Posted in Helping Others

Medical Clinic Update :)


Our goal is $7000 by the end of 2016.

Donations to date total $2757 with another $2000 pledged in the next few weeks.

That leaves about $2250 and that means we are 2/3 of the way to reaching the goal!

Thank you so much for helping out in whatever way you can.

Even if you cannot give a monetary donation, prayers are always appreciated (and they’re free🙂 )

We are looking into partnering with Value Village to do a Fundrive in the next few weeks.

And we’re thinking about a used book sale.

I’m also selling a few baby/child items on Kijiji to raise donation money. But I know Kijiji is not that popular these days – I get it. I usually make sure at least one of my big strapping guys is home if I’m dealing with a Kijiji customer.

So decluttering could be the way to give if money is not that free-flowing for you right now. I get that too. I also get that many people want to help out. So I’m looking for ways we can do that🙂

I’m pretty excited about watching this medical clinic campaign progress in the coming weeks.

I’m grateful for all the donations of money, prayer, time, effort, creativity, and ideas that you have passed along to this project.

And I’m blessed beyond belief to watch my middle boy touch the world in his unique ways once again.

Again, thank you🙂

Posted in $$$$$

Financial Freedom – October Update


Here’s a little recap from my post last month, and an update on where we’re at from just a few short weeks of focusing…

What does Financial Freedom look like for us?

  • Debt-Free
  • Mortgage-Free
  • Emergency Savings Fund that equals about 3 months of current take-home pay
  • Resources in place to pay for all or most of our son’s education *We’ve been working on this since they were babies, and Grandma has been saving up for them too, so they should be good to go!*
  • Resources in place to supplement gov’t pensions in retirement years
  • Ability to choose employment schedule
  • Using gifts/passions/abilities to support our needs
  • Time/health/resources to pursue dreams

Our Financial Freedom Goals & Where We’re At🙂

Here’s just a glimpse at the monetary numbers, I’ll give updates about using gifts/passions/abilities to support our needs, and having time/health/resources to pursue dreams in upcoming blog posts…

TOTAL Short-Term Debt = $1598 (down from $2050)

Paid $170 towards my laptop from Shoppers Optimum Points redemption (bought $170 worth of groceries/hygiene/household items at Shoppers Drug Mart, then took that money from our budget) *Still owe $249*

Paid $25 towards chromebook from Kijiji sales *Still owe $82*

Paid $72 towards car repair from budget (the other $128 went to oil change, new wipers, new headlight, engine flush) *Still owe $757*

Books *Still owe about $600* – but my first and second Amazon royalty cheques came in the mail and paid for the illustrations on the next four books I’m releasing very soon! I am having a book sale at my church on Nov 12th to hopefully tackle that $600 still owing on books I bought to sell at different events, but didn’t have much luck through those venues.

TOTAL Emergency Savings = $2302 (up from $0)

*Still need $9700* to build this up to the $12,000 we’d like to have. But we did GREAT this month! That is 2 installments of Child Bonus plus $ Josh has made from weddings, funerals, and teaching a rugby class at the local university. Yes, I’m married to a rugby professor😉

TOTAL Principal Mortgage To Pay = $174,689 (down from $175,000)

We increased our mortgage payments by the allowed 20% this month, so that alone shortens our repayment schedule by NINE YEARS! We have other plans to pay our principal mortgage off quicker, but I’ll share those in another post😉

This is a cool chart – tracking our mortgage since we started at $180,000 in July 2015. It helps to visualize sometimes.


TOTAL RRSPs to Build = $130,000 – $150,000 (up a little, not sure how to report about this, just starting to learn)

We still need to figure out RRSPs – we are learning as we go, realizing we should probably have our $ in low-fee index funds, figuring out how to move our $ where it needs to be, how to find something that is at least 5% but low-risk, looking into CSBs, etc. So much to learn when you really first take a look at all this!

Posted in Life

“Love Pushing Pedals”


Me, Amy & Anne taking a break with the ducks at the flower garden near my house

“Love pushing pedals”

That’s what my friend wrote on Facebook one day. I was so excited to read her words because I love pushing pedals too.

I could spend hours riding my bike. I have done just that in the past.

When I was younger, I would ride along the lakeshore trail of our small town. I would ride so long and so far that I’d reach the next small town. I was lucky enough to grow up along the shores of Lake Ontario, in a town called Ajax, and I would bike all the way to Pickering or Oshawa. The scenery was amazing – the lake stretched all the way to the horizon with cliffs and beaches and parks and marshes to satisfy all my senses for hours on end.

And I would never feel tired. What would stop me and turn me around back home was time constraints, or thirst (I never thought to bring a water bottle), or hunger.

If I didn’t have those reminders, I would have pushed the pedals forever it seemed!

When I was really young I would ride everywhere – to friend’s houses, along the bike trails around our house, across town even when I was a preteen. My first bike was a pink “banana” bike. My Dad tested it out one day (I didn’t warn him about this picture – gotcha!).


