Tuesday, December 16, 2008


It's been a month since I last posted. No, I didn't drop off the face of the earth. This season is always a busy one, and this year I'm making a real effort to keep things simple and try to focus on Jesus and the wonderful reason we celebrate. I've often thought of things to write, but have been occupying myself with all sorts of other things. Here, in no particular order, are a few photos of some of what's been going on around here.

Erik making muffins with the kids. 

We have snow! A rare treat in our neck of the woods, the kids are really enjoying this. Peregrine was trying to convince me that I wouldn't believe how deep it was. I guess he's probably never seen more than this, about 5 or 6 inches. Do you think he believes my stories (which are true) of the snow drifts of my childhood in Alberta, drifts high enough to build tunnels in? 

This is one of the more candid shots that Erik took of the kids for our Christmas card. I'm so blessed by these three.

This one really captures the kids' personalities. Peregrine, precariously perched, pushing things as far as he can, and Poppy, looking on in safety!

I've long wanted to do our stockings on St. Nicholas Day, December 6, and this year I actually got it together in time. We had fun learning about St. Nicholas, whose life was characterized by his love for God and generosity to the poor. We filled the stockings with little things that were symbolic of stories from his life. I think the focus on him, early in the Christmas season, is timely, as he teaches us that is is better to give than to receive, and helps us to remember to care for the poor. 

Alethea, a happy little baker, helping make gingerbread muffins for St. Nicholas Day.

Raphael is eight months old. No longer a little baby, he is sweet, happy and on the move! 

My heart is so full! Five stockings this year. We are blessed. As we sat around the breakfast table on St. Nicholas Day my eyes filled with tears of joy and gratitude for this sweet family God has given to us. 

A few creations, a wee felt angel, and a little St. Nicholas below. I've been enjoying making some small gifts this year for the kids and others. I love crafting, and need to make more time for it. 

A few thoughts, since I'm here.... I went out grocery shopping the Sunday after Thanksgiving and was really struck with the craziness and stress in the air. It was a good motivator and reminder to me that it is not what I want to characterize this time! I want our preparation for and celebration of Christ's birth to be full of joy and peace, and honoring to Him. It takes a real effort not to get caught up in all the madness, the greed, the commercialism, that can easily eclipse the true meaning of Christmas, and I don't always succeed. 
A few tangible things we're doing this year to try to keep things less stressful are planning simpler meals and trying to eat a lot of meals from the freezer. Also, among my extended family we decided that instead of buying gifts for each other we will send money to some friends who work among the poorest of the poor in Haiti. As much as I love buying gifts, I'm really enjoying having fewer things to think about, and the joy of knowing that a family will eat for another month, or a child will go to school or an orphan will be cared for is truly more satisfying than more stuff
When we went to get our Christmas tree this year Erik and I talked about how it's fun that we've been a family long enough to have established some of our own traditions. I know this whole process is just that, a process, but I'm excited about finding new ways of rediscovering the joy and meaning in celebrating the incarnation of our Lord. Next year I want to get it together in time to do a Jesse Tree with the kids, and would also like to participate more in alternative giving, as well as more handmade and practical gifts. 
Well, I think that about wraps up my rambling thoughts for the day. I hope you are all having much joy and peace as you prepare your hearts and homes for Christ's birth! 

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Pop-per-raffi

My siblings and I thought it was quite humorous when our mom had to run through two or three names before her tongue found the one she was looking for. With sisters named Alyssa and Gloria it wasn't terribly uncommon to hear things like“Re-Gloria” or  "Al-Glo-Rebeca." As a kid, of course, I couldn't fathom the numerous things a mother does all day, every day, and often all at once. Now, I understand. As I sat at the table feeding Raphael the other day I struggled to get the right name on my lips and it came out something like "Pop-Per-Raffi". 

And thus a new name for my children, in a collective sense, was born: they are now known as "The Popperaffi". It sounds kind of like Paparazzi. It may not seem like my children have anything in common with these infamous rabid journalists, but it's not as out there as you may think. I really do have my own version going on. Three people who I can't seem to shake; they watch me night and day. They're not yet equipped with cameras, but by their very lives they're recording my words, my actions, even my attitudes. And they really do follow my everywhere. It doesn't matter if I'm on the toilet or in the shower, they seem to find me! I'm reminded (and it's a timely reminder) of one of my favorite quotes from Elizabeth Prentiss.

