Lifestyle

Nursery Reveal…(finally).

by Vicki.

Months (and months and months) ago I shared the start of our nursery renovation. At the time I promised a final reveal within the month. Ha! It would have been better to promise it within the year. It took me quite a while to decide on all the little details and to be 100% happy with the final results. But now that I am, I love this room! I love how it looks and I think its my favorite room in the house!

Without further ado, here’s the final reveal of Dax’s Nursery!!!!!

The light is one of my favorite items in the room – an exciting Home Sense find! Its blown glass, wood details, and big bulb wonderment! We also added a little greenery in the form of a hanging plant to freshen the room up a bit and purchased the dresser/change table from a Facebook Auction site (its a beautiful green/grey which I absolutely love). The rug is an IKEA purchase, I love its natural look and it keeps my feet warm for the middle of the night feedings/checks.

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The closet is small in the room (this room is small in general) so we needed to find a way to make it more functional. We added these barnboard shelves along the top and sides and added these banana leaf woven baskets (from Walmart) for diapers, next size up clothing, bibs/beanies/suspenders, and shoes/moccassins/Padraigs. It looks great and is super useful for hiding and storing all of those baby things!

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I found this wire magazine rack at Home Sense (love me my Home Sense!) and knew it would work so well for Dax’s books, some receiving blankets and this fun apple pillow I bought from PatPat (all the way from Australia). The little house shelves were a find from Walmart (who is really upping its decor game lately) and when I saw them I knew I needed to take them  home with me.

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This bear blanket is from the very talented Willow and Wheat (she’s one of my favorite Canadian small shops – a rocking mom at home with her two boys making beautiful items). The monkey is a Jellycat stuffie – we always buy a “special” stuffie for our babies when they come home from the hospital. So far Dax hasn’t overly bonded with the monkey, but I still hold out hope.

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It only took 11 months but I finally printed off some newborn photos of Dax. This picture was taken by my very talented Aunt. Rita Zietsma Photography – she’s fun to work with, takes excellent photos, and captured our baby in his yummy newness. The table is from Winners and the lamp and frame are from Home Sense. The little house is from Walmart. Its actually a candle holder but I thought it was cute for Dax’s extra soothers. Can you tell that I am channeling my inner Sherry from Young House Love blog/podcast with the tiny house obsession?! I can’t walk by a little house in a store without at least putting it in my cart (and 99% of the time taking it home with me!).

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Of course this room wouldn’t be complete without a bit of macrame! This one is from an etsy shop in France, but I would suggest checking out Macrame by JM if you’re in the market!

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I found these frames at Home Sense. Theyre the perfect combination of woody knobyness and texture. The prints come from the etsy shop Synplus Printable Art. I love this wall! Mark worked hard making my shiplap dreams a reality and I just can’t get enough of the wide white planking! It was actually relatively easy to do and not expensive! I see many more shiplap walls in my future 🙂 (#sorrynotsorry Mark!).

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Well that’s all she wrote! I love all the little details, how the room works together, and how soft and calming it feels. It wasn’t so much of a renovation as a revamping: putting up shiplap, painting the walls white, adding a jute rug, hanging cute animal prints in awesome wood frames, adding some new furniture, and making the small closet functional.

Gah! I’m just so happy with this room reveal! Do you have a cute nursery you want to share? I love seeing what other people have done and gathering ideas for my next projects :). Share a link in the comments below!!

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My littlest dude and my biggest dude photobombing my photos!

 

Lifestyle

New Year, Same Me.

by Vicki

Happy New Year! I know its a couple of weeks into January, but I think that saying “happy new year” is okay for the entire month of January…soooo “Happy New Year!” 😉

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Typically people start the new year with a host of resolutions and goals. We see the year ahead as fresh and as a clean slate, with the possibility of being the “best year yet”. I have to say, I love the idea of a new year. I love the hope that I feel the first day of January. A brand new year, an expanse of time ahead of me with unlimited possibilities.

For 2017 I decided to join the ranks of many and chose a simple word for the year as opposed to multiple resolutions. I chose simplicity and I loved it…for the first month and a half. I eagerly decluttered my house, organized cupboards and closets, used a daily planner, and talked Mark’s ear off about making our busy family schedule simpler. Then…Dax was born and I went into survival mode and didn’t really pay attention to anything else, least of all making sure that I was able to call 2017 “my year of simplicity”. I tried to come back to making our lives simple but I mostly focused on trying to get caught up on sleep (my 10 month still won’t sleep through the night, whats up with that?) and making sure my three kids were fed on a regular basis.