I remember riding my bike in the town parade every year – anyone could join in and decorate their bikes and ride through town behind the floats.

For high school graduation I asked for a good bike, and that one lasted me for a few years. Early in our marriage Josh and I went to a police auction and scored two really good bikes for really cheap. Our oldest son is still riding around on one of them – a green Bianchi (sadly the other didn’t make it through one of Josh’s bike accidents a few years ago😦 But at least Josh made it through the accident!).

I’ve tried buying a couple of bikes from Kijiji, but they don’t seem to last long or they are in such bad shape that it’s not worth it to fix them. But that green Bianchi allowed me to take the boys pedalling with me in a bike trailer until they got too big for it. Then I bought them their own sets of wheels – tricycles, then training wheels, then teaching them to find their balance on our unusually long driveway. I love all those memories of pedalling with my boys. They still join me now and then for a ride, but mostly they like to venture off on their own or with friends. I am glad for the independence that pushing pedals allows them :) My oldest will be navigating a new set of wheels next year when he turns 16 – WOW! How did that happen?!

So when my friend shared her love of biking on Facebook a few months ago, I was actually really excited – a kindred spirit! I hadn’t found that many with a similar love of pushing pedals – alot of runners in my sphere of friends – and I am anything BUT a runner. I know this for a fact, and I’m comfortable sharing it with the world🙂

I have something else to share – a dream of mine – to bike all the way across Canada one day. I have hope in realizing this dream since I know of people in their 60s who are just getting to it. I hope to live the dream before my 60s, but I know it’s still at least a couple of years out.

But a dream that big needs to be broken down into smaller dreams, beginning with bike rides that are a few hours, or a weekend, or maybe a week long.

There’s not alot of opportunities in our area for rides such as these, but there is one I’ve known about for a couple of years – the Annual Manitoulin Passage Ride. The coordinators offer route options for 32 kms a day up to 121 kms! And you can join in for just 1 day or go for the full weekend experience.  The trouble was I wasn’t sure about going for this on my own.

When I saw Anne’s post, I decided to take the plunge and share the idea with her. And she loved it!

And then my friend Amy decided to join in as well!

Oh joy🙂


Over the last few months the three of us have biked on our own, with our husbands and kids when they were willing and able😉, and even managed to meet up a few times to ride together. We all live in different towns, but only about 1/2 hour away from each other, so sometimes we could swing it. We checked out the routes that the others were biking on, and got to show off our favourite spots to ride.

Anne loves to ride along the highway, and she loves to take pictures of the scenery as she goes. She is not intimidated by long rides and dreary weather… and she finds the good and the beauty around her each time she puts her feet to the pedals.




Amy has overcome so much in her determination to get on the bike. She even rode with tires that needed a good shot of inflation for a few weeks! Nothing can stop her🙂 She rides when she can – with kids riding alongside her, without kids, with bike trailer in tow, uphill, downhill, through gravel and bumpy roads. She is a survivor, that one.

And me… I asked everyone for bike money last year for any kind of event where people might buy me a gift – Christmas, birthday, Mother’s Day – anything. Then I went out and scored myself a purple Schwinn with shock absorbers for 1/2 price at Canadian Tire. A brand-new bike. All mine. No touchie. I have let my boys try it out briefly, then I put my arms around it to protect it from any possible threats and say “Mine!” Just kidding… mostly. I also got a water bottle holder so no more dehydration, and a little pouch that tucks under my seat to hold my car keys and phone. That way I can still be mom if needed, even when I go out for an hour or two for a ride. It gives me peace of mind.

It’s been a blast this year – being able to ride a nice bike, taking it on family vacation and testing it out on many different trails, often with at least one of my guys. Riding with friends, having that accountability, being able to look forward to realizing a dream next spring at the Manitoulin ride, discovering the MANY bike trail routes and bike events that are available within a few hour’s drive.

Thanks for those three simple words, Anne! Thanks for joining me on yet another journey, Amy! Looking forward to more biking in the future!

And maybe some cross-country skiing or snowshoeing this winter to keep us all in shape😉

Posted in Life

4 New Books & My First Royalties Cheques!

Four new books are on the horizon…

Three of them make up the Jesse Tree for Advent series…

publication1 publication2 publication3

They should be ready to purchase on Amazon in the next couple of weeks – in plenty of time for the Christmas season.

And the fourth book I’m keeping a surprise for now🙂

It’s a special book that’s years in the making. All the pieces came together quite suddenly recently and I’m looking forward to sharing it with you in the next couple of weeks🙂

The Lunchbox LOL Series has been doing well on Amazon. This is so encouraging for me – I’ve never had a book that sold consistently like that.


I actually received my first and second royalty cheques from Amazon. Wow, what a feeling!