"My children, my darling precious children....what I want them to become I must become myself."

It's a tall order. I have high hopes for the kind of people I want my children to become. I don't care about how much money they make or what kind of social position they find themselves in, but I do want them, above all, to love God with all their hearts, souls, and minds, and to love their neighbor as themselves. I want them to be kind, compassionate, generous, joyful, unselfish, courageous, loving, humble. It's what I want to become too, but I have a long, long way to grow. I know that Erik and I are the biggest earthly influence in their lives, that they see us at our best and at our worst, that many times our actions don't line up with our words or our expectations of them. But we love, and are abundantly loved by, a big God, a God who is bigger than we are, who loves our kids more than we do, whose plans for them exceed ours, and who is able to bring them to pass. 

So even though the calling is high, so very high, I won't lose heart. I will continue to live with my little Popperaffi and let them see my life, moment by moment, day by day. I will continue to love them, to play with them, teach them, correct them, dance with them. I will humble myself and ask their forgiveness when I have spoken harshly or become impatient with them. I will continue to pray for all of us to become more like our loving and kind-hearted Christ. And I will trust Him to complete the work that He started in us. 

And Mom? I hope you can forgive me for laughing when you called my Al-Glo-Rebeca. I understand now. I really do. 

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


I have a question for you. I'm sure the answer is different for everyone, and I'm not being judgemental, just wondering....

How many "spaces" on the web does one person need? Why does one person need to have two or three blogs, twitter, myspace, etc.? And how do people find the time to keep up with several different "spaces"? Do you expect your friends to keep up with you on all of these, or are they targeted to different groups of people in your life? Do they have different themes? Help! I'm confused! 

I'm just curious, as this blog is "my space" on the web and I don't post here as often as I'd like. Simply living life, most of the time, takes precedence. (I actually do have a couple of "myspace" type profiles but I don't spend time doing anything with them.) I can't imagine trying to keep up with much more than this. 

Answers, anyone? 

Monday, November 03, 2008

Now We Are Six

When I was One,
I had just begun.

When I was Two,
I was nearly new.

When I was Three,
I was hardly Me.

When I was Four, 
I was not much more.

When I was Five,
I was just alive.

But now I am Six, I'm as clever as clever.
So I think Ill be six now for ever and ever.

A.A. Milne

On Saturday we celebrated our Peregrine turning six. So many things come to mind when I stop to think about what a gift we have been given in this boy. I am incredulous that he is already six years old. I owe him a letter, but I'm dreadfully behind on those, as I haven't even written Poppy's from when she turned three (seven months ago. Ack. In my defense we had a baby two days after her birthday, but still. It's not like I never sit down and write anything.) So, my goal this week, along with cleaning my pantry, (which has been on my list since before Raphael was born) is to get these letters written. Quickly, before they grow and change anymore! 
I will leave you with some pictures of the Grand Celebration, the now epic costume party we have every year for Peregrine. 

Peregrine was very excited to receive some tools!

Raphael the happy Lil' Skunk.

The Glam Housewife with her Raggle Taggle Gypsy Man. the scary part? Erik actually liked me dressed up like this! I guess that's fair though, because I thought he looked mighty fine himself. 

Really, though, don't we all dress like this everyday? 

Poppy the Pastry Chef, who takes her job very seriously.

My nephew Gabriel, aka Cheeto!

My ol' Ma and Pa from the Prairies. I grew up on the Prairies, but even then they didn't dress like this.

My niece Jessamyn the Princess, who almost had to turn sideways to get through the door in those sleeves. When she was little we used to call her Jessamyn PrinCessamyn.

My sister Gloria the Peacock and niece Peace the Butterfly. Lovely, both of them.

Peregrine the Wild West Sheriff, and Poppy

And finally, "Great" Aunty Alyssa and "Great" Uncle Scott who managed to make it in spite of their old age.

