whoever penned the line "oh the weather outside is frightful..." must have been Canadian

>> Thursday, January 29, 2009

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

On the sixth day God turned to the Archangel Gabriel and said:
"Today I am going to create a land called Canada, it will be a land of outstanding natural beauty. It shall have tall majestic mountains full of mountain goats, and eagles, beautiful sparkling lakes bountiful with bass and trout, forests full of elk and moose, high cliffs over-looking sandy beaches with an abundance of sea life, and rivers stocked with salmon."

God continued,
"I shall make the land rich in resources so as to make the inhabitants prosper, I shall call these inhabitants Canadians, and they shall be known as the most friendly people on the earth."

"But Lord," asked Gabriel, "don't you think you are being too generous to these Canadians?"

"Not really,"
replied God.....

"just wait till you see the winters I am going to give them!"


(These videos were taken during Sunday's walk. Actually, I'd already BEEN for my 2-mile walk, but I'd left my camera behind, so I went for a SECOND walk ~ sacrificing limbs and cheeks, risking frostbite, exposure, and hypothermia ~ just to capture these glimpses of my "winter wonderland" for your viewing pleasure.)


sit-ups suck

>> Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans Sit-ups suck. They really do.

This week was hard. Late night temptations, birthday consolation suppers at KFC, birthday Skor Bar Trifle, hubby home for almost 4 days and "wrecking" my routine, leftover Skor Bars... It just wasn't a week that I really wanted to stop eating when I reached the "satisfied" point. I wanted to gorge, to binge, to eat like it was the last time.

It wasn't a week where I exercised self-discipline in any area.

Each day, I started out with great intentions and then, well, I'd just end up not caring.

And you know what bugs me the most about it? I've discovered an annoying parallel between my relationship with my youngest daughter, Fidget, and my relationship with God. A not-so-flattering parallel.

Fidget is an active child. She's FULL of energy. She very literally hits the floor running/dancing/prancing/hopping/skipping each morning and doesn't stop until she finally falls asleep at night. I'm not exaggerating. At the end of each day, I sit back and shake my head and wonder if the day really happened, because so often it just feels like a whirlwind. Because it WAS a whirlwind.

Fidget is also a very willful child. Not in the way you're probably all thinking, because that term is usually used in kind of a negative sense. She's not a "bad" kid; not really mischevious, not nasty... she just doesn't EVER. SIT. STILL! Or listen well. It's like she's got a hearing or comprehension problem. (except we know she can do both ~ she just chooses NOT TO!!)

If it wasn't her idea, she's not likely to do it. At least not without being asked/told a couple of times and then often still not without being threatened with a swat or loss of privilege yet, too. We've started getting her to repeat what we've told her to make sure she's listening and comprehending, but despite this, she still CONSTANTLY does things we've asked her not to or doesn't do things she knows she's supposed to. It's literally in one ear and out the other ~ just resting in between long enough for her to recite back to us what we've just told her. It's maddening.

Even more frustrating is her lack of understanding of the point of an apology. I hear "I'm sorry, mom" so stinkin' often that it long ago became completely meaningless and I have to admit, my customary response is a sarcastic, "No, you're not. You're going to do this again."

Ugh. Are you seeing where the ugly parallel lies?

How many times do I apologize to God for treating the body He gave me like a trash can? How many times do I promise "THIS TIME WILL BE DIFFERENT?" How many times do I beg Him for help, but expect Him to just instantly remove my desire to snack or my laziness? How many times do I apologize for caving in and allowing my laziness and gluttony to rule me?

In the book Having a Mary Spirit, Joanna Weaver says:

"But I have to cooperate with grace ~ adding my "try" to the "umph!" of the Spirit. For without a little discipline on my part and a whole lot of help from God, I will remain the same. Frustrated and depressed. Way behind schedule on my holy makeover.

All because I choose a life of ease rather than a life that pleases God." *
(emphasis mine)

So. More sit-ups this week. More time on the elliptical. More time with God. More thought put into keeping my hands busy with something other than eating. More prayer. More sticking to a routine.

In short, more effort!!

And hopefully not quite as many meaningless apologies.


