Thursday, May 31, 2012

what i'm into:: may 2012

today i'm joining megan @ SortaCrunchy in sharing What I've Been Into this past month.

what i'm into:: MAY 2012

on my nightstand:

there are always far more books on my nightstand than i can ever get to. but for now i've got having a mary spirit by joanna weaver {a book study i've been going through with the other canadian staff women on our project}, you can raise a well-mannered child by june hines moore {an old-school freebie i got in spain} and seeing and savoring jesus christ by john piper {still working my way through that one, slowly, since lent}. 
i've also got my kindle on my nightstand and have been working my way through a storm of swords {the third book in the fantasy series, a song of ice and fire written by george r. r. martin}. 

want to read:

i want to finish the book i started shortly after i got here, holy available by gary thomas. i'll have to restart the whole thing, but the first three chapters blew my mind. 
also on my list is les miserables {on my kindle} since i just saw that there's a remake of the movie coming out in december {in canada. who knows when it will come to uganda, if at all.}. 

t.v. show worth watching:

so i totally downloaded episodes 17-24 of grey's anatomy and watched them. i am always amazed at how they manage to have me bawling my eyes out. every.single.time. 

movies i've seen:

so our staff team went out to my most favourite place in kampala and we watched back to the future. outside. at night. it was awesome and i was reminded of how great a movie that is. so awesome 80's. 
i also watched rocky balboa for the first time when i was feeling sick last week. decent. a bit slow. but nothing to write home about. 

in my kitchen:

it's been an interesting month as we've had the staff and students here from canada so we've had quite a few meals out or catered. i'm almost out of the habit of meal planning! 
but we've done some epic pizza nights for 13 adults, spaghetti nights {i made this veggie version} and tonight i'm cooking up some shepherd's pie for me and the boys. 
and i purposely bought a ton of bananas today so i can make the banana muffins i've been craving. but i might add some wheat germ since my awesome friend hannah brought me some. i love me some wheat germ.

in my ears:

lately the boys have been singing behind the clouds from the cars short film; mater and the ghost light. it is absolutely adorable to hear jude singing it. i'll have to get it on video soon before he stops. 

and i haven't found any new songs lately, but i've been listening to a bit more classical music, the civil wars, coldplay and page cxvi

pinterest finds:

so freaking funny. good thing i've got this chart to tell me that i married a trustworthy man. 

Source: via Tsh on Pinterest

and i can get all the ingredients for these delectable cookies & cream cupcakes! huzzah!

and i really want/am planning on making this for christmas. just picture it with a sweet little baby finger print! squeee! 

Source: via Tsh on Pinterest

what i'm looking forward to in june:

going on safari!
my delightful and gorgeous friend beth coming for a visit!
celebrating {somehow} 8 incredible years of marriage to my handsome best friend!

well, friends, that's what i've been into this past month. what about you?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


why is gratitude so hard to do in the not-so-great times? why does my heart fall back upon grumbling and complaining and having a bad attitude?

on our drive home from jinja today i commented to jamie that sometimes {lots of times} pride is all over me. i pat myself on the back for being a mom in africa and how i must be so awesome-special to be doing what i'm doing and then i stop and think {or something happens to make me stop and think}, really, vanessa? really? because it seems like just yesterday {and a few days ago and pretty much all of last week, 2 months ago, etc.} you were barely hanging on.

there is nothing awesome-special about me. because it's nothing in me that enables me to be here. the real me is grumbling about late-night karaoke and hotel rooms right beside the bar and {my} out of control children and the lack of mosquito nets in our hotel room and lake flies in the bathroom and no power in our house in kampala and a fridge that got turned off for 3 days and wasted food and on and on it goes. that's the real me. or at least the me without Jesus.

i need Him far more desperately than i'm often willing to acknowledge. 

it's sad, really.
but i'm learning to abide in Him.
because He doesn't need strong, healthy, holy people coming to Him to abide. He calls the weak and desperate to come. abide. He calls me. and then once i come, He helps me to abide. it's amazing really. you might say that it's awesome-special. 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

lip-dub proposal!

best proposal ever. i just couldn't wait until next friday's links to post this.

