Jul 3, 2015

Strawberry Fields Forever...


The season was short here, or so I was told, I'm no expert on these matters.  The unexpected late May frost put a damper on the much anticipated strawberry season, shortening the already precious few weeks to harvest these gems.


But frost or not, the berries were no less delicious!



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We don't go every year to pick berries but it's something we enjoy doing! I'm not one to put up bushel after bushel to make jam or to freeze.  No, we usually only pick a few baskets, eating many sweet berries as they are and making a few delicious treats with the rest.


It's a beautiful season and yet it's over so quick...



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I've been pondering on that thought for a time now...the quickness of time passing...especially for these Littles of mine.  They grow overnight, it seems!  The other day my eldest was playing and I was just sitting and watching her.  She was running about the yard and though still very much little, I noticed the length of her limbs.


She's all legs...and arms....and where did my baby go?


I dress my actual 'baby' in clothes that once adorned this big girl and marvel how it was only a moment ago... a moment ago that she, my long limbed lady, was toddling about in sweet summer dresses, with rolls and cheeks of pure pinch-ability!



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And it's funny how life imitates it's self....this short season of strawberry picking is an echo of these fast fleeting days of Littles!  Such a sweet time, labour intensive at moments, but worth it all and gone before you know it!


There is this time of caring for them, nurturing them, protecting them.  You cultivate the soil, giving them the best start you can.  Then as they grow; it's continual watering.  The watering of lessons, truths and guidance.  They blossom!  And then you watch as your little berry bushes produce fruit...and are now independent of you....and their fruit not yours...but theirs... Oh sure, they still need you, now and again.  When they need a little extra watering, or to clear away some bugs...possibly and infestation... and just to make sure that they're growing well.  But overall, the time comes when they are no longer in your care and you have to just watch them and see how they manage.


I have a friend who's children span the elementary through to end of high school ages, with her eldest heading off in the fall to post-secondary.  She tells me all the time, "It was easier when they were little!"


I listen to her words, heed them, if you will.  She's walked this path, she knows how the time flies and she's ministering truth to me!  I know she is not belittling the hard, tiring days of diapering, constant neediness, dressings, mess cleaning, disciplining but her words remind me of the sweet simple joys of this time!




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I do, heed her words, and those of others who constantly say, "It flies by so fast!".  I make sure to walk these truths out; to enjoy these busy days, days of constant requiring of me and my time!  No, this does not mean I play with my kids all the day long.  We do not do hours of crafts or outdoor play together.  But it means, I pause when they do ask and think.  "Would I regret, not taking this moment, to be with them??"


Because dishes still need to get done, food has to be made, grocery lists complied and yes, mommy needs that quiet cup of hot coffee!   But it means, for me, pausing to evaluate what I am doing and asking, "can it wait?"...



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I, sadly, know that life is so precious and it can be gone in an instant.  I was thinking about it, the other day...while mowing my lawn....I've lost three special people in the last eleven years...not a record I hope to uphold....and there were more, but these three were taken in, what seems like, a matter of moments.

Shortly after our second was born, I lost a baby.  I went in for the ultra sound, expecting much and left heavy hearted.  Three years ago, my dad was away on vacation.  He called me on my birthday and then just over a week later, we were in the hospital having to say our final "good bye".   And then, just a few short weeks ago, I lost my dear, dear friend.  A strong women, who fought a good, hard battle and yet, I still can't wrap my head around the idea that she's gone....


It's these times, when you see, when you really see, just how precious and fleeting life truly is.  How you don't know, and that in an instant your world can be shaken.  It's moments likes these that cause me to cultivate my little strawberry bushes with extra tender care!  To truly treasure the hard work it takes to raise them.  It's what causes me to pull myself away from my pursuits, to get on the floor, or to read that book the eighteenth time or to just sit and colour while a counter sits, full of dishes, behind me.


Strawberry fields forever....it may feel like it some days...but the harvest will come and eventually the field will be bare...


And so, I remind myself daily, that time flies by and to remember that sometimes the seasons get cut short.... but I can make the most of today, whatever that looks like and enjoy these Littles....while they are still little.  I can get my hands dirty all the while making my heart happy!  And just as the sweet taste of succulent berries does not quickly leave your memory, neither will these busy but precious days of Littles leave mine...







