Friday, August 28, 2009

Make My Heart Sing!

Sounds. Loud sounds (firetrucks, honking horns, screaming kids). Quiet sounds (whispers, birds singing, an empty house). Good sounds (oven timer indicating supper is ready, "Welcome to DQ. May I take your order, please?"). Bad sounds (breaking glass, crying kids) . Sounds you could live without (passing gas, burping). Sounds you can't wait to hear again. That is what this post is about - those sounds that make you smile, make your heart sing. Those sounds you hear throughout the day that cheer you up and change your whole outlook on life - or at least on the day. My favorite sounds (in no particular order)?
  1. laughing children - from the giggles of a 6-month old to the belly laughs of a 6-year old, I can't get enough laughter! I will do whatever it takes to elicit the laugher response, over and over again, no matter how foolish or silly it may be because almost nothing compares to the sound of laughter.
  2. the loud rumble of Jay's truck as he arrives home - this can elicit 2 separate responses, depending on the type of day I experienced. It may be relief that someone has finally come to rescue me from the chaos or it may be elation that my best friend has come back again. Whatever the case, I always love to hear that old truck rumble down our street and crunch on the gravel as he finally arrives home.
  3. the distinct "pop" of a can of Pepsi opening - this is my favorite beverage that I try to consume in moderation due to the fact there is not one iota of anything beneficial in it. In fact, I refer to it as poison, really, really good poison! I rarely have any at my house but I think my in-laws own shares in the company - they stock pile it, literally! So, every once in a while Jay brings home a can for me. And the thrill is immediate. And intensely satisfying!
  4. the words "I love you" - there is nothing like hearing a 2-year old tell you she loves you, imitating your exact intonation as she states (or maybe just repeats, but I will take it any way I can!!), "I lu loo!" Well, maybe it falls right in place with hearing all the rest of the kids say it, too! But that first time. Or the first few times. I remember the first time I heard Jay tell me he loved me. More than 10 years ago. I was so unsure of what he felt but so confident of my own feelings. I never have to guess now. "I love you" is a part of our daily lives. And it thrills my heart. Every time!

I am sure there are more but these are some of the sounds that made my heart sing. Has your heart sung today?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Grace That Gets Me Through

One of the comments I keep hearing throughout my mothering journey is one that could be considered a compliment - but actually tends to bother me more often than not. What comment is that? This one: "You are so amazing!" Or this alternative: "You must be super woman!" Usually I just laugh and say, "No, I am not!" hoping to steer the conversation in a different direction. Unfortunately, it continues with this: "No, really, you are amazing. I mean, look at you. You have 5 kids! How do you do it?". Since when does having 5 kids set the standard for greatness? I know of some women that have not and may never birth children and are far more amazing than I am. Just because I have 5 children does not mean I am great, amazing or super. So, to set the record straight, I am going to show you the reasons why I am NOT an amazing woman!

Reason #1 - I yell at my kids! Does that surprise you? If you know me really well it shouldn't! I am not proud of the fact that yelling happens nor do I like it. As a matter of fact, it bothers me greatly. Do I yell at them every day? No. But the point is I do. Usually when I have called them at least twice and they haven't listened - yelling seems to get their attention. Then I have to apologize for yelling at them. For hurting them in that way. For belittling them in that way. Good mothers shouldn't yell. Amazing mothers don't yell. God's grace is still working on me. Maybe someday, with that same grace, I will say I don't yell at my kids. Anymore.

Reason #2 - I spank my kids when I am angry. I really want to delete that and let you all think I am an amazing mother than never loses her patience. But I do. And it shows. Yes, my kids get spankings for willful disobedience. And sometimes I spank them when I am angry. So angry, in fact, I want to throw a temper-tantrum and stomp my feet! Sometimes I get so MAD!! Now, I don't randomly hit my kids. No, I take them to the bathroom and we have a "talk". And sometimes I am angry when we "talk". And, again, I need to apologize and ask their forgiveness for hurting them like that. I know what should be done - if spankings need to happen, they should never be done when I am angry. I should wait until I have cooled down and can deal with them in a calm manner like the responsible mature parent I am supposed to be. But that doesn't always happen. And I am so sorry for that. And, once again, God's grace pours over me. Someday, with God's grace, I will say I don't spank my kids when I am angry. Anymore.