200 Jokes for the Lunchbox is the bestseller by far – 39 sold so far. This is the original resource that started it all.

200 Riddles is second – 23 sold.

200 Silly Questions is third – 19 sold with 200 Fun Facts & Trivia a close fourth – 14 sold.

People are not liking the 200 Calculator Word Games – only 1 sold so far! Ah well, it was worth a shot🙂

But let me tell ya – it’s pretty cool to watch something you created get scooped up by so many others – a real treat for sure.

I have learned alot about the business of writing to earn money. I have made alot of mistakes along the way as well.

One thing I know is that I’m not a marketer, I don’t like the spotlight, and when I write something it’s as much for me as it is for the reader.

So when I tried to host a book launch in July for the Lunchbox LOL series, I really didn’t have much fun with that at all. But when I saw my first sale through Amazon I had ALOT of fun with that! It happened by accident – I had to check on another project I was working on, and when I visited the self-publishing site (Createspace) to get the information I needed, I saw a few sales listed on my account. Not just one – a few! After that I couldn’t help but check every day (sometimes 2-3 times a day) – it was just so encouraging to see some success. My best day yielded 10 book sales on Amazon – so cool!

So there is no book launch for the Jesse Tree for Advent series, nor the surprise book that’s coming soon.

But there will be a book sale before Christmas – I just need to figure out a time and date for that.

And there will be celebrations with my family whenever a book project is done.

I do love to celebrate the big and small things of life🙂

And I learned alot about my style of writing and publishing these past few months – I love to make easy-to-use-resources for the family, I love to try new things, and I love to introduce something unique to the market. I love to keep this all very simple, I love to have fun with it all. I don’t love social media or being on the computer for long periods of time, but both are necessary to write and publish these days.

So I’ll keep writing and publishing and sharing the moments of life with y’all.

As always, I am so thankful for my readers🙂

Posted in Helping Others, Motherhood

Donations For The Medical Clinic Are Pouring In!

The donations for the clinic are pouring in – THANK YOU!

We have raised almost $2600 of our $7000 goal – with others committed to give another at least $1600 over the next couple of months.

That brings our estimated donations to about $4200!

We are more than half way there and we are thrilled with the response so far🙂

I am just about to send our first round of donations to Go MAD to proceed with repurposing the available space in the village of Ascension.

In March of 2016 a team ran a temporary clinic in the village and many people were treated for different ailments.

“Everyone that came in was prayed for while in the waiting area,” says Chantz – the Director of Go MAD.

Check out these photos:

Volunteers running a temporary clinic in Ascension in March 2016

People waiting to see the doctor

The clinic space in its current state

Again, thank you, and keep it coming!

We are well on our way to making this medical clinic a reality for the village of Ascension!

Posted in Helping Others, Motherhood

We’re Building A Medical Clinic in Honour of Our Caleb :)

EXCITING UPDATE: A week after launching this fundraising campaign, we are already at $931 raised!

Our goal is $7000 CDN by December 31, 2016.

That’s right – It only takes $7000 CDN to renovate existing space in the village of Ascension in Dominican Republic, provide necessary equipment, and purchase the initial medicines needed for the clinic. Will you consider joining us in realizing this dream? Thank you! 🙂

Our Story…

This year would have been Caleb’s 13th birthday year. Caleb is our middle son, and he was stillborn in May 2003. Some birthdays are milestone birthdays, and we do something a little different, and make the event a little more special. 13 is one of those milestone birthdays.

Instead of our annual balloon launch, we are partnering with our friends at Go MAD (Make a Difference) in Dominican Republic. We have been getting to know the people and the work of Go MAD for a few years now, and we love them and what they do.

They are in need of a medical clinic in the village of Ascension. We visited this village in 2011 and again in 2013. There is a definite need for basic necessities, health care, education, life skills training, and more.

Josh has always had a dream to build a medical clinic in honour of our Caleb, and when we discovered the need in Ascension, we knew this was just the present we wanted to give to other families for Caleb’s 13th birthday. The chance of good health, full life, and most importantly the chance of hope.

Consider giving in honour of a loved one in your life – whether it’s a tiny baby, a child, a family member, a friend, or another person who has touched your heart in some way.

Give hope – that’s one thing our Caleb has taught me – even in the most challenging and confusing and trying times and places of life – there is always hope.

Our goal is to raise the funds by December 31, 2016.

This video tells a bit more about the DR and Ascension, about Go Mad and their partner TEAL.


And let me encourage you with some pictures…

Josh drew this picture many years ago, as he let the dream start to grow in his heart of a medical clinic in honour of our Caleb…

Josiah drew his version of the clinic as Josh shared the dream with him…

Pinecone art for a university Fine Arts class that Anna took – inspired by the emotions she feels whenever they visit Caleb’s burial site – there is a tree full of pinecones there and we decorate Caleb’s memorial stone with them every time we visit…

More art from Anna’s university class – inspired by mission trips to the village of Ascension in Dominican Republic. There is a big gap between our standard of living and what is found there, and we hope to bridge that gap with a medical clinic in Ascension…

Posted in Life, Motherhood

What About When Life Isn’t So Simple?

