Friday, August 12, 2016

Happy 37th Birthday!

My facebook birthday post from this year. Since I was seriously lagging in my blogging at that time, I'm catching up now!
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Happy birthday to the love of my life. Love is surprising sometimes, and this was one of those times. Life is surprising sometimes, and certainly it has not turned out the way I imagined it would be. Because usually imaginations, though we think we dream of far off things, are limited by what we think, know and desire. We can't begin to see the greatness until we are pushed passed what we can't even imagine, into an unfamiliar realm. In a certain sense, it's a failure of life - it's not gone according to plans. And in another sense, it's the fulfilment of dreams you dreamed, you just lacked vision enough to supply all the grand particulars. Because had you known, you would have imagined them in the first place. Life has been surprising me ever since 1998, I guess. And this one has been the reason. He's pushed me into realms I'd never imagined, but in so doing, fulfilled my dreams, instead of dashing them. I am so grateful for him. Happy birthday Brian James. #hockeyhair #raisedbycanadians #lovehim #loveloyaltyfriendship

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Love Your Spouse Challenge

Well, these things "go around" facebook, and while I was enjoying reading others' posts, I was kind of glad I hadn't been called upon to participate...I kind of feel like everyone already knows everything, right?! I don't know. I just guess I wasn't really in the mood or something. And then I got "tagged". You're it! Well, I didn't really have a plan or idea, so I just started posting off the top of head! Here are the 7 days, all rolled into one post. Just because we need to keep proof on hand that I love that guy;-)

Day 1 -
I was nominated for the Love Your Spouse challenge by Sarah. For day 1, Here we are, at 23 years old, but babies. We'd already known each other for 4 years. I'm volunteering at the Markham Fair, and he's just waiting around for my shift to be over. He's done a lot of waiting around over the years. A lot. He's determined and patient (and I'm really not). This was the day before we officially began our dating relationship (which was mostly long distance). More about that another day, perhaps. But I thought maybe I should start back where it all began! I nominate Amy & Kari! I think you're supposed to post for 7 days...ummm... Because love is nice? It sure beats all the usa politics on my feed;-) I guess I didn't look into the rules before accepting the challenge (somewhat typical of me! Haha)

Day 2 - 
Well, here we are in 2004. When everything we owned in our 500sq ft apartment fit into a very small trailer, and we left NY (me having only lived there for 11 months) to move to VA. We really had no idea what we were doing, though I'm sure at the time we felt we did:-) One of the things that I am begrudgingly grateful for is Brian's vision and plan for our family. I say begrudging, because if it were up to me (the play it safe non risk taker aka: worrywart), we'd still be renting an apartment in Rochester, I'm sure (because all other options seem scary!). But after being somewhat dragged along (even if just in my own mind), I eventually see the wisdom in it all. I am so grateful that, while he does listen to my cautions, he isn't afraid to do what he feels is right. I'm very glad God saw fit to give me to a man so different from myself - because it's allowed me to grow and change in ways I never would have forced myself to do otherwise. And it's landed me in a place I never would have imagined, but couldn't love more!

Day 3 - 

"He must be so tall that when he is on his knees, he reaches all the way to heaven. His shoulders must be broad enough to bear the burden of a family. His lips must be strong enough to smile, firm enough to say no, and tender enough to kiss. He must be big enough to be gentle and great enough to be thoughtful. His arms must be strong enough to carry a child." (Ruth Graham). I love his patience, with me, and our kids. Its not one of my outstanding qualities, so the contrast is evident. I want to do everything "this instant", and he is willing to take the long way around, when needed. I like that. I wish I could do that. I'm so thankful that he is long suffering in his love for me. I'm so glad that he always seems to assume the best in me

Day 4 - 
This is a picture from where we met. We worked together, and were not particularly good friends, but friendly co-workers. Then, we got in trouble for things you only ever get in trouble for at very strict places (accused relationship after going to church with another mutual friend). It all was very innocent, but the accusation was very off-putting to me, so that was the end of that. I don't think I spoke a single word to him, let alone entered a room he was in for a solid 18 months. Since there had been "nothing going on", I didn't want it to appear as though we'd somehow just escaped trouble, and I had plenty of friends. He didn't need to be one of them. And he wasn't. So all of this was our strange beginning. And it's not particularly "loving" haha. But what was displayed in all of these shenanigans was character. Not so much mine, but his. Well, sure enough, my character *was* revealed, and it wasn't much to look at. Unless you somehow place high value on grudge holding, and people avoiding (to make myself appear "better"), but I really haven't found a lot of people who like those things;-) But one of the things that comes to mind when I think of Brian in those days is "consistent". He has never pretended to be anything other than what he is. Don't get me wrong, that meant *plenty* of trouble for him, because conservative Christian places 'have a rule for that' to be sure. But he didn't govern his behaviour based on the crazy flavour of the day. He was solid in what he believed, and he's exactly the same now as he was then, outside of the normal growth and change in life. I have always appreciated this consistency in character, and it's one of the things I will always love about him.

