Posted by: raisingmustardseeds | March 26, 2014

Oceanophobia

Oceanophobia

by¬†anonymousūüôā

The sea, which sometimes looks dark and ominous, terrifies me horribly. ¬†As a tenderhearted young child, my well-meaning parents allowed my brother and I to watch the blockbuster movie “Jaws”. ¬†Consequently I had the most miserable nightmares. ¬†I would be in the sea thrashing about because I could not swim, and a shark would come and gnaw my leg off. ¬†I often hoped that they would, instead, swallow me whole, just like Jonah. ¬†As you can see, this fear was quite unreasonable, since one would have a greater chance of being hit by a car than eaten by a shark. ¬†So if you want to petrify a child and produce oceanophobia, go ahead and let him watch “Jaws”.

Posted by: raisingmustardseeds | March 26, 2014

Listen to the Wise

Listen to the Wise – by Moose (8 years old)

One sunny day, a grey donkey and his tall driver were trotting down the road on the mountainside. ¬†The donkey saw his stall at the foot of the mountain and decided to take a shortcut. ¬†He decided that the quickest way was down the nearest cliff. ¬†He was about to leap, but his master pulled his small tail. ¬†The stubborn donkey did not give up easily and kept on pulling to the side of the cliff. ¬†His master shouted “Fine, you silly donkey! See what happens to you!” ¬†He released the donkey and the foolish donkey fell head over heels down the cliff. ¬†It is better to listen to the wise.

 

 

Posted by: raisingmustardseeds | March 26, 2014

The Foolish Fall Hard

The Foolish Fall Hard –¬†by Big Boy (10 years old)

One bright morning, a donkey was being driven down a winding dirt road along the high mountainside. ¬†He saw his shack, which had lots of hay in it, at the foot of the mountain, and decided to take a shortcut. ¬†He decided to find the quickest way down the cliff. ¬†The donkey wanted to leap down the cliff, but his master pull his bushy tail. ¬† The stubborn donkey did not give up and continued pulling away from his master’s grip. ¬†His master screamed, “Go ahead, silly donkey! See where it leads you.” ¬†So the master released the foolish donkey and it fell head over hooves down the mountain. ¬†The foolish fall hard.

 

 

Posted by: raisingmustardseeds | May 31, 2012

Enjoying God’s Creation

Moose found this gigantic moth outside on my bedroom balcony.

I caught it and placed it inside our temporary butterfly house, which we’d set up just a few weeks ago when my sister-in-law gave the kids some Painted Lady caterpillars to observe their life cycle.

Image

The size of it is kind of scary. I’ve never seen a moth so large! ¬†I’m figuring the wingspan is approx 4.5-5″ wide.

I found this info on it:

Polyphemus Moth

Polyphemous moth by Cathy KeiferAntheraea polyphemus
Family: Saturniidae

Wingspan:¬†110 ‚Äď 150 mm
Description:
 wings generally rich brown colour, oval transparent spot on each of four wings ringed by yellow, black and blue, those on hind wings also surrounded by large bluish-black patch; crescent-shaped pink and white marks near base of forewing, pink to brownish line near edges of forewing
Larva:
 up to 80 mm, bright green, with sparse protruding hairs and yellow streaks and reddish spots on sides.
Range: 
throughout the southern and central part of our province, north to James Bay
Habitat:
 forested areas
Larval foodplants:
 many trees, including oak, birch, ash, grape, hickory, maple
Flight season: 
mid May to July
Overwintering stage:
 cocoon, resembles a silken egg wrapped in leaves
True fact:
 Due to its large eyespots, this moth is named after the Cyclops Polyphemus (a one-eyed monster) that Homer encountered during his odyssey.  Like other giant silkmoths and the imperial moth, adult Polyphemus moths do not eat as adults, living only a week or two to mate and begin the next generation, literally starving to death in the process.

———-

Some close-ups. Notice it’s beautiful “eyes”! And its antennae…

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Posted by: raisingmustardseeds | March 1, 2012

Sugaring Season 2012 – Update #3

Well, I finally cranked Papa Fisher up on Sunday afternoon (Feb 26) for the first time this season. Or rather, MS Dad did the honours.

As usual, he was a hungry fellow, (Papa Fisher, not MS Dad) consuming fuel (wood) faster than the children could gather. ¬†I “stole” some wood that MS Dad had cut last fall, but it’s still quite wet, which isn’t good when you want a hot roaring fire. ¬†But you work with what you have. ¬†The children gather fallen twigs and branches that help to get the fire going. ¬†MS Dad spent the afternoon taking apart wood pallets that I found by the roadside a few weeks ago. ¬†Those are nice and dry. ¬†I’ll miss them when they’re all used up.

Anyway, we had about 40L of sap collected over several days, some of it was frozen solid in the containers I’d put them in. ¬†Apparently, I could¬†throw out the ice blocks because the sugar content in the ice chunks is minimal. ¬†The good stuff is in the unfrozen part. ¬†But when you’re working with so little sap to begin with, it’s hard to throw out anything. ¬†It makes me feel better just boiling it off.

Some of the children were still sick on Sunday, so we listened to Pastor Paul’s message via the internet in the morning (we were sick the previous Sunday as well). ¬†So grateful for our church! And the ability to “catch up” on sermons. ¬†:) We’re going through the book of Revelation. ¬†Cool stuff.

