Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Secret Code

Now that I've unveiled the Christmas card, do you want to see the rest of the photo shoot? I'll have to give you our secret code... We were so happy with how all the pictures turned out! Melissa did an amazing job inspite of the fact that we were cold and slipping around on the ice and the kids were getting bored, etc.! She managed to make that all disappear in the photos. To see them, go to and click "Enter Site." Then, at the top of the page, click "V.I.P Area." When it asks for a password, type in "CUBA." (Don't ask - it's a joke between her husband and my husband!) Get comfortable because there are 74 pictures! I hope you enjoy them!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Monday, December 22, 2008

Bunches of Pictures!

Since I haven't posted much lately, I wanted to, at least, share some pictures so you could see a little of what we've been doing.

Joshua and I on our 9th anniversary date. After a delicious dinner at The Creperie, we visited the downtown Legislature Grounds to admire the Christmas lights and ice sculptures they have there.

Sara and Sky playing outside for the last time before the deep freeze. The temperatures have been dangerously cold for 2 1/2 weeks now. (More on that later.)

My (sometimes) angel, making a snow angel!

And another snow angel...

Sky helping Mommy mix up some Pumpkin Bread, something we can't have Christmas without!

More help from Sara - she's actually got a pretty strong arm!
There's nothing better than the smell of Pumpkin Bread baking in the oven! We made little loaves for the neighbours and a big one for our Christmas dinner.With the temperatures being so extremely cold, we are not able to take leisurely walks to look at Christmas lights. Edmonton has just the thing for December evenings, such as these! Every year this park puts up huge light displays and it's drive-thru only. The kids were so excited because they got to take their seat belts off and stand up in the car! We let the kids hang out the window and take pictures too. So, we had quite a few blurry ones, but Sky took this one and it turned out great.
I took this one - it was my favourite.

Saturday evening we went to a performance of Handel's Messiah. Joshua's parents were also there (they treated!), along with his sister and former piano teacher. It was beautiful, but the kids were supremely bored. At the intermission, I asked Dad who's idea it was to bring the kids. :-) So, Grandpa took the kids for a walk and bought them ice cream during the intermission. Then, he held Sky on his lap for the second half. Let's just say that standing up for the Hallelujah Chorus was a blessed relief! Here's the only picture I got of the kids with happy faces that evening! Don't you just love Sky's little vest?!

Just a couple of days ago, we made these cute little wreaths. They were a major hit and only lasted a few hours! I'll be posting the recipe on Recipeasy later tonight.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Christmas Party

It's after midnight and I need to be in bed, but I wanted to give an update about the party. I survived! It was beautifully decorated, complete with ice sculptures on the buffet tables. (I forgot the camera again! Joshua took this picture of me after we got home!) The food was excellent. Each table seated 8 people, but our table only had 4. For various reasons, the other people were not able to come at the last minute. So, Joshua and I shared the table with 2 single girls. They were actually easy to talk to and we had fun with them. There was a quiz sheet at each table with Christmas-y questions to answer. We had to answer them all together and submit our sheet to the "judges." It was a lot of fun! Does anyone know the country of origin for the poinsettia? I took a wild guess, and everyone agreed to write it down. It turned out that I was right! I'll tell you what...If you leave a comment with the correct answer, I'll enter you into a draw for a prize. Seriously! I've been wanting to do a giveaway, and this is perfect! Tomorrow I'll let you know what the prize is.

Anyway, back to the party... No one that we talked to tonight was drunk and we left as soon as the dancing and loud music began. The presentations and speeches were a little long-winded and boring, but it could be worse! We didn't win any door prizes, but that's O.K.! Thank you so much to everyone who prayed tonight. My father-in-law, who has worked for the bank for 19 years, was the one who prayed before the meal. He said a little bit before he prayed about remembering true meaning of Christmas. It was nice to hear that.

Oh, and I have to apologize for unintentionally lying about the number of people at the party. Joshua told me 1,000 (he was totally guessing), so I just quoted him. Oops! The official number was actually 552!
Here's one more pic, a self-portrait we took after we got home! The kids did great at home with the babysitter, so all in all, it was a good evening. Have a wonderful weekend everyone! Tomorrow I'm going to post a bunch of pictures from the last week - and I'll post a picture of what I'm going to give away!