We also had a little monkey (my nephew Diego), Daddy Warbucks, Grace, Little Orphan Annie and another darling little orphan join the party. A wonderful time was had by all. Peregrine is already talking about when he turns seven, and how long this bridge between birthdays is! We are thankful for our boy, and thankful to all who were able to come and celebrate with us, and those of you who didn't make it this year too.
And to illustrate his rascally-ness, here's a little conversation we had at a Chinese restaurant the other night: Since it was his birthday he got a free desert. This was after the birthday party where there was plenty of sugar to go around. I handed him his fortune cookie and told him we could read the message but that he couldn't eat the cookie. He accepted that without any complaining. (This is a BIG milestone!!) He took the slip of paper out of the cookie and I read it to him: "The thing you are planning will succeed." He didn't even hesitate to say, with a twinkle in his eye, "Does that mean I do get to eat the fortune cookie?" I came close to giving in on account of the quickness he came up with that, but held my ground. He's a wily one, and I really do have to watch it with him! 
Well, Erik is going to be home from work soon, so I'd better go freshen up my make-up, straighten my apron, and make sure my pearls look okay. I wouldn't want him to think I do nothing but sit around eating bonbons all day! 

Monday, October 27, 2008

Autumn Days

I love this time of year. The days are bright and sunny, the air is clear and crisp. Everything looks more vibrant in the fall! I love the sights and the smells and the sound of walking through a pile of crispy leaves. I'm thankful that the rains have held off, because I just don't feel the same way about slogging through a pile of soggy leaves! Here's to the lovely days of fall...

Poppy at the Pumpkin Patch

Peregrine and Raphael

Banana Gingerbread Muffins

Even the spices used in baking show the colors of fall!

There's unexpected colors too!

Of course I have to throw some leaves in here....

The last few weeks have been a bit rough for us. Raphael, who was sleeping for 8-9 hours straight at night, has been up a lot. Through the night. And we're tired. Erik has had one sickness after another. I'm sure the lack of sleep hasn't helped. The kids are doing pretty well. In spite of it all though, there is much joy, and I know that these things are minor when I stop and think about it. It's easy to start complaining, but we have much to be thankful for. And so we choose to give thanks, to look at the beauty around us, and to trust that these trials are working something beautiful in us as well. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Last night was the first night Raphael slept in the crib in Peregrine’s room. I’m always sad when the time comes to move a baby out of our room, but the time has come. None of us has been sleeping well, and with with the other kids it finally took moving them to their own space. I’d given Peregrine careful instructions that when he awoke he was to leave his room quietly and not wake his brother, but I was a little uncertain as to how it would go.
I awoke this morning and heard Peregrine stirring, heard the soft opening of his door, heard the baby cry. I heard the door close and hoped that Raphael would go back to sleep. He whimpered a bit, then stopped. I lay still and listened as it continued; he would fuss for a few seconds, then stop. Then all was quiet. I got up and looked into “the boys’ room” only to see Peregrine standing next to the crib looking down at little Raphael, who was smiling and wiggling in great excitement. I felt a little annoyed that Peregrine hadn’t obeyed me after all until he explained in a voice of wonder:
“Mom, he woke up when I climbed down from my bunk bed and he started to cry. But he’s, like, perfectly satisfied with me. Whenever I tried to leave he would cry, but if I stay here he’s so happy!”
It was the perfectly satisfied that got me. And the sound of his voice, the tone that betrayed that he had found true joy in making another person happy. I sleepily put my arm around him and said “You really love your brother, don’t you?”