After a quick lunch, some of us headed outside to get the fire going. ¬†No sap that day in the buckets. ¬†It was too cold. ¬†Got out every pot and pan that would fit on the stove. ¬†And started to boil. And boil. And boil…. ¬† Ahh, the faint smell of maple syrup is just awesome. ¬†And you get a nice facial too. ¬†:)

We started the fire at about 12:30pm. ¬†We boiled all we had (minus the frozen blocks that couldn’t come out of my plastic jugs. ¬†Note to self: Do not put sap in small-mouthed containers. ¬†Put in yogurt, margarine or tofu containers!).

We called it quits at about 6pm. ¬†The family was hungry and I’d promised them steak sandwiches. ¬†:) After supper, MS Dad and I went out to bring in whatever was left on the stove – we were down to about 2L of liquid.

My plan was to bring it to just under syrup temperature and then store the “almost-syrup” until I boiled a few more batches. ¬†This way, I wouldn’t have to filter small amounts and lose precious syrup in the filter.

I boiled my little pot of liquid on the kitchen stove and to my surprise, I was closer to syrup than I realized.  What threw me off was the colour of the syrup.  Last season, all we made was medium to amber syrup.  This syrup looked like light honey.

We ended up with just over 1L of extra light syrup. ¬†If we bottled it to sell, we would label it as fancy grade. haha. ¬†The taste is very different from our medium/amber syrup. ¬†Very sweet with a hint of maple. ¬†Nice, but we all prefer the darker stuff. It’s more robust in flavour.

I’ve bottled it without filtering out the sugar sand. ¬†We’ll do that when we’ve got more syrup. ¬†In the meantime, the sand has settled at the bottom of the jar. ¬†Today (March 1), I was cool mum – I made maple taffy on snow for the kids with the light syrup. ¬†Stick-in-your-teeth yummy.

We had a couple of days where the sap ran this week. ¬†So today I’m out there again, cranking up the fire. ¬†With the temperature hovering at just above freezing, the snow that’s on the trees is melting and falling out in chunks. ¬†Not so good when it drops into my pots. ¬†grrr. ¬†It is so unproductive when you’re trying to evaporate liquid and you see chunks of snow fall into your pots.

I’m hoping to finish this batch up by this evening. ¬†Forecast is for rain tomorrow and I don’t want to boil in rain.

 

 

Posted by: raisingmustardseeds | February 20, 2012

Sugaring Season 2012 – Update #2

Last week, I decided to put in some test taps.  Mrs. Impatient. Yes, that would be me.

All 5 taps I put in were bone dry, despite the temperatures supposedly being over 0 degrees.  I put in 2 more taps in another part of the yard.  Nothing. Nada. Zilch.  And worse, I got a drill bit stuck in the 2nd last tap.  Boo.

That bit didn’t get pulled out till the next day – I needed my strong man to go get it.ūüôā ¬†But the exciting part was when he got the bit out, the sap was dripping. YAY!

A few days later, I noticed one of my taps was leaking – (my drilling leaves a lot to be desired), so sap was coming out, but not into the bucket. ¬†I’ve fixed it (I hope), and will have to keep an eye on it the next few days to see if anything’s going into the bucket.

This long weekend (Family Day, a relatively new holiday courtesy of the McGuinty government), we got sideswiped by a nasty bug. ¬†It started Friday with Bubba (#3) – he slept pretty much the entire day. By Saturday morning, I wasn’t feeling all that great. ¬†By evening, it was full-blown for me and so after mustering every ounce of energy to cook up some dinner for the family, I went to sleep, first in the family room by the woodstove, and then after nursing the baby before his bedtime, in my bed.

Sunday morning, a few more members succumbed – MS Dad, Megalos, Big Mac, and Chubs. ¬†This is one strong bug. We have the chills, fevers, coughing and aches. ¬†Not fun. ¬†Moose and Roste are doing relatively well, compared to the rest of us. ¬†They just have the coughs. ¬†I’m praying that they won’t get the full-blown version we have.

What did you say? Oh. Yes. This was supposed to be a sugaring update.  Sorry, I got a little sidetracked.

But then again, there’s no sugaring if I can’t go out to tap now, can there?

ANYWAY. Today I was feeling better, my body wasn’t aching like it was on Saturday and Sunday. ¬†Still feeling light-headed and some chills, but nothing like the first couple of days. ¬†I looked out, saw the beautiful sun shining down, and said “this has got to be a tapping day” to no one in particular. I checked the weather and it definitely looked like a sap running kind of day.

My body didn’t budge from the seat by the fire. ¬†I hate when that happens.

It took a while for my body to cooperate with my mind.  But I did eventually drag myself up the stairs, gathered my tools, (only to find that the special drill bit I bought a few days ago did not make it into the plastic bag. ARGH.  And this place is in Elmira-  45 minutes west of us!) and made my way out into the glorious sunlight.

The weather was perfect for tapping.  Unfortunately, my weakened physical state meant that after trekking up and down a hill to put in 4 taps plus the necessary tubing, I was whooped. Sad. I had to go back indoors to rest. (I am so going to get in trouble with my dad.)  BUT the sap is dripping. *doing the happy dance*

After resting a little, I went back out again, determined to put in a few more. ¬†I think I got in about another 8 taps, before¬†my cordless drill ran out of juice. ¬†Moose was out this time and he helped tap in some spiles, hang buckets and lids. ¬†He was running around the trees, shouting excitedly that there was water in some of the buckets. haha. ¬† ¬† After it was reported to the inhabitants of the home, Big Mac (#2), who is one of the sicker ones, made her way out to help me. ¬†See what a little sap can do for a person?ūüôā

So as of today, there are now a total of 19 taps in approx. 14 trees. ¬†I’d like to say that the plan is to put the rest in in the next few days, but I’d rather not. ¬†I’ll just do whatever I can.

