Thursday, July 31, 2008
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Day 1 (Friday):
Left from Red Deer, AB. Stopped in Field, BC to see Takkakaw Falls. Got sprayed in the face. Continued to Sicamous, BC. Swam in outdoor pool and froze the baby. Slept in cosy cabins.
Visited the Enchanted Forest. Fun, fun, fun! Ask the girls, and this was definitely their fave so far. Drove to Anacortes, WA. Swam. Slept.
Got to sleep in till almost 7am this morning - I know the neighbours appreciated it. Drove to the Seattle Aquarium. Paid a ridiculous amount for parking. Headed on down to Oregon...Waldport. Had a beach-front (well, bay-front is more like it) view from our cabin. Sooooo glad to have this day end. Phew. No pool at htis KOA. I was okay with that.
Pat's 31st birthday. By far my favourite day! The beaches of Oregon are AMAZING! We roamed the beach searching for shells. Found a starfish that Abbey wanted to take home - Braeden grabbed it. It moved! Then all the girls shrieked that it was alive and a nice man passing by tossed it back in the water for us (Pat's arms were full of baby). I would come back here again, definitely. We wanted to visit the dunes, but try renting an ATV to fit 7... Spent the night in Eureka, CA. It was fr-eeeeee-zing! Kids decided on hay ride rather than swimming (sad little hay ride around the campground). LOL.
Rocked the road trip today! We travelled the Avenue of the Giants - those redwoods are awesome. (Decided the Suburban with the car-top carrier was NOT going to fit in the drive-through tree.) We decided to take an extra hour for the sake of experience. Drove the Golden Gate Bridge. This was astounding! Woweee!!! Then we pushed hard to Reno. Arrived at the family's place around 10pm. Kicking back with a glass of wine...
Over these past few days I am just in awe of God's creation. We have come many kilometres (or miles, in local terms), and the wonders we have seen cannot be adequately described in words or pictures. The Rocky Mountains, lush green forests, oceans and cliffs, monstrous trees, vineyards and orchards, rocky desert... Each state line brings with it a whole new terrain, and as we move along we simply praise Him...
Monday, July 28, 2008
- Unpacking every evening and packing every morning is not fun, but you get really good at it after a couple days.
- Washington is far more beautiful than I would have ever imagined.
- Day 3 on the road with kids is THE WORST!
- Oregon beaches are unbelivable - massive rock formations, crashing surf, live starfish sticking to the rocks when the tide's out. Wow! Lovin' it!
- Just when you finally think you're going to get a couple straight hours of driving in, someone has to pee.
- If you give your small children a roll of quarters and make them pay you for bad behaviour, it doesn't take long before they realize being good is a better idea.
- Just when you've walked down approximately 300 stairs to the beach, someone has to go poop. Doing 300 stairs - both ways - twice - is really good exercise.
- It is impossible to eat well camping. IMPOSSIBLE!
- If you want seven people to sleep in a cabin built for four, you must make sure everyone is super-super tired.
- No matter how late you keep them up, babies still like to rise at the crack of dawn.
- These are the moments life-long memories are made of.
- KOA (Kampgrounds of America) are everywhere. And they are great! Clean, clean, clean, and a pool in practically every location. What could be better?!
(Pictures coming on next post. Wireless connection is way too slow for uploading tonight.)
Saturday, July 26, 2008
...your manage to pack a Suburban with more luggage than would typically fit in a luxury coach.
More tales of 'Rowans on the Road' to come, whenever wi-fi is available at the campground. Keepin' you up to date on us!
Friday, July 25, 2008
This week...nothin'. Didn't lose an ounce. But, considering this, I'm lucky I didn't gain. So in the four weeks of the challenge I lost 4.2 lbs. Slightly underwhelming. Still 8.8 lbs to get to goal #1.
But for the next 2 weeks I have a new goal. I will be trying to track points and prevent myself from gaining back any of those 4.2. Which may be a challenge while on a road trip with five little monkeys...
Hopefully, when I get back, Baby Tea Leaves will start another challenge for us. (Hint, hint.)
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
With gas prices these days (they really are the cause of all our woes, aren't they?), it can be tough to make ends meet some months. I've been blessed with a best friend who is VERY wise in managing money, and she took the time to teach me a few tricks. Thanks, Christine!
Here's how to grocery shop on a dime (even for a large family)...
#1 - Establish your budget. How much do you have to spend on food? It's important to base this number on the reality of what you can afford to spend, not on how much you think you need/should spend, or on how much you've spent in the past. If you are on a particularly tight budget, it is realistic to spend $100-$150 per family member for the month. Really, you can do it!
#2 - Take that money out, in cash. I am notorious for spending twice what I planned to spend at the grocery store. It's easy to do with debit and credit cards. If you have only cash, and leave the cards at home, you have a fool-proof method to prevent overspending.
#3 - Make a meal plan! I know, the dreaded meal plan. I feel your pain. But without a plan, you are not in control of what you spend. (It may be helpful to do step five first, so you know what you've already got to work with when you plan.)
