO many children there that need homes, attention and love.
I know that wherever God plants us we will bear fruit.

My husband thrived there.  He loved his work.  He loves the people.  Not a day goes by (especially now that winter is facing us) that he doesn't talk about missing it.

We are torn.  We have a life here.  We have a life there.

Only God knows the future of either.  

Suppose God charged us...

"Suppose God charged us for the rain,
or put a price on a song-bird's strain
or music, the dawn , the mist of the plain.
How much would autumn landscapes cost,
Or a window etched with winter's frost,
And the rainbow's glory so quickly lost?

Suppose that people had to pay
To see the sunset's crimson play
And the magic stars of the Milky Way.

Suppose it was fifty cents a night
To watch a gull in graceful flight.

How much, I wonder, would it be worth
To smell the good, brown , fragrant earth
In spring?  The miracle of birth.

How much do you think people would pay
For a baby's laugh at the close of day?
Suppose God charged us for them, I say!

Suppose we paid to look at the hills,
For the rippling mountain rills,
Or the mating song of the whippoorwills,

Or curving breakers of the sea,
For grace, and beauty, and majesty?
And all these things He gives us free!"

author unknown

(both pictures taken in Saskatchewan, Canada)


6 month birthday and my adorably odd sometimes naughty children

Cupcakes half decorated for my Miss Cece's half year birthday party.  
It was a fun little celebration of our little girl and an excuse to eat cupcakes.  Aili and Roman surprised me by bringing out wrapped gifts for Cece.  They each picked out one of their own toys that they thought she would like and would be appropriate for a baby.  It was cute.  Cece received her first doll.

Cece has grown a head full of adorable curls.   I'm loving that her hair is long enough (in the front anyway) for little pigtails.  It's so sweet done up with bows and ribbons.  I'm having fun.   

Since Aili was old enough  to stand and sway she has been putting on shows for us.   Her life is one big broadway musical. 
On  regular basis she hand delivers tickets with the time of her next show.   We don't dare loose them because they are required for admission at her bedroom door.   We don't dare sigh in relief and walk away when we loose them either....
Attendance is mandatory.
This time it even came with audience rules.
I don't have pictures of her standing on her bed singing Amazing Grace because , as you can see, photography was forbidden.
I did get a picture..(or 50) of her and her birthday party  friends (her slightly coerced friends) putting on a show for us.   
It seems a flair for the dramatic runs a little further down the birth order.
It's hard not to love a face like this one.

I'm  optimistic that we are entering a new chapter in the life and times of Silas.   He is now past
3 1/2 and it finally seems that we are making a small breakthrough in our attempt to de-barbarianize him.  He was a ridiculously easy baby and angelically compliant toddler ( until 2 1/2.)  However he has been challenging my parenting skills, resources, and experience to the max for the last year.   He is SO different than my other two at this age (who began that "phase" at about one year old).  In some ways easier....in someways strangely more difficult.  I have had to remind myself that he is not going to be as easy and well behaved as the "big kids" are now because he isn't a big kid.   It's easy to forget that both Aili and Roman brought me to the end of my rope and parenting confidence on a regular basis during these high maintenance preschool years...just when I was about to throw in the towel and accept the fact that they were destined for prison they turned a corner.  Aili was ridiculously strong willed and emotionally volatile at Silas' age.   Roman was crazy strong willed , impulsive and mischievous.   Silas has an overdeveloped sense of sneak and sly.  Children are all so different!  They take every bit of wisdom we can muster to learn what makes them tick and how to best guide and teach them.

A few weeks ago I  bought Vanilla Oreos (weak moment, sale, shopping with 4 kids).   Silas became  so obessed with this unusual heavenly treat in the cupboard that he climbed up on the stove , grabbed  them and consumed most of the bag while hiding in his room.  I had no idea what he was up to until he heard me coming.  He ran out of his room, slammed his door shut , spread his arms and legs out wide in front of the door and exclaimed "Don't go in my room...you don't need to go in there!!".   I had to  suppress laughter while doling out consequences moment..
  Silas has been a child who seems to seek out bad attention.  I don't know if it is partly because he has lived a rather unstable and strange three years and he is  unsettled about his role in the family but he seems to embrace the role of "bad boy".  He wants to be the "bad guy" when they play.  He wants to be a "bad buy" when he grows up (that is a little disturbing as a parent).   A common  experience would be after I give a consequence for deliberate naughty behavior ( something like coloring on the table..not an accident, not a misguided attempt at creativity but doing it just to see what will happen), and implore him to give up his evil ways lest he desire more unpleasant consequences he smugly states "I like to be naughty!".  How does a parent deal with that?  I just keep being consistent and hope that my slow learner catches on eventually.   In some ways I think he has had a bit of the " baby of the family" syndrome.  For too long he was the one we gave into when he whined.  The one the older kids had to sacrifice for his preferences.  Too often we appeased his behavior rather than dealt with his behavior.    Even our subtle and occasional giving into his brattiness has created problems.  Last winter while we were in Mexico, living and homeschooling in a trailer and always in a public place there were so many times when I couldn't or just chose not to fight the whining toddler battle head on.  Not consistently anyway.   I realized at the time that once we got home we'd have a baby that needed to be brought into boyhood. That process has been more difficult than I anticipated.

