Satisfaction Guaranteed?

“[DisneyWorld’s] competition is anyone who raises customer expectations- because if someone else satisfies customers better than [them], no matter what type of business, [they] suffer by comparison.”

It happens all the time.  You see an entire family in co-ordinating outfits, no one is arguing, dad isn’t glued to his cell phone, mom doesn’t look like the poster child for frump.  They’re talking and giggling and everyone is polite. Then you glance over to your motley crew and wonder if anyone remembered to comb their hair or how they got out the door wearing mis-matched shoes.  A thought enters your mind; sometimes briefly, sometimes it lingers…. ‘why can’t we be like them?’


I want to make it very clear that I am not an advocate of the comparison game.  I think all families are unique and that while co-ordinating outfits are heavenly in some families they are a fate worse than death in others.  When I talk about raising the bar in my family it’s not to show up other families, or try to keep up with other families.  When I talk about raising the bar I mean it in terms of light versus darkness.  If I don’t put effort and energy into shepherding my children towards Christ then the world will shepherd them away.  That’s the ‘us’ versus ‘them’ for me.

The first lesson taught to the visiting business folk in “Inside the Magic Kingdom” is this: The competition is anyone the customer compares you with. 

The fact is that in this competitive society the devil has a step up.  So much of what he promotes is easy and fun, flashy, appealing,  and what one would naturally choose to do.  As a Christian parent it’s my job to reclaim that fun for Christ.  It’s a competition, or if you prefer a battle; either way it is definitely not something we’re called to be passive bystanders to.  The Word is constantly compared to the World.

There are two places in my life and home where I need to take a stand and fight the competition.  The first is what we’re consuming.  And the second is making sure that the effort I put in behind my front door matches the effort I put in outside my front door.

This year I am at the helm of our weekly Kids Club at church and that means I spend time on it.  Making sure volunteers are in place and ready, taking care of the details for special event nights, preparing a weekly Bible Story time that is engaging and academic.  It’s creating a vision, casting a vision and most importantly spending time on my knees for the ministry.


Aside from one great PA day where we started the day off with pancakes and Bible Stories and a few months where we did devotions at dinner I pretty much suck at intentionally teaching my kids about Christ.  I’ll confess that I bought into the lie that it doesn’t really matter; they are taught lessons at Sunday School and Kids Club and I correct them when they’re out of line.  It sounds like that is what goes on in most families, I must be doing okay.

Recently the attitudes in our house started stinking.  No one is choosing helpful, selfless, encouraging, or even polite attitudes towards each other when we’re at home.  In public my children are pretty great, and there is no shortage of people to tell me that, but at home…. well…. let’s just say we need an attitude adjustment.


This is one area that I don’t have any solutions for- YET.  In the summer I tried having the kids listen to Adventures in Odyssey and drawing/journalling while they were listening.  It didn’t quite catch on.  I mentioned the one Bible Story breakfast, and the devotions we’ve strayed away from.  I think I want to work at getting all of those things back into our routine.  If the Word is to be our Daily Bread it makes sense to me that we would partake of it as often as we would eat.  I’m going to have to work on a plan for that as our mealtimes are rushed and often single-parented and my children still need a lot of food serving and cutting and cleaning up spills.  Most minutes in our day are already accounted for, but not many are set aside for Christ- and that’s out of balance with our priorities.

I want my children to see that I am putting effort into their Spiritual Training, just like I do for Kids Club, and so I am reclaiming Saturday mornings from laziness and being glued to the TV.  (I wanted to start last Saturday, but a head cold knocked me down and out, see it’s a battle!) I’ve decided to go with the lessons from Focus on the Family- Kids of Integrity. They are already laid out, passages picked and activity choices.  I decided to go with them because they speak to attitudes and relationships.  A place to start while we create routine and habit.

kids of integrity

My answer to this challenge is definitely ‘in progress’.  I don’t have any best practices at the moment or inspiring stories to share.  But I do know that when I am faithful to what God has called me to, He is faithful to show up.  I know that because of one day I took a stand against ordering in pizza and watching a movie over dinner and instead made the food and ate all together and talked.  And talked about God.  Three more little souls entered the Family of God- He is faithful to draw near to us when we draw near to Him.

