29 June 2010

Messy Party

Cousin Benny turned 9 this weekend, and for his party he had a Messy Party.  What little boy doesn't just love to throw food and get messy?  Okay, two of the boys weren't too into it, but the rest had an absolute blast!

What is a messy party, you may ask? Well, it starts something like this:

And if you add some whip cream, it turns into this.

Give the kids some Jell-O and it really begins to materialize.

Enter ketchup, you get this. 

Don't forget the cooked spaghetti, the carrots and peas, mashed potatoes, and even more whipped cream.

And before long, you will know just what a Messy Party is. 

Don't forget the cake.  Who needs plates and forks? (Come to think of it, that's how the Evanses have done it for years, and we didn't even call it messy!)

Honestly, a lot of fun was had!  And, the insects of the neighbourhood will be enjoying the party for weeks to come!

Birthday Gifting - I think we'll call it GIFT 6

I'm poor.  I don't plan on always being poor.  But, for the moment, I am poor.

That being said, all the fabulous gifts I would love to bestow upon those I love will have to wait until my ship comes in.  Until then, I have to make do with what I've got.

I've got horses!

Today was my nephew Benny's birthday party (which was total awesome, by the way!) He got lots of lego, and cool toys, but we gave him some quality time, on horseback.  His present is to have a riding lesson, and then go for a trail ride with me and his mom.  I like giving this, because I find it hard to go out and ride as often as I like, so an excuse to do it is something I can live with.  Can't wait to party with my favourite nine year old!

28 June 2010

Mop Top

Alice says I need a girl so I can grow her hair out.  I say I've got two boys with beautiful hair, so who needs a girl!
Okay, so that's his hair at it's worst, and maybe Alice has a point.  So, out came the razor and this is what we ended up with:

As much as Silas needs it, I just couldn't bring myself to cutting his hair. He is so sweet, even if Grandpa thinks he looks like girl! So the razor has gone away, and Silas still has his beautiful locks.

There's a snake in my boot!

I didn't want to cry. 
I didn't mean to cry. 
But seriously, when Andy said goodbye to Woody, I couldn't help but cry. 

Go, and bring Kleenex.  You won't regret it.

I'm not really big on commercialism and such, but Eli's love of Buzz Lightyear just drives me crazy with the cuteness.  Since Silas was born and Eli watched way too many movies for six months, Toy Story has been his very favourite.  We went to the third movie on Saturday night and seriously, I LOVED it!  Pretty sure I'm never throwing out another toy again, ever!

Eli came right home to play with his own Woody and Buzz.  Who can blame him really, they are the greatest.

And, thinking about my boy growing up and saying goodbye, made me cry just a little more.

27 June 2010

Day something or other

Does bringing the snack to nursery count as a gift?  The kids really loved the yogurt. 

How about not going to the family party so as not to infect all with my sinus/ear infection?  Okay, that may be a lousy excuse, seeing as I did go to nursery, but I did feel like crap, and so I didn't go.

Tomorrow we are going to a birthday party, so the giving should be easy.

26 June 2010

Out of the mouth of babes

I am continually amazed at the things my boys can teach me. 

For those of you who don't know my Eli, he is a very expressive child. I shouldn't be surprised, but he LOVES to talk, and is very interested in what words mean, and how to say things well. 
Often he surprises me by asking what a word means hours after I have said it. I love it!

Sometimes though, like all three-year-olds I'm sure, he gets frustrated when he doesn't get his own way, or can't express what he feels. I've been exploring ways to handle his frustrations. 

A few weeks ago I did something I've never done before.  I took my screaming boy and put him in our room and shut the door to his yelling and crying.  Luckily Jared was right behind me to go in and comfort him.  Not one of my proudest mommy moments, I have to admit.  

A few days later a similar situation arose, and I carried him downstairs to our room.  This time Jared wasn't around, and I had a little more self control, so sat down on the edge of the bed while he screamed: and this is when my baby taught me a lesson.  I asked him to relax, and in his fit he cried, "WILL YOU HELP ME?!!?"  

It was one of those moments when clarity hits you like a brick.  My poor Eli doesn't want to feel that way.  He doesn't like feeling that way.  But, in his limited experience here on earth, he hasn't yet figured out how to control those emotions and feelings.  All he wanted was his mommy's help!  And all it took was a few short minutes of hugging him and singing to him for a smile to cross his face yet again and for my little angel to return.  After all, that's why God made parents, right?

