Thursday, December 13, 2012

Adventures in the Kitchen # 12: Raw Chocolate Pudding

Photo Credit
This is an emergency post!!! I just HAD to write this ASAP after I tried this latest was beyond amazing and I couldn't believe that is could taste so good with the ingredients it called for. This is so healthy I actually served this to my 5 year old as an appetizer one night. This Raw Chocolate pudding has fruits, healthy fats, raw natural sugars and healthy oils....a perfect combination of health and decadence....and they'll never guess what's inside!

Adventures in the Kitchen # 12

Raw Chocolate Pudding

- 2 avocados (peel and scoop out the insides)
- 1 ripe banana, peeled
- 1/4 Cup Raw honey
- 3 Tablespoons of Coconut Oil
- 1/3 Cup Cocoa powder
- 1 Teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 Teaspoon of sea salt

- Combine ingredients in a blender and puree until everything is combined.
- Chill in fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Taken from

**We gobbled this up and licked the bowl with our simple, so tasty and so easy.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Quebec, Ontario, England, UGANDA! and finally Chad!

Caravan in Chad that Phil will be piloting
In the next two months....we will 'live in' 4 different cities, 3 continents, will speak 2 languages and we will not have even made it to Chad yet! Yup....flexibility is the name of the game. This latest revision to our timetable will see us living in Kampala, Uganda for 3 months while Phil completes 50 hours of training on the Caravan (14 seater, turbine engine....and for those of you like me, and those words mean nothing to you.....he is learning how to fly a plane all over again....this is very different from the small 4 seaters he has been flying since day 1= big deal). Phil initially thought he was going to fly the small, 4 seater Cessna 182 and then, once gaining experience flying in Chad, he would begin to train on the Caravan, but MAF recently requested that he advance straight to the Caravan. This means delaying our departure to Chad and instead, living in Uganda for 3 months while phil receives training on the Caravan as there are not the same training opportunities in Chad. Some perks about this is we have good friends from Three Hills who are stationed in Kampala (working for MAF) to show us the ropes and hang out with while we are there. Which leads me to the next bit of news....after our first week in Uganda, Phil will be heading to South Africa where he will complete a 2 week course pertaining to the Caravan....which leaves me alone with the 2 kids after just 1 week! YIPES! My first thought was....who is going to smush all the bugs for me? haha Phil just laughed....I think you will be hearing a lot of screams coming from the Henderson girls during those weeks! :)
I'm so thankful that Karen and Dallas will be close....they'll be able to give me advice on dealing with power outages, driving on the 'wrong' side of the road, where to get food and what food is available, good techniques on squishing cockroaches and spiders the size of my head (haha--GULP!) and any other questions I have. I love a good adventure and understand why this is the best plan for Caravan training, but the concerns I have are not only for me but for Kaitlyn and Lily.....our friends have kids just a bit older than K and L and I know Kaitlyn is going to LOVE playing with the kids and having friends again....but what happens when we have to leave after 3 months....saying goodbye again to her good friends....I guess I just don't want to scar my kids....and I know this is the life of a missionary (that we signed up for)....and it's lots of hellos and goodbyes but just because it is a fact of life, doesn't mean it's easy. I wonder if I am going to like Chad after spending 3 months in lush, not as hot, more developed, english speaking Uganda.....I pray that God would help me, and help my family transition well. Change is good, but it's crazy hard too.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Adventures in the Kitchen #11: Homemade salad dressings

I have been wanting to make my own salad dressings for a while now....have you read the ingredient list on store-bought salad dressings? Yipes...pretty sure I saw the chemical name for 'windshield wiper fluid' (polypropylene-glycol?) on more than one of them. Why do all those chemicals need to be in there? To prolong the shelf life. Wow. Don't think salad dressing was supposed to naturally last for two years.
So, I have discovered, made and tasted several kinds, hoping to replace the salad dressings we love with a natural version. I found 2 so far that taste virtually the same if not better.  Even if you have to buy some of these ingredients just to make these (ie: Dijon mustard), it won't be a waste because you will use them again and again to make these natural, better-tasting salad dressings from now on!
PS.....I now have a 'print' button at the bottom of each post so you can print a copy to use in your kitchen.

My fave dressing so far....
Balsamic Vinaigrette 
3 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 Garlic clove, minced
1/2 Cup Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, mustard and garlic.
Add the oil in slowly while whisking constantly.
Season with salt and pepper.
Store in Fridge.

**I made this directly in a tupperware container with a pouring spout and a lid so I was able to mix the ingredients by shaking them. If you make this in a bowl, just transfer the salad dressing to an old salad dressing squeeze bottle or a small glass container. This is my favorite dressing thus far.

(Found at

Ranch Dressing
Dip in some raw veggies for a quick, healthy snack 
1 Cup Mayonnaise
1/2 Sour Cream
1/2 Teaspoon Dried parsley
1/2 Teaspoon Dried Dill Weed
1/4 Teaspoon Garlic powder
1/4 Teaspoon Onion powder
1/8 Teaspoon Salt
1/8 Teaspoon Ground pepper

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.
Stir until well mixed.
Store in Fridge.

**This is a great dip for cut up veggies, topping for burgers or a green salad. One of my favorites and tastes a lot like store bought ranch! I stored this one in an old salad dressing bottle for easy pouring.

(Found at

Friday, November 23, 2012

7 days without facebook....and I actually survived!