This is one area where I could get bogged down in that I don’t have it figured out, see it like a failure.  But instead I choose grace and simply say: “Challenge Accepted.”

How about you?  What do you do at your house to raise the bar on what the World has to offer?  To intentionally shepherd your kids in the way they should go?

Pixie Dust

So I’m on this journey of becoming more structured and routined and disciplined. And like I mentioned in my last post, the beginning of new things often falls into the time-suck category, (which is why I’ve been away so long!).  I am not naturally a routine or structure person.  I much prefer to go-with-the-flow, doing what I feel to do instead of sticking to a program or agenda. I am a verbal processor and I’ve been trying to figure out how to tie together the things I’m taking in from a variety of sources.  When I realized I was talking to an empty room…..again…I thought why not use this blog to just think out loud!

There are a lot of chores in life right now.  I don’t mean life feels like a chore, which I get but is another thing entirely, I mean literally life is FULL of chores.  There is so much laundry; and the dishes never end; and my toddler touches and moves everything in the house. The floors all need a good washing; I can actually see the handprints on the walls and…….

You totally get the idea.  And I’m pretty sure it’s safe to say you’ve felt it too.  Every now and then life becomes too chore-filled for me and I’m tempted to give up.  Too much of all things mundane gets boring and I don’t like being bored.

When I was researching our family trip to Disney in 2011 I stumbled upon an amazing book.  I was looking for a good biography on Walt Disney and instead I found; “Inside the Magic Kingdom” by Tom Connellan.  After I read this book the first time I was inspired immensely.  It spoke directly to one of my life’s goals- not just surviving, but thriving; not just living life, but living life abundant.


Every time that life gets too full of chores I pick this book up again.  If you’re looking for ways to add some “extra” to your “ordinary”, this just might be a book for you.  The basic plot is a group of businessmen who get a behind-the-scenes tour of DisneyWorld where they learn the principles Disney uses to be successful in customer satisfaction.  Every time I read this book it re-inspires me to pick up the mop and the vacuum, bake a new recipe, maybe finally create that chore checklist for the kids….

I know that I’m not the only one who likes to add a little Disney magic to their lives and I was blessed to receive this in my email inbox today:

“If you’ve been around me for even 10 minutes you know I love me some Disney World. One of my favorite attractions at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is the Disney Junior show.

When you enter the auditorium, the first thing you’ll notice is no chairs. You have to sit on the floor with your kids. Not kids in the front, grown ups in the back. Not adults chairs. Everyone on the floor together.

Then, a live host enters and introduces everyone to puppet versions of the kids’ favorite Disney Junior tv characters. In each segment, kids and families were singing along, dancing around, shouting out words at the appropriate times and even playing guessing games. We were, of course, rewarded with bubbles and gold doubloons falling from the ceiling!

I looked around at all the families snuggling together, dads singing songs about pirates and stuffed animals with their kids, moms shining with pride as their child calls out the correct answer and kids enjoying time with their parents–and I thought, “This is it!”

This is what the church should do! This is what I want to do! I want to sit around with my kids, have exciting adventures, learn songs, tell stories and enjoy each other—but I want to do it focusing on God’s Word!

I wish we could have been sitting on the ground singing songs about Jesus, shouting out the answers to Bible stories and making memories around God’s Word! It didn’t make me feel weird about celebrating Doc McStuffins or Sofia the First instead of the Lord, it just reminded me in a very clear way how I can influence my kids. I can lead them to Jesus. I can use puppets, songs, stories, dancing–even bubbles and silly games to impress God’s Word on their hearts.

So, take a lesson from Disney. They’ve spent a lot of money on market research! 😉Notice what your kids like and use that to teach them about Jesus!”

That little nugget is from another Amanda you can find online where she writes about homeschooling and teaching her kids about God. Her newsletter this week speaks to the heart of “Inside the Magic Kingdom” where each character in the story is invited to watch the corporation at work and see how they can translate that into their companies, (or in my case home), raising the bar on how they treat employees and co-workers, (which is kinda what a family is.) not so they can be praised, but so everyone feels like a valued contributor. Where experiences are magical because they reach their audience on a very personal level.

Whether you’re a Disney fanatic or not I hope the blog this week will sprinkle some pixie dust on you and add a little magic to your days.  (and maybe all our houses will get a little cleaner in the process.)


