Saturday, December 17, 2016

Ready or Not

"Marshmallow" the Beanie Boo found
pondering The Christmas Story
It has been a trying week. Nothing tragic, but many little things. I had thought to list them all so that you could sense my weight, but it is not a competition.

My principal has a quote read over the announcements every day. This week's quote was "Be kind. Everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle." Those words respected and acknowledged my own battle. They also gave perspective to life around me.

To those people who have paused in their own battle to help us with ours, thank you. To those who have listened to our struggle, fed us or allowed us to not know "whether we are coming or going." To those who have covered church responsibilities and events.

A family member shared the sentiments of feeling unorganized as Christmas approached via Messenger last night. She also wrote, "Jesus being born in a manger was neither organized or traditional." Rylyn was born December 23rd, two weeks early. I was reminded of Mary. Addisyn was born at home because there was no space at the hospital. I was reminded of Mary. Birth is not organized or pretty either.

Mary was visited by the shepherds after giving birth to Jesus. The shepherds shared with her and Joseph what the angels had proclaimed to them concerning Jesus, the Saviour. Luke 2:19 then says that, "...Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart." I am in need of some heart pondering this season.

Despite the Grinchly reminder each year that Christmas comes without "packages, boxes or bags," we bring Christmas on with decorating, donating, buying and wrapping. The traditions aren't negative, but reasons we stretch ourselves to see them accomplished need examining.

Our family was put in a position where simplifying our holiday schedule this weekend became a need. While car trouble and serial illnesses are the inconveniences causing my Christmas scrooge, I am thankful for the push to pause and ponder. I am giving myself permission to abandon some things on "the to do list" and calendar; my heart feels more peaceful.

Christmas will come, ready or not. Jesus did. This year I know it is my heart that needs the most preparation.

Friday, October 14, 2016


“How do other people do this?” My words are returned with a blank stare from my husband. I seriously want to know. How do others simply, live life. “I want to animorph into a fly on the wall on our friends’ homes and learn some new strategies.”


Treading water. Suriviving. I felt the need to blog today. I am an organized person living in chaos. For the first time in a while, Chris and I are both working, raising our family and managing the day-to-day. Sometimes before I can deal with the external chaos...the laundry bins exploding, the empty fridge, dinner plans (and that’s the easy stuff)...I need to deal with the chaos inside.

I quiet myself and pray, “Lord, what do you want me to blog about?” Discerning the voice of God is the topic of our ladies’ Bible study at church. The blog is an outlet I often find I hear His voice. Somewhere between taking iPhone snapshots for blog post inspiration and music lulling my mind in the background, I find an answer welling up inside me. God wants me to do more than survive, He wants me to thrive. I want to thrive.

And, when I stop asking how is everyone else is managing life, and I start declaring how am I living life, I move from a position of defeat to victory. I am no longer surviving. I am conquering through Christ. His victory is also mine.

Romans 8:6 and 37
For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Things My Kids Say

This is technically the fourth instalment of "Out of the mouths of babes..." However, only one of my kiddos is a babe now. Time for a rebrand?

To be upfront, these posts are for me. So I can look back, laugh and remember. Today, I start this post, and like many things I set to do in life, I will chip away until it is ready.


"Donald the Duck rhymes with McDonald's. I think he cooks there."
-Rylyn, Age 5, April 2016


Addisyn eating a green sucker at the mall that I allowed her to take from a kind stranger (and senior citizen). I was curious to see what flavour she thought the green was...her response:


translation - it's sour, mom.
Age 4, May 2016


To say Rylyn and Addisyn love unicorns is an understatement. It is an obsession.

"Mom, when did we get a unicorn stone for our garden!?!?! I love it!!!"

-Addisyn, Age 4, May 2016


More on pickles...

"I like pickles because they have two bums. Imagine having two bums! One on your head, one on your foot!" -Rylyn, Age 5, June 2016


Checking in on a shrill cry from Rylyn in the playroom...

"Rylyn punched me first, so I punched her back. I think that's fair."
 -Addisyn, Age 4, July 2016

Rylyn on the "roller coaster" swing

Addisyn braves the water dump

Josette does pony tricks

Decorating daddy at the beach with cousins

Friday, August 5, 2016

A few more wedding shots

Thanks to our like-family friend, Cesare Berti (Marg Pleavin), for sharing some more photos while Laura honeymoons and her photographer edits! Enjoy the pre-show.

Jamie helping during the father-daughter dance with a misbehaving train
One of me!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Josie's First Year

Well, that went fast. I'll be white knuckling her second year if you need me for anything... Happy first birthday Josette! July 28, 2016.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

To my sis on her wedding day

Daddy's little girl
Laura and Jamie at the altar
Laura makes a promise to her stepdaughter Zoë. Laura told Zoë that Zoë made her a mother, and while
she is not replacing anyone in Zoë's life, Laura loves her. Though Laura wasn't there for some of Zoë's
firsts as a baby, she promises not to miss any other firsts.
Laura and Jamie give Zoë a family necklace with three hearts
July 23, 2016
Photo credit: Cesare Berti

“Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, a silver sixpence  for her shoe,” is an old English rhyme giving tradition to weddings. Today, it provides a framework for my speech.

