Sunday, 15 April 2012

what to do, what to do...

I've been wanting for a very long time to start a consistent list of chores for the kids to do. Teach them responsibility, give them concrete ways of contributing to the household. And give me opportunities to reward them for exceptional performance. I've looked online for printables, read dozens of other peoples' charts, and haven't found one that worked for me. So I was relying on good old paper and pencil. But then within a couple of weeks the paper would get lost, my memory would fail, and all the hard work (aka: self-discipline) quickly went by the wayside. Then three or four weeks later, I'd pull out a fresh sheet of paper and start over.

This week I finally buckled down and just did it. Made my own chart. Got to tickle my nerdy uber-anal squares-and-lines funny bone. :) Here's what my kids are up to every week until school is out:

Still have to come up with a consistent rewards program. Whether it's an allowance for consistent happy performance, or some other "deposit" that can be saved up and traded in for good stuff, or some other less concrete/more abstract system. But at least this is a start!

I must add that Nora took it upon herself to add my name to the bottom of the last handmade chart I had made. Mondays it was my job to "CLeN up BAC YORD", Tuesday I was to spend in the "LONgery ruM" (think grade 1 phonetics), and Wednesdays I was to "CLeN up LuNch." My first reaction was to be offended...she obviously has no idea how much work I do around here! But then I realized that she probably just thought it wasn't fair that all the kids had jobs to do, and mommy's name wasn't on the list with her own set of jobs. If she only knew! :)

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

spring is coming...

Because we're holding out hope that spring will actually come someday...we had fun putting these little treats together yesterday!

New Life Nests

1/4 cup butter
1 250g pkg large marshmallows
6 cups corn flake cereal
mini egg candies

- grease muffin tins

- heat butter and marshmallows in a large pot over medium heat, just until melted, stirring constantly

- stir in corn flake cereal until well coated

- scoop into muffin tins, pressing down, and up the sides to create a nest

- chill until firm (about 30 minutes) and fill nests with egg candies

Enjoy this sweet way to celebrate the hope of new life - in Christ and in nature!

Sunday, 8 April 2012

some family shots...

Craig...almost five months old!
My sweet happy chunky monkey

Claire and Colin all ready for church
Nora on Resurrection Day

Hey there good lookin'

Claire's sweetness shining through

Emmett's new quiet time hangout spot

Thursday, 5 April 2012

In quietness and confidence...

While I started this blog two weeks ago with lightheartedness, choosing to call it Sweet Messengers, and writing down the inspiration for that name, the hymn "More Love to Thee," and claiming to be looking for grace in unlikely places, I knew that it would not be long before I would need to eat my own words. Which is part of why I started blogging. So here we are, two weeks later, and once again I am reduced to tears and am required to throw myself wholly upon the grace of God for sustenance.

The last four years have been years of loss. Over and over and over again. Loss of physical capabilities with a severed tendon and surgery and two difficult pregnancies; loss of dreams and dignity through slander and persecution in the workplace; eventual loss of employment due to the workplace issues and Todd's insistence on applying the very hard words of Christ in relation to our enemies (check out Matthew 5:38-48...easy to read, immensely painful to do); loss of all things comfortable and familiar as we left behind our lives and moved across the country to a new job and home; loss of a sweet baby boy at 12 weeks gestation; loss of our basement to a flood; loss of two vehicles through accidents; and now this week, our bathroom has literally fallen apart, and one of our (new) vehicles has been rendered undriveable and needing repairs that will cost more than the value of the car. The losses have been staggering, and this list is not exhaustive. The timeline of calamity has accelerated, from once every couple of years, to several times a year, to where we are now: just about every six weeks, we are hit with a new blow. Seriously, around the five week mark, just as things are getting back to "normal," I start inwardly wondering what the next thing is going to be. We have reached the point of crying out with Job:

I will say unto God, Do not condemn me;

shew me wherefore thou contendest with me.

