Sunday, 31 March 2013

Making movies

I was asked by a lovely lady at the women's ministry morning that I attend to share how to write a story and video it for your children. I enthusiastically said, Yes!"...and then panicked. I have never done this before. How does one write a story and make a video of it? This woman is a praying woman so I trusted that she must have been nudged by The Lord to challenge me. So, I went on an adventure. I invited my 4 year old in on the adventure, as he especially loves video and camera work. We tried different stories with different recording devices. We had stories with dinosaurs, teddy bears, Sesame Street characters, and homemade puppets. We tried making up a story together and sometimes the stories got a little out of hand (like when the dingo would not stop beating up the big dinosaur) and sometimes we would just end up shutting off the camera and just play on. For the class' sake, I made up the final story but let Munch pick out the characters, name them and film the story. I was so impressed with his video skills. After we were done filming, Munch said, "Mommy, that was great!" and he immediately wanted to watch it.  He also wanted to take the puppets and do his own story. (Well, what do you know? We have a whole new rainy day activity!) We probably could have made up stories for hours.
Ryan and I started making up stories for our kids when Munch was almost two. It started with a funny story about a duck and a waterslide (that is what Munch really loved at that time). It has since become adventures about airplanes and sledding down icy mountains. It has also been a way to teach values and morals to the kids without having to lecture. Sometimes, the lesson is received better when it comes through the back door (especially for my know--it-all Munch). What we have learned is that our kids love the made up stories because often we include things that they can relate to and things they love. Making this video was just adding another element to that process.
This is something that I am hoping to use for those times in the doctor's office, when I want to keep the kids attention. "Hey kids, lets watch that video we made the other day!" I am wondering if maybe it will teach the kids to become more aware and analytical of what they watch as well. For example, Ryan listens to radio differently because he has been a part of the process. I watch movies with a more critical view because I have been a part of that process. Maybe our kids will not be as passive in their relationship with media and because they have been a part of the process they will watch it differently. I am hoping.
I will share the video...reluctantly. The lighting is poor, my voice changes and you can see my head BUT this video is not for you, it's for my kids...and they LOVED it! I am getting over myself and showing it only to show you how simple it is...I hope it inspires you.

I learned some very valuable things throughout the process of making this video.
1.  Allowing the boys to be a part of the process made them more attentive and focused.
2. We, as adults, tend to need everything to be perfect and neat but our kids don't notice those things, the little ones anyway.
3. Our kids love when we get down and play with them. Munch and Bubblegum loved making the videos mainly because Mom got down on the floor and roared like a lion. I need to lighten up and play more.
4. We all have stories to tell. We know our children the best and have the best information to make their stories compelling and funny.
5. The sillier you can be the better; better for the story and better for you (I could feel my stress lifting off of me as I played).

This is my challenge to you. Take your phone, iPad, iPod, camera and make a story for your kids. Maybe you aren't comfortable with making up a story. Read them a book and film the pages...then you can show them the video on those moments you need them to be busy. Include them in the story or not. Play a little. Let me know how it goes.

