Monday, September 26, 2016

Squash Recipes

Ahh!  Fall is officially here and although I really wasn't ready for it, I'm embracing it now!  There's nothing like fall to make one slow down, smell the crisp air, and stop to notice the ever changing leaves.  Thanks to the lovely gift I got from hubby, I've even been able to enjoy a few of my most favourite drink...Pumpkin Spice Latte! 
 
Fall is also the time to use up all the various squash that grew in my garden.  Here are a few of our favourite recipes!
 
Zucchini Pizza
 
I love this recipe because it's so super simple and it's perfect for those super size zucchini that aren't good for anything else (other than relish)!  Simply grab all your favourite pizza toppings.  Wash the zucchini and scoop out all the seeds. I like to peel the zucchini first as a few of our kids have such difficulty chewing the tough skin.  I then sprinkle the zucchini with a bit of salt and some Epicure Pizza seasoning and place it on a tin foil lined baking sheet and bake at 375 F for about 20 mins. 
Then I add all of our favourite toppings and bake for an additional 20 mins or until the zucchini is cooked.  The time will vary, depending on the size of the zucchini.
 



 
This next recipe is my own creation.  The inspiration was a typical Ratatouille dish.  It's supper easy!
 
Simply slice and layer zucchini, other squash, peppers of any color, and tomatoes.  After each layer of zucchini, sprinkle on a little salt and Epicure's Balsamic Dressing spice. Drizzle with olive oil.  Bake at 350 F for about 30-45 mins.  Enjoy! 

 
 

Monday, September 12, 2016

Wren's 12th Birthday!

 
 
It's been a month since Wren's 12th birthday and I'm finally writing about it!  I really did have the best of intentions of posting the day after her birthday...but then real life happened! 
 
Like tonight during bath time the girls managed to use so much soap, that it filled the bathroom sink after they drained the tub!  :0
 
But I'm here now!  And it's not because there aren't a million things that need to be done.  Like processing the piles of tomatoes, or squash, or pumpkins; or doing laundry.  But alas, I've been instructed to put my feet up.  Literally!  Doctors orders!
 
I broke my little toe yesterday!  You may think I must have been doing some sort of physical activity like playing soccer.  But no!  It was the silliest of incidences!  I broke it stepping into the tub!  Bahahaha!  After the initial yelp of pain as I heard a snap, I took one look at my distorted toe and burst out laughing!  Marty and the kids took one look at my toe and their eyes popped.  But my hysterical laughing soon had them in a fit too!  Honestly!  Who breaks their toe stepping into the tub?!?!  And not only breaks it, but in such a freakishly ugly way too!?!  I couldn't stop giggling!  Not even at minor emergency!  I'm sure the doctors and nurses thought I had lost my mind!  It still makes me laugh! 
 
Anyhow...on to Wren's birthday!
 
Planning this sweet girls birthday was hard.  Fun, but hard.  Initially we struggled to know how to celebrate.  On the one hand we wanted to celebrate for all the lost birthdays...all 11 of them!  But on the other hand, we knew it would be overwhelming and it would set a precedent that we could never repeat.  We also wanted Wren to know how very valued and loved she is.  So we settled for a happy medium.  We did all the things we normally would do, and added a few extras.  For example, our kids get helium balloons and a piƱata once in their early years.  So we did both.
 
Wren's day started with breakfast in bed.  She about burst at the seams when presented with her very ordinary (for the most part) breakfast of  strawberries, toast with butter, and hot chocolate. Yes, she enjoys hot chocolate with marshmallows!  Something she wouldn't have seen as a treat when she first arrived at home.
 
 
Wren couldn't decide what kind of cake she wanted.  A princess one?  Yes!  A flower one? Yes!  A butterfly one? Yes!  A tinkerbell one? Yes!  We finally settled on a simple ombre flower cake.
 
 


We decorated the night before her big day so that she awoke to balloons and a birthday banner.  Of coarse by the time supper rolled around and the real celebrations began, we had to blow up more balloons as the helium had escaped most of the balloons!
 


 
We set out our finest china, added some candles, "diamonds" and flowers! I forgot to add the pretty pink napkins before I snapped the pics.  Oops!
 


 We added a China candle to the cake and sang happy birthday!  She loved this candle.  It pops open and a plays the "Happy Birthday" song.
 
 
I LOVE this pic! Such a silly goose!

 

 
And then we added a sparkly candle.  She kinda freaked at first but then giggled and giggled!


The kids each picked out a small gift for Wren.
 


Alex will hate me for posting this pic!  I think he had inhaled too much helium and couldn't stop smiling!  We had soooo much fun sucking in helium!  Oh the things we do for entertainment!