It came down to this......I felt as if my days and nights were disappearing before me....where was all the time going? It's as if when you are on facebook or blogging or watching some TV...that time somehow speeds up and all of a sudden, it's like midnight and you are kicking yourself for staying up way too late to watch 'just the next episode' ....full-well knowing that you are going to be a grouchy mama tomorrow as a direct result of your poor decision to be up in the late hours of the night. Yup....that would be me. Anyone with me on that one? Anyways, after putting the kiddos to bed one night, I sat down at the computer to do....whatever, and decided I needed to see just how much time facebook, blogging, watching TV shows etc was stealing from me on a daily I went drastic! I yelled down to Phil "I'm going off facebook and TV and blogging for a week!!".....dead silence. Phil said "wow. that's huge. Gonna be a tough one". GULP! What have I gotten myself into....what would I do during my evenings? Well, turns out....all that time opened up lots of doors to other activities that were actually FUN, relaxing and more stimulating than my previous habits. I sewed and crafted a bunch of Christmas gifts (thank you Pinterest!!), read whilst soaking in a hot bath, played a new board game several times with Phil, emailed some old friends, skyped with family, went to bed early and got my much needed 10 hours of sleep, actually chatted with Phil in bed before falling asleep (pillow talk is my favorite!!).....and the list goes on. I found the nights went slower (in a good way) and I felt so productive.
Did I miss facebook? Well, to be honest, yes. I love reading what everyone is up to, seeing pictures of loved ones far away, kids growing and changing and reading stories of mama's who are 'in the trenches'  of motherhood just like me as my good friend Wendy would say. But at the same time, do I really need to know that 'Reba' got her hair cut, or went to the gym and had a fantastic work out or made 2 apple pies? Sometimes those things plant seeds of discontentment in my head....constantly comparing my life to the never-stopping status updates of my facebook friends and reading those 'mama' can get downright depressing. As the famous quote goes: "Too much of something is never a good thing". And so, I'm back on facebook and the blogging world....but....I am keeping myself accountable to the time I spend. I gotta run....the timer is time is up! :)

What do you think about facebook and blogging?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Homemade cough syrup

Simple, effective, cheap and natural.
T'is the season for coughs and colds and runny noses....and it has arrived at the Henderson home as well. A nasty cough has been present in 3 out of 4 family members....and since regular store-bought cough syrup isn't available for kids....I did a bit of research online and found a home-made recipe with ingredients I already had in my kitchen....and tried it out. I started giving 1 teaspoon to the girls every 4 hours and found that at the end of the 4 hours...their cough was noticeable again. I was amazed! This did not heal their cough; rather, it acted like a cough suppressant to allow for some precious sleep (for all of us!). Don't freak out about the girls dislike onions immensely and have onion radar for even the smallest piece, but the honey in this recipe overwhelms the taste of onions, so both of them drank it without too much drama. :) I stored the finished product in an empty kids Tylenol bottle after clearly labelling it to be cough syrup.

Hope this helps the 'sickies' in your home this winter....

Click here to view the recipe (from

Any other natural home remedies that are tried, tested and true? Share please!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Adventures in the Kitchen # 10: Healthy Fudge

When I first heard that there were black beans in this recipe.....I was could black beans make anything a dessert?? However, I was pleasantly surprised and have now served this dessert to several of our dinner guests and to my family. Everyone raves about how good it is and I usually end up giving them a copy of the this time, I am going to share it with all of you!! This is one of the simplest dessert recipes made from natural, healthy ingredients that I know of.  It takes 5 minutes to make and is certain to please even the most skeptical critic......just don't tell them what the ingredients are and see what they think.....I'll bet they'll ask for seconds. Without further adue....

Adventures in the Ktichen # 9: Black Bean Fudge

Prep: 5 minutes
Serves: 6 (very rich so small portions are best)


- 1/3 Coconut Oil melted
- 2/3 Cup Cocoa powder
- 1 Can black beans (drained and rinsed)
- 1 Cup honey


1. Add all ingredients into blender
2. Blend until smooth consistency (approx. 1 min - scrape sides with spatula)
3. Spoon into 8x8 greased pan, refrigerate until mousse-like consistency
4. Serve Chilled

Another chocolate favorite in our house.....the kids l-o-v-e this fudge. The consistency is more like mousse so instead of cutting squares, I spoon portions into little dessert bowls.  I shake some rainbow sprinkles on top and the girls gobble it up. Many a guest has tasted this rich, creamy, decadent dessert and loved it! This is one of my 'go-to' desserts when we are having guests for dinner. 

Have you made this dessert before? If you make this, let me know how it turns out! 
Any other natural, healthy, delicious desserts out there? Please share!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Winter is for reading....

I don't know about you, but I always seem to have 4 or 5 books on the go.....I like that. I'm not one of those people that need to finish 1 book before they start another (unless it is reeeallllly good and I can't put it down in which case, I'll read it while cooking, eating, driving, and doing laundry until I finish it).
I love getting lost in a fictional story, I love reading and meditating and applying Godly wisdom found in books pertaining to marriage, parenting, motherhood, and missions. And now that the weather has turned chilly, I often look forward to getting into my comfy pants (I know you have pair too), heating up my rice bag, making my favorite cup of tea (Typhoo!) and curling up with a good book.  I am always looking for recommendations and I love recommending books to others--with a disclaimer that just because I liked it, doesn't mean they will! :)
Here is a list of the books that I currently have in my bedside table:

The Daily Bible - In chronological Order 365 Daily Readings (NIV)
 ~with devotional insights to guide you through God's word
Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World - Joanna Weaver
~Finding Intimacy with God in the busyness of life
The Excellent Wife - Martha Peace
~What it really means to be a Godly wife
How to work in someone else's country - Ruth Stark
~Practical Advice rooted in real experience for those working abroad
Treasuring God in our Traditions - Noël Piper
~Traditions and everyday patterns to pass onto our children which cultivate a love for God
Don't make me count to three - Ginger Plowman
~A Mom's look at heart-oriented discipline
Rebel with a cause - Franklin Graham
~An autobiography
Shepherding a Child's Heart - Tedd Trip (I am re-reading this one....sooo good!)
~Provides perspectives and procedures for speaking to the heart of your child in discipline
The 5 love languages of Children - Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell
~Learn the best 'language' through which your child receives and expresses love
Love amid the Ashes - Mesa Andrews
~The story of Job told through the eyes of the women who loved him
(I just finished this book yesterday....this was one of those books that I had to finish before reading anything else...I couldn't put it down!)

