April 14, 2014

Discouragement is the enemy of your Peace!

Last night the 5,000 klms between my parents and I was far too far. I had a moment where I wished I could curl up in my Dad's lap, have him rub my back and my Mom would say everything would be fine. There are moments I wish I was a child again, who am I kidding, I'll take going back five short years ago...

My parents are natural encouragers, every bit of advice comes from their heart, their experience with life and with Scripture. They live what they preach! So when I saw the following on my Dad's Facebook status this morning, I knew it was for me. This is what he shared on the phone, while I sobbed for an hour, well past midnight, needing to hear that it will all be alright. 

Even a 40+ year old needs her mommy and daddy every once in a while! :)

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When you became a Christian, you received the seed of Peace and that had no expiry date but that seed needs to be nurtured and protected.

Protected from things like;
  • worry, 
  • cares, 
  • problems, 
  • negative comments by either others or yourself, and
  • stupid thoughts. 
These things will attempt, and at times, succeed in choking your Peace.

Believe me, the Peace is still inside even through all this, but to work on your behalf it has to be stirred up. You have to take action against the things that are after your Peace.

Years ago I found myself bombarded it seemed on all fronts. I had a cassette tape from a Yodelling friend, Buzz Goertzen, and would put his music on loud and sing along with him, trying to drown out the fear thoughts.

I found the more I listened to uplifting music, reading scriptures of the promises of God out loud to myself, and changing my talk from negative to positive, my Peace grew and the fear lessened. I started seeing myself succeeding no matter what was thrown at me. 

Those days, weeks, months, and even a few years of torture seem so distant today, almost as if they hadn't happened.

There's a scripture that says, "Don't throw away your confidence in the Lord for it will bring a reward." I can testify today that this is true in all areas of life, relationships, financially, physically, mentally, and most important spiritually.

Some may tell you to just hang on, but what you need is a Solid Rock to stand on and He, through His Word, is there for whosoever will.

Be Blessed today and be a Blessing!

Dwayne Jacobson
President of International Help Ministries, Inc.




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Hebrews 10:35-36

Amplified Bible (AMP)
35 Do not, therefore, fling away your fearless confidence, for it carries a great and glorious compensation of reward.
36 For you have need of steadfast patience and endurance, so that you may perform and fully accomplish the will of God, and thus receive and carry away [and enjoy to the full] what is promised.

April 9, 2014

#cleanwater Twitter Chat April 15 @ 8pm ET with Jason Priestley!

DISCLOSURE: I have no material relationship to any brand or person mentioned in this post except for P&G, which I receive product, compensation and /or invitations to special events because I am a #PGMOM.

My kids have no idea where water comes from! To them it's magic. They simply turn on a tap and voila... it's there and it's always crystal clear.

Like 80% of Canadians, my kids take for granted their easy access to safe drinking water.

Almost every single day I hear my husband yell at the kids, "TURN THE WATER OFF!!" while they're washing dishes and especially when they're brushing their teeth. If I don't pound on the bathroom door, my 13 year-old daughter could easily be in the shower for 20+ minutes. I can't tell you how many half-full glasses of water I find around the house...

For one billion people in developing countries, water isn't so magical. Every day more children die from contaminated water than HIV/AIDS and Malaria combined!

When I learned P&G was raising awareness and making a difference for this global crises, I wanted to get involved and share how we as Canadians could help their initiative. I am already a loyal P&G product user and during the month of April, my day-to-day shopping trips to Walmart, each P&G product purchased will bring one day of clean water to the developing world.

P&G has developed a water purifying technology with the help of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and partnered with Walmart on the The Children's Safe Drinking Water Campaign.

To date, more than 7 billion litres of clean drinking water have been provided by humanitarian organizations across the globe (like CARE, PSI, Save the Children, and World Vision) using those P&G packets. By 2020 their goal is to provide 2 billion litres of clean drinking water each and every year. 

Mark this down on your calendar... on Tuesday, April 15 @ 8pm ET join @WalmartCanada and myself (@ShashersLife), @Listen2Lena, @FeistyFrugal, @SassyModernMom and special guest, the one and only... @Jason_Priestley in a #cleanwater Twitter chat!
“More than 1,600 children die every single day from water-borne illnesses,” says Jason Priestley, Canadian actor and clean water activist. “I believe that everyone should have clean water.  As a dad, the thought of children dying every day from preventable diseases caused by lack of clean water is an unfathomable tragedy. I’m proud to be partnering with P&G and Walmart Canada to educate Canadians about how they can help bring clean drinking water to children and families in the developing world.”

To find out more about this program, please visit www.csdw.org and www.walmart.ca/cleanwater.