Day 5
I was asked after yesterdays post to share how we got together in the end. Well, that's a long story, and I'm only half of it, but I'll try to do justice to his side of the tale. The backstory is that we were introduced in Indianapolis by a mutual friend, Matt Coleman in 1998. I don't remember this encounter at all, haha. If I think about it really hard, I can picture it all, based on his descriptions and details, but yeah, no real memory of this. So in 1999 Brian had the chance to come work at the same place I worked, and he didn't base his decision to go solely on the fact that I was there - but it was a factor;-) So I met Brian (the one I remember), in Chicago in 1999. First impression on my end was not winning. It was obvious right from the start that this guy would say *anything* he wanted to, regardless of situation or location. People like this were trouble in a conservative Christian situation, and my friend Audra marked him off the bat as "trouble". In his opinion, I ignored him, simply because he worked in the warehouse and I didn't...because I was a snob. In my opinion, I was just behaving myself. Befriending random people (opposite gender) was frowned upon. And the fact that we didn't work together meant that I'd have to go out of my way to be nice to him, and I had zero reason to do that. Snob - or just trying to be good. Potato, potatoe. He came to work in my department, and we became friends. Not great friends, but friends enough. After the situation with us getting in trouble I was QUITE sure this guy was a NO on every level. Although he was left with the opposite impression, that I was a YES. So while I set about to make his general existence fairly uncomfortable, he set about to try to be friends. I refused to speak to him. So he figured out a way to put himself in a position where I *had* to speak to him for work issues. I was organizing a homeschool conference. He figured out a way to get himself on the travel team that came to my conferences etc. Small (and annoying to me) insertions into my life where I really had no choice but to be at least cordial:-) With enough time and space between me and HQ in Chicago (I was now working from Canadian location), and with enough of his general prying (thinking up any excuse to talk to me), I started to see that my reactions were at least slightly overdramatic, and I started to feel badly (I was basically borderline or not borderline rude to him on multiple occasions - and in public. He'd enter the lunch room, I'd glare and exit - this kind of thing, so immature). Anyway, I started to feel bad about it, and winter of '00 I apologized to him for being overly dramatic about the situation. It was a fairly lame, and not very thorough apology, but he was like "hey, no problem! actually a bunch of us (from HQ) are going skiing this weekend in NY, want to come?" I was like...UUUUUUHHHH, again rude? Lol. I said "I have to ask my parents" because I was quite sure they'd say no. But they said yes. So I went. It was fine. This picture is from that ski trip. After that, we became friends for real. But just over AIM or email basically. There was another ski trip the next winter. And we were engaged the winter after that! This guy definitely has a vision for his long-range goals!  The whole "story of us" is basically defined by his patience and long suffering.This guy can put up with a lot, and is quick to forgive. I'm so grateful he's mine!

Day 6 - 
 I forgot about this -busy day! So, we'll do an easy one... You ain't too bad to look at, Babe

Day 7
Well here we are at the end of the challenge. It's been a fun exercise in "speaking love" and it's always so nice to reflect on old pictures and memories. At the end of the day, I am grateful that God gave me to this man, knowing all my flaws, and knowing all of his. Does he always “love me as Christ loves the church”? No. Does he always anticipate every need, and emotion and respond in the way I desire? No. Do I honour him in my heart all the time, and choose to believe the best of him? No. Am I a proper helpmeet, setting aside selfish desires and making a priority the things I know he values/wants as he leads our family? No. I know this is sounding like a bit of a bummer...BUT. God brought us together. He sustains us. Life is not perfect, and of course we will never be perfect husbands or wives. But life together is great fun. I'm better for the time we've spent together, and that makes me happy. I will always be grateful he chose to love me.
“Now make such assignments to them on the scroll of Thy will as will bless them and develop their characters as they walk together. Give them enough tears to keep them tender, enough hurts to keep them human, enough failure to keep their hands clenched tightly in Thine and enough of success to make them sure they walk with God. May they never take each others love for granted, but always experience that breathless wonder that exclaims, 'out of all this world, you have chosen me'. When life is done and the sun is setting, may they be found then as now, still hand in hand, still thanking God for each other.”

