A Father’s Hands…

Today was a day that reminded me of a  really bad day I blogged about a few years back.  I’m not sure if it’s the full moon, or what, but I needed a reminder that I’ve had worse days and just like then, today was “handled” – once I handed it over. Today it took a trip to the dog park, but it really did turn around too. I hope you enjoy today’s post from back in 2013…
Yesterday was one of those days.
It started out ok…
Then quickly spiraled down and out of control.
The oldest boy had ATTITUDE.
The middle boy was EMOTIONAL with ATTITUDE.
The youngest boy was WHINY.
They were all fighting, running in the house, making wrong choices.
The baby was cranky…teething? diaper rash? fussy?
All of the above.
Even the dog was annoying.
That morning I’d been reminded of a few personal setbacks…
Waves of  worry, fear, doubting self, doubting God…
Feeling like the little we had, would never be enough to meet the need.
Feeling unsettled, words in my mind wearing away at the Peace
That usually keeps me calm in the midst of these storms.
Feeling pretty ugly inside and out.
So I kept losing my cool…
yelling…
threatening…
lashing out…
probably worse,
I’ve blocked it from my memory.
We were all ready for a change of pace, a change of scenery.
I remember driving to the organic farm to pick up the veggies
On the verge of tears.
At the farm, the dear farmer sensed my duress.
She made me laugh.
A moment outside of the moment.
She encouraged me like only a mama of mamas can.
We drove home in almost silence. A hymn was playing on the radio.
The quiet was needed…appreciated.
The baby had fallen asleep.
The boys were not fighting, not even talking.
I pulled into the drive.
Thinking about what to make for dinner.
Giving instructions for unloading the veggies…
The middle boy was not in the van…
 Momentary panic.
Call the farmer.
He’s there. Relief.
Drive 25 mins back there to get him.
Beat myself up most of the way.
After all…how could I not notice he wasn’t in the van?!
Sigh…
I really felt like crying on the way home again.
Decided, that the day was basically lost now
A lost day…
When I should have loved my kids better…
When I should have been gentle, and kind.
 And now it was half hour to bedtime…
No time to make dinner…
MacDonald’s it is.
At least the boys were thrilled.
I beat myself up for not providing a healthier dinner.
In the drive-thru…I had to dig into the recesses of my wallet to pay.
Tucked inside a pocket, was shoved one of these.
I haven’t seen one in years.
(for my American friends – we have dollar coins here)
For some reason, it reminded me of my dad.
How his hands hardened by work, would always offer to give me money.
When I was around 9 and first allowed to ride my bike to the corner store.
When I was 16 and driving the car and needed gas.
When I was visiting home from college and always in need of a little extra cash.
How on a day like this, he would have put his arms around me…
And the world would have felt better again.
Sometimes we’d just sit in the garden, quiet.
I thought about how much I miss those hands,
How that final goodbye felt a few short years ago…
How much I wanted my daddy at that moment.
Mercy, the tears would not stop…
I almost had to pull over the van.
Then the kindest whisper…
A reminder really.
That there was another set of hands…
Readily available…
Hands that were not only work hardened…
But pierced.
For me.
Hands, eagerly waiting for me to surrender the day
Ready to provide,
Ready to take fish and bread, and meet those needs and more.
Restoring peace, reminding me of Eternity
and how my earthly daddy lives there now, with Him.
Redeeming the day, in a moment.
Making the world feel better again.
Oh how wonderful to to fall into my Heavenly Father’s Hands
To be enveloped in His grace and mercy.
Psalm 31:14
But as for me, I trust You, oh Lord,
I say,”You are my God”
My Times are in your hand…
 
And as the day came to a close,
Kissing soft cheeks, whispering thanks
whispering “I love yous”
Watching the steady rise and fall of little bodies at rest.
Peace…I am still.
Knowing the day is saved, and a new one is at hand.
A new one, that is in His hand,
As I am.

My "Summer Kitchen"

