is that a kit kat bar for breakfast? {the cereal conspiracy}

cereal is confusing.  a complicated twist of corporate trickery, nutritional miseducation & habitual food jags make breakfast, which is the most important meal of the day, one of the trickiest meals of the day.  i used to loath it.  at a time of day when my brain is still asleep & i have four empty stomachs rioting in front of me, making a good choice can be difficult to say the least.  if i haven't pre-thought out or prepared breakfast, i often turn to whatever is easiest.  cereal. toast. and maybe through a little splash of fruit in there.  would i rather my kids start their day with an egg white spinach omelette or breakfast quinoa?  absolutely!  but the reality is that cereal mornings are inevitable.  and in that case i need to be prepared for the sleep-eyed, half asleep decision of what's for breakfast.

the general rule in our house is if it's not a good choice then don't bring it into the house.  which when upheld, has served us quite well.  however, whenever i walk down that booby-trapped cereal aisle i always seem to forget what i was originally there to get & begin looking at the back of cereal boxes, each claiming to be a healthier choice.  when in reality pretty much everything you find in that aisle, with few exceptions, is prime evil.  at least when you're in the junk food aisle you know it.  when comparing the nutrient values of common candy like skittles, kit kat bars, snickers & jelly beans to cereals like raisin bran or oatmeal crisp triple berry the sugar content alone exceeds the chocolate bar. i'm not even talking about cereals like cocoa puffs or fruit loops. i'm talking about cereals that look & claim to be healthy!  candy masquerading as breakfast!  shameful! that's not to mention portion sizes.  at least chocolate bars are pre-portioned for you.  the average cereal consumer pours two to four times the serving size on the back of the box.  yikes!  and you burn it off almost as fast as you ate it.  not a sustainable energy source. when the first thing you put in your stomach is sugar, sugar is what you crave all day long. or so sayeth science.  one bad choice paves the way for more bad choices & it can be hard to turn that ship around once it's sailed. 

truly health conscience cereals are generally very expensive... like $9 a bag expensive.  but it's because you are getting what you are paying for.  in the book the omnivore's dilemma, pollan writes "four cents worth of commodity corn {or some equally cheap grain} is transformed into four dollars worth of processed food".  millions of dollars are spent on engineering highly addictive cereals with no concern for actual nutritional value.  it is a multi-million dollar enterprise & highly secretive business.  what really does go into the making of cereal? i'd way rather do the research & rest easy in my $9 bag of nutrition rather than squander $4 on a bag of crappy candy that sustains me for about fifteen minutes.  it's an investment. i'll admit i still cringe when i get to the till but it's so worth it when i add up the pros & cons.  but how could i not knowing what i know now.

the alternative solution.  get out from underneath the cereal branding conspiracy that says it can't be breakfast if it isn't stamped with general mills or kellogg's on the back.  other than this seemly western twentieth century phenomena, most of the world eats anything for breakfast.  it is a meal just like any other meal. it needs to be made up of the same types of protein, complex carbs & good fats found in chicken, fish & veggies or fruit.  think outside the box.  can't say i've mastered the fish omelette yet but it's worth a try. eating healthy is a commitment.  it takes a lot of preplanning & is extremely inconvenient most of the time but it is so worth it.  give it a chance & you might even end up enjoy it.  in the end it is my responsibility to educate myself & let big food manufacturers know who's in charge of my family's food choices.  this four cents for four dollars deal just isn't working for me!

and so it is with this post that i lay down my long love affair with shreddies & choose to embrace the spinach hemp smoothie. gulp! wish me luck! 

p.s. i did find some reasonable cereals in the health food section of our loblaws like heritage o's for the kids & kashi go lean original for myself {although beware, even the "healthy" cereal aisle can have some seductive little boxes of poison hiding in there too}.  


