A New World by Tunnel

Today we thought we would go for a morning adventure since the day was calling to be a sizzler.
With no destination in mind, we ended up at where the creek down our road flows under the road. Dropping our bikes in the tall grasses, we wandered down to the beckoning creek. The water level had gone down significantly since spring and was no longer muscling its way into the culvert opening. So I appealed to the kids pleas and we stepped down, stick in hand, into the dark cobweb filled tunnel. That lead us into the secret world of…

the Amazon!

Or at least it felt like it.

The water gushed out of the pipe making a waterfall that poured into a little pool.

Small tree branches hung over the pool and large rocks held in its edges.

We immediately saw potential and although fully clothed- started pulling up rocks from the bottom and adding them to to lip of the pool to get it deeper.

The sun hadn’t fought its way to the middle of the sky yet and so mosquitoes found us in the shade. As excited explorers to a new land, it was a hard call, but a decision was made to return in the heat of the day. (We had 41*c today and we live up in Northern BC! Apparently a record for our town!)

We excitedly returned with a floaty in hand and we’re exceedingly pleased the water could push you through the tunnel- our very own tube slide!

We worked away at the boulders in our pool till it was mostly sand and small stones.

Although, sadly my youngest found a large sedimentary rock… with his leg. Once the bleeding stopped he was satisfied with his survival, abandoned the tears and went back to playing. And the team removed the large obtrusive rock.

I had brought a good book- but never got to it. Because it’s not every hot summers day that you find yourself transported though a tunnel into the wilds of the Amazon.

Wildflowers

It was sad a couple years ago when they logged behind our property. But I remember when the first spring came and all the destruction was buried beneath a blanket of wild flowers and lush grasses. It screamed hope. That God’s beauty cannot be tamed.

Well this year it’s grown up even more. And today, after pausing on the house work, and shooing the kids out the door, we discovered they were back!

Strawberries hid among the flowers. Thimble berry flowers stretched for the sun promising juicy fruits to come.

You know what’s even better than being given a bouquet of flowers? (Which is pretty awesome don’t get me wrong)

Walking THROUGH a bouquet of flowers.

Being IN them.

I could cry just thinking of that feeling. Being surrounded by so many beautiful things!

The arrangements change every few feet so it’s hard to tire of their carefree beauty.

Elise tried to pick one of every kind on our walk. The boys even got excited hunting down ones she might have missed.

When they would call out “do you have this white one?”

She would look down at her blossoming handful painted with stokes of whites and say “which white one?! There are so many different kinds!”

We even found a little lady bug- who rode the bouncing bouquet like a rumbling chariot. And sadly took his leave a few stops before the destination of my garden.

I forgot all about my blasted cottonwood allergies and grew excited about my new freedom from pollen- thanks to local honey. I waded through a cosmos of flowers and let Elise know her bouquet could go “inside” when we get home.

I even sang a little song as we strolled along. About my daughter, the flower maiden, being called by the wildflowers irresistible beauty with itching fingers. But although I sung it over and over- for the life of me I can’t remember the little verses.

Sometimes moments have songs. I suppose that was one of them.

Manicured beauty draws my attention- but wild natures raw beauty leaves me in raptures.

I love how God didn’t choose one kind of wild flower to paint the fallen forest with. Or even a few. But seemingly endless amounts. He’s really quite the florist! What he does with those weeds? Ummmm hmmm. He good.

And so if the great florist spends such thought on little weeds- don’t you think he spends a great deal more on you?

It’s true.

I often feel like when life piles up, or gets all crazy like my fridge art (I got four artists)- being in nature’s where I feel like what matters surfaces. And I feel gratitude eek out of me.

I love that old saying, “stop and smell the roses”.

Today just happened to be wild ones.

The Sun Still Rises in Winter

Winter came early this year. We had snow in October! Winter can feel like a vortex sucking me down, and a continuous struggle to keep my head above the current. It’s extra long here up North. 6 months plus. And there’s no escaping it.

Some days I feel like my cat… a tad desperate for winters long days to be over and things to warm up.

Hello? Anybody??

But just when I feel like I can’t bare it a moment longer, the sun glows behind the tree line early in the morning with promises of a glorious bright day.

I’m writing a piano piece that fills me with hope and warmth. I can get lost in the notes as they carry me along, like a ride, and bring me places I cannot go. As I was playing the other day the words “The sun still comes up in winter, the sun still rises in the cold” burst out of the notes pressed down on ivory keys. And I knew it’s true. I love the sun. When the sun touches my face I know without a doubt God is so immeasurably good, and this life (even in the cold) is a precious gift. Filled with beauty and purpose, and beating to the pulse of God’s great love.

Sometimes my feelings need to shut up, and move over for what I know.

This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope.

The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,

For His compassions never fail.

They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.

“The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I have hope in Him.

