oh summer, where have you gone?

This happens every year. I find myself staring at the calendar, confused as to how time has mysteriously flown by and left us at the end of August. Summer came, and it's about to go back into hiding for another long, long winter. I'm slightly terrified at the thought of this. In a perfect world, this summer would last forever.
Ryan and I would have the time of our lives enjoying our in-between jobs phase. We wouldn't have to move to separate cities and continue on with our grown up lives and working for a living. The weather would stay warm and snow would be nothing more than a distant memory, never to be seen again.
But alas, we live in the real world and life must go on. Next week Ryan will move to Edmonton to begin his brand new job, while I'll stay home until my own move 2 weeks later. We'll be separated by 3 hours of highway, which certainly beats an entire ocean, but still isn't much fun. The days will get shorter and colder, and we'll brace ourselves for winter.
On the bright side, both of us are moving forward in our careers and are very much looking forward to beginning our new jobs. He'll be working for a much better company than his previous employer, and I'll be hitting the skies again, doing what I love.
September brings beautiful autumn landscapes and the return of pumpkin spiced lattes. It will also bring a brand new city and hopefully some new friends!
It's a bittersweet time, but I'll try my very best to make the most of it. Life is changing, yet again!

Funny things kids come up with...

Last week, Michael stubbed his toe against the table and shouted out loud " Jesus!".

This week, Skye stubbed her toe against the table and shouted out loud " Cheeses!".

At that moment, my knees gave way and I collapsed on my back, on the floor, from laughter!!!

Our Tenant!

The garden orb weaver spider...It is a stout, reddish-brown or grey spider with triangular abdomen. The Garden Orb Weavers build large, strong, vertical orb webs. The web is usually built in the evenings and taken down again at dawn. The spider rests head-down in the centre of the web during darkness, waiting for prey. During the day, the spider rests under nearby branch or in nearby foliage with its legs drawn under the body.

The bite is usually non-toxic but could cause swelling, sharp pain and numbness. But people usually die of a heart attack because of the fright he causes .

He lives right outside our main entrance door! Skye knows not to touch the bushes. Don't worry, Michael is actually standing right behind him but not touching him, of course.

Later, y'all!

Taking a break to say good-bye to summer and hello to a new school year!

I'll be back soon!

bite by bite, step by step.

Since my return from Dubai, Ryan and I have been living like royalty. Or at least we've been eating like it.
Shrugging aside the fact that our wedding date is fast approaching, we opted for a summer of delicious meals regardless of their nutritional content. I re-experienced all of my favourite Canadian foods. I had a birthday party with enough food to feed a family for a month or two. Oh, and then there was the roadtrip. For 4 weeks Ryan and I drove through the United States eating like Americans. We had to get the full cultural experience, and that just happened to include Starbucks and a whole lot of burgers and hot dogs. The west coast was a seafood mecca and we took full advantage of the fresh crab, prawns, mussels and oysters. Every day was filled with glorious food and more treats than we needed or deserved.
All good things must come to an end, and unfortunately for us that meant returning home and facing real life and the end of our long vacation. It also meant returning to our long deserted former hangout... the gym.
We'd discussed it many times during our trip. We'd justify our calories with the fact that we'd go to the gym as soon as we were back home. Time flew by and before we knew it we were forced to accept our fate. The gym awaited and it wasn't going to go easy on us.
Still sore from our hike up a mountain days earlier, we forced ourselves out of bed this morning and reluctantly drove to the gym. We purchased our monthly pass and made our way to the track where we endured a mixture of running, walking, sit-ups and push-ups. We stayed an entire hour and were feeling rather proud of ourselves, but that wasn't the end.
Later in the day we returned, just in time for a circuit training fitness class. Ryan and I may be out of shape at the moment, but there was a time a long time ago when we were fitness junkie, gym addicts. We've been to the classes and at our prime, they were a breeze. Today, however, I thought I just might die. Everything hurt. My legs, my arms, my back, my abs. During one of our ten flights of stairs we were told to run, we contemplated escaping. My genius of a fiance had left the car keys in the other room and we were forced to return to our perky over-energetic instructor, who commanded us to proceed to the next station. Both Ryan and I struggled to get through each station, cheating and taking breaks and feeling rather embarrassed at our state of fitness. We did survive, and the class did eventually end, much to our surprise. Just 2 hours of workouts and I've got to admit, I'm sore and tired but I'm feeling great. Combined with our ridiculously healthy meals, we are well on our way to getting into shape for our wedding. The moral of the story: Nothing great comes without consequences.
That said, if we can do this, anyone can.