Stick A Pin In It

I just read yet another post from the blogosphere bashing Pinterest.  If you spend time in the blogosphere you know what I’m talking about, but if you don’t let me explain.

Someone will write words along these lines: “Dear woman who didn’t have time to shower this morning, know I love you and you are great.  I know you don’t feel it because you spent some time on Pinterest today. Pinterest is a black hole that will suck you into a deep depression because you didn’t put happy faces on your child’s sandwich or create a life size Mickey Mouse out of toothpicks to announce your upcoming vacation.  Trust me dear woman you do not suck, Pinterest does.”  There are a lot of such posts out there, even some humorous pictures, which people are, ironically, pinning. 

I have a different perspective on Pinterest.  If you are ‘following’ me you will see that I have over 2,000 pins, (Don’t you have better things to do with your time!)  And I probably pin something new every day. (Someone needs to hold an intervention!) My husband has been sucked into many a second-long conversation after I’ve said “Oh Cool”, or “That’s funny” or “You have to see this” while scrolling on Pinterest. (What do you mean that’s not quality time?) And my children know that when I say; “What do you want to do for your birthday/Christmas/Anything” they get to pull up some couch and sip a drink while we browse on the laptop. (Party planners are too expensive anyway.)

Earlier this week a verse in Scripture caught my attention and held it, still has it really, and it goes like this: “Give, and it will be given to you.  A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be poured into your lap.” Luke 6:38  This verse is pretty much the poster child for ‘donate to my ministry and you’ll be rich beyond your wildest dreams’, but that is completely out of context. 

This verse comes right after warnings to not judge and to forgive. The context is attitudes, right attitudes to cultivate and the blessing for doing so.  Pinterest is like a visual reminder of this Scripture for me. (I just lost you, didn’t I?) 

I think it’s fair to say that most things on Pinterest fall into the time-suck category versus the time-save category; at least at first.  Let’s use school lunches as an example. Going to the grocery store and picking up Snack Packs, single Yogurts and cheese strings is a time-save.  Making quinoa salad with flower shaped cucumber and freshly squeezed goat’s milk is a time-suck. And as the Pinterest bashers point out, ain’t nobody got time for that.  

Yet obviously a lot of women have time for that because there are 4.2 billion pictures of what these moms are packing for lunches all over Pinterest and it’s not pre-packaged processed foods.  

It represents a shift in attitude. In the not too distant past we treated raising children like something that we needed a solution to.  There just wasn’t enough time to cook foods from scratch or learn to mend clothing or spend 10 minutes reading with your child.  And now we’re seeing a generation of little people who think they are entitled to whatever they want whenever they want it.  Our attitude kinda backfired.  The measure we gave was instant and easy.  Guess what we’re getting back?  

The pendulum is swinging the other way now, granted way too far in some cases, but now we want to teach our children vintage values.  The importance of a family spending time together.  Giving private school quality education to public school children. Using our resources wisely instead of using them up.  Instilling confidence and work ethic in the next generation. Knowing where your food comes from before you eat it.

And that’s what Pinterest does for me.  I want to raise up a generation of creative, self-sacrificing, explorers who are not satisfied to just live life but want to live it to the full. Pinterest helps me shake off the cobwebs of convenient and piques my thought process when I’m stuck in a rut. Doing things differently takes more time- at first.  But then it re-awakens in you this childlike place where you wonder what else you could do.  And that childlike place brings with it energy..(now if I only I could bottle that and sell it.)

If I could write an encouragement to that frazzled mom who didn’t shower this morning, (oh wait, that’s me) I would say: “Dear woman who fell asleep without getting undressed last night, I know that you want to get that home office decluttered and put a fall wreath on the door and you just need someone to tell you siblings who fight do not become serial killers. Take a second and think honestly about what you want your life to look like, where you desire to invest your limited energy.  That.  That part you want to shine, it can.  Don’t try and re-invent the wheel.  Find someone else’s idea, find something inspiring, pin it, do it.  Then share it.  You could be inspiring to someone else.” It’s not about comparing or keeping up with the Jones’, it’s about inspiration. About all kinds of regular people deciding to give: extra time, attention or giving things outside their comfort zone a try.  