And Wren's very favourite gift! The one she kept begging for!  A horse of her own just like the other girls have!
 

 
There's so much I want to say about Wren.   She's about 4' 5", and weighs roughly 62 lbs. She's hit a plateau in physical growth.
 
In other aspects, she has grown in leaps and bounds!  Her language is amazing!  She still doesn't hear all the words correctly, but she's easier to understand and has more confidence in putting words into sentences.  She's learning about rules, what's appropriate, and what's not.  She's learning that when mom and dad say something...they mean it!  Like every 12 year old, she does constantly test the boundaries! And like any 12 year old, she can be super annoying and demanding.  Some days you'd think the first years of her life were rather high class!  She has an eye for beautiful things and popular things and wants all of the items! 
 
Wren is also incredibly sweet!  I know I use that word a lot to describe her, but it really is who she is!  She'll annoy us and then melt our hearts with her big grin, her constant "thank you mama!", "thank you daddy!" for every little thing we do! 
 
Wren loves the colors purple and pink.  She loves horse back riding and horses.  She loves coloring and cuddles.  She loves pretty dresses and her long hair.  She loves being outside and spends hours with our dog Pepper.  She absolutely LOVES swimming! She has learned to put her face in the water AND blow bubbles.  She has learned to move about quite efficiently in the water.  She plays with all 3 of her younger siblings.  Wren is beginning to connect more with Malia and slowly they are becoming very good friends.  Wren is currently in grade one and is doing well.  She has a very good sense of numbers, but struggles more with language related tasks.  I think it's more of a confidence/ESL issue than a cognitive delay.  Her goals are to walk and be like her mama!  (What a freaky thought! lol!)
 
I stand amazed at where we are today.  How God has brought this incredibly beautiful child into our lives, when it really was not in our plans.  How He is helping us deal with all the hard.  How He is slowly helping us bond and become family in more than just the legal form.  Trust me, one does not simply "fall in love" with a child.  Nor does a child simply "fall in love" with you.  Sure a part of you does, but love is so complicated in so many ways, even though it so super simple.  We continue to consciously work hard to bond and grow as a family.  Often that means missing out on things, and taking a step back from our normal activities.  But experience has taught us it will be well worth it in the long run!  There are so many incredible moments.  Moments where Marty and I look at each other and wonder "how did we get so lucky?!?"  Moments where I want to shout for joy that "my cup runneth over!"
 
I am so very grateful to call Wren my daughter!  And we couldn't be prouder of her!  I can't wait to see where we will be a year from now!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Summer 2016

 
This is my regular summer post where I post that it's been way too long since I last posted, and that it wasn't intentional, but rather just the result of another extremely busy summer! lol!
 
We once again planted a huge garden and I managed to only have "help" with planting potatoes and no one asked to have their own garden...and I wasn't about to mention it! lol!
 
 
 
We made a point to go to at least a few local parades.  As always the kids love collecting all the candy.  They just finished their stash today! 
 
Wren was mostly serious during her first parade, but I did manage to get this fantastic smile!
 

 
Our favourite part of our local rodeo day was the face painting!  So cool!
  We literally had all 4 faces painted within 10 minutes!
 
 
We got a bunch of flowers given to us by my sister who was clearing out her greenhouse, so each of the kids got to make their very own pot!  And we learnt all about the parts of plants and made guesses as to which ones would do well based on how the roots looked.

 
At the beginning of July, Alex left for a 2 1/2 week missions trip to El Salvador.  He had a blast!  It was an incredible opportunity for him to grow in character and in his spiritual walk.  Hats of to the sending church and in particular, the youth leaders who devoted their time and energy into these youth!  My prayer is that this experience will impact him daily so that he views each day of his life as an opportunity to reach out and love those around him!
 
 
 
While Alex was in El Salvador, we took a spontaneous trip to Drumheller.  We ended up camping, meaning we had to take both vehicles.  It was a LOT less expensive than renting a motel! 
 
 My favourite place of all was the hoodoos. 

 
Between Marty and I, Wren even got to climb up a fair distance.  It was doable, but lets just say we sure got a workout!!
 
 
And then the next day we took the kids to the splash park and to this giant dinosaur...all because we felt we really needed another workout! Honestly!  It was only a bit over 100 stairs! lol!  Marty and I took turns going up, with Marty doing the majority and I carried Wren on the way down.  It was worth it!
 
 
 
One day we headed to the Bass Pro Shop just cause that's the perfect place for my hunting loving men!
 
 
On our last day we went to the Royal Tyrell Museum.  It is a very cool place, but by this time my abscessed tooth (which had been keeping me awake for 2 nights already) was really bothering me.  I broke out in a sweat from the pain! So our time there was cut short.   I ended up making it home a good hour before Marty...lets just say that pain can make for a heavy foot! 


