Friday, August 14, 2015

Review: Medicine Walk

Medicine Walk Medicine Walk by Richard Wagamese
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4 stars. Really enjoyed this book about the journey of an estranged son and father sharing the father's final walk. There is no sugar coating about the challenge, and sometimes impossibility, of trying to make things right at the end of one's life. Wagamese is a rich storyteller, and I appreciated what I felt was a realistic look at the death process.

View all my reviews

Monday, August 3, 2015

How to go on vacation with 4 kids!

Getting ready to leave the house on vacation can be a daunting task for families with young children. You want to get on the road as early as possible, but somehow it's almost noon by the time you get on the road. Here's how we get our family of six on our way as early as possible.

A week before:
Try not to buy groceries the week before you leave. Use up all perishables and "pantry shop" to round things out. Save money by not having much to toss before leaving.

Three days before:
Start packing a few days in advance. For us this not only means bringing travel bags up from the basement, but also putting clothes aside as they are laundered. That way we have the right number of clean shirts, shorts, socks, and underwear without having to do a last minute load of laundry.

A day before:
  • Have the kids pack their backpacks a day or two before leaving. These will travel in the van with them. My kids will usually pack reading books, activity books, notepaper, and writing implements. Some will include stuffies or small cars. I leave this up to them. Inevitably they'll wish they'd brought something a sibling brought, and they'll remember to pack it next time.
  • Tidy up the house, clean the bathroom, and change the bedsheets. This way you come back to a nice clean home.
  • Water the plants.
  • Put roof top carrier on van, if applicable. Gas up van.
  • Assemble all the packed bags, we put everything in our living room since it's close to the front door.

Morning of:
  • Wash up all dishes and wipe kitchen table.
  • Sweep floors.
  • Empty fridge of perishables, either take them with you or toss in organics bin.
  • Take recycling, garbage, and organics out.
  • Load up roof top carrier and van. Kids' backpacks and pillows travel with them in the van.

With this plan we're able to get up and out the door in one to one-and-a-half hours.

Let the vacation begin!

What about you? What are your tips for getting on the road quickly with kids?

Saturday, May 16, 2015

30 Ways to Help Around the House

I've been cleaning up my electronic files and found a post I saved in 2011. I can't find the original online, but it included a photo by Suat Eman - if anyone can post the link to it I would be grateful.

I've modified it a bit to suit our home and share it with you in case it can be helpful in your home. The goal is for family members to look for ways to help around the house...not to always be told or asked.

The list provides a starting place to help children especially notice the many small, but ongoing, tasks that need to happen on a regular basis.

Looking for opportunities to serve around the house?

Check out the following suggestions:
  1. Are there dishes in the drainboard that need to be put away?
  2. Does the kitchen table need to be wiped clean?
  3. Does the kitchen floor need to be swept? Dustpanned?
  4. Do the hallways need to be swept? Dustpanned?
  5. Do the bedrooms need to be swept? Dustpanned?
  6. Does the carpet need to be vacuumed?
  7. Are there globs of toothpaste on the bathroom counter or floor?
  8. Any beds that need to be made?
  9. Does the garbage need to be taken out?
  10. Does the recycling need to be taken out?
  11. Does clean laundry need to be brought up from the basement? 
  12. Does clean laundry need to be sorted?
  13. Does clean laundry need to be folded?
  14. Does clean laundry need to be put away?
  15. Does dirty laundry need to be taken down to the basement? And sorted?
  16. Do books need to be gathered up and taken downstairs?
  17. How are the bookshelves? Books sticking out? A mess?
  18. Are there piles of shoes in the back hallway that need to be tidied?
  19. Are there jackets in the back hallway that need to be hung up?
  20. Does the van need to be cleaned out? Does it need a new garbage bag?
  21. Do I see any areas that really need dusting?
  22. Is the buffet drawer a mess? Could I organize it?
  23. Are there any toys out that need to be put away?
  24. Do the toy bins need organizing or sorting through?
  25. Do the cupboard faces or baseboards need to be wiped down?
  26. Do the bathroom mirrors need to be cleaned?
  27. Does the front hallway mirror need to be cleaned?
  28. Do the walkway and driveway need to be swept?
  29. How else can I help outside?
  30. If my brother or sister is asking for help, how can I be helpful?

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Date Night: March

In March we had a book store themed date and it was great and very inexpensive. The idea came from Love Actually and they provide a list of challenge ideas. There were a lot of ideas so we only used a few of them.

Find a new date idea.

Find a new recipe you'd like to try...

A place you'd like to visit:

Florianópolis, Brazil

We ended the night with treats at Starbucks.

What about you? Read any good books lately?

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Eulogy for Papa

My grandfather was a brilliant, powerful man with a great sense of humour.

There was one thing I could always be sure of when I worked hard or accomplished something – Papa would be proud of me. Whether it was the completion of a Masters degree, an award of achievement in highschool, or a well done grade-school project, Papa was proud of me. He taught me the importance of hard work and being proud of each others' accomplishments. 

Papa worked hard and accomplished much, and he used these accomplishments to bless others. 

Matthew 25:34-40 (NKJV) says:
Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’

“Then PAPA will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did I see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did I see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did I see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to PAPA, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

I was so very privileged to be able to be with Papa at the end of his journey. As I spent time with him overnight from Saturday into Sunday I spoke to him and thanked him for giving me a lifetime of being a wonderful grandfather, for demonstrating that a continent apart was not too far away to visit your grandchildren. Most importantly, for blessing me and my children with a rich inheritance of faith.

At 2:02 on Sunday morning I was holding Papa’s warm hand when he tightened it around mine. He opened his eyes and looked up and he was finally free of all suffering. The song playing on the CD was "Give Thanks,” which includes the words “and now, let the weak say I am strong!" I am so thankful that Papa can finally say this again.

Most will be familiar with the “love passage” in 1st Corinthians 13, which describes many attributes of love. It ends with “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (NKJV) Through these past five years especially, I have witnessed the steadfastness of love between Nanny and Papa. Nanny continued to “bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, and endure all things.” Thank you Nanny for showing us how to live this verse.

Before I would leave Papa after a visit I would leave him with the blessing from Numbers 6:24-26 and that is what I want to bless you with today:

“The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.”’