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July 30, 2011

Happy Birthday Jennifer Rose

20 years ago today we had our first daughter Jennifer.
Her birth was very memorable as the Dr. was late and they told me not to push....
I still have hip problems today from listening to those nurses!!!! NEVER AGAIN :)
And I also fainted a couple of times when in labor with her.
So ya, memorable :)
And when the Dr. said she was a girl I didn't believe him. I was so sure that I would have a boy.
I realize now that I didn't dare hope for a girls because I didn't want to be disappointed!!!


Here are 20 things that I know about Jen.

1. She likes a challenge and an adventure.
2. She is very good with little children and they gravitate towards her.
3. She likes animals....like A LOT!
4. One winter when she was about 4 yrs. old, she got caught by the pant leg of her snowsuit, upside down in a tree.
5. Having Jaden born a day before her birthday was the best gift she ever got. She held him pretty well ALL day!
6. She likes to journal.
7. She likes Pizza Hut pizza the best.
8. She likes her chocolate chip cookies doughy
9. She doesn't really like to dress up.
10. She likes to do Sudoku puzzles.
11. Horse back riding is one of her favorite pass times.
`12. She likes to have a good run now and then.
13. Her favorite hockey team was Calgary Flames. But now that we have the Winnipeg Jets...they are her favorite team.
14. She is quite competitive when it comes to sports...or anything.
15. She likes a good debate.
16. She is excellent at cutting hair.
17. She loves her Daddy and they think a lot alike.
18. She is pretty much an optimist.
19. She loves being part of a large family.
20. She gets very excited about going on a vacation.

We love you Jennifer and can't imagine how dull our family would be without you :) Thanks for being you. We appreciate your desire to serve God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. You are an inspiration to us and to many other people. We pray that you will find joy and peace in all that God has for you this coming year!

And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Phil. 4:7

July 29, 2011

Jaden Isaac

A year ago today I was cuddling a brand new baby boy in my arms.
Who ever knew that I would wonder a year later how we ever lived without this lively little guy!

Jaden has been a mover and a noise maker ever since he was born. In fact he wasn't even fully born before he let out his first cry! And he hasn't stopped making himself heard since then! I guess being the youngest of 12, he knew to be heard he would have to be loud. But we love him that way!!!

Jaden is just a bundle of energy and fun. He has never been a cuddler which has made it hard to console him when he is upset. He never nursed to sleep, or was comforted by nursing like most all of our other children were. In fact from about 6 months to 8 months he pretty much fought me every time I nursed him!!! At 8 months I finally gave up and he was put fully on the bottle.

His idea of cuddling is to be hugged for about 2.2 seconds. Then he goes off to play. But he likes several 2.2 second hugs a day! And he gets many of them. Every once in awhile a sibling will try to hug him for 2.3 seconds to which he loudly lets them know that their time is up :)

One of Jaden's most adorable features is his red hair. He had a head full when he was born and now at a year old he still is a true red head. This is our 3rd boy with this red of hair....it is so special and unique, I love it....and so do the many other people who meet him. In fact it is not uncommon for perfect strangers stopping us to comment on his hair color. So far it's only our boys who have been blessed with red hair.....someday I am hoping for a little curly, red headed little girl! Wouldn't that be just so adorable????

A few days ago Jaden decided because his first birthday was coming up that it was about time to take his first steps. We now often find him just letting go of whatever he is holding onto and walking halfway across the room! No matter how many times I watch a child learn to walk, it is always such a joy to see!!

At meal time Jaden figures he is the life of the party and he will always try to get someone laughing! He loves to jabber and actually can say quite a few words already. His favorite being Dada, Mama, Puppy, Ball, and his most favorite food right now....POPCORN!!! Whenever he hears the popcorn maker he comes as fast as he can to watch it pop....all the while saying POP, POP, POP!!! And he feels pretty ripped off if we put him to bed without a taste!

Jaden, we are so glad that God gave you as a gift to us. You add fun and sparkle to our days.
Happy Birthday big guy...we love you!!!

