You’re Doing Great.

We were so blessed to go to a couple’s home this summer, who are in their next stage of life. Their kids are out of the house, and they are eagerly awaiting grandbabies. They loved on us, and made us feel pretty darn special.

I thought it was “all about the kids,” until the Mama looked at me and said, “You guys have it so hard now. When we were raising our kids, as long as we didn’t feed them cookies for lunch, we were doing okay. Now everything is wrong to everyone, and you can’t really win for trying.

Ummm. Yeah.

I think I, personally, fall into the “crunchier” side of the spectrum- crunchy being all about breastfeeding, baby led weaning, cloth diapers, whole foods, etc. etc. Sorta a neo-hippy, if you will. But I’m not all the way crunchy. I’d say about 70%. We still eat Kraft dinner (that stuff is delicious) but I do feel appropriately guilty and/or embarrassed about it. I’m actually hoping no one even reads that sentence. Maybe I’ll delete it. If we have other kids over, I certainly wouldn’t serve it, lest they tell their parents. When it comes to purchasing organic foods, it just simply isn’t in the budget. I prefer to buy in-season and stay away from as much processed as I can. There’s also a lot about natural medicine and living that I appreciate- but there are some instances where I just don’t feel certain about something, and we are at the germ-infested doctor’s office exchanging an infection for a virus, I’m sure. I make compromises, depending on the needs of our family at that moment, and I refuse to feel guilty for any of them.

The point is- I am always doing the wrong thing at any given moment, to a large percentage of people, young and old. I sleep train my babies, which has resulted in very little crying through that first year. I can usually tell from the first few seconds of a cry what is wrong, and can fix it. Generally, with very few exceptions, my eight week olds sleep eight hours at night, and by 13-15 weeks, they are going 12 hours. That is straight through, without waking up. But if I tell people that, they assume my babies lay in bed for hours crying (they don’t at all. When you have three to four little people per bedroom, it would be incredibly stressful and anxiety-inducing to let them cry. It would become a complete chaos situation really quick.) My Oma was taught in the hospital not to feed her babies past 10:00pm, which I think is unbelievably cruel, but that’s what they were taught. Sleep training means different things to different people.

But. We believe there is always a “right” and a “wrong.”

Never mind that they are always fluid, and always changing (which, if you believe in absolutes like I do, means that they aren’t actually “right” or “wrong” at all.) Science, data and research is always proving one side over the other on all-the-things. It may change in ten years or from generation to generation, but the proof is there. Momentarily. Until the next funded research project.

So what are we supposed to do? Throw up our hands and give up? Let ourselves feel discouraged and depressed about the things we do that are not the popular opinion? Or bulldoze our way through mommy groups, proving to others that “THIS” is the best way?

The problem, with sensitive, possibly hormonal, mothers, is that if we are doing the “wrong” thing- no matter what the reason, and to what group of people- we believe we are a bad mom.

This simply isn’t true.

Listen to what it says.

But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest on me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

A weakness is not a lack of trying. It’s not a surrender, a white flag, or an “Oh well, guess this just ain’t my thang- I’m just gonna lay down right here.” It’s a heart that’s trying- and still falls short.

And man. Do I ever fall short.

So yeah. I’m just gonna keep on plugging. And where I’m failing- that’s where He’s showing up. I am going to delight in my weaknesses, not hide them. Not show them off, mind you, because it’s certainly nothing to be proud of. But on the days where the schoolwork took a little longer than normal, because someone FINALLY conquered long division, or discussion over our novel was super exciting- we just may have some good ol’ mac and cheese. I like it with ketchup.

You’re doing great, Mama. Yes, you.

The Local Lie

Is it better to give locally than globally?






Here- access to free education, and enforced.


There- in many cases, girls cannot go to school when they begin menstruation. Also, most schools are too far for children to walk to, they can’t afford them, they can’t afford the needed school supplies and often children are needed to work to support the family.


Here- We have access to health care. It’s not perfect, but death due to minor illnesses is anything but common. The rate of death for children in Canada under the age of five is 5/1,000 children.


There- No access to health care, free or otherwise. In Sierra Leone, the rate of death for children was 161/1,000 in 2013. This is due to many factors- war, illness, malnutrition. All are bad for your health.

I was born here, in Canada, through no doing of my own. We have help available in thousands of ways. If we made a little less money, we would qualify for free dental work prescriptions and optical also, here in Alberta (besides our provincial health coverage). If I can’t afford a carseat, one is provided by a health unit. If I need anything, I can go to a church or government office, and they will provide me with help. Heck, I can even have a friend post on Facebook and a flood of help will come. I can go to a food bank if I need food. Maybe it’s not the “best” food, but it is food that will fill my belly, and my children’s bellies. Not one of these options are perfect; there’s many holes in these systems. But there are systems in place.