*Joanna Weaver, Having a Mary Spirit: Allowing God to Change Us from the Inside Out (Colorado Springs, CO: WaterBrook Press, 2007), p. 184


i think i heard God laugh

>> Monday, January 26, 2009

I had a marvelous walk on Sunday afternoon. It was -24 (-11F) and the whipping wind made it feel like -37 (-35F). Not what most ~ myself included ~ would consider optimum outdoor walking conditions.

We'd had fresh snow the Thursday before and the wind was blowing it in sheets across the road. Especially interesting to watch was how it seemed to boil in amongst the windrows the grader has plowed the length of the fields parallel to the road.

Wind and snow are interesting things.

In most places, the ditch is so full of snow, it appears the ground is level between the road and the field. But then there are some spots where, for no apparent reason, the wind has carved a deep crevasse. The blowing snow shows exactly the path of the wind ~ flat along the field, then cutting deep down into the belly of the ditch, then swirling upwards again at the far end, in some cases creating series of herringbone patterns just before the road, or even large curved ridges towering above the edges of the rift. Truly magnificent sculptures.

I know there's a perfectly logical scientific explanation for how it happens, but once again, I find myself choosing rather just to marvel and appreciate God's artistic talent.

And more and more, as the years progress and I continue walking that 1-mile stretch of road, as loathe as I am to admit it...

...the more I discover I'm enjoying my time outside in the winter.

There's simply something invigorating about choosing to be outside in weather that most wouldn't necessarily ~ when the wind literally sucks the breath from your lungs and freezes it to your cheeks. And yet you press on so hard, so strong, that the blood runs so hot through your veins that frostbite isn't really even a concern.

And as much as I tried to quell my errant thoughts, I couldn't help but think to myself,

What an incredible day to be alive!!

And then I had to laugh. Like, right out loud there, all by myself, on the road in the middle of nowhere in the frozen Canadian prairies.

God made me laugh.

Because despite the weather and my feelings about winter, I suddenly realized I was having a great time
outside in the blowing snow and freezing cold. And even more baffling was the feeling of being THANKFUL without really being able to figure out why or for what.

But God knew. And I think He laughed with me. Perhaps even AT me ~ just a little.

Because clearly, I've wasted an awful lot of time and energy trying to convince myself that I hate winter.

Cold Water

Come back Thursday afternoon ~ I'm posting two short videos I took on this walk so you can get the full effect!!!


my PREEMIE is SEVEN today!!

>> Saturday, January 24, 2009

Wow. It's hard to believe seven years have gone by since our first daughter was born. Our tiny little Peanut.

Even harder to believe that she was only 18 inches long and 4 lbs, 6 ozs!!!! Geez, that kid grows like a weed!

We've been so fortunate that she never had health or developmental issues despite being born 6-1/2 weeks early. Other than staying on the petite side! (for length, she almost needs a size 8 pair of pants, but her waist is stuck around size 4!!) Man, I hope that particular problem plagues her all her life!

This year, she let me off easy ~ instead of a party, all she wanted was her best friend from church to come for a sleepover and I thought, "Woo-hoo! This will be easy!!"

Unfortunately, her little friend had to cancel yesterday afternoon because of tonsilitis issues.

Peanut took it rather well when I broke the news to her after school; there were only a few tears. They dried up pretty quick when I told her we'd take her out for supper instead, rent some movies, and let her and Fidget stay up late to watch one or two. And that we'd let her have her birthday present a day early. It helped too that her dad was home Thursday night already, so he could come out for supper with us.

For several years, she's been asking for an A&W RootBear and when we asked her recently what she'd like for her birthday, she thought for a moment, and then said all she really wanted was another stuffed toy. Done.

I also bought her a copy of The Wind in the Willows. It'll be a fun chapter-book read for all of us now and it won't be long before she'll be able to read it herself.

She still did get some quality time with her friend today ~ her family came for supper and then another family joined us for birthday SKOR Trifle afterwards. And there were a couple of special birthday phone calls and Skype calls during the day from grandmas and grandpas, an uncle and aunt, and her favourite cousins.

As I kissed my not-so-li'l Peanut goodnight, she told me she'd had the best birthday ever, so I guess "all's well that ends well" really is true!!

Happy birthday, Peanut!!
I love you.