It’s amazing what will be poured out into your lap.  More energy, more ideas, more creativity.  When we truly give we receive back the capacity to keep on giving, not a desire to get.  I am a huge fan of Pinterest, unabashedly so, I’d encourage you to give it a try. 


Granted I was pinning before it was trendy.  Anybody remember these?




The Last 48

In ’round about 48 hours the kiddos will be back in school and I will begin recovering from the chaos that was Summer Twenty-Thirteen.  My brain is totally fried, and I wanted to come up with a really witty way to bid the last two months a fond farewell, but then I stumbled upon Jen Hatmaker and she says all.the.words so well that it would probably be better if you just click the link and read her, and love her, and add her to your feed.  (Seriously I want to be her when I grow up…well with my own stories and passions….but her.)

Since Jen has already said it so well, I will pretend that you’re in my living room under the guise of ‘catching up’ and once I’ve handed you a warm, (or cold) beverage and seduced you with rich chocolate goodness….here are my zillion and six summer vacay photos!

DSC_0080                            DSC_0180            DSC_0101            DSC_0205 DSC_0213 Image 1 Image 6 IMG_2460 DSC_0077 DSC_0092 DSC_0099 DSC_0064 DSC_0061 DSC_0125 DSC_0218 DSC_0253 DSC_0260 DSC_0275 DSC_0328 DSC_0062 IMG_2517 DSC_0062 DSC_0066 DSC_0071 DSC_0081 DSC_0058 DSC_0115 DSC_0151 BrownFamily53 BrownFamily63 DSC_0086 DSC_0103 DSC_0111 DSC_0129 DSC_0155 DSC_0068 DSC_0196 DSC_0260 DSC_0277 DSC_0289 DSC_0329 DSC_0058 DSC_0069 DSC_0075 DSC_0169 DSC_0184 DSC_0185 DSC_0197 DSC_0064


were classy*horse whispered*tried new discipline techniques*attempted unity*caged the animals*celebrated with friends*spent some time in jail*enabled addictions*left daily presents in the tub*tested a monastic lifestyle*earned our keep*let daddy win*killed us with cuteness*always obeyed at home time*drove me up the wall*melted*searched for mermaids*bonded*made Nick’s dreams into realities*got inexpensive spa treatments*lost momma’s sanity*created monsters heroes*shattered dreams*built friendships*met famouse people*crossed our fingers and toes*are still trying to get a pic of these two together smiling*saw dead people*looked up*looked down*ate so many M&Ms we puked*messed with Uncle Will’s OCD just a leetle*JESUS*are still crying about friends we had to leave*melted*dealt with some crap*definitely did not touch statues we weren’t supposed to*fed the children to saw sharks*educated*faked all the fun*checked our perspective*sketchy hotels*looked forward to experiences*were actually early for something*had time for a history lesson*tried to explain tailgating*encountered brain freezes*crossed items off the bucket list*monkeyed around*


(And I promise I’ll be back to actual writing next week!)

Ballpark Franks

My husband and I are baseball fans.  He knows about players and stats and who is where in the standings.  I used to know that stuff until it got pushed out of my head when all things children crammed the way in.  But I still enjoy a day at the ballpark.

ImageActually truth be told I enjoy an evening at the ballpark.  Summer and I do not get along and inside I’m whining as much as the children about the sun in my eyes and the sweat sticking my back to the seat and….  Let’s just say I know what I like and summer ain’t it.

When we booked tickets to two ball games on our family vacation we were reading weather reports of  cooler than seasonal temps and I planned ahead to make sure we would have plenty of things to keep busy at the ballpark.  I downloaded simple scorecards to teach the kids how to keep score, or at least watch the action to try and figure out what’s happening. Our love of baseball is really something we’d like to pass on to our kids.

ImageMother Nature had other plans.  The weather jumped up to 35-40 degrees each day while we attended.  We soldiered through in Minneapolis, although I spent the majority of the game in the concourse with most of the kids.  We hung in there because after the game the kids were able to run the bases and the only thing better than being at the ballpark is being on the field.

ImageImageIt was stinkin hot that day.  One of our children completely melted away and was replaced with a crying fit that lasted two entire hours.  She definitely didn’t want anyone to take her out to the ballgame.  Highlight of Minneapolis: Riding the train to and from the game.