What are some books are on your 'list'? Any favorites you could recommend?
ps. Great prices and free shipping at

Friday, October 19, 2012

Adventures in the Kitchen # 9: Crock Pot Applesauce

The annual Henderson apple pick took place about 2 weeks ago......we went to this cute little apple farm and picked two bags of juicy macintosh apples....for $6. Amazing. We made an apple pie for some dinner guests and ate a bunch for snacks but we are huge applesauce fans, so I decided to try my hand at making applesauce in the crock pot this year.....I LOVE the crockpot....nothing like coming home or waking up to a house that smells delicious! The girls and I made this just before their bedtime and it was ready at 7am the next day. We have been enjoying home made applesauce ever since....

Adventures in the Kitchen # 10: Crock Pot Applesauce

Prep: 25 min (less if you own an apple corer/peeler)
Cook: 8 - 10 hours
Yields: 4 cups of applesauce

Apple + Cinnamon = Autumn

- 20 medium sized apples, peeled, cored, cut into chunks
- 3/4 Cup of water
- 1 Tablespoon of cinnamon
- 1 Cup of Sucanat (I would use 3/4 Cup next time as it was sweet!)


1. Place all ingredients into slow cooker.
2. Cook on low for 8-10 hours
3. Place sauce into a blender, blend until smooth.

This recipe was easy but time consuming as I do not own an apple corer/peeler and had to peel each individual apple by hand. It might be wise to invest in one if you cook with apples often (I did some research and they seem to range from $21 - $25) as it will cut down your prep time considerably. Other than that....this applesauce was smooth, sweet and made my house smell like fall. I would most definitely make this recipe again (use a bit less sucanat) and my family would agree. The way we are going through our batch.....I will have to make some more soon! 

Any other fall recipes that are an annual event in your house?

* Adapted from the recipe "Crock Pot Applesauce" from

Monday, October 15, 2012

Catching up....a Photo montage.

I haven't posted pics since here are a whole bunch of pics showing some of the fun things we have done that past couple of months....not in any order....oops!

Waiting for our breakfast at Cora's....princess-style.

Lily "playing" Candy Land.
Thank you Pinterest for this rainy day activity!

Sidewalk chalk + sunny day + smooth pavement = FUN!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Adventures in the Kitchen # 8: Two Bite Mini-Muffins....a healthy make-over

I have been on the hunt for healthy alternatives to store-bought items that we like to eat....especially in the snack department.....and I stumbled upon a recipe for Chocolate zucchini muffins (similar to the "Two-bite brownies" that you can buy in the grocery store) and decided to give them a healthy 'make-over' for some guilt-free eating pleasure! Don't let the word zucchini scare would never know that these succulent morsels of chocolate gooeyness (my mouth is watering as I write this) have a vegetable in them .....enjoy these as much as we do (and I bet you that your family won't guess that there is zucchini in them...up their veggie consumption without any complaints!)

Adventures in the Kitchen # 8: Two-bite Chocolate Zucchini Mini-Muffins

Prep time: 15 min
Cook Time: mini muffins - 10 min or Standard size muffins - 20 min
Yields: 20 standard muffins


- 2 Cups Whole Wheat Flour (remove 2 Tablespoons)
The mini muffins went so fast, I didn't get to take a picture,
but these look a lot like mine. Moist, rich, chocolatey. 
- 1 Cup Cocoa
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon allspice (I used nutmeg)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 1/2 Cups organic sucanat*
- 3/4 Cups Coconut Oil melted
- 3 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 Cup buttermilk (or add 2 teaspoons of vinegar to 1/2 cup of regular milk)
- 2 Cups zucchini (peeled, de-seeded, grated)
- 1 Cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (or carob chips)

*You can also use organic coconut sugar, same quantity or you can use 1 Cup of honey


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin tins with paper liners or grease with butter.
2. Whisk together flour, cocoa, salt, baking soda, all spice and cinnamon and set aside.
3. Whisk together sucanat and coconut oil. Beat in eggs one at a time until combined.
4. Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients until just moistened.
5. Spoon batter into muffin cups and bake for approximately 20 minutes. 
    (Muffins are done when inserted toothpick into the center comes clean)
6. Cool muffins in tin for 5 minutes, then transfer to cool wrack for 5 minutes before serving.

** I used a mini muffin tin pan to get the "two-bite" muffins.....just decrease the baking time to around 10 minutes.....a perfect snack for little hands and a guilt-free indulgence for us moms! :) This recipe made 16 standard size muffins plus 12 mini muffins.

The mini muffins were gone the same day I made them..... a new favorite for a snack on the go and for Kaitlyn's school lunches. Healthy and natural, home-made and cheaper than the store-bought version....these "Two-bite muffins" are among our favorite sweet treats!Adapted from "Chocolate Zucchini Muffins" found on

Friday, September 28, 2012

Lunch Box Menu Plan

If you are anything like me, I tend to be fairly indecisive when it comes to last minute meals.....I always say to Phil....just tell me what to cook and I will make it.....I just don't know what to cook!!! But I discovered how to counteract my indecisiveness with a bi-weekly meal plan. Problem solved. Then came school lunches. Gulp. Now I have to create a take-away lunch every day, consisting of all 4 food groups (there's 4 right??) but omitting all food items containing nuts (PEANUT BUTTER!!!)? Since we have zero extra time in the morning for me to be doddling around trying to make Kaitlyn's lunch, I decided I needed a plan.....
So, I asked Phil to create a lunch box meal plan template for me to use (I borrowed the idea from a blog that I came across). It shows two weeks at a time, and has spaces to write the day, 2 snacks and the lunch menu for each day. LOVE IT!! .......Oh the perks of being married to a former Graphic Designer.......So, now I sit down once every two weeks, and plan out what I am going to send with Kaitlyn each day, and I can make a grocery list if I need certain lunch items.
So, after the kids are tucked in, dinner is cleaned up and the house has been tidied, I head to the kitchen to put together the lunch that I planned ahead of time, no thinking involved, just that's my  'post-hectic day' kind of lunch making!

ps. Click on the 'lunch box meal plan template' words for a PDF link to print one for yourself!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Homemade Fruit Roll-ups

Now that Kaitlyn is in school, I have been researching some healthy snack ideas for Kaitlyn to take with her each day.  There are a large variety of snacks available in the stores......but most are super unhealthy and overpriced, so I thought that I would choose some store bought snacks that appealed to the kids (and us!) and try to find healthier, homemade and cheaper alternatives. If you have any homemade, yummy snack recipes.....please share with me!! :)

Adventures in the Kitchen # 7: Homemade Fruit Roll-ups
From this......