#4 - Create a detailed supply list from your meal plan. If you're making baking powder biscuits with dinner one night, you better make sure you've got all those ingredients on the list. It simply wouldn't do to be out of eggs, for example! Don't forget to note how much you'll need (for example, if you plan to serve frozen mixed veggies a lot, you'll want to write down that you need 2 bags).
#5 - Go through your pantry. Cross off items you've already got. That leaves you with your shopping list.
#6 - Price it out in advance. Go through the shopping list item by item jotting down the approximate price (it's always better to estimate a bit high - it would be embarrassing to estimate too low and not have enough money once you get to the cashier...been there, done that). Calculate it all out. Does it fit your budget? If yes, well - go shopping! (see step 8.) If not, go for step 7.
#7 - Go through flyers and coupons. Cut coupons for items you regularly buy (don't bother with those coupons that are 'a great deal' if they are for items you don't need - they'll just tempt you). Watch for sales. (Sometimes our stores will have 2-for-1 meat sales, where you can buy a pack of 3 pork roasts for $15-20 and you get the second pack of 3 for free. That's SIX roasts for $20 - for us, 3-4 meals worth of meat.) Some stores have certain discount days, such as 15% off on the first Tuesday of the month. There have been times where I've driven to four or five different stores to get all that I need for the month.
#8 - Shop slowly and carefully. Take your calculator and keep a running total. Shop ONLY from your list. Comparison shop - is the generic brand significantly cheaper? Maybe it's worth trying (though I don't recommend this for ketchup - Heinz really is better). I strongly suggest getting a sitter or leaving the kids home with hubs - children are distracting from this process and will cause you to make mistakes, and if they're anything like mine they'll be constantly badgering you to buy them items that are not on the list.
Have fun shopping on a budget! And take pride in it - rather than seeing it as a reflection of tight financial times, recognise that it is a skill and a talent and that you are giving a gift to your family (and your husband) by managing your resources wisely.
A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies... She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar... She provides food for her family... She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness... Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: "Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all." ~Proverbs 31:1, 14, 15b, 27-29
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
A couple other stories of interest for ya...
Kids These Days - these are OUR kids, Generation X...maybe all the praise and reinforcement wasn't the best idea after all
A Big Rescue - I really didn't think our emergency personnel did this anymore!
Monday, July 21, 2008
I love the fair! I like the excited buzz all around, the smells of popcorn and cotton candy, candy apples and onion rings, cheeseburgers and elephant ears, mini doughnuts and fresh-baked fudge. Mmmmmmmm! It's like a little piece of heaven. Hopefully the picture links will help you imagine the smells (and cause you to foil your weight loss plans just like me, mwahahahaahaa).
My favourite thing to do at the fair (when I go kids free) is to just wander. Admire the handmade jewelry, watch the performers, tour through the trade show, watch the people. Nothing is more interesting than watching the people at the fair - especially the teenagers (interesting and a wee bit disturbing).
But it is not possible to wander around empty-handed. Oh no! That's just not right. It is vital to be carrying more items than you can possibly manage! The fair would be incomplete without the strollers laden with carnival toys (you know, the cheesy ones you win at the games), or the people leaving the trade fair with arms full of Sham-Wows. But the most important item of all, that should be in every fair goer's hands - food!
I will openly confess that yesterday was a 'no points' day for me. I put aside the Weight Watchers book and enjoyed. I have an affinity for deep fried treats, such as the aforementioned mini doughnuts and elephant ears. But I made a new and surprising discovery yesterday. Seriously, you CANNOT imagine. Deep fried...OREOS! I am not kidding. They also served deep-fried Twinkies, Snickers, and pineapple (for the health-conscious patrons). I was pondering how they could achieve deep-fried goodness without melting those sugary treats, but they solved that problem by first rolling them in batter. Ah-hah!
I stared at the sign bragging on their delectable treats for about five minutes, pondering the concept. And I couldn't resist. I had to try one. It was...interesting. Apparently, you can make them in the comfort of your home as well. What will they come up with next?!
Saturday, July 19, 2008
You'd think with this profile that I must have been an obedient child, a well-behaved teen, and a role-model as a young adult. But somewhere deep within lurks a nasty seed of rebellion...
Reflecting on my teen years is a dangerous thing, because I now see things through the eyes of a mother - with three daughters! It makes me love and appreciate my mom even more. It also makes me want to apologise to her.
While I was pregnant with my first, I became aware that I needed to grow up. I realized that I needed Jesus in my life - because there was no way I could do this motherhood thing without Him. Things like establishing a heritage of faith became very important to me. So I put aside my rebellious ways...
Or so I thought.