the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day

yesterday was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.  nothing went as planned.  no sleep, no latte, no internet, yogurt, yogurt everywhere, diapers, grumpy boy, granola, granola everywhere, timeout, gym, hard, sweaty gym, groceries, loooong lines, full grocery cart, no bank card, trail three hysterical toddlers through loblaws into the rain sans groceries, brother pushes sister into stair, nose bleed, timeout, screaming, poop, crying, babies "nap", starving infant trumps starving mummy, fussy infant trumps exhausted mummy, babies wake, mess, mess everywhere, grumpy toddlers, bath, poop, bedtime, five minutes later bedtime for mummy & repeat allll over again. sigh.  this is my life.

i am tired.  i am dirty & i am still latte-less! but today was better.  not better as in the events were different. just substitute the nose-bleed for a toddler falling down the stairs & trailing three hysterical toddlers through loblaws for dragged three hysterical toddlers & an infant seat through a school hallway after the recess bell has rung.  fun to say the least.  every day is painfully the same & yet vastly different at the same time.

i realize, upon reflection, that the key to a great day lies wholly in my perspective & attitude.  i cried my way through yesterday but laughed my way through today.  a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day can only happen if i have a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad attitude. and those darn attitudes are sneaky.  just when i've really changed, i have yelled for the last time, that stinkin' attitude jumps out from behind a sabotaged nap time or a diaper change gone all wrong.  they creep up on you when you are least guarded, unexpectantly.  it's never when i have my fully highlighted & underlined parenting manifesto under my arm. no. only when the tank is dry, stomach empty, reserves depleted & my mind, outraged, reasons 'no person on earth should ever be expected to endure all this! go ahead & sulk. it's only natural in such circumstance.' but no.  i made a choice a long time ago to not become a victim of my day.  it's when i'm the weakest, i need to be the strongest.  it's like what they say about weight lifting.  just when you feel you've reached your max, you can't do anymore, that's when you do two more repetitions.  and that is how you build muscle.  in the two more that you thought you couldn't do, that were well past your capacity, that we grow.  we become the strongest we've ever been.  i'm not saying it's pleasant or painless, just necessary.

my day did not just happen to me, i happened to it.  i'm steering this ship.  no toddler of mine is going to steer it for me.  i choose how today is going to be experienced with all of it's poopy, messy challenges.  so cheers to today! a wonderfully loud & complicated mess that i am choosing to enjoy anyways! choosing to be thankful for laundry strewn everywhere, an empty underwear drawer, teething toddlers and all. i am thankful i have arms to fold crumpled laundry.  thankful that i have access to teething salts & tylenol. thankful for a broom to sweep & a cloth to clean.  the hard eucharisteo.


livi style {small style}

and here is livi verona in her very own featurette of {small style}!
it's amazing how fast newborns change or how different they look in pictures.  she is the sweetest little girl, with her saucy little grins & gentle little coos.  she melts my heart.  she has fit right into the wilkins clan & only occasionally lets out a little cry to let us know she's still there. her cry almost sounds like an apology... like "i'm so sorry, i know you're busy but my susu fell out again".  and did i mention how sweet she is?
she is currently weighing in at 11 lbs... now that's some 35% cream! mama's little cream puff! i'm in love!

{livi}: long sleeved onesie & leggings {carters}, jean dress {old navy}, hairband {can't remember but i know it's off of etsy}


heaven blew every trumpet {letters to livi}

the dimple in your right cheek as you smile big, as you dream big.  eyelashes flutter, tiny toe twitches, tiny pink fingers grip tight to my finger as you drift in & out of sleep.

you are perfect.

i play with your ten toes, run my finger over your soft skin. perfect.

they said i'd never tuck you in at night, never kiss that button nose of yours, never sing you to sleep.  they said you'd never make it to my arms.

and here you are, my arms full of a perfect miracle.  a miracle Love made.  i clutch you closer.  my cheek against yours as you breath soft.  i count every breath.  i think of all the moments, all the days, minutes that they said would never happen.  and chest heaves, tears well with thankfulness for every second, every poopy diaper, every cry in the night.  this is what i prayed for.  to hold you in my arms. this is what i fought for.