To this.....very simple, easy to follow recipe.

There are a bunch of steps involved with this recipe (don't be's super easy) and pictures will help you understand what to do, so go check out this amazingly easy, healthy and cheap recipe here.

** My Kids gobbled this snack up and wanted more and more! With no preservatives, artificial dyes or colors.....this treat is a perfect choice for a snack on the go. 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Rush, Rush, Rush.....

I feel like I am moving at a 'fast forward' kind of pace these days....with school starting and french lessons resuming for us (brief hiatus as we switched instructors) is non-stop running around til my head hits the pillow. Yipes. I feel like I am tired all the time.....sleeping at the dinner table is completely possible for know, those kids who fall asleep in their spaghetti? Yup....that could very well be me one of these days.....perhaps I am doing too much? not getting enough sleep? low in iron? I think a combo of all of the above might be the reason for my all-day fatigue.....and NO....and I am not pregnant! :)
Sleeping in is not in my vocabulary anymore.....
So here it is....walk a day in my shoes and see if you feel like going to bed after reading this......although part of me thinks this is just what being a mom is??.....

6:30am - Alarm goes off
6:45am - Roll out of bed (slowly), get dressed etc
7:00am - Kids wake up, get dressed, hair etc
7:15 - Breakfast, lunch prep, backpack prep
7:50 - teeth brushed, kids faces washed, shoes on
8:00 - in the car, tea in hand, reversing out of the driveway
8:25 - Arrive at Kaitlyn's school, take her to her class
8:35 - Drive to Lily's babysitters house
8:45 - Arrive at Lily's babysitters house, drop her off
8:50 - Drive to French class
9:15 - Arrive at french class, water bottle and snacks in hand
11:40 - Leave to pick up Lily
Noon - Pick up Lily and head for home
12:30 - Arrive home, make lunch, perhaps sit down
1:00 - Lily has quiet time, Phil does work/plays with Lily, I grocery shop, quiet time for me, errands, dinner prep, exercise  and do homeschooling with Lily
3:00 - Drive to Kaitlyn's school to pick her up
4:00 - Arrive back home, unpack school lunch, other dinner prep
Between 5:00  and 5:30 - Eat Dinner
5:45 - Clean up dinner, tidy house
6:00 - Shower the kids (3x/week)
6:15 - Games outside (kids love jumping over a flag, relay races, soccer etc)
6:45 - Brush teeth, jammies, read bible story, 2 books, pray, sing, tickle
7:15 - Lights out
7:16 - I sit down and do nothing....finally.
8:00 - Exercise (if I haven't already that day), shower
9:00 - French Homework
9:45 - School Lunch prep
10:00 - Get ready for bed
10:30 - Lights out, hopefully dreaming at this point

I am exhausted just typing this day out.....the days just fly Kaitlyn said today...."Mom, the days are just so short!"......because she is at school all day long, her time here at home playing and interacting with us is so short. Weekends are definitely a time to cherish....what's on the agenda for this "fin de semaine"?.....well.....I think we are going to ride the ferry over to the Island and do some apple picking.....and of course make lots of yummy things with our apples.....I can smell the apple cinnamon smell already.....

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Date your Kids

Last thursday, Kaitlyn and I went on a date. I love planning what we are going to do and where we are going to go......these are some of the requirements when I am searching for a potential date:
1. Fun
2. Inexpensive (we splurge occasionally)
3. Lots of opportunity to chat

Busy painting a rainbow heart

The Crackpot Cafe seemed like the perfect choice for our is a cute little cafe and pottery studio where you can select a piece of pottery to paint and spend an hour or so creating your masterpiece, while sipping some hot drinks and munching some sweet snacks. Kaitlyn chose to paint a mug with a spoon and I painted a "special day" plate. I must admit that this was a tad on the expensive side, but pottery is always pricey (unless you make it yourself).....but we had a great time painting, creating, eating and chatting. Kaitlyn painted a pretty rainbow heart on her mug and went to town painting the inside of her mug with various colors.  The cool thing is whenever she uses her mug (no matter what it ends up looking like), she will remember our time together.
Girl time
When we were done, we left our pieces with them to glaze and fire and will return in a week to bring our Masterpieces home. We can't wait! Afterwards we hit up Kaitlyn's first choice of a restaurant (much to my chagrin.....Mcdonalds or "Uncle Donalds" as Lily calls it). We split a happy meal and then headed home to share our day with Phil and Lily.
Looking forward to the next one.....usually once a month for each child with each parent. Lily and Phil went on a date that afternoon as well. The kids look forward to it and so do we. Little things go a long way to let our kids know how much we love to spend time with them and how special they are to us. It's not about buying things, or spending a lot of's about putting your list of "to do's" aside and spending undivided time with your child........doesn't even have to be anything out of the ordinary.....even going to the park but just the two of you, and intentionally pursuing their hearts in conversation.....and calling it a date (because that lets them know it is a special occasion and they get reeeeaaalllyyy excited about that!). Happy Dating!
I'm no artist....but this was fun!


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Off to school she goes.....