Sometimes life is complicated. Sometimes it’s anything but simple. Sometimes the answers are a long time coming, and it’s really hard work to get to them.

It’s harder still when you don’t even know the answers you’re searching for.

Sometimes it’s confusing, and frustrating, and seriously trying.

The farthest thing from simple.

I’ve been on a very complicated, confusing, frustrating, and trying journey for about 5 years now.

And for now, the journey has taken a new turn, a stop at simple, at least for a time.

Wow – I’m relieved – to put it mildly!

I feel like I could fall down and sleep for a year.

In fact, in quite uncharacteristic dramatic fashion, I lay down on the kitchen floor last night as my oldest son was trying to tell me something about his day.

He looked at me in exasperation because I wasn’t listening in the least.

All I could say was “Don’t you see? It’s all OK! At least for now – there’s nothing else to do about it! And it might be OK forever! It might just keep getting better and better!”

He mustered a “Ya, that actually is pretty cool” and just kept on walking past his crazy mother.

A similar conversation happened in the car after a doctor’s appointment with my youngest son yesterday afternoon.

He just couldn’t grasp the great news we’d just received – that no more appointments were necessary – no more physio, no more special orthotics, no more hospital tests, no more doctor’s offices.

I tried to make him understand – but I got the same look of exasperation and amusement all mixed together in one facial expression.

Both my boys think I’m nuts.

But really I’m just totally and completely relieved – shoulders drop and I put my head back on the chair – I look up and close my eyes and… Thank You Lord.

You’re probably wondering what in the heck I’m talking about…

Let me share a story with you…

Five long years ago my youngest son woke up screaming in the night. He was 6 at the time, and he had intense pain in his legs. After three hours we were able to settle him into sleep again.

A visit to the doctor suggested growing pains. I was less than impressed. I did the online research and found out growing pains can be very, very horrible for some kids (our oldest son just had a mild bout at around the same age as his younger brother), and learned some of the coping techniques like warm baths, massage, stretches, pain relief pills, etc.

Over the next few nights I tried them all. Plus a visit to the chiropractor.

The pain didn’t ease up for Elijah, and it became a nightly occurrence, and it lasted a very long time.

On one of my less-than-stellar-mother days I threatened to take away all the things he loved in life – TV, toys, video games – ya, great mommy moment. I was absolutely done, hubby was away for work, and my parents were staying the night to help me drive the boys back to their house for a few days while Josh was away. We were having car trouble as far as I can remember, because usually I’m just fine to drive the few hours to my parent’s house on my own!

So… at this point I was giving Elijah children’s pain relief every night, giving him a soothing warm bath, and doing stretches and massages on his legs. It was quite a process every night, but I knew there were families dealing with alot worse (the year before we had spent a week at the Children’s Hospital in Ottawa because Josiah had a very rare, very bad infection in his eye – ugh – let’s not get into that just now!) so I kept going.

After a couple of months the nightly pain seemed to taper off, and I was so glad to say the least. I chalked it up to a bad case of the growing pains.

Fast forward about 6 months and suddenly the pain returns, but only in one leg, and he feels it in his toes as well.

He’s a little older and can explain things a little better to me, and he tells me it feels like butterflies behind his knee.


No, not this again, and what’s with the adaptations?

So we try the old routine until we can get in to see the doctor.

We discover that a heating pad wrapped around his knee does the trick (and one around his toes too).

This seems to hold the discomfort at bay when he tries to lay down to sleep (thank God!).

The doctor recommends a round of blood tests, x-ray, and ultrasound.

We do them all, me wondering about all sorts of diseases and illnesses, trying to keep Elijah calm about it whenever it came up in conversation.

He’s my new hero because of all he goes through – usually smiling at the doctors and nurses, bringing out the best in them.

Then there’s me with white hairs growing in by the second and worry lines forming on my forehead🙂

And after all the tests… nothing.



Maybe he’s playing it up for attention, Anna. Maybe it will pass shortly Anna. Maybe there’s really nothing there Anna. Time will tell Anna.

This is what I hear from the experts. I try not to be bitter. But I sort of am.

And I buy into it for a while – that there’s really nothing wrong. That he’s just trying to get attention. That all this effort and worry is for nothing.

I go back and forth for quite a while.

Because the nightly discomfort goes on for quite a while.

And it starts to creep into his days whenever he’s sitting for too long or resting for too long.

Activity makes it better, sometimes he even has to get up and walk around at night so he can fall asleep.

I hear him turn the heating pad back on if he wakes up in the night, and when he gets up in the morning and reads in bed.

This constant reminder that something is not right.

And no one knows what it is.

Not even the experts.

And some days I waver more than others in believing there really IS something wrong.

Then one day – he’s now about 8 years old – yes, this has been going on for a LONG time – Elijah tells me about how he wishes he could just fall asleep like a normal person.