This is definitely much earlier than the March 1 start we had a couple of years ago. ¬†But, with our wacky weather, I figure if I can get some done at the front end, I won’t be too upset finishing earlier, and hopefully end up with a decent amount of syrup.

Sorry for the picture-less post. ¬†I only had 2 hands to carry my barang-barang. (for my Canadian friends – that’s Malay for your stuff/personal belongings) And I won’t tell you how many times I dropped various implements into the snow. ¬†So the camera stayed indoors. ¬†I’ll get it out the next time it’s nice out.

According to the writing how-to book that the girls have just started on, you’re not supposed to end a piece of writing with “The End”.

OK.

To Be Continued.

 

Posted by: raisingmustardseeds | February 13, 2012

Mobile

Someone’s mobile.

Noisy.

Smart…went for the food container which was behind the bottle of cream.

 

Posted by: raisingmustardseeds | February 13, 2012

Sugaring Season 2012 – First update

Well, the sugaring season is almost here. ¬†After missing last year’s season due to my happy conditionūüôā, I am chomping at the bit to get going this year.

I guess you can say that I’ve officially been bit by the maple bug. ¬†I must admit, though, that I was humming and hawing about whether to do it this year. ¬†It seemed easier just to make the 45 minute trek to St. Jacob’s¬†to pick up a few jugs.

But then I’ll miss out on making sweet memories with the family. ¬†Collecting sap, trying hard not to slip on the icy ground with sap buckets in hand, challenging each other to see who will haul in the most firewood, sitting in front of the blazing hot wood stove, being Ms McGyver and fashioning crude devices to prevent rain from falling into sap pans…and on and on it goes.

Mind you, there were days when it was mighty tempting to just pull the taps and call it a day season.  But that drive to just eke out more syrup was that much higher.

So here we are, 2012. ¬†And with the wacky winter weather we’ve been having, there’s not been any consensus as to when to tap. ¬†Too early and I risk drying out the taps. ¬†Too late and we’ll have a super short season – because if the last few years have been an indicator – we go warm super fast and the trees will start budding – ending the sugar season.

In the meantime, I’m busying myself with cleaning the equipment, making our snow refrigerator for our 55-gallon sap drum (so thankful for the past week’s snowfall!), walking the bush lot to see which trees to tap (and falling on my bum several times because of the nasty layer of ice all around the property). ¬†MS dad has outfitted Papa Fisher (our wood stove) with a new smoke stack (which makes Papa look all the more run down with all his rust)

This afternoon, we’ll clean some more and hopefully get the drum fully surrounded with snow. ¬†And I’m still hoping MS dad will be able to rig up a tarp shanty….nothing fancy…just to keep rain and/or snow off our heads and out of our pans. ¬†Nothing worse than having unwanted liquid going into your pans while you’re trying to evaporate liquid!

I’ll try to update this blog regularly as the season progresses. ¬†If you’re interested in coming up to visit our humble maple syrup operation, we’d love to have the company. ¬†It’s always more fun in numbers.ūüôā

Posted by: raisingmustardseeds | January 20, 2012

Photo Challenge Part 3

Day 10: Childhood

My youngest, 7 months into his childhood years, trying to get the attention of my oldest, who at almost 12, is at the cusp between her childhood and adolescent years

Day 12: Close-up

Burning wood
(See if you can find any interesting images in this photograph!)

Day 13: In Your Bag

What I found in my bag today (Clockwise from L to R): Diapers, chiropractic “zappy” cards (yes, that’s 7 cards! 1 for each child + mine), kids’ immunization cards, kids’ health cards (realizing a few weeks ago that I didn’t receive one for the Chubs!), a hospital wrist band (when I brought Chubs to the ER a few days ago – he’s fine), a few “trying to look alive” productsūüôā, and my wallet.

I’m surprised I didn’t find a dirty diaper in it. hahaha. ¬†I gave up carrying a handbag a long time ago – when the babies started arriving. ¬†I quickly switched out of carrying a “diaper bag”, preferring instead a generic looking bag that I could stuff with baby things. ¬†The most challenging times were when I had two in diapers – but that wasn’t too frequent. ¬†But most times, I probably under-pack. ¬†Don’t know why. ¬†I guess I just hate lugging around a lot of stuff. ¬†But then the whole family thinks my bag is for their barang barang (stuff). ¬†So many Sundays, I’d find everyone’s bibles stuffed into my bag. ¬†I solved that problem by giving the girls their own little bags. ¬†And MS Dad knows to not put his in my bag now.ūüôā

 

Posted by: raisingmustardseeds | January 18, 2012

Photo Challenge part 2

Day 7: Favourite

My Interpretation: One of my favourite things to do: cooking

Day 8: Your Sky

This assignment took a little longer to do – it has been foggy and rainy the last few days. Today was our first sunny day in a long time.

Day 9: Routine

My Interpretation: This is 6-year-old Moose’s daily chore list.ūüôā

Day 10: Childhood – still working on this one.

Day 11: Where You Sleep

My Interpretation: (The view from) Where I sleep…

Someone on the group suggested I use a tripod for the last photo and lengthen the exposure so that the light comes into the room. ¬†I’ll try that and see what happens. Loving the group where there are experts who know what the buttons on my camera mean.ūüôā

Posted by: raisingmustardseeds | January 14, 2012

Photo A Day Challenge

A friend from church started a facebook group in which participants would post a photo a day based on a list generated by fatmumslim.