July 28, 2011

Friends for Life

I know I have mentioned many times, on this blog, how we believe it is very important for our children to be each others best friends. And many times I have been asked by my readers just how we get that to happen. It has taken me a LONG time to get this post down in writing but here is some of our thoughts on this topic.

When our children are still very young we teach them to LOVE one another using 1 Cor. 13:4-8a
"Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;  does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;  bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 
Love never fails." When siblings live in true love towards each other, they are best friends :)

We believe that a major contribution to our children being each other's best friends is simply because we homeschool. They spend all day, every day together. If they want a playmate.....they will play with a sibling. If they want someone to talk to.....it will often be to a sibling. And so it naturally happens that by spending so much time together they become best friends!

Another things we have concentrated on over the years is not to make a big deal about having friends outside of our family. We don't make an effort to "get" friends for our children. Yes, it happens, but not because we saw that there was a void or a need. It's because there are great people out there that our children have gotten to know. I hear way to often how parents get their kids into activities, sports, or groups so that they can meet new friends. It's great to have friends, and we are not against that, but it can place stress on siblings relationships. Instead of having "friends"over, we choose to have families over. This is a great way to make friends, everyone can fellowship together, children learn to get along with ALL ages, and there is always lots of fun to be had with large numbers!

Over the past few years we made a decision as a family to limit sleep overs (only under very specific occasions do they happen). The reasoning for this is because we saw the ugliness that would happen when we had sleep overs. More often than not, the one having the friends over would become very unloving to his/her siblings. It was like they became a different person overnight. At first we chalked it up to lack of sleep...but then we started to realize it was much more than that. It was peer pressure. This is the first we saw negative peer pressure raise it's ugly head in our family. And it didn't take us long to realize it was just not a healthy thing. 

Another thing that we believe contributes towards siblings as best friends is not allowing a lot of "me" time (meaning the child). We have found this to be another thing that causes a lot of frustration and resentment among siblings. Frustration of being interrupted by a sibling or hurt feelings while someone is being left out. When our children become young adults they have quiet time in their rooms for prayer/bible study time, but even at this age long periods of isolation are not encouraged. Too much "me" time usually translates into meism. "I am the most important person, I NEED time to myself, I want everyone to leave me alone!" God put us in a family for a reason. If He would have wanted our children to be isolated, He wouldn't have given them any sibings. But He didn't choose that....He chose a bunch of people to live under one roof. And what character we have learned from it!

We often tell our children how important it is to invest in their relationship with their brothers and sisters. From the oldest to the youngest, they need to nurture and cultivate relationships with each other. It takes effort and sometimes it is even hard work, but it will be so worth it in the end. When our children are grown they will lose touch with most of the friends they have now. But their brothers and sisters will always be there. They are stuck to each other for life. And that is why the way the treat each other now is so very important for their future. We learned long ago that we don't raise our children for the here and now. We train them for the future. And cultivating friendships with each other is no exception!

Now this is by no means an exclusive list nor is it the only way that siblings will become best friends. This is just what our experience has been and we have found that it has worked. And since you asked.....I told you :)

July 27, 2011

It's Growing:)

With the recent warm weather you can almost hear the garden growing :)
We feel so blessed how great the garden looks. After the rough spring we weren't sure if we would have any produce. But right now it's looking like we will have lots of veggies!

Here are our peppers. We use peppers for salads and for making salsa.

This is one of the two apple trees we have in the garden. It is loaded with apples this year.
They are young trees so this will be the first year we will have such a good crop.
We use our apples for eating fresh, making apple pies and freezing for applesauce or desserts.

Our raspberries aren't the greatest this year. With all the rain a whole bunch of new growth came and kind of choked out the actual fruit bearing plants. You kind of have to dig through the new growth to find the raspberries!  We use raspberries for jam and freeze them to make desserts or more jam if we run out. But mostly we eat them fresh!

These are our onions. We have eaten a couple already. We won't have enough to last us for the year but it will be a start!