Without a heating pad, without discomfort, without worry.

I look at him and think to myself – Why can’t he have that? Why can’t we figure out what’s wrong and solve this problem for him? It’s obviously not going away on its own. Time to go back to the doctors. This time we push it until there’s answers. Something IS wrong. Elijah doesn’t go around lying for no reason, or seeking attention without reason, and especially not for THIS long. 

So we chat about it, about going back to the doctors, about more tests, about more questions, about maybe them not believing there’s anything wrong and how we would handle that – and he agrees to try again.

When the doctor finds out Elijah is STILL in nightly discomfort she agrees to more tests. She agrees it’s not just growing pains. She agrees he’s not making it up. A good start for sure.

We don’t have to redo all the tests, we just have to wait for an appointment with a pediatrician. This takes a few months, but we get in to our favourite pediatrician. He’s the one who sent Josiah to the Children’s Hospital for his eye (we believed he saved his life that day), and he’s the one who ordered a chest tube for Elijah just after he was born to get rid of the air pocket that was forming outside his lungs (he definitely saved his life that day). He’s basically our hero. And here he was again, helping our boys live to the fullest.

By the time we get in for the appointment, Elijah is 9 years old. It’s been three years of discomfort now – but at least the screaming discomfort was only the first few weeks of this whole ordeal. At least it’s manageable at this point. It’s not slowing Elijah down at all. Just not helping him sleep at night. Just worrisome, frustrating, tiresome, annoying, confusing.

The pediatrician calls for an MRI. Oh man, we’ve never had to deal with one of those before. And we’ll have to wait.

In the meantime, he notices one of Elijah’s legs is slightly shorter than the other (possibly due to a nasty fall on the growth plate when he was 2), and orders a lift insertion for his shoes and physiotherapy.

The lift we get very soon from our footcare specialist. The MRI we get within a couple of months. And the physiotherapy we get… on a waiting list. A LONG waiting list.

The MRI shows nothing wrong with the hip. And Elijah was so brave – such a little guy in that big, loud machine.

But the MRI shows something else might be wrong with his upper leg – there’s a mass that needs to be re-examined.


So he goes back into the MRI machine a few weeks later and… it’s all good – just a cyst – pediatrician says nothing to worry about.


Elijah is now 10 years old. The heating pad still works wonders at night, but he’s developed a strange web-like appearance on his leg.

A trip to the doctor’s tells us it’s from the daily use of the heating pad – bringing the blood more to the surface of the skin. When he’s able to stop using the heating pad, the skin discolouration will disappear. Nothing to worry about.


Elijah continues to be a very active, healthy, growing-like-crazy boy. This brings me so much joy, but the nagging unknown gets to me every night as I hear the heating pad turn on yet again.

Then I need physiotherapy for consistent hip and back pain, and I discover our sons are covered under Josh’s benefits for a few physiotherapy visits each year.

So I book Elijah in with my physiotherapist while we wait for free physio offered by Ontario health care. But it’s been over a year now, so I’m not holding my breath.

My physiotherapist does her assessment, Elijah is very patient, and she gives him some exercises to try at home. He’s pretty excited at first, and he’s pretty diligent – he knows this should help with the knee. After the covered benefits run out, I consider just paying the quite-expensive fees out of our pocket, but summer comes and we’ll be travelling, and he says it’s not really helping anyway.

Another lull in progress.

The fall comes and we get a call from the pediatric physiotherapist that works for our city, and I ask Elijah to keep trying, to go see just one more health care worker. He agrees, and he goes through another assessment. This young man has now officially gone through more poking and prodding and tests and assessments than I can even count. I marvel at his patience.

This physiotherapist is trained to work with children, and she’s amazing, and she’s thorough, and she becomes the major key in our quest for answers. We didn’t know this when we scheduled our first visit with her.

She gives Elijah exercises to help with his now-aching back, his sore shoulders, and his extremely tight hamstrings. And she notices he needs an adjustment to his orthotics. And wants to send him for one more MRI to check on the area behind the knee instead of the hip. Elijah is less-than-thrilled about all of it, but he keeps trucking along in an effort to get to the bottom of his dilemma. I marvel at him some more.

I watch him leave the house with his daddy at 6am on a dark, cold winter morning – for another MRI appointment. Josh says he’s a super-star, and the noise didn’t bother him this time, and he’s a charmer with all the nurses. That’s my boy.

The MRI results are the final piece needed to solve the not-in-the-least-bit-simple puzzle of Elijah’s 5-year leg discomfort.

He’s got an old injury. They say it looks like a sports injury. The ligaments behind his knee don’t join up properly.


How many times have I asked that on this long journey, I don’t even know.

My now 11-year-old son has an old sports injury that’s been causing him trouble since he was 6 years old. But that does explain the “butterflies” he used to describe to me.

I wonder to myself… What did you DO Elijah?

I run through all the nasty falls, bumps, scrapes, bruises, etc. of the last few years – BEATS ME.