This was timely for me, as two of my resolutions this year are to 1)figure out how to use our Nikon DSLR (which we picked up 5 years ago!) and 2) take more photographs. As our friend so accurately observed & described – MS dad & I looked tortured every time we were using our camera at church! hahaha.

We started last week and so far this is what I’ve got.

Day 1: You


Self-portrait – Taken in the bathroom of Great Wolf Lodge, Niagara Falls in the middle of the night

Day 2: Breakfast – I haven’t done this day’s assignment.

Day 3: Something You Adore

Something I Adore: Baby fat & dimpled fingers!

Day 4: Letterbox

Letterbox v.2. – You got mail

(v.1 got knocked down by a car trying to stop on a slippery hill. Our mailbox saved it from going down the gully. Haven’t gotten around to painting v.2 – hence the 2 toned post. And now, realizing that I didn’t take out my mail after shooting this photo)

Day 5: Something You Wore

Something I Wore….15 years ago at my wedding reception.

(the candy stripe is Big Mac subbing as my hanger)

Day 6: Makes You Smile

Makes Me Smile…my children playing nicely together

(And after taking this shot, I realized that a lot of other things in it makes me smile. On the left mantle – 1) the cross-stitch on the far left corner represents a weekend of all-nighters to complete for MS dad 20 years agoūüôā, 2) next to it, a series of family collages (my side) compiled by my mum who is now with the Lord. On the right mantle, 3) the picture frame that was a present for my first-born 12 years ago – my introduction to motherhood. On both mantles, 4) the christmas garlands (that really should be taken down now) that I put up for the first time in MANY years, just because my children REALLY love to decorate the house for Christmas; and last but not least 5) the blazing fire in the woodstove which keeps us warm and cozy and reminds me how blessed we are to be in this home. ¬†And thus endeth my essay.)

That’s where I am right now. ¬†Now off to complete Day 7 – Favourite.

I’ll be posting regularly this month with my photos. ¬†Stay tuned!

Posted by: raisingmustardseeds | January 14, 2012

2012 Here I Come!

It’s 2 weeks into 2012! Wow!

A new year. An opportunity to start afresh. Goal setting. Eager anticipation of what this year will bring.

For many years now, I’ve passed on making New Year’s resolutions. It was too depressing because invariably by the end of the month, I’d pretty much given up.

Well, not this year. I’ve been working on a list…specifically my 40 by 40 list.ūüôā Yup, I’ll be turning 40 this November, Lord willing.

I split my list into 4 broad categories – Spiritual/Mental, Physical, Practical, and Family goals. Some of those goals include the 3650 challenge , practicing contentmentūüôā (spiritual), getting on the treadmill 3x a week & working on my miles/minute time!, losing a specified amount of poundage/inches (physical), learning how to change a tire, starting our veggie garden (practical), playing games with my children each week, having a girls’ night out once a month (family).

Ambitious? You bet! Daunting? Very much so! BUT, as Zig Ziglar said, one cannot succeed as a wandering generality. You must be a meaningful specific. So, I’m setting my targets and aiming at them. And praying that, by God’s grace, I will hit some of them, and that in everything that I am striving towards, I will glorify the One that is the sole purpose of my life.

2012, HERE I COME!! WHEEEEEEEEEE!!!

Posted by: raisingmustardseeds | December 28, 2011

Winter Fun

What the children are doing now: Playing tag with daddy in minus 15 degree temperature.

I’ll just sit inside with baby and enjoy the view from my cozy chair.

Posted by: raisingmustardseeds | December 16, 2011

Let It Snow 2011

Our backyard looked like this 6 short days ago:

After spending the week before patiently filling up this massive 35 x 40 foot rink with water, the temperatures dipped low enough to get it to this stage…sort of. ¬†It was during this time we realized just how unlevel our ground was. ¬†The corners of the rink have close to a foot of water…and the middle? ¬†A measly couple of inches, if even.

I’ll spare you the details.

The important part is this: WHEN DO WE GET TO SKATE ON IT???

To the delight of the children, it was last Sunday, Dec 11. ¬†Night time, no less. ¬†At the children’s pestering, MS dad went out to test the ice, and declared it fit to skate on….except for a few areas deemed iffy.

So they all laced up and had a grand ‘ol time. ¬†Fortunately we have a floodlight right on the deck that MS dad is able to twist around to light up most of the rink. ¬†But we’re on the hunt for another floodlight thingy so we can light up the far end of the rink.

Monday & Tuesday saw the kids out there skating…the boys pretty much the whole day, and the girls in between their schoolwork. ¬†It was awesome. ¬†And I get to enjoy it all from the warmth (a relative term in my house) of the indoors. ¬†For the fun of it, and just so I could say I tried, I rummaged through the storage area to find a pair of skates to put on. ¬†I’ve never really enjoyed skating, to be honest. ¬†Women’s skates are downright uncomfortable. ¬†My feet were always cold and hurt like the dickens. ¬†Probably because I have flat feet. ¬†I solved the cold problem by putting wool socks on. ¬†But I haven’t solved the flat feet problem. ¬†Anyway, I took them out, walked out to the deck, skates in hand, and was greeted with shouts of joy from my shocked and surprised children. ¬†You see, daddy is the skater in the family. ¬†He’s the one out there with them. ¬†Me, I’m the 2 feet on the ground kind of girl, remember?