I liked the idea of having a word, but when it came down to it, for me, it became another ‘thing’ that I wasn’t accomplishing. I said I wanted to just use one word so that I wasn’t loading myself down with rules or unattainable goals for the year, but I think, in the end, the word was just a cover for all the unmentioned rules and goals that I saw encompassed in it. I felt like it was another thing (things) that I was failing at.

So, that brings us to this New Year. 2018. A ‘clean slate’. But really, just another 365 days to live our lives.

Maybe I will do a ‘word of the year’ again next year but I don’t think I have the brain power to think of one or the ability to separate it from a list of unaccomplishable goals for this year. No worries though, all is not lost for 2018.

Truthfully, I am continually assessing and reassessing who I am and what I want to accomplish. I try to make little tweaks here and there when I see the need for change. I think that’s really what life is about. Continually taking a look at who we are, where we are going, and making adjustments to make sure we are doing okay.

So I don’t really have set 2018 goals or resolutions. And other than ‘sleep’ I don’t have a word for 2018. But, I do have a list of things that I have been working on lately and that I hope to keep working on. So here goes:

  1. Stop striving for perfection. Its not going to happen this side of Heaven. Accept imperfection and find joy in trying my best no matter what the result.
  2. See the excitement and beauty in the “trying” and not just in the result. I have a hard time starting a project if I can’t see the final result being ‘the best’. Example? I struggle cleaning my kitchen if I know I don’t have the full 1.5 uninterrupted hours to get it done to a sparkling/crumb-free/sanitized result. I need to start being happy with a partially-clean-work-in-progress kitchen. I can’t just freeze and get nothing done because I don’t have uninterrupted time…ever.
  3. To spend time creating. Being creative doesn’t come naturally to me, but when I create something its feels so good! I love decorating my home, writing things on my chalkboards, trying my hand at calligraphy, DIYing, etc etc etc :D.
  4. Spend more time with God! My church is reading the entire Bible together this year and I am so excited about it! Its pretty special to know that what I am reading is being read by my church family too.
  5. To be vulnerable and real. I am imperfect. I have been hurt. My marriage has had mountains and valleys. Sometimes I don’t want to be a mom. I don’t always read my Bible. I cook sometimes and order food in sometimes. Sometimes my house is super clean and organized, and sometimes it looks like a tornado came through. Just showing the good sides of life can be nice, but it can also hinder true relationship. I have found that the more “me” I am, the better I have been able to build my tribe of people who I love and who love me.
  6. To keep trying to make healthier choices for me. Eating Trim Healthy Mama, dancing with my kiddos, and sleeping more (please, Dax!).
  7. To live like Jesus. To love like Jesus. To live for and love Jesus.

Nothing too crazy. No new morning routines, or exercise regimes, or scheduled cleaning systems. Just me, continuing to be me, striving to be the best me, and living for the God who created me.

So, here’s to the New year, but same me!

If you have decided to start this year off with some goals or resolutions, or just refocusing on things you’ve been working on already….let us know! We love to hear other people’s ideas for inspiration and encouragement!

Hope all of your 2018 dreams, hopes, desires, resolutions, and goals come true! Happy New Year!

 

Bookish Posts

My Top 10 Books of 2017 with a Few Extras Thrown In

By Katie


There are affiliate Links in this post.   They don’t cost you anything, but may give us something.

I haven’t done a bookish post in while, which may lead you to believe I haven’t been reading.  You would be wrong.   My life has not changed so much that I would put down my book!

In 2017, I read 146 books.  I have read some expected gems, some unexpected  gems, some expected disappointments and some unexpected disappointments.  Overall, it was a good reading year, though not as good as 2015 – it felt like every book I picked up that year was astounding.   It will be a hard year to beat.

Because list writing is fun, I am going to try to do my Top 10 books of 2017.

But before I start, there will be some caveats and disclosures:

There may be some honourable mentions, because I find it impossible to list my best books.  Some people have a Top 10 of all time.  I don’t think I would be able to limit myself to 10 – I could possibly do a Top 100, but not listed in order of favourite-ness.  I don’t think I am decisive enough (see what I did there :P) to list my favourites, but  mostly, I don’t want to hurt the feelings of books that I love, and there are definitely more than 10 books that I love.

