Thursday, November 26, 2009

Skor Bars!

We had our budget meeting at church tonight. I took some of the skor bars I made for the mingling beforehand. When the meeting had a lull in it, the chairman thanked everyone for bringing the goodies. At this point my dad stood up and said something along the lines of " yes - especially those chocolate wafer cookie things - those were great. Where did those come from?" At this point I raised my hand (while seated at the same table) and said "those would be mine!" It got quite a laugh!

Anyway it is one of the easiest recipes and here it is:

Cover metal baking with saltine crackers, salted side up.
Boil 1 cup brown sugar and 1 cup butter (you can use some margarine but I've found it should have some butter)
Pour mixture over crackers; spreading out to edges.
Put in oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.
Open oven door and sprinkle 1-2 cups chocolate chips over top.
Once melted, spread out over top and remove from oven.
Place tray in freezer for at least 45 minutes.
Crinkle tray and crack cookies into pieces.
Store in refrigerator.

A few of us were thinking it would be good with skor bits or crushed walnuts on top as well. I can't wait to try!

Happy baking!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth...

That might actually be Matthew's request as he currently doesn't have any front teeth - although I really don't think he minds. It's pretty cute too.

As December will be upon us pretty soon, I thought it prudent to start with the good ol wish lists. I come from a family of wish list makers and believe me. I like it. I know I can get something that they will actually want and use - and they still have some "openness" to them too. We are also trying to cut down on extra "things" - for the household and for the kids so this tends to help keep the items practical and desired. The problem is, I haven't actually given this a tonne of thought yet but I know I can always add to it as time goes on.

For Matthew:

  • Wii games ( must be E only at this point)
  • Lego Indiana Jones or city sets (he particularly wants the big temple set that DOESN'T have the ball)
  • Goalie equipment for ball hockey? details???
  • a good pencil sharpener
  • Itunes gift certificates

For Marlee:

  • At this point anything Strawberry Shortcake, Polly Pockets or Pet Shop, Barbie or Disney Princess
  • She has a tonne of clothes but always loves cute things; she is particularly into mismatched socks and cool patterns
  • music certificates (itunes) - or her own ipod (blue) to trade with Matt's
  • leggings to wear under skirts

For Cierra:

  • Anything Hannah Montana (she will be getting the movie)
  • I saw a cool dance program for the playstation featuring Family Channel characters, including HM - if something comes out for Wii....
  • Jeans
  • Cool t-shirts
  • Magazines on teen stars

For Drew:

  • Clothing - TBD (from Costco and Land's End)

For Al:

  • Wooden cutting boards (8,5x11-14" size - 3; one for meat, veg and fruit)
  • Pampered Chef muffin stone
  • gift certificate for albums
  • Michael's certificates
  • (Grow your skills) ecertificates to learn PSE
  • ecertificates to purchase digital supplies and how-to classes
  • large wall clock (ask for details)

For Household:

  • Life jackets (elementary school age size)
  • Wii Fit

So - just a few things to consider. I'm sure there will be more fine tuning as the days go on. The kids are doing quite well I have to say in terms of "wish list" requests. Actually I think I am just about done their shopping but I know there are lots of relatives starting to consider. Just remember - it's not all about the gifts - we love time and togetherness. And as Sam is demonstrating - we can also buy for others in place of ourselves - we definitely aren't lacking in any areas.

Now back to those teeth - Matt lost his other front tooth yesterday. Isn't he just adorable?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Family Mission Statement

I was inspired a few weeks ago by Simple Mom, to create - or at least consider the process of developing a Family Mission Statement. I had heard about it a few years back actually on Jon & Kate Plus Eight (we won't go there), but was reminded of this with Simple Mom's blog post with their mission statement. I love the thought of goals. I love the desire to bring our family together more and give us purpose. I love that hers was posted and that it totally resonated with me. Obviously it would need a few tweaks to personalize it but a lot of it just felt right. She also took their mission statement and made goals for the year for their family. Again, many seemed to be totally in line with how we live our lives and with what we have in mind for our future.

This past weekend worked out well to work on this as I had Drew trapped in the car on the way to and from our retreat. We used this time to go over some of the preliminary questions and how her mission might relate to ours. Drew is usually quite willing to work on things like this but interupt the evening golf routine? Uh uh. Car trips are great for this. I was happy to see that we were pretty much on the same page. Similar goals for the future and we are seeing things similarly in our family right now.