I laced up, with my children watching intently… I think they were trying to figure out if I was REALLY going to get on the ice. ¬†The girls politely asked if I knew how to skate. ¬†:) I said, “well, um, I’ve skated before. ¬†But I’m not sure how this is going to work out. And besides, the blades on these skates are really blunt, and I don’t know if I’m going to get anywhere on them. But thank you for asking.” ¬†Or perhaps a shortened version of that.

Well, the bad news was that the blades WERE really blunt and were no help. But the good news was I didn’t fall flat on my face or on my tush. ¬†The bad news was my feet hurt like the dickens. But the good news – my feet were warm and toasty in my wool socks. ¬†I didn’t last very long. ¬†I skated a few rounds, made myself useful by cleaning the ice, and then got out of way of my crazy boy (moose) zipping around me.

¬†Notice the shovels and hockey sticks strewn at the far end of the rink? That’s the no-skate zone. ¬†It was still not frozen right through in those areas.

But the forecast for the latter part of the week was not looking very promising.  The temperatures were staying above 0 and by Wednesday & Thursday, we were supposed to go to double digits (above 0!) Oy.  All that hard work of getting our ice.  Sigh.

Sure enough, by Wednesday, it was getting pretty slushy when the kids went on.  Wednesday evening saw rain. And Thursday.  Well Thursday was a wash out.  And the rink became a pond.  There is now no more snow on the ground as well.  It is all brown.

So sad. ¬†And it doesn’t look very promising for next week as well. ¬†It’s hovering around the 0 mark, with a very low possibility of precipitation, or rather I should say the white kind of preciptation. ¬†hahaha get it? The white kind?

OK. That was lame. Sorry. ¬†I think I’m hungry. And in need of some sugar fix.

This time last year we had this:

We (and I use the term “we” loosely) were rolling in nice white stuff on Christmas day:

Unless the weather forecasters are wrong (which they’ve been a lot of times this past year), we’ll be mucking around in wet brown leaves in the forest, and fishing debris out of our rink pond this Christmas.

And Maple (not to mention the children) will continue to trek in mud and gunk into the house.

Lovely.

 

Posted by: raisingmustardseeds | December 16, 2011

Children update part 2

Just realized that I didn’t finish updating on the children from this post¬†back in September. Sorry. My bad. ¬†Story of my life. sigh.

I think I left out the 3 oldest ones…

Bubba:¬†He’ll be 7.75 years old at the end of this month. ¬†He is still one of the quieter ones in the bunch and it takes a lot of coaxing to get him out of his shell. ¬†But this past Spring, after only a few months of piano lessons, he actually got up in front of a crowd of strangers and played his pieces, confidently and even with a little musical swag. ¬†:) ¬†And on Wednesday, he got up with his class at church to perform a song. ¬†Very cool.

Admittedly, the boys have me a little stumped in terms of how to keep them busy. ¬†I could¬†teach them to cook, bake, and sew. ¬†Those are good skills to have whether boy or girl. ¬†But they really need to have some boy boy things to do, and that gets tricky with them spending most of their waking time with me and the girls. ¬†MS dad has been picking up some little tools for Bubba to muck around with. ¬†They scare me a little, but I guess he has to start some where. ¬†Here he is above with an ax (?). ¬†A few weeks ago, he’d ask me if he could take his ax and go outside and “cut down a tree”. ¬†This was during the day, when MS dad was at work. ¬†I was quite reluctant to let him go without supervision, but they (he and Moose) assured me that dad had taught them exactly what they should and should not do. ¬†So, I let them go, them walking out the door, with my cautionary instructions trailing behind them.

A little later, they came back in to show me, quite proudly, their handiwork. ¬†They’d conquered a sapling. hahaha.

Another time, after MS dad had finished building our ice rink frame, Bubba had access to the leftover lumber pieces. ¬†So he brought his toolbox (yes he has his own – our birthday present to him when he was 6 I think) outside and started hammering pieces together. ¬†I think he said he was making a boat. ¬†okey dokey. ¬†I’m good as long as no fingers get nailed or hammered on. ¬†There was no blood that day.

School has been slightly more challenging with him. ¬†I’ve found the need to do things differently with him, than with the girls. ¬†I’ve been a little stressed with it, but learning very slowly not to compare and just to take it one step at a time.

He’s our soft, sensitive guy, always willing to oblige with a big hug, complete with a big smile. ¬†And if you get him laughing, (and I mean LAUGHING) you could be forgiven if you thought that our sweet boy just became Woody Woodpecker¬†right in front of your eyes. ¬†I should really record it for posterity. It’s quite something.

Big Mac:It’s hard to believe she’ll be 10 in 2 weeks! ¬†I still remember the day she was born. ¬†She was my sunny-side up baby, my “you’re having back labour” baby, my “she’s stuck in the birth canal” baby. ¬†My “take the epidural and hope she’ll turn on her own, or we’ll go in and get her” baby. ¬†My “took the epidural, got poked in the wrong place and lost feeling in one of my legs for half a day” baby. ¬†See, told you I remembered the day.ūüôā

The 2 girls learnt to ride horses over the past year. ¬†It was a Christmas gift from last year, and then got extended into the spring & summer (MS dad felt generous and said it was “payment” for their help in log hauling in the spring”) ¬†So for a good half year, the girls had weekly lessons. Fridays couldn’t come fast enough for these girls. ¬†We did see that it made them more confident, which you have to be, with these big hulking creatures. ¬†As much as I loved seeing them enjoying this time, I was a little glad when the lessons came to an end. ¬†The horses were moving faster, they were doing jumps as well. ¬†As Megalos would say, “I LOVE jumping! It feels like I’m flying!” ¬†Yeah, my momma’s heart is flying as well, right out of my chest cavity.