Also, I finished re-reading the Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and Narnia series this year.  We all know that these are incredible books that would make it into pretty much any Top lists.  I will not list them in mine though because I don’t want them to take precious spots in my list.

So, here is a not-so-definitive list of My Top 10 Books of 2017 with a Few Extras Thrown In.

51naG-FeFpL._SL160_The Shadow of The Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (along with the 2nd  book: The Angel’s Game).  This was a completely unexpected gem.  I picked this book up from the library as I was walking by the shelf because I liked the cover.  I couldn’t put it down.  This is a gothic mystery and romance, but not an icky romance.  Its a romance about love.  And books.  And the love of books.    Which makes this a perfect novel.   Dealing with the loss of his mother, Daniel’s father takes him to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books where he is allowed to choose one book.  The book he chooses is so arresting he tries to find other books by the author.  But they all have been systematically destroyed.  If you want to know why, I suggest you pick up the book.

51PMoNFpnuL._SL160_The Sparrow/Children of God by Mary Doria Russell– I actually read The Sparrow last December, and spent the next 11 months scouring used books stores for the sequel Children Of God.  These 2 books read like it should be 1 very large novel as The Sparrow ends in a very unsatisfying way.   These novels tell the story of a distant planet, and the Jesuits journey to discover it, both for science and for God.  Like any exploring group, they misunderstand the social and economic structure of people living there and so disrupt the order.  The outcomes are both devastating 51bDd6BQOCL._SL160_and beneficial for all involved.   Children of God tells the story of the long-term outcome of the interference from Earth.  I loved these books because they dissect the devotion a believer has to God, both in dealing with other’s tragedy and his own.  The journey back to faith can be difficult and seemingly impossible, but also earth-shattering and beautiful.

 

41fHxOhTrxL._SL160_A Constellation of Vital Phenomena  by Anthony Marra –  This was a re-read for me and I loved it this time around as much as the first time.  The story of the decades (centuries?) long war in Chechnya is told in one of my favourite ways: slowing walking through the present while diving deeply into the past of the characters.   Set in 2004, but reaching back far into history, we learn the story of a few inconsequential people whose lives are torn apart because of wars that don’t benefit them.   Unravelling the mystery of what binds them together, Sonja and Akhmed learn of betrayal, coincidence and forgiveness.

51iLpdD3PwL._SL160_The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker– This was a completely unexpected gem! Set in turn-of-the-century New York, 2 mythical creatures unexpectedly meet, one a Kabbalistic creature made of Clay, the other a fire-born Syrian creature captured in a copper flask.  Their connection is mystical and their story is a combination of fairy tale, folk lore, magic and ancient history.

 

51p7+rEf+TL._SL160_Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys– Telling the story of the little-known sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff, this novel weaves the story of refugees in Eastern Europe fleeing before the Red Army in World War II.  With incredible character development, (the Shoemaker has become one of my all time favourite characters.  And that list is also not definitive), the outcome of horrible tragedy made my mother’s heart weep.

 

51kvVxIyCFL._SL160_The DoveKeepers by Alice Hoffman-  When I picked up this book, I was informed by a number of people that it was in their (definitive) Top Ten of All Time list.  I can see why.   Telling the story of Fall of Masada and expounding on historian Josephus’ claim that 2 women and 5 children survived the mass killing, Hoffman creates 4 strong, independent and very different women through whose eyes we can witness the lives, loves and losses of 900 people 2000 years ago.

41OZMb3IWvL._SL160_When Breathe Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi– This memoir deals with death and dying and knowing that its going to happen to you.  After nearly completing all his training, neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi learns he has aggressive, stage IV cancer.  Wrestling with questions of what makes life worth living, even in the face of dying, this book is a must read.

 

41XUJ28Aq+L._SL160_The Circle by Dave Eggers – I enjoyed this book immensely, but  I am mostly including it because I think it’s a must read for everyone who got an Amazon Echo or Google Home for Christmas  :D.   In a world where everything can be known, should it be?  How close is our society to believing that Privacy is Theft?  This fictional tale tells the story of large online company that connects people socially, economically and finally politically.  What are we giving up in order to be connected?

