Friday, July 17, 2015

How to Get a Free Gigantor Hot Fudge Sundae, in 16 Easy Steps

How to Get a Free Gigantor Hot Fudge Sundae, in 16 Easy Steps

1. Meet a boy.

2. Decide he's cute.

3. Make sure he thinks you're cute.

4. Invite him to see The Lost World with your youth group.

5. Wait for him at the back of the theatre since he said he'd be late coming from his softball game.

6. End up sitting next to him since your youth group saved seats next to each other for you.

7. Realize that you are both slightly obsessed with John Williams' music.

8. Get engaged a year later.

9. Pick up a coupon somewhere along the way for a free small sundae from McDonald's.

10. Get married 14 months and 2 days after you got engaged.

11. After you leave your wedding reception, stop at McDonald's before you get to the hotel.

12. Drive up to the speaker, tell them you have a coupon and place your order.

13. Before pulling forward, tell them that you just got married that day and ask if they can give you some extra chocolate sauce.

14. Present your coupon.

15. Collect your Gigantor Sundae that has been made in a large soft drink cup.

16. Drive away celebrating.

~

Happy 16th Anniversary of getting that Gigantor Sundae, Aaron. Here's to many more!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

A Pictureless Picture-Perfect Day

I took so many mental snapshots today. The pull to run off and grab my camera was real. I stayed in the moment and saw this...

~

Picture this:

Around 11:30 this morning, there was a red picnic blanket spread out in my backyard under my black maple tree, green grass sprawling beyond the blanket's reach. A cornucopia of lunch was spread out in the centre of the blanket... Chips, salsa, sour cream, salmon, crackers, cucumbers, peanuts, and of course some napkins to mop up the inevitable mess. A couple lunch bags had been placed down as well, for the young cousins who were joining us today. Gathered around the perimeter of the picnic blanket were five smiley, sweaty kids, hungry from a morning of playing together, connected by genetics, but bound by their obvious love for each other. Older kids helped younger kids open juice boxes and younger kids gabbed away about their morning together, punctuating the tales with unbridled giggles.

Bellies and hearts were filled. It was picture-perfect.

~

Picture this:

This evening, after a raucous dinner, our family of five headed out to the ball diamond behind our house. I stayed behind to wipe up the counter while the kids and Dad got the ball gear out.  When I peeked my head out of the gate, I saw two brothers, one wearing the baseball mitt he got for his birthday last year, the other beaming with joy that he finally got to try out his brand new mitt, the one Dad just got him a week ago. The two brothers were throwing the ball back and forth. The older one caught it nine times out of ten, the younger one leapt for it but missed often. About 15 paces beside them were dad and daughter, also throwing the ball back and forth.  The girl took a step and threw the ball. It arced beautifully in the sky and landed in Dad's glove. He threw it back. She took a protective (albeit unnecessary) step back as it bounced where she stood two seconds earlier. I walked over to join in on the fun and caught several fly balls off Dad's bat.

The fun of sport and family togetherness was exhilarating. It, too, was picture-perfect.

~

Blogs look so much nicer with colourful pictures to draw you in. I was greedy and kept the pictures to myself today, savouring the moments instead of running off to grab the camera. I don't, most days. But then, the memories just aren't as meaningful because I wasn't in them.

Here's to being in the memories a little more these days.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Gardening: A Modern Day Parable

It is finally warm enough for me to think about planting little seedlings in my garden - tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, basil, squash...

However, I've realized that I don't have enough room for all the vegetation that I want to plant. In order to make room, I've had to look at my yard through fresh eyes.

I have a patch on the west side of my yard that has clematis, day lilies, violets, a rain barrel, and some unknown plants (which I used to think were violets.) Day lilies and violets, while pretty, will not feed my family. They grow and spread and grow more little plants which only take up room. That is room where I could instead grow squash and lettuce and broccoli and anything else that the animals don't eat.



So I put on my gloves, put on my gardening shoes, and went out to tackle the patch that needed to be transformed. The day lilies left a few days ago (thanks to a collaborative effort from my family) so all I had left to do was get rid of the violets. As I pulled the violets, I remembered that they weren't all violets. In fact, most of the green leaves and roots that I was pulling out came from an unidentified plant that I once thought was a violet. I let it stay, thinking that it was a heartier violet but, alas, it has crept in and choked out most of the violets. (I shall henceforth call these plants "The Little Deceivers.")

I also noticed that my neighbour's orange poppies had crept over to my side. While they were beautiful, they won't be tasty on our dinner table, so they had to go as well.

