Sunday, July 12, 2015

To Bake a Cake or Not Bake a Cake? That is the Question . . .


Yes . . . this could have been a picture of me this week, but I would have been 
wearing a tank-top, not a bikini top . . . 
there's even a Diet Coke depicted--wow, this artist knows me so well.  :)
(photo courtesy of incurablycurious.com)

It's been VERY hot here this past week.  We have no air-conditioning in our house, so I use a strategy that I learned from my parents when I was growing up:  Open windows at night.  Close windows (and blinds and curtains) during the day.  Opening the windows at night lets the cool air in and circulates it through the house, since temperatures at night are typically lower than they are during the day; Closing windows (as soon as the sun hits them is my method) traps in the cool air.  With the addition of oscillating fans and ceiling fans, we've managed to keep our house at a similar temperature to that of people having A/C in their homes.  The other thing we do is turn on our summer fan on the furnace, which draws cool air up from the basement and circulates it through our registers.  So, for the most part we've had relief from the outdoor temperatures because we've managed to keep our house fairly cool. 

One morning last week I woke up to find my thermostat reading 13 degrees Celsius!  That's pretty cold; however, I knew that later in the week and into the weekend, the forecast said we'd be having temperatures in the mid 30's.  So, for the sake of keeping the house cool to prepare for heat later in the week, we opted to dress warmer on Monday and Tuesday.  I even did a little bit of baking on the mornings when I was feeling like an ice-cube.  The baking only increased the temperature by about 2 to 3 degrees during the day, so it was still much cooler in the house than it was outside.

Fast-forward to yesterday.  It was Saturday night, and after two days +36 degrees Celsius, the house was beginning to feel the effects of the external temperature creeping its way into our house.  Not to mention, we've had zero precipitation for well over 4 weeks, and if you saw my lawn right now you'd understand why it looks so incredibly brown.  I've been focusing on keeping my outdoor flowerbeds and plants happy, but since we live on 17 acres of property, it's impossible to water the grass as well, just for the sake of keeping it green.

Last night, as per our usual routine, we opened all the windows in hopes of drawing in some cooler air overnight.  Then three of us woke-up to banging and clanging and thunder and lightning and a very fast downpour of rain.  Unbelievable to me, Ty actually slept through the storm.  Three of us got out of bed to assess the damage--two screens blown out of their windows . . . water in places it shouldn't be, and the realization that our downspouts on the eavestroughs were not in place.  Wayne had to run out in the middle of the night to pull the downspouts into position to prevent flooding in our basement; Mitchell and I scattered throughout the house to replace screens and close windows.  This was around 1:00 a.m., so the windows were closed the rest of the night in order to prevent further damage and wetness creeping into the house.

When I got up this morning around 7:00 a.m., the house was HOT and HUMID (some of my least favourite words).  It was already 21 degrees Celsius outside, and due to the fact that our windows had not been open for most of the night, our house felt much warmer than it usually does first thing in the morning.  We are now only a few degrees away from our internal house temperature matching the temperature of the outdoors.  Thankfully we are no longer sitting in the mid 30's outside . . . just the high 20's, but for me, that's hot enough.  Actually, that's too hot.  I am hoping and praying that tonight we will have some reprieve and our "open windows" technique works so that we can get the temperature down in the house again.

So, what does this have to do with the title of my post about baking cake?  Well, I love baking, and I really, really wish I could bake a cake right now.  But I can't.  It would heat the kitchen up way too much, and since my kitchen faces south, I'm already fighting a battle for keeping it cool without the addition of turning on my oven.  So, I made Chocolate Macaroons instead, which don't require baking.  I only needed to use the top of the stove for about 3 minutes, and now I can at least eat something chocolaty to satisfy my craving.  What I really want is a chocolate cake or brownies, but that will have to wait for a day that's cooler.

Chocolate Macaroons
photo courtesy of food.com

Here's something fun and interesting to help you decide whether or not to bake a cake today, or any day for that matter . . . Enjoy!

And, finally, for deciding whether to start:

Friday, July 10, 2015

Facebook Status Update for Friday, July 10, 2015

So, sometimes I write a whole bunch of random stuff on Facebook to sum-up my week . . . This was today's status update, and I thought I'd share it here too, since some of my blog readers are not Facebook users:

"Random thoughts from the week--I would rather have -36 degrees C than +36 degrees C . . . especially when precipitation is lacking; spending time one-on-one-with my youngest son, Tyrone has been awesome--thanks to him for making what could have been a very mundane week so much fun; speaking of mundane weeks, I did not leave our property for four days in a row, and that was extremely refreshing . . . not mundane at all, and I'm not sure when the last time was that even happened; when it comes to television shows, Project Runway rocks my world; Mitchell has been missed greatly, but it helps me to know that he is doing ministry for God at camp, and that's ultimately what really matters; my husband is working so hard for us in this heat, and when he comes home from work he still makes time for his family, even though I'm sure he'd rather hibernate in the cool basement; my dogs all make me SO happy; I'm enjoying my flowers and yard this year . . . probably more than ever before, even though my thumb is still black and not green; and the most important part of the week is the unending reminder of God's constant faithfulness to us, even in the midst of struggles, and even in the midst of my bad attitude at times. I hope you all have a great weekend!"

