Trendy Knitting Patterns from me, to you...

Trendy Knitting Patterns from me, to you...

polka dot

polka dot

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Motherhood ~ The Secret to Self Improvement

{I apologize in advance for all the videos in this post, 
but I just couldn't bring myself to leave any out!!!}

So I tried {unsuccessfully in the end} to leave a comment the other day on A Cup of Jo's Blog, who asked people's opinions about having more children...it seems people had a lot to say {372 comments}...and I was almost one of them!  Today I went to look for the link to this exact post, and it seems the post has been removed, which is a real bummer, but it got me thinking.  Why do people have kids?  And why would anyone ever not have kids, which got me reading another of her posts {Would you ever decide to NOT have kids}.  Some of these reasons boggled my mind.  Now, I want to approach this with sensitivity, because I realize that this topic could potentially be a hot button for people, it could be a subject of pain or sorrow for some, or could trigger some annoyance and other strong opinions or feelings in others.  For me the topic of motherhood brings so much JOY, even if it is mixed with feelings of exhaustion, frustration, anger, annoyance, disappointment or utter exasperation at times.  Motherhood pushes me to become better, which I know is the reason I am on this earth in the first place...to be tested and tried and improve myself.

My churches' stand on the role of women is that "As a disciple of Jesus Christ, every woman in the Church is given the responsibility to know and defend the divine roles of women, which include that of wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt, and friend. They stand strong and immovable in faith, in family, and in relief."  My Father in Heaven designed a perfect plan and role for me and for all women so that we could maximize our potential, and for the women who are able to, I strongly believe that role to be motherhood.

Having said that, I want to make it quite clear that I hold women who {for whatever reason} cannot have children in an even higher regard at times, when they, by their own motivation, find ways to maximize their potential here on earth by finding service and contributing to building up the Kingdom of God on the earth without becoming a mother.  These women are amazing!  I know myself, and unfortunately I don't think I would have been self-motivated enough to improve myself drastically enough without having the "obligation" of having children, as bad as that may sound.  I am ever fascinated with women who are just NATURALLY full of all of these qualities that I have to painstakingly work towards every day, and because of this fascination, one of my all-time heroes is LOUIE B. FELT.  I love her for her heart, for her service, and for her complete selflessness.  Even though she never had children of her own, she is a regular Mother Theresa {another of my heroes} for all she has accomplished.

Sarah Louisa (Louie) B. Felt
{1850-1928}
I know that it was like pulling teeth for me to develop into a less selfish, more giving, compassionate, caring person...and by no means am I saying that I'm there, but the small strides I have taken towards developing these attributes in myself are almost entirely because of my role as a wife and mother.  Motherhood is meant to help us grow, which is why I cringe just a little when somebody's reason for not having children is that they're too...selfish...or paranoid...or anxious...or O.C.D. {ahem...all these things were me!!!} or any number of things.  How else will you overcome these things if you don't push through experiences that help you grow and get over them?!  Now I understand that there are some people who have very legitimate reasons for not having children.

The three things Jordan and I always thoroughly asses before having "yet another child" are our physical, emotional and financial states, which I think is super important.  Only you know where you're at, and only you can decide what is best for you.  I do feel VERY strongly about that.  I know that everyone's plan while on this earth is different, I know that because of all my experiences as a wife and mother, I am extremely biased, but I also know that I'm not alone in my testimony of motherhood.  It's not a hobby that's fun to have, until it starts to wear you out too much, and then it's time to quit or sluff off on someone else...for me it's a calling, it's a challenge, and those times when I feel a little too worn out are my reminders that it's time for me to step up my game, work on my weaknesses, power through, and be better tomorrow...and wow does it ever feel good when I can be!

Yes, being a mother is a "sacrifice" {for lack of a better word}...I have to turn off the T.V., read good books, make healthy lunches, have special one-on-one dates with my kids, teach them lessons, help with homework, change messy bums, play Duck Duck Goose a little more than I would like, and after all that there isn't always a whole lot of time left for me...but if I truly stop and think about it...all that time spent with and for them, really benefitted me more than anything else I could have spent my time doing anyway.  Sure, I don't get to travel the world to exotic places on a regular basis, or wear expensive designer clothes {like...ever}, but those are things I can't take with me past this life anyway, whereas the time I spend being a mother and learning from my children are moments that literally transform me, and that I can take with me after I leave this life.

We call this having an "eternal perspective" which is my saving grace as a mother...being able to step back {a thousand time a day if need be}, take a deep breath, and visualize that big picture.  I can live with failure in so many areas...I can live with not meeting a pattern deadline {ahem...that one is current...sorry}, I can live with accidentally burning my hamburger soup, or failing to mop my kitchen floor {or clean the bathrooms, or dust the windowsills...need I go on}...but I could never live with being a failure as a mother.  

Here's a couple of videos that are a "MUST VIEW" if you are a mother and are wondering if it's all worth it...best pick me ups EVER!!!





EVERY SINGLE DAY I wonder at our decision of having so many children, and yet every single day I am reminded at how blessed I am and have been because of this decision.  We almost stopped after two...then we didn't {good story eh?}...I could have easily been done after 3, as I was so traumatized by the labour and delivery experience of almost perishing {...yes, literally}...and yet, here we are with 4 {and I didn't say we were done...}, by choice I might add, and I wouldn't change it for anything.  I can't even imagine what life without these last two little munchkins would be like!  I would miss out on this beautiful little Polly face every day...


