Friday, October 2, 2015

Girl's Day Out...And Surgery News

It's been a very long time since I last posted.  Our summer was very busy with very little time to relax.  We are all doing relatively well...all things considered.  It seems our stress level keeps rising...lots of emotional stuff happening here!
We started school at the beginning of September in hopes to get enough work done so that once surgeries start for Malia, we can take time off without falling behind.  Yesterday Malia had 2 appointments; so after her piano and voice lessons, the girls and I headed to town for a fancy girl date. 
I have to tell a funny story...while waiting for Malia, I chatted with Martin with my phone speaker on.  As a joke he mentioned that the guys were going to have his specialty for lunch...mac n' cheese!  Well, wouldn't you know it, Raina began begging to go home for lunch!!  What a girl!!
Anyhow, I managed to convince her that we should head to a fancy place in town.  The girls ordered their own food and even got pop, which rarely happens in this household!
Then they got these super cool desserts!  They simply couldn't get enough of these volcanos!

Then we headed to the first appointment with Malia's "hard tissue" oral surgeon.  We love Dr. Humber!  He is seriously one of the most personable, compassionate and understanding doctors I've ever met!  He was the man that gave me the confidence to say "no" to summer surgeries for Malia.  She really did need some time off to just be a carefree little girl!
After our first appointment, we made a quick stop at Starbucks!  It was such a huge treat for my girls!  The simply glowed!  And I'm pretty sure they felt like complete grown ups!

Our second appointment was with the "soft tissue" oral surgeon.  This surgeon is new to town, coming here from Edmonton.  He also seems to be very personable, doing his very best to put Malia at ease. 
As you know, Malia has already had 2 surgeries to close a rather large fistula in the roof of her mouth. (She actually has 2 fistulas, but the one is small enough that the surgeons are confident they can close it during the bone graft surgery).  The 2 previous surgeries were both FAMM Flaps.  Apparently, a FAMM Flap is a bit like taking a hose, kinking it at a 90 degree angle and hoping the water will still flow through.  So if you can, picture a blood vessel instead of the hose, with blood trying to flow through to ensure a good graft...and you'll understand why the FAMM Flap didn't work for Malia.  So, instead of attempting the FAMM Flap again, the idea is to go back to the original idea of doing a Tongue Flap.  The Tongue Flap is more invasive and will be more difficult for Malia to deal with as she will have a very difficult time talking. 
I'm very grateful to be moving on with surgeries, to get this part over and done with.  However, there is only a 50% chance that a Tongue Flap will actually be successful.  This mama's heart almost broke at that news!  I swallowed long and hard, and tried to tell myself there IS a 50% chance that the Tongue Flap WILL be successful!  So we will pray!  And we'd love to have all of you praying too!
After hearing this news, I knew I needed a distraction and needed to create some more beautiful memories with my sweet girls.  So we headed across the street to our cities beautiful Meewasin Trail and enjoyed the wonderful fall leaves and the fantastic fresh air...and a bunch of giggles and hugs!

On our way back to the vehicle, this little girl figured her feet were too sore to walk.  I ended up giving her a piggyback ride....

...while this sweet girl carried my bag!

The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety.
Psalm 18:2

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Our Crazy,Busy Summer 2015

 It's been way too long since I last posted, but I guess that's what happens when you double the size of your garden!  It's been a super hot and busy summer.  Mostly garden and yard busyness.  I actually was wondering why I felt so overwhelmed with yard/garden work in such a dry year...and then it dawned on me...I doubled the size of my garden!  Mistake much?  Perhaps?  I certainly was feeling that these past 2 weeks!! 

I've been picking peas, beans and raspberries 3 times a week for the past few weeks, on top of regular yard work.  For some reason that awful weed called "fahtta han" or portulaca absolutely loves this hot, dry weather!  It's growing everywhere!  In my garden, flower beds, tree line and even in the gravel!!  If you're familiar with this weed, you know that every single leaf left on the ground produces at least a million other plants!  Well, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but it really is an awful, awful weed!

Thankfully we got a fair bit of rain last week and it saved me from having to water by hand.  Our well has been producing very little water, so we're water rationing.  This means no sprinklers, only watering by hand so as not to waste water.  It's a lot of work.