All grown up.....
Today, I was a basket case. I cried in front of a complete stranger. It was Kaitlyn's first day of Kindergarten. She was just fine....walzed right into her classroom and sat down, waiting for something to start. I managed to keep it together until I was walking to the car after leaving Kaitlyn behind.....and the tears just flowed. A nice lady (who had translated for me the night of the teacher-parent meeting) named Stacey gave me a big hug and told me that she felt the same way when her little guy first went to school....that made me feel a little less weird for crying. I was under the impression that we were going to be able to be in the classroom for the morning, to ease Kaitlyn into her 'all french' class, but just after we showed her where to hang her bag up and put her 'outside shoes' away, she slipped into the classroom and the teacher was at the door saying that parents weren't allowed in because it would be too chaotic.....I didn't even get to say goodbye to Kaitlyn or tell her that we would be back at lunch.....I was leaving Kaitlyn with a bunch of strangers who only spoke french and she didn't know a soul or where to go to the bathroom or even how to ask if she could go to the bathroom.......
I felt like I had abandoned her.....I know, I know....dramatic....but my mother's heart was grieving when we drove away from her school.....I just wanted her to be okay, to make friends, to have fun, to not be scared because she doesn't understand what anyone is saying or what she is sopposed to do.....I wanted to be there to help her out at first.....but I just had to leave her in God's hands as my husband said to me. Easier said then done, but in my heart of hearts, I know he is right.....
We came back around lunch time (I had regained my composure by then) and had a nice lunch with her class outside.....she seemed to be having a good was good to see her still smiling and wanting to go back (without us) to her classroom after lunch. She waved and I blew a kiss and watched her walk confidently and excitedly back into her school......she is more brave than me, that's for sure.
We picked her up at 3:25 and she was full of stories about her day......tired but excited to go back to school. Thank God for an adventurous, confident, courageous, trusting little girl......I know she will do well at school.....and I think I'll make it too.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Alphabet Fun- Reading 101

When I set out to teach Kaitlyn how to read, I wondered what would be the best way to help her learn this important skill while keeping it fun and creative and challenging.  My sister was using 'The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading' and she highly recommended that resource as the main resource for teaching your child how to read. I have not been disappointed. It lays out each lesson clearly, separating the vowels from the consonants, and teaching the child each phonetic sound through repetition and memorizing. It also outlines what you (the instructor) should say and how to teach the new letter. For example, for the letter B, it prompts the Instructor to show the letter (upper and lower case), then say the sound 5 times, then the child says the sound with you 5 times, then the instructor says three words that begin with B, and then the child repeats those words after the instructor. "B stands for b in b, b bat" (the first line in the "Consonant Poem" they will memorize). Some lessons have activities outlined for further phonetic practise, but in general, each lesson is short, easy to teach, effective and fun.
In addition to learning phonics, Kaitlyn completes a trace and copy work sheet that coincides with the letter of the day. These upper and lowercase 'alphabet tracing' sheets are readily available online for free and often include a picture to color (ie: Bb to practise writing and a picture of a butterfly to color).
We finish our lesson with an alphabet craft, for the letter B, I drew the letter on a piece of construction paper and Kaitlyn (and Lily) glued on a variety of buttons. Simple, creative, fun, and reinforcing the letter of the day.
The beauty of these activities is that my toddler Lily (2.5 years old when we started back in October 2011) has loved 'school' as well......I always print out an extra copy of whatever sheet Kaitlyn is working on so Lily can scribble color as well, and her little ears have picked up sounds of letters too, just by being at the table with us, learning. Lily can write her name (you may need me to interpret what letter is what) and she knows some of the "Consonant Rhyme Poem" which is a bonus. 
Below are pictures of each of the alphabet crafts we have done....all of them are simple, mostly mess-free and cheap to do.
A is for Apple pie
Letter A - Apple stamping/Apple Picking/Apple Pie Making
Letter B - Glue buttons onto the letter B
Letter C - Decorated the letter C with markers, glitter, stamps etc.
Letter D - Bingo dots on the letter D
Letter E - Glue Crushed eggshells onto the letter E
Letter F - Glue feathers onto the letter F
Letter G - Decorated the letter G with glitter glue
Letter H - Attached squiggly pipe cleaners with styrofoam balls on top to a head band
Letter I - Glued cotton balls onto a picture of an Igloo
Letter J - Coloured the letter J
Letter K - Made kites out of construction paper and a wire hanger
Letter L - Made lolli-pops out of construction paper and popsicle sticks (decorated the paper)
M is for mask
Letter M - Made masks out of construction paper, elastic bands to go behind the ears
Letter N - Made necklaces and bracelets with beads and pipe cleaners
Letter O - Coloured the letter O
Letter P - Made a popsicle stick basket and a popsicle stick pencil holder
Letter Q - Punched holes with toothpick around a picture of a duck and hung it up in the window
Letter R - Glued fruit loops on a picture of a rainbow
Letter S - Coloured the letter S
Letter T - Made tissue paper flowers
Letter U - Made construction paper umbrella mobiles
R is for rainbow
Letter V - Made a vegetable collage
Letter W - Weather collage
Letter X - Treasure hunt "X marks the spot"
Letter Y - Wrapped a vase with yarn (looks cooler than it sounds)
Letter Z - Coloured the letter Z

** This was a post that I wrote several months ago but didn't post.....I kinda forgot about it.....but I think now is a good time to share these ideas as there are stay-at-home moms with toddlers who may be thinking about homeschooling this fall. (One month away---time to start planning!!) I hope these simple crafts and resources can help you as much as they did me.....and that you have just as much fun learning as we did! We are still working our way through the "Ordinary Parent's Guide to Reading" which is now beginning to introduce short words and sight words. Kaitlyn still enjoys reading the Bob Books which offer challenge and reward at the same time. I'd love to hear your ideas......

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Adventures in the Kitchen # 6: Good Old fashion Pancakes

Okay, so maybe I am cheating a bit on this one.....pancakes are nothing new around our house.....but since my cookbooks are all packed away, I didn't have my usual go-to pancake recipe to use for a low key sunday night I searched online for a simple, quick pancake recipe and voila! I found one! If you can't tell from the title of this recipe......this ones a keeper.....
Enjoy a low-key Sunday night dinner......add some fresh blueberries and strawberries on top, or for those daring enough.....add some chocolate chips.....each topped with melted butter and real maple syrup.
YUM! A bonus for the kids.....make pancake people, letters, shapes......

Adventures in the Kitchen # 6: Good Old Fashion Pancakes
A whole stack of yumminess

Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 10-15 minutes
Serves: 4-6 

1.5 Cups flour
1 Tablespoons sugar
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg beaten
1 1/4 Cups of milk
3 Tablespoons melted butter

Preheat griddle/frying pan over low/medium heat.
Combine dry ingredients in a medium size bowl.
Stir in milk, eggs and butter. 
Stir until lumps are gone.
Create pancake masterpieces.