This little girl fills our home with spunk, humour, variety and spice on a daily basis.  She is such an absolute riot, and she always has a twinkle in her eye and a trick up her sleeve...oh how I love her!

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And oh my Reggie...I felt it best to express my feelings for him through little home videos of his cuteness too {please excuse my background talking in a few of them.  I'm seldom aware when Jordan is recording these priceless little moments}... 

video


video


video


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I can't imagine my life without either of these precious little people {as well as the other two of course}.  I remember reading once on Stephanie Nielson's Blog Nie Nie Dialogues about how her role as a mother saved her when she woke up in the hospital after her accident, how it was this knowledge that pulled her out of her deep depression, which was compromising her will to live.  I remember reading her words and feeling like they were coming right from my own heart.  I remember feeling like when Reggie was born, he was my little guardian angel...a perfect little child of God entrusted to me at exactly the right moment in my life.  Children are a blessing, every single one.  “Children are an heritage of the Lord” (Psalm 127:3).  I am so blessed to have the privilege of being a mother.

Here's one more video, just because I have to!!!  Probably the best one yet...


In the spirit of American Thanksgiving as well as my feelings on motherhood, here's a quote from Jennifer Moss' Blog Moss Moments:

"Thank thee Father, for thy bounty.
Today, I feel filled.

I may very well spend my whole life trying to be more scheduled with my time.
I may never be perfectly kind.
I may always say things that I cringe at after the fact.  
I may always have days where I cry and wish I had one child and a housekeeper.
And-- I'm OK with that.

I'm thankful for His bounty.
So thankful and FILLED.
Life is good."

Isn't it though!  

Feel free to share with me your thoughts about womanhood / motherhood...I'd love to hear them!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A shout out to my Heroes...

Today is Remembrance Day...and I am grateful.  I am grateful for my country, I am grateful for my ancestors, for Grandpas {and Grandmas} and Great-Uncles and all those who have fought so that I could continue to live in a beautiful, free country.  I have a deep testimony of freedom, of agency, and the right to make choices.  I know that is what our Father in Heaven wants for his children, because it is through choices that we are able to learn and grow...and so I am grateful for my heroes.  My beautiful Aunt Patti {or as Polly would say, my "Aunt-In-Law", who is one of my many heroes} posted a beautiful and touching little story on Facebook last week about my husband's uncle Alfred Gales, who was killed at Vimy Ridge, and whom our family had the opportunity to lay a wreath for in Cardston, Alberta today.  His name is on the Cenotaph there and the family has quite a bit of papers, pictures and letters etc including a picture of his grave in France {which I don't have a copy of, I'm sorry}.  In one of his last letters home he wrote..."I will be home for Christmas...Tell the girls at home to save a dance for me."  He never came home.  I don't have the words to express the gratitude that I have in my heart for the heroes of our country, but I want to say thank you to Uncle Alfred Gales, and all those who have served for our countries' freedom.  We owe you each a tremendous debt.


Jordan's cousin Cody as part of the Honour Guard, laid the wreath for Uncle Alfred Gales
I started this post as I sat reflecting, undergoing my own personal "moment of silence" at 11:00, and I got to thinking about the heroes in my life.  I have a lot of heroes...people I look up to, whom I see sacrificing for others and setting good examples day in and day out.  Today I would like to pay tribute to them...my heroes both in the spotlight and behind the scenes.  When I sit and reflect on my life, I feel so blessed...blessed to have support surrounding me and people that love me...people that selflessly give to others daily.  Because the heroes in my life are so far reaching that I could never EVER EVER list them all in this post, I am going to stick with my "current" heroes in my present day, people that affect my life daily, and because I'm feeling a little bit feminist today, I'm going to go ahead and stick with my female heroes this time {that's not to say that I don't have a million male heroes, but I just needed to cut down the ever growing list of people that are popping into my head}.  I had better start with...

MY MAMA...since she brought me into this world.  She has lived a life brimming with service and selflessness, and has set an example for me that cannot be equaled.  I could say so much more, but I just posted my tribute to her and my dad not long ago.  Thanks Mom, I love you.  I love being your daughter.

MY GRANDMAS...my Grandma Wilson is the sweetest, kindest, gentlest person you will ever meet.  She is the epitome of "Grandma" and she will always hold a tender place in my heart.  I have never heard her yell, she never even raises her voice, she is patient and kind and a perfect example of love.  I love being her grand-daughter.

I am more like my Grandma Baker {as much as it pains me to admit it}.  I love her!  She is bold and opinionated, and hard-working, and she is always, always, always, giving service.  She would babysit my kids every day, all day, for a month straight if I asked her to, even if her back was killing her and she was exhausted {for the record, I would never ask this of her}.  She is full of love, and long-suffering, and although you may not know it to look at her or talk to her, she has bourn heartbreaking burdens and trials in her life with the utmost grace, and is one of the most forgiving and loving people that I know.  Her and I fight like cats and dogs sometimes, because we are too much alike, but if she only knew how much I truly love and admire her!  I love being her grand-daughter.