Reason #3 - I feed my kids macaroni and cheese. A lot. Probably more than is good for them. Amazing mothers should make home cooked meals from scratch. Everyday. In fact, they should spend all day in the kitchen. (The unfortunate part about a blog is that you cannot see when my tongue is firmly planted in my cheek, like it is now!). ☺

Reason #4 - We are always late. For everything. To everywhere. The famous Sunday morning question as we are pulling up to church, "Are we late?". We told them we would let them know when we are on time otherwise they should just assume we are late because we probably are. And as I am unbuckling those late kids, more than likely their faces are still covered with breakfast and I need to do the lick-and-wipe routine! Super mothers would arrive at church on time. With clean kids. Some would say that I obviously think we are more important than church because tardiness shows a lack of caring. Those people haven't been at our house on a Sunday morning. And though it may seem like a little thing to you, it really does bother me that we cannot be on time. Well, rarely on time. It happened once. I think. And we gave ourselves three cheers! Someday, with God's grace, I will say that we are never late. Anymore.

Reason #5 - At times, I would much rather ignore my kids than feed them. Or play with them. Or read to them. Or just spend time with them. Sometimes I wish it were just me. Or that I could go away to work everyday and not spend all that time with them. You don't think I am so amazing anymore, do you? But, I tear myself away from whatever it is I think is so important and feed them anyway. Or play with them. Or read. Or just snuggle. Because I really do love those little people. A whole, whole lot! With God's grace I will put aside my own agenda, my own needs and think of the needs of my children first. Someday I will say I don't ignore my children. Anymore.

Being a mother of 5 is not easy. Being a mother of one or two or three or four or however many you are blessed to have (and, yes, they are a blessing!) is not easy. Having 5 does not necessarily make mothering harder, it's just that more of my shortcomings are revealed. I remember hearing something to this effect when I was pregnant with my eldest - God gives us the children we have, in the exact order, with the exact personality, boy or girl, created exactly as they are to teach us something about God! I must not be getting what God is trying to teach me - I need 5 kids for Him to get His message through!! This life I live is a busy, noisy, crazy adventure full of grace. Grace to live out each day to its fullest potential. Grace to make mistakes and try again. So, when you see me, please don't say I am amazing. I am not amazing. I am not super. I am a sinner saved by grace doing a miserable job showing God's love to the little ones He has entrusted to me. Those little ones I love so much I miss them even when they are not gone. Those little ones who deserve better than an angry, yelling, macaroni-making mother! Thankfully those little ones were created by a God so full of grace and love and forgiveness that He holds that mother in His arms and asks her to forgive herself just as He forgives her. He will walk her through another day with His grace. And she will succeed. If only for this one day. After all, His grace is new every morning.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Family Night Fun!

Sunday rolls around and the excitement builds as we contemplate the adventures that lay ahead! Today, surprisingly, it was warm and sunny with no rain in the forecast (we have had way more rain than we need and not nearly enough sun - summer has been more like winter in BC - cold and wet)! Obviously an outdoor activity was needed. Since we spent a bit of money on bowling last week we decided to go the free route and went park hopping! Winnipeg has many, many parks and many, many play structures that are free for the visiting! We made sure to visit 2 of them! Looking for fun places to take your kids on a limited budget? Most public elementary schools have fantastic play structures in great condition, each one a bit different from the next! My kids are at the age where finding new structures is like finding their very first structure - it is that thrill and excitement all over again! We ended the evening with icecream, most of which was free! Pepe had a free Frosty coupon from playing baseball and the next two had DQ coupons! We bought 2 more icecreams and we were set! A beautiful, fun, free (for the most part),family night!

Little monkeys!

Anything the boys can do, I can do (better?!)

Me and my little people!

Detour, anyone?