If I lived in a developing nation, chances are pretty good I would have no husband. It’s a vicious cycle: men are brought up without dads, so when they have children they don’t feel the need to stick around. I would not be able to take my kids to the doctor when they are sick. Seeing as I graduated as a community services worker, there is no chance I would be able to get a job- no community services. If I grew up there, I would probably try to support my kids with selling anything I could find, maybe try my hand at a chicken or goat (if I’m super lucky and can buy one.) Maybe I could get a job at a factory and make clothes for my Canadian sisters, and get paid $1000 a year in dangerous conditions, but that’s unlikely. Most get paid less. My children, once they hit age 5, if they live to that, can get a job in a sweatshop. That’s where 250 million children work. Pretty amazing when you consider that 35 million people live in Canada. In some countries, it is not uncommon to sell your child into slavery. (I am not even going to get into what would happen if I were raped in another country. If you don’t know what happens to women in some countries: find out.) And you know why I don’t have to deal with any of this?

Because I was born here. Through no doing of my own.

And mercy, I’m grateful. It’s not an accident: God put me here, in this place, in this small town. But the minute that my little neck of the world starts to become more important than the rest of the world?

Please, punch me.

The minute that the needs of my neighbor become more important than the needs of my sister in Somalia?

Again, punch me.

We have absolutely no right on this earth to judge what needs are more important. Should we give in our communities? Should we help the people who just had a baby that are down on their luck? Definitely! No doubt about it! Do we help people in our towns? Yes, yes, yes!

Is their plight harder? Is their need more great? Should we STOP giving to other countries and complain that our taxes are helping them?

NO. That’s a flat no.

I’m thankful that I was born into a country that recognizes that basic access to water should be a right of humanity. That living in the turmoil of a typhoon where thousands of people are homeless, for months and indefinitely, is more important than getting every person up to what we think our standard of living should be. I am thankful that I live in a country that recognizes needs here, and abroad.

Matthew 25:40- 40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

Luke 3:10-1110 “What should we do then?” the crowd asked.11 John answered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.”

Find the “least of these.” Find them in your town. In your province, in your country. But never forget that the poorest of us is still rich in many means. It is not up to us to put one need above another: we are told to give, give, give. Cheerfully. To whoever is on our hearts. If you have a heart for people that live close to you, that’s great. But never think that one is better or more deserving than the other.


And just because I love this picture:


Blessed are those who give, and won’t be thanked in this life. Matthew 6:3“But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.

I am so blessed to be born here.

Life hurts.

It just does. As surely as there’s life, there’s death. They go hand in hand. 

I knew I was expecting three days before my period was even due. When you do natural family planning, you kinda know. It was so crazy: I ovulated twice in one month which completely came as a surprise. We were ready for the first, the second time (after Googling if it was even possible) we knew that God had a different plan for us.

Nonetheless, I am nothing but frugal and waited exactly 24 hours from when my period was due. I was up the whole night before, dreaming of our new baby. At 5:30 am, it was positive, and I waited for my handsome hubby to wake up. I let him take two sips of coffee before I bubbled over.

We were slightly overwhelmed, but by the end of the day, pumped. We kept it quiet for the first bit. I made plans to school through the summer so that we could be done when our baby (a boy, I’m sure of it) arrived in March. After all, isn’t that what homeschooling is all about? Making school fit around your family?

I was sick, but not as sick with the girls. They were a special brand of possibly-on-the-verge-of-death sick. This was more of a queasy, walking on a ship at sea after eating three Big Macs sick. I found that the better I ate, the better I felt. Almost all whole foods, with some grains mixed in for convenience. I drank liters of water.

All the while, we smiled at my growing belly. It goes quick, with the fifth. My pants stopped fitting at a month. Leggings and low rise jeans got me through the next one. Imagine if it were twins? How funny!

Finally, even the No Frills ladies were commenting on my new accessory. Yes, this is a baby bump. Yes, we’re excited. Yes, I know where they come from. We realized that all our acquaintances and the people who see me on a regular basis now knew, but not family.