MY SISTER...Amy is the best sister anyone could ever ask for.  She is kind and patient and mother-like {even before she had her own 5 children}.  No matter what I say to Amy, I know it won't be repeated.  She is respectful, kind, and wouldn't say a mean word about anyone.  If ever I feel like I need a break from life, she is almost always the first person that comes to my mind.  Visiting Amy is one of my very favourite things.  Being near her means being safe...my words are safe, and I know her ears are open.  She is the best listener, and often the things I'm thinking become clear as I talk them out to her.  She doesn't swarm me with advice, but whatever secret little knack she has, my burdens always seem lighter just by being near her.  She knows how to just love, and is compassionate and caring.  I love being her sister.

MY SISTER-IN-LAWS...ok, so I have 7 sister-in-laws, and I can't even tell you what they mean to me {as I sit at my computer and cry, because I can't even keep it together while I write}.  I love them all so much!!!  I will go in order of sibling rank, not importance ;) , starting on the Michel side...

LESLIE...such a rock!  She is so sweet and always looks out for me.  I can't even tell you how many times I have needed just the right words of advice, and have found them coming from her lips, or from a book she's been inspired to recommend to me.  She is my library.  She knows what I should be reading and when I should read it.  She is so in tune with the spirit, so selfless, and she has her priorities in check.  Did I mention she is the mother of six, and somehow still so patient!  Being a mother is her pride and joy, anyone who comes in contact with her knows this.  I love learning from her, and I love being her sister {in-law}.

WENDY...I don't even notice that half my smile has been missing until Wendy walks into the room.  She just has that aura that makes you want to just glue yourself to her so that you can stay happy all the time.  She is my hero for her strength, for her independence, for her optimism through trials and just life in general.  Wendy is simply amazing...you would never know from her soft, bubbly appearance {and because she would never brag about it} that she has spent 5 years serving in the Navy, that she is the most dedicated and stellar athlete, that she is the most patient, gentle and kind wife and mother, that she has worked her butt off with four little kids to get her nursing degree online.  She is more than an example to me...she is a light to me, and to many others I am sure.  I love being her sister {in-law}.

LAURA...so sweet.  I love seeing how kind Laura is to everyone she comes in contact with.  She is soft-spoken, gentle, and loving.  Laura is the beautiful mother of 5, and she is involved, creative and artistic.  She is a good friend, a great listener, and her example as a supportive wife is one that {although she may not know it} I look up to.  I love being her sister {in-law}.

KRISTEN...oh I love Kristen so much!!!  I went to school with Kristen, we graduated together, and I feel a connection with her.  I feel like I can relax around her because no matter what I say or do, she will never, EVER judge me, and I know that, and I can't express how much that means to me.  At the hardest time in my life, she was the very first to seek me out, to hug me, to cry with me, and I will never forget her for that.  She is a sweet girl with a tender heart.  She is a wonderful mother of 3 beautiful children, whom I have never seen with a hair out of place.  She is organized and clean, she is a wonderful housekeeper, and I can tell by the way she parents, that her children will always see her as one of their closest friends.  I love being her sister {in-law}

JESIKA...I feel like she is my sister.  I love being around her.  She is one of those people who welcomes in the sunshine on the cloudiest of days.  She is definitely a light, and that attribute makes me want to harness myself to her sometimes.  She is fun, she is a sport, she is always good for a joke or a laugh, and yet she is loyal, trustworthy, and full of service all at the same time.  She is patient and she is someone who never expects recognition, very much one of my heroes who is content to not be in the spotlight, but who deserves to be.  She is happy, and she is happy no matter what.  She is the girl who on any given day will have her own 4 kids + maybe 10 others at her house because she just plain attracts people, and any person {child or grown up} who walks through her door, feels the spirit in her home, feels like they want to stay a little longer, and feels the sunshine that follows her everywhere she goes.  I love being her sister {in-law}.

LINDSEY...is my home-girl.  Lindsey and I go way back.  She is another sister-in-law that I went to school with, and we were besties long before my brother came into the picture.  She has a big heart, and is so creative and funny.  Her home looks like Pinterest, no matter what she's got to work with, and her 4 little kids might as well be GAP models.  She's a great example to me.  She's athletic and funny, and up for anything, always.  She is such a supportive wife, and I love who she is for my brother.  She's also a good friend, and has the best sense of humour.  She's the only sister-in-law I have that has ever sent me a hand written note in the mail just to let me know she loves me.  She's just Lindsey, and I love being her sister {in-law}.

NICOLE...is the little sister I never had...and I LOVE having!  I get to tease her and pick on her {just a little}, and she's good for it, because she has five big brothers that have been doing it to her her whole life!  She is compassionate and loving, has a huge heart and is sensitive {in the best way}.  She is the perfect match for my special little bro and I feel so much like there just couldn't be a Spencer without a Nicole.  She is oh so often my comic-relief in life.  I swear she always waits for the perfect "down moment" in my life to text me out of the blue with a hilarious video.  She started this habit at a time she knew I would need it, and she hasn't ever let me down since.  She's a sport, she's cute, she's clever, she's so perfectly placed in our family.  I hope she never changes, because she is so uniquely herself, and I love her for who she is!  I love being her sister {in-law}.