I'll leave you now with a tribute to the food that we ate and enjoyed. If I could take it all back I wouldn't, I loved every single gram of fat and calorie.

Smoothie Moves

When grains are not on the menu, breakfasts can require you to think out of the box!
(Haha, get it? "out of the (cereal) box"?!)

My middle son, Benji, has been tested on and off sensitive to eggs. Not a full blown allergy, but sensitive. If you persist in giving/eating a food that you are sensitive to, there is a really good chance that a big, nasty allergy will develop. So...we really don't do scrambled eggs, omelets, etc.

Cereal, oatmeal, toast, french toast, scrambled eggs, pancakes, waffles and omelets are all a no-no for us right now. So what's for breakfast??

Kefir Smoothies!

Kefir is basically fermented/cultured milk. At our house, we use raw milk from grass fed cows to make a variety of cultured dairy products. Why raw? Dairy products that are pasteurized (that you find in the grocery store) are from grain fed, CAFO cows, and are only a source of calories and allergies!
(more on this here, here, and here-don't forget; if you are doing research make sure you find similar information in three or more places!)

Raw, grass fed milk is a natural immune builder! It is rich in the vitamin B's, is a great source of probiotics for intestinal health, and has tons of enzymes (which fight inflammation). All of this is destroyed completely when the milk is pasteurized.
(more on this here, here and here!)

OK, so back to Kefir!

Kefir is a powerful probiotic beverage. It is made by placing kefir "grains" (not really grain, it just looks like grain!) in milk and letting it stand on your counter for up to 48 hours. It looks kind of like runny yogurt when it's finished.
It can be strained, also, to make kefir cheese (similar consistency to cream cheese).

I make a 1/2 gallon of kefir at a time, and we use 2-3 C each morning in our smoothies.
Since we've been drinking kefir daily and using kombucha (more on that in a later post!), we've hardly been sick at all! In fact, I can't remember the last time I was sick since my flu back in October of last year. Proper intestinal flora (friendly bacteria) is of utmost importance to a healthy immune system. In fact, I would almost say that it's the single most valuable area of your body that you can work on being super healthy.

So, here's my recipe...sort of! I'm not really a by the books recipe kind of gal, I just cook with a little of this and a pinch of that. I'll attempt to quantify what I use!

Daily Breakfast Smoothies

2-3 C fresh homemade kefir
1-2 C frozen fruit
raw honey to taste

Blend, drink immediately!

That's the basic recipe that I always add or subtract from. I've been known to throw an avocado in (which makes it super creamy and satisfying), some raw egg yolks, aloe vera juice, kombucha, vanilla, a pinch of salt, some raw spinach, cinnamon, or whey. Not necessarily all at once!!

I will say that kefir is an acquired taste. It's a bit sour, similar to plain yogurt. At first, we had to do the "I'm sorry you don't like this, honey. It's good for your body and you need to be obedient to Mom and Dad and drink it" speech. After a while, maybe a week or so, the kids actually were asking for smoothies and my pickiest child was begging me to add avocado!
Don't give up when you are trying to introduce new, whole foods to your kids! Keep trying...sometimes it's just the "newness" that freaks them out!

catching up!

