Saturday, 31 August 2013

Ready Or Not

Summer 2013 is nearly over.

The shocking reality of that usually kinda sets me back a bit. 

Not this year.

This year I'm ready for a change.

We've had lots of great moments this summer......

....but we've had our share of stupid moments, too. 
As in  "hard, painful, tough, ridiculous, sorrowful, 'you're kidding, right?' " moments.
We're okay, no worries.  But, as I'm oft prone to say....
..."into each life some rain must fall"...
On top of all of the above type of moments, I opened my mail today to find a "request" for a partial income tax audit.  Oh joy.  "You're kidding, right?"  Receipts are now photocopied and the envelope is addressed and I'm trying to get my heart rate down a bit after that unexpected piece of mail.  Always, always open brown envelopes from the Canadian Revenue Agency.  ;)
And so we accept the rainy blustery moments along with the sunny ones and move along.
Mr. A. starts high school on Tuesday.  We're nervous and excited.  Read:  I'm nervous and he's excited.  Grin.  He'll do well and is SO ready for a new challenge. 
Mr. B. heads into Grade 7.  It's been fun to watch his friends zoom over on their bikes on these August summer evenings. They grab a few coins and head to the local 7-11, taking turns treating each other to more-sugar-than-anyone-needs.  It's good and fun and wholesome.  Except for the 'more-sugar-than-anyone-needs' part.  ;)
We took a little trip to Regina/Moose Jaw this week.  Our summer activities are filled with a lot of people and we've started making a habit of getting away, just us four, close to the end of August.  We re-group and re-discover each other and clasp on to our sense of 'family' a little better when we do this before the craziness of the new school year starts.  We decided to approach Regina/Moose Jaw as tourists (rather than shoppers, tee hee) and visited a variety of museums.  I like being inspired by history.  I think the boys favor science.  But it was good.
We discovered a sweet little coffee shop called "The French Press".  Beautiful things abounded within the walls of that little café and my cinnamon bun latte was delightful.  I've always thought it would be fun to own a little shop like that - specialty coffees and teas served in beautiful mugs alongside a well-presented confection.  Well, truthfully, it would probably drive me a little nuts, but the idea is dreamy. ;) 
I think I'll stick with my old people friends.
While we were there, I just might have walked down Albert Street to get breakfast in my nighty , er, MAXI DRESS.  I'm sure it's a maxi dress, acting like a nighty when it wants to.  Let's be honest, there are few discriminating differences between a maxi dress and a nighty.  I only think this one is a nighty because I bought it from the nighty department.  Had it been placed on a hanger just mere feet across the aisle, it would have been sold as a maxi dress and, truly, this thing is so pretty, no one should question its true purpose.  Long black floral with a halter-ish top. Stunning.  Goes from night wear to day wear simply by the inclusion of appropriate unmentionables.  Mr. D. thinks we got a few stares from the customers at Tim Horton's; I think they were just in awe of my gorgeous dress.  Who walks into Tim Horton's at 9 o'clock in the morning in a maxi dress in Regina?  (besides me...)
Ah well.  It's all good.  Modesty prevailed, be assured.
After all that, I've settled back into work and it's good to be with my co-workers again.  AND it's good to be with my old people friends, too. I love them and I think I probably need them as much as they need me.  It's like a family.  (...a rather large family, but a family nonetheless....)
And I'm settling in back at home, too.  While we were returning from this last little trip, I started thinking about what the next couple of weeks hold with the return to school and whatnot.  As much as I love going away and look forward to all-things-summer...
....I miss my house....
....and I miss ME.....
- the "ME" that exists inside my house -
- wife, mom, homemaker, cook, organizer, keeper of schedules -
Yup, I'm ready to be that person again.
And so, today, being a gray-cloudy, cool-ish kind of day...
...I started to find me again....
I cleaned.  Reorganized my kingdom kitchen.  Shopped for groceries and stocked up on school foods, enough to last into the year 2016.  Cooked a tasty supper of stew and biscuits and didn't barbecue a thing.  We sat together at the supper table without the noisy drone of the air conditioner.  We shared household chores and exchanged stories over stew 'n' biscuits and all was well.