Our peas are beautiful this year. The only problem is only about half of them came up!
We eat our first couple of pickings fresh and then blanche and freeze the rest for winter meals.

So glad I don't have to buy lettuce for awhile. We are big salad eaters so we go through a lot of lettuce. 
This is Romaine Lettuce. I started growing this a few years ago and it is my favorite. When it first comes up we just pick the leaves and eat them. Then as the season goes on and we can't keep up we let them grow into heads. The great thing about lettuce is you can pick off the leaves and it grows back and you can have fresh lettuce for a long time....most of the season... unless the weather gets too hot and dry, then it starts to taste bitter. Too bad you can't  freeze lettuce :)

These cucumbers are almost at pickling stage. We grow two kinds of cucumbers. The long english kind are mostly what we eat fresh and with the pickling...we make pickles!!!
Our favorite pickles are Cafe pickles and Alberta Dill. We also load up on relish....sometimes enough for a few years...right Megan?

Here is sweet Nathan hoeing our potatoes. The potatoes are doing great and looks like we will have plenty! That's good cause we go through LOTS of potatoes. We have a root cellar that we store our potatoes in for the winter. We take them out of the ground as late as possible, store them in our root cellar and we usually have potatoes until spring. 

Here's the second planting of corn. Out of our first planting only 4 plants came up. We will probably not have enough corn to bring us through the winter this year, but at least we will be able to have lots fresh on the cob! The corn that we don't eat fresh we will blanche and freeze. 

Here's the tomatoes. I have been busy pruning them so the plants will put their energy into growing tomatoes rather than more leaves. Still some of them insist on being big and bushy!!! 

The last couple of years we have hardly had any good tomatoes so I am hoping for a bumper crop this year. We grew 3 kinds of tomatoes, 2 kinds we started from seed and the other ones we bought at a greenhouse. Two of the kinds are normal size and the other kind is a tiny kind. We will eat as many fresh tomatoes as we can (my mouth waters thinking of tomatoe toasted sandwiches!) and with the rest we will make salsa, pasta sauce and the rest we will can for soups and other things. If we get ambitious we might even can some tomatoe soup. 

It won't be long and we will be canning and freezing veggies like silly!!!!
Can't wait :)

July 18, 2011

I Should Be Working! Or Should I?

We finally have some nice hot weather here in Manitoba!
And of course hot weather brings WATER FIGHTS!!!

The kids were having a blast!
I love to listen to their giggles and happy squeals!
As I was sitting there watching them today
I started thinking about how short this time with them all is.
It seems like just a few short years ago we had our first 4 little sweet ones.
And here we are now with 2 teenagers and 2 adult children.
I remembered back to the water fights they used to have.
It almost brought tears to my eyes.....

After my sentimental moment I thought
"I should be working"
And got up to get back to whatever I was doing.
On my way I thought...
"I should really join them!"
And so I DID!!!

I started by sneaking up behind Kerri with a BIG pail of water!
Brooke almost gave me away!!!

I got her good :)

I don't think Caleb thought I would actually do it!!!

Wowsers that water was cold!
It wasn't long before Jen joined in the action too.

And it wasn't long before she became the main target!
Wonder why???

Kerri was being so nice and filling everyone's pail....
And not spraying anyone at all....right Ker?!?!?

Josiah thought this was a great idea.

Until he got douced too!

Poor Little Joe!

Being the good big brother he is,
he didn't want Jaden to miss out on all the fun!

I guess babies don't really care for water fights!
(He cried for a few seconds and then laughed)

Never underestimate your mom Zachary :)

Hurry Ker, fill mine, fill MINE!!

I think this may be payback time Zachary!

No mercy here!

She may look innocent....

But she's NOT!!!!!

Really, she's not AT ALL!

 The skies the limit Zee!

Watch out Kaya,
You're gonna get wet!

Then for the grand finale....get Zee
Get him GOOD!!!!!
(we thought it was funny how everyone had their eyes closed!)