Monday, July 6, 2015

Review of 2014 - January to May

SO HERE IT FINALLY IS . . . only 7 months late!  I've included this more for me than for any of my readers, just so that I have a bit of a "written record" of what 2014 was about for us; however, feel free to read on if you like . . . (there are two parts to this--today's post as well as a post on July 5, which covers the second half of the year 2014).


I know this is so cliche, but I cannot believe this year is coming to an end this week.

Where the time has gone, I'll never know . . . but what I do know is that for every moment that passes through the proverbial "sands of time", moments with my boys are passing by and I don't feel like I'm quite ready for this part of life to be over.  This past year proved a reality that I hadn't ever really fully grasped before--my boys are growing up.  I mean, I know they've always been growing physically, but for my older son, a new level of maturity has developed in his heart and soul.  It's a cool process to watch, but it also slaps me in the face and gives me the reality check that I don't want to know--he's reaching adulthood more quickly than I want him to.

Thankfully, so far, the teenage years have been an enjoyable experience for us.  Mitchell just turned 15 and Ty 13, so I know we still have a long road ahead, but for some reason, society, friends, my own observations, etc. led me to believe that once "teen" became part of the vocabulary, all hell was going to break lose.  That hasn't happened.  And I actually don't expect it to anytime soon.  My boys are very grounded and while I admit they have their "moments" (and believe me, I have mine too), this teenage era is actually pretty fun for the most part.

I know I don't write here that often any more . . . and believe it or not, part of the reason for that is because my boys are getting older and they need me more than my blog does . . . but I like to reflect on each year so that we at least have something recorded to reflect on in the future.  I love to read old posts and acknowledge God's obvious presence, protection and faithfulness in my life, and to reflect on how I've grown.  Sometimes I read my older posts and just shake my head at the woman I once was--and I'm sure I'll keep doing that as years go on--actually, I hope I do; because if I do, that means I'm growing.

JANUARY

So, back to the beginning of 2014.  Last January I was still recovering from my thyroglossal cyst surgery, and on January 9th I received the news from my surgeon that my surgery was successful--three benign cysts were removed, and the news I really needed to hear:  that my very pink and still quite swollen scar would be a "thin, white line" in a years' time.  Well, it hasn't quite made it to a "thin, white, line" . . . but it looks much better now than it did a year ago.  You be the judge:


                                  December 24, 2013                                   December 24, 2014

What's been amazing about reporting on this blog about my thyroglossal-cyst removal surgery is that I've been able to reach people all over the world as they've come to find answers about the surgery, and apparently writing about my experience has helped others through their own time of surgery and recovery.  I love how God has been able to use my own pain and discomfort to encourage others.
This is one of the benefits of technology and I love it when God can use it for His purposes.

FEBRUARY - MARCH

Another medical challenge came my way in February . . . this time with regards to my eyes.  During a routine examination by my regular optometrist, he noticed that one of the routine retinal scans they perform at his office, indicated a "black spot" on my retina.  He was unable to make a diagnosis at my initial appointment, so I had to go back a few days later.  He needed to dilate my pupils and get a better look at the area in question.  At the second appointment, my optometrist discovered that yes, I did have a problem with my retina, which appeared to have the beginnings of a tear in it.  I had not experienced any symptoms, so I was thankful that technology was able to assist in diagnosing a minor thing that could have become severe very quickly.

I was referred to an eye specialist and by the end of February, had my first appointment with him.  From the time of my appointment with my regular eye doctor until my appointment with the specialist, the tear had become worse.  Again, I was very thankful for so many things, as God made appointments available in a timely manner, and I didn't have to wait long for this whole ordeal to be over.  In mid-March I had laser surgery to fix the retinal tear, and at my follow-up appointment a month later, the specialist gave me the good news that the surgery was successful.  The plus side is that if I notice anything weird going on with my eyes in the future, I can just by-pass my regular optometrist, skip the referral process, and book an appointment with my specialist as soon as possible.  I hope and pray that doesn't happen, but if it does, at least I will be able to fast-track the process.