after an imagination barren pregnancy, too afraid to entertain what-ifs, i sit here now and dream extravagantly along with you. how daddy will dance for you, how we'll laugh under the maple, how i'll braid your hair or snuggle at day's end.  how you'll look at me with those pure piercing eyes & i'll feel it well up it within me. that crazy love. that love we fought for, cried for, longed for.

looking at you, i stare straight into the face of God's goodness & mercy.

you were born a miracle.  every chromosome knitted together by His knowing hand, every hair counted.  against all the odds, all the impossibilities.  you were born, perfect.

i will never stop thanking.  i will never stop treasuring you.
you are the child that miracle birthed little livi verona.
wear life bravely for you are the one we fought for.

"heaven blew every trumpet & played every horn on the wonderful, marvelous night you were born."
~ nancy tillman, on the night you were born

these are the letters that love wrote {love letters}

i am adding another fixture to the blog!  i have decided to write a love letter to my kids each week. not all of them every week, although there is plenty enough material, but each of them in their turn. i want to write them my love in hopes of immortalizing something.  how they inspired, how they convicted, how they changed me forever.  i don't ever want them forget how fiercely they are loved, chocolate smeared face & all.  i don't think i could ever quite accurately articulate just how much i love them.  but it's worth a try.
and so, these are the letters that love wrote.


the love song {a song diary}

the love song.  the song that started it all.  that stirred the oceans into being, that rolled the clouds out in all their splendor, that smoothed fern & fauna onto that glorious palette, that painted the majestic heavens, that molded us from our muddy beginnings, breathed being into life, never-ending, ever-creating. the love song. His song.

cheap imitations & glimmers of this love are rarely captured or able to be reproduced. just a dim shadow of this love, His love. something i truly appreciate about third day is they are one of the rare finds in a song writer that understands what this love is like to experience.  my deep is stirred every time i hear these songs below.

i can remember playing love song for an IUS presentation before my high school class.  the room was silent while the song played.  not the crinkle of a paper. not the clicking of a pen.  nothing but the soft sobbing of my unsaved grade ten english teacher.  

cheap love songs are a dime a dozen. real love songs are not. they cost everything.  

just let the songs below play & let Him sing to you.


museum edition {small style}

i love getting everyone dressed for an indoor outing... like the museum!  you don't have to worry about white getting stained, the weather factor or durability/practicality of the outfit of choice.  nothing is off limits in the closet!

and so, here is us on our way to the museum of nature.
 {kai}: jacket {carters}, jeans {gymboree}, sweater {joe}, boots {joe}
 {eva}: dress & leggings {old navy}, boots {carters}, sweater {joe}, diaper bag/purse {walmart}
 {davith}: sweater & shoes {joe}. jeans {children's place}
triceratops are his favourite right now
calling bumpa
 {livi}: i know you can really see it but it a one piece {carters}


because the path is long... {the big sin & little humanities}

the rustic outback. i slinging a pack on my back & orient my course for the incredible adventure laid out before me.  carefully choosing my step, navigating over brook & rock, tree root & branch.  a gentle climb quickly becomes a steep strain.  as the incline begins to intensify, i trip on pebbles & rock & knee is bloodied.  i stoop to pick up the offending stones & load them in my pack, as to not forget how they wronged, how they hurt. i slow as the pack heavies. more wounding, more rocks to add to the growing collection of contempt.    exhaustion pulses through tired muscles.  the mind grows more determined. i can still do this.  i can reach the top & carry this, i say to myself.  a wearied back twinges.  i am crawling, clawing to continue.  but i cannot.  the weight crushing.  a wounding so deep, yet so self righteous, i trade the mountain top for a pile of pebbles. 