We were so excited. Each new life that God has given us we have received as a total gift. Each pregnancy seems to go faster and faster. I LOVE being nine months pregnant. I love how close my emotions are to the surface: I feel so genuine in my feelings, and how they regularly spill down my cheeks. I love being a woman, an ambassador for life. It’s never “easy”: we have dealt with breech babies turning, a car accident at nine months, falling down the stairs at 6 months, Braxton Hicks, salsa that MUST BE HAD RIGHT NOW, nursing while pregnant, missing heartbeats (that later turned up after a few weeks) and ultrasounds, pee tests, blood work and glucose testing. Never have I needed to go for an ultrasound in the first trimester: I always know my dates (of conception and last periods). 

Pregnancy is bliss. After all, we can throw our charts out the window, because you can’t get pregnant twice! Life is good. Kids are excited. Life is crazy, but with the two of us and a whole lot of Jesus, we can swing it.


Flash forward.

Sitting in the hospital for three hours, feeling my baby leave my body and not being able to stop it. Waiting through every person that gets called to hear MY NAME! Please, call me back. Please, do something. Please.

An acquaintance comes in. “Well, if you wouldn’t have told anyone, you could have pretended it didn’t happen.” 

Finally, they call me back. They tell me that the ultrasound tech is on her way home. I lose it.

They are frightened, call her back. She examines me; tells me that I don’t need any more children when I already have four! But I love THIS ONE. They are all different, and I love this one so much already. Please, tell me if it’s alive or not.

Test is inconclusive. Fetus may be dead. Fetus may be viable. Come back in a few days.

Two days of cramping, bleeding, but possibility.

Monday rolls around. “We must have school today! We want to be done before Baby comes.”

Halfway through math class I am bawling in the bathroom, feeling the hope drain out of me while the other kids fight and bang on the door.

“He hit me!”

“She was bugging me!”

“Juice! Mom. Juice!”

Please, give me five minutes to say goodbye to our baby.

After another hospital visit and more pain than I thought, our baby is gone. A life is gone.

Well if you wouldn’t have told anyone, you could have pretended it never happened. What a nightmare that would be. Because he was here. My baby boy was here, and now he’s not, and I’m sad. But he was. And I’m so thankful that I was excited and proud of my baby for the time he was in my body. What a privilege it is to have had him for as long as I did. I don’t know why any of this happened. But it did.

The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord! 


STEP RIGHT UP! It’s time for the circus!

Last year, on our first day of home educating, in first grade, our first child, it was HORRIBLE. It did not go well. I don’t remember exactly why, but I remember thinking, they are going to hate school, learning, and it will all be my fault!

Cue the circus. After our work was done, I found the box I had just purchased off a buy/sell site on Facebook. It had a circus game, table cloths, animal headbands, and special bags for popcorn (that was really cool for us. Low standards.)


We had a great night. They won a DVD that I already had (What’s in the Bible? had a special promo through a buyer’s club. I got the whole series, but they don’t know that yet. We give them one for special occasions.) We played the game a few times, made popcorn, ate it out of special bags, and watched the movie together. The day ended well.

We kinda do all-year round school. We started grade 2 in May, but have taken off the last five or so weeks. I like the flexibility of taking time off when we need to, and taking the whole month of December off. We are really always “schooling,” it just becomes who you are. But now we’re ready to get back in the swing of structured things, and we have some new friends that are here during the day while their mom works. This made for a way better circus!

Sandra 1898 Sandra 1901

This year, I put more thought into the games:

Knock the Balls Down with a Ball

Sandra 1913

Shoot the Cans with a Water Gun (which turned out to be too hard for the littles- they used a hose)

Sandra 1921

Throw the Water Balloon in the Basket (obviously the other kids had to stand behind the basket as a wall. It was smokin’ hot, so they loved this part!

Sandra 1939


For our morning snack, we popped popcorn in the air popper and put it in those same special bags.

Sandra 1889


For lunch, we had homemade pizza (that we had made a few weeks before and froze) and a dance party. The prizes from the circus included a cd from our church’s VBS, and it provided a great soundtrack. In the afternoon, we made caramel apples. I’ve never done it before, and would suggest making the caramel while kids are otherwise occupied. It took a few minutes of stirring, and they were reeaaaallllyyy excited. I used this recipe, but I did it in half and used honey instead of corn syrup. It was so ridiculous good. Even thinking of it now, oh man. There is nothing like homemade caramel.

Sandra 1962Sandra 1958

So that was our “first” day of grade two for our eldest, and kindergarten for our second. Next year I would like to involve face paints and a photo booth. I looked up whether you can use acrylic paints as face paints, and I found mixed results. I don’t mind using my kids as guinea pigs, but having other kids over makes me be a little more cautious. So, next year.

What do you do to celebrate the first day, whether you do it at home, or in school?

World Cup Day!

