Friday, October 31, 2008

Back in Black

We invited our nephew and a couple of his friends over to watch movies last weekend. In case you haven't noticed, the new trend for teens involves a lot of black, interesting make-up (even on boys), chains and piercings, dangerously tight jeans... At least, they tell me this is what all the cool kids are wearing.

Our own kids were having a 'campout' upstairs in Shea's room, so they wouldn't be kept awake. At one point, my mom went in and gave the kids trouble for peeking out of the room. The girls were giggling over the one friend's appearance. Apparently, he had a lot of "chains and stuff" which made him interesting (I believe it was his metal-studded pleather jacket that got their attention).

Shea commented that he looked silly. Meg, on the other hand, was quite certain that "he looked cool!" (Spoken with awe and admiration in her little five-year-old voice.) Oh dear.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

This Settles It!

I've always said that girls are way tougher than boys.

For example, child-bearing. Need I say more? Well, for those who seem to think this isn't evidence enough - here's further proof.

This week our family was stuck by a stomach virus. Pat went down first, Tuesday night around midnight. Braeden was calling for me by 2:30am. Kai was next in the wee hours of the morning. Pat and Braeden spent the entire day sleeping it off; Kai wanted to be held constantly. It was a long day...

Today, Braeden is still home, whining and moaning as in the throes of death. Pat headed off to work, clearly in a weakened state with some achy bones. Kai - well, he's a baby - so he's just running and playing, then collapsing into tears.

Last night at bedtime (Wednesday), Abbey informed me she was beginning to feel sick. I gave her a bucket for 'just in case.' This morning, she comes upstairs and informs me that she "threw up" in the night. She brings me the bucket full of evidence (ick!) and I ask her how she's feeling now (thinking she'd be needing some rest and probably stay home from school).

Abbey says, "Well, I think I'll go to school. I'm done throwing up now." She proceeded to get ready and headed off for the bus, smile upon her face with a spring in her step. (Okay, okay, she never actually leaves the house that cheerfully.)

Lest there be any further debate about who is tougher - six-year-old girl versus thirty-year-old man. 'Nough said.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

WFMW - Storing Clothing

Is it just me, or do you all have massive piles of clothing that don't belong in your dresser year-round? I've got summer clothes, skinny clothes, fat clothes (with five babies, you can imagine my size has fluctuated a wee bit over the years). My kids have summer clothes, next size up clothes (from an older sibling), and clothes to grow into (handed down from friends with older kids). Obviously, all this clothing needs to be stored!

Here's what I do...

- buy lots of giant rubber tubs with lids (and wheels)

- wash, dry, and fold clothing

- sort according to season, then by size --- for example, there is a bin labelled "Spring/Summer '09" containing all the children's clothes for next summer; there is another bin labelled "Fall/Winter, size 10-12 girl" filled with warm weather clothing in sizes that are a couple years away; and of course there's the bin labelled "Mommy's skinny clothes"

- add a scented dryer sheet before sealing the lid

- store

We have a cold room under our stairs, and since I don't take part in domestic activities like canning, it has become a wonderful storage space. It is a bit damp, but that's not a problem because the bins are sealed and airtight. You could also store these in your garage or your bedroom closet. If you bought some smaller bins, you could even slide them under your bed!

Have fun organizing!

For more WFMW tips, go to Rocks in My Dryer.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Spiritual Warfare (part 2 of 2)

Go here for part 1.

Now that we've set the groundwork, let's talk about doing battle.

God is omniscient (all-knowing), omnipresent (everywhere at once), and omnipotent (all-powerful). Satan is NOT.

We can pray to God in our minds and hearts and He hears us; He knows our every thought. Satan, on the other hand, only knows what he learns through our words and actions. Therefore, if you feel like the enemy of our souls is attempting to wreak havoc in your life, you cannot simply "think him away." In order to get rid of the enemy, you need to tell him to leave in an audible voice. This is one of the reasons we should invest our time in memorizing Scripture - nothing holds more power than the Word of God spoken aloud. On a side note, all the words we speak hold great power - the power to build up or the power to destroy - so be careful what you say! (Proverbs 18:21)

God is with us - each one of us - wherever we are, all the time. Satan can only be in one place at a time. So if you're feeling attacked, and I'm feeling attacked, at least one of us is being harangued by a being that "works for" the enemy - a demon. Okay, I can sense some of my friends cringing right now. But think about it - God has angels that He sends to deliver messages of hope and peace, and sometimes He asks them to step in and intervene in situations. Don't you think the one who wishes to be like God would copy His model and get servants of his own? So, when renouncing evil, it is important to tell both Satan and demon powers to "get behind me!" (Matthew 16:23)

God has all the power of the world (and more) in His hands! We have His Spirit living in us, which means we also have this power. We are NOT powerless against the schemes of the enemy! If we speak in the Name of Jesus (which is, in essence, putting His signature at the bottom of our page), we can have victory over evil. In fact, God has assured us that the battle has already been won - all we need to do is believe it (and speak up about it). (I Corinthians 15:57)