So, with holiday memories of moments like this:

Mr. B. enjoying an evening out at Delbert and Lisa's.  Thanks, guys.
Or this:
Mr. A. outside the SK Science Center, playing on an xylophone-type instrument.  I stood there watching and listening then was overwhelmed at the profound music that this boy was creating.  Melody made up and played on the right hand, percussive strokes enhanced the melody on the left hand.  Took me a few minutes to realize that it wasn't a cd.  Wish I could have recorded it.

This and this:

My main (and only!) squeeze, making our time in Regina happy and refreshing with his sunny disposition.

Did I mention "The French Press" coffee shop?  ;)  Somewhere on the southern end of Albert Street.

And absolutely, positively NO RECORDED EVIDENCE of me walking down Albert Street in my nighty MAXI DRESS!!! 

But I am personally refreshed by views like this:

The Saskatchewan Legislature building, looking fine!

Celebrating Mr. A.'s entry to a school that isn't nut-free (!!!), here's the cookie recipe that he has asked me to make for him this week:

Peanut Butter Hide-Aways

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 egg

 1 1/3 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

40 miniature peanut butter cups (foil removed)

Cream butter, peanut butter and both sugars in a bowl until light and fluffy.  Beat in egg.

Combine next 4 ingredients in a small bowl.  Add to butter mixture.  Mix until just moistened and stiff dough forms.  Roll into small balls using 1 level tablespoon for each.  Place balls in ungreased mini muffin pans.  Bake in 375 F oven for about 10 minutes until light golden and puffy.  Remove from oven.

Press peanut butter cups down into hot cookies.  Loosen edges of cookies with the tip of a sharp knife. Chill in the fridge for 20 minutes before removing from pan.  It may be helpful to let the cookies warm up to room temperature before removing if they become hard to remove.

Please tell me - what is it about the fall season that YOU enjoy?

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Garden Treats

I spent an hour or so this afternoon shelling peas.  We have had a bumper crop of peas this year and while I've always said that I just want "enough peas for fresh eating", I have ended up with considerably more than that this year so first comes the picking, next comes the shelling.

I sat by myself with this generous bin of peas waiting to be shelled.

"This is kinda boring", I thought to myself.

"Really wish I could multi-task while shelling peas but, hmm, my hands are busy"...

"Woops, there goes another one....I guess I'll have to clean up the pea from the floor (ha ha ha, a little nursing humor there)".  Sorry 'bout that.

As many garden related things are wont to do, I got thinking back to the "old days" when I grew up on a farm and we grew our own...everything. 

My sister and I were both allowed to have our own little garden patch within mom's massive garden patches and we could choose to grow whatever interested us that year.  I remember experimenting with flowers a bit with not that much luck although I still have a fondness for nasturtiums - one of the few successful flowers that I grew, along with trusty marigolds.  Carrots were always a staple for this little girl, sometimes planted in creative patterns, like the Olympic rings, perhaps in 1976 when the Olympics were in Montreal. 

But, every year, my sister and I always grew peas.  Peas, peas, peas!!  We grew peas because we knew we could sell peas to Grandma!  We'd plant and weed and pick - and then sell them by the pail full to Grandma.  Back in those days, we'd sell a milk pail of peas for $2.00 a pail. I realize that no one understands the concept of how big a milk pail times have changed.  Grandma L. never argued with our price and willingly paid whatever little sum we'd come up with that we thought was a fair deal.  Big money for a little garden girl.

My cousins could vouch for the tastiness of "Aunty Anne's" garden peas.  They'd come to visit on a summer weekend and would head for the pea patch shortly after their arrival.  Is there anything so good as fresh peas from the garden?  Little did they know that we worked hard to make sure the peas were picked before they arrived if we wanted to be able to freeze some for the winter months!  That is a very fond memory for me.  Now, being a city girl myself,  I get it...I get why Aunty Anne's fresh garden peas were so special.

Peas were serious business for us and sitting alone shelling peas this afternoon brought back the familiar feeling of summers more than 30 years ago (gah, surely I'm not that old!).  We'd pick and pick all morning - the pea plants would still be covered in dew, but "today" was the day to do peas so nothing stopped us.  Soon, the hot summer sun dried the plants and still we labored up and down the rows, picking peas now in the burning heat, filling pail after pail.  Once the pails were filled and father farmer was fed a big lunch, we'd sit outside on the front step, shelling peas.  There was no excuse - no one was too young, too busy, too occupied with something else to escape shelling peas.  Mom, Elaine and I would start the job.  I can hear it in my mind - the sound of the fresh pea pod splitting open and the peas hitting the bottom of the bowl with a "plunk".