the moral to the story is to liberate the rocks & pebbles... the journey is too long & too important to carry them with you.  little offenses, hard feelings, annoyances add to weigh more than boulders sometimes.  it's not the BIG sin, the BIG boulders that one is unware of the need for forgiveness but the tiny pebble you pick up in your shoe that goes seemingly unnoticed.  pebbles so easily dislodged & yet i pick it up & put it in my pack.  my pack, a record of the wrong, full of aspiring martyrdom, better left light, for the path unfolds long under the feet.  pebbles & rocks are nothing but little humanities & yet often rob us of our lifeblood.  why is it that the most offending of offenses is just humans being human? they are just mere personality quirks, the way different individuals are wired. everyone who is human will let you down from time to time.  anyone under the expectation of perfection will fail. why does this never cease to surprise? why are we always in pursuit of the perfect relationship illusion?  it is myth, a fleeting fog.  it isn't always the big sin that crushes, but the unforeseen disappointment that pounces when least expected.  and the only thing that heals is the pursuit of the only One who is Perfect, who never disappoints.  

i wonder how many times i have inadvertently been the pebble in someone else's shoe? grace is poured out with ease when i realize i am one in the same as my offenders.  how self-righteous to think i had never been in need of divine grace.  the grace i have been afforded, is something to be ever thankful for, something to bring perspective, to be paid forward.
the key is in expectation. in the state of the heart.  in the thanking for what is good, even in difficulty, that we dislodge those pebbles & rocks, shake them from our shoulders & push forward toward the top.  the journey is too long & necessary to sacrifice it for a pile of useless rocks, forfeiting the promise land for so futile & unworthy of a cause.  

beet & chard ragout

i feel like i post a ton of recipes for kids & never anything for the mamas/classy ladies out there!  this recipe even has the word saute in it. fancy, i know! it is an absolute favourite. vitamin/mineral rich & immune boosting qualities are a must have for the hard workin' woman.  and this salad is just that! quite high in iron & just about every vitamin out there.  it also just so happens that it also tastes incredible.  i have ordered beet salads before in restaurants & none compare to this recipe.  i found it the autumn 2009 edition of LCBO's free magazine food & drink.  i never know what to do with those darn beets.  it's nice to find something a little classier than pink pancakes.

kinda pretty... for a salad
{beet & chard ragout}

4lbs beets, stems removed
1/4 cup basalmic vinegar
salt & pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tsp chopped garlic
2 large bunches of chard, stems & thick centre rib removed, sliced into ribbons {or spinach}
2 cups crumbled feta or goat cheese {i highly recommend the goat cheese!}
walnuts or nut of choice

  1. preheat oven to 400F.
  2. place beets in baking dish with 1/2 cup water.  cover with foil & bake for about 45 minutes to 1 hour {the best way to cook them keeping all the nutrients intact} until beets are tender.  let sit until cool enough to handle.
  3. peel beets, cutting them in half or quarters, if needed.  toss in balsamic vinegar & season with salt & pepper. reserve.
  4.  heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  add garlic & chard & saute together until chard is wilted, about 4-7 minutes. combine with beets & sprinkle with cheese.
  5. to reheat, either reheat in a skillet or in a 350F oven but add cheese right before serving. sprinkle with your favourite nut.
yum! it feels sooo nice to take care of yourself every once in a while. enjoy!


taming the toddler within

everyday i am surrounded by toddlers.  surrounded.  the whining, the impulsiveness, the impatience, the insecurity, the self-centredness & oh, the temper tantrums.  toddlers everywhere.  i see them driving cars around the city, working out at the gym, buying groceries at loblaws and worst of all i find a toddler in me.

after spending so much time as of late in the toddler world, i feel as though i have become a bit of an expert on the hallmarks of toddlerdum. mood swings, separation anxiety & fits of rage are par for the course when raising a toddler... or three in my case. after being eyeballs deep in toddlerhood, i am beginning to see that i am not that different from them.  i am constantly correcting my kids for behaviour i inadvertently demonstrate for them.  oh yes.  the annoyed mumbling when the line is too long, the "need" to always be by my husband's side, the grasping for control to prove i'm powerful, the meltdowns when i haven't had my nap, the impulse to complain all the time, the explosion of anger when things don't go my way... all remnants from my toddler years.  the only problem is i don't have those cute little pigtails to smooth things over anymore.