Friday, October 17, 2008

Peregrine, on Politics

As we were driving this morning Peregrine and I discussed the upcoming election. I explained to him in simple terms that there were two men, John McCain and Barack Obama, and that people would choose which one would be our next president. The conversation that followed went something like this.
“I think we should vote for Daddy! He’d be the best president ever!”
“Yes, Daddy would be a good president.”
“Yes! And then we could live in the White House!”
“Do you think Daddy would be a good president, Peregrine, because he’s wise?”
“Yes! He’s the wisest man I’ve ever known!“
”I think he’d be a good president too, but this time it’s either going to be Barack Obama or John McCain.“
”I’d vote for John McCain, because I like his name better.“
”Well, that’s not really a good reason to vote for a man. We need to learn about them and vote for the one we think would be the best leader of our country.“
”Hmmmm. Does John McCain love the Lord more than anything?“
”Well, I don’t know. Both McCain and Obama say they love the Lord, but really only He knows their hearts. We can only look at their actions and try to pick the one we think is the most godly and would make the best decisions for our country.“
”That’s a good point Mom.“

I loved that he quickly realized the most important criteria was whether a person loves the Lord more than anything. I wish it were that simple to discern the heart of a man! It would be even simpler if we could just vote for the man with the name we like the best! (I’d vote Obama, hands down, in this case!)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Our Daily Bread-Doh

Poppy's Cinnamon-Raisin Snail

This wasn't the final shaping, but Peregrine was very excited to have spelled MOM with his dough!

For as much as I enjoy being crafty, I've never done a lot of crafts with my kids. I'm just not a fan of spending time and money to make junky things that I then feel guilty about sneaking into the trash at some later date. I feel like a rotten mom just writing that, but there it is... the truth. My kids, however, have no aversion to "junk crafts" and would love it if we'd do more of them. And play dough? Mess, mess, mess. I hate the little pieces that inevitably end up all over the place. I hate the way it gets squished and ground into everything, and I detest the smell of store-bought Play-doh. Not to mention the way it's spelled. (I grew up with a "good mom" who made play dough for us and it didn't stink. I'm sure she hated the mess too, but that didn't stop her.) So, about 80% of the time when my kids ask if we can get Play-doh out I say "No, not today." (Can you believe that The Spell Check Gurus aren't at all bothered by that word, doh? But if I try to spell Playmobil they freak out?)
About once a week we bake bread. It's healthy and hearty and wholesome, and the dough is wonderfully squishy and stretchy and resilient. Most of the time we don't encourage playing with food at the table, but on bread baking day I'm all about it. The kids each get a nice lump of dough to shape and re-shape and stick raisins in to their heart's content. This probably keeps them happy for close to an hour. And when it's done, when they've finally decided on what sort of wonders to make, we put it on a pan, cover it with a towel, and let the little yeasties do their thing. Our wonderful dough doubles in size; when we bake it it doesn't become hard and brittle. Rather, it becomes soft and golden and fragrant. And delicious. Now that's my kind of Play-Dough. 
Here's a recipe for the bread we make. It's Whole Wheat but you'd never guess it. It's so soft and light and still tastes great several days after it's been baked. This recipe makes two loaves, or one loaf and all sorts of smaller wonders. The original recipe is here, and this is scaled down and slightly modified, the way we make it. I usually use freshly ground hard white wheat berries or whole wheat pastry flour, but you could use regular whole wheat. 

Whole Wheat Bread

1 1/2 T Yeast
2 C Warm Water
2 C Whole Wheat Flour 
Mix together in a bowl and let sit until double- about 20-30 minutes.

1/4 C Oil
1/3 C Honey
1 1/2 t. Salt
1/4 C. Gluten Flour
1/4-1/2 C. Ground Flax Seed (optional)
3 C Whole Wheat Flour
If using a mixer knead with a dough hook. If the dough is too sticky after about two or three minutes then add little more flour until it's the right consistency. Knead for a few more minutes until dough is smooth and stretchy. If kneading by hand, go to the original recipe and follow her directions. Place in an oiled bowl and cover with a damp cloth. Let rise until the dough has doubled, about an hour. Punch down and shape into loaves (or snails, whales, snakes, cinnamon rolls, cars, birds, etc.) Let rise another 30 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes for a large loaf or less for smaller shapes. Enjoy!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Going Green

It's all the buzz these days: Do your part in caring for the earth and Go Green. Even Raphael has jumped on board. Being the independent thinker he is, though, he's not merely choosing cloth diapers over disposables and drinking hormone free milk from his free range mama. No, this little guy is serious about going green. Here you can see him thoroughly enjoying one of his first foods, avocado. (Organic, of course.)