Kinda monotonous.


There we sat.  The three of us.  Outside our farm house.   At the end of the road.

No company.  No friends dropping in.  No text messages.  No music playing.

Just the noise of pea pods splitting open and the consequential quiet pea plunk as the bowl began to fill.

And the occasional noise of one of us munching on a pod, just too irresistible of a treat to pass up.  Quite a few peas passed our lips and missed the bowl....I smile.

Sooner or later, mom knew that if she didn't entertain us somehow, the afternoon might turn unpleasant.  Elaine and I were always up for stories from mom about the "olden days".  Now, as a mother of teenagers, I realize that I have my own "olden days" stories but hers seemed so much more interesting.  She told us stores from when she was in College, when she worked at Halden's General Store on Main Street, stories from her days as a nurse's aid and ward clerk in the Battlefords Hospital, stories from when she travelled all over Saskatchewan during the summer, hosting Vacation Bible Schools, sleeping on church floors when no one would host her and her co-worker.  No matter how many stories she came up with, we always needed just one more.  Her life was SO exciting! 

One year, she ran out of interesting stories and decided to make some up.  Gullible daughters that we were (our mother would NEVER lie!) we actually believed her when she strung us along about being a missionary in Africa, walking through the jungles and having her leg bitten off by an alligator.

I thought she was serious.

The fact that she was right there in front of me with two good legs was, apparently, not much of a reality check for me.

She was a good story teller.  And, all of a sudden, the boring job of shelling peas would be finished, for that day anyway.  Smart mother.

Now that I think about some of these jobs that we grew up with and that I have now inherited, I'm glad that there is often a balance struck between hard labor and jobs that need to be done that you have to sit down to do.  A rest is always appreciated.  While I shelled my peas today, I actually figured out that I COULD multitask - and was able to shell peas AND read a book on my iPad. 

Isn't that silly?!!

I think I would have rather had the company of my mom and sister.

So the peas are ready and the beets are ready and we've been eating fresh potatoes and it's All.  So.  Good.  Cucumbers are coming on nicely and that leads me to this amazing pickle recipe that I found on the internet a couple weeks ago.  I love a good dill pickle but have long ago given up the notion of making them from scratch - I'm never happy with the end result.  I tried this recipe and we took a jar to the lake and they were a hit.  So easy.  Everyone is capable of making these pickles.  And they can be made all year long, if you use English cucumbers when fresh cukes are finished.

Ten Minute (Really!!) Dill Pickles:

Take a quart jar and add 1 T salt (I used pickling salt), 1.5 T sugar, 1/4 t black peppercorns (heaping), 1/4 t mustard seed (heaping), 1 T chopped garlic (about 4 cloves), 1/2 cup white vinegar, and "fresh dill to taste" (I did one head of dill and a 3" section of the feathery stuff).

Add sliced cucumbers. (This was about 4 pickling cucumbers each about 4" long. You could also use the English cucumbers from the store (about 1/2-2/3 of a single cucumber), but not the regular larger kind because the skin would be too tough.)

Fill the jar with warm water, screw a lid on, and shake until the sugar and salt have dissolved.  Stick the jar in the fridge for about 24 hours.  Apparently they have a fridge shelf life of about 3 weeks. 

I did find that the garlic really intensified after a few days so use garlic portions at your own discretion.

The next big garden job might be beets....or tomatoes....or making salsa.....

Anyone wanna help?

Friday, 16 August 2013

Mothering Teenagers

I spent some time resting this afternoon.  After I finished my book, I surfed around my usual sites on the world wide web, hoping that somebody somewhere might have posted something interesting and new.  When all of my usual haunts came up empty, I looked through some "top posts" on my blog reader website (Bloglovin') to see if there might be some new blogs that might prove interesting.

Hmm, hot topics.....

Fashion?  Nope. Snort.  Remember, I spend half my life wearing scrubs....
DIY?  No, I'm too tired. 
Food? Do that already. 
Home décor? Ha ha ha, have you seen my house lately?

Family?  Sure!

I proceeded to start to scroll through Family blogs/titles/pictures and came to the bottom of the page.

It seems that the only people that want to write blogs about Family.....

.....are parents of babies and toddlers.....

