Friendship… is not something you learn in school.

But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship,

you really haven’t learned anything.

Muhammad Ali
Athena opting out of Kara's attempt at t-ball with the crew

Athena opting out of Kara’s attempt at t-ball with the crew

Friends are my greatest earthly treasure. I can’t imagine life without them. Some have been around a long time – like Erin who I’ve known since I was a toddler and Kara came along when I was 13. Others I’ve met more recently and we share a more immediate history.

My sister, born two years after me, was my first friend. Through out our lives we’ve always been good friends. I am excited to have her back in relative proximity. Instead of across the country, she’s now living only 3hrs away.

Often, I’ve wondered if my girls would have the same joyous experience of having each other and a close circle of friends to see them through life. There were times when Raine’s behaviour made me mournful. She couldn’t see how vehemently she was pushing away her peers – including her sister.

Raine and Kara's daughter, Ruth

Raine and Kara’s daughter, Ruth

This past year in homeschooling, my focus has been socialization. Yesterday Raine got a passing grade!
We went to the Christian campground I grew up at. Erin and Kara were there with their kids and another friend with her foster children.
There were a few moments requiring correction, but all in all both my girls did great. Athena was talkative and engaging – often she becomes incredibly shy in these situations. Raine was inclusive and patient. Still she emerged as the leader, but had an uncommon flexibility.

a quick dinner along the Grand River

a quick dinner along the Grand River

In the shallow wading pool, Raine organized a game where all the kids lined up at the edge. When she said go, in unison everyone ran into the water. Half way through the pool, at the deepest point, all the children dropped down and began splashing. They did this for what seemed like forever. Though leading, Raine didn’t get bossy. She patiently listened when the other kids talked to her. When discouraged, for whatever reason, Raine responded to her friends with kindness.
It was a beautiful scene. Previously, Raine could only tolerate friends in short bursts. But we were there nearly the entire day. And her good attitude continued as we picked up a foster child to join us for the weekend.
Even I was refreshed after our long day.

Even I was refreshed after our long day.

In the daily grind it’s easy to loose sight of how far we’ve come. Last year we were at camp for a week and it wasn’t so rosy. Sadly we could only go for the day this year, but it was well worth the hour long drive. I loved seeing my girls so happy interacting with friends. Some day they may be sitting at the edge of that same pool with those same friends watching their kids play together.
I am a rich woman, blessed with amazing friends – a few of whom I got to see yesterday.

Be Still

Being a single stay at home mom affords some unique opportunities and challenges. After doing this for a few years, I’ve discovered meaningful connections are key for my success. I’m an introvert. My kids are generally in bed by 7pm. So I have evenings to myself. That really helps me recharge for the next day, but isn’t always enough.

So I make a point of connecting with at least one life-giving friend a week. This week, however, afforded me the opportunity to connect with 5 great friends in two short days.

Wednesday morning we arrived slightly late for story & craft time at Chapters. It was a struggle to get out the door. The night before, Athena destroyed the bathroom. Because I was downstairs working on the other bathroom, this went unnoticed until long after she was asleep. So first thing in the morning we chatted about the chunk she’d torn off the wall and the pieces of soap shoved down the drain. In to time out she went. It was not pleasant.

Then Raine decided she wouldn’t take her medication. As much as I understand, she really can’t function without it. After failing to find a pharmaceutical that works for her, we’ve found an herbal product that helps take the edge off without diminishing who Raine is.

I knew she wouldn’t be able to cope with out the medication. A lengthy battle ensued in which Raine told me she was leaving to return to her birth mom. “Because it’s so much better there!” Eventually, after the contents of one capsule was thrown around the kitchen, Raine complied.

We arrived in our nice dresses and I ordered myself some coffee. The day got better.

samples of chai tea! Athena's favourite

Samples of chai tea! Athena’s favourite.

“I can’t believe it,” my friend said when I relayed the story of our morning. “I never would have guessed.”

I am a firm believer in the beauty of adoption. The fact remains, parenting kids from hard places is hard. That doesn’t change my belief that it’s right, necessary, and worth it. The reality isn’t as lovely as we looked walking into Chapters Wednesday morning. That’s ok. My life is a beautiful mess as we navigate the experience of family that is uniquely ours.


Raine, eying some interesting books.

Sipping coffee with my friend while my girls were enraptured by the story being read by the Chapter’s employee, gave me a chance to be still. The struggles of our morning faded away.

Last night, after the kids were “in bed”, another friend came by. There were a dozen reasons my normally compliant kids found to leave their rooms. Mainly they wanted to be part of the conversation going on in the living room. I let them say hello then sent them back to bed. When they settled, I got to pray with my friend – something that energizes my spirit. It was so refreshing to be still in the presence of the Lord.

This morning was another race. Up so late, the kids slept in. For the first time since becoming a mom 6yrs ago, I got out of bed at 8:30am. Normally it’s 6:30am or 7am if all goes well. Lovely – except we needed to be at the chiropractor’s for 9am. It was a rush. And Raine ended up on the floor of her bedroom crying that the capri’s I picked out were completely unsuitable. “It’s freezing outside!” she sobbed. “I’m going to freeze!”

Being perfect, I wouldn’t have let the looming appointment dictate how much time I spent consoling and convincing her. Far from perfect, I told her it would soon warm up outside and offered her some pants. That didn’t help. She kept crying, for reasons I didn’t quite catch as I tried to grab a couple of granola bars for the kids’ breakfast (to be eaten in the car).

We made it to the appointment, then went on to a park where I was having an informal business meeting with a friend. She was a little late, so Raine pushed Athena and I on a swing. I loved the chance to be still and let my body move with the rhythm of the swing.

Our meeting went long. The kids were playing so well, I didn’t notice the time.

