Practicing Gratitude...

>> Thursday, July 29, 2010

Thankful Thursday ~ hosted in July by Lynn @ Spiritually Unequal Marriage ...was a little tougher this week than some. Our van died.

We thought HOPED it was just the battery or starter, but sadly, it wasn't either and had to be brought to the local dealership. Whom, of course, can't get to it till next week.

But you know what I AM thankful for?

I'm thankful for the retired uncle who lives in Town and loves to feel handy and helpful. He raced to my rescue when I was stranded at the grocery store on Monday afternoon.

I'm thankful for the multiple offers of loaner vehicles made by friends who are concerned about me not having a road-worthy family vehicle to drive until who-knows-when. I find myself humbled, and feeling so blessed they're willing to share of their resources with me.

I'm thankful for a neighbourhood couple I don't really know all that well offering to come and take a look at the van Tuesday evening. They've got kids in the same school mine are (though they're older than my girls) and she and I are both on the Parent Advisory Council; we've worked together on occasion at various school functions. Her husband happens to be a Ford mechanic. He was hoping to be able to fix it for me there on the spot, but sadly, that was not to be.

So many wonderful people surround me! I'm not especially thankful it took something like this to draw my attention to it, but I'm glad it wasn't something far more catastrophic.

I'm also thankful for a surprise, last-minute visit from one of The Bushman's uncles on Monday for supper. He lives on the west coast but he just HAPPENED to be in the neighbourhood (three provinces away) on his motorcycle! He managed to meet up with The Bushman and have coffee with him somewhere between here and the mill two hours north of here, and then he popped in here for supper. It was a fun visit and the girls loved it, too! Neither of them remembered meeting him ever before, so it was a special treat. Especially since he jumped on the trampoline with them and went on their "guided tour" of the yard!

I'm thankful a friend, her husband, and their girls were at the playground when I happened to stop in there on Tuesday afternoon. I needed to return a video to the library and I got there 10 minutes before it opened after lunch, so we figured we'd wait at the school playground. We ended up spending about an hour there. I had a great chat with my friend while her husband entertained the 5 little girls on the play structures and swings!!

This week has reminded me once again that I need to show appreciation more often for my friends. That I need to purposefully seek out ways to be a blessing to the people who have been ~ and continue to be ~ such a wonderful blessing to me.

* Click the button at the top of the post to visit our host and check out other thankful people.


Four Week Check-Up

>> Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Well, it's been four weeks since I spelled out my goals for the summer, and so far, I think we're still making good progress, although the last two weeks haven't been quite as successful at following the "to do" list as the first two.

  • Get to the local library once a week ~ July 8, 13, 22 (and we'll be heading there this afternoon)

  • Go to the school playground once a week ~ July 8, 11 (doing this today too, after the library)

  • Spend 20 minutes a day in the garden ~ July 7, 8, 9, 12, 17, 24

    Hmmmm, I seem to have been a little slack here! In my defence, much of last week was either raining or too wet, but I really have no excuse for the rest of the time!

  • Teach the girls how to do some simple chores ~ girls have spun the dials, added the detergent, pushed the buttons, and carted laundry up and down the stairs for virtually every load since the end of June. I haven't gotten them to fully do it on their yet though.

    Daily bed-making and bathroom "swish 'n' shine" still goin' strong. Peanut does both automatically, and Fidget will do her bed the same time her big sister does hers, but the bathroom thing usually requires a bit of prompting!

    Have also done a few 15-minute "27-fling Boogies" in their room to keep it considerably tidier than it always used to be!

  • Get them to take turns setting and clearing the table for supper, as well as helping me with meal prep and dishes once a week each ~ haven't done much meal planning/prep or dishwashing with them yet, but they are helping to set and clear the table almost every meal.

    July 24 ~ we made Unbaked Cookies together. Yum!

  • Weekly piano lessons for Peanut ~ still at it, but definitley with less enthusiasm than before! We're doing weekly lessons, but not necessarily a full unit each time anymore. We more often do a mini-lesson two or three times a week. On Sunday, she debuted in church ~ we played a duet for offertory!