Titles and topics included latest ultrasound pictures, moms' advice to other moms about how to get a full nights' sleep, endless pictures of Baby #1 and Toddler #2, #3 and #4, "Mommy Chat" bylines.

I just couldn't get into it.

Been there, done that.

I support all of the MOTHERS AROUND THE WORLD who need to blog about and talk about and ask about and proudly display every gorgeous picture of their blessed and precious babies. Really, I do.

But what about the mothers of teenagers?

Why aren't WE the parents that are out there blogging about parenthood, encouraging other parents of teenagers?  Why aren't WE showing off pictures of our beautiful young men and women and bragging about their personalities and talents?

And why aren't WE out there begging for advice on how to see these beautiful young men and women become wise and mature and successful?

I'm thinking that perhaps we don't blog because our parenting issues just might sometimes strike issues deeper than potty training and napping.

It's not that we're not sleep deprived.  We are, in our own way.  But, sometimes we're sleep deprived because of our own tears - not the tears of our children - but our tears on behalf of our teenage children when life knocks them around a bit.

Temper tantrums have morphed into episodes of hormone-induced teen aged angst.

And there are times that this mother feels every bit as inept at raising these people now that they're half grown as I did when they lay as helpless newborn babes in my arms.
My heart for them.....consumed with love

As sweet as it was to hold a (finally) sleeping baby, it's breathtakingly precious to watch a sleeping teen aged boy, hair sticking up, mouth dropped open, legs sprawled, filling up the length and width of the bed, gifted with a deep and restful sleep.  If I could just gather his lanky body onto my lap and let him sleep in the safety of my mother arms. 

Let go, mama, let go.  They need to grow.
Hold on, mama, hold on.  They still need you.
That's probably why we don't blog about parenting teenagers.  We get caught somewhere in between encouraging their independence and supporting their dependence and there are all kinds of lines that shouldn't be crossed because growing up is so personal and private and deep and it becomes less about me as a parent and more about them as 'people in bloom' even though parents themselves experience all kinds of growing pains in the process of parenting teenagers.
What's my point? 
I'm not sure.  ;)     
I guess I want to give a hearty "three cheers for parents of teenagers - you ROCK!" because I know that parenting through these years is a big responsibility.  I am struck with the increasing need to be available for my guys even more as they get older.
And I want to leave you with a few recent images of these men of mine that I am completely smitten with.  My mother pride has never stopped.  I vow to be the mother who shamelessly posts pictures of the ones who fill her heart, regardless of their age
Teen aged boys - I smile.  I grin.  I laugh.  I shake my head.  I applaud.  And  I love.
And I'm as proud of their wee faces today as I was when they were toddling around in Bob The Builder underwear.  Woops. Was that supposed to be private?!!
Just look!
Fist pump over some sweet beach victory!  He roars/lives with vibrancy!

Be still, my soul.  Love that boy.

Not too old yet to be completely buried in the sand.

This one too.  He makes me laugh!
  Perhaps we should have walked away, left them buried in the sand, and seen how long it would take to have them asking a poor stranger for supper.

There were a few more poses in the following progression but here are the best faces of this boy during a week at the lake in a nutshell:

Loves fishin'

Loves sittin'

Brother time at its' best

Mama needs a big stick to fight off the girlies

Make that two big sticks.....

Next time, let's cook. Or did I say that last time?  Ach, "life" keeps getting in the way.  It's not just what's in my kitchen that wants to be shared; what's in my home wants to talk too.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Holidays, Part 1, Mother Nature Showing Off

Ah yes, "Holidays, Part 1" - not sure if this title might become misleading in the long run.

Will there be a "Holidays, Part 2"????

I'm sure the suspense will be torture for you.


I made a 'short' list of the pictures that I thought I might want to post here.....

.....The short list was rather long....... 

So, for today, a few glimpses of things that I found whilst looking through my lens:

The greens were so green and the evening sun - delightful

True blue

Oh how I love the zoom lens!  I felt like this guy and I were practically eyeball to eyeball.  He studied me and chirped away while I studied him.  The last morning that we were there, HE, or one of his friends/family members, left muddy evidence of his curious nature as muddy paw prints covered the tablecloth.  Alas, we had not left any food for him to eat. 

Beautiful red berries in the evening sun

A lush carpet.

There were blueberries there, too!  Unfortunately, there are no pictures of them....why take a picture when you can eat?

Glorious and perfect detail.  How creative the Creator is!