Friday, May 25, 2012

friday links

we went to the craft market today. there's a few things i've been wanting to pick up for awhile. the dress i wanted was just too expensive and the seller wouldn't come down low enough {for jamie's liking} so we walked away. {lesson #1 when shopping at a craft market: be willing to walk away.}
but the boys got these sweet african fabric stuffed animals {a hippo for jude and a rhino for noah - they both named theirs 'rocky'} and even a tiny rhino for le bebe.
i got a kikoy {pronounced "chi-koy" and also called a 'kanga' in tanzania}, which i've been wanting for awhile. they're versatile {wear it as a skirt, a shawl, use as a blanket if you're cold, a mat for your baby, a carrier for your baby, etc.} and they're pretty. winner!

we almost got a uganda cranes jersey and short set for noah but it was on our way out and the seller wasn't coming down enough {again, for jamie's liking} so we left. plenty of time to pick one up for him on another day.
tonight i'll be doing pizza for 13 people! epic. but i'll have heaps of help so it's good times.
also? jamie's gone vegetarian until the end of the summer project {mid-june}. random. but true.

links! you want links? i got 'em.

how asking yourself a question can put things into perspective and give you a second chance.

do what you love: love this!

it's garage sale season! i held an epic one just over a year ago. if you're planning on having one, here are some helpful tips.

photography tips to get good expressions from kids {photography}

it's almost strawberry-picking season. pick a bunch for me and eat 'em. then pick another bunch and make these amazing cookies.

but these? these i can make. and likely will.

lastly, i'm in love with this website. vintage children's books = heaven.

happy weekend, everyone!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

potty training second time around

so we're sorta potty training jude. okay i guess we are now.
for the last few months we've been pretty laid-back about it all. i'm still feeling laid-back about it.
but it's a significantly different approach than when i potty trained noah.
noah was 3 years and 3 months old when i had had enough of diapers and felt like i had a handle on taking care of a baby and a preschooler at the same time. he was very ready and able to grasp the concept of feeling the urge to pee/poop and then taking the appropriate action. he day-trained in 3 days. he'd hold his pee until he got to the toilet, pull down and up his pants on his own and then report back to me that he had peed. it was amazing and honestly, quite unexpected.
this time around, i'd love to have jude potty trained by the time the wee one is born.
but i've had a very laid-back approach. we had a potty out. sometimes he'd use it. sometimes we'd put underpants on him. sometimes a diaper. mostly a diaper.
but today i just decided to go for it.
i mean, it's not like we go anywhere. {seriously. we are mostly home-bound here. no library. no school. no parks. rare play dates. yeah. i'm living a hermit's life. but that's how it is. and i'm okay with it. for now.}
so underpants it was today.
he's mostly grasped the concept except it usually takes him wetting his underpants a bit first and then managing to hold the rest in until he gets to the toilet. so we go through several pairs of underpants each day. which is okay. he cried at first when it happened, but i assured him it was okay and that he just has to do the rest of his pee in the potty.
he generally goes if i encourage him to go.
and slowly-slowly he's getting it.
it's cute to see his little bum in underpants.
but he still calls "pee", "poo". which is hilarious to me for some reason.
so it's the laissez-faire approach to potty training. which is just fine by me. no need to stress about it. {especially because i have high-blood pressure right now.}
i admire and give props all those who potty trained their 17 month olds {or younger or their kids potty trained themselves at a young age}. but that just isn't for me. call it lazy parenting. i prefer not to stress about things that aren't necessary. eventually they figure it out.