Blow Kiss


we've come full circle, this tree and i

>> Thursday, January 22, 2009

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

Yes, I'm reusing Tuesday's post. So sue me.

Remember the first time you saw this picture? It was way back last January when I used it to make the button for my first giveaway. The picture was actually taken in December 2007, when we'd only had a bit of snow yet. This picture, I believe, was the catalyst for my attitude change about winter. This picture kicked off a mission to capture the beauty of winter, a season I've loathed with a burning passion for as long as I can remember.

Being able to share snow pictures on the ol' blawg last winter and describe how the heck people manage to survive in this climate gave me an appreciation for the season and for my own personal hardiness and resilience.

So I got kind of attached to this tree. And was relieved when someone tried to dig it out to transplant it, but couldn't, because it was just a little too deeply rooted already.

Here we are in early spring last year ~ water in the fields and ice in the ditches. This shot clearly shows the drabness of our surroundings this time of year. I think this is probably the ugliest time of year. (don't tell Spring I said that ~ I really do love her. Just not the way she looks around here in March and early April!)

To me, this is the perfect picture of triumphant survival. Despite weeks of temperatures well below freezing ~ and I do mean WELL below!! ~ the tree lives on. Even winter dies off, leaving the tree unencumbered by the snow. Like it can breathe and stretch again.

above: mid-May 2008

above: Early June 2008 (we had a very cold spring last year ~ normally it would have been a lot greener already!!)

And then here's my tree in July 2008, blending right in with its surroundings, the canola in the background just starting to bloom:

above: a foggy morning, early September 2008 ~ canola field in the background has been swathed and is waiting to be combined.

above: end of November 2008 ~ just enough snow that one side of the ditch is covered while the other is still almost bare.

above: a snowy day, early December 2008

above: last week ~ snow a good six feet deep in the ditch, making it look like level ground between the road and my tree. The grader has plowed two "swathes" in the field in the background to act as a snow barrier.

We have literally come full-circle since this tree really caught my eye. I'm still a little worried someone will decide they need it for a Christmas tree ~ especially since the farmer who owns the land it grows beside certainly has the equipment to dig it up, as large as it's become.

But still it stays. And grows.

It's leaning a little now because the ditch here got cleaned out and trenched a little deeper this fall so the field would drain better in spring. It looks like they almost accidentally pulled it down, but then shored up the earth against it to keep it upright ~ pushing it a little past perfectly vertical.

And so it stays. Weathering the seasons, the storms, the hot sun, the gentle rains, the howling prairie winds, the ice and snow....

Year after year.

Just like me.

Carve A Tree


spiritual sit-ups

>> Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Sisterhood of the Shrinking JeansAMAZINGLY, I'm down another half pound. 0.4 to be exact. Which, when you consider that I ate like a total oinker and didn't really exercise the last 3 days, is, well... amazing. I thought for sure I'd have gained the three pounds I lost last week right back again. I FEEL like I've gained them back. But the scale said otherwise this morning and for today, I'm very happy to accept the scale's word!

This week will be one of re-training yet again. But then, I guess EVERY week is a re-training week because things ALWAYS happen to derail us, don't they?

Someday I'll learn that they're not actually derailments ~ they're LIFE.

I know these will always be uphill battles for me. I know "taking a break" ~ whether for a month, a season, or even just a weekend ~ from being disciplined, always makes it that much more difficult to resume.

I like this quote from author Andrea Wells Miller when she talks about being confronted by the challenge to change:

I spiritually lie down on the operating table, grab the ether mask, and get ready for surgery and the healing that will follow, saying "Okay, Lord, here I am... 'yielded and still, mold me and make me after thy will.'"

It's as if the Lord says, "First, fold your arms across your chest."

"Great!" I answer.

But then he says, "Now, sit up and lie back down 100 times."*

The author concludes that wasn't exactly what she'd had in mind. Me neither. But I totally understand. And some SERIOUS sit-ups (however, mostly of the physical variety!) are what I can expect from the coming week!

But I know the longer I keep at it, the more times I sit up with my arms across my chest, huffing and puffing, pushing on through the discomfort in my gut, ignoring the salty sting of sweat trickling down my forehead and into my eyes...