Exhausted and happy after a day of play, the kids rested while I made dinner.

Exhausted and happy after a day of play, kids rested while I made dinner.

We rushed from there to a play date at an indoor playground with two other friends. The place, normally crowded, was completely empty. Our kids – six in total – loved it.

Normally, I’m somewhat nervous when Raine’s around kids & parents we aren’t familiar with. Sometimes her reactions are out of sync with what’s going on. Often she’s loud and bossy. Maybe no one else cares, but I worry. Not having any unknown kids or parents around I could be still and enjoy the conversation with my friends. It was blissful.

This is what helps me carry on – the moments I’m able to be still and drink in the company of a like minded, trusted friend. I’m so grateful for those the Lord has brought into my life – including the ones I didn’t manage to connect with this week.



How Do I Get It All Done?

“I don’t know how you manage on your own,” is a statement I often hear from married friends. Even with a helpful husband around raising kids and taking care of a home is hard work.

So how do I get it all done?

The answer is: I don’t. I really don’t get it all done. My house is an array of half completed projects. The stairwell still needs to be painted. I have new sinks to install in both bathrooms and then I’ll tackle the new floors that are needed. The basement has become a makeshift baby store as I pile up the items being given to me in case I get a baby. (Even if I do, I’m planning to ship a bunch of stuff to my sister – who is expecting – as soon as she and her husband find a new house.) There is clean laundry abounding around the bedrooms. Most days I can manage to get it down to the basement, washed,and brought back up. By that point it’s bedtime and I leave if for another day which comes around eventually.

One of the highlights of my recent childfree trip to California was staying in a tidy, uncluttered apartment. It did me good to remember one day the mess will be over. My kids will grow up. Toys won’t always litter the hallways. Dirty socks won’t appear in the most unlikely places forever. This is just a season I’m in.

Sometimes it’s hard to appreciate the season. Despite the state of my house, I do have standards and expectations that I find myself continually falling short of. I’m not a perfectionist but enjoy a sense of decorum and order. Since I started homeschooling that has become impossible. The only time I don’t have a child or children underfoot is when they’re in bed. By that time I’m so depleted I do fun things like blogging or watching British crime dramas.

Most days I feel like I don’t get much of anything done at all. I mange to put three meals of some nutritional value on the table each day. I keep the kids relatively clean – though that’s becoming more difficult with the onset of good weather. My children are drawn to dirt and mud like a magnet. On short notice I can throw together a decent family dinner when my siblings come by to visit. But don’t check the top of the china cabinet. Apparently, it hasn’t been dusted in quite some time.

This week, aside from completing my first official catering job, my greatest accomplishment was mowing the grass. My pictures don’t do it justice. The place was turning into a jungle. Now when I look out my back patio door, there’s a sense of accomplishment. It’s small, but I’ll take it.

in the midst of mowing

in the midst of mowing

For the Love of Food

Since childhood, I’ve been in love with food. As soon as I could read, I devoured recipe books. It wasn’t long before I was experimenting in the kitchen. Since then I’ve been cooking & baking, some might say, excessively.

As a teenager I worked with a lady from church catering weddings and other large scale events. In my early 20’s I thought about becoming a caterer but it seemed so daunting. I wasn’t as enterprising as I am now – staring an on-line store and publishing books.

I have helped out with events at church but yesterday had a chance to officially cater an event. It was for a neighbouring Children’s Aid Society. They rented our church to offer further training to foster parents.

With two young children and still recovering from a lengthy trip, making enough muffins and desserts for 72 adults and 16 children was no easy task. After being separate from me for a week, Raine and Athena refused to leave my side. So I put them to work.

making mini cheesecakes

making mini cheesecakes

They even came with me to serve coffee at the start of the training – since it was before the start of school and too early to drop Raine off at the babysitter’s. They choose some nice dresses to wear for the occasion. I must admit I wore a black dress with a bit of lace around the neck and hem along with a fancy ruffled apron.

Of course I had gluten free and vegan options for everything. There were lots of fruits and veggies. It would have been easier to just buy most items.  But I’m not one to take the easy road.

There were many moments that made all the work worthwhile. Mainly I wanted to honour the foster parents. I know the food generally served at these events. I’ve been to many myself. It’s usually cheap pizza and some store bought cookies. That’s not at all what I served.

Morning Break:

handcrafted muffins (including a gluten free & vegan option), fresh fruit (apples, oranges, bananas)


herb roasted chicken, Spanish rice, salad

mini cheese cakes, date squares, coconut macaroons, chocolate chip cookies, fruit (blueberries, strawberries, pineapple, melon)

Afternoon Break:

movie theater style popcorn, veggies & dip

I’m quite proud of how it turned out. Judging from the responses of the social workers and foster parents, my message of honour was well received.


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Packing My Bags

This Saturday I’m heading to California for 6 days. It’s the longest I’ve ever been away from my girls. Even when they were foster children and I was entitled to 3wks vacation time, I never left them for more than a couple of days.

I’m feeling nervous, but the time away will do me good. A friend and I are traveling to get some further training in a prayer ministry we’re part of at church. It’ll be fun. I keep saying that, but I’m not quite sure.

I worry about being away for so long. My friend is coming to stay with Raine and Athena. They know and love her. It should be fine. IMG_20140514_202806

We’ll see……I need to get packing. I’m being cheered on by daffodils we picked from the garden today. Since becoming a mom, I’ve turned into quite the homebody. Maybe I already was to a certain degree. But in the past I would have jumped at the chance to travel to California. Now I’d rather stay home and watch my tulips bloom. Spring has been really late here and thus far daffodils are all I have.

I’m hoping to have time to blog while away, but don’t worry if you don’t hear from me daily. Think of me having fun – childfree with a great friend in the amazing state of California!