Monday, December 31, 2012

starting the new year right

Last year from October 2011 to sometime in March 2012 I was off Facebook. Such a good decision. As this year ends and a new one begins, I'm going to be off Facebook for the month of January. I'm probably not going to blog as much either {not that I have been as of late}. It'll mostly be some photo updates and the occasional entry if I'm so inspired.
I'd like to start this new year on the right foot, and for me that means taking a step back from social media {specifically Facebook} and just focusing on living. Right here. Right now.
You're welcome to email me as I'll still be checking email or just leave a comment here!
Wishing you a very lovely new year!

Friday, December 28, 2012

on not being "here" forever

i don't really like griping and groaning on my blog. but perhaps that's why i've been so scarce around here lately. jamie and i feel like we're running on empty and while we know it's just for a time, blaise is wearing us down. barely napping at all during the day, doing decently at night, but it really depends - sometimes the nights are bad too. and then we've got two older ones who have had far too much screen time and seem to constantly need us to entertain them or they're at each others' throats.

needless to say, life is not super easy or fun at the moment. not that i expect it to, but it's sometimes hard to be stuck at home in a country with very little support and no family nearby. i know this phase will pass. i know it will. but that doesn't make the here and now any easier.

God is still good. and good to us. i know He hasn't left us and He gives us daily mercies as we fail daily at this whole parenting/missionary/life thing. He gives us good things and we are thankful. and Christmas was actually quite lovely. full and tiring, but good. not stressful.

my friend kelly was over yesterday and i was sharing some things i've been reflecting on lately. it was good to know my brain isn't completely mushy and that i am taking time {when i'm rocking blaise for the fiftieth time} to process and reflect on my life here and this past year as well as think about what 2013 will look like for us. to know that we won't always be in this stage. to know that the future holds good things for us and while the future won't be free of difficulties or hardships, it's nice to know in my heart that even though i feel worn thin and physically exhausted, i'm not going to be here forever. i'm not going to be in kampala forever. i'm not going to be in this phase forever. i'm not going to be a mom to little boys forever. i'm not going to be on earth forever. it all passes.

i don't say all this to receive sympathy or pity. i know i'm not alone. i'm not despondent. i'm thankfully not experiencing PPD this time around. and i know we'll be into a new phase of life soon enough and that this time won't be our lives for forever. but if you're feeling this way, please know that you're not alone either. the trenches of life {whether you are married and have kids or are single or whatever your situation} can feel really deep and cold and sludgy with mud sometimes. but we're not here forever. life is forever changing. and then it's done. i guess that's why they say, "carpe diem"!

in the meantime, Lord give me strength...

Monday, December 24, 2012

merry christmas 2012

wishing you all this and more as you celebrate christmas this year.

Hark the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the newborn King.
Peace on earth and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled."

we've been singing this song a lot this season with the boys. perhaps because it's the song they sing at the end of charlie brown's christmas, but either way i like it. 
but one night i found myself explaining to the boys what that last line means. and it hit me afresh. this is what christmas is about. this is why we celebrate. we've been reconciled with God because of jesus humbling himself to enter into time and earth as the most helpless of creatures - a human baby. 
this christmas season, i am thankful again for the love of a saviour who would come as a baby, a light into the darkness, to rescue me. to reconcile me to God. 
amen and amen.

Friday, December 21, 2012

this city life: breakfast goodies

today i'm over at This City Life doing a guest post for my bloggy friend, sarah who is expecting baby #3 any day now!
sarah and i actually know each other in real life {IRL i guess is the cool acronym} but she lives in vancouver and before moving to uganda, i was in the toronto area - on the other side of canada. that's far. but our husbands both work for the same non-profit and that's how we met. it's been over facebook and twitter and blogs that we've gotten to know each other and i think it's cool that both of our #3 babies will have been born within a few months of each other.
so i'm over there doing what i do best - baking and taking pictures of food. just keepin' it real.

Since moving to Uganda a year and a half ago, I feel like my baking skills have been tested like never before. I've learned to improvise {I was a strictly-by-the-recipe girl before} and guess at things like temperature {we have no temperature gauge on our gas oven} and substitute for things I don’t have or can’t get here. 
I've even learned to make up new recipes. I know some people never use recipes. But for me, this is a huge thing! 

if you're here from sarah's blog, welcome! feel free to poke around here and stay awhile!