although temper tantrums & whining are carefully masked in socially acceptable form, they are a temptation that i all to often indulge in.  do not be fooled. just because we no longer fit in jolly jumpers & eat everything we find on the floor does not make us immune to the plight of toddlerdum.  we were always meant grow up.  to mature. to engage in an ongoing process.  and so i am a little surprised to find myself still seemingly at the start of that journey, that quest for maturity.  but the good news is all it takes is a really good timeout to address a lot of those issues.  and in true toddler fashion, it is rarely cured in one timeout.  it is in not only continual self-reflection but Christ-reflection, by resting your head on the Father's shoulder that growth is spurred.  self is transformed by unconditional love. insecurity melts away when i am sure of who i am.  whining brought into perspective by the One who sees it all. rage calmed where the One who is Peace resides. i will outgrow toddlerhood... one timeout at a time.


playful parenting

one of my favourite times of day, is just after baths & just before bed, daddy {aka steve} gets down on the floor with all three of them & roughhouses until they are exhausted... or, let's be honest, until he is exhausted!  the kids love it!  i love it!  seeing them all bounce with glee, each feeling a special kind of daddy-bond every time it is their turn to be catapulted across the room.  hearing the ridiculous giggles as he chases them under pillows & over cushions. it is truly wonderful to watch as a mother & a wife. a nightmare to watch as a house cleaner/bedtime calmer-downer but that's besides the point.  memories in the making is the point!

with daddy being away this week, i can tell the kids miss not only their daddy but roughhousing.  it's when they started head butting couches & throwing themselves off stairs, that i thought to myself, we are in desperate need of a little roughhousing around here. there are things only a good ol' fashioned roughhousing romp can remedy and so i took matters into my own hands... literally. i revisited a previous post & the art of roughhousing for a little creative inspiration.  here are a few moves we've been "practicing" to show daddy upon his return:
the greek catapult
the balloonist

flying fox & the houdini

mattress rafting
*note: i'm really not doing these moves justice with out their accompanying stories from 'the art of roughhousing'.  check it out!  it really is a neat little resource.


time is life

being in a hurry. getting to the next thing without fully entering the thing in front of me.  i cannot think of a single advantage i've ever gained from being in a hurry.   but a thousand broken & missed things, tens of thousands, lie in the wake of all rushing... through all the haste i thought i was making up time.  it turns out i was throwing it away. 
{mark buchanan: the rest of God}

time is life.  life a vapor.  minutes evaporate into seconds.  seconds vanish, lost to forever, preserved only by memory, changed only by perception.  hurry robs a life, empties the soul.  hurry wastes moments, wastes minutes, wastes a life.  and if i want the fullest life, i need the fullest time.

we are merely moving shadows, and all out busy rushing ends in nothing. {psalm 39:6}

hurry ends in nothing.  ends in thievery. how much have i missed only because i hadn't been looking, hadn't opened my eyes to see, my arms to embrace?  only feet to race.  how much of life have i robbed by my own hands, my own drive for more, for perfect, for tomorrow?  

whatever the pace, time will keep it and there's no outrunning it, only speeding up and pounding the feet harder; the minutes pound faster too.  race for more and you'll snag on time & leak empty.  the longer i keep running, the longer the gash, and i drain, bleed away. 
{ann voskamp: one thousand gifts}

and i grieve.  a life so full it is empty, void of any real life.  a life lost to hurry.  a life broken by needless rush... almost.  can it be redeemed?  will the Timekeeper let me learn the secret?  learn how to keep time.  learn how to enjoy, to embrace all the moments between now & forever.  keep every second in perfect time, weighed down, slowed down by my presence, my full attention.  even the hard moments, the loud moments, the dirty, grungy, tedious moments? 

this is where God is found.  in the moment.  God framed in the beauty of a budding tree, in the fresh folded laundry, in the glorious stretch of a muscle worked hard, in the glow of little cheeks all rosy with glee. yes, even in crumb covered socks, in the baby crying in the night, in the smudged windows & sorely teethed little gums, with eyes heavy with exhaustion & soul bruised.  yes, even there, i can find Him.  