We’ve been having a lot of fun around here, living over blogging. Though I love the writing, and I often think, oh, I’d like to blog about this or that topic that crosses my mind…but then we get on with living. I plan hope to write more this summer. The word wall above kind of says it all, some of them we’ve checked off the list, some we’ll do again and again, and some we’ve yet to do! 
Anyways, a fun-though sometimes hectic spring passed us by, and the HOT summer days are upon us and summer around here, is all about FUN. I have my summer reading list, my summer to do list, my summer playlist, summer movie list and now, a Summer Kitchen. What is that you may ask?  
The BackStory
We are very fortunate to have a house with 2 kitchens. Sometimes the basement is rented out to boarder so we haven’t really made use of the basement kitchen until now. I guess I need to explain, my house is unique in that our regular kitchen/family/school/etc rooms are on the second floor (and the bedrooms are on the ground floor with a sitting room) of our Chalet style house. I love, love, LOVE my unique house, but the drawback is that the summers are very HOT upstairs, even when it’s not hot outside – great for our COLD winters, not so much in summer. We have ceiling fans, but the vaulted ceilings just seem to hold the heat IN. 
So this year, my hubby convinced me to move our kitchen/living space to the basement. Since we’re all basically in one big room down here, it feels like we’re at a cottage. I’m actually loving it, because even though we’re not going away (except to visit my grandma for a few days up north) – it’s like we are away from home.
I call it my summer kitchen after a friend reminded me that in the old days (as in a couple generations ago) it was very common to have a second kitchen… I looked it up…

Cooking in an open fireplace in summer can cause the kitchen to become extremely hot, so in Early America it was common for people to build a separate building called a “Summer Kitchen” where much of the food would be prepared during the summer months. The summer kitchen would contain a large fireplace with an oven, and usually a large table which was used as a work surface.

The purpose of summer kitchens were to keep the main house cooler in the summer by putting the cooking and cleaning duties in a separate building.

It has been fun, we’ve basically “closed” the upper floor of the house (meaning we can turn the AC down or even OFF-yay! I have direct access to the backyard (aka my garden) from here, and canning down here is WAY better. Love to be able to use my home to it’s fullest potential.

Here we are, all cozy in our “cool” summer kitchen. Hope you are enjoying your summer as much as we are!

 

 

A Father’s Hands…

Yesterday was one of those days. 
It started out ok…
Then quickly spiraled down and out of control. 
The oldest boy had ATTITUDE.
The middle boy was EMOTIONAL with ATTITUDE.
The youngest boy was WHINY.
They were all fighting, running in the house, making wrong choices.
The baby was cranky…teething? diaper rash? fussy?  
All of the above.
Even the dog was annoying.
That morning I’d been reminded of a few personal setbacks… 
Waves of  worry, fear, doubting self, doubting God…
Feeling like the little we had, would never be enough to meet the need. 
Feeling unsettled, words in my mind wearing away at the Peace
That usually keeps me calm in the midst of these storms.
Feeling pretty ugly inside and out.
So I kept losing my cool… 
yelling…
threatening…
lashing out… 
probably worse, 
I’ve blocked it from my memory.
We were all ready for a change of pace, a change of scenery.
I remember driving to the organic farm to pick up the veggies
On the verge of tears. 
At the farm, the dear farmer sensed my duress.
She made me laugh. 
A moment outside of the moment. 
She encouraged me like only a mama of mamas can.
We drove home in almost silence. A hymn was playing on the radio.
The quiet was needed…appreciated.
The baby had fallen asleep.
The boys were not fighting, not even talking.
I pulled into the drive.
Thinking about what to make for dinner.
Giving instructions for unloading the veggies…
The middle boy was not in the van…
 Momentary panic.
Call the farmer.
He’s there. Relief.
Drive 25 mins back there to get him.
Beat myself up most of the way.
Afterall…how could I not notice he wasn’t in the van?!
Sigh…
I really felt like crying on the way home again.
Decided, that the day was basically lost now
A lost day…
When I should have loved my kids better…
When I should have been gentle, and kind. 
 And now it was half hour to bedtime…
No time to make dinner…
MacDonald’s it is.
At least the boys were thrilled.
I beat myself up for not providing a healthier dinner.
In the drive-thru…I had to dig into the recesses of my wallet to pay.
Tucked inside a pocket, was shoved one of these.
I haven’t seen one in years. 
(for my American friends – we have dollar coins here)
For some reason, it reminded me of my dad.
How his hands hardened by work, would always offer to give me money.
When I was around 9 and first allowed to ride my bike to the corner store.
When I was 16 and driving the car and needed gas.
When I was visiting home from college and always in need of a little extra cash.
How on a day like this, he would have put his arms around me…
And the world would have felt better again.
Sometimes we’d just sit in the garden, quiet.
I thought about how much I miss those hands, 
How that final goodbye felt a few short years ago…
How much I wanted my daddy at that moment.
Mercy, the tears would not stop…
I almost had to pull over the van.
Then the kindest whisper…
A reminder really.
That there was another set of hands…
Readily available…
Hands that were not only work hardened…
But pierced.
For me.
Hands, eagerly waiting for me to surrender the day
Ready to provide, 
Ready to take fish and bread, and meet those needs and more.
Restoring peace, reminding me of Eternity 
and how my earthly daddy lives there now, with Him.
Redeeming the day, in a moment.
Making the world feel better again.
Oh how wonderful to to fall into my Heavenly Father’s Hands
To be enveloped in His grace and mercy.
Psalm 31:14
But as for me, I trust You, oh Lord,
I say,”You are my God”
My Times are in your hand…

And as the day came to a close, 
Kissing soft cheeks, whispering thanks
whispering “I love yous”
Watching the steady rise and fall of little bodies at rest.
Peace…I am still.
Knowing the day is saved, and a new one is at hand.
A new one, that is in His hand,
As I am.