Friday, 29 March 2013

In Memory

I attended a memorial service for a dear friend of mine today.  The music was lovely and was very honouring to him.  Although I couldn't help but think that a song just doesn't sum up who he has been to me and many other people.  As we spent time remembering key moments in his life here on Earth, I was overwhelmed with emotion.  I remembered the many times he held me as I cried uncontrollably, or when he sat with me and listened for hours as I poured out my heart.  Even though he knew the answer to my questions and ponderings (he is just so smart like that), he would just listen quietly and comfort me.  Some of our other friends have told me about how generous he has been to them; giving them things they didn't deserve without even having to ask and then not asking anything in return.  I know for me, there were times that he has offered me something that I didn't even know I needed and then low and behold, shortly after I would have needed that thing.  I think it's because he was paying attention.  See, he never seemed to get caught up with the same stuff as the rest of us.  That's what made him so available.  There was this one time in my life where I was just not a good friend to him.  I was just really struggling and you know how you just don't want to be around the wise people who have the answers when you are miserable? It was like that.  Today, I remembered that and I just couldn't stop crying.  I can still feel his overwhelming forgiveness and love, in spite of how neglectful I was.  What kind of friend can do that?  
This friend was an amazing example of a good son.  He loved his dad so much and showed the utmost respect and honour toward him.  They mentioned that at the memorial today because it was so integral to who he was.  You see, my friend died in combat.  He followed his dad's wishes and travelled to a foreign land to fight in a huge battle.  The people in that land were so horrible to one another something had to be done. It almost seemed like an impossible battle to his friends and family but he loved his dad so much, that even though he was scared he did it anyway.   Where he was deployed, the people seemed to speak a different language as many of them didn't even understand what he was trying to tell them.  They didn't understand that he came to rescue them from the danger they were in.  Really, these people should have just been wiped out.  They didn't know how to be good to each other and there was so much damage being done because of it.  Many of the leaders of that land thought they had it all covered and then others just had other ideas as to how my friend should help them.  This ignorance ultimately led to his demise.  My heart ached today when I thought of what he must have went through in his last few moments,  this kind and loving man.  Why him?  He didn't do anything wrong to anyone?  Those that loved him paid a wonderful tribute to him today.  His one friend who spoke about his character did such a great job and was tearful through most of it.  
Thankfully Sunday, we have a celebration of his life.  See, my friend didn't stay dead.  Three days later he rose up from his grave and walked and talked with the people of that land again.  And would you believe he forgave the people who killed him?  Who does that? His dad knew the whole time what was going to happen.  His dad had a plan. See,  his dad is not just anyone.  He is very important and powerful.  My friend's dad is God, The Father.  The Father of all creation.  His son, my dear friend, is Jesus Christ.  The most loving, generous and perfect person and the best friend I could ever have.  That land?  That is Earth and those people who misunderstood him and wanted him dead?  That's me and you.  It's all of us.  He loved me and everyone else he and his dad created so much that he willingly went to battle for us and died.  Who could ask for a better friend than that.  I am so excited for Sunday.  Today was hard but that is what makes Sunday all the better.  What a celebration it will be.  My Jesus has risen and lives today.  What a friend!  

Monday, 25 March 2013


It's been a good day. One of those days where you see some of your hard work pay off.  After over four years of fighting with Munch, he decided that not only could his hair be washed, but he would do it himself, as well as get himself out of the tub, dry himself off and get dressed himself.  He was so proud that it took him an hour to calm down from the excitement (at bedtime!).  Bubblegum made a good choice of toast and mango for bedtime snack, got the toaster out and put the slices in and pushed down the toaster thingy (with my supervision, of course) and he ate his bedtime snack with gusto and brought his plate to the sink when he was done.  "What is going on with our boys today?"Ryan asked astonished.  We are reaping today. We are enjoying the reaping.  This morning we took them to a house church meeting where Ryan and I were invited to share about the progress of the documentary and his recent trips.  We were there for over 5 hours and these boys said hello to people, answered questions, played with the super cool adults and sat and played quietly while Daddy shared and the group chatted and prayed.  Everyone commented on how well behaved they were. Reaping.  When we returned home there were friends here and they shared their toys, sat down when told to at supper, finished their meals and washed up after. Reaping.
These are the days we need to remember when there are tantrums and whining, many time-outs and talking-tos.  These are the days we encourage, praise and build into these wonderful children we have for a time.  These are the days we enjoy and praise God for His grace over us as imperfect parents.  These are the days we take refreshing breaths and truly know it is all worth it.

I realize that I have put some challenges out there and have not given any updates.  So here's some updates: my New Year's resolution has been pretty good.  The resolution was not set to be perfect but merely to get us outside more.  We have indeed been out more than if I had not se the resolution. It got us out on the coldest days of winter and will continue to get us out in our surprise blizzard days of Spring.  I have been less than par on my 15 minutes of activity a day.  This has probably been the least active I have been in years and my body feels it.  I am achy and tired.  I will try again this week.  I have been reading Ephesians for quite some time now. As a challenge to myself I am going to post a video of me sharing chapters 1 and 2 next week.