MY MOM {IN-LAW}...this is where Jesika gets her spirit of service from.  Sheila is the epitome of service, goodness and overall wholesomeness.  She is the matriarch of the most beautiful family I have ever known.  She has raised 5 of the most wonderful and respectful sons this world has ever seen, and a beautiful, charitable daughter of which I have already said much.  She is a wonderful example of a wife, and a patient, quiet, and kind-hearted woman.  She will never be found anywhere except in a holy place, and will always have a good quote up her sleeve, a good book in her hand, and a good meal on the table.  She is an energizer bunny, and I have every confidence that she will never run out of juice.  I love being her daughter-in-law.

MY DAUGHTER...who else but Polly do I have to let us all know in the middle of dinner that "crackers are called crackers because they're for people with butt-cracks, and because everybody has a butt-crack, crackers are for everyone!"  I am so grateful that Polly puts a little {or maybe a lot} of pizzaz into my life.  She is also such a sweetie.  She tells me every day, at least once that I am "the most beautifullest girl in the whole wide world".  This special, sweet little best friend of mine knowingly chose me to be her mother.  Could I be more blessed?!  She knew I would make mistakes, she knew I would be so far from perfect, and yet, I know with all my heart that she willingly came into our family, and for that she is my hero.  I learn so much from her.  She is the funniest, quirkiest, friendliest little miss I have ever met, and I am so grateful that she is my daughter.  If I can only have one daughter, she's the one I'd have picked, one million percent.  I love being her mother.

MY AUNTIE CHERYL...I don't care what anyone says about me having no "blood" related Aunt Cheryl's, I am telling you, my Auntie Cheryl is my Auntie Cheryl, and that's that.  She is so calm, so collected, so funny, and talented, and firm in her convictions.  She is so secure, and so patient, and she is my anchor during hard times.  I know I can always ring her up for a good therapy session, and she will listen, not judge...she will love and give wonderful advice, focused around gospel truths and scriptures.  She is a fountain of knowledge, a lover of life, always game for adventure, and an example of grace.  She is a wonderful wife and mother, an incredibly loyal friend, an involved and spirited grand-mother and a huge strength to me.  I love being her niece.

MY FRIENDS...

PAIGE...well, Paige is my little family away from family.  Paige {and Herb, but we're talking girls here} have done so much for our little family since moving to this land of far far away.  They let us crash at their house the first night we officially met them, they have done so much foot-work for us during our house-hunting search a few years back, and when we were 20 hours away, they even found us the home we ended up buying through a friend at Paige's work.  She is a wonderful leader of the Young Women's group we work together with at church, the sweetest little Grandma and Mom, and a priceless example to me of being laid back enough to allow your children to make their own choices, and learn things for themselves.  Because I am naturally the opposite, I often catch myself thinking "What would Paige do in this situation?"  She is bubbly, funny, a wonderful knitting student, and always, always, willing to help.  In fact, just on Saturday, Jordan and I were able to go on a fun little date night because of Paige's kind offer to come watch the kids for us one night.  Paige is just amazing to me, and I love being her friend.

KAYLA...is my surrogate sister, and we have a real special bond.  She is just a kindred spirit, one of those friends you know was meant to be placed in your path, for so many reasons.  She is an example to me of testimony, loyalty, kindness and selflessness.  She even came with me and four crazy kiddos across the country to keep me company last year, and never uttered a word of complaint!  She is a faithful friend, she is respectful, gentle and wonderful in every way.  She is good to my children, and a great mother to her own little guy, she mellows me out when she comes through the door, she is just Kayla, and Kayla is good.  I love being her friend.

MARJ...is my dear friend.  She serves and she serves and she serves.  She has served me FAR more than I have her in our friendship, and the tables to me seem so lop-sided.  She has 5 children of her own, and yet she has had me and my children for dinner on countless occasions, she has taken Polly to playgroup so that I could rest so many times after Reggie was born, she has stocked my freezer with meals, she has car-pooled to piano lessons and when I think of Marj I can just picture her saying "What can I do to help?"  She is now also my doggy-friend, and I am loving our new little weekly dog park dates since our family has jumped on board the puppy train.  Marj is a friend that makes a busy girl's life a little lighter, a little sweeter, and a whole lot more bearable.  I love being her friend.

TAWNYA...is a great girl.  She is quiet and matter of fact, and very independent.  She doesn't accept help easily, and I should probably offer it more...She makes life with 5 children look far too easy and is somehow always willing to take on more.  She threw me the funnest little surprise shower before I had Reggie, and pooled together freezer meals and treats to boot.  She just had a baby of her own, and still offered to take our puppy over the Christmas holidays!  Some people just blow my mind, and Tawnya is one of them.  I love being her friend.

MY NEIGHBOR...Barbara is another surrogate family member that my family could not live without.  She is my kid's surrogate Grandmother and she is deeply loved within the walls of our home {and without our home for that matter}.  She is so charitable!  She bakes raspberry pies for Jordan {with hand-picked raspberries I might add}, as well as making countless other donations to us from their beautiful garden {although I suppose it's more Dave's garden technically} ;) Barbara's house is my Sabbath day {and sometimes other days too} grocery store when I get myself into a pinch in the middle of a recipe because I overlooked one ingredient or another.  Her and Dave are our house-sitters, our pillow-case lenders, our school-bus cake bakers {on the kids first day of school}, and the overall best neighbour{s} a person could ask for.  Barbara is the sweetest, kindest woman I could ever know, and I love being her neighbour.