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Jun 30, 2015

Anything by Jennie Allen :: Review


I don't think there could have been a more perfect book to follow up my last read!!  Anything - the Prayer that Unlocked My God and My Soul took my latest thoughts, struggles and prayers and laid them all out on the printed page!


Anything is the story of Jennie and her husband and all the things that transpired leading up to and after they prayed together that God could have anything! Anything!!  It's wonderfully written as well as engaging, inspiring and fantastically convicting!




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One of the things I enjoyed about this book was Jennie's transparency!  The theme of the book is about surrendering all to God and living with eternity as your focus.  But Jennie is quick to say that they daily have to say, "yes" and that they have not exactly, "sold all and gave it to the poor".  Her story is one, though, of surrendering and allowing God to lead and direct them.  She acknowledges that He will probably call them to give more and they work hard at being ready for those callings.


She does however, through much scripture, real life stories and honest words, cause you to really question where your faith is at!  Is it comfortable, safe, nominal?  This does not mean you need to be living a "big" life because Jennie points out that it is often in the mundane that we serve God, but that, is your faith and thus focus of your life directed at the glorification of God?  Are you living, as the author puts it, 'with one foot in heaven, one foot here and your eyes laser focused on eternity'!?!


I found so many of the words in this book echoing my own thoughts!  Thoughts of, "Am I more focused on building my dreams than building His kingdom?  If I truly believe what I say I do and this life is so short, how should my time, money, energy be spent? What does my life really reflect?  Am I more scared, comfortable, safe then seeking, caring, surrendering?"


Jennie warns that when you truly surrender and give anything to God, be prepared for attacks.  She does not sugar coat the costs of following, unbridled and whole heartedly, eternal living.  She gives accounts from her own life and others of the struggles and trials that have followed when Anything has been prayed.


She also, adamantly reminds us, it will be worth it!




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This release of Anything, also includes an in-depth Bible study component.  I have not completed it, but after looking though it, I look forward to doing so!


I can't say enough good about this book!  I think God is using books such as Anything, to open my mind and heart and pull me out of my comfort zones to re-orient my focus to where it truly belongs.  On Him, His glory and His kingdom.


Now excuse me...I think I have some praying to do....







I received a copy of this book form BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.



Jun 25, 2015

Birthday Boy and Graduation Girls


It's amazing how much a week can hold - both in events and emotional extremes!  Amongst the sadness of losing my friend last week, we also had the joy of celebrating Olivia and Catherine finishing the school year with their first train ride and a train museum field trip.  There was also Catherine graduating Kindergarten as well as Joseph's 3rd Birthday!!!


I was able to join my two oldest gals on their trip and though the skies were grey and the rain poured we had a blast!





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The train ride went fast and my two crazy kids were more excited to sit and colour then watch the world whizzing by!  They were super excited though to ride a school bus from the station to the train museum. (And then the same bus for the 40 minuets back to their school. There are no buses to my kids' school, all the parents drive, so this was a treat for them lol!)




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The museum was pretty neat!! They had a number of train cars that you could climb on and into, for exploring!! My favourite one, hands down, was the dental car!  It was an entire train car that housed a dentist office and living quarters!  The car it's self was over a hundred years old but was operational in the last 30 years or so.  The dentist (and his family) would live in this car as they travelled all through the Northern parts of Canada to provide dental work to the small and isolated communities there. It was surprisingly much larger then I anticipated, on the inside, and much more architecturally ornate!



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And to officially end school, there was graduation.   Our Catherine graduated from Kindergarten!  She's done so well this year and is a reading champ! So much so, that when she was handed her "diploma" she absorbed herself in reading it and paid little attention to what was happening around her! lol!!  The local garden club donated a tree for each of the kindergarten graduates (all two of them...have I mentioned it's a small school!?)  There was also music, singing, skits and fun for everyone!  Four kids graduated from grade eight and though that may seem awfully small to some of you, we love our little school...but we are excited to see it growing as well!





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Then, right on the heels of graduation, the first day of summer vacation was Joseph's BIRTHDAY!!!  That's right, our wee beany boy is THREE!!!  And so, as usual fare, I asked what he wanted for his cake...