Somewhere in my teen years I began a different pattern of rebellion. I rebelled against anything that was 'in' or 'cool' or 'trendy.' In many ways this was a natural response to the financial constraints that prevented me from achieving 'cool.' My mom was, for many years, single-parenting me. So there were some basic guidelines about shopping - she would buy what I needed, I had to take care of what I wanted. The one and only pair of Tommy Hilfiger jeans I owned took me months of saving! It didn't take me long to realize that no matter how hard I strove to fit in, I would not have the many trappings that were expected of the 'in' crowd. (I tried to use the word "strived" here; apparently spellchecker thinks that word doesn't exist, but "strove" isn't much better, is it?)
So what does one do when one realizes becoming popular is impossible? Well, one becomes bound and determined to avoid all things popular, to develop a strong disdain for all things trendy. Because the last thing one wants is for anyone to find out that one really does want nothing more than acceptance.
I chose to convert my desperate need to feel accepted by my peers into a passion for making choices that would make me different. Anyone else done this? I see so many teens heading through the mall in their 'goth' and 'emo' outfits (complete with makeup) and I think to myself, "I've got you figured..."
I just realised that that is still me. Even at 30-years-old, I mask my true desire to be accepted with a veneer of disdain for virtually anything considered trendy. Here are a few things I've been rebelling against...
Nice clothing. I continue to shop at WalMart for clothing. Which would be fine (and it is nice financially, and given my frequent size changes), except that I choose casual over 'grown-up' every time. I was folding laundry yesterday and realized that 90% of my wardrobe is 100% cotton. I want to look nice, put-together, attractive, yet my heart of rebellion keeps me buying exercise gear and jeans - because I don't want people to think I all-of-a-sudden care about looking good and fitting in. By the way, if 'What Not to Wear' comes to Canada, and anyone would like to nominate me, I'd gladly buy you a Timmy's coffee for your troubles!
The environment. I barely recycle. I use disposable diapers and plastic bags at alarming rates. If I don't use way too much water and electricity it's simply because I'm trying to save money. People are forever talking about 'going green.' Everyone seems to be hopping on the 'environmentally friendly bandwagon.' But not me - nu-uh! I'm not going to start being all crazy about saving the environment...because we all know that nothing we do now can actually repair the damage that's been done, so ultimately it's just another one of those trendy things. (*Being self-deprecating here...I really DO care, I just resist showing it.)
Homeschooling. Before you get all excited - I WILL NOT be homeschooling my children anytime soon! I don't believe God is placing that call on me. But in the past I have made the same statement while in my head I thought, "I know, I know, all the cool moms are doing it. What is WITH this crazy trend, anyway? I will NEVER..." It really is a growing trend, and I do believe that there are a lot of moms doing it for the wrong reasons - such as fitting in, being admired, feeling like 'Super Mom.' But I realise, too, that there are a lot of women homeschooling because God has called them to - because that's what's best for them and their children, for this time in their lives.
Organic food. I've always said that I don't 'believe' in organic food. What I mean is that I don't buy all the hype that it's really better. I don't necessarily believe that all the kids who are being raised on organic have any less chance of developing cancer than we do. But largely, I've just been busy rebelling against the ever-growing popularity of eating organic. I'd rather just choose to be different. Every now and then I wonder, though, if what I'm feeding my kids does make a difference...
Lately, I have been praying against the spirit of rebellion in our family's history (there are many rebellious souls on both sides). I have been asking God to break that chain in our family, so that our children will be free from its hold. I am claiming His deliverance for my children, so that they will have hearts to walk in obedience to Him (and their parents) and not test Him (or us). I see the fruits of such rebellion in my nephew, who has turned far away from the Lord, and my heart breaks at the idea of my own children taking that same path.
I find it interesting that once I began praying against rebellion (which I thought I had 'grown out of'), God is showing me how rebellious my heart still is. God is a funny guy!
Disclaimer: This post is in no way intended to offend those who eat organic, homeschool their children, care about the environment, or dress nicely. I love you all very much and do not at all presume that your choices are based on the current trends. Once God deals with the rebellious nature of my heart, I may very well be doing some of those same things (with the exception of the homeschooling, though - really, I have my limits).
Friday, July 18, 2008
...if it weren't for five little monkeys. How DO people with kids find time to exercise? It's like 'Mission Impossible!'
...if it weren't for plateaus. You know those weeks when you level out, you just don't lose a thing even though you've worked at it? Those weeks defeat me. And when I feel defeated I eat, and eat, and eat.
...if it weren't for emotional eating. Lonely? Have some chips. Grouchy? Ice cream. Tired? A little chocolate is a great pick-me-up. PMSing? Eat everything in sight!
...if it weren't for me. I am my own worst enemy. I am lazy, then I get down on myself for being lazy, then I get even lazier. I am struggling, then I get down on myself for struggling, then the struggle seems even harder. You get it.
So here's an update for ya... You will notice that my ticker on the right has been s.l.o.w.l.y. moving. I am losing! Yay! (I honesty wouldn't mind losing a bit faster, but hey - that would probably require a bit more effort.) Clearly, I will not lose 8.8 lbs in 7 days. But goals were made to be adjusted, right?!
So now I need your help and input. I really want to know how you people with kids find time to exercise??? What type of exercise do you do? Where do you do it? What do you do with your kids? HELP ME!!!