~Lamentations 3:21-24

And Then it Grew

I feel like gardening is an act of faith. You plant in the damp ground with visions of what’s to come. You water, weed, tend, pest control, tie up, prune and thin with hope. Nothing is certain. It might not even sprout out of the ground. It feels like there is no point along the way you can be completely sure your garden will thrive. You are banking on hope and doing all you can to help it along its way. But who stops the heat? And the smoke filled summers? Who brings the rains? Who tells the rains when their job is done? Who holds back the hail, or let’s it thunder down from the sky? Who made the critters that devour in the night? Or brings new flowers and branches? Breezes to blow the pollens and pollinate the yellow petals? Who pulls back the clouds to let the sun in and warm the earth? Calls to the bees and nudges the earth worms?

No it’s isnt I

It is not this gardener.

It’s my creator God, The great gardener. Who makes all things and brings them to being. Who puts the desire inside me to see things grow.

And its him that gives me fellow gardening friends who know what plants need.

Year after year I struggled to make my little plot grow. Soil deficiency. Smokey summer. Too dry. Water softener hard on plants. Not enough sun. Not enough compost. Too much nitrogen. Insects. Straw? Wood chips? Magnesium? More bananas! Too much coffee. Layer method? Ack! So many roots. Crappy seeds. Wrong watering time of day. Too long of watering time, or not enough. Death to gardener by mosquitoes…

I learnt so much along the way tho. Every person who had a garden that grew something- I was asking questions.

Their advice, complied with trial and error, and google searches- I learnt things.

Like how to high heat compost my chicken manure and straw. (My parents always seemed to visit during muck-out-the-winters-worth-of poop-from-the-coop week, and at least acted like it was fun 😜). I tarped and forked over those piles weekly. Sam detached the outside tap from our water softener. I pruned back tree branches. (And loggers did big pruning in the forest behind us.) Bought quality seeds. Let the kids patiently sew the seeds. Waited till just before June. Was given a row cover (made by my kids for my birthday). And took advice and rototilled the mass compost piles into the soil- cutting roots and getting the goodness WAY down.

Every year Sam kept encouraging me to keep trying with gardening. Telling me one year I’d get it.

I kept asking friends for tips and trying.

And with the help of many, the faith of my hubby, and the Lords graciousness, and a sprinkling of hope-

My garden grew.

This was the year.

And I’m stinkin greatful.

So if your caught in a yearly struggle, don’t loose hope. Learning, listening, and leaning on the Lord- is never a waste of time.

And a big thanks to all my gardener friends 😘

Hope

You know what I’m thankful for right now? The hope of spring, pushing through the ice and snow. So much of the world seems to be at a halt, so uncertain right now. But I look at Spring and am filled with hope. It keeps coming. And even when it snowed only a couple days ago, (March!) Spring still fought back. The sun awakens our days, and winter melts away in steady drips. The warm wind whisks away droplets, and the ground makes more and more appearances.

When I’m outside I remember how big God is. How faithful He is. How good. That I can place my hand in his hand and know He’s got this. I’m living in His boundless love. Nothing in this world can separate me from this love. Not even death. No I am never alone, I’m forever His ♥️

Jesus is my assured Hope.

Even in life’s uncertainties. He’s my rock.

This area you see (in the pictures) where we’re walking, used to be a forest we would adventure in behind our house. We spent years learning the trails and enjoying our adventures in the woods. I cried ugly broken hearted tears when we were told it was going to be logged. I couldn’t see our lives ever being as good. They would be drastically changed. The sound of equipment sawing down the woods this fall was heart wrenching and we felt so powerless. But we prayed some trees would be spared. And clung to hope.

They so far have kept these trees that line one of our favourite places. We are SO grateful!

Then the children and I started looking for new beauty.

We saw the sun shines brighter in the mornings now without as many trees. We get to see beautiful sun rises. We’re able to walk into more areas that were too thick to get into before. Winters deep snow didn’t keep us out of the forest this year, as we were able to walk along the logging trucks packed paths. There are views stretching to the river. We saw so many animal tracks more visible not under brush. Fallen trees and logs became playgrounds to climb on. The place smells better then a million pine air fresheners. We found clay! And now there’s puddles the size of small lakes that call to the boys with an irresistible voice.

When you live where you get a lot of snow- you get really big puddles!

The adventures are endless. Just different.

Don’t forget about hope.

Even when things in the world look dismal, and bleak. When statistics, trajectories, media, politicians and theories seem to scream all kinds of fear full things. “Doomed! Doomed!”

Remember God. Remember hope that can flip the seemingly inevitable. That God can do the impossible- and loves you!

Remember spring faithfully comes every year, and the creator of the seasons is just as faithful.

My bucket of love

Behold, I am doing a new thing;

now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?

I will make a way in the wilderness

and rivers in the desert.