Monday, May 21, 2012

family financial priorities

where do you spend your extra cash? on debt repayment like us for the last couple years? on clothes? the latest electronic gadget? vacations? school? where does it go and how do you decide? do you decide where your extra cash goes?

a little while ago i was reading on babble (via simple mom) about what a family prioritizes spending money on. it got me thinking. for this particular family they value traveling and experiencing the world together as a family. they lived in france, the middle east and different parts of the US.

today {now that jamie's back from rwanda - hooray!} our family went out to the boys' favourite restaurant {the one with the trampolines!} for lunch and while the boys were jumping, jamie and i talked about what we want to give towards and do with the money that we won't be putting toward debt now that we are debt-free {!!!}.
it was fun to dream and plan and so i asked him some of these questions and we talked about things we are passionate about doing together as a family and things that we'd like to be able to provide for our kids.

one thing {but definitely not the only thing} we agreed about was the fact that we don't want or feel the need to live in a large, expensive house. we don't want to be pouring the majority of our funds into a house/home. it made me happy to be on the same page as jamie on this particular thing. sure there are things we don't both value as highly as each other, but can agree upon but for the most part, it was exciting to talk about people and organizations we'd like to give towards as well as considering options that we might not have been able to in the past due to debt {such as taking trips we couldn't have considered before or starting RESPs for the kids and topping up our RRSPs, etc}.

this is something new for us. jamie and i aren't exactly "savers". we don't really plan either. which is part of the reason why we struggled and ended up in the debt that we're finally out of! being in africa as well as making a concerted effort to pay off debt as fast as possible have opened our eyes to the value of being good stewards of our money as well as to the future joy of planning now for later. i would highly recommend Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University as a great financial planning resource. if jamie and i can do it, you can too.

so what are your family's financial priorities? have you thought about and talked about your family's financial priorities and values? do you prefer to spend your extra money on vacations or would you rather renovate your home? do you have any resources that have been invaluable to managing your money and planning for the future? what do you use {a piggy bank? ING saving accounts? a hole in your backyard?} for saving up for larger goals?

please share!

Friday, May 18, 2012

friday links

not feeling the preamble today. i need a nap. but i like posting these links. so let's get right down to it, shall we?

so i know i live in the land of perpetual summer, but for most of you, the warmer weather has only been around for a short while. are you excited? probably. here are 300+ things to do with your kids this summer.

best letter EVER to your kids.

i'm kind of obsessed with bathrooms. i love bathrooms. especially ones with chandeliers in them. and subway tiles. and waterfall shower heads. yeah. i like bathrooms.

noah and i miss blueberries. please make this in honour of us. or if blueberries aren't your thing {gasp!} here's 15 ways to lemonade. now come on, who doesn't like lemonade?

tonight i'm hosting a girls night in spa night for all the {female} students on our canadian summer project. i'm pumped. and you can bet there'll be a blog post to come on that. but for now, here are 5 DIY facial masks you can try.

happy weekend everyone!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

nonstop flight to crazytown

jamie's in rwanda right now until sunday.
we're coping. there's plenty of hands and people to entertain the boys which makes things heaps easier.
but of course we still miss him. 
this morning we got to skype with him. but skyping with our family wouldn't be right without a gong-show.
in the middle of our conversation, jude yells out,
i peed, mommy! i'm peeing!
he's standing as pee is dribbling down his legs in a cowboy stance.
so i turn to jamie and say, i'll be right back. noah, tell daddy about what we've been doing these past days. thankfully noah obliges.
just then, jude whirls around, steps in his pee, slips and promptly goes flying into the corner of the door.
my first thought, dear God, why do things like this always happen? followed very closely by, dear God, please let him be okay and not need stitches. i turned him around to face me as he wailed and saw that thankfully, the skin wasn't broken, but just read and probably would bruise. whew.
so i got him cleaned up and brought him back {still crying} to the computer and we finished talking to jamie {who was probably reminded of the chaos he left}. 

and just minutes before writing this post, i had a glass on the table beside me that has a slice of lemon and some melted ice cubes left in it and jude was trying to touch my computer and decided to fling his arm about and of course, my glass went flying and broke into pieces on my foot. again, thankfully no blood. 
life is always an adventure with kids. well, at least it is with my kids. 