Admittedly, I've been far too lazy to blog lately. Summer has flown by and I'm doing all that I can to soak up the last bit of it before winter settles in for a long, long time. To be honest, I'm not really sure how I'll cope with winter after 2 years living in one of the hottest places on Earth. Maybe a week away for a tropical wedding will help? Speaking of weddings, I have my wedding dress! It's downstairs, in the spare room closet, just waiting to be worn. Each day I take a moment to admire it and look forward to the fast-approaching big day. I'm overcome with wedding fever, but I'm sure none of you want to read about it.
Now back to our regular scheduled blogging....
After our trip to Seattle, Ryan and I enjoyed one last day in the United States before beginning the journey home. We watched airplanes take off, ate far too much greasy food, and went to Wal-Mart. I'm quite certain that I've blogged about my love for Wal-Mart in the past, but let me tell you... Wal-Mart in the USA? Amazing. Ryan and I cruised around the massive store loading up our shopping cart. Everything was so cheap in comparison to Canada, and our strong Canadian dollar made it feel like even more of a bargain. Before reaching the checkout we went through each and every item, trying to convince ourselves that we didn't need to own it. It worked for a few things, but we left with far more than we'd anticipated.
The next day it was finally time to begin the long journey home. We stopped for a couple of nights in Kelowna, where we enjoyed the beautiful weather and went on a 12 km hike... the most physical activity we'd had in weeks. Stocked up on fresh fruit, we set out for a full day of driving, eventually reaching home that evening. Our roadtrip was over, 9,000 kilometres later. We caught up with our parents and enjoyed a night of sleeping in our very own bed.
Our vacation wasn't over quite yet. We spent the weekend camping near beautiful Banff, eating campfire food and freezing in the Alberta weather. On Saturday we set out for a hike, battling exhaustion until we finally reached the summit of Sulphur Mountain. I watched in envy as gondolas full of people climbed the mountain above us. It was no easy task, but we felt proud of ourselves for taking the first step towards getting back into shape. The weekend ended and we returned home. Back to reality and the fact that we both have jobs starting in the near future. I've been a busy bee trying to finish up all of my pre-job requirements. I'm rather excited to start work again... maybe not the training portion, but I can't wait to hit the skies.
Life is busy and crazy and I'm loving every minute of it. I'd take this over summer in Dubai any day.

my MYnd

I had my first really mean, negative comment on here recently. The commenter (anonymous of course, aren't they all?) said something about hoping that my kids would develop minds of their own. Even though the comment was just an ignorant, idle insult, it got me thinking about the true definition of an independent mind and how we, as Christian parents, define that for our children.

What does "having a mind of your own" mean, really? Does it mean what it says, having a mind that is only full of your own ideas, ideals, plans, concerns, and ambitions? If you break it down that way, it sounds pretty selfish, doesn't it!

Or, does "having a mind of your own" simply mean being able to think for yourself, above influence? I think this definition is more accurate, and fits our personal goals as Christian parents much better than the first.

As followers of Christ, and as parents, we are solely responsible for the training of our children's minds and hearts. We are raising up the next generation of believers, the next leaders of our nation, the next missionaries, the next pastors. If we give in to "our own minds", we are inherently going against every command that Jesus has given us regarding how we are to live.

"Our own minds" are full of sinful, selfish desires! Not how we want our children to turn out, right? I'm sure you've seen your share of spoiled children, individuals who demand that the world revolve around them, and are horrified if they don't get everything they desire, WHEN they desire it. That, truly, is allowing your child to "have a mind of their own"!

Our goal (my husband's and mine) is to raise independent children who can think for themselves, above worldly influence, and who have keenly trained ears to the Lord's voice. We are working towards this by choosing to do several things.

First, our goal is immediate obedience. If our children can't listen and obey our voices, how can they listen to and obey the voice of the Lord? Obedience is required in ALL areas. And yes, that does include mealtimes, as I addressed in a previous post. We are obeying our heavenly Father to the best of our ability, and model obedience with a cheerful heart for our children.