“Something old” symbolizes continuity. Laura is carrying a handkerchief that was gifted by one of our aunts on the Christmas of her birth year. It was gifted a baby bonnet and with one snip became a handkerchief for her wedding day. As it is difficult to fit 30 years of sisterhood into a few minutes, “something old” bears the most weight of my time with you.

If we went back in time 25 years ago today, our family might be seen waiting in line at Christie’s Dairy for ice cream. I remember on one occasion Laura changing her order to match mine. I had wanted Tiger Stripe and so did Laura. I changed my order to Bubble Gum to be different. So did Laura. The game continued until it became bickering. I am sure my annoyance and her tactic to be like her big sister (or annoy her big sister) almost ruined the outing. I don’t even remember the flavour we each landed in the end.

My mother told us that day it was okay to make similar choices. Laura and I have chosen many similar flavours in life. This is because we are sisters and share a continuity, a heritage. We both worked for the Town of Grimsby as teenagers, myself as a lifeguard and Laura as a camp counsellor. We shared in a undergraduate education in science at Brock University and a career of teaching. We even shared in pinning the same eye make-up image on Pinterest in preparation for the wedding.

While we have similarities, if you know both of us, you also know how different we are. Laura has the voice of the angel and spent many Sundays serenading the congregation of Fifty United Church in her youth. Her former vocal teachers have seen her love for singing pursued in many fashions, including a Glee club where she teaches.

Laura was nicknamed, “Scooter” by my father, because she was always quick. This made her a natural soccer player and runner. Her art of being quick made her the queen of multi-tasking. I still can’t count the number of jobs she held while attending university full-time, but if you came to Canadian Tire Customer Service with a return she would send you out the door a happy customer before you finished your complaint. Her enthusiasm and motivation for life opens doors for new adventures, like the one she is starting today.

“Something new” represents optimism for the future. Laura is wearing a new pearl necklace. She purchased a pearl necklace because her grandmother, Gloria, had a pearl necklace she loved. The new person in her life is Jamie. The first time I met Jamie had nothing to do with Laura. Our family of 4, at the time, shared swimming lessons with him and his daughter, Zoë. She was wearing a Little Mermaid swimsuit. I don’t remember any other parents or children from the session, the pair had stood out to me. God prepared my heart to love my new family members before I even knew them. A natural pearl can take up to 20 years to form inside an oyster. Laura, you waited to find love. You found Jamie.

“Something borrowed” symbolizes support for the new life ahead. Laura has borrowed diamond earrings from another aunt. Laura and Jamie, your family and friends are here for you in times of celebration and need. My only advice is allow yourself to be vulnerable with those you trust. Receiving their help when it is needed, will make your life richer and take pressure off of your marriage. Diamonds withstand the tests of heat and pressure. While I wish only celebration, no hardship, may your marriage be withstanding no matter what comes your way.

“Something blue” represents love and fidelity. Laura is wearing my mother’s blue garter from her wedding day. The early life of a teacher usually involves changing schools each year. Before Laura and Jamie became a couple, the two of them followed one another from school to school, until finally finding love at Gatestone. As you grow in your marriage may you continue to pursue one another to keep your love fresh.

Finally, “A silver sixpence for her shoe” is a blessing of prosperity. I end with a blessing and a toast to my new brother, Jamie. May you grow old with Laura and your love remain new; may it be as precious as pearls, as strong as diamonds and your lives filled with laughter and prosperity.

Symbolism from rhyme cited from:

Thursday, April 28, 2016

You Are My Sunshine and My Snowflake

You Are My Sunshine...

Josette has been out as long as she was in, Happy 9 months baby

and My Snowflake...

Addy insisted on wearing this outfit, this cold spring day. Shorts. Rain boots. Tutu. "NO COAT, MOOOOOMMMMM." This was a battle I could live without, since the amount of time she spent outside was pretty much the length of the video.

What about Rylyn?

Read my last entry if you are worried about me leaving her out of this one. Trust me, there are tons...all about Rylyn.

Friday, April 15, 2016

A disclosure to Josette

Josette playing out in the treehouse

Dear sweet Josie,

Your Auntie Laura complains that her baby book is a third the size of mine and has pictures of me in it. Addisyn's baby books are thinner than Rylyn's. I worry that yours will have even less content. I am disclosing to you now that I tried to make them similar; but...

I have learned...

....that fairness is not sameness.

...every child is different.

...there are more important matters...

...because the days are long, but the years are short.

I have had many moments with you that I have not wanted to fragment by running to get the camera.

When I use the lens of my eyes, I don't miss the milestone.

I know now after the two babies before you... cuddle a little longer. risk the kiss that may wake you. laugh with you.

Here is a snapshot of our today:

We spent 2 hours playing in the backyard this afternoon. You watched your sisters dig in the pea gravel from your exersaucer. At dinner hour, they fed you pears and prunes puree while I made their dinner. They were the mama birds and you, the baby bird in her nest (high chair), gobbled up what they offered. You had a bath with Addy and I had to tell her to not give you the sponge because you kept trying to eat it. Grandpa Dan and Grandma Lynn came over and cuddled you while you flashed your cheeky two-toothed grin at me across the room.