And the one hero I have to list who is non-female, but gets a place in my hero post despite his gender, is my wonderful husband JORDAN, who, among other things has come home two days in a row now with groceries, knowing I am under the weather, and who daily and continuously blows me away with his hero-like qualities, of which I could name many.  I will save my words for today as I don't want to take away from the others I've written about, but here's a picture of the flowers I got from him yesterday, just because I can't resist...

{sigh}...my hero!
So there's a few of my heroes.  Wow, am I ever blessed!!!  Just look at that support system!!!  Multiply the above by two, because every one of these wonderful women has a husband that is equally heroic to me.  I feel so blessed to have heroes today, and every day, who sacrifice their time, talents and {especially today on Remembrance Day} their very lives to service, freedom, and truth.

Thank you all.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween!

I'm not sure exactly what time our kids woke us up this morning, but they usually wake up at 7am and need to be woken up even then.  This morning the time started with the digit 5, and I was unimpressed, but we invited all the kids up into our bed for some cuddles and made the best of it anyways.  You'd think it was Christmas morning or something, instead of Halloween.  I LOVE little kid excitement, I LOVE holidays, I LOVE parties, and any chance to dress up, or at least dress the kids up, I LOVE!  So they must get it from me...I get it from my Dad.  Excitement is a genetic thing I'm pretty sure...

So although we didn't get around to making our famous Milk Jug Skeleton this year {and my kids won't let me forget}, we have managed to do a couple of "Halloweeny" things in the last little while, among the hustle and bustle.  We attended the primary Halloween party at our church on the 17th, which was a blast, and on Monday night for Family Home Evening, we decorated pumpkins.  We opted out of carving them for two reasons:

1) I didn't want the mess, and...
2) I like to cook my pumpkins up after halloween so I have a stash of pumpkin puree to make yummy things out of.

{my good little helpers}

{our spooky pumpkins}

Polly was assigned to provide the treat this week for Family Home Evening, so her and I made pumpkin cookies from my favorite ever pumpkin cookie recipe while the older kids were at school.  Delicious as usual!

{our family home evening assignment board}
{yummy glaze...was good on our leftover scones from the other night too!}
Today I'm heading over to the kids school for all the fun festivities and taking with me three pumpkin themed veggies trays {one for each of my kids' classes}, complete with homemade dill dip.  Here's the recipe...

Dill Dip:
1/2 c. sour cream
1 T. sugar
2 T. vinegar
1 t. dill

{a little goodness for the belly on an otherwise treat-filled day}
I was informed by my soldier boy that next year he would like me to bring treats instead of veggies...{and here I thought I was such a fun Mom}!  

I'll keep that in mind Peter...

So this year for costumes we have...

{a soldier}

{Batman...who may or may not have decided to be a vampire at the last minute this morning,
which I didn't have time to get pictures of...}

{a bat...and don't try to tell her that her mask looks more like a bird because she'll have none of it...it's a bat ok!}

{and last but not least...SUPERMAN...this costume totally cracks me up, because it's way too small, lol!}

So there you have it, we lived to see another Halloween!  Can't wait to go trick or treating tonight with these cute little spooks!

Happy Halloween everybody!!!





Saturday, October 25, 2014

Farewell Mom & Dad ~ A Tribute

So I know I just wrote yesterday, but I felt a need to write again today about something significant that's happening in the life of my family.  Even as I am typing, my parents are flying out to serve a two year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  They've been called to the Paris, France mission, which includes Paris and the surrounding area, as well as Belgium.  I am so blessed to have the parents that I do.  They have always taught me to have strong morals and values and to be an individual.  My Dad was just baptized into our church 7 years ago, and so growing up we would attend church usually with just my Mom.  My Dad has always been a wonderful, good man, and an amazing father.  He has a remarkable CONVERSION STORY that you can read about in my words, or you can read it in his own words as published in the CHURCH NEWS.  He was the principle at the French Immersion elementary school I attended as a child, and some of my fondest memories of him are eating lunch with him in his office every day at school, watching him dress up as Captain Planet during Earth Week {a hilarious costume that I REALLY wish I had a picture of}, every halloween {and any holiday really that he had a chance to dress up} he was the life of the party.  Another memory I cherish is him reading us bedtime stories at night.  I still get to enjoy his remarkable story telling talent with my own kids, with all his animation and voices for different characters.  My Dad has a huge heart, and he loves children.  He just retired in June from a career that he put his heart and soul into.  If he were writing this he would tell you that this September marks the first year that he has missed his first day of school since he was 4 years old, and let me tell you, he truly does miss it.  I can't even begin to count the number of times I have had people come up to me telling me how awesome he was as a principle, or how much he'll be missed, or how they'll never be able to replace him.  In fact he was "arrested" by some police officers near the end of May one day in the middle of a meeting he had at the board office.  The officers escorted him in the back of their police car back to his school {Lakeview Elementary School in Lethbridge}, where a giant crane was lowering a boulder onto the front lawn of the school with an inscription that reads "In Appreciation of Mr. Ed Wilson, Our Rock" {Local news write up HERE}.  This surprise outdoor assemble was complete with a school full of current students, parents, teachers, and many former students, all sporting red clown noses in tribute to my Dad, who for the duration of his career as principle, hand delivered cupcakes to each and every birthday boy or girl in the school, fully dressed in his clown costume and red nose every time.  He's a remarkable man who would leave hours earlier than expected to work each morning, and who would toss and turn at night, usually waking up at 4 or 5 every morning because he would be thinking and worrying about situations that were going on at school and how he could best help.  It wasn't until after his retirement when he came to visit us in August that I witnessed him sleep in until 7:30 for the first time I can remember.  He is the same kind of father as he was a principle, and I know without a doubt in my mind, he will be the same kind of missionary as well.