Despite consistentcy, follow through, and regular reminders of expected behavior he has been choosing to do exactly what he knows he's not supposed to do....regardless of what he knows will be coming at the end of it.  That's the frustrating part.   Testing, testing, testing...constantly.  It's exhausting!  It's not the fun part of parenting.  I know it's a process that must be gone through but I am ready for this phase to end.  I'm ready for some fruit of my parenting labors with him.  I'm ready for some smooth sailing for a while.    If I don't get through to him now  as a preschooler it will only get worse.  I do realize that a 3 year old does not have the capacity to act like a 12 year old but contrary to popular belief kids don't naturally outgrow disrespectful , rude. whiny, or sneaky behavior...the stakes just get much higher.   If a child doesn't learn respect for others, honesty , and manners early on he will give his parents (and society) grief for years to come.  Pay now or pay a much higher price later.
  I've tried to balance the "boot camp" mommy with  some extra attention and positive encouragement when he is being good...but I think overall he has kind of gotten lost in the mix. He's not one of the "big kids"...he's not the baby (even though he expresses his desire to be "a baby like Cece" again very frequently).    He has lost his baby status...he has lost it on and off 4 times in the last 3 years.  In a way I think he is trying to figure out where he stands, where the boundaries are, and how secure he is in our family.   Will he still be loved when he chooses to be naughty?    Will we love him enough to protect him from himself and deal with the behavior (as well as the heart issues behind it)?  Do we love him enough to enforce secure boundaries.  I frequently tell them:  "I love you too much to allow you to be ______(selfish...rude... dishonest..)".  Although following through with consequences is always inconvenient, uncomfortable and unpleasant for both of us...it is essential.  Yelling, nagging and warnings are easy but they will never produce a desired result.  Ignoring undesirable behavior is easier but will never build character.   I am constantly assessing and checking to make sure that my parenting is not leaning toward the easy way out...it's so easy to go there.  I have my moments.     Training , teaching and guiding a child's character is a marathon process not a quick fix and unfortunately there are no mile markers along the way until one day you discover that the things you have painstakingly and intentionally been sowing into their hearts are reaping a sweet reward.

Anyway...I think we are now seeing a change....finally bringing  out the boy who wants to please, who wants to be helpful and who desires to be good.   In the last couple weeks he has suddenly become genuinely remorseful when he does something wrong ( I was secretly fearing that this boy was lacking a conscience completely).  He is becoming a much more obedient boy and I'm hearing words like "yes, mommy" "ok, mommy" much more frequently.  I'm hearing  more "may I please have a _________" without being reminded or corrected.   He is doing his "chores" and is eager to help like a  big kid.  He is figuring out that life is much easier on everyone when he behaves himself.  He told me last week  "When I'm a naughty boy it does not make mommy happy....when I have a good heart and be a good boy mommy is so happy with me". 
 He still has his moments, especially when naps are missed...but overall they are outweighed by much more sweet moments.     He seems more secure.   I'm hopeful that we are entering a new season...at least for a little while.


