Thursday, August 19, 2010

seven hours driving with four children

it's really amazing how your perspective on something changes how you feel about a certain thing -

but what is really, truly astounding is how if you change how you feel about something -

your perspective changes.

like any sane mother, i was intimidated by the thought of driving for 6-7 hours to saskatchewan to see family from our home in calgary, alberta. alone. with four children. yes, only two of them are small, (12 weeks and 21 months), but it is still four children nonetheless. the big ones are so incredibly helpful at times - but sometimes are more exhausting than the little ones what with their scrapping and arguments and hurt feelings and such.

our family is 'between vehicles' again, as such is life with joel - so he provided us with a rental car to make this trip. as we were leaving the city (after my staying up until 3 am to finish packing, making sure my eBay items were addressed and lined up for sweet hubby to take to the post office for me). needless to say, I had my four brown-eyed babes and myself and our things packed into a car. every seatbelt is full. and as we were about to leave the city limits, both babies became fussy. and fussy puts it lightly. amos was doing his little snuffley quick breathing that only i know is him getting a little worked up -

the little jacob man in the backseat - ah, his cranky overtired wailing can send me over the edge. i thought it was a good idea to keep him up a bit late and get him up a bit early so that he'd sleep in the car. hm. think again.

anyway - i was trying to talk about the fact that when i changed how i felt about all this, it all changed.

i knew i needed to ask God to be with us in the car, on this trip, keep us all safe, and I was sure to thank Him for the opportunity to go, the money to get us there and back comfortably, and the ability to prepare and have a place to go. an incredible peace came over me, over the car, over the children. you might think this means jacob stopped his loud, panting, wail that grates in your ears right to the bone - but no, he kept it up for another 2 hours or so. but somehow, isaac, egan and i just recognized he was needing something else, and so we took turns talking to him. amos blessedly fell asleep, cozy in his seat with a full tummy and a clean bum.

we sang, we talked, we looked around at the beautiful countryside that was my home. ah, and after we stopped for fuel, bathroom breaks and lunch, we all sat around the table in this truck stop and my children were happy. all 4 of them. smiles, coos, excited whispers about what to order and can't believe how nice this is and the waitress telling us the now familiar 'these children are all yours?' followed closely by 'they are so beautiful - and well-behaved!' i could have burst. my eyes welled up with tears, i looked around the table at each my sweet babies. amos stirring in my arms, cooing his little 'ooh - ooh - ohh' and jacob intently coloring with his head cocked to the side just-so - isaac exclaiming how he'd give up blueberries to have every day feel this good - (if you know isaac you know this is a big deal) - egan contentedly and thoughtfully coloring a picture and writing a love note to bring back to dad since he was missing out on this grand day and this trip. ah, their lovely hearts. my babies with their incredibly lovely hearts.

four little full tummies and 2 clean bums and much excited chatter and quick footsteps back to the car made for the most peaceful trip back home to saskatchewan i have had in several years. honestly, my new feeling that i asked God to be there, be present, and He was. God helped me to meet everyone's needs, and once we arrived, it felt like only two hours had passed, if that. lunch was at the halfway point, but the drive post-lunch literally felt like it took twenty minutes.

my lovely aunt marianne had a delicious supper waiting for us when we arrived - and she said to her husband, my uncle harland - 'can you imagine driving with 4 kids by yourself?' and i had to butt in and sayno, no, no - i thought it would be hard too - and how easy it was, how peaceful it was, how i prayed over the trip and my goodness was it peaceful and incredibly enjoyable! i saw how my attitude changed how the kids felt, how my aunt and uncle felt, and how my trust in the Lord changed my heart. ah, such good things!

and here we are in saskatchewan. being loved on by my sister too special for words (her gushing over amos makes me prouder and prouder and prouder and so happy God gave him to me, to our family, for me to be his mom, to be her sister, to be her kids' aunt. ah, sarah - you are so special to me).

and with the restorative drive notched on our belts, a peaceful day of children jumping on trampolines and bouncy houses and a nice visit with the auntie and the grandma and bellies full of spaghetti and homemade bread and a deep sleep in the dark room in soft beds -

we are going swimming today. i must go pack and prepare.
(here is an idea of how peaceful and blessed this trip has been. all of my children are sleeping while i've been typing. yes. suck it.)

here's to another blessed day.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

thank God for cinnamon buns

My sister is one of my very best friends. She's also a wonderful cook.
She happens to make the best cinnamon buns and the best waffles in the world.
No joke.
I made her cinnamon buns for Egan's birthday since Egan requested them. They are incredible.

