The posts on this blog are copied from my private blog: "At The Rose Cottage". If you are interested in viewing The Rose Cottage, which has more personal family posts and pictures, email me at stewcrew9 at

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Assignment #18 - Tradition

Just out of curiosity, I asked my older children what traditional things we do around Christmas that they really enjoy. Here is what they said:

-Skating party on the 26th will all the cousins (Steve's folks have 27 grandchildren!) .

-New Years sledding party.

-Just staying home as a family.

-Turkey stuffing!!!

-Reading God's word together.

-Receiving gifts.

-Cold lunch after Christmas with all the leftovers.

-Watching old movies like Mary Poppins, Cheaper By The Dozen, Kidnapped and 20 Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.

I smile as they say all these things because none of them started out to be traditions. They are not old traditions, but they are what the kids think of that makes this time of year special for them.


I think back to my childhood and my Norwegian family. Foods like Gjetost (pronounced yea-toast - a brown goats cheese aka: ambrosia!), Lutefisk (fermented whitefish that smells awful but has no flavor), Lefse (potato flatbread to wrap your ambrosia Gjetost in), meatballs, smoked herring, milk rice, and strong coffee.

Most of these things are gone now. I am allergic to wheat and dairy (even goat's cheese :-/). I will still make milk rice for our Christmas morning breakfast (made with coconut milk instead of cow milk). I will also make lefse for New Year: it works out OK gluten free. I will be drinking tea instead of the black, thick coffee. Even so, my childhood memories are still precious because it was not the actual traditions that were REALLY meaningful, but what they represented: family, togetherness, security, and LOVE.

Assignment #17 - Handmade

Being a Mother is one of the most rewarding yet challenging positions to hold. Everyday is physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally taxing. Everyday also has it's little rewards of preciousness: baby smiles, loving words, pictures to hang on the fridge, wet kisses and hair-messing hugs.

Occasionally, in the midst of homemaking, I get this creative urge to make something beautiful that I can enjoy right away. Let's face it, baking, doing dishes, cleaning house, and grocery shopping just doesn't fulfill a creative desire (OK, it sometimes does, but the clean house or the cookies or the full pantry doesn't last very long).

When this urge hits me, I generally want to do a project that will not take too long to finish. Sometimes I pick up my paintbrush - I enjoy watercolors, sometimes I pull out scrap booking, sometimes I blog :), and sometimes I sew.

Last week I got the "creative bug" and started making a tea cozy that would fit my largest tea pot. I looked up different patterns and ended up using the instructions on a website called "The Rusty Bobbin". I couldn't get a link to work *grrrr* so just Goggle "rusty bobbin sews tea cozy" and you'll find it.

I also purposed to use only what fabric and notions I had on hand (to save money and to have a fun challenge). Applique is one of my favorite sewing methods because the projects are small and I can work on them while sitting with the family.

So, Ta Da....
I love RED, so there is red accents - if I had brown fabric, I probably would have chosen that instead of black, but I am happy with the black.
The main change I made from the directions, was to put a casing around the bottom and run a bit of elastic in it so that the cozy would "hug" my tea pot better.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Assignment #16 - Gratitude

What am I thankful for??? So many, many things... and more importantly, so many people! I am going to list 10 people (or people groups) who I am so thankful are in my life.

1. My Dear, Dear Savior: how could I ever begin to tell about this wonderful person? I guess if you know him too, a description is unnecessary. Yet I know nothing warms my heart like hearing another believer share what Jesus means to them... so I'll share a wee bit here. This Lord of mine took me in and remade me when I had nothing to give him in return but my pitiful life. He has set me free from hurtful habits, lies of the Devil, and my sin and guilt. He has placed my feet on the rock of his truth and given me the hope of salvation. By the strength of his spirit, I am able to be a wife, mother and teacher. He meets me in my humble home each day and guides me through each moment of the day. He greets my waking thought with his own thoughts. Without him... well, I don't like to think about that!