The mountains.  We enjoyed our ride home from Kelowna so much.  I never grow tired of the mountains; their size, how each one is so unique, their absolute beauty.  The boys really did love them as much as we hoped.  Munch loved the random waterfalls and Bubblegum would sometimes yell, "BIIIIIIG!"  We were so grateful for our time away as a family.  There was some much needed discussion about what is next for us as a family, where we need to grow, what God has done and is doing.  The boys got to have some great Daddy time swimming and playing and myself and the boys enjoyed our outdoor time, walking and exploring.

 One interesting adventure we had was on our last night there.  We hadn't toured around the rest of the building where the pool was and thought we could look around and possibly play some of the games like ping pong and pool while we were at it.  We explored up to the top floor of the stand-alone building to find a beautiful room with couches, tables, a bar and a huge deck.  It was made for people to rent out and enjoy with big groups.  We went out onto the deck to show the boys how high up we were.  When we went to go back inside we realized the doors were locked from the outside.  We looked around the deck to find no way down....except with great bravery.  With our oldest panicking and me looking away, praying, Ryan climbed around a balcony edge and jumped onto a lower stairwell.  This was not easy for him as he is not a fan of heights.  He made it down safely and let us back into the building.  It was one of those moments when you know God is building character and teaching us about Him and ourselves.  We used it to teach the boys about courage and completing tasks even when we are scared.  The next day as we were checking out, Ryan mentioned to the staff at the front desk about the incident only to find out that our adventure was unnecessary.  Apparently, none of us saw the staircase hidden on the other side of the deck.  We actually had to go back and see it for ourselves as we did not believe them.  There it was...not even 20 feet way.  I said to Ryan, "there is some kind of biblical lesson in this, isn't there?"
Do you see it?  Far right corner. Duh. 

Lastly, I realized that only people who are members of blogspot could leave comments.  I have changed that now so that anyone can comment.  I hope that his means that I will see more in the future as it is encouraging to both me and other readers to hear from you.

Bless you as your begin your week.  Until next time.


Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Free Range

We are quite enjoying our time here in Kelowna.  It is a beautiful city, nestled in with the hills and Lake Okanagan.  Our condo opens right up to the boardwalk so the boys are enjoying the beach and the water.  It isn't warm here at all but none of us seem to mind.  Although, we have all agreed that we need to come back and enjoy it in the Summer, as it has a lot more to offer when the weather is hot.  Baby Goo has been waking every 2 hours and this has led to him and I having colds.  I am not bothered by it because it isn't taking me a way from much.  I am actually enjoying preparing meals, getting the kids ready for the day and bed and holding my teething and cranky baby. It's all I have to do right now so I can focus on it and do it well.  Of course, I wish this trip included me getting some great sleep in the king sized bed with amazingly fluffy pillows but I will settle for no housework, lots of downtime and a great view.  I mean, the baby was going to be cranky and sleepless anyway, so it might as well be here. Right?  Let's keep to the positive.  
There is a playground right across from our condo and the boys have played on it everyday. We have just let them go on their own and check in on them every few minutes.  I have been challenged by the book Free Range Kids written by Lenore Skenazy.  She very wittily responds to the hyper parenting or some call helicopter parenting phenomenon that plagues our generation of parents.  If you are looking to be challenged and have a great laugh at the same time, I highly recommend this book.  When I get home, I am going to train my 4 year old how to walk to his friends house that is 10 houses away and across a street himself.  That sounds pretty crazy to me.  I wonder how many of you are like, "Wow Mom, chill out a bit." or how many are thinking, "WHAT??!! You are a horrible mother!"  It would be interesting to hear where everyone stands on that.  Anyway, we are practicing here.  I read a great article about how children are unable to take risks and learn from their mistakes when their parents are around, like at the playground.  That too, was really challenging.  I know that my gasps and "be carefuls!"don't help my boys much at the playground, as far as taking risks, so this is a good opportunity to let them go for it. They have had a blast without us.  I looked out the window once and the boys had made friends with a little boy who was there with his grandparents.  Right away I thought, "these people must be wondering where the lazy and reckless parents are."  Then... I just let.. it.. go.  It is such a funny time we are in, isn't it?  I used to walk to grade one alone everyday, which was a 25 minute walk.  Now everyone meets their children at the door until grade 7.  Is this wrong?  Is it crazy? 