My Garden in August 2013

 Reflections on the Garden…
This is a super long post (mostly pics again). I could have broken it up into several smaller posts, but honestly then it wouldn’t get done at all. I’m more likely to be out in the garden than at my computer, and with the kids and summer in full swing, I’m fortunate to actually be posting at all 🙂 
I have LOVED working in my garden this year. It’s been a great growing year, and I’ve loved watching the plants thrive throughout our property. Last week we spent about 4 solid days outside ripping out dying trees, transplanting, planting new ones, weeding, trimming, etc. We’re quite happy with our work and hope that all the new trees “take” in their new home. Thankfully, we can get replacements at very low cost quite easily.
Here’s the garden back in June/July…
Front Beds…
 The Yarrow needs a friend… any suggestions? 
I’ve wondered about Russian Sage, or another perennial?
The Knock Out Rose is delish – we decided to plant a Yellow Knock Out in the back this summer.

 Sunroom…

 Water Feature in Sunroom…all the hydrangeas are thriving. 
Endless Summers (Blue and Pink), Limelghts (giant teardrop Green-Whites) and Annabelles.
The Rose in here may need to find a new home. 
We’ve not done much in here as we have long term plans 
to re-do this whole room as part of a deck project.
Here’s an example of the Endless Summer’s before they all were picked for centerpieces…

Rose Garden…

The giant pinks roses are Memorial Days, the Fuscia Standard are knock Outs and the one in the yellow pot is our Yellow Knock Out to be planted. The Perennials are Heucheria, Poppies, Daisies and some ground covers I forget the name of. The front standard is a flowering crabapple.

Perennial Bed

Love the yellows – daylilies, primrose, and I forget the others right now. 
Yet to bloom are Purple Phlox and Daisies. 
They always look nice nestled in amongst the 
Japanese Maple/ Blue Spruce and Lavender Twist.

Lovers Garden (see the anniversary bench)

Next Spring a bunch of these perennials will need to be divided.

 Veggie Garden…
               (Look at the size of that burn pile in the back!)

I’m excited to be growing potatoes for the first time this year!

 Herb Garden

I have enough mint to last til Kingdom Come! 
Peppermint, 2 kinds of oregano, sage, 2 kinds of thyme, lavender, chives, 
rosemary, lemon balm & sorrel

A couple of surprises…

I thought we lost this rosebush last year.
When we trimmed the lilac earlier this summer, it gave these guys room to grow.

And now in August…
Front Porch…

I must remember what these yellow plants are in the boxes, I love them. 
I also LOVE my geraniums. The potato plants did well as expected. 

Front Bed

I had been given Cana Lilies and put them in behind the yarrow for now. 
They’ll find a new home next year where I can really highlight them. 

Upstairs Balcony Boxes

 
Had to show these because they are doing so well!

Looking down on Rose Garden and Perennial Beds

Post edging, multching, trimming, etc. This was in between the Memorial Days blooms. 
All our roses give consecutive blooms straight through til early November.

 Looking Down on Veggie and Herb Gardens

The big plum tree by the sandbox is now gone. We’ll be planting 2 apple trees on that side of the yard. Look at that crazy herb garden!

Up close…

 the mint is going CRAZY and the lemon balm… ugh.

 The Creeping Jenny is doing nicely

 Beans – Bush and Pole

 Zucchinim – we’ve already harvested 3 good sized ones.

Potatoes – love! I will be doing these again. 
We’ve already harvested 2 basket fulls and there’s lot’s more.

 Cucumbers (almost lost them, but they came back) and broccoli

Kale, romaine, Chard, Beets, Cabbage – we lost our spinach 😦

Another view…

 Onions

Sunflowers and Corn for Decor.
 
And happiness – PUMPKINS!

  

 

We planted an English Oak tree back here at the corner of the garden.

 We added gravel to the walkways

Lover’s Garden

The clematis flowered this year. I put up the trellis late, so hopefully next year it’ll grow taller. 
Love my phlox and daisies! The cold snap made the tips of our burning bush turn red.