It's with a twinge of sadness on my part that Raphael is beginning to eat solid food. With the other two,  it was a milestone I looked forward to more, but I've so enjoyed the simplicity of nursing this little one, and the connectedness we share. This time around I feel more keenly that this is a first step toward independence, and I know how quickly they grow. There is something so sweet about being his only source of nourishment; every ounce of him so far has grown and been sustained through his physical connection to me. Now, he begins to separate himself, to move slowly toward the independence that must come. It's only right, and it's good, but the baby days go so quickly by, and I shall cherish the memories. There's no looking back, after all. This is the period, from six months to a year, that I so enjoyed with Peregrine and Alethea; it seemed there were new discoveries every day. I'm sure I will enjoy it with Raphael as well, my little Green Boy. 

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

A Tuesday in October

  • We had a great time away last week. The first several days were spent at Semiahmoo, where Erik was attending a conference for work. Even though he had to attend meetings and workshops, it was so much nicer to be there with him than home alone with the kids, and we had plenty of time with him too. The kids enjoyed exploring the beach, finding rocks and shells, and breathing lots of fresh sea air. We also had a very nice visit with Stacy and her sweet family one day. After Erik's conference was over we headed North to Vancouver, British Columbia, where we spent the next two nights. The weather was cool and rainy, but we enjoyed walking around the city and seeing some of the sights. I was born and raised in Canada and always feel nostalgic to revisit my home country. Even though we're close neighbors, it really has its own feel, and it was good to be there again. 
The kids enjoy the beach.

The view from Semiahmoo, looking across the bay into Canada.
  • Being away gave me lots of time to reflect on life, to think about what's working and what isn't, to re-evaluate priorities and think about some new ways of doing things. Reading The Paradox of Choice has been enlightening, and has challenged me to structure my days more. Being faced, daily, with all the little questions of how to best run my household, is, to me, a source of stress. If I can have a master plan, a master menu, a basic schedule to follow, a lot of those little choices, and thus stresses, could be eliminated. Like my sister Alyssa once said "Do I enjoy the challenge of trying to figure out what to make for dinner at 4PM?" Planning, and sticking to my plan, doesn't come naturally to me, but it's an area I'd like to grow in. I'd like to come up with a basic monthly menu, but I started with just this week. I've also written out a basic schedule for the last two days, and so far it's been helpful. (You can read my previous thoughts, and fears, about scheduling here.) I know it's only two days, but it's a start, right? One day at a time....
  • A few little Poppy-isms as of late: She confidently ordered "official chips please" off a menu one evening. It was the fish and chips she was going for! Another evening she enjoyed a "girl cheese sandwich." Today she found a woolly bear on our walk, and kept referring to it as a "gummy bear"!
  • We're slowly getting school underway. I'll try to write more about what we're doing this year soon. Peregrine is officially kindergarten age this year, so it's our first "real" year of homeschool and so far we're enjoying it.
  • Raphael is six months. Half a year. Precious. And can hardly wait to go fishing with Daddy.
  • I've long wanted to start keeping a nature journal and make it a family project. Drawing, however, is not one of my skills. But I know it's something I can learn along with the kids, so I've been doing some drawing with Peregrine, following the instructions in his Draw Write Now books. It's actually fun, and has boosted my confidence enough to pull out an old blank notebook and make my very first, of hopefully many, entries! It's a very humble beginning, but a beginning it is. 
First entry in the Nature Journal: the Woolly Bear.
Next up: a pin oak leaf and acorn gathered on our walks, and maybe this spider and her supper of wasp.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Simple Woman's Daybook 5

FOR TODAY, September 28, 2008.

