Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Motherhood - Trial by Fire (or smoke detectors)

Today was going to be an ordinary day - a good day - not too much on the agenda.  No kids in school, kind of cloudy with a chance of rain.  I woke up a bit early and had a nice coffee and read my Bible.  Off to a good start.  When kids decided to join me a little earlier than normal, I tried to be flexible and give them breakfast a little early.  I set to work on making my husband's lunch (which he actually didn't need one today, oh well, subs for the freezer).  I puttered a bit in the morning and the baby had an early nap.  By the time I showered, baby was up and kids were just starting to watch TV (or a version there of; with no more cable, we have Netflix and YouTube, which were being finicky, so instead of allowing me time to nurse and get ready, I spent too much time fiddling with the TV).

No matter, got the kids ready and out the door by 10 for a leisurely drive to a nearby town to a quaint kid's clothing store that was having a sale.  I was aware that I may not be able to do a focused shop with 4 kids in tow, but I was trying to keep expectations low.  Upon arrival, they were given the run down of good behaviour and failure to comply would result in sitting in the car (small town, car parked right outside).  I began shopping the sale rack outside as they raced up and down the side walk.  Let them burn it off now, I thought, they'll have to be better inside.

Once inside I was pleased to find a play area in the back with some other kids already there.  Again given warnings to play nice and stay calm, I went about the racks.  Excited by some good finds and running in to some acquaintances (neat to see who comes out to the little European import store in the country), I was enjoying myself for a short time until I heard the call of the 2 1/2 year old - "Mommy, where are you?"  This sort of thing continued as they all took turns leaving the play area and talking in too loud voices (the other kids in the store were certainly not doing that).  The clerk gave them liquorice - excitement and thanks by all.

Soon a friend with kids my own kid's age came and racing around the store ensued.  My 6 year old son had the hardest time behaving, but I could tell he was trying after I told him not to run.  He still did, but I could see him hesitate a couple times (progress?)  I got to that point of panicky, can't focus, kids are loosing it and I'm going to start impulse shopping, so I proceeded to check-out; it had been nearly an hour.

I had plans to visit the next door Dutch bakery to get lunch and maybe go to the fun park I saw driving in.  But upon getting my bag, I had only the 2 youngest with me.  I thought for sure they older 2 had made their way outside.  I checked and didn't see them, only to return to the store and see them both, guilty as thieves,  standing at the front with #2 crying and #1 trying to pull her away from something   I firmly ordered them to get in the car (trying not to look like the freak-show that I felt I was about to have).  Once in the car I gave them a chance to explain, it made no sense of course, but they had each hit each other.  I was mortified and mad.  I tried to keep it together and not yell (I've been trying this self-control thing for a few days and it is helping).  I took away the privilege of the bakery and lunch and drove home; my son understanding his poor choice and consequence and feeling repentant (progress!)

Once at home, we had a picnic outside as the day had turned out to be much nicer than anticipated.  The kids played for a while and then it was nap time for the youngest 2.  #4 didn't settle right away (she had a short nap on the ride home).  So I got #3 in bed with a bit of struggle as she has been chewing and ripping books apart in bed, I took them away, but much crying resulted.  Again I tried to put baby down but she wouldn't settle.

I had focused my afternoon on getting a couple things done, which would afford me time to read the novel I am half way through.  I pursued this goal, getting the roast in and putting the laundry in the dryer, so that I could sit for a while.  After about 15 minutes of the roast being in at 550 degrees (the highest I've ever put the oven, but it was for a new recipe for Prime Rib), the smoke alarm went off.  So crying baby had to be put down while I tried to fan it with a tea towel.  When it kept happening; I was thankful that #3 didn't wake up; and found a step ladder to try to take out the battery.  When I still couldn't reach, I racked my brain and finally took the baby change table out of the nursery, precariously stood on top of it and got the darn thing down.

Baby still crying, I rocked, I gave Advil (it must be teething), and I prayed.  I prayed to God to care for my baby, to take away her pain and give her rest.  And I didn't pray this so that she would nap and I could get my time; I prayed to give God all control and surrender all.  It finally occurred to me to nurse her.  She took to me readily, although a bit early, but still didn't want to nap after.  So I put her on the couch beside me, content now, and started to write.  I write to process, I write to remember, I write to learn that most days things don't go my way.  Although I try to control things, trials and inconveniences happen and they serve to turn my focus and dependance back to God.