the secret is in the thanking.  in the counting of the moments.  in the tasting, the savoring of time.  all the time He has given me.  

i redeem time from neglect & apathy & inattentiveness when i swell with thanks & weigh the moment down & it's giving thanks to God for this moment that multiplies the moments, time made enough.  i am thank-full.  i am time-full. 
{ann voskamp: one thousand gifts}

and so it is time.  time to see, time to breath deep & embrace.  no more hurry.  no more haste.  no emptying.  just living, gaining, giving, spending time... giving it back to the Timekeeper.

#433: flossing
#434: floor covered in wooden blocks
#435: ribbons, bold & bright
#436: pulling the curtains at days end
#437: an empty muffin jar
#438: running shoes
#439: the capability to learn


candy addicts anonymous

perhaps the scariest part of halloween is the massive intake of sugar nationwide.  the average kid will haul in over 7000 calories of candy & consume 3500 of those on halloween night alone. yikes! a hundred pound kid who consumed that much candy would need to walk for 44 hours or play full court basketball for 14.5 hours to burn that many calories states the birmingham school of public health.  the funny thing is halloween candy is shrinking, while we seem to be eating more of it, one individually wrapped chocolate bar at a time.  studies show that you are likely to eat significantly more of smaller packaged candy when many of those small packages are available than if you were presented with multiple full sized candies. so those small chocolate bars are probably worse than a case of full-sized candy bars.

with alarming obesity rates on the rise, i'm starting early to instill healthful habits in my little ones so they won't be a candy addict like their mom! however, i don't want to sacrifice any of the halloween fun & tradition.  this year our kids were young enough to not notice that the candy magically disappeared at the end of the night {& was placed into our halloween hand-out candy bowl}.  but next year davith might start to have some questions.  so here are some fun alternatives to the 7000 calorie component of halloween:
  • save only the most special candy: set a limit and have kids select a number of candy, say as many pieces as their age. donate or trash the rest.
  • plan a visit from the halloween witch: tell your kids a tale of the halloween witch {or fairy}.  like her cousin the tooth fairy, she sneaks in on the night of october 31 to spirit away candy -- and leave a special toy or other gift in its place.
  • buy then out with cold, hard cash: set a nominal price, say 5 cents each, for halloween candy & buy it back from your kids.
  • set up a candy swap shop: play store with them, using halloween candy as currency and healthier treats as merchandise.  kids can use chocolate bars & lollipops to purchase animal crackers, sugar-free gum, fruit leather, playdoh, bouncy balls, etc.
  • offset with exercise: for every piece of candy eaten require or encourage 10 - 30 minutes of exercise. example: one mini chocolate = 30 burpies, 30 jumping jacks & 5 laps around the house {dependent on age}
  • cook up a post-halloween treat for the neighbours: treats can be chopped up & mixed into cookie batter & toppings.  any candy looks good on a gingerbread house.
  • be a part of a healthy solution: hand out apples, pretzels, baked chips, raisins, small tubs of playdoh, balloons, temporary tattoos, bubbles, bouncy balls, stickers, crayons... and the list goes on!
  • if all else fails, tell them you ate it all:  i thought this was a funny little note to end on.  the last kids had me in tears! so funny... & terrible at the same time!

put your halloween nutrition knowledge to the test by going to the huffington post.

instant gratification

lessons in the losses: parenting is an investment not a venue typically suited to instant gratification

this week i went to a playgroup in our community that i have been meaning to try out for some time now.  what on earth possessed me to do this while high on post-delivery hormones & very little sleep, i have no idea.  it was not exactly a formula for success.  i guess i just thought it might help with all the pent up energy.  everything went smoothly for about the first 10 minutes and then gradually crumbled as the morning progressed. lot of friendly parents, lots of not so friendly parents, toys, playdoh, kids everywhere.   eva threw her snack plate, was told off by the coordinator & then hyperventilated & threw up all over the snack table, kai cried anytime another kid looked at him sideways & davith had to go potty every five minutes.  and then there was poor livi who was malled by every other kid in the playgroup while i turned my back to deal with the others... although, i did get a prompt update from a very concerned mom every time her hat fell over eyes or her susu popped out yelling out phrases like "she's suffocating!  she's starving!".  and did i mention it was also the morning that the child's aid society was visiting which set a fabulous backdrop for the whole scene to unfold.  we left early, all in tears.  and i felt the crushing weight of failure once again.