Is it good unto thee that thou shouldest oppress, 
that thou shouldest despise the work of thine hands, 
and shine upon the counsel of the wicked? 
Hast thou eyes of flesh? or seest thou as man seest? 
Are thy days as the days of man? 
are thy years as man's days, that thou inquirest after mine iniquity, 
and searchest after my sin? 
Thou knowest that I am not wicked; and there is none that can deliver out of thine hand. 
Thine hands have made me and fashioned me together round about; 
yet thou dost destroy me...

And these things hast thou hid in thine heart: 

I know that this is with thee. 

I am full of confusion;

therefore see thou mine affliction; for it increaseth.

~ Job 10:2-8,13,16

Yes, this is where we are. Full of confusion. Wondering if the affliction has any end of increase.

And then we come to this:

Though he slay me, 

yet will I trust in him

but I will maintain mine own ways before him.

He also shall be my salvation

~ Job 13:15-16

And this:
But he knoweth the way that I take; 
when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold. 
My foot hath held his steps, his way have I kept, and not declined. 
Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; 
I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food. 

~ Job 23:10-12
This is our only comfort:

      His mercies have proven new every morning. 

                  Because of his great love we have not been consumed. 

          His power has been made manifest in his provision. 

                                   His grace has carried us.

                                                 His power has sustained us. 

So as we face yet another loss, and wonder
                                      and how...
                                                               and when...
                                                                                         and why...?

I KNOW that we can sing with David:

I will love thee, O LORD, my strength.
The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer;
my God, my strength, in whom I will trust;
my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.
I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised!
He sent from above, he took me, he drew me out of many waters.
He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them which hated me: 
for they were too strong for me.
They prevented me in the day of my calamity:
but the LORD was my stay.
He brought me forth also into a large place;
he delivered me, because he delighted in me.
As for God, his way is perfect: 
the word of the LORD is tried:
he is a buckler to all those that trust in him.
For who is God save our LORD? 
or who is a rock save our God?
It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect.
He maketh my feet like hinds' feet,
and setteth me upon my high places.

~ Psalm 18:1-4,16-20,30-33

So will you watch and wait with me as we cast ourselves completely upon the provision of our great Provider? As we stand with expectancy before His throne of grace? As we wait with quietness and confidence to see His great deliverance? For 

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, 
whose mind is stayed on thee: 
because he trusteth in thee
Trust ye in the LORD forever: 
for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength.

~ Isaiah 26:3

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

So for my first post...what else but food? And not just any food. Feel good, cozy, warm-up-your-insides-while-it's-cold-on-the-outside kind of food. Because-we're-all-tired-of-winter-already food. Ok, not food. Beverage. But still...

We went out on a grand adventure tonight after dinner. Think Mary Poppins: 

Let's go fly a kite, up to the highest height.
                         Let's go fly a kite and send it soaring...

It was a grand idea. 

Except that it was all of 3*C outside. 

And the wind was wicked. 

By the time we got to the top of the hill away from power lines and other potential hazards, we had at least three unimpressed littles. The oldest two only lasted about 15 minutes longer. We were forced to admit that there may have been too much wishful thinking behind this little excursion. 

So what better to come home to than a steaming cup of hot chocolate? Homemade hot chocolate. Homemade hot chocolate that blows any commercial stuff right out of the ballpark! 

So here's how it goes together:
1/3 cup cocoa
1/2 cup white sugar
2 shakes of cinnamon (less than 1/8 tsp)
2 shakes of salt (less than 1/8 tsp)
1 shake nutmeg
1 cup boiling water

- combine in a large saucepan, and bring to rolling boil over med-high heat
- continue boiling for 3 minutes, stirring constantly (if you do it for less time, it will be grainy...yech!)

- add:

3 cups milk
1/2 cup cream (I go for broke and use 35% whipping cream. Oh, yeah!)

- heat until hot, but not boiling
- remove from heat and stir in:

1 tsp good quality vanilla, not too sweet. Of course, marshmallows are non-negotiable if you're under 10. Or just wish you were.

That's it. Comfort in a cup. in a cup! 

And yes, shakes is how I roll in the kitchen. Makes it nearly impossible to duplicate any awesomeness perfectly twice in a row. But THIS is nigh on awesome EVERY time!