**Preheat oven to 175 to keep pancakes warm until the batter is all used up. Put pancakes in a covered oven-safe dish to keep them moist. 

Recipe found on

My kids LOVE this meal......they pile on the blueberries and also really enjoy when we make pancake people for them, complete with pancake clothes they can dress them in (make a pancake skirt or some pants to put on the pancake people). I usually serve this meal with scrambled eggs and if we're lucky, some bacon too. Easy meal, fun for the kids and yummy for everyone. Lots of thumbs up in our house for this one. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

You're only 5 years old once.....

I am kind of still in disbelief that my sweet Kaitlyn is now 5 years old! It all happened so fast. Some parts a blur, other parts are so vivid in my mind. Pictures help me to remember moments that I might've forgotten (we are so blessed to have digital camera's!) and convince me that yes, Kaitlyn really was 7lbs 6oz at one time in her life.  She has grown into a little (big) girl now, and it is an awesome privilege to see her just beginning to piece together this crazy journey called life. She has been a blessing to us and so many others....her contact list is almost as long as mine....she is a friend to so many. Lily thinks Kaitlyn is the best big sister and she is Lily's closest friend. I am so thankful that God gave me two little girls who can walk this life, adventures and new experiences, giggles, house, tea parties, dress-up, bike rides, running, sharing, fighting, forgiving, sharing a bed, singing out loud, and encouraging each other to live lives that are pleasing to Him.

Some things I don't want to forget about Kaitlyn are:
The Rapunzel Party Crew

-You are currently obsessed with Rapunzel (hence the birthday party theme-if you could wear that long braid made out of yarn everyday and everywhere, you would)
-The faster your bike goes, the better (and you swerve a lot which freaks me out!!!)
-You have been patiently waiting for some new friends, and we are both praying for some new friends for you at your new school
-Your sole reason for wanting to learn french is so you can make "french friends'
-You are a morning person (so opposite of me!) and often wake us up to show us what outfit you have chosen to wear for the day and how you have done your pony tail all by yourself
-You wear skirts and dresses 95% of the time.....and a wardrobe change is to be expected at least one other time during the day
-You are friendly, approachable and considerate of others (most of the time)
-You are the best big sister to Lily, patient, inclusive, encouraging, and protective
-You are brave......waltzing into a new sunday school class and just giving a little wave before entering into a place where you know no one but so excited to meet some new 'friends' (you need to rub off on Lily a bit in this department)
Sizing up the cake
-You desire in your heart of hearts to please God, to live as He wants you to and to follow His Word. I love to see you learn and grow and am looking forward to watching you mold into who He wants you to be.
-You have a wicked memory.....hence I always lose at memory game....and I try.....seriously, I do!
-You are into drawing from scratch....houses, people, bikes, trees, the sun and clouds, mom (who always has a pregnant belly.....I think you are sending me subliminal messages!) and Lily and Daddy
-You like to 'read' chapter books with pictures in them
-You are very pleased with yourself when you finish reading a BOB book on your will be reading chapter books soon Kaitlyn!
-Your favorite foods are juice boxes and homemade macaroni and cheese with steamed broccoli (with shredded cheese on it)
-You host a tea party daily....complete with water (tea), princess dresses and a table cloth
-Your favorite song is the God song by Starfield, as well as songs from Psalty and Music Machine
A game of 'hot and cold' brought you to the fridge to
find one of your gifts
-After watching much of the Olympics (where you said "I think we are watching too much TV"), whenever you are at the park you beeline for the jungle gym section and proceed to complete a full routine, concluded with your arms up and feet together. I give you 10's all the time.

I could go on and on......I just want you to know how much we love you and how proud we are of who you are becoming. I couldn't have asked for a better oldest daughter and I am so excited to watch you over the coming years.....the sky is the limit.
As you enter into full time school.....yes Mon-Fri all day.....I am not impressed with that schedule....but we want you to learn french and since we can't teach you at this point, I know this is the best way. God has given us a Christian school for you to attend, where I know the teachers and students will help you as much as you need. I pray for friends, and good friendships that can surpass the language barrier and encourage you as you learn a whole new language.
You have been such a trooper this past year as there have been so many transitions and goodbyes......I wish I could say there won't be any more, but the life that God has chosen for us is going to be one full of major life transitions and lots of hellos and goodbyes. A life rich in so many ways, but very challenging in other ways. Just know I will always be there for you, I pray we do this right, and stay  close emotionally throughout the years to come.....My arms will always be open for a hug, my ears always open to listen, my heart open to love and forgive, my hands teaching you the skills you need as you grow, and my with my mouth, I will be giving You to the One who made you and has a purpose and a plan for your life. May you grow up to know Him and serve Him with your whole heart and life.

Kaitlyn and Me
"I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always, as long as I'm living, my baby you'll be."


Sunday, August 5, 2012

Slow Down Summer!!

Time is flying by.....just where exactly did July go? I didn't even get around to posting June here is a combo post highlighting some of what we did in the first part of this beautiful summer....

6am.... that's why i am still sleeping in the background! :)

Rainy day Activities in the Camper

Date with Daddy.....test driving a Fiat 500....
just for fun.

Monday, July 30, 2012

An hour just to get out the door......

A brief summary of one afternoon two weeks ago.....