2. My Dear, Dear Husband: I am so thankful for Debi Pearl's book, Created To Be His Help Meet. The description in there of a Mr. Visionary helped me understand this man of mine! At times I wondered if I had married a crazy man! Now that I understand him better, I can listen to his plans: like moving to the Yukon to homestead, with some gravity (as opposed to running around gathering up a grubstake for a family of 9). Steven is such an amazing man: he is creative and artistic and is such a man of leadership and ambition ("lazy" just is not in his vocabulary!). No one has loved me with such a perfect, Christ-like love as this man has. Where would I be without him????... I don't like to think of that, either!

3. My Kids: I think I have some of the most forgiving kids in the world! They just keep loving this Momma of theirs and I am so humbled. Steven often comments that we are raising our best friends. :) While right now, I have to be teacher, guide, Momma, and bedroom inspector - I can see that someday, I will be free to enjoy a close friendship with these amazing people. I am getting glimpses of it with Millie now, and I LOVE it!

4. My Dad: I have watched my Dad go through the grief of losing my Mom to dementia at an unusually young age (she was just over 50 when she really lost the ability to function normally). Through this, I have gotten to know my Dad in a way I probably never would have. He comes over to our house often to visit (and have supper). :) We enjoy his company, and who wouldn't? - he is well read, has traveled the world with his work, taught high school, farmed, held positions of administration, runs his own business as a land agent, is a history buff, is gifted with analyzing people and situations, is soft spoken and pleasant.... and an expert Grandpa. Dad reads my blog, and while he may not comment on it, he comments to me later. :) And best of all - he likes my cooking!

5. My Parents-In-Law: You know how you just can't out-give some people? Well, these are two of those people. They are always giving - to strangers, friends, fellow-believers and family. They raised 5 children and have 27 grandchildren (the oldest is 18). Dad has run a dairy farm and a construction business. He has a reputation as being upright and honest in all his dealings. He is the "lay-pastor" in our home fellowship and is often sought out for his council and wisdom. Mom is truly a "mother-heart" that has room in her time, home and arms for all who need her. She is a great cook - nothing beats Mom's roast beef or chicken. She has run a floral arranging business in the past and she did our wedding flowers.

6. My sil, Melodie: Mel is six years older than me and my husband's only sister. Right from when we met, we have been friends. She is so giving and sensitive to other's needs and hurts. Over the last month, as I have been struggling with this miscarriage and hormone changes, she has sent me several notes and gifts to encourage me. Her oldest kids are 5 years older than our oldest, so I have appreciated someone who I can talk to, ask questions of, and get ideas from. She has been so content in their little 1920's farm house - always showing hospitality and generosity. She is due to welcome their 10th baby in February.

7. My sil, Laurie: Laurie and I knew each other as kids, growing up in western Alberta. Then our family moved east to the prairies and I lost touch with her. It was such a surprise when she turned up at Prairie Bible Institute in our town - and caught the notice of Steve's older brother, Kevin. She is now my sister-in-law and the mother of 7! Laurie has been a true friend, especially the last few years since they moved into town. She has visited my Mom with me (she lost her mom 3 years ago and understands). She has made our family many meals when I have been ill or just had a baby. She is always honest and just herself... she couldn't be deceitful if her life depended on it! She always thinks the best of people is quick to praise any good she sees. I am always amazed at her example of "plodding". Laurie doesn't do spectacular, unusual things in her homeschooling, housekeeping or projects - but she plods... and by her faithfulness she accomplishes HUGE things.

8. My new sil, Emilie: I am still getting to know Emilie (married to Steve's youngest brother, Justin) - but the things that I appreciate about her already is her cheerfulness, creativity and servant attitude. In their few months of marriage, she has delivered 2 or 3 meals to my door to help when I was sick as well as taking the littlies to the park and other helpful things.

9. My community: My "little town on the prairie" has a pop. of 3500 and is in the middle of nowhere (it isn't "on the way" to anywhere). I have lived here for over 23 years. When I go "uptown" I am constantly greeted by name - people know my kids - they stop and ask how we are doing. It is a great community to raise a family in and we are thankful to be here.