Friday, December 19, 2008


There are so many things I want to write about today, but I think most of it will have to wait for another day. Tonight is the bank's Christmas party where there will be about 1,000 people in attendance! I have many mixed feelings about these parties. This will be our third one since Joshua started working for the bank. It's always a beautifully festive atmosphere, with yummy food and lots of prizes being given out. It's just that the "celebration" is never about the real meaning of Christmas, and I always leave with such an empty feeling. After the meal, there is so much drunkenness and music so loud that you have to shout to the person standing right next to you. Joshua always wants to stay to make the rounds to greet some "important" people with the bank (another thing that bugs me, the fact that certain people are considered more important than others, just because of the money they make...). Every girl likes to dress up in a beautiful dress, and fix her hair and make-up just right for special occasions. But, this occasion is hard for me. Am I the only one who feels like this? Anyway, please pray for me tonight - that somehow Jesus' love will fill my heart with joy inspite of the worldliness around me.

Aloha Friday #6

It's time for Aloha Friday again! I ask a simple question and you answer it! If you want to participate, head on over to An Island Life and follow the instructions! It's a great way to make new bloggy friends!

For my regular readers, I apologize for my lack of posting this week... I know, it's really pathetic that I have NOTHING between my last two Aloha Friday posts! I promise I will post something in the next day or two.

My question for this week:

In just two days (December 21st), it will be Winter Solstice (the shortest day of the year). Being so far north in Alberta, Canada, our days have been very short! I'm turning on the outside Christmas lights at 4:30 in the afternoon! So, my question is this: What are the sunrise/sunset times in your part of the world right now? Today, the sun rose at 8:47 a.m. and the sunset will be 4:15 p.m. I am very ready for the days to begin lengthening around here!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Aloha Friday #5

Today's Aloha Friday took me by surprise! I can't believe it's that time of the week already! I'm going to ask a simple question and all you have to do is answer it! Thanks to An Island Life for the original idea. If you want to participate, head on over there and follow the instructions! It's a fun way to make new bloggy friends!

This week's question is multiple choice:

Which holiday beverage is your favourite?

a. Eggnog
b. Hot chocolate
c. Wassail (hot spiced apple cider)
d. Holiday lattes at Starbucks (if so, which one?)
e. Other

I think mine would have to be the Gingerbread Latte at Starbuck's! Grande, de-caf, half-sweet, no whipped cream! (It is now called the Gingersnap Latte - get it without the cookie sprinkles - even the guy at Starbuck's told me they were disgusting!)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

9 Years Ago

December 10th, 1999 was a beautiful day! We were married in Niles, Michigan in a little white chapel. I've been reminiscing all day about the wonderful friends and family who came to celebrate with us on our wedding day. I had to include this picture, because two of my bridesmaids are very much a part of my bloggy world. Jennifer, with the pretty smile on the far left, can be found at Life With The Burk Family. Karen, the cute blond on the far right, is the one who got me into this whole blogging thing! I keep up with her crazy life at Snakes, Snails and Puppydog Tails! Jan, my maid of honour in the middle, keeps up with me on Facebook.

This is one of our engagement pictures, taken just a few weeks before the wedding, on American Thanksgiving, 1999. This picture was taken, 9 years later, on Canadian Thanksgiving, 2008! We're still in love and I still melt when he smiles at me!
So much has happened in the past 9 years. Those stories can wait for another day. It has been a crazy journey, full of ups and downs. I'm not one of those people who would say that I'd do it all over again or even that these 9 years have been the best years of my life. There have been some wonderful moments that I will cherish forever. There have also been some moments that I regret and wish didn't happen. One thing I know - God has been in every moment of our marriage whether we acknowledged Him or not. And God will continue to be there, with His never ending grace. Today we celebrate! May there be many more years of celebration and love.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

"Oh, the Weather Outside is Frightful..."