Well, the husband just put the boys to bed and the baby has quieted down, so its time for me to shut down the technology and enjoy the rest of the night.  Still working on memorizing Ephesians.  It is cool how much you can get out of one verse as you read it over and over.  Here is one that is really speaking to me.  
"In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one." Ephesians 6:16
IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES!!! There is never a time that I should let my guard down from the enemy.  I must always be protected with faith.  
Okay, off I go. Bless you friends. Have a great week! 
Pinterest Best Activity for the week....go outside and play.  That's it.  Have fun. 

Friday, 15 March 2013

Fort Friday

We have been enjoying the blog All for the Boys and their Fort Fridays.  Check out Munch and Bubblegum's latest fort on their latest Fort Friday post, as well as the other great ideas for your kiddos.....great for snow days!
We are headed out for a much needed vacation tomorrow.  We are off to sunny, well, sunny in the summer.....cloudy but still wonderful Kelowna, BC for a family get-a-way.  I am excited to drive through the mountains with the boys.  We always admire their beauty from afar but now we get to drive right between them.  Ryan and I love long drives.  I look forward to reconnecting while the boys nap in the van (here's hoping).
For the trip I made some oatmeal cups. Ryan loves them because they are sweetened with honey (he is not a sweets guy).  I found the recipe from the Sugar-free Mom.  Super yum!

Enjoy your weekend! 

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Setting Limits

My girlfriend laughed kindly at me that day in the coffee shop.  That day when I was 8 months pregnant with my first child and I told her all my plans.  The day I said I was going to be different than those "other moms".  I was not going to let motherhood keep me at home.  My life would carry on with a bundle of joy in tow.  This friend did not have kids of her own but was a seasoned and involved auntie.  She witnessed reality with her own brother and sister-in-law.  Two years after that conversation, we laughed together at my ridiculously naive plans.
Now, here I am again,  looking back at the optimistic plans I had for life with three children.  I am exhausted, overwhelmed, grumpy and perplexed.  Why can't I hold onto all the friendships I have made over the last 10 years?  Why can't I just go for a coffee at any time in the day, go on a random road trip like in the SUV commercials, or keep a Pinterest-like home?  Why? Why? WHY??!!
I actually know some people who seem to be able to do it.  So I try it.  I try to keep my life the way it was single, then with no children, then with one child, then two children.  Some people can do it. I cannot.  And okay. This is my life right now.  It won't always be but it is right now.  In order for me to do well at being a godly wife, mom and disciple maker, I need to slim down on my goings on.  I don't like it, I am embarrassed to admit and I am struggling with the false guilt that comes from making these changes.  I am also tired of feeling this way.
I am learning my limitations. 
We live in a bedroom community but still try to live a life in the city.  We did it well without kids because going in for suppers and coffees and getting home late was fine.  Now, going into most parts of the city seem like a great feat to me.  There's naps, snacks, breastfeeding, diapers, traffic, weather.....   (I have to stop, it's making me nauseated. )  I may have friends scattered all over the GCA but I don't feel like we are a part of a true community. We attend a church but I do not have a relationship with the people there, outside of Sunday. I don't think this is what God intended for His church. It bothers me so much.
God is teaching me what is good and what is godly.
In my time of prayer and reflection, this is what came about.
More time praying, less time doing.
Ask God what is good, what is doable and be obedient to what He says.
Get to know my neighbours.  For real this time. This town is where the Lord has called us to. I am going to respond to those women on my the street who have reached out for friendship.  I don't want to drive half an hour every day for a coffee or a "playdate".  I want to embrace the community that I am already in.
I am going to take the lovely ladies from my church family up on their offers to help.  I am going to invest in this church family as long as God calls me to be a part of it.  This means that even if I love what another church family is doing, I won't over extend myself or my family to be a part of it (because I hate to miss out on good stuff!). Again, this all needs to be prayerful.
I am going to be okay with not always needing to go out.  I am going to be easy on myself and not think myself a loser if I stay home for three days in a row because their are meals to plan and clothes to be washed and teething babies to care for.  This means that I am going to say no to invitations, even if I have to cry about it.
I will not give my husband a hard time because he likes to stay home.  I am going to be grateful that God gave me an introverted husband to teach me to be still and quiet and to love home.
No more Facebook News feeds.  Reading people's statuses apathetically and not responding keeps me up at night.   I am a horrible Facebook friend most days. I don't want to be a horrible friend.
I am not going to try to juggle a million things and have my family pay for it...or my health...or my testimony.
Phew...I am starting to feel the weight coming off already...
Simplify. Simplify. Simplify.