DSC_0210We tried again a few days later in Milwaukee.  We put on our game faces and told the kids how much better it was going to be this time, except we forgot to check the forecast.


It was 40 degrees and our seats were awesome.  But nowhere near a lick of shade.  We lasted one and half innings before all our children were replaced with tear stained unhappy urchins and daddy was about to loose his marbles and mom’s fake smile was stretched so tight it was about to crack.

DSC_0113 I really felt that if we left the ballpark at that moment our bad moods would make the kids feel like they had ruined the day and even though they were all in very. bad. moods it simply wasn’t their fault and we had to make sure they didn’t feel like it was.

DSC_0148Serendipitously, on our way in to the game Nick had overheard someone talking about stations around the concourse with activities for the kids. So we asked a lovely Miller Park employee for the details and spent the afternoon traipsing around the concourse where the kids got to do everything from racing the mascots to sprinting to first base and posing for their rookie cards. All the while collecting stamps in a passport that would entitle them to a prize at the end.  (Side note:  The prize is ticket vouchers to the next home game, so if you’re from out of town it’s not so great.  We bought commemorative pens for the kids in lieu.)

         DSC_0095                 DSC_0102                        DSC_0158

Although we didn’t get to spend the day at the park the way Nick and I would have preferred, (ie: watching the game), we ended up having a great day.  The kids may not have grown in their love for the game, but they enjoyed exploring the stadium enough that they’re curious what other stadiums are like, so that’s a start.  The game was the last stop on our vacation before we headed home and even though we had a great time I think it’s safe to say the highlight of Milwaukee was leaving.

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My Home is with You

Yesterday Nick and I celebrated our 11th anniversary by embarking on a 15 hour road trip, from Regina to Minneapolis.  We left Regina at 9:00am and arrived at our hotel at 1:30am.  Then we split our family into two hotel sized units and parted ways for the night, (our family is too BIG to stay in one hotel room, oy!)

Definitely not the best way to spend your anniversary, being surrounded by kids and sleeping in different beds.  But we’ve been planning this vacation for a while and we knew that was going to be how the day went so we celebrated a little early with a photo shoot.  We got together with the fabulous Megan Huggins of Life in Perspective Photography.  We had a fabulous date night; laughing and making out on demand while Megan snapped away.  And of course I’m going to share some of the goodness with you in honour of our special day.


Here we go!


You wear your smile like a summer sky
Just shining down on me and you
I swear your heart is a free bird
On a lazy Sunday afternoon


I love the way that you were up for anything
Never worried ’bout what people say
That’s right, oh that’s right
What we got is


Just like driving on an open highway
Never knowing what we’re gonna find
Just like two kids, baby, always trying to live it up
Whoa, yeah, that’s our kind of love
Mm that’s our kind of love


Skipping rocks and leaving footprints
Down along the riverbank
Always holding hands, never making plans
Just living in the moment, babe


You get me laughing with those funny faces
You somehow always know just what to say
That’s right, oh that’s right
What we got is


Just like driving on an open highway
Never knowing what we’re gonna find
Just like two kids, baby, always trying to live it up
Whoa, oh


Oh that’s right, baby you and I, What we got is


Just like driving on an open highway
Never knowing what we’re gonna find
Just like two kids, baby, always trying to live it up
Whoa, oh


Just like driving on an open highway
Never knowing what we’re gonna find
Just like two kids, baby, always trying to live it up
Whoa, yeah, that’s our kind of love


Oo, that’s our kind of love
Oh, that’s our kind of love


1,2,3, here we go!
Lady Antebellum “Our Kind Of Love”-

This Used to be My Playground

It’s hard to believe that the first half of our vacation is already over, the last five days have flown by at a tremendous rate.  There’s something about Regina that always makes Nick feel like we should move back out West…quite possibly the same things that make me feel sure that we should not.

Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that our vacation began on Sunday morning with Police at the front door as an unknown gunshot victim decided to bleed out on my brother’s front porch….(you can’t make this stuff up)…. (oh and he made it to the hospital and will be fine).  Or the fact that the Bible College which called my family out here in 1989 is now being leased off piece by piece to all kinds of organizations.  Maybe it’s because the city looks nothing like it did a decade ago, or that I didn’t bump into one person that I even kind of recognized from high school while out shopping or that the cool summer weather decided on a whim to prove that hell has indeed NOT frozen over.