...the stronger I become.

So let the sit-ups begin!!!

Sit Up

*Joanna Weaver, Having a Mary Spirit: Allowing God to Change Us from the Inside Out (Colorado Springs, CO: WaterBrook Press, 2007), p. 22 ~ quoting from: Andrea Wells Miller, Body Care: A Proven Program for Successful Diet, Fitness and Health, Featuring Ten Weeks of Devotions to Help You Achieve God's Plan for Your Body, Mind and Spirit (Waco, TX: Word, 1984) p. 86



>> Saturday, January 17, 2009

...kinda sucked. Just a little.

6:00 am ~ Fidget wakes everyone up with the lovely sounds of crying and puking.

6:15 am ~ Peanut back asleep in Fidget's bed (they've been sleeping together in Peanut's bed lately) and Fidget relocated to my bed and asleep with a bucket beside her head on the night table; one load of laundry in the wash; one sleepy ValleyGirl decides she may as well stay awake and pours herself a cup of coffee.

7:35 am ~ Peanut wakes up and we begin getting ready for school.

7:46 am ~ Fidget pukes again, but hits the bucket squarely. Quick clean-up.

8:00 am ~ Over breakfast, Peanut once again complains about her sore gums, which have been a complaint for the last few days. I check her mouth and lo and behold, there's either a second ADULT tooth cutting through, or a VERY serious canker sore. Whatever it is, it's gross. I mention possibly trying to get her in to see the dentist and she begins to cry.

8:04 am ~ Fidget, having positioned herself on the couch now, pukes a third time, but is by now a pro at hitting the bucket. Yay! But now both girls are in tears.

8:20 am ~ Walk out to the bus with Peanut. Feed dog and cat.

8:50 am ~ Fidget pukes a fourth time.


It's shapin' up to be a fun day!

9:30 am ~ call the dentist to see what they recommend. Of course, they want to see Peanut, but amazingly, they actually have an opening at 11:30. I book it, phone the school to tell them I'll be picking Peanut up at 11 and beg my aunt to look after Fidget while we're at the dentist. She agrees. My aunt is a saint. I hop in the shower and try to make myself presentable.

10:35 am ~ run out to the garage to start the van. Even though it's warmer today, the van's sat unplugged since Wednesday noon and is really not interested in starting. She turns over though, and is warmly purring away 15 minutes later as I gingerly get Fidget into her seat.

10:55 am ~ get to Peanut's class to discover it's empty. DANG IT, they're already at the rink! Her class goes skating every Friday at 11, but I thought by phoning the school to let them know she had an appointment, word would have gotten to the teacher and she would have stayed behind. No such luck. Great. This will be fun.

11:05 am ~ I'm right. It IS fun removing my daughter's skates. Even more fun removing HER from the arena while she weeps over missing skating with her friends in exchange for her first ever scary visit to an unknown dentist.

11:15 am ~ almost to my aunt's house. Fidget starts whimpering. "Peanut, GRAB THE BUCKET!!!!" I shout in a panic. She does, and just in the nick of time. Once again, my youngest daughter's body heaves, but with the help of her older sister, the disaster is minimized and I dump it on my aunt and uncle's driveway when we get there. (oh relax, it's only water at this point anyway.)

11:28 am ~ we pull up to a building I've never even noticed before and hope we haven't missed our time slot. We go in, Peanut fearful and on the verge of tears. After just a moment or two and one quick little form, we're called back and the most wonderful dental hygienist EVER attends to my nervous daughter. Within another couple of minutes, the dentist ~ also INCREDIBLY friendly and reassuring ~ has proclaimed my daughter's teeth and mouth to be in perfect health, except for a pesky abcess that he prescribes antibiotics for. It'll be gone in a couple of days, he promises, but the antibiotics will help relieve her discomfort and clear up any infection.

Peanut picks a prize out of a basket and a brand new purple Disney Princess toothbrush and we're on our way.

11:50 am ~ we drop off the prescription to be filled, and head over to A&W for a quick lunch. Her sister won't be interested in eating anyway.

12:15 pm ~ I wait in line FOREVER at the pharmacy while two people are served before me. By a dense trainee.