I hate to think how that would have turned out if I had shut the door again and let him deal with it on his own. 
A few days later he sunk the lesson in a little deeper when he did something rotten that I can't even remember right now.  I scolded him and he cried, "But I want to live with Heavenly Father."  Unsure of what he meant, I prodded. He said, "I want to be obedient and live with Heavenly Father." Apparently the lessons about being good so we can return one day to live with God had sunk in, and an opportunity to teach an even greater lesson arose: one about unconditional love. 

Again it made me think what I might have missed if I had just thrown him in a "time out" all on his own.

As I learn to help Eli manage his own beviour, and I grateful for the little moments where he teaches me far more that I am teaching him.  He has such a sweet spirit, and I can't help but think that God has placed him with me so I can get a glimpse of that unconditional love that he has for each of us.

When I need a little inspiration in my mothering, I look to men of God. This one struck me today:

"I fear you sisters do not realize in the smallest part the extent of your influence for good in your families, in the Church, and in society. Your influence for good is incalculable and indescribable. President Brigham Young said: “The sisters in our Female Relief Societies have done great good. Can you tell the amount of good that the mothers and daughters in Israel are capable of doing? No, it is impossible. And the good they will do will follow them to all eternity.”1 I truly believe you are instruments in the hands of God in your many roles, especially that of motherhood."2

25 June 2010

Gifting gone downhill

Honestly, I have not fallen off the earth with this project.  I have given many gifts over the past few weeks that I wouldn't otherwise have thought to do. But man, a gift a day is harder than you might think.  As I've been on this journey I have really wanted to make sure I wasn't counting the every day things that I would do anyway, I wanted this to be something that stretches me.  So, as each day comes and goes I have tried to find moments that inspire me to give.  Unfortunately I have not done a great job of doing this every single day. I should be on day 22 today, and I really don't think I have given 22 gifts.  Sad.  I know.

But I have done some things.  Let's recap, and hopefully jump back on track. 

At Chapters I donated to the Love of Reading Foundation, which I have thought is really cool so many times, but never bothered to contribute to.  It's a fund that promotes literacy by donating good books to school libraries.  It always made me sad to see how few new books school libraries were able to purchase. Back in the day when I had money and bought way too many books, I would often donate them to my school library after I had read them.  I'm not sure if the junior high schools of Calgary would appreciate the birth, breastfeeding and parenting books that I invest in these days, so donating to this foundation seemed like a good thing to do.

I love my big sister Alice, who does so much for me.  As a small (really small) gesture of that love, I bought her a Booster Juice and brought it to her.  I love Booster Juice and think that would pretty much make any day for me, so I'm just assuming that it probably made her day too!

I took one of my best friends in the whole world, Nicole, horse back riding.  In a past life this would have been no big deal, but as I'm realizing, it is getting harder and harder to do things without my kids, and I can't really go galloping through a field with Silas on my back now can I?

I made two aprons to send to two different people for a gift exchange I am part of.  I don't really feel I can count this, because I will get gifts in return, but still, I made them myself, and think if I could count them as two different gifts it would make me feel a little less guilty.

My dear friend Sarah just had her third baby, a sweet little boy. More than anything in the world I wished I could be there with her.  But alas, I couldn't.  So, in an effort to send her some sunshine, I sent her a bouquet of beautiful sunflowers.  I've never sent flowers to anyone.  I hope she loved them.  I love her.

I sent out two hats that I knit to Utah.  I ran a blog giveaway, but still, I made them and gave them... right?  Does that count as two as well?

I'm sure there is more. I hate to think that in the last 22 days that is all I have given to the world.  Do Father's Day presents count?  If I count the hats and aprons that means I have done 13 of the 22 days.  Pathetic, I know. I'm sure I could count way more than 22 ways that others have helped me in the last 22 days. 

I will persevere.  I will not start over, but I will move on from here.  Let's pretend that all the time between then and now did not happen, and tomorrow is Day 6.  And please, if you need anything, let me know, because I'm looking for ways to give!

At the Farmers' Market

I try really hard to support local businesses and businesses that have fair business practices by paying their employees a fair wage, and not using suppliers that engage in child, slave or underpaid labour.  I think it's good for the economy, good for the people I buy from, and I know it's good for my soul.  When I can, I like to buy right from the source.  I would so much rather buy carrots from the farmer that planted the seeds and dug them up than from the produce isle at Safeway. I 'm pretty sure that they taste better that way!  I love buying homemade goods off Etsy.  One of my favourite shops is Ten Thousand Villages, a shop that markets products from artisans in low-income countries that have been fairly purchased and made from sustainable resources.