41fDi8fUSOL._SL160_The 100 year Old Man who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson– I loved this book because its about a journey while reflecting on the past.  This book is unbelievable and funny but also well written and engaging.  Allan Karlsson has lived an unbelievable life and decides he isn’t done living it on his 100th birthday at the old age home.  So he leaves, and continues to live, while stealing $50 million from a gang.  You can imagine what happens next…

51cZQHwLd8L._SL160_The Orphan’s Master’s Son by Adam Johnson– After reading Escape from Camp 14 a few years ago, I have sought out books about North Korea.  This Pulitzer Prize winner delves into many different areas of life in North Korea using Jun Do, a professional kidnapper, to navigate the treacherous political landscape of the corrupt and cruel dictatorship.

I can not fathom that while I sit in my warm house with a full belly there are still labour camps and  starvation and deprivation of individual autonomy to this magnitude in this world.   I realize there are a lot of places where social injustice runs rampant, but there is something about North Korea that seems to strip its people of their humanity.  While reading Escape from Camp 14, what struck me to my core was how the author told of competing for food with his mother.  What kind of life does one have to live in order to see your children as competitors not your loves for whom you would give up your life?  I would argue that mothers facing a wide variety of horrors have continued to put their children’s lives ahead of their own:  what does one have to experience in order to have that mother’s-love stripped away so completely?

51RVsEqgUJL._SL160_Bel Canto by Ann Patchett – I love Ann Patchett.  Her ability to weave a tale is almost unparalleled.  This novel is of a hostage situation in a South American country in which unexpected love blossoms.  The only thing that would make this novel better is if you skip the last 3 pages.  While they don’t ruin the book, they take it down a few notches.

 

61SY37C4a0L._SL160_The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead – Imagining the Underground Railroad as an actual Railroad with trains and conductors and stations, Whitehead tells the story of an escaped slave looking for the freedom to live her life while always running from the slave catcher who just sees himself as upholding the law.    The gross injustices that blacks faced in pre-civil war America are investigated and laid bare as a people try to build a community that welcomes them.  This novel won a Pulitzer with good reason.

Well.  There you have it.  My Top 10 as told with 14 books.

Have you read any of these titles?  Do any sound interesting enough to pick up?  What were your favourites in 2017 – hit me up – my TBR list has only 2 or 3 hundred books on.  I need to bulk it up 😉

Lifestyle

A Story of a Birth

By Katie


 

Hi y’all.

(I had twins and it turned me into a Southern belle.)

(And if this post doesn’t make sense: I am tired, because, Surprise Surprise, there were 2 babies in me.  And 2 babies equals 2x the babies as 1 baby.  I wasn’t expecting that, to be honest….)

Anyways, 3 weeks ago ( how was it 3 weeks already!?!) Louisa and Beatrix came into the world screaming their heads off.

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Let me tell you the story.  It will be short because I hear Louisa grunting and she will want to eat.  Again.

My section was booked for 8 am, but we got bumped for an emergency c section.  We didn’t make it into the operating room until around 11 am.  It was hard to wait, though I tried to enjoy it, knowing I wouldn’t have peaceful moments where I could read my book relatively uninterrupted for a long  while.  But I was also eager to meet the twins.  So my emotions were all tossed up.

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When we were finally brought to the operating room, I remembered how much I hate surgery.  There are all these machines and people and medical stuff and modesty doesn’t seem important (well, my modesty, everyone else was allowed to stay clothed.)   But I was brave, and stepped into the room all by my self, without having to be corralled and forcibly pushed in because I was trying to escape (this is what happened with Atticus’ birth.  True story)

Kingston is a teaching hospital, so for every doctor/nurse there is a student/resident/follower.  It makes for a very full operating room.  Throw in 2 pediatric teams and a bunch of medical students excited to see a twin c-section and it felt like a party.

A party where I am cut open like an offering.

This was my worst c section.   I don’t know if my reaction to the anesthesia is changing or if its a different cocktail of drugs every time, but I feel more out of it with each section.  However, this section I was able to see my babies be born which was the most incredible sight in the world.  They both came out crying loudly and I was overcome with all the emotions.  That feeling meeting your baby (ies) for the first time and thinking “I know you,”  is incredible.

The pediatric teams on standby didn’t even wait for the cord of Beatrix to be clamped before they left saying that they clearly were healthy babies.  There are a lot of complications that can come with twin pregnancies, and I am so thankful for their health.