Pretty butterfly

And more luscious green

Lily pads on the other side of the lake

We rented a pontoon boat one day and had no trouble entertaining ourselves on it all day long.  A little fishing, a little reading, a little napping....

The water sparkled

While we enjoyed the quiet on the lake, the beach was a busy place.  We soon learned to head to the 'unpopular' end.

Beaches are made for sitting, reading, talking....


And I love the humour of this sign!  Well done, Kimball, well done.

Many more pictures to share, stories to tell.  But, had to be there.....

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Living Waters Camp 2013

We've been home from Family Camp for almost a week now.  I've wanted to write a little post about our time there, but find it so hard to wrap up a week of "all things camp" with a simple picture or description.  Camp is something you have to DO in order to understand.  My friend recently asked me "what do you do at camp?" and I found the reply kind of funny!

"Um, we get up, have a quick breakfast, go to chapel, have lunch with 300 people, hang around with 300 people all afternoon, have supper with 300 people and then go to chapel again, followed by wandering aimlessly through the Canteen/campground, looking for someone to visit."
Lots of social time, lots of "God" time.  Lots of volunteering time.  Lots of visiting time.  And lots of really precious friends.
It's funny the things that become nostalgic in one's experiences.
I've been attending this camp in some form since I was about 9 years old.  I attended Kid's Camp, Youth Camp, worked at Kid's Camp, worked at Youth Camp, have been part of the LWC Family Camp Worship Team off and on in a variety of formats for many, many years.  Took a few years break when I couldn't handle working full time and commuting every evening and also when the boys were babies.  Family Camp was a huge incentive for us to purchase a trailer and we haven't missed a year since.  And we're on our second trailer.  And we've found the best spot to camp in - because it's by our friends....  We know where each other hides their trailer keys, we parent every kid in that little neighborhood as if they were our own, we watch each others' kids hit puberty and become increasingly beautiful, responsible and adult-like and we're proud of them, we think it's fun to huddle under an awning when it's pouring rain, even when the awning is way too small for that many bodies, we talk, we laugh, sometimes we cry....and we love.
So, yeah, LWC has been a huge part of my life....all my life.
I recognize the feel of LWC sand in my shoes....there's lots of sand and it always feels the same.
I recognize the tabernacle shuffle - i.e., the sound of people shuffling into chapel in flip flops, the sand grinding under their shoes into the cement floor.
I recognize the tabernacle acoustics - the sound of the speaker's voice bouncing off the cement walls, adding audio enhancements to their words and passion.
I recognize the feel of the music as it, too, reverberates and bounces back while we sing and, even better, the strength of many voices as they often join as one choir, singing hymns of the past and  songs of today. And when I go home, those songs stay in my heart and soul; not just the songs, but the sounds of the voices that sang them.
I recognize the smell of the cooks preparing food for 300 people in the battered old dining hall, home to the development of many friendships, and of hamburgers and onions being prepared in the canteen for after chapel snacks.
And I recognize the meeting places, because we've been to them all - from the preschool chapel to the kid's chapel to the youth class to the adult chapel and I think about the Biblical teaching that my kids have absorbed through so many years at camp.  And I'm grateful, so grateful, that for one week a year, we've been able to set our normal lives aside and come and take time to nurture our souls.
There is no one picture or view that it "typical LWC", but this one comes pretty close.  LWC Tabernacle

See that big boy?  He's mine!  He got to be a Junior Leader with Kid's Chapel this year.  He was an excellent leader and worked really hard.  High energy required from Junior Leaders!  They have their own chapel times, but this picture is from Thurs. night where the kids came to the adult chapel to sing for us.  They kept coming and coming - 70-80 kids strong!

Dean so enjoyed time with this guy - a friend of ours from way back who is now a missionary to  Estonia.  They share a mutual love for all things Starbucks and our trailer was the gathering spot for a fresh cup several times a day.

There's my Andrew on the drums.  I think Camp was complete for him once he was able to sit behind the kit and play. How he loves to play.  And I love to listen.

And there's me!  I got to sing alongside some of my favorite people.  We have sung together at camp for a few years, and something just feels right when we meet again the next summer and do it all over again.

LWC Family Camp in a nutshell!!  Every year, I get a little choked up when it's over.  We'll meet again, but there's something about the end of a really good time and parting, temporarily, until the next year that makes me happy/sad!
Mostly happy though.   It is good.