I want to thank my friend, Mary, for inspiring my mini-series on spiritual warfare. :)

I cannot take credit for any of the ideas shared in this two-part series. My teachers were:
Dean Sherman through his book "Spiritual Warfare for Every Christian: How to live in victory and retake the land,"
Donna Jordan through her personal teaching and manual on "Listening to God,"
Beth Moore though her DVD teaching and study guide "Believing God: Experiencing a fresh explosion of faith,"
and Pastor Dan Cochrane of my very own CrossRoads Church.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Spiritual Warfare (part 1 of 2)

When it comes to struggles of the spiritual nature, people tend to sway from one extreme to the next... Some believe all things have spiritual "roots" (that is, their causes are good or evil, blessing or attack). Others simply refuse to acknowledge the existence of any type of supernatural powers. I'd like to suggest that somewhere in the middle is probably closest to correct.

I believe that spiritual warfare does happen. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. ~Ephesians 6:12

But I do not believe that every "bad thing" in our lives is caused by Satan. Sometimes, bad things occur as a result of our choices (Deuteronomy 8:5, Job 5:17). Sometimes bad things are allowed in our lives so that God can refine us (Psalm 66:10). Sometimes, though, bad things are from the enemy. I think this is especially true of those areas we struggle in, where we're weak - these are the places that it is easiest for him to come against us (and come against Christ in us).

For example, one of my greatest struggles is my desire to be accepted. (According to my personality profile, this is typical of us highly-organized, be-the-boss, OCD types.) Put simply, I want people to like me. But as a leader in ministry, there are times I need to do or say things and make certain decisions that will result in others being unhappy. And some people (particularly women, and especially during certain times of the month) can get quite bent out of shape, often questioning my leadership and attacking my character. (Don't get me wrong here, I am soooooo not perfect, and there have been times where I've done or said the WRONG thing - but I'm not talking about those times.)

In these situations, I am plagued with doubts. Am I really supposed to be leading women's ministry? This person is so hurt/angry - did I really do the right thing? If I'm really called by God to do this, shouldn't others affirm that? Maybe I'm not hearing God at all...

Over time and with experience, I have come to discover that the desire to be accepted is one of my big fleshly struggles. The enemy has picked up on this, and he tries to use it to his advantage whenever possible. He stirs up dissension, which causes me to feel like someone doesn't like me, and feelings of self-pity keep me too busy to do anything useful for God's Kingdom...

Do you have any areas of struggle like that? Ones that seem to keep cropping up, going round and round, that you never seem to be able to get out of? Chances are that the enemy is messing around, doing his darndest to keep you from the works God is calling you to.

Now, what to do when the enemy is picking and prodding at you? Coming up tomorrow...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Neighbours from Heck

Anyone have one of those neighbours?

When we moved in almost three years ago, we found our older neighbours to be very friendly. Warning bells should have gone off in my head when, only a couple weeks later, they spent a good half hour telling us about their neighbours on the other side - and every activity said neighbours had participated in that contributed to "bringing down the entire block." No, not warning bells about their other neighbours - about them!

In my entire life of renting and owning, never have I encountered so many complaints.

Here is the short list of what we have done so far to ruin their living experience for them (in no particular order):

- allow our children to drive their Power Wheels vehicles on the road (we live in a close, with a large green space in the middle, and no one drives around it if they don't live here...and we never let the kids do this at "busy" times like after work on weekdays)

- take too long to mow the lawn (we've been known to let it go a whole week in the summer)

- have visitors over who, ever so rudely, park their vehicles - on the public street - in front of their house

- spray the weeds in our yard with products that are safe for children and dogs, but according the odour they send into the neighbours window they are clearly toxic

- park our old pickup truck in front

- park our old pickup truck in back

- sit around our firepit with our kids

- have exterminators in to deal with our problem with carpenter ants

- have a particularly loud gathering in our yard, around that dratted fire pit, until (*gasp) midnight (the one and only of these types of gatherings we've ever had at this house) --- the story of how their adult son "retaliated" for our noise is a whole post on its own!

- and many, many other small but irritating/ annoying/ dangerous/ discourteous things we do over the course of just being alive

Most recently, though, is the problem with our puppy. When we got her, we worked hard to train Daisy to relieve herself only in one section of the yard - it's a little patch of grass at the side of the house that the kids don't play on. I have been told that "the smell is just horrible!" and informed, under no uncertain terms, that I "just have to train her to go somewhere else. [I] have a big yard, and the dog just CANNOT 'go' near the fence right next to [their] yard anymore!" (I really should mention that our dining room window overlooks this patch of grass, and we have never noticed an unpleasant odour while dining.) Being the good neighbour that I am, I apologized for not cleaning up as often as I should. Since then, I have made an effort to ensure all is cleaned up every second day or so. Unfortunately, this is not good enough. I received a letter from the City, informing that we have seven days to get it cleaned up or we will be subject to a $200 fine. Next time, $400.