Like I said, this was my worst section.  Will couldn’t really hold either twin on me because I was so out of it.  This breaks my heart, but Will did an admiral job watching and snuggling them while I was being stitched up. 🙂

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Louisa reminds me of Vivien in both looks and character.  She took to breastfeeding like it’s her right and will let me know if there is something wrong.   Or if she is waking up.  Or if she just wants to be heard.  I am so excited to have another loud child.  (<- that is sarcasm.)

Beatrix, who looks like Atticus, took longer to get used to feeding and still likes to take her time.  She is the calmer one, so far.

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Atticus and Vivien absolutely love their sisters.  I am surprised with (mostly) how gentle they are.  It is amazing to see my 4 kids together.  My heart overflows with joy.

Lifestyle

The Twins are Coming! (tomorrow)

By Katie


I haven’t posted in a while. This twin pregnancy is kicking my butt, and I am not being gracious about it.  I am glad that I am not married to me (don’t laugh, it is actually a thing.  I don’t think I would be a good spouse for me.)   But I do have so much more empathy and respect for people who suffer from chronic pain or disease, especially since they don’t have an end date, and I do.

I can also commiserate with Rebecca:  I feel like a have 2 nations warring in my womb.   When one starts rolling and kicking, inevitably the other starts.   This doesn’t bode well for when they are ex-utereo .

Also, I have no brain cells left, so if the words I write make no sense, I am sorry.

Buuuuut Beatrix and  Louisa are coming tomorrow!  And we couldn’t be more excited!  Every morning, Atticus and Vivien climb into my bed to say good morning to the babies (through my belly button, its the cutest ever!) and we count the days until they come on our fingers.  They both agree that 1 day is not very many!

We did a lot of renovating in the last few months: we redid our upstairs bathroom, re-floored the whole upstairs, re-painted the upstairs and redid some of the trim upstairs.  I was really hoping it would all be done by the time the twins arrived, but last Thursday I told Will all renos were stopping because I couldn’t keep up with the house any more, mostly due to exhaustion and a very sore back (you would have a sore back too if you had 500 lbs hanging off your front!!)  Since then, we slaughtered and butchered 2 chickens, repainted the doors upstairs and changed their handles and hinges, and finished hanging trim.    But other than that, we are done with renoing.   For at least the next week or so 😛  (The only room we didn’t do upstairs is the future nursery.  So Will isn’t going to get too much time off.  Sucker. )

The girls will be sleeping in our room for the first 4-5 months, depending on how it goes.  They will be sharing a crib (I figure they have shared like 1 square foot for 9 months, a crib will seem positively huge!)  It was so fun to be able to set up the area for them.

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I went shopping with Vicki to buy some newborn clothes.  It was really hard to do because  I have big babies who don’t fit in newborn sizes.  Atticus almost had to go home in a onsie piled high with blankets because the outfit I bought didn’t fit at all.  But they say my twins should be in the 6 lb range.  And the newborn clothes say they fit 6 lbs, so hopefully it will be fine.  These is the coming home sleepers I have for them:

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My mom went shopping with me to get receiving blankets and she bought me a beautiful blanket to cuddle them in.   Atticus picked out the receiving blankets, informing me that polka dots are the way to go.  Trendsetter or follower, I don’t know.

I bought cute little bonnets from Jess Lodder at Two Lil Otters.   They were a steal of a deal at only $8 each!  I bought newborn sizes so I hope the girls don’t come out with gigantic heads (like a certain son of mine…)  I can’t wait to put them on Beatrix and Louisa!  Jess makes a lot of different things for kids.  The quality is great and I got them really quickly.   If you are in the market for cute baby things, I totally recommend her 🙂

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I am not totally ready yet.   But I think I am ready enough for the twins.  They won’t know what is missing, right?

Lifestyle

Its Beginning to Look a Little Like Christmas

by Kara

 

Its November 28. Christmas is less than a month a way.

This is the extent of my Christmas decorations so far:

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I bought this tree on Saturday from Michael’s. My husband set it up while I was out getting some groceries. And this is all we have done so far. Which means, I am way behind schedule.

In the past, I have been known to decorate in October. I love Christmas, I love Christmas decorations, and I love Christmas music. This year, the months of October and November have slipped away, and it may be December before I finally decorate (insert shocked face here, then dramatically swoon). Unless I make decorating a priority for today.