For the dear Mom who is like me, too simple for this over extended world, slow down, let go and find freedom.  You don't have to do it all, be it all and know it all.  It's okay to say its too much.
It's better to do a few things well than to do a whole lot poorly.

And just when I thought I was the only one, I found this.  A God Sized Dreamer's Loaded Question
Maybe it's a season for many of us...

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
Ephesians 5:15-17

Friday, 8 March 2013


Alas, my dear husband is home.  We are all slowly adjusting to "normality" again.  Ryan is doing surprisingly well with his jet lag.  On one of the last nights before he came home, I wanted to come up with something fun for the boys and I to do at bedtime.  They loved going out with flashlights before so we did it again but as an adventure.  We packed our backpacks for a camp-out, complete with snacks and books to read and headed out around the block.  The chunks of snow became dangerous icebergs to climb, the water running along the sidewalks became crocodile infested waters and the shadows around us became bears to run from.  While we did this, my parents built a tent for the boys in our bonus room.  When we returned home, we discovered our campsite, complete with cracking fire (love those Yule Log dvds).  The boys had a blast in there and once they actually calmed down, they slept well there all through the night.  They have asked when they can bring Daddy along on a camp-out next  

I mentioned cloth diapers a long time ago.  I am experimenting with making my own cloth diaper detergent.  My girlfriend who is a cloth diaper guru said that she uses Norwex's clothing detergent and I do use it when I have the money to do so.  I find that I need to add some of their odour remover and do an extra rinse and that has seemed to help.  I found an easy recipe for cloth diaper detergent on the Elisa Loves blog.  Elisa Loves.  
I couldn't find the Sun Oxygen cleaner that she suggested but thought OxiClean was the same thing.  The first time I bought OxiClean MaxForce with power crystals (that is all that I could find in the store) but it was too strong and caused irritation.  I am trying just the regular OxiClean now and hope that I found the affordable fix.  

Lastly, my Pinterest Best Activity of the Week is from Plain Vanilla Mom.  This one is for the babies....but I am sure the toddlers and pre-schoolers would enjoy it too!  Let me know if you try it and how it works. 

Have a great weekend.  

Sunday, 3 March 2013


This is the last day that I have to post on my IPad and I just came upon an app that allows you to publish on your iPad.  I was doing it through Safari. Huh.  Too funny.
We have a friend living in our basement for a few months. He is a talented cook and owns almost every Gordan Ramsay book.  I love Gordan Ramsay; not his profane speech or his screaming and calling people fat and donkey on Hell's Kitchen but his cooking genius and his softness on Master Chef (Ryan and I gain at least 5 pounds every season of it). I was looking through his Healthy Appetite book and stumbled upon a Muesli recipe that can be made the night before.  I would eat more oatmeal if it wasn't for having to prepare it in the morning. This recipe solves that dilemma deliciously.  I just had to share it.

I can hardly wait until morning to have more!
Last night without Ryan. He is on his way home. He collected some great stories from Western Africa.  The way people live out The Great Commission blew him away; I can't wait to hear about it. He lived with limited power, no running water and no Internet his whole time over there.  I am excited to hear about how that went for him as well.
I am so grateful for all the friends and acquaintances who offered to help out while Ryan was away.  It was generous and overwhelming.  We enjoyed all the time with the grandparents but are looking forward to being the "fearsome five" again.
I have a whole new appreciation for single moms and moms who having husbands who work away from are strong women and deserve a big hug...and a spa day!
Have a blessed week girlfriend.