Monday, December 17, 2012

3 months

Dear Blaise,

You are three months old today! It really does seem like you've been with us for so long - much longer than 3 months.

You are growing and changing so much these days. You coo and are starting to babble a bit. You are full of smiles - usually reserved mainly for family, but often a stranger can get a smile out of you.

Your core and neck strength is still unreal. I put you down on the couch the other day with a pillow behind you in a slightly reclined position. Seconds later, you were pulling yourself up using your neck/core muscles! Your balance is not quite there yet so you fell over, but you're definitely getting there!

We are back to swaddling you as we had briefly experimented with not swaddling. But you definitely need it. I have to admit, buddy, this last month has been rough. You are definitely my fussiest/most difficult baby yet. You aren't colicky, but you have a set of lungs and you know how to use them. And you also like to fight taking naps throughout the day or only take 25 minute cat naps. {Oooh, I hate the cat nap.} We thought we would try some sleep training last night but after two hours of you hollering and me going in to briefly soothe you, I decided you weren't quite ready and within a minute of rocking you, you were out cold. Poor guy. The good thing about having to hold and rock and bounce a 17+ lbs baby is that it sure does help with shedding the baby weight!

You do really well when we are out and about and you are almost always calmed down by being brought outside.
For now you are tolerating being held by other people. I hope this continues - especially when we're in Spain {where I hope to put you in childcare for a bit of each day}.

You are eating every 3 hours in the day and as of a few weeks ago, at night as well. At one point you were waking up every 4 hours throughout the night, but these days it's been 3 hours. I hope that changes soon. Mama's getting a bit sleep deprived.

I'm not sure how much you weigh - we're taking you for your 3 month appointment on Wednesday so we'll find out then - but I guess you're around 17 pounds, possibly more? You're also really tall and I need to put in you in at least 6 month sleepers {when I do put you in sleepers. It's been too hot around here for sleepers lately.} so your feet aren't too squished.

Your hair continues to grow and it also garners the most comments from strangers when we're out and about. It's on the cusp of being too long to stand up and is starting to fall over, especially at the front, but for the most part, you're our little Ugandan Crested Crane.

Your brothers really love you although the ways they show it is quite different. While Noah is sweet and gentle with you, Jude is usually all up in your face shouting "HI BLAISE!" and rocking you a bit too roughly. We're working on it, bud. But before we all know it, you'll be socking him in the arm just as hard as he can sock you.

Your Mommy and Daddy are quite tired these days, and often we have to remind each other that soon you'll be out of this phase, but we love you oh-so-much.

And speaking of the cat nap, I hear that you have completed yours.

I love you so much,


*see how Blaise grows!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

our christmas favourites: traditions

the other day i remarked to jamie how excited i was when i was a kid to open my chocolate advent calendar each day. then we discussed {as adults do} how much better and thicker and bigger the chocolates used to be {in the good ole days}.
we didn't have them last year for the boys {as they don't sell them here}, but some friends sent us some this year so the boys get to participate in the "chocolate-after-breakfast" tradition of the chocolate advent calendar.
but what does advent mean? and is eating a tiny piece of cheap chocolate the extent of which we want to teach our kids about it?

this year we're doing some of the same things we started last year. you can check out the books and resources we use in this blog post.

i also found a fantastic guide to reading your way through advent using one of our favourites, the jesus storybook bible. you can find that reading guide here. {i think we might do this next year as the storybook bible is one of our favourites.}

we're doing our advent envelopes again and so far we've opened some new {to us} christmas books {thanks, mom!}, purchased a new nativity set from the craft market, decorated gingerbread cookies and so many other things - i have to admit, though, i'm behind on filling the envelopes and we've been switching around different activities depending on the day. such is life with three little guys.

the boys having a picnic in front of the tree!

i also was ambitious and bought the truth in the tinsel ebook and while i don't think we'll get around to doing a craft every single day, it's good to have the resource for this year and years to come. check out the truth in the tinsel here on their website or on facebook.

we'll keep up our tradition of a daily reading of luke 2 with the boys - i've seen and heard how they can memorize ridiculous conversations from movies and songs, so it's my hope that perhaps they can memorize this small part of luke 2 as we read it to them every day for the month of december. noah can already say the first 7 verses with a bit of prompting.