As I pulled and yanked and lifted those unwanted plants from my garden, I made sure to leave as much of the soil as I could. Unwanted plants are harder to remove when you have that heavy soil, the soil that is supposed to stay in the garden, clinging to them.

I thought of the bind-weed that we used to have running through our yard. It was all through one section of the garden and I just ignored it. It spread to the grass and we mowed it down.  It reached our second garden. That's when we started to really try to tackle it. We got most of it but every so often, I see a vine creeping out of the ground, trying to twist its tendrils around my tomato plants. But I have spent so much time getting that weed out of my garden, and I have spent so many years looking at that weed, that I know what it looks like and I know that I don't want it around any longer.


There's this one section of the garden that continues to harbour a bind-weed root. I let that bind-weed grow for so long that the root is too deep for me to totally eradicate it. So, I watch for that weed, knowing that as soon as I see its ugly fingers, I'll give it a good yank and toss it with all the other weeds... Far away from my garden.

I've not ever thought of myself as a good gardener, and I certainly don't consider myself to be an expert (not yet, at least) but as I see the results of pulling those unwanted plants so that I can plant things that will nourish my family, I am encouraged to stick with it.

I know that I didn't get all the violets' and Little Deceivers' roots. But when they start to grown in my garden, I know what to look for. It's easier to recognize weeds when I've planted good strong, nourishing food in that soil. Some weeds will poke through tentatively while others will unabashedly break through and try to set up shop in my garden. No more. They are not welcome. Recognizing that you have a weed problem is one thing. Resolving to do something about it is another. I think that it's only once you have good plants in place of the weeds that you actually realize how much life and nourishment the weeds were preventing.

Now go - Pull your weeds and plant nourishing vegetation that will be good and useful to you and your family.

~

(Lest I leave anyone confused, go back and replace any reference to "unwanted weeds" with the word "sin.")

Thursday, April 30, 2015

To haiku or not to haiku

My kids' poetry for the day...  The first few are the silly ones.

9-yr-old
My haiku will bore
You will not like it at all
And neither will I

11-yr-old
This haiku is not a haiku
And it is really super wrong
All the lines have eight syllables

12-yr-old
I'll tell a haiku
It has a giant mistake

And now for the one's they actually tried to make into real haiku.  Haiku is actually supposed to be an observation of a tiny thought in the vast expanse of nature.  These poems reflect the intended subject of Haiku:

12-yr-old
A tree's buds will burst
They turn into big green leaves
But soon they will fall

11-yr-old
A flower in bloom
Surrounded by all the grass
And tall trees around

9-yr-old
The fluffy bunny
Hopped around on the green grass
Later, we cooked it

My youngest wrote three actual nature haiku...  This was the most pleasant one.

Addendum:
11-yr-old
The sad little fly
Oh no - he's a black fruit fly
His life just ended

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Recipe Alert: Summer Veggie Pesto Pasta



I made this last night and we all loved it. The cold leftovers that I'm eating right now taste like summer... Ahh, summer!

I want to remember this, so I'm writing it up to share.

You can use whichever veggies you like.  Next time I find asparagus on sale, I'll be trying it in here. Some orange peppers would be tasty, too.

Mix it up.  Put whatever you like in here. Enjoy!

Summer Veggie Pesto Pasta

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 red onion, sliced
1 large head broccoli, cut into bite-sized chunks
1 pkg snap peas, trimmed and cut into bite-sized chunks

375 g penne pasta

3 Tbsp sun-dried tomatoes, diced
2 Tbsp pesto
1/4 cup parmesan cheese

Directions:

Cook pasta according to package directions.

While pasta is cooking...

In a large pan, stir-fry onions in olive oil for two minutes on medium.  Add broccoli and cook for another two minutes.  Add snap peas and turn pan off.

Add pasta to veggies.  Add tomatoes, pesto, and parmesan cheese. Stir together and serve.

Tastes great hot or cold!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Where I am

I am hiding in my basement, listening to my youngest pick out one of his favourite songs on the piano. The older two are giggling and laughing in the hallway beside me. I have a headache, which has been slowly creeping on all morning. I suspect the energetic stomping/dancing that I heard earlier contributed to the throbbing I now feel.

I am tired. I remember days when I sat down at my keyboard to write and my mind was full of exciting things to share. Today is not one of those days. Today (and for many days, recently) things are different.

The first difference is that I feel less confident in sharing what I am learning... Not that I don't have good things to share, just that I have been humbled lately in attempting to “teach” others. Those who teach will be judged more strictly, after all. (James 3:1) So I am sitting back and gleaning from others more these days.