So yes, I have taken many if not most of her ideas and have made them into our goals as a family for us (it is SOO awesome that she loves God!). I imagine that some will change over time and as we work on it, more ideas will come to light, and some may not work at all. There may be things that do make it more OUR family. But for now, these goals look like they will work - many we have already been working on. As I don't claim to be creative in this way, I again am thankful that most of the work was already done. Does it seem wrong to have another family's goals? I hope not. I truly appreciate the work that was put into it.

I hope to somehow "scrapbook" this in some way and then post it in our house as a daily reminder (I know I need it to be seen in order for it to be effective).

For anyone interested in exploring this topic, this post on creating a family mission statement is excellent - with questions and how to follow up included. More will follow as I type up our progress.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

V is for Values

What do I really value about the Christmas season? Such a good question. Ultimately, the things we value the most make us who we are, but sometimes these get lost in the chaos that the holidays can bring. I feel this way a lot. I want our Christmas season to be meaningful but sometimes I think I spend so much time trying to cram in "meaningfulness" that it actually ends up getting lost.

First and foremost, Jesus is the reason for the season. How do we keep Him the main focus?

Secondly, it is truly a time for family and relaxation (I mean it is a time off school, relatively little commitments)

tradition - I want the kids to have a sense of tradition - some things we do every year that are important to them. This isn't to mean that traditions can't change - why do it for the sake of doing it if it doesn't mean anything to anyone? And as we hear or discover new things, to be open to trying new things that may end up being traditions too.

Togetherness - we are fortunate to have both sides of extended family near by and even more awesome is that in the last several years, they have all come together for the major holidays so time juggling is less of an issue. The gifts are less important then the sharing of time together.

When family from afar can join - all the better.

Gratitude - I want our family to always have a spirit of gratitude. We are SO blessed and no matter how crummy a day we've had, there is ALWAYS something to be thankful for.

Giving - Along with gratitude, I want our family to have a spirit of giving. To realize how much we do have and how we can share and be a blessing to others. There are so many out there less fortunate then us and we have in abundance. We need not store up treasures here on earth.

As the kids get older I look forward to being able to work together with those that are less fortunate to help give them a blessed holiday as well.

How do we do these things?

We need to be clear in our expectations and our goals. Decide what our priorities are and what expectations are actually realistic. How much can we handle?

We need to be organized and have a plan. Last year went really well. I followed a lot of Flylady's prompts for getting ready for Christmas and I also took a lot of advice from Organized Great resources. My Christmas control journal has been a HUGE help to keeping me focused.

We need to be clear in our communication about what comes into the house gift-wise. Often we give the wrong message to the kids and we want to be changing our focus from the gifts towards family and together time.

We need to set goals for the future. A lot of what I would like to do isn't practical for the kids at this age. Too much for such a short amount of time. But maybe in a few years.

And finally - making sure that the foundation for the season is already laid and built upon every day. Christmas isn't just about December. Jesus is the reason for not just this season but for every day. Making this an everyday thing will go a long way to keeping the focus right at Christmas too.

Christmas Creative Plannning

I think I may have done myself in already. Last year I took part in Shimelle's Journal Your Christmas (Paid for last year, free from now on) - a daily prompt for journalling, scrapbooking and photography daily from December 1 to January 6th, that we could do as much or as little with as we wanted. I'm still working on it. I'm at December 17th, 2008. I did do the journalling part but as usual I got caught up in the perfectionism of myself and couldn't quite decide how each day should "look". So this year I also started considering Ali Edward's December Daily (free ideas). Similar in the fact that you journal or take a photo every day but there isn't a specific prompt. She has also premade most of her pages - just needing to add the picture and journalling. THAT part I like. And I love her style. And then new this year, Jessica Sprague. Holidays in Hand (free). Another daily message with photo idea, something to do and something to write about. All of these are meant to help us enjoy the season, get rid of some of the craziness, and make meaningful memories. So how is it that I get so caught up in the process that I get myself into a frenzy as to what to actually end up doing. Crazy. Oh and I forgot, I could just blog using the prompts too. That is always an option. Bottom line, I like the meaning behind them all. The inspiration to be creative, to write about our past, present and future traditions and experiences and to ENJOY the season for what it is supposed to be. It used to bother me that people started thinking about Christmas so early (I'm not sure why), but I am enjoying the underlying buzz, the preparation and the organization it is taking to not be so rushed and crazy when the big day actually arrives.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Project 365

I finally got updated here! Take a look!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Health update

The kids and Drew all got their H1N1 flu shot vaccine today but I'm still waiting...