i always had a tradition of opening up one present on christmas eve and it was always a new pair of pajamas. we'll be keeping this tradition with our boys {this year they'll get batman pajamas!}. who doesn't love new pajamas?

and when talking traditions, you can't forget food! i've compiled my list of holiday baking that i'd like to do. there are about 13 recipes. we'll see how far i get. so far i've made gingerbread cookies {and decorated them this morning}, lemon-pecan shortbread, chocolate gingerbread drops, peppermint patties and earl grey tea and jam cookies. left to make are still almond biscotti, cheese stars, layered fudge, buckeye bark, cran-crazy cookies, chewy molasses spice cookies, christmas sandies and chocolate crinkles. whew!

this year will be our first year doing a birthday cake for jesus on christmas morning. i haven't figured out what  i'll use for the "cake", but i am thinking something like some sort of coffee cake or loaf. we'll have candles and sing happy birthday and everything. i think the boys will like it and it will help us all to focus on who christmas is really all about.

jamie and i have been going through the free advent devotional put out by desiring god. we're only 1 day behind now, but so far it's been a great selection of thought-provoking short articles by john piper.

anyway, so we have lots of traditions and more that i'm sure we'll develop over the years but for now i'm trying to soak up these moments of the here and now. when i'm missing out on watching national lampoon's christmas vacation because i'm rocking blaise to sleep in the other room. when i've got two little boys who insist on fighting with each other or giving me some sass. trying my utmost to lean into HIM and show them the grace and love that i've so freely been shown.

what are some of your traditions? how do you embrace the messy while still enjoying the wonder and anticipation of it all?

Saturday, December 8, 2012

earl grey tea and jam cookies

the sounds {grass cutters, birds chirping) and sights {green trees, sunny blue skies} outside right now tell me it's summer. and summer does not equal christmas.
however, the calendar says it's december 8th. what's up with that?

a few years ago i introduced my closest friend, jen, to the wonder that is cheese stars. i make them every christmas. they are delicious. make them and then grab a few and enjoy with a large glass of red wine while they're still hot. you're welcome.

anyway, in return, she introduced me to these beauties; earl grey tea and jam cookies. as i recall, we made a triple batch and had dozens of these cookies sitting on every surface in her kitchen. {i miss you, jen!}
so yesterday i made them. i didn't make them last year, but this year i wanted to. they're so delicious. almost like a shortbread cookie, but not quite. and not too sweet either. if you like tea and cookies {who doesn't?} these are the perfect cookie for you.

do see the flecks of tea? amazing.

here's the recipe:

earl grey tea and jam cookies

1 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp earl grey tea leaves {approximately 2 tea bags}
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup jam {any flavour will do. i chose strawberry and apricot}

beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. beat in the egg and the vanilla.
in a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, tea and salt. then stir it into the butter mixture until just combined. the mixture will be a bit crumbly so feel free to get in there with your hands and shape into a ball. {if they're just way too crumbly, add some water, a tablespoon at a time until the dough is a bit more manageable. this dough is not a sticky dough, so don't add too much.}
refrigerate for about 20 minutes.
using a tablespoon, roll about 1 inch balls place on a cookie sheet.
using the tip of a wooden spoon handle, make indentation into the centre of each ball, almost to the bottom.
bake in the top and bottom thirds of a 350F oven, rotating and switching halfway through until light golden {15-18 minutes}.
transfer to racks and then spoon 1/4 tsp of jam into the centre of each cookie. let cool.

alternately, if you want to make these ahead of time, let them cool and then freeze in an airtight container and then add the jam before you want to serve them.

i froze just over half of them {mine made just over 3 dozen} and we enjoyed the rest of them last night.

and while we're on the subject of keeping things real {see previous post}, here's today's attempt at making cocoa roasted almonds. epic fail. i really need a temperature gauge in my oven. and to pay more attention when i'm baking things. and to set a timer. especially when i have guests over. jamie says they're okay and not to throw them out. but they're pretty burnt. oh well.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

life, lately

to be honest, i'm tired. i feel like that's been my standard answer now for oh...2.5 months now? good. but tired. 

