Happy St. Nicholas Day!

As I have some Dutch Family, I like to keep the tradition of putting out shoes the night before St. Nicholas Day, or Sinterklaas. Of course the kids love it, too, and this year ambitiously put out boots instead! 😉 We all got one little zippy bag of traditional Dutch cookies, one chocolate, and one decoration for the tree. It’s a fun way to anticipate Christmas, and the excitement of waking up to a surprise brings with it almost as much joy and anticipation as the bigger celebration of Christmas Day!

You’ll notice boots of 4 girls, 2 little boys, and mum and dad, too. And if you look carefully up on the bookshelf, you can see the little ornament of our new baby girl, who at 33 weeks old inside, doesn’t need any shoes yet, but is equally a part of our Christmas this year.

Wishing you all an Advent filled with simple joys and much love!

Spring Forward

Spring forward–

move the clocks!

Let the daylight stretch into the afternoon

like a sleepy cat



But this spring feels late–

the snow lingers in patches,

though sobbed on by rain,

and grimly threatens to return

in mid-March flurries.


One wishes it was weather

more suited for blizzards

from Dairy Queen

but the chill damp air

crushes dreams of summer.


Undaunted we spring forward,

planning spring in our dining room–

filling every ledge and shelftop

with seedlings and sprouting things

baby bok choi and alyssum flowers

peas and beans with their bright green leaves–

tiny banners raised in triumph against the grey.


We are even sprouting an avocado —

its plump brown pit skewered by toothpicks

and half-submerged in water.

Every day I look with delight at the long white root

shooting out like a streak of hope

seeking life.


Spring forward

and if spring won’t leap with you,

give it a push!


17-ish steps to making great saint’s costumes

As we near all saint’s day, better known by many as the day after Halloween (all hallow’s eve), many busy moms can be found busy sewing saints costumes for their kids. And then there’s me…here’s what my day looked like, broken down in simple steps, in case you’re crazy and want to try it:

  1. Announce to your many munchkins that it is time to pick saints for dressing up.
  2. Listen to flurry of excitment and witness many dresses and scarves being pulled out and tried on.
  3. Pull out scrap material box and fasten on pretty headscarves with hair clips.
  4. Change a diaper and make lunch.
  5. Feed and bathe baby.
  6. Help older kids research saints online.
  7. Help make a harp out of cardboard, tin foil and pipe cleaners.
  8. Clean pee off floor and give toddler a bath.
  9. Try to coach eldest child through anxiety about her future costume’s potential defects due to my lack of sewing expertise. Fail.
  10. Call Grandma for moral support.
  11. Make a second lunch for child who missed it due to researching saints and is currently losing marbles.
  12. Suggest 20 other costume options. Have them rejected.
  13. Feed baby. Try to fashion sheet into nun’s habit. Fail.
  14. Clean baby poop off floor. Bathe baby again.
  15. Listen to eldest child come up with totally new costume idea (using her own, already made clothes) after you already cut a hole in a sheet. Rejoice as it means you don’t have to sew!
  16. Thank God and put in a frozen pizza. Safely stow away costumes in a big bag.
  17. Make silly jokes while you do the dishes and smile cause the madness is over…till next year!

Loss and Grief

A beautiful, insightful poem about the transformative power of grief by my “blogging buddy” Dennis Ference.

Merging Traffic


As a mountain allows
a river to carve through
its rock and granite
to create and reveal
its stunningly beautiful depths,
so we are asked to
allow the blood and tears
of our loss and grief
to carve through our
loves and attachments,
plans and expectations,
to discover in our depths
the mysterious, boundless
Divine Love that transcends all
experience of both gain and loss
and enables, in time,
the healing needed to envision
new perspectives of Life.

© 2016 Dennis Ference

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Prayer of Thanks

Here is a beautiful poem of thanksgiving by my blogging friend Dennis. It made my heart swell with joy, as I have so much to be grateful for. May you all be blessed with lightness of heart and the ability to see all that is good in your lives.