10. My e-friends: I used to think that nothing could be more shallow than having friends that you only know through the computer. When I started a blog, it was to keep in touch with family and friends that we didn't see often... but it hasn't turned out that way. Many are just too busy to be bothered with checking in on our family or read what I have written - hey, I understand. Instead I have made many new friends (and met up with some old friends). Altogether, I have been encouraged and enriched by meeting other godly woman who want to honor the Lord in their homes and relationships. I have learned to love many of you and I think of and pray for you often - you are precious women! My husband was VERY sceptical of me contacting people this way - but he has been won over! He even asks about your families and activities. :)

Well that was longer than I though it would be... but I am just overflowing with thankfulness!

Oh not! I forgot someone! Steven's dear Aunt Ardith! This woman is one of the most gracious, composed, generous, thoughtful, compassionate and kind people I know. I was actually going to post something about her on my other blog, "At The Rose Cottage", so I will keep this concise and just say that the Lord has used "A.A." in our lives for a tremendous blessing!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Assignment #15 - Abundance

"My Lap-full of Abundance"

Abundance in not something we acquire.
It is something we tune into.
Wayne Dyer

Abundance is realizing what you already posses that no money could buy: joy, love, peace and freedom.

Early in our marriage, my husband included in his prayers this verse, Proverbs 30:8 "Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me." Truly the Lord has honored that in his life. We always have "enough". At times I do feel discontent, but always the issue comes down to my attitude, not the situation.

Deceivingly, our society has led us to define our abundance by comparison. Then the extremely rich, unnaturally beautiful, and uniquely successful are paraded in front of us on every TV, magazine and media - truly "vanity and lies". Even the most stout at heart can fall victim to comparison.

Here I am: a 34 year old, home school mom, single income family, self-employed husband, mother of seven - if I compare to our world's standard for success, I would be a total and complete failure! Yet, every little while I think of what a friend once told me. I was at my 10 year high school reunion. Each of my classmates were taking turns standing up and explaining what they were doing in life. Many of my friends were VERY successful. My closest friend had just be given a brand new Mustang convertible for being the top sales person in her company. Another has a Doctorate in Physics. Several were studying for Master's degrees in their chosen fields. Then there was me... I was six months pregnant with my fifth child, a stay-at-home mom, we had enough but were not wealthy. I was intimidated when I stood up and gave my little spiel and then sat down, slightly embarrassed at the simplicity of my life. It was quiet for a few seconds and then one of my classmates said (the one with the Doctorate in Physics), "Don't feel bad, you are living the life we all wish we could have." (!!!)

Oh, when WILL I learn? Success does NOT equal abundance.
Abundance is truly not something to be acquired, but instead it is an attitude, an understanding, a condition of the heart.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Assignment #14 - Texture - Sense of Touch...

The most beautiful things in live cannot be
touched, or even seen.

They must be felt within the heart."

Helen Keller

There is one sense of touch that has been consistent in my life over the last 16 years:

My hand, warmly held by my husband's hand.

So many of my experiences since married has been accompanied by the clasp of his hand.

Reflecting on the first time that he held my hand, I remembered the Christmas that his folks had my family over for dinner. Steven and I had been dating for over a year but we had been very careful of our physical contact. That night, we went for a walk in the moonlight... and the extreme cold! We were standing down behind the barn, leaning on the heavy white wooden gate looking over the moonlit pasture when he asked me if he might hold my hand. :D

Then there was the first time we held hands as husband and wife.
Over the years, most of my memorable moments have been experienced with my hand in his. He held it through:

~the births of our seven babies

~visiting my mother in nursing homes

~the funerals of family and friends

~waiting for our little Sunny to come out of surgery

~quiet walks and strolls, over cups of tea

~sitting next to each other while driving - except if I am driving he insists I use both hands :)

~lying next to each other at night, visiting about the day, discussing our hopes and dreams

~and then there are those little clasps and squeezes as we pass in our day.

So much of my life is defined by that touch of his.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Assignment # 13 - "Just an Ordinary Day..."