from the gasps of the other parents to the knowing grins of those who had been there before to the others who just stared in disbelief, i am finding it hard to recover from this scrape.  i've gone over & over in my head how i could have succeeded in this context & have come up empty handed.  i know we have incredible kids with lots of potential.  i can just get caught up sometimes in the limited view of 'today'.  i really wish there was some kind of baby factory that pops out perfectly well-rounded, well-behaved kids at the end.  i wish i could contract out my job as a mother to someone more competent, someone who always had the right tone, the perfect answer & unending patience & energy.  but there are no such things.  i don't have to be a perfect mother, just perfect for them & one that loves them without condition, who won't give up on my mandate or the vision for their little lives turned big.  parenting is a never ending investment.  sometimes i get caught up in the instant gratification mentality of 'why aren't they perfectly patient yet? why are there no tangible results to hold now?' when really patience is a life long process.  the pay off for all of the hard work comes so much later.  i'm not saying that there aren't little payoffs like kisses & hugs & cuteness.  but as far as the fulfillment of patience in their character, we will have to work on that for a long time.  when really i am still working on patience in my own character.  when i can't appreciate where they are at today because i am so focused on where they are not, i rob myself of so much.  i can choose joy even amidst the whining & temper tantrums.  all it takes is a sense of humour & a little dash of perspective.  we won't always be in the temper tantrum stage so enjoy it for what it is & embrace grace.

so patience is the word of the day! instant gratification is not commonplace along the parenting journey... that's what vision is for. a reminder of what will come, of what all the seemingly tedious work is for... for the joy set before me.        

mothers are ditches

what does God expect from me as a mother? i know what i expect of myself as a mother: my ideals, my impossible vision of perfection.  i am pretty clear on what society expects from me as a mother, in varying capacities.  but i have never stopped to ask what God might expect from me.  what is His ideal picture?  what is my part in raising this child & what is God's?  it is often quoted, "unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain. unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain" {psalm 127:1}.  and yet it is also simultaneously true that "the wise woman builds her home, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down" {proverbs 14:1}.

i have been meditating in 2 kings recently over the story of king joram.  shortly after displacing evil king ahab from the throne, king joram began a journey to address some issues he was having with king mesha of moab.  a week into his travels, joram & his allies ran out of water. in desperation they sought the Lord's help.  and as He does, God answered them through a prophetic word from Elisha.  this is what he said:

"make this valley full of ditches. for this is what the Lord says: 
you will see neither wind nor rain, yet this valley will be filled with water,
and you, your cattle & your other animals will drink.
this is an easy thing is the eyes of the Lord"
 {2 kings 3:16-18}

God in His mercy & grace, gave Joram & his allies the opportunity to collaborate with Him.  their part was the ditch digging, which is hard, sweat-of-the-brow, unromantic work.  but they became a part of the miracle: water filled those ditches & Moab was defeated.  

mothering is like ditch digging.  as mothers we can do everything in our power to influence & shape our children into strong faith filled individuals.  we can toil & strive all we like but unless the Lord is in it, it is just fruitless, sweaty effort.   we can expose them to every beneficial opportunity, teach them right from wrong, read them every life changing book available, pray for them incessantly, live the christian life before them.  but only God can give them spiritual life.  God doesn't need our help, but by His grace He chooses to include us, inviting us to actively take part, to collaborate with Him as He works in their lives. i can only point to the One who is my life source, i cannot be that life source nor can i force them to accept Him as their life source.  unless God works, my best efforts are in vain.  i cannot accomplish anything of eternal or spiritual value in my home or in the lives of my children without Him.  we can dig the ditches, but only He can fill them.