I am thinking that it is best for me to just bite my tongue and comply. So in exactly seven days I will go out and clean up all the dog poop. Ha! (Totally kidding, we're now trying to clean it up daily.)

And I thought the party-ers we lived next to a few years back were bad...

Friday, October 24, 2008

Linkin' Up

I love this list of advice that Bobbie posted.

My fave is #35.

Don't you agree?

Thursday, October 23, 2008


Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. ~Philippians 2:3

How do I know that I am moving ahead in the right direction? Am I following the plans God has for me? What if I heard things wrong?

We all ask ourselves (and others) these questions at times. We feel that God has given us a vision, a dream for the future. But then we wonder and doubt and second-guess. Perhaps we are actually allowing our dreams to be guided by our own desires.

Paul gives us a foolproof "check stop" for us to assess our motivations with in Philippians 2.

Imagine for a moment the fulfillment of the dream in your heart - maybe you envision being an author, a mother, a missionary - let the entirety of that dream take over your imagination. Now, where are you? How do you feel? What are others around you doing?

Are you at the front of the crowd, admired and praised by all? Do you feel like a super-hero? If so, chances are that what's on your heart is not where God is calling you to go.

We are commanded to do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. These are tough words. No one wants to admit to selfishness. But pride is one of the enemy's greatest tricks. The evil one whispers lies in our ears, convincing us that we need to be (deserve to be) recognized for the work that we do. But first Peter 5:5 tells us that God opposes the proud. Ouch! If we move forward with our own agendas and wrong motivations, GOD WILL OPPOSE US.

If, on the other hand, when you envision the pursuit of your dream, the picture you see has less to do with you personally, and more to do with Christ, His Kingdom, and lives're probably headed on the right track. Don't get me wrong here, this is not to say that God calls us to anonymity and ambiguity, forever serving without joy.

Simply because something excites us, stirs up our passion, and fulfills a life-long dream does not mean it can't be from God. This is another one of those lies fed to us by the enemy of our souls - he tells us that "if it's fun and brings us pleasure, it must be based in selfishness. Serving God should be a sacrifice." The truth of the matter can be found in Psalm 37:4, delight yourself in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart. We have His blessing to be passionate and completely fulfilled in our service!

If you are unsure whether your dream is of God or not, ask Him to reveal to you the motivations behind that vision.

Is the song of your heart to adopt dozens of children from all across the globe? Ask the Holy Spirit to show you your motives. Supermom = wrong motives. Pouring out Christ's love and raising Christ-followers = His motivations. Do you have a passion for speaking and teaching in front of large groups? Be like Beth = wrong motives. Be a part of something beautiful in changing lives for Christ = His motives.

Do not allow yourselves to be confused! Saturate your minds with God's Truth, and the enemy will not be able to trip you up. Don't go to others to find out if your desire comes from self or God - go to Him! God already knows the vision He has placed in our hearts. We don't need to "figure it out." He created us, He predestined us, and He will reveal Himself to us through His Word.

In Him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will. ~Ephesians 1:11

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Kleenex, Anyone?

As I mentioned, I was away (in town, but away from home) all day Friday and Saturday. After Church on Sunday I discovered the most beautiful card on the counter...
"Dad remember your speshule. You are own of God's Pepule."
"Deer Dad Jesus is God's Son. Jesus dide on the crost to forgive our sins. God's son is Jesus." ("God" is at the top - which Abbey said was intentional, because He should be at the top of everything.)
I read the card through, turned to Pat, and said something along the lines of, "Aw, what a speshule card you received." He smiled and brought me one of my own...
"Welcome back home mom. God loves you. remeber God."
That's tough to read - here's a close-up.
"Deer Mom You are my best frend. God Loves You. You are speshul. Love The lord Your God with ole your sol and with ole your hrte and with ole your stracth. Deuteronomy 6:5." (This was her memory verse from 2 weeks ago...)
Pat watched me read it, then made some comment about me getting teary-eyed. Uhm - ahem - no, no, I'm fine, just give me a moment to clear my throat and get this dratted eyelash out of my eye.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Honoured and Blessed (*edited)

I have been very blessed by a fellow blogger with two awards. Julie's blog is private, so at this time I won't post a link up for you.

I debated about posting and even accepting the awards, because I so often just blather on about nothing and I just don't feel that I've done anything special to earn these awards. But then I got to thinking how I would feel if I offered a gift that was refused. And basically, that's what these are - a gift from a friend. Just because.

I would like to pass them along to a couple other bloggers, simply because I like you and I am blessed when I read about your lives.