The beginning of the Christmas season hasn’t completely escaped my notice. I have been listening to Christmas music for well over a month. I have also bought some of Zoe’s Christmas gifts, the Christmas gifts for Tsjibbe’s family, and some of the gifts for my family.

As this is my first Christmas with my baby girl, I have a strong desire to spoil her. Every toy, teddy, or book I see, I think “I should get that for Zoe! She would love it for Christmas!”. I have this vision of her sitting in a pile of presents, being so excited for every gift she opens. But let’s be honest: She’s 10 months. She’ll be more excited for the wrapping paper than the toys hidden underneath. So Tsjibbe and I made a tough decision (tough for me, obvious for him). We are going to get 4 gifts: Something to wear, something to read, something she wants, and something she needs.

She’s getting two something she wants, because I already bought her two toys. But I’m excited about starting a 4 gift tradition. I hope it will help keep our Christmases simple. It will also let me know when I’m “done” buying Christmas gifts. I find that, since I started buying gifts so early, I have a tendency to keep buying gifts. Since I bought gifts on sale, I have a tendency to think “Well, I’ve only spent…”, and then go and spend well over our Christmas budget. Now I know I’m done buying her toys, and I can get her something to read, something to wear, and something she needs.

In all honesty, she will be getting more than 4 gifts every year. On December 5th we celebrate the Dutch Sinterklaas, and she will get a book and pajamas. Also, I will buy her a Christmas ornament, because it is never too early to start collecting Christmas decorations.

Speaking of Christmas decorations… I have to go decorate my house!

Lifestyle

Broken Things.

By Vicki

Broken Things by Matthew West

This song has been playing on repeat in our house for the last couple of days weeks months. The first time I heard it the words resonated with me so much. I used to think that I was maybe the only one (or one of the few) who felt like they were legitimately broken. But lately I am learning and realizing and understanding that most people (all people?) have felt broken, feel broken or will feel broken in their lives. Its part of our human nature. We were made for perfection, but with the fall into sin, that perfection became unattainable. We know we want perfection, we know we can’t get it, and we feel broken because we know our desire and reality will never meet.

This song speaks to my heart. I know the heart wrenching ache of knowing that I do not deserve to approach Jesus or enter His Kingdom. The ache is real and the knowledge is true. I don’t deserve Jesus or his Salvation. But, just as true, is grace. Broken people are used for His kingdom. He paid our punishment and then welcomes us, the broken things, into his presence. Its definitely true and its exceptionally wonderful. That ache of being broken no longer paralyzes me or makes me terrified for my future. I know that Jesus uses Broken Things: the messy, the imperfect, and the inadequate. Not only does He use us, He welcomes us into His kingdom. He delights in us and prepares a place for us to party and celebrate with Him. He loves us. He has a plan, a purpose, and a place for us. What a King we have! I eagerly await entering the Kingdom through doors that are only open because of grace.

Take a listen to the song, read the lyrics below, and enjoy your Sunday basking in the grace that turns broken things into guests of the King.

“Broken Things”
If grace was a kingdom
I stopped at the gate
Thinking I don’t deserve to pass through after all the mistakes that I’ve made

Oh but I heard a whisper
As Heaven bent down
Said, “Child, don’t you know that the first will be last and the last get a crown”

Now I’m just a beggar in the presence of a King
I wish I could bring so much more
But if it’s true You use broken things
Then here I am Lord, I’m all Yours

The pages of history they tell me it’s true
That it’s never the perfect; it’s always the ones with the scars that You use

It’s the rebels and the prodigals; it’s the humble and the weak
All the misfit heroes You chose
Tell me there’s hope for sinners like me

Now I’m just a beggar in the presence of a King
I wish I could bring so much more
But if it’s true You use broken things
Then here I am Lord, I’m all Yours

Grace is a kingdom
With gates open wide
There’s a seat at the table just waiting for you
So, come on inside

(lyrics taken from https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/matthewwest/brokenthings.html) 

Lifestyle

5:30 Thankfulness

by Kara

 

A while ago, my friend posted a couple vlogs titled “5:30 Thankfulness”. These vlogs were posted on days when her daughter woke her up at 5:30 in the morning, and they were little things to be thankful for, despite the lack of sleep.