I was at a friend's child's birthday party a few years before I became a mother. The time for the birthday cake came, lights were dimmed, candles lit, everyone anticipating in that silence abuzz with excitement about the special event about to take place. In walks the mama, with a big sheet cake decorated in some kind of cartoon character with these huge icing faces and swirls and gobs of plastic smelling goo...I do know lots of people who love store-bought cakes, (and let me tell you here in Calgary Crave makes a dang good cupcake) but I digress -
I hate store bought cakes.
I hate the taste.
I hate the smell.
I hate the ill, pain inducing, glop-sitting-in-the-pit-of-my-stomach feeling after eating even just a small piece of store bought cake. And I even scrape the icing off before I eat it.

I made a vow then and there I would never, ever have store bought cake for my children's birthdays. Done. Outside of ice cream cake from Dairy Queen (but now really, who can top their ice cream cake? I don't even know how I would begin to make an ice cream cake), I have never gone back on this vow. Mmm, homemade cake. But to all the people who love store bought cake, or who love giving their children store bought cake, or who have children who love receiving store bought cake, keep on keepin' on. Jesus loves a giver.

So I've been told I make the best cake. (ah, that's where she was going with this). And so, over the years of searching and finding other amazing and perfect recipes for various things, I have daydreamed about writing a cookbook. I have gathered together all these hand-written recipes from many different places.

And you'd better believe my chocolate cake recipe and my sister's cinnamon bun recipe would be in there. The chocolate cake was also made for Egan's birthday, but that recipe is a post for another day. Enjoy.

Cinnamon Buns

Cinnamon Buns

2 tsp yeast
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup warm water in bowl
wait about 10 minutes until yeast is bubbly.

3 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp oil
1 egg

Knead for about 10 minutes until when you poke it with your finger, the indentation pops back out OR put in kitchenaid mixer on speed 4 with your doughhook for 3 minutes.

Allow to rise until doubled in size.

While rising, make sauce:
In a small pot, bring to boil:
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp corn syrup

(if you feel like gaining a couple of pounds, I sometimes (hardly ever) throw a 1/2 cup of heavy cream in there, makes the sauce not quite as sweet and still super yummy)

Pour sauce in bottom of greased 9x13” pan. Go back to your big fat risen dough.
Punch dough down, and roll it out and spread with butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon.

Roll 'em up and slice into 12 buns (sometimes I do 24 in the same size pan, smaller servings, but they don't turn out as pretty), put buns on top of sauce. Let them rise again.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees C.

Once risen again, bake at 350 for 15-25 minutes, until nice and brown, but not too brown.

When they are done, take them out and invert immediately (place a cookie sheet on top of the pan, then flip the whole kit and caboodle at once).

Now my sister knows I don't like raisins, but if you are making them for someone who does, don't put the raisins in the dough. After you put the sauce in the baking pan just sprinkle them on top of the sauce and then put the buns in.

And wow. Thank you, Lord - I needed to read this today. Thank you to the woman who wrote it exactly 2 years ago.

Enjoy your day! Be still. Eat a cinnamon bun. Or two, or three.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

summer of storms

It will forever go down in my memory as the summer of storms. We have had unbelievable amounts of rain, hail, the accompanying hail damage, and just these gray, cloudy, cool days that are not reminiscent of summer days and heat and sunburns and long evenings slipping into darkness while the warmth of the day carries you gently into the night while you sit outside sipping coffee with dear friends. Ah, summer evenings are some of my favorite things.

On Sunday we had our car broken into. We lost more than just money and credit cards in more ways than one. It was so violating, so frustrating, and I was left in tears. Why us? Why now? Couldn't they see the car seats in the car showing we had at least three children? The bucket seat showing one was a wee baby? My heart was heavy with the wrongness of it - and I was sick with losing a substantial amount of money (to me!) that I had been saving up.

Fast forward to last evening, we had another sudden hailstorm. All day, sunshine, blue sky, hot breezes wafting through the house - then just as we were cleaning up after supper, the clouds rolled in and the water dumped out of the sky. It was loud, it was sudden, but it was terribly, terribly exciting.

The water poured down, then hail the size of grapes was littering our backyard. The sound was deafening - then I realized our windows were all open, all over the house! Running, running, oh dear the laundry that's been sitting in front of the window is drenched and how is there still so much water pouring off of the blinds if the window is closed? Seriously looked like someone had turned on a tap and was just lettin' 'er pour!

