Tuesday, 24 December 2013

i'm a Christmas failure, my Christmas confession

Every single year on December 1st I have the most beautiful and God-honouring plans for Christmas.

I begin my Christmas devotions, determined to keep on track and dig into His word daily.
I start to get Christmas decor ready, excited for all the fun DIYs that I get to try.
I make a Christmas budget and a gift plan. We will make all of our gifts.
I dream about a Christmas open house, where I will open the doors to those who celebrate and don't.
All are welcome here.

I plan, and I dream, and my spirit soars.
I watch Christmas movies, because that always makes me even more excited.
I talk about Jesus with my daughter, and plan all the ways that she will learn about Jesus this Christmas.
I plan to have wonderful devotions with my husband.

I plan, and I plan, and I plan. And I dream. And my spirit soars.

And suddenly it's December 24th.
I'm ten days behind on my Christmas devotions.
I haven't made a single homemade gift. Or cookie.
My doors, and my heart, quite often have not been open.
My daughter knows all about Santa, but she's failed to understand who Jesus is.
The budget, wait..what budget?

Do you see? I failed at Christmas, this year, again.
And on December 24th, I feel full of guilt and shame.
That I did not prepare for my Saviour this year.
Not the way I planned, and dreamed at least.

Suddenly, I get a bright idea!
I will make a list of resolutions.
After all, it's a new year, and we have a clean slate.
A fresh start is exactly what I need.
And next year, I'll do it all perfectly....

Except I won't.
And you know, and I know...
Next year I'll fail too.

But then I read some beautiful words today..
These beautiful words, from my Christmas devotion.
The devotion that I failed to read daily,
but for some reason, even though I was on the wrong day,
The Lord saw to it...that these words would appear...
at exactly the right time.

Have you room for him? 
Never mind what the past has been; he can forget and forgive.
It mattereth not what even the present state may be if thou mournest it. 
If thou hast but room for Christ he will come and be thy guest.
Charles H Spurgeon, Room for the Saviour

And suddenly, on December 24th, it all comes together.
It all makes sense.
He came, not for the perfect. He came, for the failures.
Like me, and you, and the whole world.
And I have room for him today, and every day, abundant room.
And my heart is wide open for the Lord to come, and to stay.
And suddenly, my Spirit soars. For the first time in December. It really soars.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

we're moving...again

In case you haven't seen the news on Facebook...we're moving again! Since getting married two years and seven months ago we have lived in Ancaster, Burlington, Milton, and Guelph. We've lived in four different houses, three of them with our daughter Penelope.

pregnant in our first home (Ancaster)

The longest we've lived in one place was our first apartment in Ancaster, where we stayed for exactly one year. After that we moved to Burlington to live with my Mom for four months. Then, we were off to Milton to live in a beautiful basement apartment for 11 months. Finally, we've been in our townhouse now for almost four months. We'll be moving at the end of February after only six months here.

living in Burlington at my mom's

our basement apt in Milton. 
we didn't know how good we had it.

our current house
(and biggest mistake!)

In all honesty, all this moving hasn't been too bad. We've almost always moved to a house significantly bigger, and our situation has always improved. I usually look forward to moving to a new place, and am even excited about it. This semi-nomadic lifestyle hasn't bothered me. I haven't really put my roots down anywhere, or ever felt like a place was permanent, which makes leaving a house behind really easy.

Until now. I'm not nervous about leaving this house, far from it. I look forward to moving from this house, because it's been too big, and caused way too many problems for us. I am nervous about where we're going. For the first time, we will be taking a massive step down from our current living situation.

Right now we're in a 1,300 square foot, brand new two-floor townhouse. We're currently looking at 800-square foot apartments and basement apartments. I want to find something semi-permanent. Something we'll be comfortable in for a few years, that we can hang some curtains up in and call home (because to me, hanging up curtains means I'm staying awhile, and it's something I've never done). I want a place that isn't too big, but isn't too small. Something that isn't too fancy, but isn't run down either. I recognize that my selfishness and greed totally took hold with our last move. It was the first time we made a major decision without really listening to wise counsel or taking time to decide.I'm nervous about making another mistake again. I'm nervous about not finding something, or finding something that just doesn't work for us. At this point the only places in our price range have been very run down high rises, but I don't feel comfortable raising two young girls in that setting.