And on our way home we pretended we saw the Eiffel Tower!  lol!  I have no idea why, but for some reason Raina has a fascination with Paris and the Eiffel Tower.  Perhaps we can go there together some day?!?

 
 
 
I ended up getting in with my dentist the next day.  They prescribed antibiotics and referred me to a specialist.  That night was awful!  I literally spent all night vomiting!  I was so sick that Marty convinced the specialist to see me the following morning.  We headed in with the upchuck bucket by my side.  I spent the next few days feeling awful, and it took almost 3 weeks for me to finally be able to eat a full meal.  I'll be sure to keep this in mind the next time I want to loose some extra weight!  Haha!
 
And somewhere in there the garden produced and the weeds grew.  I managed to harvest the majority, with the boys' help...but the weeds are still having a hayday! 
 
This is our first and biggest picking of peas.

 
And the beans...oh my!  Did we pick beans!!  This was our first picking!  We should have picked a week earlier and some were too big.  But I still managed to freeze over 200 cups of beans this year!


 
Last fall we took our pool down.  We'd had a windstorm that literally tore off our very secure winter cover and it ended up destroying many parts of our pool.  We figured we'd just continue to use it, thinking it was mostly aesthetics.  Then our dog decided she needed a swim.  In her attempt to get out, she shredded the liner!  We managed to patch at least a dozen holes, but it continued to leak all summer.  So we decided to take it down and redo the entire pool.  We then realized the wind storm had done a lot more damage than we had thought.  So we took down the entire pool and got a solid concrete base in place and then proceeded to put the pool up again.  We got a call from our water delivery guy, saying the water would be there the next morning...well, at the point only a few of the supports were up!  Ah!  I called Marty, he rushed home and we spent the entire afternoon and evening setting up the rest of the pool. We finally finished at 10 pm!  The next morning the water arrived.  And when they had about 2 ft of water in the pool, this happened!


 
I think we both almost cried!  But then we realized it's just stuff!!  It wasn't a tragedy at all!  Just an inconvenience! 
 
So Marty set to work draining the pool and reinforcing the pool walls...and now...finally...we are enjoying this!!

 

 
Sometimes it seems like life is so hard, so many difficult things...and then I head into my garden and gather all kinds of yummy veggies...and even some flowers...and add a glass of wine...and I begin to give thanks and suddenly life seems pretty good!!
 

 

Especially when I observe my kids!  Seriously!  Does it get any cuter than Raina pretending to write with a feather on a piece of board?!?
 

 


Or Jackson's big grin at being told he can have breakfast on the deck as I enjoy my morning mocha!!
 

 
And then this!  He sure knows how to paint the sky in the most spectacular colors!!


 And this past weekend we headed to Watrous for some swimming in their mineral spa with some of my relatives.  Thanks for taking time for us!  We sure did appreciate it!
 
 
And in the midst of all this busyness we had a few other relatives stop by.  Thank you!  We sure appreciated your visits and encouragement! 
 
And last of all...later this week we will be having an exciting first in our family...celebrating Wren's very first birthday as a daughter and sister!!  I can't wait to show you pictures of her special day!  We've decided to do a few more things than normal, but are keeping the event family centered and relatively low key.  Would you do me a favour and join me in wishing Wren a Happy Birthday?  Feel free to leave her a birthday message here, or on fb, or for those of you that have my cell number feel free to text.  I will read all your comments to her on her birthday later this week!  Thanks for helping make her birthday extra special!!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Malia's Bone Graft Surgery


This girl of ours continues to amaze us!  A week before her bone graft surgery, I took her to the doctor for her pre-op appointment.  I broke the news that she had surgery coming up.  First she was mad.  Then she started to cry.  She was upset that we hadn't told her earlier, even though she had requested that we only give her a weeks notice before the surgery.  We ran a few errands and then headed to Tim's for some comfort food. 
 
It turns out this girl has been doing a lot of thinking, and she is amazingly wise!  So she tells me this..."Mom, the other night I was lying in bed, wondering why people have disabilities.  And then I was wondering why I have this (meaning cleft lip/palate), and I realized that maybe it's so other people can see Jesus through my story!"
 
Yup!  I choked back the tears and agreed! (Well, maybe the tears didn't choke back so well!) 
 
So, in sharing these photos...Malia has decided she doesn't care who sees them.

 
Malia was a champ this time around!  She always gets more and more nervous as she gets closer to being sedated.  I'm learning to speak up more, even in the OR.  It really does help to give suggestions on what works for Malia.  She cried a bit, but was incredibly brave and strong.  She managed to focus on taking deep breathes and squeezing my hand. 
 