"...but the fire (or maybe I should say, furnace) is so delightful!" It has been snowing every day now for a week! Finally! Today it was A LOT! I had to go out this afternoon to take Sky to his music class and then to the grocery store for a couple of things. It was snowing like crazy and the roads are definitely frightful right now! I'm so thankful we have a four wheel drive Toyota Highlander! It really makes a huge difference. After coming home, I poked my head out the door one more time to take a few pictures for you.

Here's what it looks like out the back door...... and what it looks like out my front door!

Brrrr! It's cold, but pretty! Joshua took the kids to ski racing lessons tonight, so I'm alone as I type this. Don't get too excited for me - I've been cleaning up and doing laundry - but at least it's quiet!
The weekend was fun, but too busy. The highlight for me was seeing the musical presentation of The Chronicles of Narnia on Saturday night. The church that did the production did an amazing job! It was truly enchanting for me. Sara and Sky absolutely loved it! Their eyes were glued to that stage from the minute the play started, till the closing scene. It was over two hours long, with only a ten minute intermission, but they couldn't get enough of it! We have been reading the book out loud in the evenings, so it was really neat to see it all come to life like that!
On Sunday evening, Sara and Sky performed in their Christmas piano recital. They both did a great job and we were very proud! Grandma and Grandpa and Auntie Shannon came to support the budding musicians as well. Afterwards, we all went out for supper together. There are no pictures because I forgot the camera! And I realized that, about 5 minutes after I realized I had forgotten to prepare a snack to take for after the recital!! (Everyone was supposed to bring a plate of something.) Yes, I have officially lost my mind with all the busyness! One of the other moms in Sky's class took some pictures for me, and she has promised to e-mail them to me. Hopefully I will get those soon and then I will post them!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Aloha Friday #4

It's that time again! I ask a simple question and you answer! The original idea came from An Island Life. If you want to participate, click on the link and follow the instructions!

My question for this week:

Does anyone know what to do with ground turkey? (Not leftover turkey from Thanksgiving- I know what to do with that!) Someone recently gave me a pound of it and I've never used it in that form before! Any good recipe ideas?

If you don't know what to do with the ground turkey, here is your alternate question:

Are you doing anything "Christmas-y" this coming weekend? (ex. decorating, light festivals, visiting Santa, gift shopping, etc.)

We will be very busy, but only one really "Christmas-y" thing! Sunday evening is our kids' Christmas piano recital. Should be fun! I always get more nervous about those than they do! Whatever you happen to be doing, I hope you have a wonderful weekend with your families!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

This Is The Day That The Lord Has Made...

...I will rejoice and be glad in it! It's already Thursday! It hasn't been terribly busy this week, but I've been sick again. I had a sore throat last week for a few days, but it went away quickly. On Sunday, it came back with a vengeance. By Tuesday I had a fever and some other unmentionable symptoms. My throat was so swollen, that I was having panic attacks Monday night, feeling like my airway would close up! I was afraid to go to sleep for fear that I would stop breathing and never wake up! LOL! I'm not a bit dramatic, am I?! Ha! Just ask my mom! Although, I'm not nearly as bad as my sister, Heidi (age 13)! :-) Anyway...I went to see my herbalist and he fixed me up with some good stuff. He made me take some of the pills before I even left the store, and I was already feeling slightly better. A bit more expensive than going to the doctor, but WAY more helpful and without the 2 hour wait! (There are no doctors accepting new patients in our town right now, so I would have had to go to the walk-in clinic.) Today, I'm still feeling yucky, but the sore throat is subsiding.