So please, will you pray with me? Please pray for a home that God has for us. I'm not asking much this time, because I recognize my expectations were way too high four months ago. Just somewhere simple and safe, where I can feel at home. I look forward to sharing with you the awesome place God has planned for us, because I have faith that it's out there!

i'm at home as long as i have these two (and now baby sis!)

Thursday, 19 December 2013

toddler toys for penelope

Up until a few months ago we seriously had very little in terms of toys. Our main "toys" would have been Penny's giant exersaucer and swing, which did wonders in entertaining her and giving me some moments to get things accomplished.

Suddenly though, she is walking and talking and interacting a ton. The last six months have seen major developments in her motor skills, language, and overall communication. Seven months ago she couldn't walk or talk, and today she can probably say and understand nearly 100 words. She can also stack five blocks high, has incredible hand eye coordination (such as the ability to put puzzle pieces in correctly). Plus, she can bust a mean dance move!

Recently I have had to make some improvements in the toy department. Virtually everything we have purchased is used, typically at about 80% off retail. Sometimes a piece is missing, or there are some scuff marks, but I choose to overlook these imperfections and pay 20% of the original price! Here are some types of toys we are adding to our collection.

Toys to help with motor skills: We love these toys and Penny has plenty of them! The picture above shows our favourites. Toys like stacking blocks, peg toys, or puzzles are all great to help develop a toddler's fine motor skills. I love wooden toys especially because they're so durable and visually appealing, and prefer most of them to be non-electronic.

Educational Toys: We love us some educational toys, especially ones that don't make sounds. I recently started a "Mommy and Me" toy chest that contains an array of fun educational toys that we can do together. Since many of these toys contain multiple "pieces" I prefer to have designated times to play with them, and then put them away. These include: a magnet board book that teaches shapes, a giant counting jigsaw puzzle, a bin of stacking blocks, and animal puzzles.

Toys that encourage imagination: This is a big one for me, and I have found toys that encourage imagination are usually the biggest investment. Right now we have a Little Tykes play house that receives lots of love, and a sweet little table and chairs set that Penny is obsessed with. Over Christmas she will be getting a kitchen set and a tea set. These toys are usually huge so I am a bit more picky about what I allow in my house. I want them to be well-used and well-loved for many, many years. I'd also consider buying new or spending a bit more.

Electronic toys: Finally, we've got the electronics. Taking a quick glance across my house I realize we really don't have a whole lot that is electronic for Penelope to play with. Some of her toys make sounds, and others did at some point (but the batteries were never replaced, whoops!) Her Christmas present this year is a Leap Frog "Lap Top" (I paid $25 new for it at Wal Mart). She is going to love it, especially since it's her only toy that is soley electronic...other than the television!

What does your toddler love to play with? For us it's the interactive toys that are the big winners, combined with the motor skills toys.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

It's a....


I can't even contain my excitement over this! We are having a girl, a second daughter. I totally had that feeling this time that there was a little girl inside of me (probably because I feel the exact same as I did with my first girl).

I am thrilled to be having a second daughter, and that Penelope will be getting a little sister in May. What best friends they will be! The picture above just seriously brings me to tears of joy, excitement, and anticipation. I cannot imagine all the fun and mischief my two girls are going to get up to, but I know they'll be awesome friends and partners in crime.

And I'm blessed that my Father and my Lord would give me another daughter. A girl to love and serve and cherish for all my days. We are beyond thrilled!

And, because I have to...here are some more sister, sister pictures.

PS: 57% of you voted girl, so once again...majority ruled. This time though the results were a bit more mixed! 

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

The Best Cookbook EVER!

I need to be honest with you about something....
I hate most cookbooks. Ditto foodie blogs.
Seriously, they are fun and mouth-watering to look at, but usually they are full of recipes that I would never dream of trying.

I am a super simple cook. I pull together whatever is in my fridge and create something that is fresh and usually tastes good (sometimes great!) If I do need a recipe or an idea for something I usually consult the internet, since I can find super fast and simple recipes there much easier than I can with Jamie Oliver or Giada Di Laurentis.