I had an almost laughable afternoon.....the 4 hours I had between language class and dinner slipped away faster than I could blink.....with not much getting done....well actually, the only thing that got done was that we eventually made it to the park......eventually. Frustrated is the nicest word to describe what I was this's a glimpse at what got me to that point.....
I announced it was time to go to the park.
I went upstairs to quickly change into shorts.
Lily decided she wanted to wear a sundress instead of shorts/T-shirt, so she changed.
Kaitlyn had to change out of her princess dress-up dress into shorts/T-shirt, so she changed too.
We put sunscreen on all of us.
I filled up 3 water bottles with ice and water.
I grabbed 2 peaches for a snack on the go.
I forgot my hat and sunglasses upstairs.
The girls went to use the bathroom.
I went out back to get the Chariot ready.
The girls finally emerged and were about to hop in, when Kaitlyn needed to get something.
I ran upstairs to help her find this 'thing' she was looking for....and couldn't find it.
Lily was on her way into the house saying she wanted to color a picture for me. I said that now is not a good time.
Finally both girls were in the stroller, diaper bag packed, water bottles and a snack readily available.
The left tire needed some serious air so I called Phil to come and fix it.
We couldn't find the bike pump = Chariot out of commission.
I put the Chariot in the backyard.
The girls gathered their hats and drinks and headed for the van.
I ran inside to get the keys.
Girls hop in and get buckled up. I discover that Lily is not wearing any underwear.
I closed the van door quickly, very quickly.
I ran upstairs, got some undies and shorts and ran out to the van, unbuckled Lily, dressed her, buckled her back up and closed the door.....more slowly this time.
Cranked the Air Conditioning and floored it.....deep breaths....deep breaths.
Met up with some serious traffic trying to cross 4 lanes to get to the park.
Eventually decide to turn right, then turn around in a parking lot just down the road.
Met up with some more traffic trying to turn right out of the parking lot.
Very ineffective driving decision.
I floored it out of the parking lot, the van went 0-60km in 3 seconds.
We arrived at the park....finally.
I told the girls I needed to sit for a while by myself because I was feeling very frustrated.
I think they got it.
15 minutes later Kaitlyn ran over and I held my arms out for a hug.
She gave me a good one.
I asked her what she felt when mommy was being grumpy.
She looked at me sheepishly and said "I think you don't love me?"
My heart almost broke in 2.
I hugged her and told her I will always love her no matter what happens or what she has done or what I have done.
I asked her to forgive me for being grumpy and pouting when things didn't go as I planned.
I told her that even mommies have a hard time having a joyful heart in all situations (which we are really focusing on right now with both much for leading by example!) and that I needed to ask Jesus to forgive me and to help me have a joyful heart no matter what.
Kaitlyn nodded in approval, gave me another hug and ran off.
My soul felt light, the sun shone a bit brighter after that and turns out that we had a great time at the park.....once we got there.
Later that night, I heard Kaitlyn telling Lily that even mommies and daddies have trouble obeying Jesus, and that we need to ask Jesus to change our hearts.
Glad that she knows we are in need of God's grace, just like her.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Adventures in the Kitchen # 5: Peanut Butter and Chocolate squares

Okay, I have to admit.....I am cheating a bit on this post. I have made this dessert before.....but it was like 10 years ago, back in I figured the statute of limitations has run out on that and I can consider this recipe an adventure all over again! :) Peanut butter and chocolate together is my weakness.....and I had the biggest craving for this delish combination when this recipe conveniently  popped back into my here it is.....a totally sinful delight....

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Squares (no bake)

Prep Time: 7 min (plus time in the fridge to harden)
Serves: A lot of people! (9 x 13 baking pan full of yumminess)
Makes a bunch so you can share with your neighbours!
That way you won't be tempted to eat them all yourself :)

1 Cup melted butter
1 Cup peanut butter
2 3/4 Cups Icing sugar
2.5 Cups Graham Cracker Crumbs
2 Cups Semisweet Chocolate Chips

- Combine melted butter, peanut butter, graham cracker crumbs and Icing sugar in a medium size bowl and mix well.
- Press mixture firmly into the bottom of a 9" x 13" baking pan
- Melt chocolate chips in a double broiler or in the microwave (1 min on high)
- Pour Melted chocolate over the crumb crust and spread to the edges
- Cool in the fridge for 5-10 minutes and then cut into pieces (this will make it easier to cut later)
- Return squares to the fridge to harden completely (20 minutes)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

First Visitors!!

We are happy to announce........WE HAD OUR FIRST VISITORS here in Quebec!!! David and Courtney (friends from Three Hills and fellow pilot) came this past weekend as part of their long road trip to Alabama. It was so nice to have a little reminder of Three Hills in our house for 3 days.....lots to talk about and of course......we gave them a crash course in 'survival french' (Bonjour, Comma ca va, Ou est le salle de bain? etc) and showed them a bit of the city. Who wouldn't love this beautiful city? We busted downtown once the kiddos were asleep (the couple we are living with were home just in case you were wondering!) and encountered some serious traffic because the famous annual "Festivale d'été" was happening....apparently Lionel Ritchie was performing (is he still singing??).....there were hords of people, young and old walking the streets, enjoying the perfect night temperatures, the pretty lights, and the beautiful backdrop of the Chateau Frontenac.......we stopped into a quaint restaurant called "La Creperie" (The crapperie as David pronounced it! haha) and enjoyed some french delicacies while listening to some live acoustic music (in french and english). Twas a great night, finished off with a classic Beaver Tail, which Courtney is now addicted to. Mission accomplished! :)

So many people were out and about, enjoying the summer festival.

The grand finale to an awesome night: Beaver Tails!

The Beautiful Chateau Frontenac
Looking forward to our next visitors......another chance to explore this gorgeous city.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Quirky Quebec

You know when you travel to a place you've never been before, you seem to notice things that are out of place, odd, crazy, different and very cool? I have mentally compiled such a list in the almost 2 weeks we have been living in Quebec City......some are constructive suggestions on how to improve life for tourists and foreigners such as us and others are just mere observations about this place that is so different from the rest of Canada......

1. You cannot turn right while at a red light.....seriously inefficient and a major patience testing rule!! I suggest an immediate revision of this traffic law. :)

2. Phil and I thought that we at least had the french word "Oui" (which means "yes") totally downpat before living here...turns out you need to sound like you are a quacking duck (minus the "q" and "ck" sound) when you say that word....after much practise....we are now experts at the "quack". :)

3) If you are over the age of 65, you will most definitely be in seriously good shape and participate in exercise such as biking, running, rollerblading, speed walking etc....Phil and I are aspiring to add at least one of those activities into our we can keep up with the Seniors! :)

4) The speed limit on the highways is 100 km/hour, yet no one drives faster than fact we are among the fastest drivers when we are obeying the speed is killing Phil that everyone drives slower than the speed limit!

