Posted in Motherhood

Happy 14th Caleb

Yesterday was our annual balloon launch.

We sent you balloons from one of your brother’s cliff-jumping spots just outside of town.

I thought you were getting too old for our usual playground launches.

Maybe you would have been cliff-jumping by now too.

Maybe not 🙂

There’s so much I don’t know about you. So much I’ll never know. You live somewhere I Can Only Imagine and I only catch the faintest glimpses of it where I live.

But every time I catch a glimpse I think of you. I look forward to you. Seeing you, knowing you, being with you. As only my human mind can grasp.

It’s also a mother’s mind, and sometimes I can hardly wait for… you.

Your two brothers give me so many wonderful things to fill my days just now.

And of course there’s your daddy 😉

Yet there is always this sense of waiting when I think of you.

And I wonder… about you waiting to meet us…

I think maybe you’ve never waited. You are with God and God exists out of time. So you’ve never waited. Another thing I cannot grasp. But it’s a good thought… that you’ve never felt our absence. That all you’ve felt is the all-consuming love of God surrounding you. Always.

Warms my mother’s heart. Makes it easier in the waiting… in the missing…

This was your 13th year of being part of our lives, of us trying to let you loose where we live to see how God might want to use your tiny life here.

It was a doozy Caleb – we sent out the invitation for people to give and build a clinic in your honour – in the village of Ascension in Dominican Republic. We asked for $7000 and it came in so fast, Caleb, and the clinic has been up and running for months now. Your daddy visited it just a couple of weeks ago, he put your name over the doorway.

Caleb’s Hope

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It was a dream that lived in his heart, inspired by you, to help other families get the medical care that can be so hard to come by in other parts of the world.

The organization that built it wrote about it here.

Dreams can come true…

Thank you.

So happy birthday baby boy, much more grown up in our hearts this year, I hope you liked your balloons 🙂

I love you, always,

Mommy

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Posted in Faith, Motherhood

Discovering Hope Leads to Surprising Joy

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I wrote this post 2 days ago… then I got the most amazing news yesterday… something I need to share first, before anything else…

I can officially say the Medical Clinic in the village of Ascension in Dominican Republic is FULLY FUNDED.

Can I shout it from the rooftops please? Can I get an Amen? Maybe a hallejuah? A praise God?

THANK YOU for all your prayers and your generosity 🙂 I will continue to update you about the project. I know Go MAD is sending me some pictures of the work progression really soon. And I know they are so grateful. What a blessing it has been to watch this unfold the last few weeks. Much more to come….

Back to the blog post… it’s a good one too 🙂

It starts with a dream…

I had the most amazing dream. I was invited to a night out with my Joshua. We were at the event, people were singing a beautiful song, they were happy to be there. Then the guest speaker was being introduced. It was me. I was off in the background of the location, puttering around with something, but I was holding a stack of Discovering Hope books. I wasn’t going to take the microphone. They were waiting. Josh knew I was terrified. He went to the podium and started to explain why I wasn’t responding to the invitation to speak. Something in me decided it was time. Even though I didn’t know what to say, or what words would come out once I put the microphone to my mouth, or how they would sound – I took the stage. And started talking. And stumbled. And did my nervous laugh. And didn’t make any sense. And then talked some more. And eventually I got to the point, the reason for speaking, the message that was on my heart to share with you…

I have been surprised by joy.

As I have pursued the discovery of hope – set my sights on the good, my focus on what HAS come, my vision on what IS YET to be – I have also found joy.

It can only be God.

Where once I could only see the bad, I could only focus on what HAS NOT come, I could only envision what was LOST – now there is so much more.

There is life in place of death.

There is light in place of dark.

There is hope in place of despair.

There is joy in place of sorrow.

Joy is new for me when it comes to Caleb. I have discovered ways to hope, ways to celebrate, different perspectives, restoration, and renewal.

But I’m not sure there was ever joy.

Just like in my dream as I was surprised by the invitation to come forward and share with the audience.

Just as I was so unprepared for what was coming.

Just as I had to make a decision to put one foot in front of the other and see what would happen.