Remember in the last post I was explaining my recent shopping trip with all the kids? Well, on that particular trip and most every trip into the big city of Winnipeg, the capital city of Manitoba, I need to cross a particular bridge. This bridge is called the Ste. Adolphe bridge and crosses the mighty Red River that flows throughout southern Manitoba. The town I occupy is located on one side of the river and Winnipeg on the other. As I was going on my shopping adventure, I noticed a large barricade before the bridge indicating that it was closed. Now, you must realize, this is a major bridge which allows access to a major highway for a large number of communities in southern Manitoba. With this bridge closed, the detours are about 10 minutes in either direction. Just a tad inconvenient. However, I went about my shopping experience with a slight delay and thought nothing much of it. Until I got home and checked the net. Turns out the bridge was closed on that same day because one of the main supporting concrete structures for the bridge, measuring 3 meters by 6 meters, shifted by more than a meter. Perhaps a photo will help!

This is a photo from one side of the bridge - doesn't look that bad. Well, okay it looks bad but not super bad. Check out this next one!!

Can you believe what is happening to this bridge?? I am so very VERY thankful that Provincial officials were monitoring the bridge and discovered this "problem" before anyone was hurt! To think I was going to use that bridge ON THAT DAY!! Well, these pix were taken 3 days later and apparently the bridge is still shifting. No one is quite sure what is happening. Some think the Manitoba gumbo clay is sinking thereby causing the pier to move. Some think that with the spring flood we had this year, which brought major ice chunks moving through the river, that the pier was seriously damaged or possibly even cracked or severed below the water level. Maybe even below the clay! Whatever the case, officials are continuously checking it out (9pm on a Sunday evening!) to figure out what is actually happening. Some speculate a new bridge may need to be constructed so this detour may be in place for 1 - 2 years! Many years ago, before this bridge existed, they used a ferry of sorts to shuttle people from one side of the river to the other. Maybe it is time for that again!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Are they ALL yours?

I was feeling a little housebound yesterday plus I wanted to buy some lamps for my livingroom so I decided to pack up the whole gang and go shopping. By myself. To HomeSense (I know, I couldn't have picked a store with more breakable stuff in easy reach of curious hands! But, it is a really fun, dangerous, fun store!). Okay, we stopped at WalMart first just to check their lamp selection (found a beautiful Rand McNally classic style world map on parchment-type paper - just beautiful!). I have never received so many comments pertaining to the amount of children I have. "Are they all YOURS??" was the comment I heard over and over as complete strangers stopped to talk, count the kids, ask the ages, and confirm there were no twins as they stood in awe. (Jay said I should have said that 4 were mine and one was from the "other" woman. Funny, dear. Really funny!) After all, I was by myself, shopping, with 5 kids. Okay, so we don't get out often but really, is it worth all that attention? One woman said I could have my own television show! I might need a few more kids for that plus all I'd really want would be a nice big new house. The show I could do without! Some comments were encouraging. "Good for you!" "Wow, that's great!" Some even asked if I was homeschooling! Do most people that have an above-average sized family homeschool? However, the one comment that bothered me the most was this, "I bet you can't wait for school to start!" Here we go again, ship the kids off so I can do my own thing. My response? "Well, actually, I am homeschooling, and yes, I am excited for school to start but for a completely different reason!" That just got me a semi-disgusted, I-have-no-idea-why-you-would-want-to-do-that look. I just smiled! So, besides being stopped by complete strangers every 7 minutes on average, the event went quite well. The kids were well-behaved, no one broke anything and I found some lamps that bring a bit of sophistication to my we-have-lots-of-kids-living-here-so-nothing-ever-looks-pretty livingroom.

2 lessons learned:

1. The longer we are in a store, the more comfortable the kids become. This translates into a digression of their behaviour. Keep the trip short and sweet so the kids still maintain that deer-in-the-headlights look and fear wandering outside of arm reach. Any longer and trouble looms!

2. Don't give anyone anything to drink for a couple of hours before hand. Have M&Ms on hand. The first prevents trips to the bathroom (a little more complicated with 5!!) and the second ensures good behaviour!