Could be anything really – take your pick – there’s LOTS to choose from!

But I’m so happy for the results, and I gush over the physiotherapist, and I thank her repeatedly, and I hug Elijah when we leave, and I smile big smiles.

But the hard work of getting better continues.

Every day there are exercises for Elijah to do to strengthen around his knee, and exercises to ease his sore shoulders and back and tight hamstrings from carrying his body a little funny these last few years.

He keeps at it, and I keep nagging when necessary, and I do the exercises with him to try and get a smile from this weary fella of mine.

It’s been a long journey – it’s gone on for about half his life – he probably can’t even remember a time when he DIDN’T have leg problems.

(And let’s not even mention the barracuda slicing his other leg and needing 10 stitches on a recent family vacation to Cuba – it’s just been INSANE with leg problems for Elijah. That’s one scar he’ll never get rid of, and may need cosmetic surgery if it doesn’t heal right – we won’t know for A YEAR – ugh!)

But there is such good news at the end of this story – or at least this time of calm in the storm (he may need minor surgery if it gets worse as he gets older) – we went to the doctor yesterday and Elijah is…

CLEAR for no more physiotherapy (his shoulder and back aches are gone, his hamstrings are much more loose, and his knee discomfort is much better!)

CLEAR for no more heel lift (his hips are the same height now!)

CLEAR for no more appointments, or tests, or anything for 8 months!


So as Elijah sat across from me in the car in the parking lot at the doctor’s office yesterday, looking at me like I was crazy, me asking him how he wanted to celebrate, congratulating him on the excellent effort he’d put in to get better these last few years, marveling at him for going through all those tests, reminding him of all the days I’d had to pull him from school from appointments (not sure he minded that one too much🙂 ), explaining to him it was ALL OVER for at least a while – he just smiled at me in his relaxed way, told me I was getting really excited for nothing, and we didn’t need to celebrate, and la la la la la…. it struck me how this has all become so normal for him.

What was not-simple-in-the-least for me, was simple for him – get the answers. Do what you have to do. Focus.

Maybe he was just reminding me what I’d told him a million and one times through the last five years? What I’d lost sight of in the complicated and confusing and frustrating?

Just… Keep… Going.

Eventually you get there.

Thank you Elijah for all you taught me the last few years on this journey of the Mysterious Pain That Wasn’t Really Pain But More Discomfort.

I’ll have to come up with a shorter title🙂

Posted in Good Eats

September Menu Plan

So… I create monthly menu plans to make life much more simple for me. Yes – it’s all about me. Imagine 3 hungry men coming at you every night with the same question, and never knowing the answer…

What’s for dinner?

Such an innocent question, but so loaded with angst for me.

It should be an easy answer, but… What’s in the fridge? What did we have last night? What’s on the schedule for tonight? Do we have any coupons? (No, wait, we can’t eat out AGAIN!) And so the angst cycle begins.

Many moons ago I realized I’d love to develop menu plans – they’re all the rage in simple living books and blogs. How hard could it be right?

Well, it took much trial and error, and required me to get rid of alot of people-pleasing tendencies (because not ALL of us like ALL the dinners I make).

A big factor for me was fitting all this required food into the budget. And the budget has expanded as my boys have expanded (vertically🙂 ). And that’s perfectly fine.

When we started on the Food Box program that was a challenge as well, because I never quite knew what would be in the box every week! I had to learn to cook with what I was given, instead of buying food needed for recipes I’d chosen beforehand. Quite a switch for me, let me tell you. But I think I’ve mostly got the hang of it, and many of the things in the Food Box are seasonal or similar every week, so I’ve learned to roll with that as well. Sometimes the menu plan becomes an idea outline instead of a set-in-stone regiment.

Here’s our September plan – let me know if you’d like a recipe and I’ll start to type them up🙂


BREAKFAST School Lunches – 8 Items AFTER-SCHOOL SNACK DINNER – 1st Week & 3rd Week DINNER – 2nd Week & 4th Week
MONDAY Muffins/Smoothies 1-Pizza/Sand./Leftovers muffins Chipotle Meat, Rice, Torilllas – Double It Thai Chicken Stir Fry – Double It
TUESDAY Breakfast Cookies/Smoothies 2-Yogurt popcorn Chili with Nachos, Buns, or Hot Dogs – Double It Spaghetti Pie – Double It
WEDNESDAY Muffins/Smoothies 3-Fruit muffins Sausages or Salmon & Salad BBQ Skewers, Rice, Broccoli
THURSDAY Breakfast Cookies/Smoothies 4-Vegetables popcorn Eggs, Beans, Toast, Tomato Crock Coup – Lentil & Veg
FRIDAY Sausage/English Muffins 5-Granola Bar/Muffin choc bar Burgers or Salmon & Salad Burgers or Salmon & Salad
SATURDAY Pancakes/Bacon 6-Treat Homemade Pizza & Raw Veg Homemade Pizza & Raw Veg
SUNDAY Anything Goes 7-Juice Can Leftovers or Potluck or Crock Pot Recipes Leftovers or Potluck or Crock Pot Recipes
8-Bottled Water
N O T E S 🙂
Cereal Squares 2 Granola Bar Recipes for Us Fruit Cereal
Choc Chip Bars Ice Cream Toast
Choc Snack Cake Cake Fruit
Peach or Apple or Berry Cake

In addition to this plan, I also have a few frozen pizzas on hand for hunger emergencies🙂

Having everything mapped out like this really helps with making the grocery list as well – SO NICE!