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance   Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."  James 1:2-4

With a Bushel a a Peck of Rest,


P.S. The roast turned out great

P.P.S. My son continued to have a rough day, more hitting and rudeness to sisters.  I am frustrated because I feel like I am going to loose him to Grade 1 next year and I will have less time to raise and instruct him.  I suppose I should be glad for these days and the teachable moments; he is still mine to mould.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

It's Not About Me

I think I finally get it.  It's not about me!  How humbling that is to say aloud.  And yet so obvious.  I'll also probably forget this simple truth, so that is why I am writing this; mostly to remind myself when I have a bit of a break through.  I have been over-analyzing like crazy lately - What am I doing?  How am I doing it?  What should I be doing?  How do other people do it?  How should I make the most of my days?  What is the best use of my time?  My energy?  My focus?  And then it hit me.  Everything that makes me anxious/stressed/angry/frustrated/spun out is when I get caught up in myself; my self-image, my self-achievement,  my self-fulfillment.

My son taught me something so simple that he learned at school and it is sooo important (why I am so thankful for Christian schooling).  JOY - Jesus, Others, Yourself.  I've been placed HERE, in this time, in this role as a stay-at-home-mom, not to find fulfilment, comfort or sense of accomplishment; but purpose - YES!  My purpose it to love and serve Jesus, Others and then...myself.

I am here to serve God in the most humble way - by raising my kids and taking care of my family.  Anything that distracts from that is NOT NECESSARY.  Distractions, extra to-do's and projects, high expectations and standards make me a CRAZY Mommy.  I want to raise my kids to be calm, loving, compassionate, kind, patient, self-controlled - love Jesus - content, thankful.  I can only teach them by showing them; by living it.  I need to put my desires for accomplishment aside - lay down my life as it were - and be the person I want my kids to be; I can expect no more from them.

I find it very hard to prioritize with so many things demanding my time, many of which seem like good things to do.  But it's when something that doesn't matter in the scheme of things makes me obsessive, I get impatient and angry.  I hate that.  I want to change, I truly do.  I NEED God's grace - only by the Holy Spirit can I hope to do better.  I need to stop trying to do it all, adding projects to the list and slow down.  I have been saved by the work that Jesus did on the cross - I can not add to the work that has been finished.  I can only live my life in service and gratitude to Him. 

I think stay-at-home-mom's can easily fall into a trap of being narrowly focused.  This isn't necessarily being selfish, because we are always giving of ourselves, but we don't always see the bigger picture and the outside world.  We associate with our little people and others in the same stage of life.  I want to be more aware of the needs of others and live to serve others - visiting friends; especially those struggling, visiting the elderly, give with what I've been blessed with.  I will be blessed and provided with all I need and more if I let go of my worldly desires and seek first the Kingdom of God.
Others includes my family.  My kids won't remember a clean or decorated house (although it does make life enjoyable).  But they will remember the time I was present and active in their lives, making memories, seeing and responding to their needs, laughing and enjoying these crazy kids days. 

Another thing I need to realize is that I've been given abilities and limitations.  I am an achiever by nature (oldest child), but I have to accept that I can not do it all and I do not have the same gifts as others.  This is humbling, because there are abilities that I really admire, but it would also just add to the list of distractions if I was to pursue something else.  My body physically tells me when I've over done it - but I rarely listen.  I need to start listening and put myself as a priority in that I care for my physical, mental and spiritual health so that I can continue to give of myself. 

I don't know what the future holds, but I pray that I will serve God in this time by being obedient and faithful to my calling.  This is not succumbing, it is so freeing!

I'll just share this song that speaks directly in to what I'm talking about...

Take my life, and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee;
Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in ceaseless praise,
Let them flow in ceaseless praise.

Take my hands, and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love;
Take my feet and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee,
Swift and beautiful for Thee.

Take my voice, and let me sing
Always, only, for my King;
Take my lips, and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee,
Filled with messages from Thee.

Take my silver and my gold;
Not a mite would I withhold;
Take my intellect, and use
Every power as Thou shalt choose,
Every power as Thou shalt choose.

Take my will, and make it Thine;
It shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart; it is Thine own;
It shall be Thy royal throne,
It shall be Thy royal throne.

Take my love; my Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure-store.
Take myself, and I will be
Ever, only, all for Thee,
Ever, only, all for Thee.

With a Barrel and a Heap of Joy,

You must check out Grace Laced - I was so excited to find this blog - she has a lot of applicable wisdom that speaks in to my life right now and was this inspiration for this post.