We recently decided to start providing childcare, and that has made me much more intentional of celebrations, activities, and events that I might normally not do. Also, I know how hard it is for kids to adapt to a new schedule and environment, so I wanted to have a fun party to look forward to. It wasn’t until someone got bit* that I got the idea: Hey! Let’s have a FIFA party! (*That never happened. I just thought it was funny. I imagine that if I were a soccer player, and I got bitten by another professional athlete, it might not be funny but rather insensitive. If that applies to you, I’m deeply sorry.)

So, since there are two weeks left of this glorious, worldwide event, I thought I’d share with you our celebration, so that you could easily adopt your own. If you’re bored, and looking for a fun day in summer, look no further. As a sidenote, I did not talk about how I actually feel about Brazil’s involvement with our children and the children in my care: the cost to the country, especially it’s poor and at risk people, at the profit of corporations. I decided to let them have some fun. But for the record, not one penny was spent profiting Fifa.




*We looked at some encyclopedias to study world flags. I printed out the flags of all the countries participating, and the six year old girl had a great time finding the flags in the books, and we wrote down the names of them together. Every time she found one, she was so excited!

*We talked about, as a group, what kind of country we want to live in. Some obvious highlights were “a country with lots of lions!” and “one with a super hero Statue of Liberty” and “I just like blue.” Then they cut pictures out of magazines and coloured their own flags to decorate. I also printed off some bookmarks here to post on the wall.




*We dressed up as soccer-ish as possible. My HH used to play, so he had a couple cute jerseys for me to wear. I find, with our kids, dressing up is half the fun!


*As soon as our new friends got here, we read a book about Curious George and baseball. That felt like an epic fail. We have 10,409 books, and I couldn’t find one about soccer. Oh well.

*We went outside with popcorn, and the kids all wanted a picture with a soccer ball. I think they’ve seen enough of them at people’s houses, that they all knew what to do. One foot on the ball.



*We made obstacle courses involving the soccer ball. That was fun! Today was perfect weather for this, but it could be done inside if you cater it specifically.

*We played a very funky soccer game, with the Precious One sitting in the middle of the game. She loves to be in the midst of the action. The One with the Role didn’t want to play, and no one wanted to be with me, so it ended up being four against one. If you play. I highly recommend shin pads. For yourself.

*When we came inside, we matched upper and lower case letters, and ordered numbers up to 20 on sweet soccer flash cards. I got them off this site, that I absolutely LOVE. This worked well to keep them occupied while I prepared lunch.



*During quiet time, the boys discovered that I had donated the only soccer movie we had. Fail #2. They recovered. I had my HH stop at McDonald’s yesterday to pick up free soccer activity packs I noticed they were giving away. We went there for dinner last week after Stephen’s last soccer game we stopped there to tell people of the dangers of what they were eating. I didn’t grab any then, because I’m trying to cut down on stuff, but it sure made an excellent contribution to our day. There is a soccer ball to make, stickers, tattoos, etc. It went over well.


*For the last part, I printed off some certificates, affirming something they had each done today. The kids loved to be cheered for, and will generally clap for each other with little effort on my part.

If you decide to do a day like this, please know that not all kids are interested in the same things. It doesn’t mean you stop doing them, it just means their idea of involvement in specific activities may not look like you want it to. The ONLY way to wreck a Event Day is with a bad attitude. And it’s usually mine. 

I’d love to hear any fun day, or theme day ideas!




Well, we have a couple more weeks of school, and then we’re done our first real year of school (I don’t count Kindergarten, because we didn’t have to do it. It was still a lot of work though! That stuff didn’t come naturally to me.) Our Clever One went from slowly, painstakingly, precisely printing a line of A’s, to writing a story that has a joke in it. Always. He can read. The thought makes me cry: Reading is SOOOO important to me, and I was able to awaken that in him. The world is now open. Even if I forget to tell him something about life, love, or the Aztecs, he can open up Google on his own, and search for it. We are currently working on some Internet blocks and filters.

It was a great first year. We went from working around a newborn, potty training a 2 year old, and playing Magic School Bus with the 4 year old, to making our own way of school, where we are all involved. We’ve spent hours in our school room. I am actually quite impressed that he was able to focus as well as he could. He can currently finish a page of math questions with a baby crying next to him, and not skip a beat. We made crafts, though not as many as I’d like. We played. Played. And then played some more. We had tons of field trips including rock climbing, the Rocky Mountains, and we will be going on a train ride soon.

But I know from talking to lots of homeschool moms that this was an “easy” year. I know, because there is always talk of THAT YEAR. You know.