If you're following the progress of others in the challenge, you can find them all over at Baby Tea Leaves' place.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
I love to read. If you come to my house you will find books on every handy surface - coffee table, toilet tank, bedside table, kitchen counter, odd little shelf by my front door. You get the picture. Even right now - there is literally a book on each of those surfaces.
Some are partially read and just sitting there waiting for me to return to them. (If a book doesn't grab me early on, I will often move on to another and come back to the original book in a week or two. The Type A in me won't allow me to leave a book unfinished (or a movie, for that matter) no matter how boring. So here's the rainbow of reading materials you would find scattered about my house this morning - if you were to stop over unannounced for a coffee. Which you should totally do, by the way!
"No Other Gods: Confronting Our Modern-Day Idols" (The Living Room Series) by Kelly Minter. We've got a small group of us working through this together over the summer, on Wednesday nights. This is a LifeWay book, so my assumption from the beginning is that it wouldn't be a 'fluffy' study. The homework in week one left me disappointed, but let me tell you about week two - man, oh, man was it tough stuff! There were just four of us last night (three lucky girls were on holidays) and did we ever d.i.g. The book is designed for small-group in-home studies, offering recipes for dinner and dessert for each week. I baked last week. I'll say it again so you can grasp the importance of such a statement... I BAKED!
"The Busy Mom's Devotional: 10 Minutes a Week to a Life of Devotion" by Lisa T. Bergren. This book is one of the first things I've won - ever! I am so thankful to Cindy for sending it to me, because it is good! I often find myself disappointed in devotional books. There are so many that you can just breeze through and never find the gems. But this book (and it really is only 10 minutes, once a week - no dates, it's divided by handy-dandy seasons) reaches in and touches my woman's heart. Lisa shares stories from her life and relates them to scripture, and she gets her readers into the Word, placing it in their hearts. My only complaint - I wish there were more, because I could do it every day!
"Believing God: Experiencing a Fresh Explosion of Faith" study guide by Beth Moore. I cannot say enough about this study. Because of this study (we did the DVD series with the study guide) my walk with God has been forever changed. I was challenged and stretched, pushed and pulled, and God's Word is more deeply embedded in my spirit. I wrote a post about it here, and eventually there will be more... I'm done working through it, but I'm keeping it handy because there is stuff in there that applies to every experience - it has become my second reference-guide.
"One Tuesday Morning" (book 1 of 2 in the September 11 series) by Karen Kingsbury. She is by far my favourite Christian fiction author! Every single book she's written has brought me tears and joy. Her stories are so true to life, real people with their real pain and heartache, a real God who brings reconciliation. I've always got to have one fiction book on the go (to take my mind off all the deep thought), and about 80% of the time it is by Kingsbury. I think I may have read just about everything she's ever written by now, though, so if you have another author to recommend I'd sure appreciate your suggestions!
"The Explosive Child" (revised and updated) by Ross W.Greene, Ph.D. The caption of the book says "a new approach for understanding and parenting easily frustrated, chronically inflexible children." I haven't gotten far, but I'm certain I'll finish this one in the next week or so, because I NEED SOME SUGGESTIONS! If it's good, and I try some of the ideas, I'll post about it. If you want me to. Well, it's my blog, I'll post about it whether you want me to or not, lol. *I just looked at the location of this book and it's title - too funny! No pun intended.
"The Prince" by Francine Rivers (book 3 of the Sons of Encouragement series). She's also my favourite author. Hey - I can have 2 faves if I want to! Rivers has a few novels that are totally fiction and will leave you sobbing (in particular "The Atonement Child" and "And The Shofar Blew"), but this series is special. Rivers does fiction based on scripture. This book is about Jonathan. I just finished the ones about Aaron and Caleb. Rivers has a gift for taking characters and scenes from scripture and elaborating on them (adding private thoughts, emotions, etc.) to make them come alive. This particular series tells the stories of "5 men who quietly changed eternity." She's also told the stories of some remarkable women of the Bible in "Lineage of Grace" and of Hadassah and her family in the Mark of the Lion series. Try reading one - the moment you put it down you will be rushing to your Bible to read the scriptural account!
Front Door Shelf:
"The Organic God" by Margaret Feinberg. This book was a gift from my Pastor. It is refreshing and insightful (and funny), but something hasn't grabbed at me quite enough to hold my interest. I have it dog-eared on page 140, chapter 8 - "Unbelievably Stubborn" (yes, I dog-ear my pages all the time, forgive me, or not, whatever). I think when I do return to this book I will start over - I can see that I've made oodles of notes in the margins of the first 7 chapters, so it's obviously got some good stuff in there. I've got a serious case of book ADD.
I'll be honest with you here. There are more books in the piles in these locations. But I'm worried that you're getting bored with my sadly written book reviews (totally not my strong point). And really, it looks bad enough that I've got 7 books on the go (and of course my Bible - which is also on the coffee table - best book EVER written) and 5 children who are obviously being neglected and not properly fed while I pour through my many books. How terrible would it sound if I confessed that (including my Bible) there are actually 12 books that I am reading?!