  • One craft, special activity, or playdate each week ~
    July 7, 8, 9 13 ~ see previous update post for details
    July 14 ~ I took the girls out for supper to Tim Horton's (received a $25 gift card a few weeks earlier that hadn't been used yet) and then met up at our little theatre with a friend and her two kids (who each happen to be in my girls' classes at school) for Toy Story 3
    July 15
    ~ The Bushman picked up the girls mid-afternoon in his semi-truck as he drove past our Little Village and they rode with him to the mill 2 hrs away where he unloads. Then he took them out for supper and brought them home in time for bed! (so this was a treat for me, too!)
    July 21-24 ~ worked on making some Curly Birds. Fidget lost interest and it was certainly a little advanced for her, but Peanut and I both made two and I finished Fidget's as well.
    July 25 ~ spent the afternoon at the lake as a family

  • Try to head to the lake or pool one afternoon a week ~ FINALLY went to the lake as a family on Sunday! It was hot and sunny, and for ONCE there weren't threatening thunderclouds before we even got underway! Well, there were some, but they were further north and never did pose much of a threat where we were. It was a PERFECT afternoon at the lake!!

    July 26 ~ FINALLY had our first one this summer: pizza buns, homemade Caesar salad (like, homemade croutons, homemade dressing, and home-grown Romaine lettuce fresh from the garden!), and ice tea. The perfect thing to share with a motorcycle-driving uncle from the west coast who just happened to be passing by and thought he'd stop in for a surprise visit!!
Overall, I'm still impressed with our progress, though it's obvious we slacked off a little after the first week. I'd vow to pick up the pace a bit, but the next several weeks will be quite full as is, so I'm not making any new promises!


Rollkuchen 'n' "Rebuze"

>> Monday, July 26, 2010

Otherwise known as rollkuchen and watermelon. ;) I'm not sure there's a direct translation for "rollkuchen" ~ perhaps deep-fried fritters is the closest.

In any case, it's something of a summertime Mennonite tradition that's still practiced in The Bushman's family. And it has become a tradition in our little family when his parents come out to visit us once the massive, sweet Texas watermelons are available up here in the North country. (Thank you, Texas! ♥)

Grandma and grandpa bring one up with them and then grandma sets to workin' in my kitchen making the dough, rolling it out, cutting it, and deep-frying it.

Sometimes she even lets us help!

And The Bushman finally gets to use his machete out of necessity!

And then, with watermelon juice running down our forearms, our fingers sticky with cane syrup (which MUST be served on the side for dipping!), we spend an afternoon happily slurping, spitting seeds, laughing at the messiness, and just generally devouring and thoroughly enjoying this seasonal treat.

I can think of few finer (or less refined!) summer traditions.

What are some of yours?


White Cake with Raspberries

>> Friday, July 23, 2010

Our raspberry patch keeps increasing in size and yield (thanks to The Bushman's dedication) and this year, we've actually got enough to do more than just eat a few handfuls here and there!

Which is exciting because it means I finally have enough to make THIS:

Plain ol' white sheet cake.

Plain ol' butter frosting.

Made extraordinary with just a few fresh raspberries!



What's the Point?

>> Monday, July 19, 2010

I like to argue.

Not on purpose, really. Not because I like the actual ACT of arguing, but because I do like to let everyone know that I know what I'm talking about.

And of infinitely greater importance, to prove it.

With details that don't really matter and no one else cares about, if necessary.

So yes, I guess I'd have to admit I like to argue! And like a fine wine, I'm "improving" with age.

However, though I've known for a long time that this particular personality trait of mine frustrates my husband, I'm seeing more and more how it's becoming virtually impossible for him to feel like he's good for anything around here but the grunt work.

Frequently after a discussion, especially one in which a decision must be made, he can be seen throwing up his hands in frustration and leaving the room, muttering things like, "Whatever. You're just going to do it your way anyway." or "Why do you even bother asking me if you've already made up your mind?" or "I obviously don't know anything."

That last one really hurts. Because it is SO not how I want to make my husband feel. And because I know God is not glorified when I do.

I've always assumed the convenient this-is-just-who-I-am; it's-how-I-was-made attitude in the past, but I'm beginning to believe that sometimes who and how we are aren't necessarily the who and how God actually intended for us. They may be learned behaviours, observed and absorbed over time from various close relationships; they may be defense mechanisms; they may be carry-overs from rough childhoods; they may be adopted traits made glamorous by favourite TV characters.... there's any number of possibilities. God may have created me with something of a predisposition to being opinionated and argumentative, but I highly doubt His will is for me to nurture those particular traits!