It amazes me that this only took a few minutes of my time
but it will be something we will all remember for years to come!

I will try to remember this next time the thought comes to my mind
"I should be working."

How We Do Things Series: Grocery Shopping

Well I have to be honest with you here and tell you that grocery shopping is not one of my most favortite things to do! I like to shop for clothes, kitchen gadgets and pretty much any other thing....but not so much groceries. I think part of the reason is it is kind of like housework...it can get monotonous and never ending! But just like housework I realize it is a necessary part and therefore I try to make the best of it!

I do most of our shopping in a Superstore about an hour from us. We try to get there once a week otherwise I have to do some very strategic packing to fit it all in the cart!!! Plus making meals starts to become challenging!

We have a fair sized pantry, and a second fridge to hold our groceries for the week. We have an extra of everything on the shelf. Because we live in the country we cannot just hop over to the store when we run out of something. If we do run out we usually just do without or borrow from our dear neighbors, Josh and Rebecca :)

We have a master grocery list that has all of the things that we use on a consistent basis. It is in order of all the grocery isles and catagories...therefore making it so that I don't run back for all the missed items at the end (although I still do manage to miss stuff ???)

When it is grocery shopping day (which has to be quite flexible because of farming....usually we double grocery shopping with parts runs!) we take the list, look through the pantry, fridge and freezers and take inventory :) We also have a pad of paper on the fridge which things have been added during the week that are not bought often (eg. spices, kitchen gadgets...)

We have a weekly meal plan so we go through the menu and check off any "not the norm" items we need for the week.

Our average grocery bill is about $400.00 a week. This number is less in the summer months when we have our own garden produce....and it's at it's peak late winter, early spring when we run out of  the previous years produce.

We grow our own beef and chicken and have our own eggs and milk so that saves a lot on our grocery bill. Other things we make ourselves is bread, butter (not enough to feed us, I still have to buy some margarine), yogurt, tortilla shells,  noodles, soup (I do buy some canned soup to add to some of our homemade soup and for casseroles). Very rarely do we buy cookies or cake mixes or things like that. Most of our baking is from scratch. We grind our own wheat/spelt for bread but still use some white flour for some baking. We also just started making our own laundry detergent and baby wipes.

We don't buy very much boxed cereal as it is only on the menu plan once a week. It is just too expensive and not very filling.....and I don't find it's the healthiest way to start the day! So it is kind of a once a week treat!

I was asked if we use coupons? Yes, but not very many. I just don't come across very many. I use the in-store coupons, and once in awhile I will get them from inside a product. I wish I could use more but not sure where to get them (if there is anyone in Canada who knows of a good website or something I would love to know!)

I do keep an eye on the flyer of Wal-Mart and Co-op for "deals" on things. If there are case or lot sales I stock up on the items we use a lot of (eg. soup, toilet paper, flour, etc) But Superstore is my favorite (close by) store because they have a lot of bulk items  and they usually have a free item when you buy a certain amount of  groceries...often it is a gas coupon or a gift certificate (that we use on next weeks groceries!) so that helps a lot! You also get points on your mastercard if you bring your own bags/bins.

When we go to the "big city!" a little over 2 hours from us, I like to shop at Costco and Real Canadian Wholesale Club. The items I stock up on when we go to the city? HUGE bags of flour and sugar. BIG Popcorn, Big Pails of Peanut Butter (haven't seen them at Costco lately though :(, Garbage Bags, Baking Cocoa, Yeast and Margarine.

Because we take the small car rather than the van (too much gas money!), we usually only take along a couple of children. They take turns. Grocery shopping goes a lot faster when we have some kids along because they love to get things and put them in the cart and help unload the cart when we are done. But if Mark and I haven't been out alone for awhile, we use this opportunity to go on a "date"! We have taken all the kids grocery shopping a few times.....let me just say I feel like a mother duck :) It's actually pretty fun! Unless the store is crowded :)

And that's about how we do grocery shopping!!! Did I miss anything?