Merging Traffic

At this moment, Lord,
all I want to do
is thank you.

Every part of me
swells with gratitude
for the goodness and mercy
you have shown to your child.

You have been my light
through the darkest of days.
You have been my strength
when I’ve battled distress.
You have been my sure path
out of the shadows.
You have been my companion
at my journey’s every turn.

And still today,
you continue to enfold me
and blanket my littleness
with the mantle of your might.

Your goodness astounds me;
your love overwhelms me.
At this moment, Lord,
all I want to do
is thank you.

Adapted from Psalm Prayers for Seniors,
by Merging Traffic blog author Dennis Ference,
© 2000 Liguori Publications. Available from Liguori,
Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.

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Effective Mothers

This is a gorgeous little bouquet of advice on how to be an effective mother by my friend and fellow ” Love Rebel: Reclaiming Motherhood” author Melanie Jean Juneau. Her joyful and humble approach to the great task of loving and teaching our kids rings true in my heart. Enjoy!

joy of nine9

13fdb94fa12ad733f9ba5131d7cd0e65 (1)Obviously, an effective mother is passionate about teaching and loving her kids.

It is passion, an inner drive, that is not dependant on seeing results right away. It is passion from the Holy Spirit that prevents discouragement or burnout because it is an inner fire that motivates and energizes mums.

We must learn to connect spirit to spirit, heart to heart with little people in and through God if we want to teach and form them into children of God. There are practical tips, though.



Last year, one of my daughters, who was finishing up an Honours Degree in Religion and applying to Teacher’s College, asked me what I thought were the attributes of an effective teacher for her application. When I considered effective teachers, I immediately thought about effective mothers.

One of the best ways to learn how to mother and teach is to remember both the good and poor examples from…

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Meals for Tajsha


Hello everyone,
This is a temporary page to help people sign up for bringing meals or snacks for our lovely friend Tajsha who is expecting her 7th child shortly, by c-section on January 8th. If you are hoping to bring her food, please leave the date you’d like to help out in the comment box and I’ll add you and let her know. This will save everyone lots of extra emails, and prevent any meal double ups. Better to spread out the helps bit instead of having two meals brought in one day. Thanks so much! Best drop off times are morning or late afternoon, closer to dinner. You can email me with any questions at areastland@me.com.

These days are already covered with meals for Tajsha:

Wednesday Jan 7th (Ceci Stocker)

(No meals needed from jan 8-14 as in Tajsha in hospital and kids at family)

Thursday, Jan 15th (Odi Choy)

Friday, Jan 16 (Sue Shives)

Saturday, Jan 17 (Anna Eastland)

Sunday, Jan 18th (Kirsten Kurnicki)

Monday, Jan 19th (Julia Dee)

Tuesday, Jan 20th (Trisha Vill)

Wednesday, Jan 21st (Brenda Buhat)

Friday, Jan 23rd (Frances Maddalozzo)

Sunday, January 25th (Anita Min)

Tuesday, Jan 27th (Ida Gazzola)

Thursday, Jan. 29th (Odi Choy)

Saturday, Jan 31st (Pathways Girl’s club)

Wed, Feb 4th (Melanie Dee)

Friday, Feb 6th (Odi Choy)

Here’s a note from her:

Thanks again for organizing meals for us this month;-) I know Nick and the kids will especially appreciate it too. Here are a few ideas. We have no serious food allergies.

Meal ideas – wraps, burritos, perogies, pot-stickers, spanakopita, rice dishes, asian noodles, pizza, potato dishes, caesar salad, tortellini with cheese or tomato sauce, vegetarian dishes, casseroles, soups

Snack Ideas for the kids – cheese, crackers, yogurt, fruit ( apples, bananas, oranges, grapes, pineapple, strawberries), raw veggies ( peppers, broccoli, carrots, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes), trail mix, granola bars

Thank you so much!