It is so amazing that we have this tool to communicate and build relationships! I love the women I have "met" these past months, and I learn so much from them! Because I have made new and wonderful friends whom I may never know in real life, I want to pass along this BFF award to them:

Bobbie - If I had time and money, I would definitely spend it on getting down south to meet this amazing woman! We have such different lives, yet so much in common. Bobbie has even been trying to help me (maybe others, too, but whatever) plan kids' lunches in her Monday meal plans. I'm trying to convince her to meet me at She Speaks next summer.

Hope - She lives in a world overflowing with pink and is loving every minute of it! I am particularly inspired by her creative kid's chore ideas. Hope loves women's ministry and "Lost," just like me. All the important stuff in common. :)

Mary - This girl is a super-hero! She has - count them - ten kids (from three countries). She has a big honkin' garden that produces way more produce (heehee) than I would know what to do with. And I have been enjoying reading her love story.

I especially enjoy reading thought-provoking writing...and looking at astounding photography. Getting a sense of other peoples' style helps me to better understand my own. So I'd like to pass along this award to the following "kreative" and inspiring bloggers:

Shauna - I have the pleasure of knowing Shauna in real life, though not well...yet! Her photographic ability is indescribable. I love looking in as she documents life with her boys (her sweet hubby and the "A team").

Jenni - This woman has a way of expressing thoughts and feelings that can shake me to the core. Jenni's life is also inspiring - she's a mom to twelve, and soon-to-be a grandma!

Brenda - My friend, Brenda, is just stepping out into a battle for her life. She has her breast, in some lymph tissue, in her bones. She is a beautiful, strong woman of God, and the impact of watching her go through this journey clinging to the cross leaves me weeping with joy and pain.

* If you choose to accept your award, you can write a post about it and pass the award along to other bloggers you love. (Let them know by commenting on their blog, so they can come and receive it.) You can also put the award in your sidebar (kinda like up on the mantle). :)

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Earth is Square

It must be, because I have definitely fallen over the edge!

An explanation of my absence, in short version...

A group had booked our Church facility for their large women's conference. Twenty (or so) volunteers were needed to keep things clean and running smoothly. Those volunteers needed someone to coordinate what to do, when to do it, and the like. That was me. :)

It was a great blessing to serve, and the team of volunteers connected and had a lot of fun together. But man, my legs and feet ache. I am currently propping my eyelids open with toothpicks.

While I was gone, my man did dishes, made meals, and (drumroll, please) did laundry! (He even put it all away.) His homemaking skills totally trumped mine, and I'd like to offer him a new job with a much lower pay scale than he's used to. Thanks, honey! You rule!

Anyway, I figured you'd all be awaiting the big announcement. The winner of the 10,000 hits giveaway is (another drumroll, please).....

Lori from Panic! at the Refrigerator. Go visit her and say hello.

Random Integer Generator
Here are your random numbers:14
Timestamp: 2008-10-20 19:29:33 UTC
© 1998-2008

Because I knew it would be way to difficult to choose a winner, I went with the tried and true Random Integer Generator. I asked it to choose one number between the values of 1 and 17, and it chose 14. (I debated making it only out of 16 comments, because comment #17 was entered at hit #10,001. But I always tell my kids that if they tell the truth above all else, the consequence I would normally give will be less, or not at all. So my cheating (but honest) Tante still got to play. LOL!)

Lori, I will email you for your address. Give me a week to read your blog so I can attempt to pick a prize you'll love.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A Time to Pray

Still time to enter the contest (or re-enter if you want, there are really no rules). It's going until the counter hits 10,000.

I have mentioned before that there is a young person in my life who is "in a bad way." This person is involved with drugs and alcohol, as well as various illegal activities.

Today in court, this youth that I love pleaded 'not guilty' to a number of charges and a trial date was set. In the time between now and court (before Christmas), said young person will be living with a parent and step-parent.

Please cover the parent(s) in prayer, that they will be able to do what is best for the whole family. Please pray for their marriage, which has been struggling for a long time (and this added stress will not make the struggle easier).

Please pray for the youth - for wisdom, protection, and GOOD friends.

Please pray for other family members who are all concerned, that we would be loving, supportive, and helpful. Pray that God shows us practical ways that we can help to make this situation a success.

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. ~James 5:16


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Meme Time

Don't forget to enter the's right below this post!

I was tagged by Barb at Spotlis (also right here in Red Deer) for this meme...

Eight Random Things About Me (I guess anything I didn't cover in my 102nd post)

- I get my eyebrows waxed and tinted darker every month.

- I force myself to eat popcorn, even though I really don't like it, because of it's low calorie properties.

- In an attempt to treat my horrid acne, I am getting chemical peels and microdermabrasion. (I don't really think it's working.) (I should also mention that, though the word looks ridiculous and it seems like it should be two words "micro-derm" and "abrasion," it seriously is one really long word!)

- Crafts hate me.

- My mom and I talk on the phone at least 2-3 times per day (sometimes more).