Dad and his harmonica on "Trek"
My Dad "The Rock"

Man of many roles

As for my mother, she is nothing short of an angel.  Behind the scenes, she is the one that baked thousands and thousands of cupcakes over the course of all those years, for my Dad to hand out at school.  She is an amazing wife, and loves my Dad with all her heart.  My Dad always tells everyone that she is his ten cow wife {from the story of Johnny Lingo}.  She is the mother who although she found her faith shortly before becoming a mother, she held tight to her beliefs, nurtured them and helped them grow in herself as well as her children.  She is the woman that without the assistance of her spouse, held family prayer with her children morning and evening, had scripture study with us every morning {and trust me we were not good sports that early in the morning}, and held Family Home Evening faithfully every Monday night.  She did those things for over thirty years alone, until my Dad was baptized.  She is my hero, in every way.  She is the person whom I took for granted and fought against most of my growing up years, and whom I now owe everything I am to.  I am so glad that she persisted, I am so glad that she kept an eternal perspective in mind all those years and didn't lose hope in the mother that she was striving to be.  Now that I know what motherhood is all about, I am all the more grateful, and completely amazed at her diligence.  She is my example of faith, diligence and persistence.  

My Mom & Reggie {grandchild #12}

Dad & Mom

My Mom is such a sport.  She knows how passionate my Dad is about the French language, having grown up in France for several years from the time he was 3.  My mom supported this passion 100% by putting her kids in a french school and being involved in that decision every step of the way, including packing up her family and moving to Québec for a year for a work exchange for Dad, where she couldn't understand a thing.  She has been dedicated to trying to learn the french language for as long as I can remember, not wanting to be the only one in the house who couldn't speak French.  She has taken several classes and been a part of various groups over the years to help her, and she has struggled...until she was called on this mission.  I had the opportunity when I traveled to Alberta with the kids earlier this month to listen to her pray one night with my Dad and I before we went to bed.  As I sat there with my eyes closed, I was surprised when she began her prayer in French.  She prayed for several minutes, elegantly piecing together beautiful French phrases in a way I didn't think possible.  I was so touched by her prayer and her progress speaking the language, that I got a little teary.  It was amazing!  That Sunday at church, as I listened to both my parents give their farewell talks, I heard my mother bear her testimony of our Church's missionary program, and more specifically their language learning program for missionary training.  For years she had taken several classes, tried numerous approaches to learning French, and she testified as to how inspired this specific program was.  I saw her weep as she spoke of how it felt to have all those things in her mind come together and fall into place, that she could finally grasp the French language!  The Holy Ghost filled my heart and having witnessed her beautiful prayer a few night before, I knew that the words she was speaking were true.  For me it was nothing short of a miracle.  

me & my folks after their farewell

my family & parents after mom & dad's farewell {Jordan even flew in for the day!}

I am so proud of my parents, I am so grateful for them and so honoured to be their daughter.  This morning, as they fly to their temporary destination of Provo, Utah, where they'll undergo more training for the next 10 days before travelling on to France, I know that they are exactly where they should be.  I will miss them, but I am happy for them.  My Mom told me yesterday in our last conversation how it hit her that for the next two years, she will literally be bearing the name of Christ on her chest everywhere she goes.  That she wouldn't even be able to go to the grocery store without people seeing her name badge and knowing that she was a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  She was scared that she wouldn't be able to live up to that enormous undertaking, and in telling me this, she taught me a lesson.  She taught me that this should be my goal as well.  She taught me that although I may not wear a name tag, I can stand up for and share my beliefs just by being my best self every day.  I can see those around me as my brothers and sisters and I can have genuine love for my friends and neighbours, sharing my beliefs and my testimony in everyday acts of kindness and gratitude for the bounteous blessings I have.  After all, am I not robbing God if I don't do this?  My time is not my own to begin with, it is a gift he has given me, and I need to use it wisely, and with care, always asking myself what he would have me do.

Mom and Dad, you guys are going to be great missionaries!  You have taught me and so many others so much already, more than you will ever know.  Even though I don't live at home anymore and I have a family of my own, you are still teaching me and setting an example for me, and I know that you always will.  You may not feel up to the task now, but you are exactly the right couple for the job!  I am so grateful that you are my parents!  You are my heroes!  Have a wonderful time in France!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Photo-shoot!

Well with this new little pup in our lives, I officially feel like a mother of 5!  Life has felt so busy lately, it's been crazy!  I never thought I was one of those people who thrived in the midst of chaos, but I'm LOVING it!  I think it's because, although every minute of my time is being used {and I really do mean EVERY minute}, it's being used effectively {so far...knock on wood I can keep it up} and my priorities are in order.  The only downfall is that I have never fallen asleep knitting so often in my life!  By the time I get the kids to bed at night  at the end of every crazy day and am ready to crack down and knit for a while, I fall fast asleep on the couch within the first few rows...it's been brutal.  Anyways, here and there I've been able to get a couple of product photo-shoots under my belt for my upcoming Polly Headband.  My wonderful friend Marj and I had a little dog park date the other day and she was gracious enough to snap a couple pics for me while we were at it {love multi-tasking}...