 Back of House Before the trimming…

 and after…

Rose of Sharon
I have a love-hate relationship with these beauties. They are gorgeous and bloom when so little else does, they thrive pretty much anywhere, but they also reseed – EVERYWHERE. So I’ve become selective where they can be planted.

 Side of House

The Iris did nicely this year, In fact, I was quite happy with this little hidden gem of a garden.

 New Planting in front in shared dividing bed with neighbour – Cedars and Hydrangea Standard.

Now for mulch or some kind of ground cover to keep the weeds under control.
That’s all for now. You may or may not hear about the garden again this year 🙂

My "New Kitchen"

I love it when you can totally change up the look of a room with very little cost because of the goodness of God and the kindness of friends 🙂

Going into our 3rd year of homeschooling and having another body (and highchair) at the table, I knew our kitchen needed re-working. I had admired my friend Moni’s chalkboard wall in her old house – but I didn’t know how to make it work in our house. She’s so stylish with a quiet European flare and her home reflects her and her family so nicely, but I knew we are nothing like that. We are a tad messy (though I didn’t want to feel like I was in a constant mess because I LOVE organization), we are constantly curious and getting into new things, leaving other things unfinished but wanting to get back to them too. Plus I love my shelf that I can change out seasonally and we are surrounded by books too. I searched around on pinterest and found some inspiration in these pics…

  

I came up with this…

 The table we had inherited from Chris’ Aunt had taken a beating and was not only getting too small for us, but was also pretty wobbly. It is now in the basement in our common room which will be used for a homeschool co-op. 

When we agreed to take in 3 Korean adults acting as chaperones for the the program we usually host children from, we knew it was time for a new table. But the $ for it was not present…

Enter my BFF Jodi. She decided to upgrade and offered to bless us with hers (which had been a blessing to her from another friend) It seats 8 comfortably – YAY!

At the same time, we did the chalkboard wall, it was surprisingly easy actually…
,

 We cleared the space, painted it on and then after 3 days we cured it – the boys loved helping cover it with chalk.

 After wiping it off, it was ready to go, I added the decor (which will obviously be tweaked often).

I repurposed an old beat up hutch that had been in the sunroom collecting dust, and scaled back on the china, etc that was inside the old hutch – which found a new home at another friends house. I’m still considering painting it some fun colours (like burnt orange and tealy blue) with distressing… Suggestions anyone?

I still needed my Mom Central station (desk, calendar, bulletin board, etc) to be in the kitchen so I can monitor computer usage) We switched it to the side so we have more room to write on.

So there you have it. A new kitchen that only cost us $50 – for the chalkboard paint 🙂 
What do you think? What changes have you made to your house this summer?

The Mantle – Then and Now….and In Between

I thought I’d do a fun little piece on the kitchen mantle since that area is about to undergo a change of sorts…

I wanted an area that I could change up seasonally just for fun, and to remind me to enjoy life, the changing seasons, etc. So I found this shelf at Goodwill a couple years ago and blogged about it here. Since then it’s undergone the seasonal shift, here’s a few samples…

FIRST MANTEL FALL 2011

 FALL 2012

 FIRST CHRISTMAS 2011

CHRISTMAS 2012

WINTER 2013

 
WINTER/ VALENTINES 2013

 WINTER/ VALENTINES 2012

SPRING/ EASTER 2013

 SPRING 2013 – removed the bunnies, etc.

 SPRING/EASTER 2012

RIGHT NOW – SUMMER 2013

As you can see, it constantly gets “tweeked” – sometimes a lot, sometimes just a little. Some seasons, I just change out a few things, like this year, since Easter was way back in March, I switched the bunnies for garden stuff, then into summer I switched in my chicken, washboard, etc… I love having this little area to express myself artistically. Since it’s in my kitchen, I get to enjoy it ALOT.

LOOKING AHEAD… just for a hint, the space needs to be a been more functional for our school days, and I’d like my “mom central area” aka desk, etc to be more cohesive in the space, I got the idea of a chalkboard wall, first from Moni and then from Shannon

I think I’d like it to look a little like this…

 or this…

 or this…

I guess you’ll have to wait and see 🙂

Looking Forward to Fall…

I love Fall, Autumn, the season after summer, etc, etc. It’s my favourite. Always has been.