PS: For those wondering how I went shopping with a 6 year-old, 4 year-old, 3 year-old, 2 year-old and 6-month old: baby in a wrap on me, 2 year-old in the front of the cart, 3 year-old in the cart, 4 and 6 year-old walking while complaining their legs were tired and they needed a ride, too! Next time I will steal a Superstore cart!!

Monday, August 17, 2009

My spirit is alive!

Do you ever get the feeling that your spirit becomes more alive, more excited after spending time with certain people? Tonight that is how my spirit feels thanks to the evening we were able to spend with some sweet friends (who actually have 5 children of their own and understand our life just a bit better than most others!!).

First of all, I think I finally have words to express the great desire to homeschool. I homeschooled Pepe last year and I will continue with both boys this year. I don't have to register them for homeschooling until they are 7 so, in the mean time, I have been trying to come up with a philosophy of education. Why do I want to homeschool? Until now, I knew that I didn't like the idea of the kids being away for 8 hours a day under someone else's instruction, influence, control! I thought they were gifts given to me, not the school teacher, no matter how good those teachers are (and in our school division we have some great educators, some of whom are my friends). Some people scoff at the idea of educating my own children - after all, think of all the free time I will have with them gone! Think of how much cleaning, shopping, crafting I can do with no little people to "drag around"! I could read a book, take a bath or a nap, paint my toes, go to the bathroom, all without interruption! But, guess what? I like those little people! And they were given to ME as gifts from the Lord. He says, "Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them." (Psalm 127:3-5) My children are not a barrier to my happiness, my children are not an inconvenience that I must put up with until I can finally send them away to school so I can do my own thing. My children are a heritage, a blessing, a gift. I need to cherish that gift. To embrace that gift. And for me, that means to teach that gift! Deuteronomy 11:19 is talking about the Lord and his commands when he writes, "Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." It says right there I am supposed to teach my children! I need to teach them far more than reading, writing and arithmatic - I need to teach them all about the Lord and all that He has done and all that He is continuing to do. And, guess what? You can teach them to read and learn about the Lord at the same time!! So, I put away my own agenda for a little while. Aren't they worth it? Eventually they will grow up and leave home and I will have all the time in the world to craft, nap or shop. But won't it be that much more rewarding to have that 18 or 20 year-old that is bright, educated and loves the Lord with a passionate faith because their mom took a few years out of her life to teach and embrace those precious gifts He entrusted to her?

Secondly, I was informed, though the concept shouldn't be a new one, that children don't get a baby-sized Holy Spirit - they can have the full power of the Holy Spirit at the age of 3! Do you understand what I am saying? My 3 year-old RJ can have the same power Christ had when he walked the earth because that same power can indwell her through the Holy Spirit!! Isn't that just amazing!!! You don't have to wait until the age of maturity for the Holy Spirit to indwell you. I guess I should have known that but I have never thought about it like that before. Makes perfect sense to me. And, it certainly makes me look at and pray with my children in a completely different light. Can you imagine the things they could do? The children they could be? The children they already are?

Thirdly, God really cares about us, about all the little details of our lives! Tonight Jay picked up Ali and somehow hurt her arm so that she wouldn't use her wrist - she just kept holding it and crying and crying. We tried to get her to move it - she wouldn't. I was already envisioning a trip to the ER - a long night in the waiting room, a 2 year-old crying in pain the whole 45 minute trip - it was not going to be a good ending to a great evening. Her wrist even looked funny. Then all of a sudden she started using it. Just like that. No pain. No more tears. I said, "Okay, who was praying?" The man of the house said he was! And God choose to heal her! Maybe to teach us all that God really does hear our prayers, that God cares about the little things and that God certainly cares about the little ones! After all, Jesus did say, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these." (Mark 10:19)

My spirit is alive! Thank you, Lord!

Designs by Chantelle

Yes, I not only sewed this shirt myself, I actually designed it! So, if you don't like it, that is okay. I don't like everything real designers (you know, the ones that get paid the big bucks) make either. But, I like it and am extremely proud of myself.

It is the first time I have:
1. used a serger (rolled hems are now my favorite thing!!)
2. created shirring using elastic thread (the bottom hem is shirred)
3. designed my own article of clothing

Truth be told, I never intended it to be off-the-shoulder but I love it as it is anyway. I will probably add tiny straps just to keep it on better but I can't say enough how proud I am!