I'm not, by any means, perfect.  I would love to say I wear all organic, local clothing, but my vanity stands in my way.   I like to avoid it, but I find myself in Walmart every once in a while looking for a good deal.  I know that most of the chocolate in the world is produced by child slavery (that's right, I said slavery), yet, I still enjoy a chocolate bar every once in a while.

Still, what would we be if were weren't always trying to reach perfection.  So, I try.  I don't think being poor is any excuse.  I can certainly live with less and use the money I do have to purchase responsibly.  Living out of a few suitcases for the past six months has taught me I can live with very little of what I own, and I certainly don't need the vast majority of the things I want.  And, if it comes down to it, I would rather live without than have someone else, a slave child in Africa, a factory worker in China, pay the real cost for me. So, I continually try to make more responsible purchasing choices, and am totally inspired by people who do better than me.

Last weekend we went to the Farmers Market at Sandpoint, which is one of my favourite farmers' markets of all.  It not only has fabulous produce, meat, dairy and baked goods, local and usually organic, but it has local artisans selling their handmade treasures. And, they usually have some sort of musical entertainment too.  Eli's favourite part of the farmers' market is definitely splash fountain in the middle of the square!

And my favourite part is to be with him!

24 June 2010

Ten places

There are many places that I love in the world, but my top ten places to be are as follows:

1. Sandpoint, Idaho - specifically, on the beach at my parents' cabin

2. Flying Goose Farm - so, so, so many happy memories there

3. Cardston, Alberta - in the temple

4. Rochester, Michigan - my other home

5. Newfoundland - bright houses, awesome accents, amazing views, puffins!

6. Waterton, Alberta - in the town site and a top any of the mountains

7. Ryman Ranch - preferably on horseback

8. Shuswap - okay, I admit it, the place has kind of grown on me

9. Banff National Park - not necessarily the town site, but definitely on top of the mountains

10. And, as cheesy as it might sound, but completely true, ANYWHERE my family is.  I've learned anywhere can feel like home as long as I've got Jared and the boys around: Michigan, Spokane, the room in the basement.  Hopefully we can settle down and my top choice will be in our dream house on a farm, but until then, my very favourite place to be is wherever I am with them!

23 June 2010


Sometimes I feel like the third of my brain that I lost during pregnancy has taken a permanent leave of absence.  Seriously.  When does it come back?  Isn't nine months long enough? I don't know what is up, but I feel completely frazzled with my life, for the first time since Eli was born.  Maybe it is being back in Alberta where I have so much more to do, maybe it is living in my parents' basement, maybe it is Jared being in Washington and me single mom-ing it. Whatever it is, I want my brain back.  Who cares about my body, I miss my brain!!!

So, while I feel that I accomplish very little on a daily basis, here's a smackerel of some of the things I've been working on.

I made aprons for the gift exchange I am part of. I actually made 5 aprons: three big ones and two little ones out of the scraps.  They are all so cute.  Can you guess which one I am keeping for me?  I realize that they are pretty basic, but I could barely afford the fabric, let alone a pattern book, so I pretty much just cut out a square of fabric, sewed on a tie, embellished with a little ric rac and called it a day.  They were fun to make, and I now I am sickeningly fashionable in my cowboy apron while I cook macaroni and cheese. I love it!

16 June 2010

I looked out the window and what did I see...

...two very persistent Robins re-building a nest in one of the worst places EVER: the Evans` back door.

I mean seriously, what would compel them to rebuild where they were, just two weeks before, evicted from?  The Evans' back door is one of the most used back doors in the neighborhood: not the place for any birds' Best Nest. I'm not sure if I should be impressed by their persistence, or saddened by the fact that this nest is going to be abandoned just as surely as the first one was.  Maybe I need to go out with a broom and disuade them before they waste their day... again.

15 June 2010

Three years ago...

Three years ago today, this is the face I stared into when I fell madly, deeply, wildly in love:

 Then, two years ago, that face had transformed into this:

Just last year, this is the beautiful face I got to look into:

 Today is the day that my baby turns 3.  Three.  THREE-YEARS-OLD!!! I know it`s the age old cry, the denial that my kids are growing up, but I can`t believe it: MY BABY IS GROWING UP!!!

And today, this if the face I get to love:

 I love my Mr. E.  I love him so much, most days it hurts.  Happy birthday, Eli!