Secondly, we choose to educate them here in our home. We believe that home education goes way far and above any other type of education in preparing our children for the real world. It allows them to learn how to focus during real life distractions. It allows them to learn the intricacies of relating to people outside their peer group. They are able to watch Mommy and Daddy navigating through bumpy situations regarding home repairs, or money issues, or family problems and how we deal with them. They get one on one time with their teacher, me! The list goes on and on but I'll stop now because this post is not about why we homeschool!!

Thirdly, we model for them daily prayer, Bible reading, serving others (with a good attitude!!), and other life skills that they will need when they are adults.

Fourthly, we don't help them. Yep! Not a typo. Parents who do EVERYTHING for their children are not being kind. Where will your sweet darling be when she walks out the door to college and Mommy is not there with a plate of hot eggs in the morning, or to put her freshly washed clothes away in the drawer for her? Hungry and dirty, that's where! We teach our kids life skills so they can ultimately  be independent, but learn how before they step out into the wide world by themselves. After giving them the tools, we encourage them to solve quarrels between themselves on their own, or cook something on their own, or clean the bathroom by themselves, etc.

These are just a few examples of how our family is raising up independent, well-equipped children, who cling to Jesus and follow His word.

It is very prideful to say that you have only your own thoughts and ideas and follow no one's input but your own. Like it or not, the truth is that everyone will be influenced by someone, or something sooner or later in their lives.  Home schooled or not. The choice is ours, then, as parents, to choose who we want to be the powerful influence in our children's lives. Who will direct their minds and hearts? A stranger? Their peers? Cartoon Newtork? Or us?

We know that we are human, and aside from the Lord's redemption and grace, are fallen sinners. If left to their own devices, children's minds will belong to the world, and the prince of darkness. Because, in reality, our minds have never been our own, and never will be! So, we choose to  raise children with the mind and heart of Christ, who can think for themselves, above influence and follow the voice of Jesus.

I urge you, Christian parents, be vigilant! Seek daily to turn your children's hearts and minds towards yourself and thus towards Jesus! Be obedient and seek obedience from those precious souls entrusted to you for this short time on earth. Their minds are a battleground and the Prince of Peace must prevail.


a LONG drive...

stripey fields...

getting sort of lost...




slightly tired...

getting treats...

good friends...

and our kids...

{a few days later}
cutting and soaking...

a sea of jars...

someone who has done this before...

in and out...


hello seattle!

For reasons that I don't understand, I've always had the desire to visit Seattle. It's one of those places that just rolls off the tip of your tongue so nicely and sounds like a great place to go. Say it with me… Seattle. The fact that it is the home of Starbucks probably helps its case.
I'd been to the rainy city before, but at the time I was about 5 years old and wouldn't have known the difference between it and the town that I lived in. 20 years later, I was going to see the Seattle through new, grownup eyes.
Ryan and I showered and got ready for our day. Our first stop was Starbucks, as it seemed quite fitting and I'm admittedly a bit of an addict. Caffeinated, we were on our way! Somehow, I ended up being the one forced to drive. I sat white knuckled on the gridlocked interstate, wondering how people had the patience to spend so much of their lives sitting in traffic. I probably won't do well with moving to Calgary, but its nothing in comparison to some of the cities we've been to. As we entered city limits the skyline stood proudly, the Space Needle posing for our photos. I won the battle with traffic and made it safely and not too stressfully to our destination.
Car parked, we headed to the famous Pike Place Market. We knew that it would be busy. We were well aware that coming on a Saturday afternoon was recipe for disaster. We'd taken it all into consideration, but we were still shocked at the mass crowds of people filing through the market.
We forced our way through in an attempt to find food to satisfy our raging appetites. The line for the seafood stall was long, so as I waited Ryan went to a bakery to purchase an almond bear-claw croissant. Mmm, delicious. Once we'd made it to the front of the line we ordered a seafood chowder and a shrimp cocktail. The man working the till messed up our order and gave us a more expensive crab cocktail instead. He'd charged us more money, but we accepted this given the fact that he gave us too much change as well.
We stood eating our food and enjoying the atmosphere of the market area. Once we were fed it was time to battle the crowds once again. Ryan led the way as we weaved in and out of groups of slow walking people. It was a bit too chaotic to do much random browsing, but we made our way through the market and back out to the street. We found a small grocery store selling all sorts of unique items and made a few purchases. Some Tillamook cheese (since Ryan's mom had raved about Tillamook, Oregon), chocolate coated bacon (we've yet to try it, I'll let you know how it goes…) and my personal favourite purchase; chocolate chip cookie dough. Like rebellious children away from the supervision of our parents, we sat at a table eating cookie dough by the spoonful. Don't worry, the package clearly stated that it was safe to eat raw. Life was wonderful.
Using the little bit of willpower that we possess, we closed the lid of the cookie dough before we began to feel ill, continuing on with our Seattle exploring. Down the road we spotted a cafe that advertised "Any Beer, Any Time - $4". Ryan decided to take them up on this offer, ordering a bottle of Moose Drool while I sipped an iced chai latte.