Rather, He may be presenting me with a wonderful opportunity to 'crucify' my sinful nature! (or at least part of it!) Certainly, the portrait of beautiful womanhood we see in His Word outlines some very different ~ opposite ~ characteristics.

I need to start looking at why, exactly, am I arguing. Am I arguing because I desperately want the other person to know the truth ~ the ACTUAL truth; not just my version of it or my opinion about it? Is the truth even at stake here? Or am I arguing because I know/believe I'm right and I'm consumed by a need to PROVE beyond the shadow of a doubt, that the other person is WRONG ~ even if they may never actually verbally admit it? Are the precise details necessary to demonstrate or support the truth or are they just about establishing nit-picky details because I can prove superiority in the arena of 'memory of all things inconsequential'?

These are major distinctions and important differences, because motivation is the key to the validity and necessity of most arguments. And motivation, in this case, is the difference between godly and ungodly behaviour.

I need to work at developing some wisdom and discernment in recognizing and/or establishing my motives BEFORE an argument starts, if for no other reason than to let my husband know he IS actually valued around here.

And to stem the tide of debates about unimportant details, and to keep the go-nowhere, circular arguments to a minimum!

And to grow in God's grace.

Seems there's plenty of motivation for change, too!


My Week in Pictures

>> Saturday, July 17, 2010



Book larnin'.

Room re-arrangin'.

"New" room enjoyin'.


(And then thinking the sky was really rather picture-worthy and then running back to the house to get my camera and then racing back to this spot half a mile away on my bike to get a decent shot before the sunlight was completely gone.)


Movie-watchin' with friends.

Semi-truck ridin' with daddy.



Lovin' it.


Checkpoint Charlie

>> Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Well, it's been two weeks since I spelled out my goals for the summer, and I decided to post semi-weekly to keep myself on track. And HOPEFULLY see progress!! So far, I think we're doing amazingly well, if I do say so myself...

  • Get to the local library once a week ~ July 8, 13

  • Bike to the school playground once a week ~
    July 8 (we didn't bike there ~ I forgot we have no way of keeping the dog at home and he insists on coming along if we leave the yard on foot, bike, or quad! Will change this to "GO to the school playground" rather than specifying the mode of transportation!!)
    July 11 ~ The Bushman took the girls there on the quad.

  • Spend 20 minutes a day in the garden ~ July 7, 8, 9, 12

  • Teach the girls how to do some simple chores ~ girls have spun the dials, added the detergent, pushed the buttons, and carted laundry up and down the stairs for virtually every load since the end of June.

    I showed them how to "swish 'n' shine" the bathroom on July 7 they've taken turns with the sink and toilet every day since. After each bath, I get them to do the tub as well. I have them just using a solution of half & half water and vinegar, which doesn't do quite the job I need it do with our mineral-y water, but it's great to have a clean-looking bathroom all the time and it makes my Friday job (when I pull out the harsh chemical cleaners) much easier and I can use less. And we're already to the point where they've done it a few times in a row first thing in the morning without being reminded!!

    They've also made their beds every morning since the 5th as well.

  • Get them to take turns setting and clearing the table for supper, as well as helping me with meal prep and dishes once a week each ~ haven't done much meal planning/prep or dishwashing with them yet, but they are helping to set and clear the table almost every meal.

  • Weekly piano lessons for Peanut ~ we're actually doing TWO lessons a week because between the two of us, she's remembering to practice every day and one lesson per week just isn't quite challenging enough at this point.

  • One craft, special activity, or playdate each week ~
    July 7 (marble baseball game craft found in Chickadee magazine; click the photo to enlarge)
    July 8 (invited some school friends from town to join us at the playground)
    July 9 (this neat bookmark craft ~ they each made a couple for themselves and I made some, too. I took it one step further and 'laminated' them using clear, self-adhesive sheets so they'd last a little longer. Not a bad gift idea actually, especially if you've got pretty papers, cardstock, fancy scissors, and pictures to cut up!)
    July 13 ~ today we are rearranging their bedroom. I wouldn't have listed this here except they're so stinkin' excited about it that I believe it will count as a "special activity!!"