- I get every Sunday off! My super-awesome mom takes the kids to her house after Church, then us grown-ups (and the baby) go over in time for supper.

- The TV used to be on all day long. Now there's no TV in our living room (it's been replaced by a computer, lol).

- My BFF, Christine, babysits for me way too often! (Not that she should ever stop...)

- It's not quite 6pm and I will be putting four grumpy little children to bed very early - as in, right now!

I'm not going to tag anyone for this meme, but if you want to play along, just let me know in the comments (so I can come visit you and learn eight completely random facts about you). If you want to play by the rules, you should tag other bloggers to play along once you've done it (and don't forget to visit them and let them know you've tagged them).

Happy meme-ing!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Ten Thousand

As I write this post, my handy little counter says "9738" visitors since I started out. To be honest, I'm kinda surprised! I was worried that I'd be writing for myself, my hubby, my mom, and my BFF to read.

I'm thrilled, excited, and blessed to know that other people who don't even know me (and even some who do) read my blatherings on here. My hope is that my day-to-day will be an encouragement to someone else - then it will be totally worth pouring my life out here on the world wide web.

To celebrate the impending 10,000 hits, I've decided to host a giveaway. It's a thank-you giveaway...well, because I want to say thanks! Because everyone is different, and I wouldn't just give the same gift of thanks to everyone I meet, the gift is not determined. NOPE. You must help me!

So, here's how you win:
- look at the hit counter (which is sitting right up top beside this post)
- post a comment (obviously, tell me what number you read on the stat counter)
- also, tell me three things about yourself that would help me choose a great thank-you gift for you (your fave colour or verse, whether you like pretty or useful, and so on) - THREE THINGS.

I'm not going to tell you how I will select the winner, but Pat knows so you know I'm not just choosing someone I like (I like you all, anyway, so how could I choose?). Go ahead and keep commenting, even after the 10,000 mark.

I'll announce a winner soon!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Heart of Worship

I don't know about you, but I like to crank out the worship music while I drive.

It's the one time I can sing all the love and joy that's in my heart without risk of anyone hearing when I hit a wrong note.

I often raise up one hand to the roof, getting caught up in the moment. But as I pull up to a light, especially a red light with other vehicles stopped, I often drop my arm back into my lap. Every now and then, though, I throw caution to the wind.

I stumbled into this youtube video, and it was exactly what I'm talking about. Well, watch it, you'll see what I mean (Note: he really gets into it just before the four minute mark). Tell me this doesn't inspire you to rock out in your times of worship a little bit!

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Day We Lost Our Phone

I wrote it on the calendar and circled it BIG. Thursday, October 9, 2008. I have officially lost my own phone in my own home.

The phone now belongs to girl #1, Abbey (6). Soon it will belong to "the girls." I'll have to get another line (or two, or three) installed if I ever want to hear the voices of friends and family again...

I do recall being in a constant state of "on the phone," but I'm sure I was at least 12 before that began. It seems fitting, though, that the child most like me in looks, personality, and attitude (ahem) is also most like me in this.

She is sitting beside me now, giggling and saying, "yeah" repeatedly. This is her third phone call with no purpose in two days. And it seems the parents of the friend on the other end have run this drill before. Oh, now they're bidding one another good-bye - I imagine she'll hang up in about 10 minutes or so...

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Open Mouth, Insert Foot

Dear Women Friends,

I am writing this letter to ask you to please refrain from saying stupid and insensitive things to other women. I understand that, on occasion, we are struck by a dangerous case of "foot in mouth" disease, but SERIOUSLY, it cannot be that difficult to THINK before speaking.

Some examples of this rudeness may include (but are certainly not limited to) the following statements:
"I didn't realize that style of [insert clothing item] was making a comeback,"
or "You look so great today, all dressed up...not that you don't normally look great, I just mean...."
or "Wow, your new haircut sure looks - um, different."

Especially, though, I must insist that you refrain from the following:
"When are you due?"
or "I didn't realize you were expecting!"
or "So, are you pregnant again?"
or even "You sure look great...for having [insert number] kids."

Such statements are, to put it mildly, just plain ignorant. Perhaps you don't understand the hurt inflicted by those words - if that's the case I'm guessing you are one of those people who is always fashionable and slender. If so, please know that I harbour no ill will (you bag).

And though you may make insensitive statements on occasion, I assure you that I will continue to use great discretion when speaking to you. I promise never to reciprocate by saying:
"Man, those clothes must have cost a fortune. Are you guys loaded?"
or "Golly, it must be nice to be so darn skinny! What's your secret, are you anorexic?"
or the ever-insulting "I sure hate girls like you, who look great all the time/ who look normal after having a baby/ etc."

All my love, kindness, and only thoughtful words,

P.S. No, you fools! I am NOT pregnant! Thanks, though, for making me feel like a blimp. I will now go home and stuff my face with cookies and cake to soothe my injured ego. (ahem)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Zucchini, Baby!