Anyhow, my garden has been doing very well considering the lack of rain and the intense heat.
My freezer is stocked with enough raspberries to last the winter (which means there should be enough berries for hubby to make his yummy raspberry wine!!!), and almost enough beans.  My peas are almost done, but I'm happy with the amount stored in my freezer.  We picked lots of cherries to make everything from pie filling, to cherry vodka to wine.  I am also in the process of making raspberry vinegar and I can't wait to try it in my homemade salad dressing!  My cucumbers are just starting to produce and I've already canned 5 quarts!  I couldn't find any of the hot red peppers I usually use to my dill pickles, so I used jalapeno peppers for a few jars and hot Thai peppers for a few.  It could be interesting!  And hot!  lol! 
A few years ago I started to put posts and string along my pea rows.  It results in the peas nicely vining up instead of laying on the ground.  They're much easier to pick and take up less garden space!
This was our first picking of peas!!
My kids all help with shelling peas and snapping beans...although there may be a few kids who eat more than they work! 
Each of the kids (except Alex) planted their own garden.  It's been really neat to watch them learn about gardening, weeding and harvesting the produce.  Morgun loves radishes and couldn't wait for us to have enough radishes for this salad.  It super easy to make...
Zippy Radish Salad
2 cups thinly sliced radishes
1/2 cup cubed Swiss chees
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp. tarragon vinegar (I use regular vinegar and add a bit  of tarragon)
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
Combine ingredients and chill for 2 hours before serving on a bed of lettuce.
3 tbsp. olive oil
I absolutely LOVE cooking with fresh garden produce!  There is something incredibly neat and fulfilling about heading to the garden to gather produce for supper, lunch or breakfast.  We love fresh carrots, creamy dilled name a few...and raspberry mojitos!!
Martin has been super busy at work too. It's hard to connect in this busy season, but we've gotten into a wonderful habit of having coffee on the back deck each morning.  I go to bed at night looking forward to our time together each morning!  It's a balm to my tired body and mind!

We took a few days to head to a local lake.

Each night the kids were tuckered out and more than ready for bed!

We have a lot of forest fires in our province this year and unfortunately it really affected our air quality for a good week.  One day at the lake was so bad that we only spend a bit of time at the beach and then headed to the city to get out of the smoke!  It actually reminded me of China.

One of nephews came out for a week and we had the privilege of having him over for a few days.  The highlight was driving the boys' jeep and go-carting.

We've also spent a lot of time in the pool.  The littles are becoming such good swimmers!  Even Jackson is comfortable enough to paddle around wearing water wings.


The girls spend a week at a one hour lawn club and a week at a local VBS.  They both enjoyed immensely...although Raina's expression on crazy hair day says otherwise!  lol!

For Martin's birthday we went to the RCMP Musical rides.

I'm not sure who enjoyed it more...Raina...

...or Malia! 

I've been trying out different zucchini recipes and this one was a hit...for most of us.
Simply brown sliced zucchini in butter with a bit of garlic.  Season with salt, pepper, and thyme.  Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and some lemon juice.  Yummy!

Anyhow...that was a random kinda post with a lot of pics! lol!  Perhaps the next time I post it will be about an actual summer vacation?  I've been trying to convince hubby we REALLY NEED to take a summer vacation!  He thinks he's way too busy with work and that we should wait till fall...I say no!  I want/need a HOT summer vacation!  Here's to hoping we can take a summer vacation!...a girl can dream!


Sunday, May 31, 2015

My Garden 2015

 I planted my garden several weeks ago and most of it is coming up. We had frost 2 weeks ago, before my garden had sprouted so it only effected the tomato plants and some bedding plants...which I had covered!  We also had a touch of frost a few nights ago, but only a few of the beans took a hit. My garden is about double it's normal size due to this fantastic seeder!  I love this thing!  It literally cut the seeding time in half!

The kids wanted their to plant their own gardens as well, so with that I have about 6000 square feet of garden...and my rows are not far apart (other than for things like pumpkin and cukes)   And yes, the kids promised to care for their garden patches all on their's to that actually happening!

I can't help but look at these pictures and think we really are that odd, homeschooling family that grows everything organic, and lives off the land! Honestly!  Who do you know that still cans or freezes all their garden produce?!? People have given me some pretty odd looks when they realize that all of our dill pickles, relish, spaghetti sauce, salsa, raspberry jam, and many other yummy foods come straight from our garden!   Haha!
We also planted 90 strawberry plants!  I'm really hoping they do well this year!  I'm hoping to have so many berries that the kids can pick them and sell whatever they pick.  Perhaps it will be a motivator for them too.
As for deciding what to plant...I planted all the usual...potatoes, carrots, corn, peas, beans, onions, lettuce, dill, beets, cukes, pumpkins (ornamental and for canning), zucchini, and radishes.  I also added several varieties of squash, kohlrabi, and a variety of herbs just for fun.  We still have some produce left from last fall...we have some potatoes left, lots of carrots, and some onions.  We finished the last of the corn and peas months ago, and the last of the beans several weeks ago.  So that means I really do need to harvest and can/freeze more produce!
Now to find a pea sheller???   I wish!!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Best Mother's Day Ever!

So it's been over a week since Mother's Day, but I simply have to post because it seriously was the BEST MOTHER'S DAY EVER!!!!

It started with Martin taking the kids shopping.  They picked 4 dozen roses!  I LOVE, LOVE roses!  These roses lasted a really long time and every time I looked at them, I couldn't help but smile!