Even more exciting is the photo-shoot I got to do yesterday, with little Kassady, who is sporting the 6 month size Polly Headband!  Isn't she the most adorable little thing you've ever seen!!!  I can't even handle her cuteness!  Thanks for being such a happy little sport Kassady!  She was so fun to photograph and has the sweetest head full of curls to feature this bitty little headband!




Now I just have a few little charts to sketch up before testing starts, and once testing is complete, this little pattern will be ready to launch!




Saturday, October 18, 2014

Puppy Surprise...

I don't know if "Puppy Surprise" toys had as much of an impact on you as they did on me, but as a child, mine played a big roll in my life...do you remember them?  The weird looking fluffy haired dog that has a "SURPRISE" number of babies in her velcro enclosed tummy?


wait for it.....


My sweet little Princess Polly is absolutely head over heals for dogs, and so, last year for Christmas, I tracked down a vintage puppy surprise toy for her {or maybe Santa tracked it down, I can't remember}.  Anyway, she just loves it!  But it still hasn't stopped her {or any other child in our home for that matter} from begging for a REAL puppy.  So after our long drive to Alberta and our long drive home...


...my wonderful husband and I promised the kids that they would get a special reward for being so good and helpful in the car {and I must say, I have incredible kids, they were awesome travellers}!  So when the kids and I rolled up, Jordan came running out to meet us...he then escorted us inside the house to find...


A special new addition to the family!  His name is RAMBO {yes, we are big Sylvester Stallone fans} and he is our little {for now at least} red Doberman Pinscher puppy.  He is 11 weeks old and I am completely smitten, as are the kids.  

I am so impressed with my sweet children.  They have taken on the responsibility of having a puppy like little champs.  They have each stepped up to the responsibilities of feeding him, wiping up his little accidents, they've even taken on full-time pooper-scooper duty in the back yard!

{I promise Wilson likes Rambo too, he's just not super thrilled with his Mom's obsession with picture taking!}

Growing up on an acreage, I always had the opportunity of having constant litters of puppies and kittens.  I also started raising rabbits in High School, and I learned so much from those experiences.  Jordan grew up always having a dog, as well as horses, and so we both have reaped the benefits of growing up with pets.  We have always wanted to get the kids a puppy, because we feel like there's no better way to teach our kids about birth, life and death than to care for animals.  Over the course of our marriage; years of school...and moving...and changing our minds, we've always had a reason to wait for one thing or another to happen before getting a pet...I think doctor Seuss says it best...

"Simple it's not, I'm afraid you will find,
for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.

You can get so confused 
that you'll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place...

...for people just waiting.
Waiting for a  train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or waiting around for a Yes or No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.

NO!
That's not for you!
Somehow you'll escape..."

~Oh, the Places You'll Go! by Dr. Seuss~





So we took the plunge!  We finally decided that there would never be a PERFECT time to get a puppy, but there's no time like the present right?!?  And even if I have to repeat in my head "No complaining Lise-Anne, no regrets Lise-Anne" a zillion times every day for the next...{what's the life expectancy of a dog again...?} well anyway...it'll be worth it...

He's a Michel now...and there's no going back from that!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Tasty Trio of Ground Beef Recipes...

The first time Jordan and I spent apart was when we'd been married almost two years.  We were living in Nashville, TN at the time and I was pregnant with our first {Peter}.  Back then I was just living my little dream, playing house and dreaming of the soon-to-be day when I could start dressing up little babies and changing little diapers, and all those fun things I pictured motherhood would be like.  I thought I was just an all-star house wife, working hard to wash our two mesely little plates after every meal and vacuum our little apartment {that was like what 8x10}.  It's funny to think back and see how time changes our perspective of things.  I swear we ate cabbage rolls about 3 times a week because I only knew how to cook about three things {not to knock cabbage rolls, because they are still one of my all time faves}.  Anyway, that summer we were living in Nashville, my parents came out to visit, and after they left, they were headed up to Virginia to visit my two brothers who were living there at the time.  I decided I'd tag along with them, since Jordan was at work 6 days a week anyways, and I clearly had the time to spare.  So, being the good little domestic wifey that I saw myself as, I made my dear husband a huge croc-pot full of chilli for while I was away.  I can still remember how proud I was, and I still remember how excited he was.  He was just so thrilled to have a good little wife to take care of him.  He bragged to all his co-workers about my thoughtfulness, and we parted just so pleased with the whole situation.  Well...a few days away shocked us both into reality when we learned that a strictly chilli diet isn't a great thing to follow for even one full day, let alone five, and it ended up not being nearly as enjoyable as we both imagined it would be.

We like to bring this story up from time to time and have a good laugh, and to this day, Jordan isn't a big chilli fan.  I've really expanded on the cooking front since those early days of marriage, as well as been jolted into reality of what being a wife and mother of 4 is really all about.  It doesn't mean I love it any less, just saying that it's not all sunshine and rainbows like I imagined.  Luckily, it's even better than sunshine and rainbows, and way more rewarding than I could ever have imagined, even if it did prove to be a bit more of a challenge.  After all, I'm always up for a challenge.  