The surgery went very well, although the surgeon is concerned about how well the graft will take around one of her teeth.  So that's something you could pray about when you think of her.
 
We bought an iPad for the kids for Christmas and it's been such a gift during these hospital stays.  It is one of the few times Malia actually gets to use it!
 
 
As usual, the nights spent in the hospital are rough.  The first night was awful!  I don't want to say too much, but we entered the room as two police officers left.  Lets just say the following words were overheard..."teen airlifted, found unconscious and beaten, alcohol poisoning, kit..."  And it all seemed to be "normal" for this gal and her family.  We had all managed to dose off and then were interrupted when a relative came to visit this gal around 10:30 pm!  They thought it was a great idea to visit loudly, eat, and watch a movie till past midnight! 
 
Malia was exhausted the next day and asked for earplugs and managed to have a decent nap.
 
 
 
Then her Auntie Rita came for a very special visit!  These two are kindred spirits and they love each other well!  We couldn't be more grateful for this special lady!
 
 

 
Day 2
 
 
Malia's surgeon and nurses were once again astounded at how well Malia handled her pain, how she managed to drink, and how well she handled everything.  Apparently they never have kids leave after two nights in the hospital...but Malia did!  She's such a trooper!!
 
Malia was very swollen and bruised.  The bruises were hard to capture on camera.  Her skin tone hides them well.  These photos make the bruising look a lot better than it actually was!
 
 
Day 3                                                                 Day 4                
 
 
 
Day 5              
 
 
 
 

Day 6                                                                      Day 7          
 

 

 
Day 10                  
 
 
We did a little math, and so far this year (19 weeks), Malia has been on a liquid diet for about 12 weeks and a soft/mushy food diet for about 2-3 weeks!  That's a restricted diet for 14-15 weeks!  And for the most part, she does not complain!  She did let me know, in no uncertain terms, that blended chicken noodle soup is disgusting!! 
 
This was Malia's fifth surgery in a little over a year.  We are DONE with surgeries!  But the end is in sight...at least temporally! Malia will have another surgery in about 6 months to release her upper lip.  And then she will have a 5-6 year break!!!  Yah!!! We couldn't be more excited about that!!!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


 

 
 
 

 

 
 
 
 


Sunday, May 8, 2016

Mother's Day 2016

 
Today is a bittersweet day.  I miss my mom.  I wish she could meet my youngest four.  I wish I could wish her a "Happy Mother's Day". 
 
My mother in law is not doing well and was admitted to the hospital a few days ago.  It's so difficult to get in to see her.  The rooms are super small, barely big enough for Wren's chair to pass between the beds.  There's no chair for a loved one to sit at her side.  There are two people that share her room that have a very contagious illness that necessitates care givers to gown up.  I tell my kids not to touch anything, but it still kinda freaks me out at the thought of them contacting this illness.  So today I will continue praying that she literally feels our love, and feels the arms of her Saviour wrapped tightly around her.
 
And then we had Wren's child dedication in church this morning.  Wren was more than a bit confused about all the fuss, but some day she will understand that she is a gift that God has entrusted to us and that we desire for her to have a relationship with Him, and that we will do our very best to raise and teach her well!
 
 

 
Raising a child takes a village...or in our case a community of believers.  I love this picture!  It hit me square in the chest at what this picture represents.  It represents so much more than our pastor praying for us as parents and praying for our kids.  It really represents the church, or fellow believers walking along side us, praying for us, supporting us, encouraging us.  I am so incredibly grateful for the people that choose to show us in so many ways that they care, that they've got our back.  I may have bawled when I received a very undeserved, but incredibly encouraging text from my brother.  I don't deserve to be honored in my role as a mom.  I fail so very often.  But then, receiving this text...well, it just puts the wind in my sails and makes me all the more determined to be the very best mom I can be!  Thank you...you know who you are!!





Thanks to Nathalie for taking these pictures for us at the drop of a hat!  You have no idea how much we value these pics.
 
 
And then there's this crew!  My heart about explodes that I have the privilege of being their mom!  They really are incredible!  And so very handsome and beautiful...inside and out!
 
 


 
And as I often do, especially on this day to honour mothers...I pray for the birth mom of each of my kids.  I pray that somehow she will know her child is safe, is loved, and is happy.  I thank God that she chose life!  I thank God, that somehow in all the possible things that could have stood in the way of us ever meeting...He made a way! A way for me to be their mama!
 
Happy Mama's Day to all you amazing moms...by birth, by adoption, and those that chose the greatest sacrifice of placing your child into another woman's arms.