So it is with Caleb – I am surprised by what he shares with the people who meet him, I’m unprepared for the ways he touches this world, and I’m in awe of every step we take as we decide to grab hold of God’s plans for him.

My son surprises me, my God surprises me – I am so surprised by joy.

Now that is a message I can share any day.

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.

WHAT?!

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.

Nada.

Zilch.

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.

WHAT?!

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.

WHEW.

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.

WHEW.

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.

WHAT?!

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!

YES! NICE! CAN I GET A HIGH FIVE!

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 Motherhood

“Be More Heart and Less Attack”

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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.

Posted in Motherhood

What a Broken Picture Frame Taught Me About Family Life

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There’s a series of collage pictures that hang in the carpeted staircase leading up to the second floor of our house.

Each frame holds pictures for one year of our family’s life.

About 6 hang of them hang in our home so far.

For a while there were only 5 – one of the frames had gotten knocked off the wall and smashed when our oldest son was moving something upstairs.

I wasn’t sure what to do  – replace the frame? That would mean searching for something that would hold the exact amount of photos I had in the frame, and in exactly the same order.

Do I try to make some sort of a new frame that would hold the miraculously-unbroken glass front?

Do I find a completely different collage frame that might prevent me from including the already-carefully-chosen pictures from that year of our lives?

Nope. Nope. Nope.

None of those options worked for me.

Then it hit me…

This is life.

Especially family life.

And especially with two wonderfully rambunctious and full of life young men in my home.

Things will get broken – it’s a wonder more hasn’t been broken through the years.

These young men of mine have actually done quite well in containing their rambunctious-ness and vitality to certain areas of the house or the outdoors.

Do I want a perfect, pristine home?

Nope.

Just tidy once in a while.

And well-organized and free of a lot of clutter.

But mostly that’s my job to keep it that way.

Their job is to simply live here, truly live here, in the moments, whatever they bring.

To laugh, love, learn, grow, respect, relax, and LIVE.

So I hung the collage back on its spot on the staircase wall – with sticky tack on the back.

The matting was still fine.

It was still good.

It’s all good.

If I choose to see it that way.

Posted in Life, Motherhood

Official Launch Date is July 12!

Lunchbox Series Books

I’ve been working away on a fun idea I’ve had for a while. Felt good to focus on this project the last couple of months and see it through to (almost) completion. I think it will bring some love and laughter to at least a few lives in the coming years!

It’s a series of Lunchbox LOL inserts 🙂

I made my first set in pdf form back in September 2012 when I was hunting around for jokes to put in the boys’ lunchboxes every day. They were both down in the dumps about going back to school after a fantastic summer. I’d put notes in their lunches in previous years, but they were both really into telling jokes at the time.

So I went on the hunt. And found… not much! Not much that was ready-to-use anyway.

In usual Anna fashion, when there is lack of something I need (or want :)), I set out to make it myself. What I needed was an easy-to-use resource for my household. Something that could be shared with others if I felt so inclined. ‘Cause that just seems to be how I roll. Continue reading “Official Launch Date is July 12!”

Posted in Motherhood

Happy 12th Birthday Caleb

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It’s early here.

The house is quiet, and I am the first one awake.

This is nothing new.

But this morning I woke up with fresh words in my mind.

Words to share with you.

So I brew a cup of ginger-peach tea, hope it will settle my anxious heart, hope there is peace waiting in the words I will type, and hope this day turns out to be OK somehow.

There have been no words this week. Actually, there hasn’t been much of anything in me this week. Continue reading “Happy 12th Birthday Caleb”

Posted in Motherhood

Neighbourhood Easter Egg Treasure Hunt – $30 and 5 Easy Steps

 

 

 

Have you ever thought about hosting a neighbourhood Easter Egg Treasure Hunt?

The task can seem a bit overwhelming – maybe you’re not sure where to start?

I’m here to let you know it can be done in a few easy steps – with minimal effort and expense. This is especially true if you pick up some of the items needed on clearance the year before!

Let’s get to it – planning a Neighbourhood Easter Egg Treasure Hunt! This won’t be like a typical hunt where eggs are simply strewn about and children randomly pick them up. This hunt will involve clues that lead children around your neighbourhood to a few specific spots, finding eggs and further clues along the way.