Friday, May 11, 2012

friday links! woo!

hey friends.
right now pink's raise your glass is blaring and i feel like getting my pregnant self up off the floor and bustin' a move. but i won't. because if i get up, this post won't get written.
we're still busy with the canadian team, but loving it.
i stayed up way too late last night laughing with some of the staff when i probably should have gone to bed at 9:30pm. worth it, though.
i felt like 5 million cups of coffee this morning. but i only had one. {so far.}

the boys and their friend seth playing together at yesterday's play date

our mongoose family is back. i woke up at 3:30am thinking that someone was outside our window and ended up walking around half-asleep and half-paranoid and then lying in bed for an hour, despite feeling absolutely exhausted. then i had a crazy dream about rafting and jumping off cliffs into lovely blue lagoons.

i wrote up a blog post about breastfeeding and specifically public breastfeeding, but i think i may work on it a bit more before publishing. or not. who knows.

anyway, some weekend links for ya!

hilarious post on 10 tips for visitors after the baby is born. caution, strong language is used.

here's how to appreciate a mom of young kids this mother's day. caution, hilarious pictures are used.

please watch this video. prepare to have your paradigm of love and marriage blown out of the water. also? grab a box of kleenex. {at the bottom of the video, there are also two other links to more of their story.}

i really like this list of 100 ways to make your marriage rock. some are super cheese, but sometimes you just gotta be super cheesy together.

this. just this. salt + chocolate = amazingness.

it's naptime. for me too.
happy weekend!!!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


today i ate the most delicious lunch. possibly ever. but certainly in a long, long time.
it was a staff day at the house today {meetings, book studies, etc.} and so i made lunch for all of us.
the menu?

california BLTs {it's a BLT with avocado}
pasta salad
chips & dip

chocolate chip oatmeal cookie sandwiches for dessert

it was all divine. i'm not a gigantic fan of huge slabs of tomato, so i just made mine BLA {bacon, lettuce, avocado} and it was absolutely perfect. perfect i tell you.
the pasta salad was so refreshing and the cookies? extravagant.
i'm still full. {the boys were delighted to eat cucumbers and chips and pb & j sandwiches. silly boys. they don't even know what they're missing.}

this afternoon in my book study with the other staff women i was really struck {again} by this quote from the book we're reading {having a mary spirit} about the story of mary and martha:

Jesus simply didn't want Martha to be so caught up in kitchen service for Him that she missed out on the joy of living-room intimacy with Him.....As they received Jesus's teaching, they learned the balance between a soul at rest and a body in motion, between working hard for Christ and sitting at His feet.

as someone who enjoys baking and cooking for others and serving others through providing food {and eating that food too!}, i was gladdened by the thought that it wasn't martha's actions that Jesus was rebuking as much as the attitude of her heart. her body could have been moving and working and serving while her heart was sitting at the feet of Jesus, but it wasn't. her heart was resentful and busy with tasks, not loving Jesus.

today's lunch brought me great joy to make and serve and provide {and definitely eat!} but it's a good reminder that when i am "busy" in deed, that my heart be quiet and still, seated before Jesus and longing to soak up His presence.