None of these reasons make me miss this city. But folks are always saying that home is where your heart is and there is definitely a piece of our heart here.


The kids had a blast at VBS where kids STAND STRONG for God.  I was worried on Monday when I found Brooklyn huddled under a table crying because she didn’t know anyone and felt very shy.  I shouldn’t have worried since by Friday they were all crying because they didn’t want to leave.  The volunteers helped them feel right at home, they learned much and had an awesome time.  Definitely the best vacation plans I’ve ever made.


The big girls learned to do some archery… and would love to have more practice.


The littles spent time chilling with their new cousins.


And the grown ups spent time doing fun things like playing video games late into the night and dying ones hair purple.


The kids all fell asleep grateful for the week we’ve had here with family and friends and very sad that we are leaving in the morning.  It’s always hard to leave family, but it’s also nice to be home and tomorrow we start the long trek back East,  this time taking a much more leisurely pace.


Go West Young Fam

This past week we set out on the proverbial summer family road trip.  We packed ourselves and five children under the age of ten into a seven seater mini van and set out from Ontario to Saskatchewan.  If you’re Canadian you’re probably thinking: “Why would you go to Saskatchewan?”…the things we do for love.

When we first got into the van the children were happy to be there.

DSC_0077 We left in the evening so we could drive through the night while they slept.  Those little angels stayed awake until 1:00am! Nolan asked; “Are we there yet?”; as we made our first left turn… out of the driveway….. no jokes.

Around 7:00am we drove into White River, the home of Winnie-The-Pooh, for breakfast.  In an effort to make our vacation more frugal I packed picnic style breakfast, lunch and dinner.  I thought long and hard about what to make, asked the opinion of the masses, made meals from scratch to cut down on litter and was sure the kids would find eating at picnic spots much more enjoyable to being stuck in restaurants constantly nagged about their behaviour.


See those lovely home baked muffins loaded with chocolate chips mommy made just for you little man, aren’t the great? “Mama, slide?”  No honey, eat your breakfast we’re not stopping again for six hours.  “Mama, slide?”

So maybe there were more exciting things to do on our trip besides eating.  For example the wonderful baskets of activities I scoured Pinterest for and gathered up just to keep my little minions from death by boredom.  Surely those will be enjoyed.

DSC_0073They had books to read, pages to colour, snacks to be replenished, magazine quizzes (which are a road trip essential), DS, a travel pillow, road trip Bingo games from Gramma and the ever popular don’t-leave-home-without-it “fart noise slime” These children of mine are so blessed to have me as their mother and in return spent our 34 hour trip playing quietly together, bonding for life.  The only noises were full of laughter and encouragement.  No one wanted the drive to end.

DSC_0156See I told you so.

We decided spur of the moment to add an educational element to our vacation and stopped for lunch at the Terry Fox Monument just off the Trans Canada in Thunder Bay.  The mosquitos enjoyed us almost as much as we enjoyed our lunch. The highlight of this pit stop probably being when Nolan began chanting; “Terry Fox is a hero! Terry Fox is a hero!”  while successfully photo bombing the memories of about a dozen other vacationers.

DSC_0141We somehow managed to trick the kids into getting back into the van and drove on to Dryden where we stopped for dinner.  It was a cute little playground.  But there are no pictures.  This was the point in the drive where mommy lost all track of time and space… AND WE HADN’T EVEN LEFT ONTARIO YET!

No one was comfortable.

Everyone was bored.

The baby would not stop talking…. and no one could understand him.

By the time we hit Winnipeg I was so hungry I could eat a sandwich from a gas station.

Sometimes getting to the destination really is the hardest part of the journey.  And that is never more true than in the middle of a family road trip.     “I just said we’d make it across. I didn’t say anything about the wheels staying on.”


Energizer Bunny?

Did you know that when you type ‘energy’ into Google the links and pages that pop up all have to do with sources of power, the kind of energy that fuels our world.  Conversely, when you type in ‘personal energy’ the links and pages in the top of the reader all have to do with boosting your energy, finding more energy, tricks and secrets to increase your energy and make it last longer.  