"Just an ordinary day"... Is there really such a thing??? As I contemplated doing this post, I realized that I do have ordinary days, but probably not this week. :) But that is OK, I'll record a day anyway. After all, unusual is somewhat ordinary around here.

I didn't want this post to get too long - but it has. I also wanted more pictures (and more interesting ones!) but I kept forgetting to take them. I also don't show our children's full faces on a public blog, so that was somewhat limiting.

I hope you don't find this boring!

So, this is my Tuesday, October 3, 2009

6:30 AM - My alarm rings and I roll out of bed. My alarm does not have a snooze button (I destroyed it on purpose) so I have learned to get up with the first ring. Hubby turns over and mumbles a "Good Morning, Babe." He usually sleeps for 15-30 minutes longer.
I get changed into my exercise clothes and turn the computer on in the office. I go through the T-Tapp workout and then check my e-mail while I drink (I always drink 16-24 oz of water before breakfast). I then got dressed for the day.7:10 - Time to start breakfast. This morning as I walk in the kitchen, I see that some jobs from last night didn't get finished - the dishes were not put away and some of them are not washed properly, the water filter was not filled and some food was left out. I check the duty chart to see who the "culprits" are, and then mention to Steve what was not done. He called the kids (they are to get up at 7:00) and gave some warnings with duties.

7:50 - Breakfast is late this morning because of the duties left from last night. Oh well, it will be better tomorrow. The family has their usual breakfast - rice porridge, toast and eggs, and orange juice.
I had a fruit smoothie made with coconut milk, banana & blueberries, as well as a piece of toast and an egg. Usually I just have the smoothie and egg - but I had a craving for bread this morning. :P

8:30 - Steve leaves for work (also 1/2 hour later then usual, but he is self employed, so there is no big pressure there). The children all start their morning chores. Mine are to mix bread if we need it, comb little girl's hair and throw laundry in. We don't need bread this morning so I spend extra time with laundry. I also make our bed and tidy up our bedroom during this time. It is so tempting just to crawl back into bed - but I manage to fight off the urge. :)
Millie has to baby sit this morning for a ladies bible study at a church close by (she does this every Tuesday morning). Her stomach is upset: it is from something she ate (food allergy) and not from the flu so she decides to go anyways. She leaves at 9:00 and will be gone until 12:00.

Wafe and Kinners are helping Steve at the shop this week, so they did their chores at home, practiced their music lessons and then headed for the shop. They left at 9:30.

So it was just me and the littlies left at home. I had a short rest and then we did their phonics lesson.
I decide to catch up on laundry which was in a sad state. First I make myself a cup of tea, read for half and hour on the computer (really just procrastinating) and then I folded 5 loads of laundry and the girls helped me put it away.
The girls then play a memory card game while I start lunch. Millie comes home and tells me about her morning babysitting while we get lunch ready.

We call the boys at 12:15 (Steve is usually able to come home for lunches and I just give his cell a ring when it is ready). By 12:30, they still are not home, so I call them again. Steve had had some machinery going so did not heard the first call. They hurry home and Kinners eats fast so he can be ready in time for swimming lessons at 1:00.

12:50 I leave the house with Kinners and Sunny and head for the pool (only 6 blocks away).

They make it to their classes on time and I go and sit in the observer's seating with the other Moms. A girl I know, Cristine, comes over to visit. She lives up the street from us and Steve did quite a bit of finishing work in their heritage Eaton's home a few years ago.

(Usually, I either go for a walk or have a nap right after lunch. Having swimming lessons really disrupts our day, but it is only for a short time and it is worthwhile.)

Visiting made the hour pass quickly and soon the kids were heading for the change rooms. I told them that they had to get changed quickly today as I had an appointment after. They were very quick and we were in the van by 2:10. That gave me just enough time to drop them off at home and head up for my Dr.'s appointment at 2:15 (I got their at 2:18 and didn't have to wait at all!).