We continued our wandering until we came across an old fashioned barber shop. With my encouragement, Ryan decided to be adventurous and go in for a new look. The barber meticulously gave him a much shorter hairstyle followed by an old fashioned shave. I watched and took photos as my scruffy fuzzy haired fiance was given a much more clean cut look. With a smooth face and tame hair, he looked almost too young to be out with me.
Next up for the day was dinner. I know what you are all thinking… do our entire lives revolve around food?! Well, to put it simply… yes. Yes they do.
We'd found a restaurant advertising super cheap appetizers with the purchase of a drink. I ordered a cherry slushy and Ryan tried another local beer to go along with our buttermilk calamari and lemon butter salmon skewers. It was enough to make a meal, and at less than $20 for food and drinks it was a bargain.
As we left the restaurant the market was closing. We quickly purchased candied salmon (amazing) and cinnamon roasted almonds for an edible souvenir of Pike Place Market. We wandered the streets, passing by a wall covered in thousands of pieces of chewing gum. Other tourists took photos and stuck their gum to the wall to contribute. It was a strange and kind of yucky attraction, but we couldn't resist taking a few of our own photos. Ryan suggested that I stick one of my cards on the wall in an attempt to gain a few more blog followers, but I chose to keep my distance instead.
After checking on our car to ensure that nobody had broken in while we were gone, it was time for the highlight of my day… Starbucks! Earlier in the day the line had stretched out into the street, forcing me to make the decision to carry on walking. It had died down now that the market was closed. Ryan and I stepped inside the very first Starbucks which sported the original logo and lacked the modern decor of the other cafes.
I bought a travel mug as a souvenir, and we took our coffees down the street to another Starbucks that actually had seating. We sat there overlooking the much photographed Pike Place Market sign as we drank our coffee and took advantage of the free wifi.
The sun was setting over the city as we returning to our car to begin the journey back to our campsite. We opted out of visiting the Space Needle as it was far out of the way and we were running short of time to make it back before the park gates closed for the evening. It had been a great day full of food and coffee. Seattle was great, just as I'd always anticipated it would be!