Your baby books may end up smaller; but I am learning to make more snapshot like these of all my daughters. God's perfect gifts. And, my heart is fuller.


"The memory of the righteous is blessed, but the name of the wicked will rot." -Proverbs 10:7

Jesus, thank you for the blessing of making memories with my children. As they are remembered in future years, may the memories be blessed with the sight of Your presence and hand. In Your Name, Amen.

Me (left) and Laura (right), go 90s hair, go big or go home

Friday, April 1, 2016

Alphabet Scrapbook

A project more than 2 years in the making is finished. A few years back, I participated in an alphabet gift exchange online. All persons involved created a wish list of small items from A-Z and sent (and received) a minimum of 6 wish list items as a gift to their secret online buddy. This event inspired my thematic alphabet family album.

After having Addisyn, I had a friend share with me a Christian scrapbooking idea book. In truth, I thought it was hokey and strange. I am glad, however, it intersected my path. The author created a prayer journal as she scrapbooked, which inspired me to read and select scripture that spoke to what or who I was scrapbooking and pray specifically as I crafted.

See may favourite pages below. You'll notice I love to pray psalms.

Say "Hi" to Josie first, 7 months

F - Fuzzy Monsters, Vacation at Sesame Place
"Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul" - Psalm 131:2a

O - Out in the Country, celebrating our move
"Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him, those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land." - Psalm 37:7a,9b
Page design Michelle Kotyk

123 - The perfect way to end the album...with a beginning!
"That our daughters may be as pillars, sculptured in palace style." - Psalm 144:12b

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

My Baby Doesn't Like The New Mum-Mum Recipe

She is smarter than you, Want Want Foods.

If you have noticed a change in the colour of your Mum-Mum's fret not, unless your baby no longer devours them and throws them on the floor like mine does, there is a new recipe which eliminates the sugar and salt and replaces those ingredients with pear juice.

I couldn't find any other information on the web which answered my questions about the colour change, so as per usual, I contacted the company and am posting my findings here. I inquired if the colour change I noticed in my packaging was due to the recipe change or overcooking.

Left light, old recipe...right dark, new recipe
Left old...right new
While I applaud Want Want Foods for their attempt toward a healthier biscuit, I want a biscuit my child is interested in eating while she learns to swallow various solid foods. The old recipe encouraged my kids to learn to swallow and they could self-feed. This is convenient, while I help feed the rest of the family dinner or get a bite in myself.

If I wanted nutritious, I would not be feeding my child a Mum-Mum. I want a biscuit my child can use a stepping stone toward eating independence and to keep her occupied during a busy time of family feeding in our family of 5. The old and the new recipe both taste the same to me. I feel like the pear-juice version may dissolve a little less rapidly. Regardless, daughter #3 throws them on the floor. E.V.E.R.Y. T.I.M.E.

I have included email correspondence below. After boasting they are parent-trusted for 25 years, changing their recipe, after such a long time may make my wise-to-your-tricks baby, smarter.

"Hello Kara,

Thank you for your feedback, it is very important to us. We recently improved the formulation of several Baby Mum-Mum flavors (Original, Banana, & Vegetable) to be sweetened with fruit juice, meaning these flavors now contain no added sugar. The darker color of the rusks is a result of the fruit juice, which naturally browns during the baking process. Other brands use refined white sugar, which is less natural, and reacts differently to the baking process.    


The Baby Mum-Mums Team"
March 24, 2015

The Mum-Mum website clearly indicates a new recipe, the packaging, I found, did not. If you are looking for original recipe, I have still found them, as of the date of this blog. Look for packages without the anniversary mark or flavours not using pear juice. PC Organics has a similar recipe but may contain the allergen of milk (and Mum-Mum's claim-to-fame is free of major allergens).

Friday, January 29, 2016

When Sticky Tack Fails

Josie, 6 months
I may rename this year two thousand sickteen. Groan. I know. See Josie's tear, it is a crocodile tear for her mama's current situation. One of the children has been ill for going on 2 weeks now. I am thankful. I am healthy. But, when the baby is sick...I don't need to finish that thought.

When I need to find a moment of sanity, God provides. The preschooler who doesn't nap, napped at the same time as the baby and I had an hour to myself before the kindergartener returned from school.   Time to distract myself from reality for a recharging moment.

The short version: I had an art wall in our playroom and the sticky tack I used left grease residue. I don't want to paint the room at this time. I looked into a big bulletin board...$$$$$. I decided on an intermediate approach for less than $20.

I had bought Command clips and Dollarama wall art and button stickers earlier. That gift of an hour was the perfect amount of time for assembly. The button stickers were perfect for covering up the leftover grease marks and adding a confetti like look. The Command clips will make switching out art simple too.

When I am feeling like I have accomplished nothing outside of taking care of children, I will take a moment to look at our wall of inspiration and be reminded that my treasures are my most important responsibility. Thank you, Jesus, for rest for my soul today (Matthew 11:29).