APRIL - MAY

I don't really think there's much to report about April, but May was the saddest month of 2014 for all of us.  Our beloved dog, only 7 years old, was killed in an unfortunate accident in our yard.  My husband accidentally drove over her.  We were all devastated.  Pepper was an amazing dog, but even more than that, she was a good friend.  For Mitchell especially, she gave unconditional love during a time in his life that he needed it most.  She was Ty's "skateboarding" companion and spent many, many hours with all of us doing various things in our yard.  It still brings a lump to my throat and tears to my eyes as I type these words about Pepper.  She is dearly missed.

Here are some pictures of us with her over the years . . .















Sunday, July 5, 2015

Review of 2014 - June to December

JUNE

June was a huge month for us, in many ways.  First of all, we were able to make an attempt to mend many broken hearts by finding dogs that needed a home--two 8-week-old females we named Vimy and Juno--border collie/shepherd/lab cross pups that quickly helped in the healing process after losing our dog Pepper.  They made their way into our hearts and family very quickly, and I'm also happy to report that they get along marvelously with our other Bichon Frise dog, Alaska.  Alaska and Pepper were always at odds with each other, so it's been a huge blessing to have 3 dogs that can all tolerate each other and not be constantly fighting.

Here are some pictures of our pups . . .

(Oh, to clarify something--when we went to pick up the puppies, there were cats present, and for reasons unknown to us, one of the cats attacked Ty and clawed his face.  He was taken to see a doctor and given medication to prevent negative effects of a potential infection, and fortunately, the wound has healed quite remarkably.  However, Ty hates cats even more now than ever before, and we are baffled as to why this cat acted the way it did towards our son . . . some of these pictures were taken the day after the cat attack, so his eye looks quite nasty--be warned).

Ty with Vimy Ember

 Mitchell with Juno Benelli

Puppy Playtime!

Me with Juno and Vimy

Here are the boys with the puppies mid-summer.

June was also the end of the boys' first year with their new online school.  They both did very well in their grades (gr. 9 for Mitchell; gr. 7 for Ty) so we decided to continue on with this school for their next school year.

June was also the month we got to celebrate Tyrone turning 13 years old!  He loves skateboarding, so we gave him a Penny skateboard for his birthday.  Here he is posing with it for the camera:

13 years old!

One of the biggest highlights from the year was Mitchell's baptism.  I've already written about it extensively in a previous post, but here are some photo highlights of this very special day:


Mitchell sharing his testimony.

One of our pastors praying for Mitchell.

Newly baptized!

JULY - AUGUST

July and August are two of my favourite months of the year . . . and they are also two of my least favourite months of the year.  I love these months because I get to spend more time with my family rather than being at work; however, due to the fact that I'm not working, our finances suffer.  That being said, God has always taken care of us for the three months of financial drought that we face due to my occupation.  I wouldn't change my job for this reason--I enjoy my summer with the boys too much to entertain that thought!

So, in light of us not having my income to help us along during the summer, we tend to do as many activities close to home as we can so that we don't break-the-bank.  Some of our summertime activities included helping with Vacation Bible School at our church; summer camp for the boys (which meant a week for Wayne and to have couple-time, even though he had to still work during the day, it was fun to have our evenings together for that week); watching stock car races; visiting Fort Battleford, a National Historic Site; fishing at a place called The Spillway, which is close to where we live; and visiting friends and family.  We also enjoyed spending time outdoors on our acreage, and I've included some pictures of my flowers from the summer of 2014.  And finally, I turned 42 years old in August and of course that was celebrated with family and a cheesecake.

Having fun in the water at The Spillway

The boys at Fort Battleford.

Ty at the Stock Car Races.

Mitchell at the Stock Car Races

Bumblebee enjoying the flowers.

Petunias and Lobelia.

Celebrating 42 years of life!

SEPTEMBER - OCTOBER

September was a busy month for us all as I transitioned back into my work as an Educational Associate at a Hutterite Colony, and the boys returned to their online school.  School was different for Mitchell this year, since Grade 10 requires credit courses in order to graduate, and he worked on a semester system rather than a 10-month school year.  We were unsure of how this was going to work out, but he did exceptionally well and ended his first semester with an average of 98%.  In addition to his high school credit courses, he was also enrolled in Driver's Education.  He was officially allowed to drive in mid-October and caught on to the process quite quickly.  He now drives whenever we allow him to, and I'm sure he's already devising a plan in order to obtain his driver's license the moment he turns 16.

Mitchell turned 15 in September, and we were able to celebrate with our family on two occasions--once just the four of us, and the second time with extended family.  Both times he enjoyed pie as an alternative to a cake.  He really likes pie!

    Pie (Chocolate) , , ,                                 Pie (Lemon Meringue) . . .

and More Pie (Pumpkin)!  
(celebrating Wayne's birthday jointly with Mitchell's)

In October we got to attend the wedding of one of the boys' youth leaders, and the family picture below was taken the day of that wedding.  Other highlights included Wayne's birthday (see above), my Sisters Weekend (with my wonderful sisters) and my ability to attend a 2-day conference for educators of Hutterite students. 