The office had some vaccine leftover from their clinic and if it is not used up within 24 hours they would have to throw it out. After the scare with a church friend (who ended up having strep throat), Drew didn't want to take any chances. We've upped our hand washing, our vitamins, our sleep time, keeping up with our outdoor time and have added saline nose swipes and gargling. And for me, I'm still praying and waiting.

Friday, November 6, 2009

One year ago... Israel!

One year ago at this time, I was in the Holy Land. THE Holy Land. I still can't believe it. I can't believe how much it has impacted my life. The scripture I read, the songs I sing, the stories I share. It has all been impacted by this amazing place. A place that now that I have seen it in person, brings the scriptures and the songs and the stories to life. I am a visual person and now I can picture in my mind how and where these things took place. I can't believe it was a year ago.

Here I share my top 10 photos - in no particular order. (BTW - I still have yet to put my photos in an album - or even to scrapbook a page on it). I have tried to do a digital page many a time but end up frustrated. I still have a goal to put together an album that coordinates with the video that a member of our church put together. I still cry when I see it. His pictures tell the whole story. One day. For now, here are my favourites:

It was so awesome to go with my whole family. Here we are in the Garden of Gethsemane under an olive tree. We'd just heard scripture recalling how Jesus sat here in prayer, moments before He was betrayed. There was a quiet time for reflection and then remembrance of the fact that it has all worked out for His plan.

This was a tree at the Holocaust museum. They have all been planted and a plaque sits in front and commemorates individuals and families that helped save the Jewish people during the Holocaust. This particular one was for Schindler - from the popular movie Schindler's list. What was pointed out and has stuck with me, is that we need to look beyond those "popular" names and see the many many individuals who are not well-known, but did their best to help in some small way. Each of these people made a difference. How true.

This was Masada. An amazing mountain palace for King Herod who was paranoid about being overthrown so he built a secluded palace here overlooking the dead sea. What is more amazing is the whole story of Masada and the Jews that lived there for a time. As I heard our host tell the story I kept thinking this sounds familiar - and I finally realized that I had heard it in our Bethel Intensive class. Just being here has made the story so much more meaningful. Check it out here.

Sarah and I in the mud pit at the Dead Sea. What an experience. It is all that people have said it to be. The floating the stinging in the eyes, the luxuriousness of the mud. We tried it all. Head to toe. I'd show that picture but that's a bit much LOL!. One of our poor friends had such a hard time getting out - but it really was quite a laugh. We all tried out the skin products at the store (and most of us purchased some of course - the Ahava foot cream has been the best so far). I even brought home some actual water and some mud from the sea (okayed at the airport btw).

This is an excavation site at King Solomon's palace. What was really neat about this area was the way our leader described the "pie" showing all of the different layers of civilization. It was such a clear description.

This picture shows one of our group getting baptized in the Jordan River. It was such a moving experience - for many it was a renewal of faith and for many it was the first time declaring their intentions. (It was also cool seeing Dad performing some of them - I'm sure as a pastor it must have been a dream of some sorts).

We passed this art piece several times a day at the hotel in Jerusalem. Drew commented on it every time. It was definitely worthy of a photo.

I'd always wondered what Frankincense and Myrrh looked like and we came across some at the local market. What a place for sights and sounds! Beautiful displays. Live fish. Bright colours. Amazing smells.

Dad got to read scripture to the group at the Sea of Galilee. This is just down the hill from where the miracle of the loaves and fishes took place.

The Garden Tomb. It is posted, "He is Not Here, For He is Risen". He is risen indeed. Our tour guide for this site was a retired pastor from Florida named Al. He was so passionate and it was obvious that he loved his job. He had great insight to offer us. The thing that struck me the most was his comment, "When people ask you what was the favourite thing you saw? It should be what is was you DIDN'T see. For Jesus is not here. He is risen indeed." So powerful and true.