Religion vs. Gospel

What's the difference?  Aren't they the same thing?
I found this  here  and thought it answered that question very well. 
"What is the Gospel? The word gospel simply means “good news.” The central message of the Bible is the gospel, or good news, about the person and work of Jesus Christ. In 1 Corinthians 15:1–4, Paul provides the most succinct summary of the gospel: the man Jesus is also God, or Christ, and died on a cross in our place, paying the penalty for our sins; three days later He rose to conquer sin and death and give the gift of salvation to all who believe in Him alone for eternal life."
"The great reformer Martin Luther rightly said that, as sinners, we are prone to pursue a relationship with God in one of two ways. The first is religion/spirituality and the second is the gospel. The two are antithetical in every way.
Religion says that if we obey God He will love us. The gospel says that it is because God has loved us through Jesus that we can obey.
Religion says that the world is filled with good people and bad people. The gospel says that the world is filled with bad people who are either repentant or unrepentant.
Religion says that you should trust in what you do as a good moral person. The gospel says that you should trust in the perfectly sinless life of Jesus because He alone is the only good and truly moral person who will ever live.
"The goal of religion is to get from God such things as health, wealth, insight, power, and control. The goal of the gospel is not the gifts God gives, but rather God as the gift given to us by grace.
Religion is about what I have to do. The gospel is about what I get to do. Religion sees hardship in life as punishment from God. The gospel sees hardship in life as sanctifying affliction that reminds us of Jesus’ sufferings and is used by God in love to make us more like Jesus. Religion is about me. The gospel is about Jesus.
Religion leads to an uncertainty about my standing before God because I never know if I have done enough to please God. The gospel leads to a certainty about my standing before God because of the finished work of Jesus on my behalf on the cross.
Religion ends in either pride (because I think I am better than other people) or despair (because I continually fall short of God’s commands). The gospel ends in humble and confident joy because of the power of Jesus at work for me, in me, through me, and sometimes in spite of me."
Grace is what differentiates the gospel from all religions.  Faith in Jesus Christ is not a to-do list, a creed to believe, rules to obey,  a good example to follow, or a moral compass.  Grace is us getting dug up by the roots and being made into something new.   Something that was dead being made alive in Christ.

"...the power of Jesus at work for me, in me, through me, and sometimes in spite of me."

Wilderness school

Because harvest has been rained out for the last couple weeks my guys set out on a fishing trip up in northern Saskatchewan.   
It was Roman's first time fishing.  It was also his first time experiencing the northern forests and lakes.

If he had been enrolled into a conventional classroom he would have had to stay home.  
He would be sitting in a desk...coloring pieces of paper...in the lines.  TORTURE!

Since we are homeschooling we can be flexible and embrace life's opportunities.
We are already loving this lifestyle.   Our math and reading curriculum got put on hold for 4 days this week while he attended wilderness school.

He learned how to reel in a fish.

He learned rules of initiation.

He learned how to drive a boat??

He learned how to stay calm while marooned alone on an island.  (He was probably thrilled)

He was taught how to gut a fish.   He had a fish anatomy lesson.
He learned how to start a fire in the rain using a flint and "old mans beard".
He learned that his Dad thinks he's a pretty great kid. 

He learned how to load a BB gun...

...and shoot targets off of a deck.  Shooting stuff off of your front porch is an import life skill don't you think?

He had a history lesson while he hiked to the remains of  trappers cabin. 
He had many botany lessons  from my uncle (pictured on the left).
He learned something else from his dad (pictured on the right). 

He learned that God is an  artist.

He was taught the important of a well balanced nutritious diet....

I haven't stopped hearing about all the things he experienced and learned while he was out with the guys.
He is one lucky boy to have his Dad, his grandpa, and two other relatives investing in him enough to show him the ropes.

Another botany lesson from  his great uncle.

A nature loving outdoors-man in training?  
Great Grandpa Carl would be proud.  

It was an unbelievably special week for my boy.   Thank you to the men who indulged his insatiable sense of adventure and curiosity.  

Dad came home very proud of his boy.  He really is a one of a kind.  

To sum him up in one word it would be ...complex.
Just when I think I  figured out what makes him tick...he leaves me baffled. 
His mind wanders and works in ways that often remain a mystery to me.  He never stops thinking ...he wonders about things I've never wondered about before...he questions things I've never questioned before. 
He has the mind of an inventor, an explorer, a discoverer, or a composer. 
 (Now if I could only teach the boy to read!)
Some of the things  that make me the most proud of him are: 
He is the epitome of living each of life's moments to the fullest.  He lives intensely, exploring , touching, experiencing...every moment of every day.  
He is trustworthy.  When we tell him to do something or not to do something we never worry that he will disregard what is expected of him.  He is reliable and extremely honest.  
He takes things in stride for the most part. Although he feels emotions with the same intensity that he experiences everything else....he has learned how to respond with maturity to disappointment and frustration (that was a long difficult battle...which makes the reward that much sweeter).
He is kind and has a huge compassionate heart. 
Even though compliance is not a part of his God given wiring....he has become a very respectful obedient little boy (once again, hard won sweetness!).  At the same time he is a very independent  boy who always thinks outside the box...".marches to the beat of his own drummer."  He is still non-conforming in all the good ways. 
He is a little gentleman in how he treats his mother :)  
His energy, his boundless silliness, his endless stories, questions and ideas can be exhausting....but those are also the things I love about him most.  
That and his freckles.