I must say, September and October were crazy months because of two things:  1.  They were just super-busy with the return to "Regular Programming" in our home and we had a lot of extra stuff going on; and 2.  High School online was intense at the beginning, and with the inclusion of driver's education in the mix of our schedule, I wasn't sure if we were going to make it to Christmas.  But we did!  Hallelujah!!!!

Crazy sisters!  I love these women!

My husband, kids and I - Thanksgiving Weekend 2014

NOVEMBER - DECEMBER

So, as far as I can tell or remember, November didn't offer much by way of excitement in our household . . . I'm sure we were juggling schedules, trying to make it through to Christmas, battling snow, ice and cold . . . like any other November.  I've included some updated pictures of our puppies, which we took in November, shortly after a huge snowfall.

Of course when December arrives my heart is always set on Christmas, my favourite season of the year!  I love Christmas decorations, the Christmas tree, Christmas baking, Christmas gatherings, Christmas celebrations . . . and Christmas break.  School for me was on hold for a whole two weeks; Ty also had two weeks off and Wayne had about 10 days, but unfortunately for Mitchell, he had to return to his schoolwork on December 30th in order to finish his semester well.  He didn't seem to mind, though.

We ended off the year with abnormally warm temperatures and celebrated on our outdoor rink with friends who came to join us to say good-bye to 2014 and helped us welcome the year 2015!

Reflecting on 2014, I can say that it was a year of ups and downs, just like any other year.  Yet I am reminded once again of God's faithfulness and provision for us in so many ways.  Not only does He continue to provide for our needs, He has blessed us with many wants as well.  We have been provided with material goods, but the most beautiful blessings come by way of time spent with family and friends, strength to carry on when we felt like giving up, and continued spiritual growth and the longing for our eternal home.  These things combined have made 2014 a memorable year and I thank God for every moment He provides, and for every breath He grants us.

Following some photos from this part of the year, I will leave you with a you-tube video of one of my favourite songs . . . I love the lyrics of the song, Great Are You Lord, by All Sons and Daughters. Enjoy!

What I saw out of my kitchen window . . . 
after a November snowstorm.

Tyrone with Vimy.

Mitchell with Juno.

Mitchell and Juno playing in the snow.

Ty and Vimy playing in the snow.


Merry Christmas with Mitchell!

Merry Christmas with Tyrone!


VERY THANKFUL FOR THE BREATH IN OUR LUNGS AS WE POUR OUT OUR PRAISE TO GOD IN 2015 . . . 












Wednesday, December 31, 2014

HAPPY 2015!

So, I'm working on a blog post that's quite long . . . re-capping my 2014 year . . . but that post may not be ready for a while . . . 

Therefore, I will wish you all a Happy New Year and leave you with my theme verses for 2015, plus a quote from the MOPS blog . . .


    "(God says:) Forget about what’s happened;
    don’t keep going over old history.
    Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new.
    It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?...
    There it is! I’m making a road through the desert,
    rivers in the badlands." 
     ~Isaiah 43:18-19 (MSG)~

"Sometimes, good people wait patiently for God to intervene when what he is wanting is for us to act bravely and do something. Being a follower of Jesus calls for courage. The journey feels unexpected and unconventional. It requires bravely playing hide and seek in the dark, confronting the fears that scare us and holding the hand of a redeemer-guide who calls us to courageous acts of risk and trust. It means coloring outside of the lines. Dreaming bigger than we ever have before and getting swept up into the plans of a God who leaves us breathless with wonder."

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Mitchell's Baptism

One of my most memorable parenting experiences to-date took place on June 29, 2014.  My 14-year old son, Mitchell, was baptized and received into membership at our church on that day.  We were thrilled to be able to share the special day with our church family; following the baptism, we hosted a celebration party for about 70 people--family and friends who braved an outdoor B-B-Q party that turned out to be very wet, due to a sudden downpour right as we began eating.  Our house was bursting at the seams as our many guests rushed inside the house, attempting to stay dry.  Even though it was unfortunate weather-wise, it was still amazing to experience the love and support from so many people as Mitchell took this step in his faith journey.  We were blessed to have Mitchell's grandparents and many of his aunts, uncles and cousins join us for the occasion as well.  It is a day I will never forget, and I pray that God continues to work in the life of my son.

Here are some photo highlights from that day:

 Our Youth Pastor introducing Mitchell.

Church family support on stage.

Mitchell sharing his testimony.

A very encouraging pastoral prayer for Mitchell.

 Our Youth Pastor asking Mitchell some important questions.

Newly baptized!

 Mitchell at his party.

Mitchell and his brother, Tyrone.

 Mitchell and I.


Mitchell and his Dad.