I don’t know much about the energy that runs our world, but I do know that we’re taught to conserve it and that we need to find new forms of energy- renewable forms.  I know that we’ve consumed so much energy and that it’s done damage to the environment.  I don’t know if there is an ‘energy crisis’ yet, or if one is forecasted; but the sense I get is that our world’s traditional energy sources are depleted. 

Then I log onto Facebook or have a second to catch up with a friend, or do that thing where I let out a huge sigh, (acknowledging how tired I am) and then stand up real tall and get on with the next thing, and in those moments I realize the fact that our traditional sources of personal energy are also depleted.  

We drove through a thunder and lightning storm this weekend that knocked out the power around us.  The flow of power just stopped.  Everything went black.  No fans running, no TVs on, no appliances working.  And in that moment life got simple.  

When you light a candle it gives off the light you need and you can see exactly how it works.  No engineering degree required.  Starting a fire is the way to warm yourself and cook.  Simple, stack the kindling, light the match, feed the fire.  Another process you can explain to a child in words they understand. And even though a power outage causes some anxiety in our current culture, families sit down and talk, or play shadow puppets or just take a forced break.  Connecting, family bonding, simple. 

When my personal energy runs out, (which it seems to be doing more frequently these days), I expend energy trying to find more energy.  Anyone relate?  Whether it’s searching the internet for quick boosts, or getting more exercise, or trying to declutter our space in hopes of being more zen. When we have no energy we keep going. For some reason sure that more energy is hiding and we just have to dig a little deeper to find it.  

Isn’t that insane.  

Maybe we should take a lesson from nature.  Or better than nature, from the Creator of all energy: 

“Do you not know? Have you not heard?

The Lord is the Everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.

He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.

Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;

but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.

They will soar on wings like eagles.  

They will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

Isaiah 40:28-31

An energy source that cannot be depleted.  A boost just waiting to be utilized.   And how do we tap into such an energy source?

“Be still and know.” Psalm 46:10

A simple answer.  An answer we’ve complicated.  The most traditional source of energy.  Perhaps instead of looking for new source of energy what we really need is a new perspective on traditional sources.  Or maybe I need to stop looking altogether and just sit down for a second and let the energy source find me. 



Behind the Times

We took a fabulous family vacation to DisneyWorld in January 2012.  When we got back I collected all the photos taken by our family camera, my brother’s family camera, my parent’s iPhones, and we purchased the Photopass CDs with pictures taken by Disney Parks photographers.  (Sidenote: If you’re trying to decide whether or not to do the Photopass on your Disney Trip, I vote go for it. It has been worth every dollar for us.)  

I told my mom I would like to make her a scrapbook album of our trip and had her send me her memorabilia to include.  (Sidenote: Mom it’s all still here safe and sound.)  At the time my plan was to send her the album for her birthday in March 2012.

When I came up with the idea I did not realize that I was going to have 3500 photos.  Nor did I realize just how crazy life with 5 kids was going to be!

I’ve got a handle on the 5 kids, (Sidenote: do not confuse ‘got a handle’ with ‘have control’) but those 3500 photos are still dogging me.


Then I remembered I have an ace up my sleeve.  A while ago I found Big Picture Classes, it’s an online collection of virtual classes all about scrapbooking.  Some of the classes have specific start dates, some of them are completely self-paced.  Some are free, some are not. Some of them have challenges with prizes attached to them, some simply inspire your creative spirit.  I’ve taken classes about journalling, techniques and I join the Creative Crop days simply for an opportunity to win some prizes.

I receive emails about the new class offerings and one day last month they had just what I needed; a class called “Mulit-Photo Solutions”.  The perfect solution to a 3500 photo project.  Several templates and strategies for thinning out that pile of pictures have made the task much less daunting.  The class is only 4 weeks long, this being the last week, and I just finished the first assignment on Tuesday, oy! Thankfully I will have access to all the class content forever now and as other students finish assignments, (Sidenote: So thankful I’m not the only one still on Week One!) and post their work I receive fresh inspiration.

One day I’ll catch up on my scrapbooking projects.  Although I confess I’m in no rush.  I scrapbook because I enjoy the downtime, the warm cup of tea, paper in my fingers, a smile on my face from memories recalled.  But every now and then a swift kick in the pants is appreciated- especially when someone’s been waiting almost two years to receive this particular gift!