Yes, yes, I know. I’m a party pooper. ¬†I’m a 2 feet on the ground kind of girl. ¬†No sense of adventure. ¬†And yes, I’ve got to lighten up. ¬†I’m TRYING. ¬†But, no, no plans for more horse riding lessons, as far as I know. ¬†It’s a little co$tly, if you know what I mean.

I’m so thankful for Big Mac. ¬†This year she has really been a great big sister, taking care of the little ones, cooking up meals during the day. ¬†She’s usually the first one to remind me that lunch is around the corner, and “what should we make for lunch today?” ¬†Then she’ll scrounge around in the pantry and fridge and come up with something edible.ūüôā ¬†No one goes hungry here with her around. hahaha.

And now, as I sit here pondering the past year, I’ve just realized something else that’s changed. ¬†She’s grown up this year. A LOT. ¬†As in, she’s a lot more aware of what’s happening around her now. ¬†Years past I would moan about how my #2 seemed to be on a different time zone. ¬†It’s just dawned on me that some time during this year, that’s not the case now. ¬†How could I have missed that??! ¬†Goodness. ¬†That’s a major thanksgiving item!

Wow, I’m so shell shocked now that my mind’s gone blank.

Wow.

Sorry, but this is a really big deal. ¬†I’m trying to think back to whether there was a moment in time when this change occurred, or whether it was a gradual thing…

OK, OK. I’ll think on my own time.

And we come to Megalos.

Our first born.

The picture above was taken last September 2010.

Then, without permission, our little girl turned into this young lady:

July 2011

She turned 11 in February this year, and was probably about 1/2 inch shy of being my height (a paltry 5’3″). ¬†She continued her upward march in height and very easily overtook me shortly after that, and continued pinging off family members. ¬†:)

April 2011

Here she is in the spring, wearing my work jeans. ¬†My 11 year old wears my clothes!! Just to clarify – that would be my pre-pregnancy clothes.ūüôā ¬†And she doesn’t have to suck in her tummy to get into the jeans.

Oh. My. Word. ¬†It’s crazy. ¬†She looks so much older than her years. ¬†I sometimes wonder what people are thinking when we’re out and about. ¬†Imagine this scene. ¬†Mother out grocery shopping with 6 children hanging off the cart…or wait, is that a mother with her 5 children and 1 grandson, the oldest obviously a teenager mom because she’s carrying a baby? tsk tsk tsk.

Who knows. As you can imagine, the size of our brood usually attracts stares as is.  Now with Megalos usually carrying Chubs, with that seasoned ease of hooking him on her hip, it sure looks like she could be the mother. Quite funny.

Dec 2011

This is us, (sorry about the horrible picture…as you can tell, we’re still trying to figure out our camera)…last week decorating our tree. ¬†Skinny and chubby versions of me. ¬†hahahaha. ¬†NOT. I’m trying to hide behind the tree, can you tell?ūüôā

As of today, she’s about 5’6 now. ¬†And shows no sign of slowing down. ¬†As Big Mac so plaintively notes, “I’M SHRINKING!! HUMPH!!!” ¬†I concur.

She and I are working on our mother-daughter relationship. ¬†It’s an interesting season for both of us, and I desperately wish my mom was here for some encouragement and advice. ¬†I think she would have smiled at what we are going through right now, and would be trying to hold back the “See, I told you so.”ūüôā

At the same time, despite the challenges of being a mother to a girl blossoming into a lady, we are enjoying the benefits of having older children. ¬†Conversations are more interesting, (not dissing conversations with 5 year olds, you understand), board games from our (MS dad & my) younger days are making its way out of storage now. ¬†Fun times. ¬†When it isn’t hair-pulling times.

Another benefit of having a girl who looks like she’s 16? ¬†She can sit up in the front seat of my van with the children at the back while I do a quick stop at a store. ¬†You would understand this last one if you had errands to do with 2 or more kids in car seats. ¬†haha.

And that, my friends, is a little snapshot of our 6 wonderful blessings. ¬†It’s a wild and hairy ride. ¬†And the Lord is definitely using each of them in a different and unique way to shape and mold me. ¬† I have to trust that we will all come out of this process in a way that glorifies Him.

Posted by: raisingmustardseeds | November 26, 2011

Getting Ready for Winter – Ice & Wheels

We’re counting on a long cold winter.

And trying to make the best of it.

So in that spirit, here’s what MS dad has been up to the last few weeks:

Trying to keep costs down by being creative with materials we had lying around – these are the old deck boards we pulled up when we re-surfaced our deck (post here) last summer.

For the liner, we didn’t want to fork out $200+ for the size we needed for this rink, so MS dad will be using vapour barrier (one of the largest sizes he could find) which will need to be taped down the middle to get it to the right size. ¬†We’ll keep our fingers crossed that we don’t get leakage.

In other EXCITING news, look what’s sitting in our parking lot…

Our minivan has a new friend… can you see?

Here, I’ll zoom in.

Our minivan now looks puny next to that THAT thing. We haven’t decided his/her name yet. ¬†But I think it’s more a “he”, don’t you think?

And no, we didn’t come across some extra money to purchase this vehicle…it’s a 12 passenger van – official name: Sprinter, made by Mercedes.