Thursday, 16 May 2013


In the time I've had children I've taken up cake decorating, by virtue of my mother-in-law who did fun cakes (usually Wilton cake pans) for all her kid's birthdays and then sister-in-law's who kept the tradition going.  My sister-in-law taught me how to make marshmallow fondant and helped me with some of these (check out her blog at Blessed Life A Top A Cake Stand and her cake creations under Kathryn's Cakes).  Some were totally on my own! I love coming up with the idea and I sort-of like the challenge.  I do not like staying up till midnight the day before the party trying to finish it (and I loath the mess it makes).  But the reaction of my kids is worth it.  I have been inspired by cakes I've found on the Internet, so I thought I would pass along some inspiration.

I should also note that I have started making my cakes smaller (as I was throwing a lot out after a kid's party), and we use store bought fondant now (from Bulk Barn), what a time/energy saver with consistent results!

So in order of creation here they are...

Gavin's First Birthday - Giraffe - using doweling and Rice Krispies

 My Aunt's Wedding Cake - my Mom (also made some cakes in her time) did the piping with Royal icing

Gavin's Second Birthday - Thomas the Train - using a Wilton Train Cake Pan

 Amia's First Birthday - Pretty Girl - Using sugar cookies around the border and scrap-booking flowers on wire coils for a pop

My Friend's Wedding Cake - Again, my Mom did the piping - Real flowers and ribbon (who says everything has to be edible, it looks nice!)

Gavin's Third Birthday - Bob and Larry from Veggie Tales - used half a Wilton ball pan and a loaf pan on top of a slab cake covered with Swiss Meringue Butter-cream

My Mom and Dad's 50th Birthday Cake - on a Ski Hill

Amia's Second Birthday - Strawberry Shortcake

Gavin's Fourth Birthday - One Spider Man with fondant for family and one with butter-cream stars for friends

Amia's Third Birthday - Princess castle - Towers made out of Rice Krispies with ice-cream cones on top

Cate's First Birthday - Curious George for my little monkey

Gavin's Fifth Birthday - Super Mario Cake and Cake Pops - my first attempt at table-scaping and the theme parties are getting more elaborate

Amia's Fourth Birthday - Barbie - using a Wilton Doll Pan - more fun with Table-scaping (thank-you Pinterest)

Cate's Second Birthday - Elmo - Wilton Cake Pan

Gavin's Sixth Birthday - Kung Fu Panda - was going to try to keep it simple but he starting requesting things like the Chinese flag and the Great Wall and here is what we got 

Amia's Fifth Birthday - Candy Land - using - you guessed it - a whole lot of candy

 I also made a rainbow cake for family and I was so excited about this one so here are the steps...
First I made the cake batter and coloured it in 6 different colours.  I started with red and poured it in the middle and then poured in each subsequent colour in the middle, slowly to give the colours time to spread to the outer edge.  The effect was great, but if I did it again I would make more red because it got lost by the end.  
I then cut the cakes in half and stacked them using butter cream to look like a rainbow
then I decorated using stars on top and this fun ruffle effect on the edges

It tasted so good too as it was my first time using my sister-in-law's White Almond Cake recipe.  If she ever posts it to her blog I will link it.

Ella's First Birthday Cake - 3 - 6" layers covered in butter cream with an ombre effect and cute little fondant elephant.  I love this technique with the ruffles, it is easy (once I was shown how to do it properly).

Cate's Third Birthday - Under the Sea/Mermaid Party - 6 inch cake with butter cream and fondant Mermaid tail

 This was such a fun party - I plan to blog more about the details soon

A final note on cake making - it is a big undertaking!  I like to do it when not distracted by kids or kids getting hands in it - but then like I said, I'm up till midnight.  I love the finished effect (sometimes it's not as good as I want but I try to remember that it's still special).  In the future I hope to find a way to avoid doing a friend's party cake, a family party cake and preschool cake pops in a three day time frame (talk about a birthday taking over my life!)  But the precedent has been set so I'll do it for the younger kids too.  This is something special I choose to do for my kids as a memory/ to make their day special.  But I get that it's not for everyone and not necessary to be a good mom.  If you are up for a challenge though - have fun, and don't worry if it's not perfect (icing covers a multitude of crumbly cake sins ;o)  On that note, do not use a cake box as the recipe is written on the box - find a recipe online that adapts a cake box (necessary for a moist cake) but makes it denser so that it holds up to your cutting, stacking and icing. 

With a Barrel and a Heap of Sweetness,