half of the advent activities we've supposed to do haven't happened. 
i've missed out completely on most of the advent stories/readings that jamie does with the boys because i'm putting blaise to bed. 
noah struggled with his temper yesterday. 
jude peed in his pants four times. 
blaise screamed no matter what i did. 

i'm not complaining, but i do want to be honest here. because i never want to come across as a "super mom" or someone who seems to have it all together on this blog or in real life. i think there's enough out there that compels us to compare ourselves. at least it's something that i struggle with. 
so let's keep it real, shall we folks?

it's amazing, though, the third time around how my perspective is so different. jamie came into the kitchen today as i was making tortillas {yay for a dinner that everyone will eat!} with a fussy blaise in his arms and said, "this shall not pass." jokingly, of course. because we both know this time around how quickly this time actually does pass by us. pretty soon he'll be crawling and shoving noah's rogue lego pieces into his mouth and mauling jude with his drool. 

jamie and i are behind on our advent readings and despite my best intentions, it's after 11pm and i'm still up. 
there are hard things and hard times in everyone's lives. but there are also good things.
such as...
us investing into a new friendship with another couple here and also getting some free baby stuff - yay for a crib for blaise that's not a lumpy, bumpy pack 'n play mattress! 
homemade peppermint patties. lots of work {and a recipe i won't try again with kids running around me} but oh so delicious straight out of the freezer. because ya know, it's too warm around here to keep it out. hard life, i know. 
a date at the movies with my hubs who generously holds and rocks mr. fussypants by the entrance way so i can watch the movie and not miss out. {skyfall was awesome, by the way!}
taco night. 'nuff said.
grace spoken to my heart and patience amidst frustrating circumstances.

so let's not kid ourselves; life is hard sometimes. and sucky. but also? so good.

Monday, December 3, 2012

three in december

taken while they were opening new {to them} christmas books as their advent envelope activity.
blaise's face in the bottom right one is hilarious.
don't mind the shirt-chewing going on with noah. it drives me crazy, but i have a feeling it's genetic {jamie used to chew on his shirts and i used to bite my fingernails}.

oh my boys.

it isn't easy this whole raising three boys thing. and that with a particularly fussy littlest, but i'm doing it the best i know how.

i know that it gets better and easier and then harder and then easier and then harder and then's always in flux.

i've found myself praying a lot more for patience and love and for selflessness - especially in the thick of things or as i head in to break up {another} a fight or pick up a screaming baby, or put down my book to answer yet another question. jesus is changing me. slowly by slowly {as they say here}, and i continue to see how weak and unable to do this on my own, but there it is. christ in me. the hope of glory. in the meantime, though i think i need to make myself another cup of coffee!

*linking to steph who posts pictures of her four kids on the fourth.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

our christmas favourites: toys and decorations

we've been keeping ourselves busy around here. we had some fantastic visitors for the past 4 days and had a blast eating out and enjoying some good conversation together. 

but it is december first {already!} and i think most of our decorations are up so i thought i'd share with you what we're doing this year in terms of christmas decoration.
we bought all the christmas decorations/tree/ornaments last year while here in africa, so there hasn't been a need to buy any more this year. i've kept things pretty simple and used what i already had to christmasify things here.

we're doing our advent envelopes again {stay tuned for my post on our favourite traditions} so i hung them up this year with red yarn and clothes pins. i also used red yarn to hang some christmas cards that we've received. our stockings are hung and our tree is up. i let the boys decorate however they wanted this year although after repeatedly dropping some of the glass ornaments, i had to direct jude's ornament-hanging to the plastic/non-breakable ones. 
we purchased some ornament sets that we'll likely sell before we leave here {that are lovely, but generic}, but there are some beautiful and unique handmade ornaments that i'll hang onto for our future christmas trees.
i've set up our wood-carved nativity set on top of the bookshelf in the living room and my new soap stone nativity on the buffet in the dining room. 
tomorrow's advent activity is to pick out a nativity set from the christmas market we'll be going to - i have my eye on a sweet banana fiber one but we'll see what's there. 

the boys loved when i pulled out their little people nativity set a couple weeks ago and have played with it pretty much every day since. i've also let them play with the santa hat we have here as well. noah insisted on wearing it for the first few days. 
and they were so excited when i pulled out all the christmas books they have forgotten about. 

so we've kept things simple and even though the house is in a perpetual state of mess, at least it's a christmasey mess. right?
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