Friday, November 25, 2011

Conquering Christmas Shopping

As the first Christmas decorations began to grace the retail world, I knew I was going to be challenged this year. 
Working 8 hours more a week than last year at this time may not seem like a leap of extraordinary proportions but let me assure you as a professional mother of 4; every single hour becomes pivotal in the battle between staying on top of it all and life getting carried away.

Although, I rarely decorate before Maria's birthday, last weekend, amidst her birthday preparation, I realized I had a brief window of opportunity to gather the Christmas decorating troops. With three teens and a wanna be teen all running in different directions on any given day, I  was not about to let my opportunity flit away from me.

As I surveyed our handiwork and smiled over the laughs we had while completing our personal masterpiece, hope began to rise in me. Hope that this Christmas would not in any way feel the sacrifice of  my taking on more of the world beyond my own roof and walls.

As much as I enjoyed the homey ambiance, one challenge became increasingly ominous as I enjoyed my Norman Rockwell worthy Christmas tree each evening. 
The sight of her barrenness beneath her pine cone and snow laden boughs, caused a slight panic at the realization that scarcely a single gift had been purchased to date.

It really is amazing how one incredible sale and one panic stricken mother can combine forces to conquer that ever present taunting voice that whispers of unpreparedness.

Armed with a mission, a strategy, a debit card and a single lunch hour, I made my way uptown.
The strategy was simple.
Since the line up to the checkout of the targeted retail outlet began at the door, I parked the father of my children in the line up. 
Equipped with his iphone, he worked on deals from the office as he progressed through the line. All the while I scurried around the store finding my own incredible deals.

The result, a trunk full of gifts giving proof that the determination of a Mother can conquer even the most annoying of whining, taunting voices!

With some ingredients purchased to begin the baking of the Christmas favorites, I am starting to wonder what all the fuss and worry was about. 
I still have a whole month until Christmas Day!

No matter how crazy this Holiday season finds you, try to take time to really enjoy the reason for all the fuss in the first place.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

All Things Have Become New

Imagine the tearing down, remodelling, rebuilding and stretching that would be required if my Belleville home above had physically turned into my Fredericton home below...That is exactly what it feels like has and continues to take place in my entire person as I am stretched and changed to facilitate expansion.

Change, Stretching, Expansion...

It would seem these three words are not only the definition of my past year but continue to define all that surrounds me.
Change has become my norm.

Preparing to have my first child leave home for University two provinces away.
Deciding to sell our Belleville home and pursue our dream of returning to the Maritimes.
Renovating our home in preparation for listing it.
The long, drawn out process of showing and finally selling our home many months later.
Having my husband and second son leave for NB 4 1/2 months before the girls and I were to follow.
Learning to be a single parent to our girls, care for and show our home and still work full time all the while missing my boys more than I dared consider.
Coming to grips with leaving a career I had worked hard for and the future opportunities that came with that position.
Leaving the city that I had spent the most years of my entire life and that had been the only home any of my children had known or remembered.
...and the list continues.

For every one of those transitions out, there is the adjustment to the resulting transition in to our new home, city, province and overall environment.

At times, I feel like I have whip lash from trying to look around and observe all that has and continues to transpire around it is happening.
I am not certain that I am accustomed to all that is my life as a result of change but I have gotten quite used to the process of change itself.

Just when I feel like I can't process or cope with another change...I find myself in the midst of one more transition.

Transition forces me to look within and I am acutely aware that I truly am not strong enough.
If I solely relied on my own coping and processing tools...they would be sorely insufficient.
I really can't do this...YET, it is being required of me.

I have come to understand one thing for absolute certainty;
when I am weak, the One I have loved, trusted and served my entire life is made strong.
His strength is perfected in my weakness, He fills my every gap, He enables me when I feel I simply can't go on.
If He is leading me, (and the fact that He is has been made clear repeatedly), then he will make a way.
Part of His making a giving me the tools that are not mine by nature, to follow this new path and to walk through the doors that open before me.