1. Send Out Invites to Families

Google Easter Egg Hunt Invitations Free and see the MANY options available for printing and distributing to your neighbours. Make sure to include the date, time, location, and RSVP information. Invite the whole family, so that little ones can hunt with their parents if needed. Or invite adults to share some tea, coffee, and good conversation while they are waiting for the children to complete the Egg Hunt.

The hunt could take place on Easter weekend, or during the week leading up to Easter. Usually family celebrations happen on Easter Sunday or Monday, so Saturdays are great days for families to participate in an egg hunt for an hour or two.

2. Gather Supplies

If you know your neighbours well, you can plan the hunt together, and share in gathering the necessary supplies. If not, the initial expense and effort will be minimal for you, and then you will be equipped to host the event annually if you choose. Here’s what you will need:

Plastic eggs

easter eggsPick up one colour for each child participating (or you will have to mark the eggs in different ways if you have more children than egg colours! Use stickers, write names with a Sharpie, or have a colour for each family instead of each child.). The dollar store will have a wide selection of plastic eggs, the thrift store may have some available, or you can pick them up even cheaper on clearance at any store after Easter (if you are planning ahead!).

*We found packages of 8 different plastic egg colours at Dollarama for $2 each, we needed 6 packages for our 6 clues = $12 for eggs.*

Baskets or Bags

easter basketPick up one basket or bag for each child participating. Make sure the basket is large enough to hold the amount and size of plastic eggs you will be hiding for each child. You can find baskets lying around your house, at the dollar store, or the thrift store. Again, you can pick them up very cheap on clearance after Easter.

*We found packages of 2 green gift bags at Dollarama for $1 each, we needed 8 bags for the 8 kids we are inviting = $4 for hunt bags.*

3. Purchase Items for the Easter Egg Treasure Hunt

easter chocolate eggs easter jelly beansYou can find a great selection of inexpensive candy or small Easter items at the stores. Pick up items that are individually wrapped for safety and hygiene reasons. Ideas for candy include packages with multiples (to keep costs down) – lollipops, candy powder in plastic shapes, fruit-filled hard candies, Jolly Rancher candies, small chewy taffy candies,and cream eggs or mini eggs. Try to have a variety of 5 or 6 different items. Each child will not need an abundance of candy since much of the fun of this hunt comes in having to look for the items around the neighbourhood. Be sure to pick up small packages of Smarties to go with a special Easter message for your last clue of the hunt!                                                  Smarties poem *We found most of our candy at the dollar store, and were able to pick it up for less than $10. We splurged on some mini wrapped cream eggs at Walmart that cost $3.50.*

4. Write the Clues

Choose a few familiar spots the children visit often around the neighbourhood. You could ask other families if you could use their yards or porches for a designated hunt spot, or draw maps for the children to follow. We have a tiny forest space, a tobogganing hill, a newpaper box, and an outdoor toy box on our front yard that all the neighbourhood kids use – familiar locations like that. Then, you could either send the kids out to look for eggs at locations marked on a neighbourhood map, or you could leave clues at each spot for them to find the next location. At the final location, be sure to include a special Easter message in the plastic egg with the candy. Or consider handing out something special as the children are arriving or leaving.

*We have 6 sites scoped out around the neighbourhood, and Josh loves to write up clues, so we’ll go that route. We’ll start the kids off with an initial clue that will lead them to the first location. There they will find one of their designated eggs (they’ll each be given a specific colour egg to search for). Their egg will contain a candy and a clue to search for the next location. We’ll be using large plastic containers with lids to hold the eggs at each location, since there may still be snow on the ground where we live!*

5. Start the Children on the Easter Egg Treasure Hunt!

easter hunt

Give the children a bag or basket and their first clue to lead them to the first location on the hunt. Parents can accompany little ones if needed, or older kids can be paired up with younger kids. You could have teams if you have many children in your neighbourhood. Another idea is having more candy hiding in random places at the final location of your hunt (for example – your yard house or one of the neighbour’s yards or houses, depending on the weather!).

And there you have it – a Neighbourhood Easter Egg Treasure Hunt for 8 Children – $30 and 5 easy steps!

Do you have any simple ideas for a crowd for Easter?