So, speaking of challenges, I have made it a point ever since that first time apart to do a bit better every time I'm away...and because of that little personal vendetta, I was a very busy lady last Friday, prepping my soon-to-be bachelor husband for our time apart.  He's a bit spoiled, and I love to show him that I love him, so I stocked up the freezer with 22 individual meals; a lunch and a dinner for each of the 11 days we would be apart {sigh...so romantic}.  I know I'm a little cheesy, but I also know that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, so I'm okay with cheesy.  Here's what the end result looked like...

22 meals, fit for a King, complete with a 9 oz beautifully marbled steak for Thanksgiving Day 
{he hates turkey}

And then of course a little love note to go along with each meal, so he remembers all the reasons that I love him while I'm gone.

You may think I'm a little corny, but I can live that.  He was beyond thrilled and he's loving every meal so far.  Jordan is not crazy about chicken dishes, so I made his three favourite dinners with ground beef, divided them up, and spread them out over the 11 days.  Here's the three beef recipes I put together and what I'm sharing with you today...

1. Super Deluxe Hot Dish
2. Taste-Bud Tantalizing Beef Enchiladas 
    {with bonus Cilantro-Lime Rice Recipe}
3. Chunky Spaghetti Sauce

First off...


Super Deluxe Hot Dish:

1 lb ground beef
1 med. onion
1 1/2 c. celery
1/2 c. raw rice
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 c. water
1/2 t. salt
1/8 t. pepper
1 c. frozen peas
1 can mushrooms
2 cups cheese


1. Brown ground beef...add in onion and celery...sauté. 
2. Add the rice, soups and water.
3. Stir well.  Season with salt and pepper.
4. Add in frozen peas and mushrooms, and stir.
5. Place mixture in a 9x13 inch casserole dish.  Bake at 325 degrees for 1 1/2 hrs.
6. During the last 1/2 hour, top with grated cheese and return to oven.


This dish may not look like much, but it is our family's all time favourite.  It is SOOOO good, trust me! I never cover mine with tinfoil, because we love the crispies around the edges, but if you're not into the crispy sides, a little tinfoil solves that for ya.


Next up...

Taste-Bud Tantalizing Beef Enchiladas:

Filling:
2 t. vegetable oil
1 med. onion
2 t. minced garlic
1 lb. ground beef
1 med. orange pepper
1 c. mild salsa
1/3 c. chopped cilantro

Sauce:
1 1/2 c. evaporated milk
1 c. water 
1 t. chicken bouillon
3 1/2 T. flour
1 t. dijon mustard
pinch of salt and pepper
1 cup grated cheddar cheese

Other:
6 large flour tortillas
1/2 c. grated cheddar cheese
2 T. cilantro


1. Over medium heat, sauté onion and garlic in oil until onions are translucent.
2. Add ground beef and brown.
3. Add orange pepper and sauté for a few more minutes.
4. Add salsa.  Cover and simmer for 5 minutes.  Add cilantro and set filling aside.
5. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine evaporated milk and water.
6. Add chicken bouillon, flour, mustard, salt and pepper.
7.  Whisk together over medium heat until it comes to a boil.
8. Add cheese.
9. Whisk together until melted and creamy.  Pour half the sauce over the filling.
10. Evenly divide filling/sauce mixture between 6 flour tortillas.
11. Roll up tortillas and place seam-side down in a greased 9x13 inch baking dish.
12. Pour remaining sauce over rolled up enchiladas and top with remaining cheese.  
Bake @ 425 degrees for 15 mins.  Top with cilantro and serve!



{This is my all-time favourite salsa.  It's runny and authentic tasting, just like in the restaurants.}


Here's a quick little something extra to go along with your enchiladas...

{Cilantro-Lime Rice}
Place the following ingredients into your rice cooker:

1 c. long grain white rice
2 T. butter
2 c. water
1 t. chicken bouillon
2 T. lime juice
2 T. chopped fresh cilantro
salt to taste

Press Start!  Fluff with a fork and voila!



My third Beef Recipe for the day is...

Chunky Spaghetti Sauce

1 lb ground beef
4 carrots, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 med onion, chopped
1/2 c. water
1 can {680 ml} original pasta sauce


1. Brown ground beef.
2. Add carrots, celery and onions.
3. Add water.
4. Cover and steam until water has mostly evaporated and veggies are tender 
{about 10-15 mins)
5. Add can of pasta sauce.
6. Stir and serve over spaghetti!


{This is my favourite pasta sauce.  I always choose the simplest looking, no-name brand sauce, with no cheese, and no competing flavours, to be sure the finished spaghetti sauce can speak for itself.}

So after all the meals were done, I made up some more little love notes and riddles for him to find throughout the week.  I put a few little bags of candy along with some little notes inside his shoe, in his sock drawer, beside his watch collection etc...I also hid a package of nibs in the console of his truck and a bag of Chicago Mix on the bed.

{Chicago Mix...mmm}

Lastly, I made sure the freezer was good and stocked with baking, made a few more loaves of bread and some more Monkey Poop Cookies and Pizza Buns!  



I'm thinking not only will he not go hungry, but we may need to start an exercise program the day after I get back...




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