Some things that I felt I had to give up were not really, they were added to. As is the case with my Belleville friendships.
Others like my home have been replaced yet in every case I am seeing the fulfillment of Ephesians...that my God is more than able to do exceedingly, abundantly more than I dare ask or even hope.
My new home is a stark reminder of that, though we loved and remodelled our Belleville home to be all that we had dreamed at that time...our new home is so much larger and more beautiful and has features I'd forgotten I ever even dreamed of.
Since I was a little girl, I always wanted a sunken living room and had forgotten until about three days after I walked through my new home for the first time. I'd been concentrating on the two wood burning fireplaces I always wanted, the ensuite, separate closets....then suddenly remembered my long forgotten dream.
God never loses sight of our dreams.

I never thought a "job" would be a hard thing for me to give up, I knew I would work eventually in Fredericton and as pay scales were much lower in this new province, my hope was to find something close to what I was making in ON.

Very suddenly and with so much less effort than I had anticipated...I found myself in a new career, back in my roots of banking and earning significantly more than I had left behind in ON.
I never would have anticipated that one!

I am so thankful that on this roller coaster of an adventure I call life...He is my safety and security and that he reassures me with every twist, turn, uphill climb and heart stopping drop into the unknown.

I could never have designed this path, this adventure...but I wholly trust the One who has and am determined not to look at my weakness but to feel His strength in me.
Besides, I have felt the desperation that comes with feeling like you are at a standstill too long.
I'll take the roller coaster adventure any day!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Freedom for the Broken Girls...

I heard this song for the first time today....and I was undone. I am sharing it here to bring hope, life and freedom to every Broken Girl who still needs to KNOW this message in the depths of their being.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Ladies in Waiting

That's how we feel right now, the girls and I.
Pregnant with promise and possibility, a new life just waiting to burst forth....fully expectant.
Yet...we are waiting.
As with each of my babies, there comes a point where you feel like you can't go on any longer.
Though it may feel that way, the appointed day has not arrived.

In most physical labor and deliveries, the phase called transition is the toughest. This is the time frame immediately proceeding the birth.
In my own experience, with my final three deliveries...this phase was extremely intense and a switch was triggered in me that all but caused me to lose my mind...ask my husband...he has some pretty wild stories to tell!

Our family has been walking out a very long and drawn out transition as we move from one province to another.
It hasn't looked anything like we had thought and has taken far longer than we had hoped or anticipated.
At times this transition is a lot of work, it has been lonely, it has been frustrating and even painful.
The intensity has caused me on more than one occasion
to wonder if I could really continue .

Sitting here tonight, it might appear there is no end in sight, yet there is a calm assurance within, that tells me our time is coming.

I have learned so many truths throughout this waiting time.
I have seen the Faithfullness of my God who has led and carried me every step of the way.
I have seen His incredible favor on my children.
When Mark and I have questioned our path and cried out in desperation for clarity...He showed us immediately and with crystal clear certainty that the decisions we have made to this point have indeed been wise ones.

The girls and I have learned valuable lessons.
Not the least of which is just how strong, and how capable we are, especially when we work together.
We have learned to care for one another and to have girly fun together.
We have also learned that though we are very capable on our own....we LIKE having the men in our lives. We appreciate their help whether or not we need it and we love their company.
We miss them, need them and want them in our lives.
Those are lessons I want the girls to remember as they become young women.
They are strong and capable and they don't need a man to simply to take care of them...but to value the men that God gives them and to enjoy having them in their lives.

As I have watched God's Faithfullness to both His written Word and our prayers, I am at peace.
I know that:
as quickly as He has rewarded the obedience of my youngest child and her heart to give away some bikes, with more money than she would have asked had she put a price tag on them.
As extravagantly as He has answered the prayer of my second youngest when she asked for more than 10 people to come through yesterday's open house... and 30 came.
As He has done heart surgery on my younger son and literally created a new young man seemingly over night and as much as I see God's tremendous favor on my eldest as he walks alongside my son into manhood and his own path in life.
As I see Divine connections for my husband while he prepares the way for myself and the girls...
in all of this, I am reminded of the greatness of my God and of the wonderful plans He has in store for me too.