I don't garden. Correction - I can't garden. I kill innocent plants with a mere look. But our yard has a fantastic garden plot that simply shouldn't be allowed to go to waste.

My mom gardens, and can she grow things! This summer, she planted a row of zucchinis (or is it a vine? whatever). Some of them were large and slightly mutant looking. One of them became a part of the family.

Meet Meg's zucchini baby.

She carried it around like this for days. The girl would wake up in the morning, enter the kitchen and loudly demand, "where's my zucchini baby?"

Sadly, baby passed on. She was sacrificed to the yummy bread-making powers that be (in other words, Grandma stole her and chopped her up to make a loaf...poor baby).

No one really liked the zucchini bread. Except Meg, that is. Eating her fourth or fifth slice, it occurred to her to ask me what kind of bread this was. I hesitated. This situation had the potential to go very badly... Believing that, ultimately, honesty is best, I coughed and mumbled that it was (ahem) "zucchini bread."

Meg stopped chewing and looked at me, big brown eyes widening in...was it shock? horror? anger? devastation?... Laughter! "It's zucchini BABY bread, Mom! Mmmmmm, I love my zucchini baby."

Phew. That was a close one.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Groceries Schmoceries

Is it just me, or is the cost of food these days getting you down?

I can't figure out why my food bill is so darn high month after month. Even when I diligently meal plan and shop the sales (and avoid the fast food joints completely), I am still looking at $700-800 per month for our family of seven. I've been hearing that my bloggy friends are spending a LOT less. Either you are all much better at shopping than I OR our food costs are significantly different depending on our location on this great continent!

I want need to know how much food items cost where you're from (where are you from, by the way?). I must know what you do to keep costs down as prices rise.

You know what works for me? Stealing everyone else's great ideas! (wink) So, I'm putting up Mr. Linky and leaving it open until the weekend is through. All you need to do is write a post (or comment, if you don't have a blog...yet) and share some wisdom. There's a list of food items that Christine (my real life BFF) created - she is desperate to know how much those items cost you at your local grocery store (or supermarket for my American friends).

And just for fun - how much is gas where you're at?!

I'll still post new material, but you'll have to scroll below this post to see it.


Here's my contribution for ya....

I live in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada. We are smack dab in the middle of booming oil country, where young fellas who finished high school a few credits shy of graduation can go out in the patch and earn themselves a modest $100,000 per year. Needless to say, everything is a wee bit overpriced.

(I'm waiting for Christine to pour out her knowledge of grocery pricing, but in the meantime I'll fill in the blanks from any recent shopping I've done...)

4L milk - $4.33
5lbs potatoes - $4.99ish
price per lb for fruit - apples - $1.88, oranges - $1.48, bananas - $1.98 (but I think I accidentally grabbed organic bananas, they're usually more like $0.60 per pound), grapes - $2.28
average price for produce (per lb) - lettuce - ? (I buy bagged salad at $3.99), cucumber - $1.68 (whole cuke), tomatoes - $1.78, carrots - $0.98
box of KD - $0.87
frozen corn, about 1lb - $3.59
coffee tin, almost 2lbs - $7.99
toilet paper, 12 double-rolls - $7.50 (I must say that this was a CRAZY low price that got me very excited...normally, more like $9ish)

For the rest of these, I haven't purchased them in the past couple weeks. I am going shopping this weekend, though, so I'll fill in the blanks for ya!

price per lb of ground beef, chicken, pork chops
price per lb/gms of cold cuts like ham or roast beef
block of cheese (put in size)
lb of butter or margarine
pkg of cookies like Oreos
can of beans
can of tomatoes
pkg of pasta (put in size)

Here's what I do to save a buck or two...

Meat - I check the flyers that come out on Fridays and make my meal plan based on which meats are on sale. Every now and then, one of the grocery stores will have a two-for-one meat sale - I GO! Also, I purchase my meat in ridiculous bulk amounts (price per lb goes down the more you buy) and separate it at home. One of these days I'm going to buy half a cow and put it in my deep freeze.

Produce - If it's not in season or on sale, I don't buy it. Or, if I really want it I buy a small amount and hide it from the kids (kidding, well, kinda). We eat a lot of frozen and canned in the winter months. I avoid the organic aisle (except in the case of this week's bananas) - organic produce is usually twice the price of the regular stuff.

Dry goods - Bulk shopping is my friend. I know some of you are thinking, "nu-uh, no way, bulk costs too much." But it honestly depends where you buy it and how well you know your prices. For example, toilet paper is always cheapest at WalMart, but diapers are up to $7 less per box at Superstore (sorry folks, it's called "The Great Canadian Superstore"). Most of the snacky things my kids like to toss in their lunches are cheaper at Costco. I haven't been doing as much store-to-store shopping these days, though, with gas costing an arm, a leg, and your firstborn child.