 

Please RSVP below in order to qualify for one of the prizes, be sure to follow the host & moderators and we'll see you Tuesday night!!

Prize Info:
Regular Prizes (x7) - Over $50 in P&G Products! 
Grand Prize: - Over $50 in P&G Products PLUS a $200 Walmart gift card!

**INSTRUCTIONS: Enter your Twitter handle “@yourTwitterhandle” in the Link/Blog Title field, and your Twitter URL “www.twitter.com/yourtwitterhandle” in the Link Field. **

 

March 29, 2014

Saturday Morning is our Family Time, with a French Toast Recipe!

I love Saturday mornings. It's the only day of the week we aren't running in circles or in all directions. If the kids aren't sleeping over at friends, it's the one day a week we're all together.

Monday to Friday is crazy-town because of obvious reasons... school! We have 4 kids attending 3 different schools. The two oldest leave the house before I even wake up. Sunday mornings I parent alone as Dave leaves the house several hours before we do. As hard as I try, it seems we're always in a rush to get to church on time...

I am a champion for making sure we eat dinner together but it's super extra special when we can have breakfast together. I love starting off the day in the kitchen WITH my kids.

I can thank my parents for this.

They made sure once a week we had a special breakfast together. I have fond memories of my dad making blueberry pancakes, waffles with whip cream and fresh blackberries from our yard, or my mom making her favourite breakfast meal... poached eggs over medium with a side of rye toast and marmalade.

Today the kids wanted French Toast, my all-time favourite breakfast meal. You want to know what the even more awesome part was... sitting back to watch them make it all on their own.

The perks of raising my kids to be comfortable in the kitchen.


After breakfast is complete, the chaos begins. If it isn't volleyball practice/games, it's play dates, homework, or birthday parties. Today we had all of the above. 

I'll take every minute I can get with my kids. :)

For the best Saturday Morning French Toast, you're gonna need:
4 eggs (beaten)
2/3 cup of milk
1/4 tsp of cinnamon
1 tsp of vanilla
8 slices of bread

Butter
Maple Syrup
Yoghurt (optional) 

The secret to a good french toast... yes, is using cinnamon and vanilla, but it's also important to use a good bread. Our family loves Villaggio Bread, we have for years. It's so good and fluffy as Jake says. It also soaks up the egg mixture very, very well. 

Dip each side of the bread into the egg mixture, making sure slice is fully covered.  

Melt some butter in a pan, cook on medium-high heat. Be careful not to let the egg burn. Turn over when the bread has turned a medium to dark brown.

Serve hot with butter, maple syrup or as our daughter likes it... with a side of plain yoghurt. She is allergic to Maple Syrup, this is how my parents serve it in their restaurant, she dips her french toast into the yoghurt.

Voila!



Follow Villaggio on Facebook or go to Appehtite, Canada's Kitchen for more great recipes, like this one.

March 20, 2014

Backpacking Through Europe With a 7 Month Old!

What do you do when you're about to go back to work after having six months off with your first child?

If you said, take three weeks to travel through France, Switzerland and Italy... you WIN! 

I thought my husband was CRAZY when he told me his bright idea. My six months of maternity leave was about to end, he suggested we take another month off (unpaid), pack a couple backpacks and go to Europe. Who takes a baby with them to Europe?! Plus, I'd never backpacked through anything before! I could feel my blood pressure rising. I may have panicked a bit... I don't like to think I've got any diva in me but I usually prefer hotels to hostels. I honestly didn't think I'd be able to do it. Needless to say, I protested a bit...

Thank goodness my husband doesn't always listen to me.

We landed in Paris, France in May of 1999 and hopped on a train to Switzerland with two over-sized  backpacks strapped to our bodies. I carried the kid with a diaper-bag zipped to the carrier, a car-seat bungee-corded to that, and a smaller bag velcroed below his seat. Dave carried all of our clothing and diapers needed for 3 weeks in the biggest red backpack we could find.

Making our way through the airport was one thing but once we started our journey on the subway and train system... look out people - we're coming through!

To say the least, we over-packed*!

*if we were to do it all over again... we'd take only 4 outfits each, it's amazing what you can wash in a sink & dry overnight, 2 pairs of shoes each (sandals & runners) and leave the carseat at home!



We made Lucerne, Switzerland our base camp - spending the majority of our time there with our good Swiss friends, touring around their BEAUTIFUL and super clean country. We saw everything between Lucerne to Zurich and all the way south to Zurmatt, home of the incredible Matterhorn. While we were there we borrowed a stroller from a neighbour to help made it easier on our backs, this boy was 8lbs 1oz at birth... by 7 months, he was a small monster.