How many books do you have on the go?
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Shea (3) has gymnastics class this week - their called "Jumping Beans," isn't that just the cutest?! After her class yesterday, Shea decided she was starving and simply would not survive all the way home. I scrounged and found $1.25 in change, so we wandered over to the vending machines.
She pondered the array of junk for two long, slow minutes before pointing to the "red chips" (those would be the Nacho Cheese flavoured Doritos). I start plunking coins in, and once I've deposited about $1.05, Shea shouts, "STOP, MOMMY!"
I jump (as do all the people within 10 feet of us) and whisper, "what is it, Sweetheart?" in hopes of convincing her to speak in like tones.
Still at the top of her lungs, she informs me of her change of heart. "MAMA, I WANT DICKLE-DICKLE PICKLE CHIPS!!!!!"
Oh. My. Goodness. I nearly died (or peed) - I haven't laughed so hard in a long time. Apparently, neither had all those people within earshot.
For more Tiny Talk Tuesday, visit Not Before 7.
Monday, July 14, 2008
The girls have been particularly excited about all the goings-on to get Braeden packed. So they decided to go camping this morning. We spent a good lot of time arranging their backyard campsite just right. Sleeping bags laid flat and straight, blankets and pillows spread out, umbrellas perched.
I headed in to get my camera, and in the three seconds that passed before I got myself situated in the perfect picture-taking position, this happened...
Megan is shrieking with glee, while Abbey is turtled under her quilt. You will notice by Meg's flyaway hair (and the umbrellas that are no longer in place) that the wind picked up significantly. And the concrete - no, it's not normally this colour - it's WET. See those itty-bitty white balls on the ground and on Meg's purple blanket? Uh-huh. Hail. Fun times camping out!
Disclaimer: no children were harmed in the taking of this photo. Said children were promptly rushed into the house and instructed to spread their blankets wide for drying.
Sunday, July 13, 2008
Note to all: this is not just a vent. If anyone knows what the heck is going on, please enlighten me.
Saturday, July 12, 2008
7 Things Before You Say "I Do" - doing your homework to check out the other person's character (based on Song 2):
1. devotion - does he/she have eyes only for you?
2. desire - is it there? and are you both prepared to wait to fulfill it?
3. excitement - anticipation to be together, sacrifice, attention to detail
4. life and growth - are you inspired to be a better person? (rather than dragged down)
5. tenderness - affection, encouragement, builds you up
6. discovery/disclosure - it's better to reveal the baggage than to have deceit
7. covenant - total security in sickness, poverty, reality (a covenant says 'I will,' a contract says 'I'll try')
Why Relationships Go Bad:
- neglect to ask God for wisdom in evaluating your spouse's character before marrying
- neglect to build Godly friendships who will stand behind your marriage
- not enough time spent talking about expectations - before and during
- advancing the relationship too quickly (if you advance too soon physically, you skip past emotional connection)
And my personal favourite, taken from the refrigerator door of our pastor and his wife during their kids' teen years...
Rules of Dating:
1. Don't unzip anything.
2. Don't unbutton anything.
3. Do not lift anything up.
4. Do not pull anything down.
5. Keep your tongue in your own mouth.
6. Don't touch anything that sticks out.
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
"The nails didn't hold Jesus to the cross. It was His love that held Him there."
I couldn't even speak for the ginormous lump in my throat.
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
The lady doing my treatment was reassuring me as I got comfy in the chair-bed. "It really isn't bad. Lots of people feel kind-of anxious before, but it's just a bit uncomfortable. You'll feel a stinging, itching sensation."
Okay, no problem. I wasn't expecting it to feel like a facial. I can handle a bit uncomfortable. After all, I've birthed five children!
She continued to describe the procedure, "The first time I had a peel I thought maybe my face was burning off. But don't worry, it really isn't. It's just the acid eating down the top layer of skin and bacteria. And your face might be really red and tender for a couple days. But it's no big deal."
Um, might feel like my face is burning off?! This is what she tells me to get me relaxed? It really isn't that bad...face burning off...not my idea of a good time. This better work.
"By the way," she said, "you may break out really bad about the third day after. That's just your skin clearing out."
Monday, July 7, 2008
This is for the other kids. Last week I featured a couple brown-eyed beauties for you. This week I've got a couple blue-eyed beauties and their b.i.g. brother (who, by the way, is suffering from a strange disorder of the hollow leg - the boy eats three servings at supper!).
Abbey is 6. She thinks she knows everything - especially better than her parents. She is so like me it's frightening! She looks like me. (Can't really tell she's got blue eyes here, but she does.) She thinks like me. She acts like I did as a child. All I can say is, "oh dear!"
Here's Shea. This look is always accompanied by shrieks and giggles. Shea is our enigma child. She doesn't really resemble anyone in our family. She has the hugest eyes ever - and already knows how to use them to get her way with Daddy.