13 June 2010

08 June 2010

Day 5

We had a great day today.  My cousin Eli came in from BC, and got to spend the entire day with him and his family. Perhaps I can count my Eli's absolute adoration of Big Eli as a gift - though I'm not sure  if he would consider it such.  After they left, my Eli couldn't stop talking about "the other Eli". He thought they should go hang out, just the two of them, and I think his suggestion was that they go get hair cuts together - apparently that's what real men do together.

The gift I'm actually going to count for today is the Le Leche League meeting that I attended tonight.  I am a LLL Leader, and was able to go to my sister's meeting tonight.   With four other leaders there that seemed far more capable than I, I'm not sure that I was very helpful with breastfeeding knowledge, but I do believe that just being there to offer support and encouragement is worth more than information any day.  I know it was when I was starting out my breastfeeding journey.  I really do believe that breastfeeding is one of the most important things we can give our children, and so being able to support other mothers to do that successfully is one gift I feel is so important to give.

Day 4

The anti-gift giving ogres were out to get us today.  Seriously.  Wanting to get Eli involved, we went out this afternoon with a pocket full of change to fill parking meters down town.  I figured we could top up all the empty and almost empty meters we could until we were out of change.  Well, in the three years I've been gone from Calgary parking meters have apparently gone out of style, because all I could find were "Park Plus" kiosks, where you pay for your parking stall.  I had no way of knowing how much people had paid... it was oh so frustrating! 
So, we had to change our plans.  Instead we went home and made balancing butterflies as a thank you for our friends we stayed with in the East.  It was Eli's first watercolor experience, and I believe he did just fine!  The gifts won't be received for a week or two, when the postman delivers them, but it was given today!

Honestly, four days into this, I am a little surprised at how difficult it is to deliberately gift something every single day.  I mean, there are lots of things I can call gifts, like cleaning up around the house for my mom, or mowing the lawn, but I'm really trying to do things I wouldn't necessarily do otherwise.  Four days in and I feel this is going to be much harder than I thought.  And, while most days I think I am going to have to plan the gift, I really hope that I will find some opportunities to give where I didn't plan.  The great thing is, because of this challenge, I've got my eyes open.

07 June 2010

Flutter by, Butterfly

Today for my 29-Day Giving Challenge we made the most beautiful craft.  And, the greatest part about it was that Eli could do most of it himself! We made these balancing butterflies for our friends out East that let us stay with them while we were visiting.  I cut out and traced the butterlies, Eli painted them, and I cut them out again.  Then Eli applied the pennies (which was a lot trickier than I thought it would be - next time I will tape them on first just to make sure they are in the perfect position.)  Now I'm on the prowl for more water color crafts, because they were so amazingly beautiful, and they were all Eli's work!

When Ali and her boys came over we tried them on.  Noses were the obvious favourite!   What a blast!

06 June 2010

Day 3

Today Eli and I made a hand print bouquet for Adrienne.  She is so good to us, and we had to go visit her at work, so we figured we would bring her something special.  She loved it!

And, for the record, I did find another gift to give to make up for yesterday.  It was one of those gifts that doesn't need to be shared online, but I did find someone to give to.

05 June 2010

Day 2

Today was not a good day for giving.  I spent the entire day in the kitchen, until we ran out the door for Eli's birthday party at the Wiebe's.  Jared leaves tomorrow for Washington for 5 weeks, and he wanted "fried dough" for breakfast, and since my mom doesn't have a bread maker, I had to make that bread dough the old fashioned way: with elbow grease.  Then I had to make Eli a birthday cake.  I've decided to only buy and eat fair trade chocolate, and wanted to make something remotely healthy, so I made the most delicious carrot cake EVER!  I love cream cheese icing!  Then we made home made ice cream, and fruit sorbet.  By the time that was all done, we were just about late for the party, so out the door we ran. At the Wiebe's I did start on Jared's Father's Day present, but that will be a gift for another day.

So, I guess I spent the day "giving," but since I used Eli's birthday yesterday as my gift, I don't think I can use it again.  Tomorrow I will give twice, I guess.

In all the world, our nest is BEST!!!