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Happy Pictures

These pics were taken by our friend Virginia, she was the photographer at a wedding we attended in May.
Love this kid. Those eyes!

Brian and his right hand man at work, Stewie. Also, he is Virginia's hubby:-)

Then & Now - the Stats

The thing that made this recent trip so special for us, was the length of time since we were ALL together. We've come close before, but one thing or another prevented a complete "reunion". With so many schedules of so many people, it's kind of not surprising, right?!

So, the last time we were all together was November 2005...
Since then, we've added...

5 Spouses
16 (will be 18 soon!) Grandkids
10 houses
7 highschool graduations
1 university graduation
1 retirement
multiple near death experiences (thanks Brent, -no surprise, right?!)
1 car fire
1 song on the radio (Logan's band)
1 trip to China, and
1,237 allergies (all belonging to one person;-)

March 2016
The next we coordinate a big get-together, maybe it'll have to be on a cruise ship or something. You know, someplace big enough to hold us all;-)

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Canada - the Super Bug

Well, I guess it was inevitable - so many people interacting, with so many kids, in confined spaces - I think we created a Super Virus! I think for all the people traveling from the East, the lack of sleep in our travel delays just didn't help us, in keeping us well. Pretty much every single person was affected to some degree or another either while there, or right after leaving. Brooks experienced a first, REAL medicine! At the age of almost nine years old, Brooks had never had a prescription before! He's been sick, especially when little, but it just never progressed into anything like a ear infection or whathaveyou. He blames that on the honey, garlic, cayenne pepper mixture I used to make him eat when he was sick (he's super glad I've switched to oils, hah!). Well this time, I noticed some spots in his throat, and sure enough, it was "something", we did a walk in clinic, and they didn't bother to swab and culture for a specific diagnosis - strep or tonsillitis were both possibilities I guess, and both cured with the same medicine, so it really doesn't matter what it was. 

And now we know that he is NOT allergic to penicillin! LOL. Took a few years longer than most, but we finally found out! :-) Thankfully once he started with the meds, he rebounded quickly. 

Monday, August 1, 2016

Hot Crab Dip

Brian had a craving this past winter. Crab dip. Like the yummy appetizer kind you'd get at a restaurant. He just had to have it. So we googled a few different recipes and kind of mixed and matched them together to make one we thought sounded good, and man oh man, is it ever good! We used basics from the recipes of Our Best Bites, and Paula Deen and I think one random element from an All Recipes or something. Anyway, we thought it sounded good. And surely, it is worth trying! (And tastes great even using canned crab meat, which makes it affordable). Something that is a real winner for serving company, as it tastes pretty "fancy". Imitation krab meat can be used for people who are allergic, but using the real thing is definitely better.



2 8oz pkg's of cream cheese (can use neufchatel cheese -1/3fat, but not no-fat or low-fat)
1 C mayonnaise (light is fine, but no miracle whip)
1/2 C shredded parmesan cheese (can use grated in a pinch)
3/4 C shredded pepperjack cheese
3 - 4 cans of white crab meat, or about 1 1/2 C shredded crab (fresh, or frozen, thawed)
approx 1 T lemon juice
5-6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 C green onions
1 T creole or mild course grain mustard
1/4 t cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 350. Mix lemon and crab, and then combine with all other ingredients. Spread in a 9" pie plate or similar, and sprinkle the top with Old Bay Seasoning (optional, but worth it) bake about 20-25 mins until heated through.

Serve with crusty bread, crackers, celery, whatever you like to dip with. ENJOY!

Quotes Archive 2016

God, who foresaw your tribulation, has specially armed you to go through it, not without pain but without stain. C.S. Lewis
A man could not truly know God if he thanked Him only for what appeared to be good. George MacDonald

It is the peculiar quality of a fool to perceive the faults of others and to forget his own. Marcus Tullius Cicero

Am I willing to spend and be spent; not seeking to be ministered unto, but to minister? Oswald Chambers

Though You slay me, yet I will praise You. Though You take from me, I will bless Your name. Though you ruin me, still I will worship. Sing a song to the One who's all I need. Though You Slay Me (Shane & Shane)

The longer I live the more beautiful life becomes. If you foolishly ignore beauty, you will soon find yourself without it. Your life will be impoverished. But if you invest in beauty, it will remain with you all the days of your life. Frank Lloyd Wright

So maybe having a big family is the way to go, because you get at least a taste of all the other lives you'd like to live. Dorcas Smucker

Surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of man he is. CS Lewis