When I scan the weekly flyers and make note of the sales, then I can stock up for the recipes coming, or for next month if I’ve already got everything I need for the current menu plan.

What’s for dinner you ask? … well let me just check… 

See how easy that can be?

Yep, lovin’ it!


Do you menu plan? If so, do you have any tips for the rest of us?

Posted in $$$$$

Financial Freedom – What Does It Look Like For Us?


A few weeks ago I wrote about an idea for working towards Financial Freedom in 1000 days – it was 1000 days until Josh’s 45th birthday and that seemed like a great goal to have over the next not-quite-three years🙂

I do tend to get ahead of myself and jump into things with great gusto, and often need to refine the ideas after the initial sharing of them with the world.

So I’ve had to do a little refining.

But never fear – Financial Freedom is still on the horizon.

Let me tell you more about our updated goals and dreams, about how we hope to achieve Financial Freedom, and what that looks like for us.

Because everyone’s view of Financial Freedom is a little different – even when comparing my view to Josh’s view – hence the update🙂

Financial Freedom Goals & How We Hope To Achieve Them

$1030 still to be paid in car repair – by early 2017 – use $200/month from budget in auto repair & maintenance

$520 still to be paid for new laptop & Chromebook – by early 2017 – use Kijiji sales & Shoppers Optimum Points redemptions – 2 x at least $200 (I have enough points for 1 redemption, and 1/3 of the points for a 2nd redemption) – when I use the points to get free groceries, hygiene items, etc I can take this money from the budget and use it to pay for other things – you can actually get some pretty healthy grocery options at Shoppers now!

$600 needs to be paid for purchasing hard copies of (all TEN! Wow – cool!) of my books – sell the books! (want one?😉 )

$12,000 saved in TFSA for Emergency Savings – by late 2018 – use monthly $ we receive from the gov’t for new Child Bonus

$175,000 Principal Mortgage paid off – by 2023 (when we are both age 50) – use positive cashflow from rental properties to double up on mortgage payments + allocate some of our income tax returns and extra income to make lump sum mortgage payments + take equity from rentals when time to renew mortgage if needed

$130,000 – $150,000 in RRSPs – by 2039 (when we are both 65) – contribute $100/month – currently contributing $85/month so we need to increase by $15/month

TOTAL Short-Term Debt = $2050

TOTAL Emergency Savings To Build = $12,000

TOTAL Principal Mortgage To Pay = $175,000 (+ interest accrued before paying off = about $20,000 more – ugh!)

TOTAL RRSPs to Build = $130,000 – $150,000 (depending on how the market goes and if we can find good investment opportunities that earn about 5%!)

**I’ll give an update every month to help me know exactly how we’re doing**


Here’s something I wanted to share… I charted an image for y’all…


I left out the actual numbers, but I wanted to show you something really important…

A little goes a long way, and slow and steady wins the race.

Josh and I started out with so little. So we only had a little to put away every month in RRSPs and RESPs once the young ‘uns came along. And we only had a little to put towards a mortgage on our first home. But you know what? That little sure has become more than I thought it ever would. I am officially a believer.

The blue line is our RRSPs.

The red line is our RESPs.

The yellow line is our Real Estate Equity.

What does this chart mean to me? It means that God faithfully provided, we anxiously learned, and hard work was nothing foreign to us.

It also means there were many generous and giving hearts that helped us along the way with their time or their ideas or their resources.

But it also means we were able to be the generous and giving hearts when we felt God was asking.

There is much more to share about Financial Freedom in the coming months.

I’ll end this post with these thoughts…


What does Financial Freedom look like for us?

  • Debt-Free
  • Mortgage-Free
  • Emergency Savings Fund that equals about 3 months of current take-home pay
  • Resources in place to pay for all or most of our son’s education
  • Resources in place to supplement gov’t pensions in retirement years
  • Ability to choose employment schedule
  • Using gifts/passions/abilities to support our needs
  • Time/health/resources to pursue dreams


So… it doesn’t look like quitting any and all jobs, scrimping like crazy on all our household needs, never taking a vacation, sacrificing to the extreme, and moving into a 1-bedroom house. Nor does it look like living a life of luxury on a yacht in the Mediterranean or eating caviar every night😉

It does look like continuing with the mindset we’ve had all along – slow and steady, and a little goes a long way. It looks like choosing our activities wisely (be it employment, volunteering, or hobbies) to match up with who God made us to be. It looks like being truly available to live in the moments of each day – whatever the days bring. It looks like enjoying the finer (and mostly free🙂 ) things of life with our family and friends. It looks like peace of mind, sharing what we’ve learned with others, equipping the next generation, and all the things we already crave for more of in our lives. It looks like spiritual, emotional, and physical health. It looks like defining who we are by a different set of standards than social norms.