Today I watched two very determined robins build a nest... right on top of the door to our back yard.  I wondered if I should have stopped them, informed them that they would not be happy there, that they would never feel safe with all the kids and dogs running in and out constantly.  But, somehow, I just couldn't bare to break it to them.  I was too enthralled with their beauty, with the skill in which they gathered, collected and built, the way they worked together, obviously communicating about what to gather, and how to use it.  As we watched them come back to their evolving nest, time and time again, with "all the hay, all the straw, all the string, all the stuffing, all the horse hair and all the man hair they could carry", Eli and I read The Best Nest and sang, at the top of our lungs, 

I love my house,
I love my nest, 
In all the world
My nest is best!!!

Once they figure out that the exit from the Evans' house is not ideal, I am certain that they will abandon their nest and search for another spot to build. I hope that those two little birds, whom I can't help but imagine are deeply in love, do find the place that they can sing about, the best nest.

04 June 2010

Day 1

Day one was an easy one for me. Today we celebrated Eli's third birthday, so I was able to shower gifts upon him.  And I couldn't have asked for a more grateful recipient!  We gave him a play tent, a camping chair and, best of all, his very own Ergo Baby DOLL carrier!  He loved it all, but he was really thrilled with the Ergo.  He put it on and ran around the house and yard screaming, "My very own Ergo.  I am so happy about this!"

Day one: success!

Hands Full of Giving

I have just committed to a worldwide giving movement called 29 Gifts.  Along with 10000 other people worldwide, I am going to try over the next 29 days to awaken the giving spirit in myself, and hopefully the world around me. 

"The Challenge is so simple. Just sign up at http://www.29Gifts.org and commit to give away 29 gifts in 29 days. Your 29 Gifts can be anything given to anyone... money, food, old sweaters, smiles, your time, kind words, positive thoughts, prayers...

WHY SHOULD YOU DO THIS? To inspire more generosity on our planet. Because to see our world change, we have to do something to change our world. Plus, the best way to attract abundance into your own life is to be in a perpetual state of giving and gratitude."

I am so excited about doing this.  Track my progress here.

03 June 2010

29 Day Giving Challenge

Sometimes I feel that all I do is give.  With two sons it is hard not to feel that way, sometimes.  I gave birth.   I give milk.  I give love, cuddles, lullabies.  I read books.  I make breakfast, lunch, dinner...  You get the picture.

Yet, when I really sit back and evaluate my life I can't help but see just how fortunate I am.  I have two, amazing, wonderful, sweet little boys.  I have an incredible husband who bends over backwards to make me happy.  I have parents who are willing to house my small family when we have no job and no place to live.  I have friends who forgive that my brain is sometimes not what it used to be, and sometimes I am late, and sometimes I forget, and sometimes I just can't be the person I was before this was my life.  I have faith in Jesus Christ, which carries me through life's trials when nothing else can.  I am truly living the life I have always wanted to live, and who can ask for more?

I have a friend, Rachel, who has joined the 29-Day Giving Challenge.  Basically, all you have to do is give a gift, be it an actual physical gift, your time, money, etc., every day for 29 days.  What a wonderful way to make the world a better place.  Despite the fact that I feel I give so much to my boys, teaching my boys to be Christlike, the one who gave his life for each of us, is the greatest thing I can do.

So, here I go.  29 days.  I've signed up, and I'm committed.  While I can't imagine that I will disclose every gift, I will try to document my experiences here.  Feel free to join me.  The world could use a few more gift givers!

Gift Exchange!

Since moving back to Calgary I have either been too busy or too lazy to do much crafting.  Between renovating the basement and our trip back east it seems I haven't had a minute to spare.  But, to get my butt in gear, I have signed up to do this fabulous gift exchange. Basically, I get to make something for someone else, and in return, someone else will make something for me!  I've seen variations of this on blogs and think it's such a good idea.  Now I just have to come up with something clever, original, and not too heavy (I have to mail it!) to make.  I'll let you know how it goes!

Worth a Thousand Words

I seriously love this picture.  Enjoy!

The Sniebe Adventures Continue

After our week in Michigan we spent a week in Ontario.  We met up with half of my family, (Alice and Aaron were visiting Holly, and Joan was staying with her while doing a massage course in Toronto) and spent the rest of the time with our friends the Snells.  We did all the things that we never got to do while we were living out there: Medieval Times, The African Lion Safari, St. Jacob's Farmer's Market, Canada's Wonderland.  It was so much fun.  The weather was beautiful, the attractions were a blast, and the company was unbeatable.

Eli was a robot.  A robot... with a gun.


 Look at that face!  Who couldn't love that face!!!

Canada's Wonderland!
 We can't wait for the Snell's to move back to Alberta, where the Sniebe adventures can resume!

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