(Sidenote: Mom, it’s coming with us FINISHED in  August, pinky promise).

“A” is for Appreciation

It’s that time again, the last chance to tell our teachers how much we appreciate everything they do.  I think about teacher appreciation gifts all year long, I really want to make sure my appreciation is expressed through something they will actually…appreciate.  This year our teacher appreciation gifts were inspired by this printable and this gift post

ImageI found these cute reusable cups, and some witty candy to express the gratitude we “mint” to convey for the “extra” work these teachers did to help our kids become “smarties”.  I was hoping they would all fit nicely in the cup but the boxes were a bit too wide.  We wedged them in there pretty good though so I think they’ll actually make it to the teacher’s desk. 



I know that things are just things, even when they’re all wrapped up in cute packaging, which is why this gift really wouldn’t be complete without some thoughtful words, and even though I like to write, (and snuck a note from myself in there too), I knew the girl’s words were the right ones to finish the gift.

ImageIt amazes me how this girl would have given her left arm to get out of completing any assignment this year, but she would have walked to school all by herself in a blizzard, barefoot, uphill both ways because she just had to be there. 



She started the first grade knowing maybe 5 sight words and tonight she read the word ‘glacial’ properly without any help from me, (and she pronounced Buenos as in Aires, on the second try).  When we sat down to write these thank-yous she did it all by herself without asking for help or getting distracted.  The change in her is astounding. 



I told you about Katy’s journey here, and she continues to grow each day. 

We really love our teachers!


And our bus drivers too.  (Seriously could use some input here though- what do you give bus drivers?)



Lukas also demands that you know he was here too.  He pounded on his tray until I turned to take his picture, and this is his posing face. 



Cut From the Same Cloth



Today was the end of an era for us.  All of our girls have left kindergarten behind them.  I do my best to let each of our girls be their individual selves, but when Isabella was graduating from kindergarten I got the idea to keep this dress set aside for her sisters to wear on their graduation days as well.  I’m sure that by the time the next graduation comes along they wont humour me with the idea.

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Isabella was our first graduate.  She entered kindergarten as one of the oldest in her class.  She could already write her name when she started and took to academic things with gusto.  She liked to follow the routines and learn the songs and poems and surprised me with her grasp of math concepts.  I thought she would be our over-achieving scholar……this past year would say I was wrong.


Brooklyn entered kindergarten as one of the youngest in her class.  She knew what the letter ‘B’ looked like and that it was hers.  She saw school as a chance to socialize and find some girly girls to befriend.  She would come home telling me about who she played with and what they played.  She really didn’t seem all that interested in learning.  I figured her report cards would often have the phrases expressing her friendliness and the need to rein it in.  She left kindergarten really knowing the bare minimum in terms of reading and writing.  I thought she would be our Chatty Kathy…..this past year would again say I was wrong.

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Today Katy graduated from kindergarten.  She entered school the ever controversial December baby, (controversy as in do you wait that extra year you’re able to before starting them in school or not?).  We sent her off to kindergarten when she was three.  Kathryn has always been shy and I knew she needed a little push to get out of her sisters’ shadows.   Kathryn was blessed with the same amazing teacher for both junior and senior kindergarten.  Even though Katy didn’t know a single academic thing when she started school she is leaving kindergarten reading independently, writing a little and amazing me each day with concepts that she has grasped, (sometimes she even beats her sisters to the answer).  More than that though her teacher saw that she was shy and took the time to pull her out of her shell. Mrs. Knighton will probably never read this, but she will always be the one I will credit with giving Katy her wings.

Today Kathryn’s shyness got the best of her, she does not like to be on display.  And that may never come for her.  Some souls were created to serve behind the scenes, not fight for the limelight; to give praise, not ask for it; and I believe Katy is one of those souls.  She knows who she is and what she can do.  I think that Katy will spend next year in her cocoon….. but I’ve been wrong before.

I have never felt that I am everything my kids need to reach their potential.  I feel abundantly blessed to live in a country where my children can attend school, where other adults can see them objectively and guide me in how to help them shine.  If there is one thing I learned in Kindergarten it’s that I don’t know everything. And I’m okay with that.  It’s far better for me to let my children become who they are rather than who I think they may be.