12:40 pm ~ FINALLY back at my aunt's house to pick up my Fidget, who hasn't puked at all, but has just fallen asleep. Great.

1:00 pm ~ after an uneventful trip back to our village, I squirt the first dose of antibiotics into Peanut's mouth and she hops out of the van, just after the buzzer ending lunch recess sounds.

1:05 pm ~ home again. Fidget sound asleep in our bed. Puke bucket washed and sanitized, ready for use again if necessary. Antibiotics in the fridge. ValleyGirl sits down after her whirlwind morning to check and see if The Bushman has sent her any texts in response to her earlier emails, and to update her Facebook status.

And realizes she left the dentist's office without paying.



okay, THIS is more like it!

>> Friday, January 16, 2009

Well, I'm happy to report the temperatures rose all day yesterday ~ thank goodness ~ and we were up to -22 (-8F) by the time I went to bed. Which, if you read the last post, is a jump of 15 degrees. Well, Celsius ones, anyway!

This morning at 6:00, I checked the thermo again (after cleaning up Fidget's pukey bed) and we were sitting at a balmy -18 (-1F), even though TheWeatherNetwork says we're a little cooler. I am absolutely LOVIN' the forecast though ~ man, I hope they're right!!!

Here's the Fahrenheit version for those of you to whom Celsius makes no sense:

The long-term looks even better, although I have to be honest here ~ I won't mind if we don't actually go above freezing. A few degrees below is just fine with me. Because if we have a few days of thawing in the middle of winter (that's right, I said MIDDLE. I'm under no illusions that global warming will make our winters shorter either!), all we have is ice problems and that isn't much fun either. I know ~ picky, picky!

But a handful of degrees below freezing is all I ask. Then I can go back to simply feeling that winter is an annoyance rather than experiencing the outright LOATHING that has been going on for the last two weeks.

And again, the conversion for the Celsius-challenged:

I'm just very thankful we're finally warming up and that this trend is supposed to stick around for a while. Of course, they could be wrong. It HAS happened a time or two.

But -20 feels downright comfy when you've been hovering around 15 degrees colder for far too long!! And we can go outside just for the fun of it!!!!

Hmmm, maybe I should have complained a little sooner...

Snowball Fight

Hope y'all have a great weekend!! On the schedule for us is The Bushman's sister coming out for a 3-day visit ~ and hopefully no puking!


oh the weather outside is frightful

>> Thursday, January 15, 2009

But the fire is so delightful.
And since we're housebound again...
la la la, blah, blah blah,

Oh! my! goodness!


Oh sorry, did that not rhyme?

I've done well this year, not complaining much about winter, which is a complete departure from previous years. But this is ridiculous.

Other than a couple of days right at Christmas, we've been locked in an extreme deep freeze up here on the Canadian prairies since about the middle of December. There have been an amazing number of school closures and bus route cancellations simply because of the cold.

Today is another one. I'm not sure what the numbers are for other school divisions across the province, but up here, the magic number is -46C (-51F) with windchill. This is the third day in as many school weeks that buses have been cancelled. And there have been PLENTY of days when we've only missed the magic number by a degree or two. Like, pretty much all the other ones in the last three school weeks.

And while I love having Peanut home all day for a change, I STILL WISH IT WASN'T SO DANG STINKIN' COLD!! (note the double cuss words for added effect ~ I really am sick of this!!)

I don't know what the statistics are (and believe me, I searched, but obviously never with the correct search word combination!), but based on my personal experience and the number of days school has been affected, this is the coldest winter we've had in a long time.

So I have to ask, where is this nasty global warming they keep promising us?! They keep promising; every year there are more and more dire warnings about its effects. And each winter I think "okay, THIS will be the year I'll be able to suntan in January..."

...and each winter, my hopes are dashed to smithereens on the solid ice that is the ground up here, because it's every bit as freakin' cold as the last one. Or worse.


Of course, there's plenty of research out there that indicates our exceedingly cold winters are, in fact, a result of global warming, but the way I see it, even if those scientists are right, "global" warming is STILL a bit of a crock.

Because there's at least one spot in the world that's still gettin' the shaft each year.