THAT YEAR when the hubby lost his job.

THAT YEAR when we were all sick for months on end, catching every virus and cold that went around.

THAT YEAR when hubby worked for weeks on end, and Mom was alone for days, cooped up all winter, day and night, with the kids.

THAT YEAR when the new baby spent his first few weeks in the hospital, and Mom was away for over a month.

THAT YEAR when Mom lost her daddy unexpectedly, and had to travel out of province to take care of details. Her fifth baby was just recuperating from having pneumonia, all within the same two weeks.

Unfortunately, I know real life moms who have went through all of this, this very year.

It says, “But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day.The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:8-9).

He gives us time, although we don’t know how much. For some it’s years and years, and for others it’s over before it starts. But His plan is so good. If we are alive for 70 or 80 years, we can count on some years being hard. Some years will seem longer than the others, more painful, more breaking. But we will look back on these years. Some will still hurt, some we’ll laugh at what we thought were trials at the time, and some we may not remember as they were lost in blissful monotony. But all the years are important and on purpose, for us and our children.

If you are in THAT YEAR, see it as such. It was too hard. It was too much. It wasn’t fair. See it for the trial and tribulation it is. And show your kids that we can choose to rejoice, even when you have no reason. That we can choose to have hope, when no one else would. And that we can love, even when our natural love is gone.

Romans 8:36-39: “As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered. No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

You’ve got this, Mama. Whether you’re homeschooling, working, staying at home, or your kids are gone, let this be the year that you conquered the trials, through Him and His love. No matter how the year went, let’s end strong. Life is hard, and seldom fair. I am so thankful we can have hope for the future.

Intentionally Easter

Part of the beauty of homeschooling is that we can add so much to our day. When five or six subjects are done in less than two hours, it guarantees that there’s enough time for fun, extra learning, and life skills. So we got into Easter. Hands, feet and noses deep. We did this beautiful Bible Study, called “A Sense of Resurrection.” It’s a 12 day deal, from the maker of Truth in the Tinsel (a super fun Christmas activity e-book). The daily activities weren’t long, so it can still be done with kids who are in school. Every day we used a different one of our senses to experience what Jesus did, in the days before His death. We tasted, smelled, felt, seen, and heard experiences that they will remember, (and me too!) in the months ahead. If you follow me on Pinterest, I pinned the link. I was super excited because we just finished up a unit on Senses in science, so this fit right in. You can do this with kids of all ages; we will do it again next year because I know they will get more out of it as they age.


Making windchimes that reminded us of the noise and excitement when Jesus came through the city and the people yelled, “Hosanna!”


Washing each other’s feet.


Our little Pentecostal. She mostly danced and sang along to the music we listened to during our activities. 

This was so much fun. Normally when I find great ideas, it’s too late. I love Pinterest and Facebook, but I don’t think about holidays until the day before. This year, I felt like I nailed it! We started three weeks ahead of Good Friday, and did the activities on our normal school days (not weekends.) You could do them all in a day or two, though. For Easter weekend, we also followed some ideas the creator of the program had blogged about on her site, called “UnEaster baskets.” I was soooo excited about this. We had the kids take their baskets outside, and collect rocks. Image

Next, we wrote some sins that we are struggling with on each of the rocks. Some examples were, “When I throw things,” and “When I don’t clean up the basement. And don’t short that, Mom, I have the biggest rock, so it will all fit.”


We covered it all with a red towel, thanking Jesus that He covers and paid for our sins with His blood. Image

The kids went upstairs with Daddy to watch “What’s in the Bible, Volume 10” with the kids.** I got to work! I took out the rocks and put them in their own shopping bag (obviously the boys had an attachment to their own, specific rocks) and filled up the baskets with some treasures I was so excited about! Image

After the movie, we brought the kids down again. We are so thankful that Jesus takes our brokenness, our ugliness, and makes it into something beautiful. I am so thankful for the Cross. My ridiculously handsome hubby had the amazing idea of throwing the rocks as far as we could, as far as the East is from the West, just like Jesus does. Jesus is alive. I am so thankful that I can speak these truths into our children’s lives. Again, none of this was my idea! I found it online, and loved it! Check out, as she is the one who came up with these activities! **The “What’s in the Bible? With Buck Denver” is an AMAZING series from the creator of Veggie Tales, Phil Vischer. The whole series chronicles the Bible and even which books were chosen and why. My HH and I often joke about taking notes; we learn so much. If you are interested, we bought the whole series (the kids don’t know! We give them one each holiday) for a discounted rate from a homeschool site. I can get you details.