The story behind this is quite amazing, really.  When we were expecting the Chubs (aka baby #6), we had to figure out a new mode of transportation Рour Honda Odyssey had reached maximum capacity @ 7. We discussed a few options.

Option 1: Drive 2 cars (MS dad’s VW Jetta and the minivan) whenever we needed to go out as a family. ¬†(During the week, the children & I would still be able to fit in the van, as Megalos was old/big enough to sit up front)

Option 2: Modify our Odyssey to fit in an 8th seat.  (our second row had 2 captain seats, and we sourced out a guy who would put in a jump seat so that we could fit 3 people in the 2nd row).  Cost: $700

Option 3: Purchase a larger vehicle. ¬†Choices would include the North American 8-passenger SUV’s (aka GAS GUZZLERS!), the Toyota Sequoia, also 8-passenger, (marginally better in fuel consumption), or going up to the 12-15 passenger vans (all North American made). ¬†So exciting, not. ¬†We did drool over a Sprinter – which is a 12 passenger van made by Mercedes. ¬†But that’s hard to find used. ¬†Purchasing new would be out of the question. ¬†And MS dad is extremely wary of buying used, and even more so about the N.American vehicles. ¬†Sorry, if I sound a little less enthusiastic about a N.American vehicle…nothing personal. ¬†:) Cost: new – $scary, used – 5 digit range probably

So for the 9 months of incubation, we talked on and off, and finally decided to wait till the baby was born. ¬†In the meantime, we would go with option 1. ¬†But as the day drew closer for baby to be born, I was getting less and less enchanted with the idea of driving 2 cars whenever we needed to go out to church, or whatever. ¬†We’re not talking 5 minute drives, it’s like 45 minutes one way. ¬†Ugh.

Well, fast forward to May/June after the baby is born. ¬†MS dad figures an ingenious way of securing everyone into the odyssey. ¬†Don’t worry – there was no 2 children 1 seatbelt thing going on.ūüėČ ¬†Everyone had their own seat and seatbelt. ¬†A little squishy, especially for my almost 5’5″ oldest girl. ¬†Yeah, you read that right. ¬†She’s almost 5’5″. ¬†Actually, maybe she’s already past that. ¬†She seems to grow every single day. And this measurement I took last week. ¬†She’s taller than me. sob sob.

Sorry. Got a little sidetracked there.

Getting back to cars.

Of course, this would only work until Mr. Chubs switched to a forward facing seat.  It would then get a little hairy.  But that was at least 9 months away.  In the meantime, we were quite happy with not having to spend any $$.

Then in June/July, MS dad springs a big announcement that he was keeping to himself for a few months. (I guess I was busy being pregnant, and having a baby, and he didn’t think he should bother me with the news…I have not idea!..we won’t go there.)

Anyway, the big news was that he was getting a promotion, and the new position included some perks, one of which was that he would get a company vehicle.

WHAT?!!! ARE YOU KIDDING ME!???

This was EXCITING news. ¬†Well, there was a little apprehension as well regarding that promotion (a different story altogether), but definite excitement on the vehicle part…on my part anyway. haha. ¬†You see, my¬†husband would now be able to pick some super sporty, super luxury vehicle to zip around in, all expenses paid. ¬†But, he,¬†ever the self-sacrificial think-of-the-family-first kind of guy, says to me…”So I was thinking we could get the Sprinter.”

My reaction?…BWAHAHAHAHA. ¬†Are you serious?! ¬†You’re going to drive that to work? ¬†It’s like an airport shuttle bus! Are they even going to approve that kind of vehicle?

It seemed so unreal that the company would let him get something that was clearly more for the family than him personally.

Anyway, once his promotion was “official”, we decided to go test drive the candidates – 2 N.Am. SUVs, the 8 passenger Odyssey, and the Sprinter. ¬†We brought the kids to see the Sprinter, and they just about freaked out on the dealership lot. ¬†hahaha. ¬†For them, it was the obvious choice. ¬†Although, I must say Moose was quite attracted to the top of the line Odyssey – it had a 9 inch DVD player.ūüôā

 Mini and the Beast

Obviously the Sprinter won out.  MS dad decided it gave us more breathing room.  Road trips would be a little more comfortable, cargo space was more generous. The dog could come with us, etc. etc.  And so, despite being the butt of jokes at the office, MS dad put in the request for the vehicle.

That was back in September.  He picked it up yesterday.  And we are all giddy with excitement.

The Lord is good. ¬†He provided, even when we didn’t ask for it. ¬†And the timing couldn’t have been any more perfect.

Thank you Lord Jesus!

Posted by: raisingmustardseeds | October 28, 2011

Losing

Our little guy will be 5 months in a couple of days. So cliche, but time really flies!

The poor child has the record-breaking least number of pictures taken. This picture wasn’t even taken with a proper camera.
Maybe we’ll just take some of his brothers’ baby photos and pass it off as his.ūüôā They really do look alike. So much so, that currently there is a debate going on about a particular picture that we have on display…none of us (the children included) can agree on who the (baby) picture is of. =) It was a pre-digital camera shot, so I’ll have to go dig up my negatives or photo bundles to see where that picture fits in.

Crazy huh?

And what’s crazier?…Lots being lost…

Losing my hair in copious amounts,
Losing weight, unfortunately not in copious amounts,
Losing sleep, because a certain baby is up many times during the night. But he smiles when he wakes up, so I guess that’s ok.

And here’s the worst…

Losing brain cells, slowly but surely:

I’m SO embarrassed but here’s the confession….