"Li'l Miss Self-Control" WAS off to a rough start

>> Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Sisterhood of the Shrinking JeansBut she actually managed to get herself under control and salvage what could have been a very ugly 5 days! And instead of gaining weight, or even staying the same,

I'm down 3.0 pounds!!

Raise The Roof 1

And I did it WITHOUT journaling!!!

So it really CAN be done!

But self-control is HARD, isn't it?

I suck at it. And I HATE practising it! Especially when there's donuts in the house...

So I didn't. Not Friday night, anyway.

(And by Saturday, there were very few donuts left, so it wasn't much of an issue anymore... Bag Head)

Self-control never comes easy!!

Last summer, I shared a quote I'd found the previous fall and I'll share it again because I think it bares repeating:

"Most people think this is the secret to weight loss:

Less food + more exercise = weight loss

Sounds pretty rational, doesn’t it? And, for the most part, I agree that this will get you that weight loss you’ve been desiring.

But, after nearly three decades of “dieting,” I think I’ve discovered that the secret to permanent weight loss is really this:

More self-discipline + less excuses = weight loss

Self-discipline. Willpower. Self-control. Overweight people love to say they “don’t have any of this” and that is why they consistently fail - and they are probably right. If you look back at the formula I put at the beginning of this post, you’ll see that I think self-discipline is a big key to losing the weight and NOT putting it back on again.

So…if we don’t have any, the question then becomes: How do we get it?

And the answer is: We grow it.

Set one goal per day and follow through on it. It doesn’t even have to be weight-loss related. Decide you’re going to sweep the kitchen floor or take down the Christmas lights (don’t get me started!) or fold the clothes in the laundry basket. Something. Pick something each day and commit to doing it for the entire week. It could be one thing you do every day or it could be a different goal you set each day but make it and follow through with it."

I've gone one step further and told myself, "just commit to doing it today." Don't think about the weeks, months, and years ahead. Just promise to do that one thing today.

And, thanks to FlyLady ~ whom I've flirted with probably ever since I started this blog ~ I'm starting with BabySteps and even though it really feels like I'm getting absolutely NOWHERE when all I do is shine my sink and lay out my clothing for tomorrow, I know that working at these seemingly insignificant and meaningless "ONE THINGS," is what will form good, strong, long-term habits.

I had a several "one things" this week ~ no snacking (unless on fruits or veggies), no seconds at mealtimes, wash dishes and shine sink every night, make bed and get dressed upon waking each day, exercise daily, and read at least 2 chapters in my Bible each day ~ and I wasn't successful with all of those every single day. But obviously more often than not. And as long as I keep that up, concentrating on "JUST ONE THING" each day, building up good habits slowly but steadily... I win!

What will your ONE THING be today?

Washing Dishes


old T-shirts and birdseed

>> Monday, January 12, 2009

A couple of years ago, I wanted a set of hanging baskets to hang in my kitchen beside the back porch door. You know, to store some fruit and maybe a few potatoes and onions.

I guess I must have talked about it a lot because I ended up getting two sets ~ one at Christmas and one 8 months later for my birthday.

And it was only after I set about to hang one up, that I realized hanging produce beside the back porch door in the kitchen is quite possibly the VERY WORST place in the house I could do it. Because the back porch door is a mere three feet from the basement door.

Which stays open in winter.

Because that's how the heat from the woodstove makes it to the main floor.

(Are you seeing where I'm going with this?)

So that corner of the kitchen is the very hottest spot in the whole house. Like, we're talkin' an average temperature of about 26C (79F). Not exactly your optimum fresh produce storing temperature!

And so, since my initial brilliant plan turned out to be not so brilliant after all, those two sets of wire hanging baskets have sat in my storage closet while I wondered what on earth to do with them instead.

But last weekend inspiration finally hit.

Because the birds have nowhere to eat at our place in the winter anymore, thanks to the cat we used to have who dragged down and broke three of the four outdoor window boxes we used to use as bird feeders (and ate the birds)...


In spring once there's an abundance of flowers and bugs, I'll attempt to make it a little prettier, but for now, as long as the glued-on, cut-up old T-shirt does the trick, the grosbeaks (pictured here), waxwings, and redpolls are happy.

And being able to watch them through the dining room window again makes me happy.



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