5) Beaver Tails will never get old! Queue de Castor anyone??

6) No Frills Grocery Store is called Maxi, and Shoppers Drug Mart is called Parma-prix and good ole' IGA is the same here....and just as expensive!

7) Looking for "old" cheddar cheese in the grocery store??? NOPE!! Just mild and medium cheddar......which is probably a sign that we should investigate some of the other thousands of gourmet cheeses that French culture has to offer....YUM!

8) Everyone in Quebec that we have met (minus a few exceptions) are very eager to switch to speaking English so they can practise (after hearing our brutal accents) which is nice for us as it allows us to actually understand what people are saying.....however.....not so helpful as we are trying to practise our french!! Sometimes we continue to try to speak in french, and other times we succumb to the ease of a conversation in English.

9) People are curious once they hear us speak......not so much in the downtown area as there are so many tourists and languages present but once you step into the suburbs......people are intrigued as to why we are here....and what a great opportunity to tell them why! :) in french of course! :)

Well, gotta run.....Les Nouvelles awaits.....our homework for tonight! (to watch the news in french)

Bon Soir!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Too Busy To Write

I have been so delinquent in writing these past two months...we have been so busy and I just haven't had the mental energy to sit down and write. But things have slowed down...a little. :) We have now officially been living in Quebec City, Quebec for 1 week. We haven't really had time to sit down and let it all sink in...that we are considered 'on-the-field' missionaries now, that this is the last place we will live before moving to Chad, and that we are going to be bilingual after our time here (we hope?!). Oh well...there will be lots of time to ponder these things once we settle in...
I must admit, things are going really well...I don't know what I expected it to be like...well...maybe I see, I have not had the best experiences in Quebec thus far in my life and I must admit, those unpleasant moments had tainted my view of "La Belle Province" BUT it is not at all what I thought it would be. Everyone we have met and talked to has been so nice, and patient (as we butcher their beloved language) and helpful...but thank heavens for the GPS because helpful or not, directions in French just don't cut if for us at this point! :)
It has been humbling (once again) to see God's perfect timing and provision...when we saw our leave date, June 1st, come and go, when we couldn't find a tutor, or a place to stay in Quebec...we were wondering what to do...we knew something would come up, but when?
A quiet breakfast on our first full day in Quebec
We are here for such a short time (usually language learning happens over 1 year) as we leave in 6 months, and God knew we needed some sort of fast track He provided not only a house for us to stay in, but a beautiful Christian retired couple to live with for 2 months, like exchange students do...learning by emersion...already after 1 week, we have learned so many french words/phrases from them...we are learning in class as well as at home.
My dream toy when I was a kid....a REAL car to drive!!
ps. Lily is a crazy driver!
The couple we are living with knew of a lady who wanted to babysit our kids while we were in language studies...Monday - Thursday for 3.5 hours in the morning...she is a Christian and she is a beautiful, gentle, fun, patient person who will show love to our kids when we are away. Hopefully she will teach them some french too! (she is bilingual)
Michel is showing the girls
how to make Croissants (I LOVE FRENCH FOOD!)
Kaitlyn will be going to Kindergarten in the fall, and will attend the only Christian school in Quebec City (next closet one is 2.5 hours away) and it is 100% french! I have no doubt she will learn French faster than me! She is super excited to go to school, I on the other hand am excited for her but I know I will miss her when she is away...and I know Lily will really miss her big sister too. We have to find someone to look after Lily starting in September but we have lots of time to figure that out.
So as you can see, God has proven Himself over and over, providing just what we need in his timing.
We already have several people who are coming to visit in the summer...anyone else? :) The old part of Quebec City is like a mini Europe...with its cobblestone, skinny streets, quaint cafés and luxurious shops and hotels...Phil and I are looking forward to exploring this beautiful city...
Winding through the old streets of Quebec City....
ps. I feel that since I have started learning french, I am having a hard time writing and speaking in English....weird huh? Hope my English comes back to normal soon! :)

Monday, June 11, 2012

May in Review

Limbo.....that is the theme of May......nope....not the fun dance that one performs whilst shimmying under a bar......but rather in our case, Limbo refers to us not knowing where we would be moving to learn French.....I must admit it is a tad stressful packing up your things not knowing where we would be moving them in a matter of weeks. I feel this state of 'limbohood' (is that a word??) is like #16 on the list of 'life lessons of a missionary' (out of a bazillion!!) and I am only just beginning to experience this list ....some have been great, others not so much fun to go through. In the end, I know I will look back and see how perfect the timing was on all of this....but dang....for now, I just wanna know NOW!!! :)
In the meantime, here is a snapshot (a lot of them!)) of what we did in May.....
Rainy Day Fashion

Pretty in Pink (always!!!)

Lawn Maintenance Crew

Special vistors and friends - The Armbrusters

As if these still exist?? The girls enjoying a roadside treat!

The Cousins

I have no words to describe the HIDEOUS outfits!! :)

Best Friends (and just so happens they are family too!)


Great friends from the past.....

Golfing with dad


The 'gloating' photo....they beat us home

Reading with Auntie Em

Silly Lily (I LOVE your blue eyes!!)

Mother's day gift..... Phil tried them on Kaitlyn and he said
they looked good on he bought them for me! :)

Sweet sisters

Working up the courage to dip the toes in (it was 65 degrees)

Bathing beauties

First "swim" in the arctic pool

Solid Friends.....Adam & Nicole make it hard to leave

Splash Park (not as good as Three Hills)


Surprise! Lily is on the swing! 

Our 'new' sandbox (found it on the side of the road)

Our newest activity.....Tennis!

Slip n' slide fun (plus dish soap for speed!)

Artistic creations

Pancake people

Oh my.....

On a treasure hunt....for the letter X 

Emmy & me

Lily carrying her kitty

Kaitlyn practising carrying a 'baby'

Swinging fun at the neighbours house