I thought this was a great idea, and today was one of those days that Zoe woke up at 5:30 and did not want to go back to sleep. Its now 17 hours later, and I thought I would post some of the things that I’m thankful for today, even though I’m a tad tired. These things are direct results of the 5:30 wake up call!

  1. Since we were already awake, Zoe and I drove Tsjibbe to work, and we had the car for the day! We met a friend for lunch and did some Christmas shopping!
  2. When we got back from dropping Tsjibbe off (we always come back home before we go on our adventure), the fire was roaring and the house was warm. Tsjibbe had made sure to put some logs in the fire before we left, and it was so nice to come home to a warm house!
  3. We got to see my friend Sarah. We hardly ever see Sarah. So it was nice to catch up, enjoy lunch together, and discover my daughter’s fear of elevators together.
  4. We got to spend a lot of extra time with Tsjibbe! Not only did we get the extra hour of driving together, after Tsjibbe was done work, we got to run a few more errands together! Shopping is much easier with a man to carry around the [big] baby!
  5. We got to see both the sunrise and the sunset while driving. Two absolutely beautiful views. Its amazing to see the beauty God put into creation – for no other purpose than for His glory and our enjoyment.

Now that our day of fun is done, I’m ready to curl up in bed. Zoe, on the other hand, is happily crawling around and playing with the TV remote. Maybe she thinks that by not going to bed, she gets to spend a fun day out with mom.

 

Lifestyle

Why We Chose to Homeschool.

by Vicki

We have been homeschooling for two months now. We are all enjoying it…most days. Peyton has grown in leaps and bounds and is starting to read little books, make connections from our school work to our daily lives, and is learning so much about her God and Creator.

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A lot of people have asked us “why?” about our choice to homeschool.  Most of the time they are genuine ‘why?’s from people who are interested in our schooling choices. This is awesome and I love to share what we are learning and experiencing. But sometimes (like from a certain grocery store cashier) I get a “Why would you even do that? Do you really think that’s a good idea?”. Ummmmm, yes. Yes we do. That’s why we are doing it. Obviously.

So, to answer everyone’s spoken and unspoken questions of “why??”, here are some of the top reasons that Mark and I have decided to keep Peyton home for her kindergarten year.

  • Peyton’s Age: Peyton is young! She is 5 now, but would have only been 4 when she started full time Kindergarten. Mark and I both feel that 4 (and early 5s) is just too small to be gone from the house for 7+ hours each day. I dreaded the rushed grumpy mornings and the exhausted irritable evenings. Peyton still enjoys sleeping in in the mornings, having an hour (or more) of quiet time (nap?) in the afternoons, and is typically enjoyable during the evenings. In a year she will be that much more ready and mature to handle longer school hours, more structured routine, and her big emotions; making ‘regular’ school a better possibility for her.  IMG_0982
  • Family Time: Family time is very important to our family (as it is to most families, I’d imagine!). Since I am currently on Maternity Leave I felt strongly about Peyton having this time with me at home. She has spent time in daycares off and on since she was one, so I wanted to give her a year at home to relax and enjoy our family. I also thought it would be good to take this time to pour attention, love, and confidence into our little girl before she starts ‘regular’ school. As well, Mark gets home a little later in the day and, if Peyton was in school, she would have to go to bed pretty soon after he walked in the door (or sometimes even before!). With Peyton being homeschooled we are able to enjoy relaxed evenings with our family. Later bedtimes typically mean later mornings for Peyton, which is okay because we can start school on our own time.
  • Family Values: We believe in a Christian worldview. This worldview affects everything that we do, especially how we learn and process the world around us. Mark and I feel convicted that we want to start Peyton’s school career off in a place that encourages a focus on Christ and an awe of how our Creator has woven this world together. And, although we toured two wonderful Christian private schools, we like having another year to pour into our little lady. We, as parents, try to model Christ-like behaviour, love and values so that our children can know who and whose they are. With one more year at home, God willing Peyton will be that much more secure in her faith and identity so she can stand firm.IMG_0958
  • Flexibility: We are able to teach Peyton what and when we want (even when following a curriculum and ensuring she is staying on par with the Kindergarten standards). We are also able to take a day (or week) off if we need to rejuvenate, if we go visit family in Kingston or Ottawa, if we’re having a bad day, or if we’d rather sit in our pajamas reading books and drinking tea all day.
  • Understanding our Little Girl: Teaching Peyton one-on-one allows me to ensure she is learning in a way that helps her. I can manipulate the curriculum to ensure she is learning to her strengths. If she isn’t getting something I can spend more time on it to ensure it is firmly understood. Or, if she catches on to something very quickly (numbers seem to make a lot of sense to her!), we can spend less time on it. I can also choose subjects and activities that interest Peyton. She is so much easier to teach and so much more interested in learning if its incorporated into something she already has an interest in. When Peyton goes to regular school next year I will have a good understanding of Peyton’s abilities (her strengths and weaknesses), her interests and disinterests, and how she learns best. I will be able to help her navigate the different learning environment and can be an advocate for her during her schooling career. IMG_0948
  • No regrets: Both Mark and myself were homeschooled at some point in our lives. Mark was for the majority of his schooling and I was for a couple of years in elementary. It is something that we talked (in passing) about maybe doing for our kids one day. When the opportunity to do so became an actual possibility one thought kept coming to me: We will never regret trying, but we may regret not trying. Its easier to do it and realize that it doesn’t work for us than to always wonder what could have been.