Family Fun

Sunday nights are family nights so, since it was raining, we decided to go bowling. Glow bowling! We rented the bumper lane for one hour and had a great time watching the kids bowl. I was amazed they actually make bowling shoes in sizes small enough for kids - and they are sooo cute, complete with Velcro! I was not sure they would have Ali's size (size 5-6) so we brought her Robeez along and she wore those.

The first thing the lady tells us is to watch that the kids don't pinch their fingers. Okay. Sure. Not a problem. Not really sure where they would pinch their fingers but I am a responsible parent. They won't wander down the lane and end up in the pins or anything. Nope, no pinched fingers here. What a good parent I am! Until I hear Ali crying. She pinched her fingers. Between those shiny balls she just had to get from the ball return. Oooohhhh. THAT'S where they can pinch their fingers! Lesson learned!

The rest of the evening was uneventful pinched-fingers-wise -- we got smart and set up one parent to guard the shiny balls. The kids had so much fun, even 2 year-old Ali! Imagine being allowed to throw balls inside (a no-no at our house!). Sure, her ball needed some coaxing to get to the end (that's why they put the bumper lane at the end so you can walk beside it and "encourage" the balls along) but who cares?? The really sad part is that my 4 and 6 year-old almost had the same score as their mother! Okay, so its been a while since I played and they DID have the bumpers, but, come on! I think I need some practice. Though it is not the cheapest evening, it is one we will definately do again!

{I apologize for the poor quality of the photos - this was glow bowling, which means it was dark and not conducive to photography!}

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Reverse Psychology Really Works!

I love hugs! Hugs from friends are great but hugs from my family are the best! I also love their kisses (now I am talking about my family, not my friends!! ☺) However, my youngest son is not so keen on physical affection, at least from me. Daddy gets all the hugs and kisses, I get a "no-don't-kiss-me"!! This is death for me! What do you mean, no hugs and kisses??!! So, I have discovered, reverse psychology works wonders for this little 4 year old! I tell him he can't kiss me. Nope, he is not allowed to kiss me. No way, I don't want kisses from him. And the whole time I am "protesting" he covers me with kisses. Hey, a mom's gotta do what a mom's gotta do! There will come a time in the not-to-distant future when a high-five will have to suffice but for now I am storing up those hugs and kisses, getting them any way I can!

Gifts for Baby

As I mentioned yesterday, things have been busy this week with, amoung other things, babies! Some friends of ours, who have prayed long and hard for a child of their own, welcomed their son into their arms this week, a little earlier than planned! That happened on Tuesday. The day before, on Monday, August 10, my sister gave birth (at home - she follows in my footsteps as all my babies were born at home - subject for another post??) to her daughter, Noabella. So now my Ali and her Noa have the same birthday, 2 years apart! How fun is that?! I got to see this little sweetheart on Thursday and brought her mom a couple of handmade gifts.

First of all, I made a name plaque for Noabella. I don't know what it is but I have a thing for seeing names on things, especially the names of my children or the children of others. I found some extra MDF kicking around the garage, cut it into an 18" x 6" piece, spray painted it with a hammered brown paint by Rustoleum, and then stenciled and painted Noabella's name in ivory. The final touch was the tiny rhinestones accenting the "N"! For a last minute gift, I think it turned out rather nice!

Secondly, I made a nursing cover for her. I chose muted fabrics that still spoke of femininity without screaming "baby" - she is not so keen on the juvenile prints. I think she was quite happy with it. I used the following tutorial to make it - it was very easy to make!!
The only thing I would do differently next time would be to make it about 2 inches wider and longer - other than that, it is perfect!!

It felt so good to be able to MAKE the gifts rather than just BUY them. I hope she enjoys them as much as I enjoyed creating them!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Growing Up

This week has been crazy busy with babies, birthdays, DVBS, crafting and lots of other fun and exciting things! However, that has meant zero time to sit and write about it. So, here I am to fill you in on just a few of the latest happenings.