Though as a mom I have gained a serious appreciation for the other months, especially summer, and though I’m not wishing it away at all…(in fact we’re squeezing as much summer fun in as possible), still… I’m really looking forward to fall 🙂

Firstly because my baby girl is due to arrive in early October and I’m so excited to be having a fall baby (the boys are all winter babies). As much as I’m trying to enjoy this last pregnancy, it’s been one of the hardest. I had more morning sickness than the 3 boys combined, I’ve had serious swelling from the summer heat, which has left me with gestational carpel tunnel in my arms and hands (I had never even heard of this until this summer) which seriously interferes with my sleep, and I’ve had a couple serious infections requiring antibiotics. I have been and continue to TRY and enjoy this beautiful season of my life, but it’s a serious effort some days, especially during the blast of heat we had for a chunk of the summer. So in a sense, for me fall is the season when I meet my girl and when this discomfort will start to fade too 🙂
Another reason I’m looking forward to it is because we started school today, and it’s always a bit of a challenge with the boys when they know it’s still summer. In the fall, the cooler temps and shorter days seem to make the transition easier, for all of us.
Finally, I’m looking forward to it because I adore the season. The smells, the sounds, the colours, the temperature, the fact that kids go to school, the school buses, the start of the hustle and bustle of all the special holidays that we celebrate in the last 1/4 of the year.  This year I hope to be on the ball in September so I can participate in this…
For the past 3 years I’ve enjoyed this series from the inspired room, and hope to partcipate in my own way even this year, though it will probably be a challenge.
This Fall nesting party inspires me to get started (at least to come up with a plan). I love decorating my house all year to highlight the seasons and celebrations around us, but I’m especially inspired in the fall. This year I am super excited to figure out how to use these babies in my decor… 

Ii found a whole basket of them on the side of the road in the trash – SCORE.

I like to ease into fall decor Sept. 1st by taking down the summerish stuff, clearing out the dying vegetation on the front steps (etc), dusting and de-cluttering the inside of the house, and putting out a few pretty things to start. Then I add in the hardcore fall stuff, in Oct I add the pumpkins, near the end I add in a few spooky things for Halloween, and then gradually take it all down as I start the Christmas decor by mid  November… that’s how I roll. With a new baby in our Homeschooling House, I’m expecting some delays and hiccups, but if I’m organized, it should still be manageable, maybe? 
Anyways, I’m looking forward to fall… are you?

Tuesday’s Thoughts

I was over at Katharine’s Blog today and thought I’d copy her idea for today’s post, just to get myself writing again.

For Today…

Outside my window… 

            I can enjoy the flowers, herbs and veggies I planted in urns/ boxes on our back deck.

I am thinking…  
           I should pull out my day timer in case I’m forgetting somewhere I’m supposed to go today  
I am thankful…  
           for the great visit and dinner with friends and their kids last night. mmmm homemade perogies~!

In the kitchen… 

            a plate of muffins is calling my name.

I am wearing…   
             yoga pants and a blue t-shirt, standard home school mom attire.
I am going…  
             to my midwives appointment tomorrow. I’m 21 weeks!
I am wondering… 
            when I should schedule the boys’ haircuts? Buzzed for the summer!
I am reading… 
            The Well Educated Mind by Susan Wise Bauer – it’s challenging but awesome!

I am hoping… 

            The dirt I ordered comes on Thursday so I can finish planting the raised veggie gardens. 
            It was supposed to arrive yesterday.
I am looking forward to…   
           Chris’ cousins wedding on Saturday. I love a good wedding!
Around the house…  
           I need to get the office cleaned and organized, but I’m very afraid…  
                                                                                             maybe we’ll go to the zoo today instead!
I am pondering… how to celebrate our anniversary next week – 14 years 

One of my favorite things…  a good cup of coffee with a great friend.
Here’s one of the better shots I took from the fireworks at the Virgil Stampede on Victoria Day – Happy Summer everyone~!

End of Summer Checklist







So, the last official week of summer is here in Niagara. The season of fun is winding down with sunflowers, lush fruit and veggies to harvest, bright sunny but not so humid days, faster approaching crisp nights, starry skies, less bugs, crunchy foliage in the gardens, the rush to fit in those activities we MUST do because we promised, and also, there’s usually a quite a bit left of the around the house “to do” list…

Here’s ours:
Install Basketball net in driveway
Install flagpole
paint small table purple
paint shelf for kitchen and install
replace electrical socket in DS bathroom
Put away camping gear
Clean out the garage (again) and either garage sale or goodwill it
Assess garden cleanup needs
Put away summer toys and decor
Pull out Autumn decor bins
Finish September calendar for Home School
Finishing prepping rooms for international students
Decide on what to can for the preserve pass along party
September is just around the corner, and Labour day marks the end of another great niagara summer!
Hurray for the memories we’ve had and hurray for the fall fast approaching!