There are so many more reasons that we have chosen to keep Peyton home, but these are the main ones. We have many friends that have chosen to send their children to private or public schools and we love that. We do not think that homeschooling is the only or even the best way to teach your children. We do believe that you need to know your children and make choices that are right for them and for your family. For us, that means keeping Peyton home (at least for this year) and reevaluating her schooling situation next year.IMG_0952We just finished our first two months of school. And it is hard. But we are enjoying it. Peyton is excited about school each day and finds the weekends kind of long. We have been able to go on a couple of field trips already and have done some cool projects. Peyton and I are both learning a lot about each other. I am so thankful that this is the route we have chosen to take. I am even more thankful for this “extra” time that I get with my ‘peanut’.  I will do more homeschooling posts about some of our day-to-day life in the coming weeks.

If you have any questions about homeschooling or are wondering if this is a choice for your family I am more than happy to share (the little of) what I know. I am by no means an expert but I am happy to help you with this journey!

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Lifestyle

Winter Ready (or Not)

by Kara

November 10, 2017: A bright, sunny morning, -5°C. Outside looks cool and crisp, but inside we’re snug and warm.

November 10. We’ve heard rumors of snow. The forecast threatens snow in the areas around us, but our town seems to be in its own odd little climate.. Every year we get snow a little later than other places. But no matter what the forecast says, in Canada, November 10 means winter is well on its way.

The threat of winter arrives around the same time as November. November snuck up on me, but once I realized it was November 4 or 5, I decided I should spend a day getting ready for winter. This is a big chore, and is usually a fun day, as I pull out all our winter clothes and pack away all our summer clothes. So, I headed up stairs to get all our big totes of winter clothes, scarves, hats, mitts, boots, etc. I cleared off the stairs, so I wouldn’t trip while carrying these big, full boxes down. I cleared off the kitchen table to make space for all the sorting I would have to do.

This is what I came down stairs with:

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Where are all my winter clothes? Where are the big totes that I imagined I had stored up there, filled to the brim with sweaters and pants and blankets and hats and mitts? And more importantly, does the fact that I can find nothing else mean that I get to go shopping?

I did at one point have a tote filled with winter clothes, and I’m sure we had a bucket full of scarves and mitts. But last winter, I was pregnant and wearing maternity clothes. And part of my ‘nesting’ was cleaning out upstairs (an area that we use exclusively for storage), and it is more than possible that cleaning that out meant donating most of my winter clothes. The remainder of my sweaters and jeans spent the summer in my closet and dresser. As for the box of hats and mitts? I must have done the same thing – donated whatever wasn’t being used at the time. Which is fine, since the little bucket I have is exactly what we need for winter.

It was a very anticlimactic day. I did a quick load of laundry so that the hats and scarves hat we did have would be fresh and clean, I found a blanket to put in the car for emergencies, and I packed away my three pairs of shorts. Zoe tried on some winter hats, but since all her clothes are already very warm and wintery, there was nothing else to do for her either.

So, on this cold November morning, I feel totally unprepared. Although I know I do have warm clothes, the fact that it took me less than a single morning to ‘winterize’ makes me think that I must have missed something. But, I suppose, like in any job: it’s the quality of the work, not the quantity. I guess we’ll find out when that snow does finally hit.