This week, on August 10, my middle daughter, Ali, turned 2! It is so hard to believe that time has gone by that quickly! She is growing up and though it is exciting, it makes me a little sad! She is a complex child, that one, the only daddy's girl in the bunch and my little brown-eyed cutie. To celebrate birthdays in this household, both sets of families are invited to help us party! Since both sides of the family are so close by, that means about 30 people crammed into our house! It is full, cozy, and a whole lot of fun! The kids especially love it and wouldn't think of having any birthday without the cousins!

I have never been a cake fan so making cakes is just not my thing. In the past, to compensate for the lack of a cake, I have served ice cream sundaes! They always are a hit! This year, however, I took the plunge and made cake! Okay, so this isn't your typical cake - as a matter of fact, I think they are waaaayyyy better - CAKE POPS!! Thanks to Bakerella and this post I decided to make these lovelies for the party! Don't they look so fun?!! What girl wouldn't love these?

They really are quite easy to make - and, as usual, I had all the helpers I needed, plus a few extra! Here is Ali making her own pop

and Ali eating that same pop!!

Although I can quite happily live without cake (cheesecake is quite another story!), others need to be satisfied so, although the pops were fun, cupcakes were added to complete the cake experience! Plus, you cannot stick 2 candles into a cake pop - after all, what is a birthday without candles!!

So, my sweet little 2 year old, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! I love you for who you are and who God is making you to be. I am so glad He brought you into our lives!

Not only did we celebrate the 2 year birthday of Ali, our little baby celebrated her own milestone this week on August 12, reaching the wonderful age of 6 months! If time was moving fast for Ali, it is moving even faster for Ari (is that possible!!). Was it only 6 months ago this little ray of sunshine entered our lives? Ari is a sweetheart through and through with a smile big enough to light up the room and generous enough to share with everyone! As the last of our 5 children (at least that is our plan - God may have His own [and usually does!!]), we couldn't have asked for a better personality - so laidback and easy-going, happy and easy to content, she is the perfect way to finish our family! We couldn't imagine our life without her (or any one of the others, for that matter!!). Ari, I am so glad God made you so full of joy! Share that joy with everyone you meet and, in doing so, share the amazing love of our heavenly Father. I love you, little one!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Perfect Manners!

If talking about "potty" events bothers you, please, move right along. If, however, you can appreciate the humor found in everyday life, keep on reading!

We are trying to teach our children proper manners in all aspects of their lives. Table manners are fairly good, with a few reminders needed now and then. However, bathroom manners still need some work. RJ was in need of some assistance and shouted in her loudest voice, "COME WIPE MY BUM!". J reminded her that talking in that manner was not polite - could she please ask again in a nicer way? She thought hard about all the manners she does know then sweetly asked her daddy, "May I please have some . . . bum?". ☺☺☺ Gotta love it!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Absolutely intoxicating!

Some of my favorite flowers can be found blooming in the garden at this time of year! Lilies! Absolutely gorgeous flowers!

This one is called Citronella and it is a type of tiger lily. It has small downward facing blooms (imagine me lying flat on my back attempting to photograph this little cutie) that are bright yellow cheerfully dotted with black. It grows and blooms reliably each year and I always look forward to its sunny disposition.

This Asiatic lily is one of the darkest you will find, even darker than this photo shows. It is called Landini and is a real beauty. I imagine a large quantity of these dark babies growing alongside white lilies for a black and white treat. Throw in some hot pink and you've got a knockout combination!

Asiatic lilies are the most reliable lilies - hardy in our zone 3 climate, they grow and bloom well each year with little attention from me. This speckled beauty is called DotCom and is currently growing alongside the Landini pictured above. They really do look great together.