Such an amazing blessing to have been a part of this group and witness all that is in this beautiful land. After all the worry about getting there, I felt completely safe (as did Drew), the kids were well cared for, we had great family time, got to know church member better and am that much closer to Christ. I would highly recommend this to anyone questioning a trip here. I'm so glad we went.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

LOAD Recap and blogging

LOAD ended a few days ago and as the month wrapped up I realized I didn't do too badly. Certainly not bad in the LOAD department but also in life in general. Dishes weren't piled up, the garage was clean, the laundry room is tidy, dinners were fed etc etc. Oh and Light the Night went without a hitch and without major late hours. Jump back to LOAD May - not quite so smoothly. LOAD went great but the rest of the household suffered a wee bit. Why the change this time? I'm not entirely sure. I did have less church commitments but I was even less prepared for LOAD this time - I didn't do up a month's worth of page kits. I had some ideas but they weren't all laid out. I probably had a little bit more time during the day this time around (although I don't recall doing a lot of scrapbooking during the day) but it probably freed up my time in the evening. Either way, this time went a lot more smoothly - I was way productive and my family was still happy (mainly Drew) - so thumbs up for the next one.

And now on to other projects. As October wound down and November begins, I'm excitingly awaiting a new project. This one begins November 2nd and again involves Shimelle (Journal your Christmas). It's all about blogging and scrapbooking and how they are related and how to make the blogging part work for your scrapbooking. I'm in! That has always been the main goal of my blogging - to use it as a sort of on-line scrapbook - a place to help me jog my memory and give me a common, organized format for when I actually get around to doing a layout. Either way - I'm looking forward to what I can learn. Stay tuned - I'm not usually able to keep up with the pace of the classes I take but I am betting better at at least getting the daily information down.

So, how did I do at LOAD?

39 items uploaded
31+ layouts submitted
15 double page layouts
12 8.5x11 or smaller layouts
5 digital layouts (YEYYY!!!)
7 photo-less layouts
175 photos scrapped!

oh and SOOO much inspiration!
And just to show off... here are my favourite 5 layouts:

Favourite Layout #5:

I finally finished Matt's calendar page for December 2004. This has been sitting around for ages. I don't do a lot of this style anymore but I am so glad to be done and now I can bind it and show it off. It was a calendar following all of the daily things he did for his second year. It's hard to believe he is almost 7!

Favourite Layout #4:

This is one of 3 layouts I got done on Christmas cards received layouts. Very simple in design and quick to make (Becky Higgins scraplift CK Dec06) - I don't know why I procrastinated so long on these ones. I think I am going to start a separate album for them as it will be neat to see the changes in families as they grow over the years.

Favourite Layout #3:

Another catch-up project I got back to working on. This one is 28 days through Big Picture Scrapbooking. I actually can't find all of the journalling I thought I had done but once I made the cover page and got my head around the format I wanted, I got several pages done. It still isn't complete but I know now it won't take long. It's very much a everyday life type album - one that will be really fun to look back in a few years (what am I saying - it was Feb07 that I started it!!!) Note to self - who would have thought it would be the start of something similar to Project 365!

Favourite Layout #2:
I found this quick page on Scrapping with ikea goddess and loved it (other then the skull but I'm choosing to overlook it). It really was quick and it has become a favourite because it really showed me that I can actually do some digital layouts without a lot of difficulty. I like the colour and simplicity in this layout.

And now for Favourite layout #1;

This is my favourite for a number of reasons: 1) I didn't actually scraplift this one - it's mine! 2) I really like how the masking turned out. It was fun and I like the result! 3) I love that it shows all of a month's work at one time on one layout 4) it doesn't hurt that quite a few people doing LOAD liked it too =)

So there you have it in a nut shell. What I was doing for the month of October. For more check out my flickr account and the slide show going at the side. I think the next LOAD challenge in coming in February. I just hope I actually get some layouts done before then!

October 2009 Recap

Another month bites the dust...

Exercise - - um yeah – not worth mentioning – once a week? This extra weight in my belly area is making it impossible to run!

Books Read – The Gift;

Movies Seen – Annie Hall; Tom Jones; The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas; A Jurassic Ark Mystery;
Special Events
Melissa’s 40th birthday celebration (3rd)
Nicky – baby shower (4th)
John’s 62nd birthday (7th), Melissa’s 40th (7th)
Thanksgiving Dinner here (11th) – announced new member to be to family
Field Trip with Marlee’s Class – Pumpkin Patch (14th)
Matt to Joshua’s 7th birthday party (16th)
J & B R’s for dinner (17th)
Colts game (22nd)
Williams family here for lunch (25th)
Halloween Party (31st)
Accomplished LOAD project (Oct 1-31st)

Travel – n/a

Significant Purchases/ changes - n/a

Marlee - strabizbus eye surgery in Newmarket
Matt - 2 teeth removed due to absess (28th)