I cannot remember my baby’s first name!!!

I am NOT kidding you. It’s been 3 days now, that I’ve been wrecking my brain. I haven’t asked my children or MS dad because I would REALLY like to figure this out myself. Ironically, the name that sticks in my mind is the one that we eventually decided against. (At least I think we did.)

Goodness, how bad is this? Forgetting your child’s name? In my defence, the children all have 2 English names and a Chinese name. Multiply that by 6 and that’s 18 names I have to remember. So I’m just forgetting 1 out of 18. hahaha.

If you don’t hear from me by next week, put me out of my misery and tell me my child’s first name, ok?

Posted by: raisingmustardseeds | September 30, 2011

While I was gone….

…Wordpress changed it’s look. ūüôā

Shall I just get you caught up on the happenings around here?

Baby:
1) will be 4 months old tomorrow!! He has filled out very nicely, after putting me (& himself, I guess) through a traumatic 2.5(?) months of nursing. Ironically, my 6th child required finger & tube feedings, trips to the breastfeeding clinic, and extra attention from my midwife for the first couple weeks. Very humbling.

2) Just 2 days ago, we finally assembled the playpen in our bedroom for him to sleep in. Before that, he was sleeping in our bed. But he’s been inch-worm “crawling” around, so it’s too dangerous for him now to be alone on the bed.

3) a very smiley one.ūüôā He’s also been gurgling and chortling, which thrills his siblings (& us) to no end!

4) hates his carseat and can be counted on, quite reliably, to grace us with his loud cries on car trips. And we’re not talking about 10 minute car trips. More like 45-minute trips to and from church. Can you say, “Ouch”??

5) has refused every pacifier I’ve given him (just like both his brothers). Has found his finger…more accurately, his pointer finger on his left hand, and his thumb on his right hand. Strange. Here’s a picture I just took while he’s hanging out with me on my bed this evening.

Roste:
1) turned 3 in July and has learnt this summer to swim without a swim noodle. Well, not really swim, more like doggy paddle – with her head barely above the water. Her non-swimming mummy is freaking out about this.

2) still cracks us up with her funny antics. For example, one day she’d come into my room and inquired about an object that was sitting on my night table. My first reaction to her inquiry was, “Leave it” (as in, don’t touch it). To which, she very indignantly replied, “But I’m NOT a dog!” As you might have guessed, the “leave it” command is what we say to Maple when we want her to…leave it. hahaha

3) is learning that even though she’s very cute, she can’t get away with EVERYTHING. (We were rather delinquent in our discipline with this one, and are now reaping the unfortunate consequences of it.)

Moose:
1) continues to amaze us with his athleticism. He’s like a speeding bullet. A lead one. He’s dangerous, this one. Come to think of it, his nickname “Moose” is quite appropriate. ūüôā

2) will be 6 in January 2012, and is eager to outshine his older brother, in sports, academics, pretty much anything, much to our chagrin. And he’s not shy about it too. In fact, he’ll tell everyone and anyone what he can do, and what Bubba can’t do. Ugh. We’ve had to have many talks with him. Interestingly, I was reading with the 2 boys Aesop’s “Tortoise & the Ducks”, in which the moral of the story was how pride & vanity leads to misfortune (the tortoise falls from the sky and gets smashed to bitsūüôā ). That story has stuck with the boys, and now whenever Moose starts to get a little prideful, we ask him if he’s being Mr. Tortoise. We all end up chuckling, remembering the story. Just the other day, we were driving home from our church mid-week program, and MS Dad asked Moose if he was one of the faster boys when playing tag. Usually we’d get a very proud “yes, I’m fast.” type answer. This time, his reply was a little giggle, followed by a rather modest-sounding “Welllllll…..” hahaha.

3) loves to tag along whenever I want to run some errands without all the children. I’m learning to welcome that request enthusiastically (even though I was wishing for some time alone.) And I’ve never regretted bringing him along because I get to spend some much needed one-on-one with him.

Lots more to post, but the baby has decided that he’s done lounging around quietly. So, I will post again later.

Posted by: raisingmustardseeds | June 21, 2011

Baby is here!

Popping in quickly to update my totally neglected blog – our baby boy arrived 2.5 weeks early on Monday May 30th, weighing a healthy 7lb 3oz. ¬†I’m so glad he came early – he probably would’ve tipped the scale at over 8 lbs, had he incubated to his due date!

This photo was taken on our bed…and Megalos got all antsy because she was worried. Worried about what, you ask? Well, worried about “what happens when we have another baby?? We won’t be able to fit on your bed!” To which I replied, “Megalos, let’s not worry about another baby now…we’ll take it one baby at a time, ok?!”ūüôā

Brain is a little foggy these days, with round-the-clock feedings. I’m short on words, and therefore find updating my facebook account a little easier. One liners are easier to manage than page-long blog posts. hahaha. But I’ll try to get in here periodically to update. Give me a holler if you want to find me on FB.ūüôā

Posted by: raisingmustardseeds | May 5, 2011

We smell bad

It’s that time of year again. Wild leek season. Also known as ramps, which cost an arm and a leg if you were to buy it at the farmer’s market.

And we get it all for free…ūüôā
(this was taken last May)

Our favourite way of preparing them is making it into potato & leek soup. My heightened sense of smell during pregnancy makes it a little hard to cook them; the whole house reeks of garlicky onion. But yum, does it taste good!

We’ll be having lots of soup the next few weeks. It’ll help with the sky-rocketing grocery budget…well, it’s nice to be optimistic.

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