Yesterday I had the first visit from Monica, our homeschool facilitator. It went O.K. I ended up crying a lot, probably just because I was feeling so yucky, combined with my recent frustrations with school. When we asked Sara to go downstairs, so we could talk privately, she would not obey. After I finally got her downstairs, she screamed her head off the whole time, so much so that Sky started crying from the stress of it all. I was too tired to be very embarrassed, but I'm sure my blood pressure went up a notch or two! We finally got everything discussed and then Sara read a short story for Monica. She did well. After sharing where we are at with Math this year, Monica thought it might be a good idea to get Sara "tested," in order for us to know how to teach her more effectively. I contacted my friend, Sherry, the one who I talked to about mediated learning last month. She's a Christian, homeschooling mom who does mediated learning testing. Basically, this kind of testing doesn't just identify "problems," but it helps with finding out how a child thinks and learns. We're going to talk on Friday about what the next step will be. She's such a wonderful, compassionate person and said she was confident she could help Sara. I'm quite sure she will make this as painless and "fun" as possible. It makes me feel better to know that I've made the first step. After so many years of feeling like a failure and going up and down on a roller coaster with Sara, I'm really praying that this will give me the tools I need to be a better parent and teacher. I love my daughter so much, but I just don't "get" her and I feel guilty about that all the time. I'll keep you posted as we go along with this.

Tomorrow we were supposed to go to the Little Red Riding Hood play, but I've decided to give away the tickets. I'm still feeling tired and yucky and I need my strength for the busy weekend. I posted on a homeschool forum that I'm a member of, that I had 3 free tickets. One mom was interested, but I'm waiting to hear back from her. Even if no one takes them, I'm still not going. The tickets were only $6.50 each, so that's not going to bankrupt me!

So, today and tomorrow are rest days, with only school on the agenda. There might be some laundry to fold, but I guess I can handle that!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Happy December!

It's officially the Christmas month! Today is cold, WINDY and grey - could that possibly mean snow?!

We put up our Christmas tree last week. We had a bit of a tragedy. The kids and I unpacked the tree on Tuesday morning, set it up, and I spent the afternoon putting on lights and beads. We saved the ornaments so we could decorate with Daddy in the evening. Well, as we started hanging the ornaments, the tree started to tip over! Earlier, when I moved the tree back into the corner, a piece on the bottom of the stand (cheap plastic) got caught in a groove in the hardwood floor. I lifted it over the spot, but I guess not before the stand had already cracked in one spot. I didn't realize it at the time, but when we started decorating it, it was quite unstable. We tried a couple of things and continued until we had about 2/3 of the ornaments on the tree. We finally realized things were NOT going to work out. It was not one of our best family nights, to put it mildly! Joshua ended up going out to buy a new tree, while the kids and I were left at home to undecorate the tree. Joshua was not a happy camper at all, so I put the kids to bed, not knowing what to expect. He finally came home with a tree and was upset that the kids were in bed already. So....we got them back out of bed and they helped put the tree together! The next day, we started all over again and we finally met with success! I actually like the new tree better. It's a foot and a half taller, more realistic looking, and comes down lower to the floor. It took longer to fluff and decorate, but next year it won't seem so bad because it won't be my second tree! That bow on top is one of the bows we used in our wedding 9 years ago. The gold beads are from the wedding too! (Our anniversary is December 10th.)

Here are a few pictures of our Christmas tree decorating - take two! I thought the ones of Sara and Sky individually turned out so sweet.

A big Christmas hug before going off to bed! All that hard work finally paid off.

I hope you're enjoying your Christmas season this year. It's such a busy time. Here are a few things already on our calendar for the month of December.

Dec. 3rd - Visit in the morning from homeschool facilitator, Monica.

Dec. 5th - Red Riding Hood play at the Fringe Theatre (it has nothing to do with Christmas, but it was a good deal open to homeschoolers - now I wish I could give my tickets away!)

Dec. 6th - Chronicles of Narnia musical presentation at 7 p.m. after supper at Grandma and Grandpa's house.

Dec. 7th - Winter piano recital, at 5:30 p.m., starring Sara and Sky!

Dec. 10th - Our 9th wedding anniversary. Dinner out has yet to be scheduled...

Dec. 14th - Kid's Christmas Party for all children of bank employees.

Dec 15th - Sleigh ride, tobogganing and bonfire at Pegasus Stables with homeschool group.

Dec. 19th - Big people Christmas party for employees of the bank. :-)

Dec. 20th - Evening performance of Handel's Messiah, by the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. This will include children, grandparents, sister-in-law, and friend. We will be so cultured!

This doesn't include the weekly music lessons and ski racing that I mentioned in the previous post! Whew! If I go missing at any point during this month, you will know why!