While I'm on that note... My last tank of gas in my thirsty Suburban cost $131.01 (I always get stuck with that extra penny). That was 112.55 Litres at $1.164/L (which is the lowest it's been in a while). Now, let me demonstrate my mathematical genius for you as I convert this to price per imperial Gallon - $5.29, and then to US Gallon - $4.41. Amazing, aren't I?!

1. Denise@viewfromtheglen
2. mom2fur (Long Island, NY)
4. Nichole
5. Owlhaven
6. Melissa *read the comments*
7. SH (Maryland Grocery Prices)
8. jan
9. BarbaraLee (MN grocery bill)
10. Sarah from Indiana
11. Deb (Chicago \'Burbs)
12. bobbie (La)
13. chel
14. Heather, from Iqaluit Nunavut
15. Twix(central Illinois)

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Monday, October 6, 2008

Cost of Living

A while back I posted about cutting grocery costs for Works for Me Wednesday. Some of the comments were (to put it mildly) shocked at the amount I spend on food each month. Sure, I definitely spend on some pre-made, processed, instant things that cost me more than making them from scratch. But my mind couldn't wrap around Judith spending about $400-500 per month for a family of seven, and Mary spending only $200 last month for her family of ten! Seriously, I just can't be over-spending by THAT much!

On request of my BFF, Christine (who, might I mention, is a thrifty shopper and makes everything from scratch for her family of six), and our incredulity at what some people in the blogosphere spend on food, I will be putting up a blog carnival for INFORMATION. Because we can't live with ourselves spending so much more than you without some understanding! Please, do tell!

Starting tomorrow, and over the weekend, I'll put up a Mr. Linky so a whole bunch of you can join in. I might even email and harass you to join in if you're one of those peeps who spends so much less than I!

Here's some of what we want to know (feel free to add items, share shopping tips, bargains, etc.):
4L milk (or a gallon)
5lbs potatoes
price per lb for fruit - apples, oranges, bananas
average price for produce - lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, carrots
price per lb of ground beef, chicken, pork chops
price per lb/gms of cold cuts like ham or roast beef
block of cheese (put in size)
lb of butter or margarine
box of mac and cheese like KD
pkg of cookies like Oreos
can of beans
can of tomatoes
pkg of pasta (put in size)
pkg of frozen veggies like peas or corn (put in size)
tin of coffee (put in size)
12 double roll toilet paper

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Filling of the Spirit

In Church this morning, I wrote copious notes! It was just one of those sermons. Mostly to help cement the Truth in my own heart, I am going to record the highlights here.

Five marks of a Spirit-filled Church:

1. The people are fully committed to:
- teaching - hunger to learn God's Word;
- fellowship - hunger to be with other believers;
- breaking of bread (celebrating communion) - Christ's death and resurrection are at the centre;
- prayer - devoted to pray together for all things (set aside a 'place of prayer').

2. Spiritual power - AMAZING things happen when the Spirit is working. (Some examples in the book of Acts are 300 new believers in a day, dead raised to life, healings, evil spirits cast out.) In order to have the power of the Spirit working within you, you must have a personal relationship with Christ (does He talk to you? is the Bible personal for you, speaking into your specific life circumstances?), you must obey the Lord with all your heart, and you need to ask Him to fill you with His Spirit.

3. Sacrificial love for one another (see Acts 2 and Deuteronomy 15). The people give to one another as they see a need - generously. Quote of the day, "what we do (or don't do) with our material possessions is an indication of the Spirit's presence."

4. Unquenchable joy, in all life's circumstances.

5. External focus - desire to bring others to the Lord, and He adds to their numbers because of their obedience in this.

The basic instruction for growing into a body of believers that is filled with the Spirit is for each person of the body to seek that filling up. Believe God. Obey the promptings of the Spirit. And give all the glory and credit to God.

So there's my summary. Now for my thoughts. Three things I feel God spoke into my heart during the service.

First, I need to find my special place for prayer. A place where the distractions of my world don't interrupt, a place where my sole purpose of being there is to commune with the Holy One. I remember my Tante (German for Auntie) disappearing into her en suite bathroom for long periods of day I dared to go ask what she was doing in there (surely no single person needed to spend that much time in the bathroom) and she told me that was where she went to have uninterrupted prayer time. Cool, eh! Do you have a place of prayer?

Second, I need to be willing. Willing to give, even if it's my last $20, at the moment I feel the Holy Spirit prompting. Willing to speak, even if it's with people who intimidate me, every time He opens the conversational doors. Willing to not take the credit, even if I offered my time and talents sacrificially, for all the good things He does through me. I think my biggest struggle in this is that willingness to speak up about Jesus and what He's done for me. Are there any areas of willingness that trip you up?