But my absolutely favorite lilies would have to be the Orientals. Their intoxicating fragrance is absolutely divine! When I worked at a greenhouse a few years back, my favorite days were when all the Stargazer oriental lilies would bloom at the same time (imagine 50+ blooms!) - I was in pure heaven (while others would suffer migraines!). Oriental lilies are not the easiest to grow in zone 3 - I have mine nestled against my house on the south side to help ease the shock of our frigidly cold winters. Now, in a stroke of pure genius, someone decided to cross Oriental lilies with Trumpet lilies. Orientals smell fantastic and Trumpets are large (picture the large blooms of an Easter lily) - now you have something called OT lilies or Orienpets - really large, heavenly scented lilies. This is mine! Its name is Altari and it is magnificent! It wintered over really well and currently has 5 blooms open and 4 large buds waiting to burst. I HAD to cut this lily and bring it in - it is perfuming our entire upper level with its heavenly scent. If only I could download the fragrance as well as the photos! Guess you will just have to imagine!

Aren't they magnificent?

"Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these." Luke 12:27 NIV

Monday, August 3, 2009

I finished the sentence or the DIY Trapeze Frame Tutorial!

If you have been to my house anytime in the last 2, maybe 3 years, you will have seen this incomplete sentence on my wall (not sure why the picture is so blurry - sorry!)

Really, it has been a great conversation starter. People were generous enough to fill in the blanks with rather humourous suggestions. My favorite would be "bed" - like I am really going to write, "All because two people fell in bed" on my wall. I don't think so. That may be what happened but I don't really see the need to announce it on my wall! Anyhow. After waaaaay too long, I finally took the 20 minutes today that it required to finish up. No, this is not some vinyl rub-on - that would cost money! This is a simple paint-the-words-on-the-wall-for-free trick!! I am relieved to finally have that project completed. Though I may miss the conversations. Just a little. What do you think?

While I was at it, I thought I would share with you how to make your own trapeze frame, like I did. Really, it is terribly easy and oh-so-much-cheaper than Umbra or any of those other brands. I will try to walk you through the steps but, remember, I made this frame about 6 years ago so I hope I don't forget anything important.

First of all, find your frames. Pick the frames that you like, regardless of the color, because you can always paint them, like I did. Arrange your frames on the floor of the store to ensure you like the final set-up. Other customers may look at you funny but that's okay - you are the genius here and they only wish they knew what you were doing so they could do it too! Mix and match until you have the perfect combination. My suggestion is to make all the frames the same color so if you have to paint them, go right ahead.

Secondly, find a curtain rod that you like and one that you can handle looking at everyday. After all, it is what you will hang all those frames on. If you happen to be doing this at the same time as buying your frames, lay the whole thing out on the floor, frames and rod. Still looking good? Perfect! Then you are ready to buy the hardware!

Third, find some eye hooks, some airline cable, and some crimps. Eye hooks are self explanatory, at least for me. This is what crimps look like and they come in packages of 12 or so. I found mine in the aisle with the cable.

This is what the cable looks like. It looks like many thin strands of wire twisted together. I found mine on a large roll - you could cut however much you needed and you pay by the foot. You may want to figure out just how much cable you will need so you buy just the right amount.

The amount that you need will be determined by your setup. I used 18 eye hooks, 24 crimps and a whole whack of cable. You will also need a wire cutter and a needle-nosed plier.
Now the fun begins. Take your eye hooks and insert 2 hooks in the top of each frame, like this. Mine are about 1 inch in from each side.

Now, if you are planning on hanging frames one on top of the other, you are going to have to insert eye hooks in the bottom of the frame that is on the top. Does that make sense? Maybe a picture will help. See how this frame has eye hooks on the BOTTOM of it because there are 3 frames that are going to hang below it.

Make sure you mark your frames accurately so that you aren't making random holes. I held the bottom frames right up against this top frame so I knew where I wanted them to hang then marked each with a pencil. So, now you should have eye hooks in the top of each frame and possibly in the bottom of a frame or two. Can you see where the eye hooks are in my set-up?