Braeden is seldom convinced to pose for pictures these days. He is ten, after all. In a rare moment we captured him having some fun with his sisters. Braeden has a great sense of humour (got that from his Dad), and he cracks us all up around the dinner table.
These are the Three Sisters. Because no photo montage is complte without an amazing, up-close picture of the mountains. This was the view from our hotel room balcony when we were sent to Canmore. Ahhhhhhh. Beauty, peace, and the majesty of God. Have I mentioned how I love the mountains?!
Saturday, July 5, 2008
I'll leave it for now, but when 20 days have come and gone (and 10 pounds have not) don't be surprised to discover a new widget and ticker with all new goals.
All I can say is...I'm losing. Not as fast as I'd hoped, but slow and steady. I'll take it.
Friday, July 4, 2008
First, I should tell you that I lost a pound this week. Again I say Yay! That leaves an official 10lbs to goal (and maybe more after that, but I'll just focus on one goal at a time).
So, I used to work out at a local gym that is just for women. It was really nice - I felt totally secure and comfortable among the women of all shapes, sizes, and fitness levels. My favourite form of exercise was the step classes. I used to be in dance (long, long ago), so I enjoyed the choreography and fast pace.
As my confidence grew each week, I put my step a little bit closer to the front. After a couple months, I felt confident enough to place my step front and centre (of the beginner class, lol). So there I am, step up - step down - sashay - kick - and so on. I am lookin' good! Uh-huh. I start adding a little bouncy-jump to my steps (this is called propulsion, and it gives the 'advanced' stepper a tougher workout). Here we go, I'm awesome.
It's near the end of the class, and we're putting all the little choreographed pieces together. There are 3 or 4 sections. This is my favourite part. I know my stuff. I'll rock it out. Uh-huh. We're going through it about five times before the cool down. Third time through, I lost my rhythm a bit. I missed a step. No biggie. I rock. Here we go, got my rhythm back. And...
As I was propelling myself up, I must have propelled myself forward. When my left foot was coming down to the step, only the edge of my heel made contact. My ankle rolled off the step, my leg buckled, I slipped and fell on my hip, and the step clattered into it's separate pieces. And yes, I was right.in.front.
After that little incident, I took a couple weeks off from the classes. When I returned, I firmly parked my step in the back corner.
Thursday, July 3, 2008
In honour of this special day, I want to tell you a bit about our marriage...
We did things in the wrong order, not the way God intended for them to be. We discovered we were expecting a baby, and a few months later moved in together. Those months during my pregnancy were tough. You know how I get a wee bit of PMS? Well, multiply the hormones coursing through my body exponentially... Oh, poor Pat. I was a wreck. This is one of the many reasons I love him beyond measure - Pat stuck with me through my crying, yelling, pouting hysterics. He is a good man.
When Braeden was a year-and-a-half old, we had our big day. The time preceding that big day was no walk in the park, though. That's how it can be when you don't do things God's way - rough, tough, and painful. We fought. A LOT. It wasn't nice. Here's another reason I love Pat - he was totally committed. No matter how rocky things got, he was definitely in this thing for life. (I've never felt more special and loved than the day I told him I thought we should just call it quits and he told me that 'divorce was not an option.')
Over the past nine years, I have discovered a million things I love about Pat, as we've grown and learned together. But the thing about Pat that I love the most is his deep commitment to me, our marriage, and our family. He is willing to do whatever it takes to show his love. He makes me feel absolutely precious. Honestly, there aren't words to describe what that does to a girl! Here's just a few highlights:
Our first year of marriage, 1999-2000: Pat took his job of providing for our family seriously, and made sure we were able to have the things we needed (and some nice little extras that we wanted).
2000-2001: Pat cheered me on and supported me while I finished my university degree. I was in school full-time, working Saturdays (for the experience), and volunteering about 10 hours per week - and he never complained. Not once!
2001-2002: Pat and I had the joyful experience of 'planning' a baby together. In spite of my 'issues' while pregnant with Braeden, Pat was willing to endure another nine months to make me happy.
2002-2003: We moved to Calgary for Pat's work. He knew it was hard for me, so he made sure I got to come back to Red Deer lots. And after the birth of Megan, when we realized I was struggling with post-partum depression, he didn't even hesitate - we moved back immediately. Pat has always made sure I know that I am a priority in his life.
2003-2004: My man again showed his commitment to our marriage by taking me on a 'Marriage Enrichment' weekend hosted by our Church. (We all know how much of stretch that must have been, but for me he did it. Absolute sweetheart - that's Pat. BTW, this was a life-changing experience, so if you've never gone to one - DO IT!)
2004-2005: Pat had a vasectomy after Megan was born, as we both thought we had our hands full enough. When I told him I was expecting baby #4, he reacted with joy. No questions, no doubts, no disappointment. What he didn't say told me that he loved me more than any words.