Spending less than we earn, being fun and creative with saving money on the things we need (and want!), reveling in the challenge of living counter-culturally, and not being afraid to be our wacky frugal selves (wait, the wacky part is just Josh, and the frugal part is just me😉 ).

That’s what financial freedom looks like.

And we’re getting there…



What are your thoughts on Financial Freedom? What does it look like to you?

Posted in Motherhood

“Be More Heart and Less Attack”


While I was taking a break the last couple of weeks, I went away on vacation with my family🙂

We listened to alot of music in the car, and I found myself belting out this tune whenever it come on – More Heart, Less Attack by Need to Breathe.

The song lyrics went along with this nugget of wisdom I found in the first few pages of  Personalized Promises for Mothers by James Riddle (I always take a pile of books to read, and usually get through a good chunk of pages before the vacation is over):

“The Word says to train our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. (And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. – Ephesians 6:4 KJV) Notice that nurture comes first. If we show our children love, spend time with them, become involved in what they are doing, and teach them with a heart of compassion, we will eliminate most of the need to discipline them.”

I really resonated with these words.

The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines discipline as:

  • control that is gained by requiring that rules or orders be obeyed and punishing bad behavior

  • a way of behaving that shows a willingness to obey rules or orders

  • behavior that is judged by how well it follows a set of rules or orders

This is how I used to mother my boys when they were younger. Rules, order, obedience, punishment, control.

It was a struggle to figure out what I heard about this verse:

“Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.” – Proverbs 13:24
And this verse:
“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” – Psalm 23:4

When my kids were going through their darkest times – trying to figure out the world around them, their place in it, all their emotions, temptations, and relationships – I was expecting even more of them in blindly following social norms. Somewhere along the way I started to realize this was how their whole world was revolving – at school, on sports teams, even when it came to faith.

They were constantly measured by how well they were adhering to the norms of whatever environment they found themselves in.

And I was missing out on just getting to know my sons.

Don’t get me wrong, of course some rules are required, and there are some social norms that just need to be followed in order to live in our world, but there’s this other Bible verse that has grabbed me and just won’t let me go. Now I’m at the point where I hope it never does. I think freedom and full life are waiting in this verse…

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” – Romans 12:1-2 (NIV)

So I’ve learned that a shepherd’s rod is usually used to gently guide the sheep, that a shepherd would never hurt his flock intentionally, that I am a sheep myself and my Shepherd loves me in the most humble ways, and that my Shepherd is so patient as He guides me on the path He has laid out for me.

I want to be the same for my children.

I’ve learned to pick my battles. I’ve learned when to stick with something and when to let it go. I’ve learned that children are full of wisdom and good ideas, and often compromise is OK. I don’t need to be right, I don’t need to be perfect, and I’m human too. And my boys need to know that. They also need to know they are loved, respected, important, and valued – no matter what age they are.

“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” – I Timothy 4:12

I was trying to be someone else with all the rules and rigidity. I was trying to be my personal concept of what a good mother & pastor’s wife would be.

It was getting pretty complicated, and I was liking myself less and less.

So I decided to Simply Live more often. To remember more of who I was instead of trying to be someone else. To remember how much I loved children and loved their fresh perspectives, their honesty and openness, their caring, generous, and forgiving hearts. I let them show me what their world looked like – it was often so beautiful.

“Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” – Matthew 19:14

It’s not about winning or losing, or being in charge, or getting my way. And it’s not about letting my kids have the upper hand either. It’s about doing life together.

As far as I can tell, they know I still get the last word, I’m still the parent, and somebody needs to make the final decisions if no common ground can be found.

For the most part, they respect that. There might be some complaining and sometimes there’s still a “punishment”, but they can usually see it coming a mile away if that happens.

Sometimes they even choose the punishment. And sometimes it’s more harsh than what I was thinking!

But I think it’s all a part of raising young people to be old people who will one day make all their own decisions, and live their own lives, and be totally self-sufficient, and contribute to the world around them.

Not conforming, not cookie-cutter, not always what is expected, free to be themselves, change the world as only they can, and have lots of fun along the way.

God made us all so unique, and I don’t want to miss out on truly knowing my sons.  

“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me” – John 10:14

Just as I can trust and rely on my Shepherd, so I want to parent my boys in a similar way.

I want to gently guide, humbly correct course when headed for danger, share the path ahead, reminisce about the path behind, look for green pastures and blue skies, pay attention to any fences that are in place for our protection, and explore the wide-open fields together.