Get on the Pot

Okay, who thinks there is one answer to potty training?
I thought I had found the book that would do it.  I read the testimonials...."it only took 5 hours!" Wow, all my silly friends spent weeks doing it, I must have found the hidden jackpot. Cue uproarious laughter from experienced potty training friends.
Mom, we live in an age where there is a self-proclaimed expert on every corner and a well meaning friend who wants to share their advice with you.  We think we have to do it quickly and easily but friend, we are talking poop here...poop is poop.  Why do you think people who have had a bad day say "I am having a (poopy) day."  It just may not be the funnest time even if you make it a "potty party".  It may be easy but why not start with some realistic expectations and be pleasantly surprised?.....especially if you have boys!
You know your child. You can tell when they might be ready and you will be able to tell when it is not worth fighting another day and to try again later.  With Munch, it seemed he had it figured out with our method within a couple of days (not 5 hours).  Then with no warning, he just decided it was not working for him. I had to take a few months off and start again.  When he was ready, it took no time at all.  Now I watch him run across the room frantically yelling,"Pee...pee. I have to pee."  I can't believe that he just does it all on his own.  He even shuts the door on me now requesting "his privacy"!
In case you don't know if your child is ready, here is what some experts say to look for:

Physical signs
Is coordinated enough to walk, and even run, steadily.
Urinates a fair amount at one time.
Has regular, well-formed bowel movements at relatively predictable times.
Has "dry" periods of at least two hours or during naps, which shows that his bladder muscles are developed enough to hold urine.

Behavioral signs

Can sit down quietly in one position for two to five minutes.
Can pull his pants up and down.
Dislikes the feeling of wearing a wet or dirty diaper.
Shows interest in others' bathroom habits (wants to watch you go to the bathroom or wear underwear).
Gives a physical or verbal sign when he's having a bowel movement such as grunting, squatting, or telling you.
Demonstrates a desire for independence.
Takes pride in his accomplishments.
Isn't resistant to learning to use the toilet.
Is in a generally cooperative stage, not a negative or contrary one.

Cognitive signs

Understands the physical signals that mean he has to go and can tell you before it happens or even hold it until he has time to get to the potty.
Can follow simple instructions, such as "go get the toy."
Understands the value of putting things where they belong.
Has words for urine and stool.
-from Baby Centre

The book I used was Potty Training 1,2,3 by Garry Ezzo.  It is quite different than most other techniques.  I like the concept but really just ended up using candy.  The second time around I told Munch that when he turned 3 he wouldn't be using diapers anymore because 3 year olds go in the toilet.  I gave him the "1 for trying 2 for going." Done.  With Bubblegum, I am sure it will be a whole different story.  He is a completely different personality and has no desire to move from diapers.  It was so stressful with Munch I promised I would not even try until Bubblegum was at least 3.  I am in awe of the people who have kids potty trained before they can even walk.
Some friends let their kids run around naked at home and ask frequently if they need to go potty.  Others lock themselves in their home for the weekend and make the whole time about potty training.  Some make it a chance to party and include balloons, treats and singing and dancing.  Whatever works for your family. One funny and useful idea my friend did was let her child go about the day in nothing but rubber boots. less clean up!  My one piece of wisdom is that YOU need to be ready.  A lot of the training is you.  You need to be ready for the commitment and you need to prepare to exercise patience and grace.  It is so easy to lose it when you find poop on the carpet of their bedroom while they look up smiling riding their poop covered horsey (true story) or when you find your little one making a sensory activity out of it (true story) or when you get called to the church nursery because its in their boots(true story) or when you spend a whole day wiping pee out of couches, carpets and beds (all quite inevitable).  
Just keep telling yourself, "he will not always have a day...."  And lastly, don't be hard on yourself Mom.  (we can never hear that enough.)  

Here is a great article to bring some truth and encouragement.

Here are some resources: 

Friday, 1 March 2013

Oh my soul

No matter what I go through I hold onto the peace that I have through Jesus Christ. Where would I be without him?  Maybe I look like a fool to bring him up so much but if you only knew what he did for me, you would understand.    

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? 
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God
Psalm. 42