Beans, pitas, and kids clothes.

It's that time of year again. Summer is gone....a little early this year it seems. The crops are still lying in the fields while the cold rain continues and temperatures drop below freezing.

My kids have been fortunate enough to have been able to keep out their "summer clothes" for the last year and a half. When we packed up for Mexico this time last year we took hot weather clothes as well as their cool weather clothes. The temperature changes drastically in the deserts of Baja Mexico.

Now that we are once again facing (dreading) a Canadian winter it is time to put away the shorts and t-shirts. What spurred me on, other than the freezing yucky weather, is the fact that my boys haven't figured out that clothing is essential for warmth. As long as there are shorts, swim trunks, and sleeveless shirts in their drawers the sweaters and jeans will be neglected. They are not at all impressed by my sudden insistence on wearing confining things like socks and jackets. They have all requested that we move to Mexico. (Right about now I feel the same way!)

Once I started clearing out and sorting through the boys dressers, I moved onto Aili's dresser...then Cece's....then all the foster baby/ toddler clothes I have stashed everywhere. I compiled and sorted the mounds of clothing into this (a couple boxes were still on the floor.)

ahhh. Feels good to pretend I'm an organized person.

In contrast....this is what one bedroom looked like while I sorted. We have hand me downs, clothes waiting to be grown into, clothes that are too small, clothes of most every gender and size. I purged many of our clothes over the years but I have a supply of "foster baby" clothes now that I hold on to. This all takes space...and some sense of organization...which I often lack.

While the guys are away on a fishing trip up north (no harvest work to do again this week)...I've been on a big time cooking slump...or break. So, yesterday I decided that we needed some real food and I got creative.

I frequently cook with beans and legumes. They are both very cheap and very healthy (once your gut gets used to digesting them) which are both things I value when deciding what to feed my family. I usually buy them in bulk dry form which is a lot cheaper than the canned variety. It is also healthier because the canned variety has a lot more sodium and even some chemicals leached from the can. Canned beans are quick and convenient though so I often have some of them in the pantry too.

I bought a large bag of chick peas (garbanzo beans) a while back but have never used them. I had the idea that I really didn't like them that much but wanted to try making hummus from scratch. I realized that it wasn't the chick peas I didn't like but the tinny taste and odd texture that comes from the canned variety. The home cooked version is a lot nicer.

I put some in a pot of water to soak over night and then cook them for an hour or so the next day. I used some of the chick peas for making hummus so save for later and I used what was left for making a chick pea curry rice dish for supper. ( I threw together onions, garlic, chick peas, olive oil, carrots, chopped greens, fresh ground coriander seed, turmeric, cumin, salt, and pepper (I would have added hot red chilis but wanted to keep it mild for the food phobic three year old).

I am new to trying to make curry dishes. I couldn't use garam masala or cinnamon because of my freaky allergy boy. I think he reacted to something a bit anyhow...maybe it was the tahini paste in the hummus.

To go with it I made fresh pitas. They were hot from the oven, and a lot softer and tastier (and cheaper) than the store bought variety.

Pita Bread:
1 cup whole wheat flour
2.5 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 scant tbsp instant rapid rise yeast
1 c. warm water
1 tbsp brown sugar

1. mix yeast with the dry ingredients (if you are using old fashioned yeast mix it with the water and sugar first and let sit for 5 min.). Mix in the water and knead together to make a stiff dough. Add more flour or water if needed. Place in a greased bowl and let rise until double (about 20 minutes).
2. pre-heat oven to 475
3. punch down and divide into 6 equal portions.
4. Heat the cookie sheet by placing it upside down in oven (it is important to place dough on hot cookie sheet.)
5. Roll three balls of dough into circles about 1/8 inch thick. Take care not to stretch, puncture of crease dough. (This will not be as thin as tortillas )

6. Place 3 rounds on hot cookie sheet. Bake for 5-6 minutes until puffed.
7. Place the cookie sheet back in the oven to stay hot while you roll the next three pitas. Bake one batch before rolling the next.
Remove from cookie sheet and place inside a terry cloth dish towel. Stack the pitas together and keep covered until cool. This keeps them soft.

They are best eaten fresh but will keep in a sealed plastic bag for up to one month in the fridge.