2005-2006: This year was a difficult one for me in ministry. I was worn out and feeling beaten down. But Pat wouldn't let me give up! He pushed me forward, he comforted me, and he prayed for me. He affirmed my role in ministry - even though it took my time away from him and the kids. When there was ministry stuff to do, Pat would take care of everything at home and send me away - guilt-free. What a blessing! (He still does that today. For our last women's retreat, he even insisted that I leave the 6-month-old baby at home with him.)
2006-2007: You may have heard that Pat only wanted one child... But he has embraced our big family wholeheartedly! I have never seen a Dad have so much loud, crazy fun as Pat when he's playing 'Tickle Monster' with his children. (I believe this insane game was invented in late 2006.)
2007-2008: One thing I've noticed this past year is that given the choice, Pat wants to hang out with me! (Don't get me wrong, he still does stuff with the guys - that's important, too.) He tells me I'm his best friend, and he really means it. And he's my best friend, too. Really, there's no one I'd rather spend my days with.
I love Pat's zany sense of humour, the way he can make me laugh when I'm feeling grouchy. I love his generosity to his friends and family. I love seeing how he adores his children and plays with them. I love his eyes, his smile, his laugh, his butt (heehee). But if I had to pick just one thing, I love his love. He pours out his love and commitment in everything he does. I feel it, know it, believe it. I am loved by my husband. And that is the best anniversary gift a girl could ever ask for!
Happy anniversary, honey. Thanks for loving me.
In honour of my 102nd post, I present to you..... "102 Things About Me!"
1. My name is Tyler, but it's actually not.
2. My first name is Erin, but only family is allowed to call me by this name (all others who have tried have been mysteriously found unconscious in a ditch in Mexico)