And that boy! There's a story to that cake.  So, yes, I asked him, "Joe, what do you want for your cake this year."
To which he replies, "A tractor cake!"
"But Joe, I made you one last year!"
He thinks, "Okay, then I want two tractors."
"Ugh.  No."
He thinks some more, "I want a pink tractor and a green tractor."
"No, Joe.  I did a tractor already..."
"I want a broken tractor and a fixed tractor."
UGH!
So I search some ideas and come back to him later.  "Hey Joe! What about a digger cake???"
He looks excited, "Yeah!! AND a tractor!"
"No, Joe, not a tractor...how about a digger?"
"Umm...how about a cat! Yeah, a cat cake!"
"WHAT?? A cat??? You're crazy!"

A day later, he is being watched by my bestie while we had to go out.  She reports to me when we get back, "Soo...Joseph says, he wants a giraffe cake."
I look dumbfounded at her..."A giraffe cake?!?! What is with this kid!?!"
"Actually," she continues, "He said, 'I want a giraffe cake...no a cat cake.  NO...the cat was just a joke!' then he laughed"


What a kid!


So with my time and energy being short and that boy being absolutely ridiculous - he got his digger, giraffe, cat cake!



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In true Birthday form, for us - there was family popping in over a couple of days (grandparents mostly) with those who could make it, coming on his actual Birthday.  The weather was great and we decided to cook hot dogs in the fire pit.  We enjoyed cake indoors and the kids gobbled up the digger, giraffe and cat...with Joe barely touching his actual cake! Sheesh...what a boy! Hhahahah!



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My mom and her husband joined us that day and brought with them a water slide!  With the hills around our house it was easy to get it up and running!!  The kids enjoyed it, especially Catherine!! It was a perfect end to a great day!




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And just like that my little man is three years old!! How is that possible? And yet...he talks, acts and is the size of about a five year old!!!!  It's hard to remember, some days, he's my little boy!  Joe is quite the kid...if you didn't pick that up from the cake conversation!  He's sensitive, creative, independent, snugly, sweet, crazy, busy, sometimes grumpy, and always, always, hungry!






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This means that there is only one birthday left, for the year, in our family... and that comes next month!  Then I will be the mom of an eight year old...but lets not talk about that now! I'm not ready! hahahah!




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Jun 22, 2015

Hug!


Just over a week ago, my neighbour, my friend, passed away.  And though it has brought me tremendous sadness, there is a joy in all of it.  First, for the end of her pain and her battle.  Secondly and most, most importantly, for the fact that I know where she is!  She is in glory, in the presence of Jesus, the lover of her soul, and she is rejoicing!


My heart aches for her dear husband and sweet children that she had to leave behind.  But she certainly left a legacy, a good and godly example of living well and making much of the short time we have on this earth.


I learned much from my friend and I miss her dearly!  I will never, never forget her - she is the woman who's name we gave for Alice's middle name.  She was a light in my life, in our lives and in the lives of many people who knew her!


Today I am guest blogging over at Bevy's blog - Treasured Up and Pondered, where you can read my post, get your hands on the best muffin recipe ever and partake in her give-away!  When Bevy asked me to write a post for her Blog, she said I should write something "me".  I mulled it over for a few days and finally settled on something.


Hugs.


There's more to them then meets the eye - so click HERE to head over to read how a hug can change your life!



This post is dedicated, in memory, of my dear friend Grace.
A truly beautiful woman.

Grace with our Alice Grace


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How lucky I am to have something
that makes saying 'Goodbye' 
so hard.
                                                               - A.A. Milne (Winnie the Pooh)














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Jun 10, 2015

Counting Down to Summer


The countdown is on!  Just under two weeks and my oldest gals will be off from school for the summer!! Can you believe it? I really can't!  I still think I should be working on things for my baby's first Birthday!! But that has come and gone, already!




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In fact, my little man's birthday is the day after school is out!  My boy, he will be THREE! AAaaaah!!  I remember when my oldest was that age....heck, that was the age Catherine was when we moved here!  C.R.A.Z.Y. how time flies!


Speaking of my little man, if you aren't my "friend" on facebook (I do keep my personal page for mostly close friends and family - you can 'like' my Homemaker Design page for blog updates and what nots) and if you didn't catch it in my last post - here is the up-dated, summer look, for our Joseph...