I am at peace knowing that it can all change suddenly, the waiting will come to an end and this transition will birth a beautiful new life.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Irish Stew

This Irish Stew is what I am making to celebrate St. Patrick's Day tomorrow. I found the recipe last year and it is absolutely incredible! If you are looking for a great recipe to celebrate with or...just a wonderful stew for any time at all....this is it!

Of Course I had to change it....but only slightly. In my world, Irish Stew must have a greeen Veggie so I also added peas near the end of the cooking process. I think I'd also thicken the broth like a traditional stew in the future. (after the Veggies are added and cooked, bring the broth to a boil mixing in flour and water that has been well shaken/stirred)
Last year, I made Irish Soda Bread to serve with the is basically like a giant biscuit....very tasty as well.

This year, I found scone mixes in the
Byward Market in Ottawa, made by "Maureen's Little Irish Cottage"...and could not resist.
The flavor I chose to go with our stew is "Me Mum's Herb and Garlic".
I'll let you know how they turn out and add pictures tomorrow.

I do wish you could read the instructions, they were written as if spoken by a true Irish lass...complete with blessing the scone as you cut it to let out the fairies...just incase

Irish Beef Stew Recipe


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/4 pounds well-marbled chuck beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch pieces (NOT extra-lean)
  • 6 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 cups beef stock or canned beef broth
  • I cup of Guinness beer
  • 1 cup of fine red wine
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
  • 3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 7 cups)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cups 1/2-inch pieces peeled carrots
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley


1 Heat olive oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Lightly salt the beef pieces. Working in batches if necessary, add the beef (do not crowd the pan, or the meat will steam and not brown) and cook, without stirring, until nicely browned on one side, then use tongs to turn the pieces over. Continue to cook in this manner until all sides are browned, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute. Add beef stock, Guinness, red wine, tomato paste, sugar, thyme, Worcestershire sauce and bay leaves. Stir to combine. Bring mixture to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, then cover and simmer 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

2 While the meat and stock is simmering, melt butter in another large pot over medium heat. Add potatoes, onion and carrots. Sauté vegetables until golden, about 20 minutes. Set aside until the beef stew in step one has simmered for one hour.

3 Add vegetables to beef stew. Simmer uncovered until vegetables and beef are very tender, about 40 minutes. Discard bay leaves. Tilt pan and spoon off fat. Transfer stew to serving bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with parsley and serve. (Can be prepared up to 2 days ahead. Cool slightly. Refrigerate uncovered until cold, then cover and refrigerate. Bring to simmer before serving.)

Serves 4 to 6.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Unpredictable Seasons

I am sitting here tonight wondering, reflecting, thinking, praying.

My thoughts return to the end of Summer which quickly led to the beginning of Autumn.
Such an incredibly Bitter Sweet heart stretched to what I thought were it's limits, as my first born spread his wings and flew so very far away.

My sadness was quickly over taken by the purest of Joys.
To watch a child...your own child, grow and flourish. To watch them as their every dream begins to evolve and to take observe with
such pleasure as they seem to effortlessly attract all that they ever imagined for themselves. To know that what you are witnessing is simply the beginning of the favor you prayed for over them since you were many years their junior yourself.

Fall was a difficult season, we were so busy renovating and preparing our home for the Real Estate Market, learning to live our daily lives
as a family of 5.

In the midst of all that was new to me, the start up of another school year,
another son beginning High School....the return of old homework routines; there was a new heart stretching beginning.

One that involved the letting go of old dreams....and trying to imagine, to allow my heart to visualize the new dreams that were being formed within.
In the midst of the struggles, of the tearing, of the absolute insanity that became our new pace...there was hope and excitement.
Visions of all that this next, brand new chapter would own dreams began to push their way through all that was occupying my heart and my mind.
I was able to see the possibilities...the future that God had laid out not only for my family and their greater good....but for my own as well.
I was catching glimpses of the purposes, the plans and the fulfillment of dreams that were very personal to me.

Not only to me the wife or the mother but ME....the individual.