Now that you have that done, you need to cut your cable using your wire cutters. Once again, lay out your frames and rod on the floor and measure the distance between the top row of frames and your rod. Add 3 inches to the number. Lets say that number is 12 inches. That is the length of cable you will need for your top frames. If you look at the picture above, I will have cut 6 cables 12" in length. Slide 2 crimps onto each piece of cable. Using your pliers, bend the cable 1" in from ONE end, like this (this photo shows the bend at both ends - please, just do one end):

Now, take that bent end and slide it through the eye hook then slide it back through one of the crimps. You should have something that looks like this:
Take the other end of the cable and loop it around the rod and back through the remaining crimp. You want the loop to be big enough to easily slide along the rod, but not huge. It should look something like this:

Repeat this step for each of the top frames. If you only have one row of frames, you are almost done! I added a small drop of crazy glue to this top loop right at the crimp just to make sure it would not come undone. The cable that goes through the eye hooks tends to stay in place even without glue. Maybe it is the sharp angle of the bend. Whatever the case, if you feel better putting some glue there, too, by all means, go ahead. Once the glue is dry, you can hang your rod (preferably in studs) and enjoy your handiwork.

If you have a second row of frames, you have a couple more steps. Once again, lay out your rod and frames, measuring the distance between that first and second row of frames. Get creative - they don't have to be in a straight row - mine aren't. Add 2" to that measurement. Cut your cable to that length, 2 cables for each frame. Slide on 2 crimps then bend your cable at each end, 1" in from the end, as shown earlier. Slide the cable through the eye hook then back through the crimp. Do that for each end. You should now have this:

Complete each frame this way. Now you, too, are done! Hang up your rod and enjoy! I love my trapeze frame and get many compliments on it. Hopefully you will, too!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Sunday Nights are Family Nights!

It has become tradition around here to spend Sunday evenings as a family engaging in some activity enjoyable for the kids. Sometimes it is as simple as popping some corn and watching a kids movie. Other times we hitch up the bike trailers and take a long bike ride around town, stopping at various playgrounds or indulging in slurpees and icecream. Today, we went to the zoo. The temperature was a balmy 21C with overcast skies, which means the cats came out to play! Look at the leopard posing for me!

And, seeing as it is the middle of summer, babies are showing up all over the zoo. I was able to capture some moms and their babes.

Of course, the best babes of all to watch are my own! Here are the oldest 3 enjoying the sights!

Thanks to my friend, Leah, over at, we have now incorporated one more element to end each family night - our family journal! The concept is quite simple but oh-so-fun! Take a journal of sorts (ours is a sketch pad) and record noteworthy events of the week in drawing form. The three oldest, along with J and I, take turns adding our images of favorite, or maybe not-so-favorite, memories of the previous 7 days. Though this is only the second week of recording, the kids already look forward to it.

The whole point of our family nights is to intentionally create memories with our kids! We want them to grow up knowing that we can and do have fun together as a family. Do you intentionally connect with your family? Are family nights a part of your routine? What are some of your favorite things to do?

PS: To all of you who have stopped by to check out my blog and leave me a comment, THANK YOU!! This is way more fun than journalling! Have a great week!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Fabulous Friends, Divine Dinner and Perfect Punch

One of the things we enjoy around here is having friends over and sharing our home and our lives while we indulge in some yummy food. Yesterday was just such an occasion. Friends we've known since before we were married joined us, along with their 2 sweet little boys. If you didn't know this about me, I love to cook and bake and especially love trying new recipes. Cookbooks are a treasure in this house and I have way too many for the space they are supposed to occupy. One great recipe makes any cookbook worth its price! So, what did I serve? Lemonade Chicken (, white rice (I would have preferred brown but I didn't start it soon enough), grilled peppers and mushrooms, and fresh carrots from the garden! Yum, yum, yum!! I also made a fabulous punch, courtesy of my neighbour! Here is the recipe for your drinking pleasure!

Annette's Awesome Punch

1 can frozen concentrated lemonade
1 can frozen concentrated limonade
frozen strawberries, partially thawed
2 L gingerale

Blend lemonade and limonade in blender. Gradually add strawberries, blending well. (I only add stawberries until my blender is full) Pour punch mixture into a punch bowl. Add gingerale, mixing gently. Garnish each glass with slices of lemon and lime? Rim top of glass with a nice fruity sugar mix? Easy to make this wonderful beverage look really classy. Serves 8-10ish (this is only a guess - it depends on how much you drink!!)

What are your favorite summer beverages?
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