Beyond that, though, I have this pervading feeling of weariness. I don't know if it's this everlasting Winter O' 2015 or something else, but I just don't want to do anything. I'm tired of answering questions. I'm tired of meal planning. I'm tired of shopping multiple times a week. I'm tired of listening to people's whining (and I'm not just talking about kids here.) I am weary.

I stood under the spray of the shower this morning and imagined something that I only think about in my weakest moments - an extended period of time away from everything... Cars, stores, internet, people, teaching. In that ever-so-brief moment, it sounds delightful.
Curling up in the fetal position and sucking my thumb was my go-to, years ago


Yet, I know that I have a purpose here, right now.

And, I know that escape is neither healthy, nor useful.

But in those moments, I find it hard to remember that I do have a purpose.

But.

I have heard it said that when someone speaks the word, “BUT...” it really means, “All that stuff I just told you? Forget about it.

Your hair looks great today BUT you have food in your teeth.”
I know you told me not to tell you any more church gossip BUT you have to hear what so-and-so told me.”
“I want something better for my children BUT I'm not willing to make any changes.”

You get the idea. What you read before the “BUT” means nothing, really.

So, all that stuff up there? BUT...

BUT God has put me where I am so that I can shine my light, even when it feels like I'm on my last drop of oil. I am reflecting the light of Jesus to my family, to my church, to my friends, and to people I meet at the store or library or swimming pool.

It's not about me.

It should never have been about me.

I try to make it about me far too often.

So, I will persevere. I will get over myself when I am feeling used up and worn out, because the Lord has satiated the weary soul! (Jeremiah 31:25)

If I am not letting God build this family into what he wants it to be, my work is all vain. (Psalm 127:1)

And how quickly I forget the last part of Psalm 127, where God tells me that my children are a heritage and reward to me. Thank you, Lord, for that reminder. They truly are.

My heritage and reward...  Awesome.

I will not grow weary in doing good. I will reap my reward, one day. (Gal 6:9)

Today...  And every today to follow...

This is my prayer - That I can let my light shine before men, so that they may see my good works and GLORIFY my FATHER in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)

So I am here, sitting at my computer, listening to the noises of my family and resolving to continue doing good. After all, God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:26) It doesn't get better than that, right?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

My Super-Man

Originally written November 16, 2009.

My husband is stretched out on the Lazyboy right now, "watching" MNF with his eyes closed. I take him for granted very often. He's not the most romantic guy in the world and he doesn't always say what I want to hear, but I can't help loving him anyway.

Do you know that he gets up every morning at 6:15 so he can get to work on time? And he never complains about it. He doesn't even try to make noise to wake me up. He lets me sleep until 7:30 when he's heading out the door, at which point, he wakes me with a kiss, EVERY MORNING, and says good-bye. The kids, who he's been holding off until that moment, rush into our room and ask if they can get breakfast. Let me expound... He makes his own lunch each morning (a feat among husbands from what I hear), gets dressed in our dark room, and absorbs the kids while I doze for another hour and fifteen minutes.

And then, THEN! he gets his gear on (coat, hat, mitts if needed) and bike helmet on and rides his bicycle to work. In the rain. In the snow. In the extreme heat. In the cold. It is a very rare day when he accepts my offer of a ride in the morning.

He gets to work on time every day... No wait - he gets to work early every day and makes decisions on his workday based on his morals and ethics, not on what his boss is expecting or what will be easiest.

Do you know that he takes a lunch to work every day? He doesn't spend our money on such frivolous things as pizza and chips or salad and a sandwich. He would rather spend the time making his lunch in the morning. And yes, it is our money, even though I sleep in until 7:30 and the hardest thing I have to do on any given day ranges from unknotting knotted hair to deciding who gets the last blueberry yogurt.


My husband is a superhero! I could go on about how when he bikes home from work he settles in to play with the kids and gets them to clean up before dinner, or how he reads with at least one of the kids almost every night after dinner, or how he chats with me about his day and listens if I feel compelled to complain about mine. (At this point, I'm wondering what there ever was to complain about!)

No, I don't need to tell you all that. Nor do I need to go into how he patiently taught me to understand and appreciate football, or how he goes to concerts with me even though he really would rather not spend the money on the tickets and babysitter. You get the idea without me going into all that.

I am married to Superman. He may appear to be Clark Kent, but he's Superman underneath it all. I'd say that makes me Lois Lane, but I think I'm somewhere closer to Amelia Bedelia. So I just keep thanking God for blessing me with my Aaron and hoping that he doesn't realize he's sorely mis-matched.

And as I finish typing this, he wakes from his peaceful slumber, passes gas, and flashes me his smile. I giggle. I can't help it. I'm smitten.