July 16, 2011

Lingering Tears


Do you ever talk to someone who is making an important, life changing decision and you wonder if you should give advice or not, even if they are not asking for it?

I have come across this dilemma many times in my life, and it was often about the same subject....a couple making the decision to "fix" it so that they won't have any more children. Sometimes I have voiced my opinion, other times I haven't.

And then there is the other side of the story that I hear so often.....the regret for making a permanent decision that they wish could be undone. This breaks my heart. I often wonder....."WHAT IF SOMEONE WOULD HAVE TOLD THEM?" Told them that children are a blessing, that when they leave God in control there is no having to figure things out. That when you have little ones, they actually grow up and become helpful :) That it doesn't cost as much as people say to raise a child. That teenagers are a blessing and a lot of fun! What if?

I was talking to a lady the other day who did something permanent to prevent having more children over 20 years ago. Do you know that she was still shedding tears over this decision? She resented giving into the pressure that was put on her by her doctor, immediately after her last baby was born, to "fix' things. She wished she could go back in time and do it all over again.

I am so thankful that God in His sovereign hand gave my husband the wisdom to say no to the Doctor when he wanted to "fix" things after our 4th child. I am so glad we waited for a year before we decided to make any permanent decisions. I can't even imagine what our life would be like today without the next 8 blessings that God entrusted to us. I know I would not be the person I am today. I know I would not have learned the many things that God has taught me through our children. And above all....I KNOW that I would have been one of those ones who regretted that decision.

Talking to yet another lady full of regret has made me sure......

I will talk about it, I will share my opinion, I will tell the stories others have told me of their regret.

And if they don't like what I say...I will apologize and move on.....knowing that I didn't let things go unsaid....because I have seen enough "lingering tears" to last me a lifetime!

Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: 
and the fruit of the womb is his reward.
As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; 
so are children of the youth.
Happy is the man that has his quiver full of them. 
Psalm 127: 3-5a

July 9, 2011

Let the July Birthdays Begin!

 Thursday we started the July birthday celebrations! We have 3 birthdays in July.

It was Brooke Abigail's birthday.

Brooke is the one that reminds me the most of her sweet Daddy! 
She is witty, charming, easy going and likes to laugh and cracks herself up!

She makes us all laugh many times in a day.
Her laughter is very contagious!! 

She is a big help around the house and loves to help bake.

She has a super duper memory. She can remember names and events from long ago.
She only has to hear a song a couple of times and then can sing it almost word for word.

She won't sing if she knows you are listening, 
but if you eavesdrop you will find she is an amazing little singer!!!

She likes to color.

She likes to keep me company in the garden and swats all the mosquitoes that land on me!

She has the most beautiful curly hair I have ever seen. 
(with the exception of her big sister, Megan!)

She can put down a LOT of food, but she is still so tiny!
Not sure where all that food goes :)

She is great at entertaining little babies and toddlers.
They love her!

She is very, very special to all of us :)

It was so fun to watch Brooke as she anxiously awaited her day to arrive!

When I asked her what she wanted for her birthday she told me 2 simple things. 
A candy necklace and a birthday girl ribbon, just like last year!!!  
Not too hard to please :)

We started the day by her opening up her gifts. 
She got just what she wanted! And more :)

Hugs are always plentiful around here.

I found this camera at a garage sale! 
It was a big hit! 
She spent all day taking pictures :)

Then for the grande finale!


A New Bike!!!! (one of the perks of having a summer birthday!)

And a pink one at that :)

Jaden figured he should get a bike too!
Well your birthday is next Jader, maybe, just maybe :)

The happy birthday girl with her new set of wheels!! 

Every big sister has a follower!

The meals Brooke chose for her birthday were simple and to the point!
Cinnamon Buns for breakfast, 
Tomato Soup for lunch, 
and Chicken Wraps for supper.

Enjoying her tomato soup picnic.

The theme was butterflies. Brooke really likes butterflies.

Happy Birthday little princess!

We love you....even if your a bit quirky :)