  • Try to head to the lake or pool one afternoon a week ~ (this past week hasn't really been warm enough)

  • MORE PICNICS! ~ have not done well with this one. It's been too rainy and/or too mosquito-y. But we DO have the camper set up... maybe we'll have to pretend it's our fancy gazebo!!

I love that several of these goals can be accomplished at once, like library/playground or special event/picnic/afternoon at the lake.... that's so handy!!

It also makes it a much easier bunch of goals than it looks like! I'm actually a little amazed how well things have been going. I'm generally gung ho about MAKING the lists, but sticking to them and actually accomplishing everything ON the list is quite another thing! But I'm enjoying this list and I think it's helping me enjoy motherhood and homemaking more, so I really want to keep this up.


Life Lessons From 80's Rock...

>> Saturday, July 10, 2010

"Sometimes you're the windshield,

Sometimes you're the bug."

See? It's all about perspective.

Thank you, Dire Straits.


Thankful Thursday: "My Own Backyard"

>> Thursday, July 8, 2010

Dear Lord, when things get hectic
And living seems so hard,
I just go out and sit awhile,
Within my own backyard.
For there it's quiet and peaceful,
Beneath the shady trees,
And sunlight through the branches,
Accompanies every breeze.

There are a dozen shades of green,
Designed to please the eye,
Chubby squirrels and humming birds,
a golden butterfly....
The honeysuckle's perfume,
permeates the air.
And though I do not see Him,
I know that God is there.

The sky so high above my head,
Is an electric blue,
And there are lazy cotton clouds,
With nothing else to do,
But sail across the heavens,
And yet I know that I
Was given hope whose sturdy wings
were also meant to fly.

This old world we inhabit,
is much the worse for wear,
Beauty fades so quickly,
And hearts forget to care.
But somehow I've discovered,
Within my own backyard,
A peaceful sanctuary...
in which I find the Lord.

~Grace E. Easley

I am so thankful for the beauty that surrounds me ~ the many beautiful flowers that grow here on my yard (no thanks to me!), and for the views of fields, hills, sunrises, sunsets, spectacular cloud formations and endless skies that can be seen from here. I cannot help but feel like God has done it all just for me. I am blessed.

* Click HERE to visit our host and check out other thankful people.


Uniquely Gifted to... SERVE??!

>> Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A few months ago, I brought up the Greek word diakonos, but there's something I left out of that post. Something I found really interesting about that word and its occurrence in the New Testament.

Apparently, whenever service is spoken of in the New Testament as being given to Jesus – someone who served Jesus, someone who ministered to His needs it’s always either angels or women!

Here's just three examples:

In the wilderness temptation of Christ, it says, “Angels came and ministered unto Jesus” (Matthew 5:11, NKJV). Diakonos.

Peter’s mother-in-law in Luke chapter 4, when Jesus came in and healed her from an illness that was killing her, it says, “she rose and ministered unto them” (verse 3, KJV). She served them. Diakonos.

In Luke chapter 8, it talks about the group of women who followed with Jesus along with the disciples, and these women ministered to Jesus out of their substance. Diakonos.
When service for Jesus is talked about, it’s either women or angels.

It would appear that servanthood may be something women are specially equipped for in a way men simply aren’t.

Now, that doesn’t mean that men aren’t supposed to try to develop a servant attitude as well ~ they are ~ but let’s face it, women are the ones with the natural nurturing, caring, compassionate, mothering, assisting instinct, right? Women are the ones who seem to view needs in a very practical sense. Rather than strategizing to meet a need, women generally tend to just jump in and help. (sometimes a little too quickly, but the instinct ~ and the desire ~ is there!)

It seems we've been gifted with servanthood!

Hmmmm, you'd think that would really make it easier then, wouldn't you...?! ;)

But I can't think of many better ways to demonstrate the character of Christ. Maybe it's time to start examining this gift a little more closely and allowing the Holy Spirit to refine it in our lives. With His help, we can start WANTING to use it a little more willingly and joyfully!



>> Saturday, July 3, 2010

So I FINALLY have some pictures of our kittens to share!

They're healthy and now to the point where they're no longer huddled in the doghouse all day, which makes them exceedingly more available for photos! They emerged on their own about a week ago and now spend a lot of time playing.

They're so much fun to watch! Their back legs are a little wonky still, but they sure can move already!

So-o-o..... Anyone want a kitty?


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