Winter brought with it many questions.
Life was not becoming what I had imagined....or at the very least, it was taking a much slower path with far more twists and turns than I had ever anticipated.
The long, dark days of winter not only brought questions but disappointment and even darkness.
My whole world seemed to become something completely foreign to me.
Something I'd never dreamed or planned....something I had not chosen.
Yet, here I was....seemingly frozen in time and place just as so much of the nature that surrounds me had become frozen.
Hard decisions had to be made....some of the hardest I'd ever faced.
More stretching...only this time there was also a tearing within my heart....and eventually it broke.

Even in that place of brokenness and yes, pain...there was redemption.
A deeper level of vulnerability than I had known in decades....maybe a life time, began to take the place of the hardened and protected recesses of my heart.
An unveiling of all that I truly was....
and not all of it was easy to look upon.

As I sit and contemplate tonight, I am very aware that Winter is not yet over.
Most of the questions remain unanswered.
I am still very much frozen in time....even left behind, as I adjust to this incredibly foreign routine.
My family of six is now split between two provinces with many miles and hours separating us; I am adjusting to the day to day routine of three...all girls.
From the everyday of learning to cook on a much smaller scale, to the sleeplessness that tends to come when my plate is once again overflowing with responsibility.
To parent two children as the sole caregiver of their daily needs....and two others from such a distance I do not even know their daily routines.
Of course carrying in my heart the entire time, the concerns and even worries of how all of this was impacting each of my 4 children.
Learning that yes, we are indeed stronger than we knew....
and yet so much weaker and more vulnerable all at the same time.

Week three has brought us a new level of peace in our place of uncertainty.
We are learning to enjoy life, to take advantage of the opportunities that are unique to where we are at today.
To find that balance of taking care of one another, taking care of ourselves and allowing the One who has always been there for us to care for us.

Tonight, it may very well still be Winter but as I sit surrounded by darkness and contemplate where we are and where we are headed...
I hear the cool refreshing rain.
Oh there are many days of this long Winter yet to be endured and enjoyed but the rain brings with it the hope of Spring.
The HOPE of Spring.
With Spring comes color, warmth, fragrance, growth, beauty
and another season of
New Beginnings.

Oh the Possibilities...

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Spinach Soup

Sorry, no pictures for this one but here is the recipe as requested by Karen.


3 lean pork chops
1/2 chopped onion
2-4 cloves of garlic (minced)
2 tsp. Oregano
1 pouch Beef Bouillon
1 can Tomatoes
Approx. 1 c. large pasta
(we always used fresh tortellini but used Rottini this time
and the girls enjoyed it better than the tortellini)
2-3 Cups fresh Spinach
Salt and Pepper to taste.

Season Pork Chops with salt and peeper and brown in dutch oven on top of stove.
Remove pork and slice into thin slices.
Add Onion and garlic to Dutch Oven, saute until onion is translucent, add oregano, meat, tomatoes, bullion and water to fill pot 1/2 - 2/3 full.
Bring to a boil and add pasta.
Stir and lower heat to simmer.
When pasta is almost done, add spinach.
Stir in, check seasoning, simmer 3-5 min. and serve.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Missing You...

Donna-Marie Aug. 25, 1946 ~ Jan. 12, 1999

Another year.
That makes 12 actually.
Another year without your smile, your laughter, your hugs.
Another year without your ear to listen to my joys and my sorrows,
no encouraging word from your lips when I need it the most.
I want to brag on my kids' accomplishments to you....because I know you would beam with a Nanny's Pride.
I want to tell you of my heart aches....because no one can comfort like a Mother's embrace.
Life has continued...tomorrow has turned into today and today into yesterday hundreds of times since I last saw your face.
Most days, weeks and months are filled with Joy now....
Most of the time I can think of you with a smile, a chuckle or a warm story.

Today is just one of those days....the other kind.
The kind that thankfully come so much more infrequently now.
The kind that hit me with such force, I am once again brought to my knees in pain.
The kind that remind me of all I have lost...
...and I MISS You.

Forever Your "Hush A Bye Girl".
I Love You Mom.