The kids love to help with these. It is fun to watch them "poof" up in the oven. They blow up like a balloon which creates the pocket.

Have fun trying something new!

Who says that cooking healthy is more expensive than eating junk? It is true that fresh organic out of season produce is much more expensive than cases of nasty Ichiban noodles but with a little creativity you can skip the processed stuff and fill your kitchen with better options.

We are ALWAYS tight for money which means I can't load up my cart with every fresh healthy food that I want.
Here are some of my tips for buying cheap and nutritious.
1. Junk food is a splurge...a treat...not a grocery necessity. Skip the cookie, pop and chip isle. Waste of money and not healthy.

2. Stick to foods as close to their natural form as possible. This rarely includes watermelon blast flavoring, neon coloring, and cartoon characters on the packaging. When fresh imported produce isn't economically reasonable (we live in the frozen Canadian prairie for most of the year!) buy frozen vegis and add them to dishes in lots of creative ways.

3. Buy dried bulk beans. They are a very cheap and very healthy source of protein, minerals, fibre and vitamins. Look up recipes on the internet. Try something new. If you cook a big pot of pinto beans you've got lots of options for using them. Make refried beans (freeze containers of it), make chili, or make a salad out of it. Use legumes to stretch the meat in any recipes. Think outside the taco....although I do love tacos.

4. Eggs. Inexpensive (I buy them from a farm friend), lots of protein and other nutrition. I usually keep some hard boiled eggs in the fridge for the kids to eat with breakfast or for a high protein snack. (think outside the cracker box!)

5. Buy fruit and vegetables in season and on sale. Period. I plan my meals and fruit consumption around sales. (Not that I actually plan ahead...I prepare my meals with what I have).

6. Limit trips to the grocery store. Shop the sales once a week and cook with whats already in the pantry. That limits running back to the store to buy full priced items for specific meals you want to prepare...inevitably you go into the store for artichoke hearts and come out with snacks for the kids, a new set of BBQ tools, and a Latte for the trip home.

7. Grow what you can. It's fresh, organic, and basically free. Less packaging, less transporting, good for the environment, good for your health, and good for your budget. Dig up some of the grass in your yard, add some compost or other fertilizer and plant some seeds. Of course, you may have to wait until spring to try it.
Even a small city garden can provide a good supply of fresh salad makings. Get creative try planting in a raised bed or in flower pots. If you have lots of space your garden can provide produce for months past summer.

8. Make what you can from scratch. This is both cheaper and usually healthier. This does ,admittedly, take more time and in our rat race culture it has become a lost art. Once you start to think outside the cellophane you will find that it's not that hard to do. I try to add an element of convenience by making large batches of cookies, muffins, bread, soups and chili. That way I have a good supply in my freezer for when I don't have time to cook. It also helps with kids school lunches to not have to buy so much prepackaged lunch box fillers.

9. Don't get sucked into expensive health food schemes. Marketers will prey on your desire to feed your family healthy food. A good rule of thumb is the more "marketing" on a package...the more unreasonable it is to buy. Skip it and spend your money in the produce isle.

10. Try vegetables you haven't tried before. Be creative. If acorn squash are on really cheap look up ways to cook it and try something new. If yams are super cheap buy a bag full of them. Try making them into baked french fries, puree and freeze them into baby food or to add to sauces in the winter.

11. Check out the international foods isle. You can often find big bags of rice (I splurge for whole grain brown rice), beans, lentils, and spices that can be the base of many meals.

12. To keep baking inexpensive: I buy bulk bags (20kg) of rolled oats, and whole wheat flour (Although I don't pay membership fees to any bulk store. ) I grind (with a coffee grinder) my own flax seed to add to breads. I buy large jugs of Canola oil and limit use of butter or margarine in my baking. When Margarine is needed (for cookies) I buy non -hydrogenated which is more expensive but worth the extra pennies.

13. Buy less expensive cuts of meat and find better ways to cook them (note: this does not include spam or any product that masquerades as meat). Buy larger quantities and freeze what you don't use. Pull out your slow cooker. Cook and marinate with an acidic sauce (tomatoes or vinegar based). You can turn just about any meat into something you can pull apart with your fork. Stretch your meat by adding lots of vegetables (ground, chopped, pureed) and even some legumes. Look into buying locally raised farm meat in bulk.

These tips are nothing profound or enlightening just some easy ways I lower the cost of feeding my brood while not sacrificing quality, flavor or nutrition.