Outside My Window... water, water, everywhere. We're traveling this week and are at present in Northern Washington looking out over Puget Sound. It's a lovely golden morning and promises to me a beautiful sunny day.
I am thinking... how much fun we're going to have exploring the shore today.
I am thankful.... that we got to come with Erik on this business trip. It's so, so much nicer than being at home without him.
From the kitchen... kitchen, what kitchen? I'm kitchen free this week, although I did bring lots of food like muffins and crackers and cheese and cookies and yogurt.
I am wearing... my "secret-fit belly" maternity pants from Motherhood.... still. What can I say, six months later I still can't fit in my pre-pregnancy pants, and these are comfy. Sigh....
I am creating... a temporary home out of our hotel room.
I am going... to visit Stacy tomorrow. Yeah! We had the pleasure of a visit last summer and I'm looking forward to seeing her and her growing family once again.
I am reading...The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less. I've been reading it aloud to Erik on our drive. So far, so good. Good food for thought, and fun to read aloud and discuss together.
I am hoping... for sunshine today and good sleep tonight. Getting everyone to sleep in the same room can be a bit tricky.
I am hearing... the TV, and the kids laughing. And, I might add, I'm thankful we don't have a TV at home.
Around the house... whatever messes we left in the wake of leaving, thankfully not too bad as my Mom came over and helped. Thanks Mom!
One of my favorite things... traveling, road trips, although the road part of trips is a little more challenging with small people who have smaller attention spans.
A few plans for the rest of the week... playing with the kids, exploring the beach, swimming, and when Erik's conference is over, a few days in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Here is picture thought I am sharing... no pictures today.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Simple Woman's Daybook 4

FOR TODAY, September 15, 2008.

Outside My Window... it's warming up. But the days are beginning to feel Fall-ish, and there is a golden feel in the air. 
I am thinking... that I'm ready for a quiet week.
From the kitchen... chocolate cake and leftover massaman curry.
I am wearing... long sleeves. 
I am creating... milk? Does that count?!
I am going... to finish getting the house cleaned up from the weekend.
I am reading... North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell. Still. I took a break and read The Kite Runner. Very good, not in a feel-good way, but in a shake-you-out-of-your-comfort-zone way.
I am hoping... that Erik and Poppy will get over the cough they've had for a while.
I am hearing... the bouncing of Raphael's jumper, Peregrine's happy chatter to his little brother.
Around the house... laundry, as always, a few more dishes to be hand washed, clothes that are grown out of and clothes yet to be grown into; they all need to be sorted and put away.
One of my favorite things... happy reunions with loved ones when we've been apart.
A few plans for the rest of the week... starting school with the kids and getting their bedrooms cleaned and organized. Again.
Here is picture thought I am sharing... a few actually. This past weekend Erik and Peregrine went on an all-boys camping trip with his Dad, and I went to the coast with my brother, sister, and the other kids. 

My brother Jacob with Raphael.

Cousins Poppy and Joe-Joe.

Cousins Diego and Raphael.

What would your first trip to the coast be without face-planting in the sand?

Peregrine gets a fishing lesson from his Papa.

Erik and Peregrine.

Mama and Raphi.

Little toes in the sand.

Raphi loved the sand! (In total contrast to his big brother, who, on his first trip to the beach, wouldn't get off the blanket!)

If you'd like to join The Simple Woman's Daybook you can visit The Simple Woman who started it here

Monday, September 08, 2008

Weekend in Pictures

We had a lovely, but busy weekend celebrating my brother's wedding. Here are some pictures, in no particular order. The first four were taken by Erik's mom Michele, and the rest were taken by The Man himself. Well, The Man to me, my man, Erik.

My little brother Josh with Peregrine, usher extraordinaire. There were Hershey's Kisses on the tables, and as a little bonus Peregrine, after seating the Mothers, presented each one of them with a "Kiss". A little touch of Peregrine charm to be sure!

Can I please get some more fingers here? Raphael got his first tooth on Thursday and a whole lot of drool to go with it!

A rare picture of the five of us together....

... and another, just for fun.

The reluctant Flower Girl, who for weeks said she didn't want to be in the wedding. Who on the way to the wedding said she didn't want to throw petals; she wanted to throw toys. And who, on the way home from the wedding, insisted that she didn't want to be in the wedding!

Throwing petals after all, very seriously. 

My "little brother", his lovely bride Annie, and my Dad officiating.

Husband and Wife!

Josh and Annie wrote their own vows, and it was so sweet to hear what they pledged to one another. I still tend to think of my little brother as a kid, so it was neat to see him as a man through the eyes of the woman whose heart he's won. I wish them every happiness in their new life together and many happy years!