Ah, then the hail piled everywhere - we ventured out the front door to see it all - stepping bare feet on cement that was still warm from the sun. So exciting! And just like storms in our lives, this storm brings people out. There were neighbors all up and down the street, out on their front steps like us, marveling in a bit of God's power (even if they aren't aware that's what they're doing). The family with the little girls across the street, there they are! Watching it all go down through their windows. We wave and say hello and smile and marvel at it all
together. Storms bring people together. Storms bring people together. God knows what He's doing.

Amos slept in his swing the entire time - but Jacob clung to me like a little koala bear - Isaac was thrilled that it was raining and immediately ran outside to just get soaked. (this is one of Isaac's favorite things!) and Egan dons her coat, boots, and umbrella to just have a chance to use those accessories since she's all about sucking the marrow out of everything...

For some reason I always forget about the quiet and still period immediately following a storm, and my camera on my iPhone really cannot capture what it looks like. It's just that to me, you can really see things for what they ARE instead of what they are NOT - after a storm. The air, the color of the sky, the way the light captures things - it highlights everything! I look around outside and am breathless with how bright colors are - I get this feeling 'maybe this is how they REALLY look' - as if before, I was taking everything for granted, and so everything starts to fade and fuse into sameness - then maybe because of the darkness of the storm, once you have some new light you can see the colors more vividly. Simple textures become
b e a u t i f u l - !

(our little strawberries survived the hail! hooray!)

I thought to myself, perhaps everything is enhanced so greatly:
because of the fear of the storm you are ecstatic to be outside again?
because of the way the storm isolates you, you feel so grateful to not be forced inward indoors anymore?
because it was so loud and intrusive, now the quiet allows more of you to be open and able to

...and with that thought I was reminded of the storms in my life this summer of 2010. When Amos was growing in my belly and everything suddenly went awry in April at 31 weeks - it was as if I were heading into the deepest, darkest storm I had ever experienced. Torrents of rain poured over me, into my heart, clouding my vision, my head, soaking me and my resilience to the bone. I was pelted with biting hail and freezing sleet, floundering in the cold and dark and terrified that this was how life was just going to look from now on.

And now I am where I am today - so happy. So peaceful.
So G R A T E F U L.
With those words I heave a sigh of contentment. I now am beyond being fearful, sad, burdened or regretful. I rejoice in what God has given us - and venture out again. The colors of my life are more vivid, more alive, more beautiful than I would ever have noticed if I had not just come through that dark storm.

During the storm, just as they did yesterday, people came together - only this time it was just for us. For me. Our freezer was stocked with meals, Grandma came and sacrificed herself and her life for six solid weeks of storm. Dear friends came and cleaned my house. People just kept pouring themselves and their hearts out of their homes to come join us in ours - every day, every dark moment God provided me with someone to hold His lamp and help light my way in that flood. People came out of their comfortable boxes to cry, to talk, to embrace, to smile and wave, and to carry us and hold umbrellas for us and let us know they were there in more than just spirit. I tell you, God
knows what He's doing!

And now, these storms have passed, and I can see with new, refreshed eyes where I am. I am so in love with my family, my beautiful children - and this beautiful, unbelievably wonderful baby man who, by his mere presence caused me to feel for the first time that
I have a family. Before this I always felt to a certain extent like I was pretending, playing house, and wondering if I would ever feel like a real family. And with the arrival of our little special lovey - we were there. And this was even before we found out today that our insurance company covers stolen cash up to $500. For real. And can you believe the amount we lost was just shy of $500? Unbelievable. Thank you, Jesus.

After the storm, the clouds parted, and there we were. A real family, vividly colored, beautiful and beautifully strong, so incredibly blessed and we could see ourselves as we really were.

And everything is fresh, vivacious, alive, renewed, reborn, and with joy we raise our arms and witness the sun shining in - and oh my, it is glorious.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

perception of perfection

Trying to find time (make time?) to update this blog - it's after midnight and I hear Amos stirring in his swing, making those little characteristic snuffley noises that only newborn babies make...

My heart wants to share my story, his story - my fingers itch to get back into pouring my spirit through them onto the page - but my arms are full of this amazingly wonderful, sweet and chubby babe who has forever and unequivocally changed me - my perception of perfection has been dramatically altered and I for one never, ever, ever want to change it back.

It brings tears to my eyes to type that, to 'say it out loud' so to speak - and yet it is so true, so simple, and yet so powerful all at once. He is perfect. He is beautiful, wonderful, lovely, patient, gentle, curious, overflowing with trust - and perfect.

He is something I didn't know I always wanted. I needed him. I am blessed. Oh, Amos. You little love.
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