Third, I need to be joyful. The true mark of the Spirit within...the thing that gets the attention of other people...the source that keeps us enduring our life's walk - this is the indescribable, incomparable, unquenchable joy of the Lord. Joy because (no matter how we mess up) our rotten stinking sin has been washed away. Joy because (no matter the circumstances - even great loss and pain) God is with us every step of the way. Joy because He has poured out His goodness, mercy, and love on us for no other reason than this - He wanted to! I do believe that this kind of joy is possible, but grasping hold of it in the midst of a bad day where I can't balance the budget, the kids are misbehaving, and my sweetheart is far away is something I know I cannot do in my own strength. Have you ever glimpsed this joy?

Just imagine it for a moment. A Church where all the people in it are filled with joy - true joy, not just fake "I'm okay"ness, where there is not one single needy person among them because everyone is taking care of one another, where every Sunday hundreds of new people pour through the doors... Who wouldn't want to be a part of that?!

Come, Holy Spirit, come...

Friday, October 3, 2008

Q & A Time

In my attempt to put off doing anything productive today, I have been surfing the blogosphere this morning. Clicking from one link to the next. Until I stumbled upon this post (link will be added once I receive permission). I simply couldn't resist!

I know that there are at least a couple people who read here that never comment. But you must understand how much fun it is GETTING THE COMMENTS!!! Fun, fun, fun, people. So, in an effort to encourage you to "de-lurk," I am posing these very embarrassing questions for each of you to answer.

Seriously. :) Ah, come on, it will be so liberating!

1. Do you pass gas in front of your spouse?
2. Do you make your bed every day?
3. Do you floss everyday?
4. Do you sleep with a stuffed animal?
5. Do you eat when you are not hungry?
6. Is your car always messy?
7. How often do you clean your bathtub and shower?


My answers:

1. Yes. Early in my first pregnancy, I accidentally let one slip. I was soooo embarrassed! But he didn't seem too upset by it, so over the years I let them squeak out a little more often. Now, it's no holds barred (and if it's really stinky and grosses him out, I giggle in victory). Recently, Pat told me that when we were dating he got in my car after I had gotten out...I must have tooted before getting out. He confessed that it was so horrible that he really contemplated whether he'd be able to marry me.

2. Come on?! You know the answer to this one.

3. Um, no. I floss daily for a week or two before dental appointments. Maybe once a month the rest of the year (which results in the need to pop some ibuprofen due to the throbbing discomfort having proper dental hygiene only once per month brings).

4. I did for years, even after marriage. I've now replaced my stuffy with a grown-up version - a body pillow! (I even sold Pat on the loving comfort of the body pillow - hence the massive king-sized bed.)

5. Struggling to lose the "baby weight" when baby is over a year old. What do you think?

6. You know, I feel like I'm cleaning up my vehicle all the time, but if I'm honest it's seldom clean. Five kids, a puppy... Hey, a girl can only do so much!

7. How often should I clean it? Twice a week, at least. How often do I clean it? Um, every 10 days or so. BUT, my mom cleans it at least once a week, overall I think we're avoiding too much bacterial growth.

Now, don't be a chicken. Post a comment with your answers. If you don't, I'm going to feel like a total freak. You wouldn't want to be solely responsible for my mental health breakdown, would you?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Enough Already

If you've been reading for a while, you're well aware of my struggle to lose the last "few" post-baby pounds. The battle has been raging for a good nine months, so clearly a little extra baby weight is not my only issue.

Remember my before picture? Sadly, it remains mostly unchanged.

The first problem is this - I LOVE junk food. I have an unhealthy addiction to slurpees, sour candies, potato chips, chocolate, cake, and virtually anything that's good for me. For example, last night I wanted a snack. The only healthy options in my fridge were carrots and grapes (clearly, I need to do some grocery shopping) - either of those would have been a great choice, right? I chose to eat 2 of the kids' wagon wheels instead. They weren't even very good.

The second problem is this - I strongly DISLIKE exercise. Wait, I should reword that one to reflect the truth of the matter. I AM LAZY! Overall, even with five kids and a puppy, my chosen lifestyle is fairly sedentary. Where I am sitting right now is where I love to be.

Now, I don't want to run the risk of becoming body-obsessed like I was in high school (which, when I think of it now, makes me so furious...I mean, how in the world can 108 lbs be fat?!). I don't want to make an idol of my body, the number on the scale, the size of the pants. But it's time for me to stop abusing my body to the other extreme.

So, with much prayer, I am moving forward again. Not to reach a certain number on the scale or a certain size in the clothing department. Rather, I am choosing to respect the body the Lord has given me by filling it with energy-giving foods and mental health-saving exercise.

I can't promise that I won't weigh myself, but I'm going to try to resist the urge. I am going to measure my success by how great I feel after a how much energy I have to play with the kids or walk the how my back will stop how my emotions will begin to level out and make how strong I feel.

I think God and I finally broke through the barrier. I need to be healthy, not skinny. So, off we go to the grocery store to stock up on some good 'ol fruit and veggies. Then, to the gym. Christine, expect a phone call any minute - I'll be bringing you down in the trenches with me!