Friday, May 4, 2012

star wars day {friday} links

how can you not find may the fourth to be hilariously awesome as star wars day?
may the fourth be with you.
i love it! except i always feel like i have a lisp by the time i get to "with".

a big huge happy birthday to my two sweet friends, kelly and suz. i love you both and am so thankful for both of you!

here are your friday links!

so doesn't that picture look ah-mazing?!? chocolate chip oatmeal cookies with dried cherries. yes. just as amazing as they look and sound. i made 'em last night with the cherries my mom sent me from home. they're best warm, but the next day just as delicious. the chocolate with the cherry...oh. so good. just make 'em. okay?

noah and jude got this lego star wars book from jamie's aunt awhile back that comes with 3D glasses. they broke the glasses shortly after, but still like looking at the book. it's in comic book style and tons of the comments/word bubbles are completely sarcastic and make me laugh. anyway, i found this lego star wars video on youtube and noah immediately recognized it as "STAR WARS!". it's a funny summary of the star wars story.

and i'm in love with this adorable hair tutorial. check it out.

every star wars geek should learn how to speak wookie. it's not just enough to come up behind your sister and scare the living daylights out of her by making the wookie noise. {got that, curt?}

and this. it's just completely my boys. and will continue to be even more so with the addition of a third. it makes me laugh. because it's true.

happy weekend everyone and may the fourth be with you!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

just for fun

so the other night a few of the girls and i were watching a friends episode on dvd and it was the one where {among other things} chandler makes up a game where you have to write down all 50 US states in 6 minutes.
we weren't even finished the episode before hannah and i had grabbed a sheet of paper and were trying our hand at naming all 50 states.
by the time the episode was over, kelley and angela had joined in and we all sat quietly trying to complete the task.
none of us did it, but with 39 states i was pretty proud of myself - mommy brain and all!
can you name all 50 states?
if you're american, can you name all 10 provinces and 3 territories of canada?
bet you can't.
ready, set, GO!

{leave a comment with how many you honestly got before giving up.}

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


oh my two boys. i've really been praying lately for increased love and patience for my kids. that God would give me His eyes to see the children that He has blessed me with. that He would give me wisdom to know how to best love them and instruct them and build into them and He is so faithful. the previous pregnancy grumpies have mostly dissipated and i have such a joy when i stop and take the time to really look at my two precious boys.

it's also been so much fun to watch them interacting with the other staff here and soon the students as well that have come from canada.
i see how different my two boys are and absolutely love the differences. how boring it would be {and much less sanctifying} if jude and noah were exactly the same. of course parenting might be easier to figure out, but i'm not so sure the words "parenting" and "easy" should ever really be in the same sentence. {can i get an amen?}
this morning jude yelled at a crumb to get back into his banana bread. he always makes us laugh, even when we should probably be disciplining him.
every night noah loves to tell me that he hopes i have sweet dreams and is always first to request a hug.
i love my boys.
and i'm so looking forward to adding a third completely unique and different boy to our family.

linking to steph who posts pictures of her 4 kids on the fourth of each month

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


there's so much going on i barely know where to begin or what to blog about!
our student summer project {a short-term missions trip with the organization we work for} arrives tonight from canada! the staff have been here since wednesday and we've got a full house. it's full, but i'm loving it. it's busy and it's only going to get busier.
with the staff came sweet little packages of goodies and treats for us and the boys.
i've got a pantry full of chocolate and candy and the boys got some fun toys from our lovely friend and former house-sharer {in guelph she lived in our basement}, emily.
the boys loved the little capsules that when put in hot water, turn into little sponge animals.

and then there's the fabulous bubble-wands/light sabers the boys were thrilled to try out this morning. i laughed {again and again} and how jude blows bubbles out of the side of his mouth. like popeye. 

and i know that my mom and my mother-in-law have sent over a ton of stuff with some very gracious students who arrive late tonight. it'll be like christmas. i might have to ration it out over the next few weeks. 

but the biggest blessing for me? having people in my house who are lovely and wonderful and most of all are loving on my kids - big time. last night i watched my boys run over and over and over into the arms of some fantastic ladies to give them hugs as a game. my heart was filled to overflowing with happiness and gratitude. 

it's busy and over the next 6 weeks it will be stressful and overwhelming and incredibly tiring {i'm watching my energy levels what with me being 23 weeks pregnant and all} but i pray the blessings will remain at the forefront of my mind and my heart.

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