i read a story once of a frightened little girl who calls her mother repeatedly to her bedside.  her mother, exasperated, says, "sweetheart, mummy told you already you don't need to be frightened; God is with you." "i know," the little girl replied, "but i need someone here with skin on."

i am the skin.  i dig the ditches. 

this is a surprising relief to me.  the heavy weight of striving abolished.  no longer living tethered to a performance contract that has ransomed my children's fate & says perfection or fail.  just knowing that the very best possible parenting cannot produce a spiritually responsive child gives me such peace.  this is good news because i am not perfect but i am also not alone.  

so put the skin on, while remembering that unless God builds a house, labouring is in vain - being fully aware that every wise woman also builds her house alongside the master builder. the watchmen knows that it is God that guards the city.  the builder believes that it is God that does the real building.  and the mother recognizes that only God can make anything truly significant happen in her child's life.  the watchmen watches in faith, the builder builds in faith & the mother must mother in faith.

our very best mothering - cemented in faith & relationship with Him - is our part.  

"flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit"
{john 3:6}  


scary style {small style}

we love dressing up! halloween is one of my funnest memories as a kid.  my mom always homemade our costumes.  my first halloween trick-or-treating was when i was four & i was a snowman with pillows strapped to my waist, a cardboard carrot as my nose, coal painted cheeks, a lovely cardboard top hat & scarf.  it was my favourite costume i think... closely seconded by the year i went as a calculator.  i am no where near as creative or ambitious as my mom the pro & so we bought our costumes this year.
our pumpkin even dressed up as pirate pete
 {pumpkin}: hat, earring, gun & bandana from dollarama
a cowboy & his friendly horse fred
 {cowboy}: boots {gymboree}, vest & t-shirt {zellers}, hat & sheriff badge {dollarama}, fred {value village}
a cupcake complete with frosted cheeks & a cherry on top
 {cupcake}: leggings {carters}, slippers {joe}, cupcake bottom & cap {winners}
a lion
 {lion}: i have no idea, we inherited it from somewhere
fred's legs kept getting in the way so davith
carried him the whole way
wipeout! no worries... the other trick-o-treaters
just stepped over him

food in a hurry

adjusting as a family of six has had its joys & its challenges.  as i may have mentioned before, our goal as a family is to limit our intake of processed, packaged food & aim to eat organically, homemade food whenever possible.  this is a challenge as homemade food is slow food.  processed food is fast food.  although raw produce is fast... my kids get pretty bored with the whole banana & carrots gig. not going to lie we have definitely slipped in our standard recently.  but i have come up with some easy-peasy fast yet healthy solutions to the snack time riot. here are some creatively healthy ideas to dress up that raw produce:

April+2011+026.JPG.jpg"fairy cakes"
you simply take a banana, slice it up, dust with cinnamon & then roll in shredded coconut.  i even get the kids to help make them. you can also substitute cocoa powder for the cinnamon if that suits your fancy.  they look like little dusted fairy cakes for a fairy tea party... that part is lost on the boys!

"cinnamon apples" {or shake-shakes}
the kids also help with this one, keeping busy little hands out of trouble! cut up an apple into slices, put in a ziplock bag, throw a little dusting of cinnamon & shake-shake.

400caloriesorless.com.jpg"creamy cucumber"
slice up a cucumber & spread with cream cheese.  the kids love the salmon cream cheese on these.

"pomegranate fun"
cut pomegranate in half and then into quarters.  without sheathing the seeds, let the kids pick them out themselves... although note to the wise, this is one very messy fruit.  you may want to take their shirt off or change it up a bit and let them eat snack in the bathtub!  this fascinated them for almost a half hour!

as long as its low sodium & naturally flavour it makes a wonderful snacky treat... and it's even considered a whole grain!

and if all else fails... i just load up some fresh fruit on a skewer.  what could be more fun than eating fruit off a stick?!