The appointment went good. The doctor thought it was kind of silly to want progesterone cream, but he agreed to give me a prescription for it (YEA!) - as long as I did not use it until after Friday's blood work to check my thyroid. He was alarmed that I was still bleeding and booked me an emergency ultra-sound to check if any placenta is still retained. That is scheduled for tomorrow afternoon. He is really a great doctor and I am so thankful that he is a believer.

3:00 - After the appointment, I stopped off at Steve's shop to tell him about what the Dr. said. We visited for a few minutes and discussed how to work things with the kids tomorrow if I run into the city to have the ultra-sound. I also like stopping by to see how his projects are progressing. The octagon shaped island that he is building right now has a heavy, octagon pillar in the middle of it from the counter to the ceiling. Steve has hand carved roses up the pillar and the boys are fine-sanding the carving.
The holes cut at the bottom of the pillar are for electrical outlet boxes.

Next Steve will be staining and lacquering.

3:30 - Home again. The little ones are just getting up from naps and I get them a snack. I then phone the music teacher to switch tomorrow's lesson time to accommodate my appointment.

4:00 - I plan on having baked spaghetti tonight, so I get the hamburger browning and gather ingredients for the sauce. I put on a John Mcdermmot CD while I work and put my casserole together to the notes of "Scotland the Brave", and "Danny Boy". I then cut up a green salad.

The boys came home around 4:30.

5:20 - I called Steve for supper (we usually eat at 5:30). I then get out the laptop to work on this post while I wait for him.

6:00 - Steve is not home yet, so we are going to go ahead and eat. If he is late, it is usually because one of his brothers, his dad, a fellow contractor or a customer had stopped by for a visit after work. It is nice for him when this happens as he has usually worked by himself most the day.

Steve got home at 6:30 - we were mostly done supper. I stayed at the table to visit with him while he ate.

7:00 - After supper, he asked me to do some computer work for him. The older children did their chores and the little ones played while Steve and I worked in the office. I purchased most of our hunting licences online, discovered that they did not issue us enough pre-numbered tags. I looked up where the Fish and Wildlife office is in Red Deer so I can pick up some more tags after getting my ultra-sound. The office turned out to be about 4 blocks away from the medical office so that will make it easy for me.
I will also get groceries for the next 2 weeks while I am in the city tomorrow. I also need some clothes... and I would REALLY like to get to the fabric store... but there will only be a few hours to work with.

I got our monthly bulk produce list today and I put my order together and emailed it - I ordered 35# of butternut squash, 1 box of tangerines (for making juice in the mornings), 1 box of bananas and 1 box of grapefruit (a box is generally 40#). I still have enough apples from last month's order. I will share lemons, lettuce, cucumbers and broccoli with my SILs.

Steve was working on an estimate for a kitchen while I did the computer work. When he was done, I scanned his drawings sent off several emails for him.
9:00 - Oh dear, it has gotten late. Usually I read stories to the little ones at 8:00 and they are in bed at 8:30! Tonight I read one short story, prayed with the four youngest and got them to bed quickly.
Then we had devotions with the older children and they were off to bed at 10:00 - again a bit later than usual (the theme of today!).

It is now 10:15 - I am going to work on this post for a few more minutes, read some on friend's blogs, have a shower and then snuggle in bed. I recently switched to having my personal bible reading once I am in bed (instead of in the morning as I usually hit the ground running in the morning and to sit down, interrupted just doesn't happen!) and I try to have the lights out by 11:00.

That was my "ordinary day". I am always so thankful when everyone is safe at home after a busy day - I have so much to be thankful for!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Assignment #12: Harvest

Harvest -noun
1. Also, har-vest-ing. The gathering of crops.
2. The season when ripened crops are gathered.
3. A crop or yield of one growing season.
4. a supply of anything gathered at maturity and stored.
5. the result or consequence of any act, process or event.

Sooner or later, every one sits down to a banquet of consequences.

Robert Louis Stevenson

The earth yields a bounty:

from the field...

... from the forest...

...from the black earth.

With some harvest, we fill our larder...

With some harvest, we fill our hearts.

While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.
Gen 8:22