Lately though I have felt super uninspired in my cooking. My meal plans all look the same, and I am seriously getting sick of the same old, same old. I never considered consulting a cookbook because I am also losing steam in the kitchen. I have a super needy toddler that bangs on my legs and cries as soon as I start cooking, and I am usually too exhausted to find joy in the kitchen anyways.

Enter: the most awesome cookbook ever!

Don't be fooled by the title, people. I will proudly have this cookbook on my kitchen counter for a long, long time. And I will probably feel the need to tell every single person that comes into my home, "just so you know..I can cook...I just love this cookbook." This is a fantastic cookbook for the novice and experienced (or, frazzled mama).

Here's what I love:
>> fresh, simple, and inexpensive ingredients, most of which you will have in your kitchen
>> each recipe contains a few ingredients, and a few super simple steps
>> Jessica makes you feel brave and her love for cooking is infectious. I also feel comfortable enough to call her Jessica, cause she's my best friend.
>> the amount of time it takes to create these super delicious meals is so minimal, you might laugh. Like, ten, fifteen...twenty minutes tops. This is the best part for me!

So far I have made scrambled eggs with cream cheese, soft boiled eggs and fresh toast, sweet and spicy chicken wings, herb-roasted beef with potato and carrots, and broiled honey nut bananas. That's five recipes, in the last three days. 

I am officially back in the game. I also have another three recipes that I'll be trying in the next few days and I honestly can't wait. Like, I think about it, throughout the day. Often. Roasted striped bass and tomatoes anyone?

Go ahead and buy this cookbook friends! It's 37% off on Amazon for only $20.00, which is way less than one dinner out. And for me, that is huge because this cookbook is going to save me a lot of time and money in the years to come. Also, my husband is sooooo happy!

leftover herb-roasted beef with grilled veggies

super easy and fast sweet/spicy wings

this picture does not do these honey and nut broiled bananas justice, sorry

My girl Jessica retweeted my husband, obviously.
Just waiting on my invite for a dinner date.

I also feel the need to tell you that I like The Pioneer Woman too.

Monday, 9 December 2013

are we having a boy or girl?

In one week we find out if Penelope is getting a brother or a sister! This time around I really have no clue, I waffle between thinking it's a boy or a girl constantly. With Pen, I was positive I was having a boy, so clearly my gut instinct is not to be trusted! I did a poll on my blog with Penny, and the overwhelming response was that I was having a GIRL! So, you guys were right last time..let's see how you do this time around!

We are still deciding whether we'll reveal the gender right away, or wait till Christmas and reveal it in person to our family. I think the Christmas idea is super sweet, but we're not the most patient of people.

So get voting people!!! :) Please see the poll on the right sidebar, or feel free to leave a comment

Friday, 29 November 2013

naming your second

I love names. You can probably tell based on the vast number of blogs I have written in the past on naming Penelope. For some reason, naming our first was easy-peasy. Not so much this time.

We finally agreed on a girl name, but not after a lot of consideration. I ended up choosing the name, but we are both excited and on board with it. The one issue I really had was finding something that fit with Penelope, and one that was not too common. We ended up choosing the most "common" or "popular" name from our list, but I almost didn't choose it simply because it was more popular. After a lot of self talk I realized that I needed to choose the name I liked best, and not worry if there are already kids in the nursery with that name.

Now, for boy names. We had a boy name picked out, which my husband had selected. But after awhile I just felt like I was "going along" with things. I didn't love the name. Now we're back to square one, flipping through books. The problem is, our taste in boy names is vastly different.

My husband loves biblical, highly unusual names (think Hezekiah and and Ephraim). I, on the other hand, like more trendy names or more traditional names (think Lincoln and Henry). I seem to have a love for names that were originally last names, and sound quite masculine. My big problem though is that I'm always thinking of a nick name, and find with boy's names that I like there is often not the greatest nick name. For example, I love Lincoln, but I don't like Linc at all. I love Bennett, and I even love Ben, but then we realized our kids would be Pen and Ben.

Do you see my issues? Do you feel my pain? Totally open to suggestions :)