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His luscious locks are gone! *sob!*  I thought he was ever charming with his long hair buuut he was also a sweat machine and it was either chop it off or bath him every day all summer long - hubby voted for the buzzers and I reluctantly agreed.  It took some getting used to, but now I really like it short....can't say what will happen down the road but for now we have a much cooler kid!

ba-dum-shing!


So with school winding down, I'm thinking of more activities to do with my kiddos.  I want to keep working on writing and math with them over the summer but we also want to have fun!  And with less then two weeks of the school year remaining, I finally got around to trying my hand at homemade fruit snacks.



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They taste great!! And I love the natural and healthy ingredients.  What I don't love sooo much, is the texture!  It's not a problem for the rest of my crew but I'm not a huge Jell-O fan and these are very reminiscent of that.  But enjoyable enough and loved by the rest of my peeps, so it's a winner!  I will get around to posting a recipe soon for these - just want to try out a few more flavours first!


Even though Summer is not officially here and the weather has been less the co-operative - we did get away to "our" beach for an evening!  Dave planned it for a Friday, he said he would pick up things for supper before getting the girls from school and I would pack the van and be ready for them when they got home.  The plan was a success...we only had to turn back once to get something from the house! lol!  We bought our season pass that night and are now ready at a moments notice to hit the waves....okay...not waves...it's just a quiet little beach...this ain't SoCal here people..it's Ontario...Canada....not even near the Great lakes...but just a beautiful beach for kids and families and a glorious place to have some family fun!




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What else, what else...Oh a field trip this Friday.  My MIL is watching the younger two Littles so I can join my girls on their first train ride!!!  I grew up taking the train to visit my dad and then to visit my mom when I moved to live with my dad.  So I have some great memories of riding the rails and it's probably my favourite way to travel!  So we are all excited - I love field trips! hahahah!!


And because I realized I forgot to mention it at all - back, waaay back at the beginning of May, Dave and I celebrated eleven years married!  It was also the same day as the Mother's Day tea at the girls' school.  So I had a lovely afternoon with that and then an evening out with my hubby, complete with a fancy dinner, shopping, coffee, and a bouquet of roses that looked like a heart!



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Eleven years has brought amazing highs and lows...and the last few years have been a time of really hashing things out, growing, stretching and working together to come through on the other side!  I read recently, that the years between 7-12 are the hardest in a marriage and at this point, I'd have to agree!  I really think being out here, though, has given us the time to really focus on 'us' and see the areas where we struggle and come to God to work on those.  It's been challenging and there is still much to work through, but there is also growth, slow, steady, growth.  God has been good, He is carrying us though it, bringing us godly support and accountability and renewing our hearts to what really matters in this life!  Marriage is a gift that does not come without it's challenges, and I'm thankful we have the Lord to guide us though it all, the good and the bad!





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And speaking of growth, Dave and I planet a few veggies in our raised beds.  Nothing like the twenty four tomato plants we planted a few years back, just some yellow and green beans and, my favourite, peas!!  There is also a few of the garlic that I missed harvesting last year, that sprung up again this year!  I don't think we'll be doing a big garden this year, for a few reasons, but I still would like to maybe get a galvanized tub and put in a few tomatoes, nothing like fresh toasted tomato sandwiches!!


I'm excited about a project for the summer - one you ALL can join in, if you like!!  I think it should be fun and keep the creative juices flowing, without consuming a ton of time!!  More on that in a couple of weeks!


As my last post documented, we have been a little crafty!  It's getting more fun, for me, as my girls are reaching an age I remember for being full of crafting!  But Joe seems to really enjoy painting and has fun with practically any hands on activities including this shape 'game'.  Here he has created a monster truck and a pick up truck, all on his own!




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And, I keep forgetting to share the recipe with you all, but we've also broken out the side-walk paint!!  It's an easy and fun activity, that keeps kids happy and creative for hours!  I will share that soon!  There are a bunch of things I'd like to do and I hope to cross a number of them off of my Pinterest boards this Summer...mostly to justify all the time I spend on there...because that would be fun!


So we gladly anticipate the Summer days ahead, all the while, enjoying each moment as it comes and keeping our focus on what is eternal, God glorifying and thus joy-filled!  Life is certainly full of big and amazing things...but there is much to celebrate, cherish and marvel at in the mundane....









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...oh, those mundane sunsets....!






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