3. I married my high school sweetheart, only he wasn't really.
4. I had a crush on Pat since grade 10, but we didn't start dating until after high school.
5. Pat only wanted to have one child.
6. I always dreamed of having six.
7. Today is our 9-year anniversary.
8. I LOVE math.
9. I won a math contest in grade 10 - top score in our school, top 10% in Canada.
10. I get bad (read: super moody) PMS.
11. Country music makes me happy (even the songs about wives leaving with best friends and dogs dying).
12. Before Pat, my longest dating relationship lasted four months, max.
13. I have worked as a gas jockey (though the politically correct term is gas station attendant).
14. My very best childhood friend died at the young age of 17.
15. I always look at peoples' teeth.
16. I have personal space issues.
17. I can sometimes be a bit bossy. :)
18. I was an only child until the age of 12.
19. I am always worried that I've got bad breath.
20. I hate chewing gum.
21. My mom is one of my best friends.
22. I am a yeller.
23. I used to yell at Pat when we fought. It was nasty.
24. I know a lot of people, but have few friends.
25. My favourite place to be is in the mountains.
26. My other favourite place is the beach.
27. If anyone knows a place where there are both mountains and beach, please tell me so I can move there.
28. I like to raise my hands during worship.
29. I like to sing worship music at the top of my lungs whenever I'm driving alone.
30. All this loud singing and hand-raising in the vehicle may come across as crazy to other drivers.
31. I care, but I push past it and act like I don't care what they think.
32. I am a voracious reader.
33. I have been know to stay up all night to finish a good book - even as recently as this past year.
34. Shrimp make me gag. Even just looking at them.
35. I have a super-sensitive sniffer.
36. Perfumes give me headaches.
37. I can detect baby poop a mile away.
38. I don't really like pets.
39. We have a hamster.
40. We are thinking of getting a dog.
41. We had a cat once.
42. She lives with my mom.
43. My mom doesn't think we should get a dog. ;)
44. I have pathetic and miserable pregnancies.
45. I would do it again in a heartbeat.
46. Heartburn is one of the worst things I've ever felt.
47. Someday I'd like to be a doula.
48. I was fired from a job as a waitress in a sports bar.
49. I was fired from a job pumping gas.
50. Honestly, both were cases of wrongful dismissal.
51. I worked as a nanny for a few months.
52. They only paid me $4.50 per hour!
53. I have my Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology.
54. I still have $21,000 in student loans.
55. I am now, and plan to forever be, a homemaker.
56. I LOVE volunteer work.
57. I got beat up by another girl in grade 8.
58. It hurt. A lot.
59. I used to be willing to do anything to be accepted.
60. I'm surprised my mom survived it.
61. I still care a lot about being accepted.
62. Singing is one of my most fave things to do.
63. I wish I had taken singing lessons.
64. As a child, I was in dance lessons.
65. I miss it still.
66. My biggest weakness is fast food.
67. Or maybe potato chips.
68. Or perhaps sour candies.
69. Or chocolate.
70. I have a lot of vices.
71. I quit smoking for each pregnancy.
72. I quit for good in June of 2004.
73. God called me to women's ministry in June of 2004.
74. I totally miss the bar scene.
75. Not for reasons you might think - I sooooo love to dance.
76. I used to weigh 108 lbs - before children.
77. Now I'd be satisfied with 140.
78. I let myself gain way too much weight during pregnancy.
79. I love a good cry.
80. I don't do well with 'alone time.'
81. I attempted suicide in grade 7.
82. I don't think I was emotionally healthy again until my 20s.
83. I have been pregnant 7 times (one miscarriage, one ectopic, 5 little monkeys jumping on the bed).
84. My best friend and I met in college.
85. She was an adamant feminist.
86. My teen years were tumultuous, ask my mom.
87. My fave show is ER - has been since the very first episode.
88. I'm addicted to Lost.
89. I used to record Days of Our Lives.
90. Pat and my fave date is going to a movie.
91. We'll be going to a movie tonight.
92. I put my kids to bed at 8pm, strictly.
93. I am a morning person.
94. I love doing Bible studies that give daily homework.
95. Whenever I nap, I wake up grouchy.
96. I get my eyebrows tinted.
97. They're invisible without it.
98. I bite my nails.
99. I don't even notice I'm doing it.
100. I hate exercising.
101. I love blogging.
102. I adore making lists! (Have you noticed?)
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
One area that I've had particularly difficult time with is finances. Let's face it, there are times when I spend more than is coming in. And since I'm the one who takes care of our family's finances, this is my responsibility (read: under my control). At those times when there seems to be a bit less money than bills, it's easy to justify disobedience to God. I'll just skip tithing for this paycheque, but I'll make up the amount in two weeks. Well, I can't pay all the bills and get all the food we need, so I guess I'll skip this bill and make it up next month. These are just tiny examples of my internal struggle.
This week, though, there was a WAR going on in my heart and mind. Because of Braeden's disability, I receive some government funding to help in hiring skilled, adult, professional, trained people to do childcare (sometimes the teenager from down the street simply won't do). I was completing my paperwork, and realized that I have some unused hours for this contract year (my contract year begins July 1). Which means there was money available to me right now, but next week it would be gone forever. And I'm not talking a bit of extra pocket change - it was a BIG number.
God has been working on me in this area. He's promised me that He will provide for all our needs, if I just trust and obey Him. If I stick to the planned budget, if I meal plan and take my calculator grocery shopping, if I tithe first, pay bills second, and get groceries and gas last - He will ensure we have what we need. But I haven't been very careful with the budget, and I've spent some money foolishly on things we didn't need. So it's my responsibility to find more money, right? And then I discover this money that is practically sitting in my lap.
For some of you, you're thinking - duh, stealing from the government is A BAD THING TO DO. I know. I knew. Yet I wrestled this over in my heart for days. I prayed, I repented, then I coveted that money all over again. I prayed that the Lord would show me a way to turn away from this temptation, so that I wouldn't sin. Then I did the only thing left to do - I called my best friend who I knew I could trust to set my mind straight. Since I've been dying to use this phrase, and it perfectly fits this situation, indulge me... I got a WORD, y'all! Christine said to me, "a sin with your eyes wide open is a sin directly against God."
Having the matter firmly settled in my heart, I completed my paperwork for the hours I used and bid farewell to those I didn't. Signed, sealed, and delivered. I feel so free! And can I just tell you what God does with obedience, people? He blesses it!
Yesterday we returned some left-over supplies from the whole roofing project. There was enough money to buy all the household supplies I had run out of, plus a couple extras. Today, as I was pulling on my jeans, I found money in the back pocket. And not just five bucks. Enough money to pay for my Bible study book (which I need to pay for tonight), and to pay my Weight Watchers fee this morning, and even a bit extra above and beyond that.
I can't get over it! God is so good. I am faithless, like the Israelites wandering the desert. I am provided for and blessed, but the moment things seem a bit difficult I stop trusting and start complaining. I try to control my own destiny. Crazy and foolish. I've said it before, but I am so thankful that His mercies are new every morning. I deserve nothing less than death, yet He gives me life abundant.
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
But today, I will not complain. We live in a country of great wealth and freedom. We are a blessed people. Why God chose for me to be born here I don't know, but I am so thankful.
Education is next to free, and is not only available for every child, but is mandated. Food is abundant, and if you are unable to afford food for your family there are many charitable organizations and food banks that will meet your needs. Everyone has a vehicle. Everyone has a cell phone. We are free to vote and free to choose not to vote - and whether we voted or not we are free to share our opinions on those in office. Churches rest on every corner, inviting all people. We can go to any Church we want, or (sadly) choose none. But there is no fear in either choice. Abundance flows, yet we are free to complain. And we do so, often.
This country is a land flowing with milk and honey. It is a refuge for the abused, battered, and endangered of other lands. This land is a place where freedom reigns for all. Today, I will not complain.
Happy Canada Day!
Thank-you, Lord, for placing our family in this blessed country. Thank-you for Your provision and Your freedom. I praise You for democracy and social services, for public education and freedom of religion. Lord God, bring revival in this land, for Your Name's sake. Turn our eyes toward Your Son. Place Your hand of guidance on our political leaders. And Father, because of the wealth and freedoms that we enjoy, remind us to use our resources to bless the impoverished and abandoned people from around the world. Thank-you, Jesus. Amen.