blown away by boeing

Since we first decided to include Seattle in our roadtrip plans, I have been begging and pleading and probably driving Ryan insane with my many reminders of the fact that I wanted (I may have said needed) to go to the Boeing Factory just outside of Everett. We missed stopping on our first trip through the state, but Ryan agreed that we would return after the wedding in Victoria that he needed to photograph.
I'm lucky to be in love with somebody who keeps his promises. After a nice week on Vancouver Island we caught the ferry back to Anacortes, Washington. We found a site to pitch our tent and called it a night, resting up for the next day. We had tickets for a tour of the Boeing Factory and the aviation nerd in me could barely contain her excitement.
We woke up well rested and packed up our site, moving to another campsite on Camano Island. We didn't waste time blowing up our air mattress or making the bed cozy, we simply pitched our tent, got back in the car, and headed for Everett. Turning off on Boeing Freeway we spotted our first glimpse of the massive factory; the biggest building in the world by volume. It was love at first sight.
Surrounded by jumbo jets sporting the logos of dozens of different airlines, I knew that we were in store for a great day.
We parked and admired the view as we walked in to the Future of Flight centre. We'd arrived early for the tour, so we spent awhile wandering the gift shop to pass the time. There was another gift shop dedicated solely to Boeing, but I insisted that we save that for the end of the day. It was finally time to go! We piled into an auditorium where we watched a short video about how air travel (specifically Boeing) has changed the world. After that we were loaded onto our bus and began the trip over to the factory. Ryan and I sat at the very front, being complete nerds and bombarding our tour guide with questions.
Our first stop was the production line where the 747-8 planes are assembled. I wish that I could share photos, but cameras are strictly prohibited on the tour. The huge planes sat in various stages of completion. I may have been crew on the A380, but that doesn't make the 747 seem any less amazing.
Next stop was the production line for the 777. This was more familiar territory for me. In fact, I even spotted a plane being built for my former airline. The cool thing about this assembly line is that the entire thing actually moves 1.6 inches each minute to make production faster and easier.
The last stop on the tour was the 787 Dreamliner production line. We felt privileged to be among the few who have seen the aircraft so far, as it's yet to take its inaugural passenger flight. We listened to the many amazing features of the aircraft and caught a glimpse of the very first plane that will be shipped off to All Nippon Airways in Japan in just a few short weeks.
The tour was over and we were of course released directly into the Boeing gift shop. Ryan and I knew that we'd never escape without spending a small fortune, but we didn't care. Who doesn't need airplane shaped slippers or Boeing jackets or an incredible (and pricey) bag made from vintage aircraft materials?! We spent a great deal of time as I went back and forth contemplating whether I needed to own the bag or not, before finally coming to the realization that I was unable to leave without it.
I won't comment on how much we spent or how long we stayed in the gift shop, but I can assure you that it was more than enough to make us very happy.
Once we'd spent a sufficient chunk of cash we quickly walked through the Future of Flight gallery and onto the viewing deck where we were rewarded with a view of the runway and all of the nearly completed aircrafts on the tarmac. We were excited to spot the Dreamlifter, an aircraft built for the sole purpose of transporting aircraft parts. It was a rather interesting looking plane, and to our satisfaction we were now free to take as many photos as we'd like.
We watched a few planes take off and land, and just as the building closed we stood with several other photographers begging the employee to let us stay just a few more minutes as a Dreamliner was about to take off. He obliged, allowing us to watch and snap photos as it headed down the runway. How lucky we were! We watched it take off, impressed by how quiet it was in comparison to other planes of the same size.

The building was closing and we were forced to leave, but that didn't stop us from hanging out in the parking lot. We continued to watch planes for awhile until deciding to finally go for dinner.
We made our way to a busy Chinese seafood restaurant where we dined on amazing dishes that tasted far better than any I've ever had in China. Full beyond the point of being able to walk, we waddled back to the car and returned to Boeing. Yes, again. The tour guide had explained that most of the action takes place at night to prevent car accidents as the factory is right beside a freeway and definitely a distraction. We sat for awhile, but nothing happened so we decided to finally make our way back to our campsite.
We had failed to consider the fact that the gate might be closed as it was nearly midnight. Fortunately, I was able to open it and we drove in quietly so as to not wake up anyone camping. All of that effort went out the window when Ryan accidentally pushed the alarm button on the car remote, likely waking up all of our neighbours. Embarrassed, we retreated to our tent and settled in for a good night's sleep after an amazing airplane filled day.
My new airline flies only Boeing, and I'm excited to spend my days cruising the skies on them!