Then we invited Martin's mom over for supper on Saturday.  It was nice to see her enjoy her time away from the Assisted Living Seniors Home she now lives in.  Dad is in the same nursing home, but it wasn't possible to take him out for the evening.  His health has deteriorated too much. 

The kids and I made chocolate dipped flowers for Grandma.
And a bouquet of coffee filter flowers for Grandma.

Sunday morning the kids (and Martin) made me breakfast.  I had to sneak back into bed so I could officially be served breakfast in bed!  :)  I got my favourites...strawberries, toast, and mocha!  Just the way I like it!

Morgun and Martin made this need pallet wood herb box for me. I love it!!  In fact I've asked Morgun to build me a few more!
Alex went all out and bought me my favourite chips, chocolate bar and a $15 Starbucks card!  I was honestly blown away!  Alex has a job and is saving for a car and college.  To spend such a huge amount on me...well, it melted my heart and made me grin from ear to ear...cause we've worked hard to teach our kids to be generous!  I tried to tell him that he had spent way too much.  His reply..."No Mom, you deserve it!"  and then with a grin on his face, "after all, you gave birth to me!!!"


So, as I said it really was the very best Mother's Day Ever!   Not only because I got some spectacular gifts, but more so because my kids were literally glowing and excited to let me know how much they love and appreciate me!  Now that may sound sort of self centered, but it really isn't, cause my joy came more from how my kids are becoming more and more giving, loving, thoughtful, and generous!  There really is not greater joy than knowing that my kids are walking in HIS truth!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Maple Syrup the Old Fashioned Way

I've been meaning to post this for the last month, but it slipped my mind due to being sick back in April.
Anyhow, the experience of collecting sap from our own maple trees was far too neat to not post.  It is something we will always remember and something we will be doing again next year.
It started when I noticed sap dripping from the trees one day while going for a bike ride.  It didn't take a lot of prompting, for the boys to go out and start drilling holes, putting in spouts and hanging pails.  Each day they went out, (sometimes several times a day cause it really was that much fun!) to collect the sap.  They gathered about 12 gallons!

We should have started collecting sap about 2 weeks earlier and we would have easily collected double that amount.  Hopefully we'll start earlier next year.

The making of maple syrup takes forever.  Lots of slowly cooking off all the water.  The sap is about 98% water!  We cooked the sap outside because it would have increased the humidity in the house too much.

After hours of cooking and using way too much propane, this was the end result!  It is so incredibly yummy and sweet! 

Although this was certainly not a money safer, it was well worth the effort!  The boys loved the serenity of being out in the trees gathering sap first thing in the morning.  It's so incredibly peaceful! The experience itself made the effort well worth it! 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Jackson's 4th Birthday!!

 Jackson turned 4 this past weekend!  I can not believe that my baby is 4!  It really is true that time flies!  I'm hanging on for dear life trying to soak up as much as I can!

Jackson once again wanted a race car cake.  I was happy to oblige!  It was a simple cake.  Well, sort of!  I decided to use my "grass" decorating tip.  It worked well for the first while, until my icing made of whipping cream and a bit of icing sugar, began to melt!  It really didn't matter to Jackson!  He sat and stared at the cake for ages!  Mostly with a grin on his face!
We kept the celebration a simple affair and only invited one other couple to join us.  Jackson does not like being the center of attention and he became rather sad and nervous...

...and started picking at his fingers.  He's always been shy, but not to this point.  I hope it's simply a short phase he's going through!

Jackson wakes up every morning singing.  Usually he's singing, "Bless the Lord oh my soul, Oh, my soul." He is convinced that the song actually belongs to him!
Jackson loves his scooter, bike, cars, jumping, climbing and being outside.  Every day he begs and begs to go outside.  He would spend all day outside if he could! 
He loves watching the boys play racing games. He admires his big brothers greatly.  They are his heros!
Jackson enjoys coloring and has recently begun to show interest in writing letters.  Especially the letter "J".  He knows how to write several letters, although I'm not too sure that he actually knows the name of each.  It's more of copying what Raina does.  So lots of "R"s and "a's.
Jackson loves to cuddle and prefers to be around his family.  He loves to be near me and has recently begun to come to me and lean in, with his huge, dimpled grin.  Melts my heart every single time!! 
Jackson's favourite word is "Mama"! It is repeated, repeated, repeated, repeated, repeated, repeated, and...well you get the picture!  lol!  He loves to talk.  It makes him feel important and part of our conversation.  So, he's known to be a bit of an interrupter!  We're working on that!
Jackson is once again sleeping better at night.  We began doubling up his sleeper, and put a heater into his room, leaving it on for an hour or two to warm up the room seeing as the heat is rarely on now a days so the house can get a bit chilly.  I have no idea what's up with all of this, but I have a feeling that being cold brings back some bad memories.  And having mama come tuck him in at night is perhaps just the reassurance he needs.
I can't help but smile when I think of my sweet little baby!