We spent almost a week with our friends in their family's chalet, close to Brig, along the Swiss/Italian border. Each morning we got to wake up to breathtaking views of the Swiss Alps. Yes, I did twirl in a field while singing the Sound of Music...

Best Meal: Our friends took us out of the city to a small village, across the Lake of Lucerne, into the mountains - to a place called Pouletburg in Attinghausen - where we had the best roasted chicken!!

Best Sights: In complete awe of the scenery, everywhere we went. The flower boxes under every window and the public fountains with water so clean you could drink from them.

Biggest Regrets: Dave would have loved to have gone mountain climbing. I should have bought more Swiss Chocolate and lace.


From there we took the train to Italy, our first stop over was Venice. Even though we were on a tight budget, Dave splurged. He'd heard my panic-filled rants about where we were going to sleep after all. He reserved a hotel room ($140 for one night) near Piazza San Marco, right around the corner from Saint Mark's Basilica. However, we were shocked and unprepared for the high cost of food.

Best Meal: A panino we had for lunch, it had the thickest chunk of fresh mozzarella cheese... DELISH!

Best Sights: Walking the canals, all the flowers, the music, and the Palazzo Ducale.

Biggest Regrets: We didn't have much time to take it all in, one day is not enough time. We didn't venture too far from Saint Mark's Square. Next time, we'll visit one of the outlining Islands, walk through more neighbourhoods and maybe take our 1st Gondola ride.


Then back on the train we went, making our way to Florence. It was HOT in Florence! I mean HOT - HOT - HOT. We couldn't find accommodations with air conditioning, even for the $100 a night we spent. We bathed Q in cold water and tried to keep him in the least amount of clothes possible. You couldn't escape the heat. It was a good thing he learned to drink water from a straw while in Venice.

In the two days we were there, we packed in the sights! We walked everywhere and saw everything possible; The Fountain of Neptune, Galleria dell'Accademia, Duomo - Cathedral of Santa Maria dei Fiore, Uffizi Gallery, Basilica di Santa Croce, Palazzo Vecchio, Ponte Vecchio, and much more.

Best Meal: We asked a local for their favourite place to eat. Down a few cobblestone side streets in the dark we went, until we came across this little gem. Not surprisingly, we were the only non-Italians there. IT WAS MOUTHWATERING GOOD. We ate and ate and ate, making up for barely eating in Venice...

Best Sights: Everything but most of all, Michelangelo's "David"

Biggest Regrets: We found incredible Italian leather merch! Dave really wanted a particular bag, it was extremely gorgeous handsome ?... I would have loved to have been able to purchase it for him.



Just as we were acclimatizing to the Italian heatwave, we were back on the bullet train to Lucerne, Switzerland.

Note to future self: I get train sick while eating in the dining car, facing the opposite direction of which we're traveling in...

Paris finished off our trip. We stayed at the quaint Henry IV on Pont Neuf (Ile de la Cite). The building is around 400 years old, we had to duck and squeeze to get through the door. It was fun getting up the extremely tight spiral staircase with the backpacks and baby, but at $50 a night, breakfast included, this place was BIG on value and HUGE on location.


We toured: Notre-Dame, the Eiffel Tower and the Trocadéro, Basilica of the Sacré-Cœur and Montmartre, the Arc de Triomphe and Champs-Elysees, Musée Rodin, and much more. We spent a lot of time walking around, crossing bridges, and meandering through the shops.

If I have any complaint about Paris... it was this... everyone smoked everywhere. The cafes and restaurants were tiny and filled with smokers. One supper in Paris we took turns standing outside on the sidewalk with the baby while the other one ate.

Best Meal: Chinese Food take out. We took it to Square du Vert-Galant and had a picnic.

Best Sights: Dave had us searching for a particular tea shop - he wouldn't rest until we found it, Mariage Frères, established in 1854. All the artists gathered on Montmartre, where I had my portrait drawn.

Biggest Regrets: 1) We wanted to go to the Louvre so badly, but our timing wasn't the best. Workers were on strike. Alas, Mona Lisa was not to be viewed. 2) We arrived at Hôtel des Invalides when I realized I'd forgotten all the art we'd purchased from the artists along the Siene, in a payphone a few blocks back. By the time we returned, the museum was closed. So much for seeing Napoleon's burial site.


A week after we returned home, I went back to work. Not a bad way to end a maternity leave eh?!

My son is now 15 and his biggest regret... being so young that he can't remember any of it. He'd like to go again. :)

Hey honey... do you think we could pull this off with four kids now?!