Isaiah 43:19

Winter’s Acceptance

There is a fresh skiff of our first snow on the yard. And it feels like officially winter. I know there is still a week or so till it’s official, but who’s a stickler on dates when it’s clearly weathering winter out there? As much as I want to just go bask in the sun, see green leaves and growing things- winters found me and I might as well enjoy it. November in Quesnel BC has got to be one of our less sunnier months. We have incredibly green lush springs and summers, vibrant autumns, and sunny crisp white winters that, well, November’s muddy browns and greys feels noticeably lacking. I feel itchy. In deep need of beauty.

I long for the beauty the snow brings. And the light. Even though it’s nearly pitch black at 5:30pm around here, a bit of snow on the edges of the roads really helps it lighten up. It’s kinda like when your bowling and they light up the bumper lanes… ya know?

In anticipation we prepared the yard for its whitening blanket. Stowing away the toys, hunting down a missing helmet, and tucking away yard things so the yard isn’t littered with treasures come spring. No guarantees tho. Last year we had all the shovels found and accounted for by the first snow fall. Then a month in and the kids left two shovels out while playing, and it snowed a foot. I waded about the yard making tracks in the snow back and forth the next day but to no avail, we never found them till the melt.

Is this the changing of guards? Snow to stay? Or… is this the beginning of the kids rehearsing with their snow gear?

The thing is- if I look too far ahead and fixate on spring, I won’t make it. If I worry over the quantity of winter here, I won’t make it either. I just have to accept each day. Look forward to all the treats that only this season can give. Look for beauty. Not just in nature, but in people, and special times too. I love that I can trust that God’s gonna bring spring in just the right timing. He always does. And He will fill my cozy winter days with snow adventures, skating, books, fires, friendships, naps, scrumptious things for my belly, and time to craft. Because winters a gift. And it’s not going anywhere, so I might as well see it as one. And wishing it away will only make me miss out on all God has got planned for this season. I feel like wherever there is hope, there is discontent lurking on the side lines. And the choice between the two is ours.

I need to stop telling people I’m not ready for winter,

And break out my snow pants.

Summer Lessons

Summer is in full swing as we have been off school since the beginning of June. That’s cause we homeschool and I can entice the children to buckle down and finish so that they can be gloriously free for 3 months.

Burn the workbooks!

Turns out they don’t love freedom as much as I thought they would, and really struggled with the lack of structure to their day. I honestly have thought on more than on occasion that teaching them school is less work then sorting out their summer squabbles. But like learning to homeschool, I’m just learning how to run this summer ship and am not as experienced at it as I thought.

I really thought the kids would just play outside happily for endless hours and I have to drag their little butts in just to feed them and put them to bed. Like school day afternoons were, only now they get ALL DAY. Only turns out they are like this for only half a day and the rest of it they are sick of each other and of each others games.

Going out for half the day really helps. And summer chores. What are your favorite boredom busters for kids age 4-10? Active ones…. I have to force my kids to STOP reading and go play 😂

On a side note, these are some of the lessons and things I’ve been learning this summer:

  • 4 years is probably a bit long to leave cleaning the dangling kitchen lights.
  • Vacuuming is more entertaining with Ranger Si popping out from behind the couch with binoculars.

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  • Veggies on the grill or baked in the oven are sweet and irresistible.
  • My neighbor friend who lets the kids ALL come play for hours is irreplaceable and is sweet mercy from heaven above- God bless that woman.
  • Turns out I’m not as bad at drawing as I thought I was, I just need to take sometime.
  • Pork Tenderloins on the BBQ are mouthwatering.
  • Jonas and Sammy are running around these days with knives slung on their belt loops, multi purpose jack knives in their pockets and lighters… but they also carry their own safety kits… and I’m good with it.
  • The bat population has been threatened by White Nose Syndrome (white fungus) so….. there is a possibility we will all die by mosquitoes.
  • Elise and Jonas are now better at making pancakes and salads than me.
  • My rooster, Captain Tom, could eat me for breakfast.
  • My husbands incredible patience teaching the kids to fish tugs at my heart in so many places.

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  • Go camping with your mom, and you will hardly need to pack a thing.
  • Babies eventually turn four, but they still give cuddles and hugs.
  • I can still pull myself up onto a floating object from out of the water, and am somewhat tricky to remove from said object… keep trying kids.
  • Red is a fabulous toenail colour and this summer is no different then the rest in knowing Red is the best.
  • If I ran uphill to the outhouse every time I or Si had to go to the washroom EVERYDAY I would have a lean bod. (Theory was tested for a few short days at the cabin) ((I say bod instead of body because it sounds so cool- and my kids probably think it’s a word now….))
  • An empty fridge stresses me… but so does a really full fridge.
  • Jesus loves me a whole crazy lot- but I gotta choose to believe it and live like I do.
  • Si just turned four and plays his drums everyday. So I roughly have 5,110 days of listening to it left…. unless he’s still at home at 18.
  • Mushrooms can grow bigger than your head.

Well thanks for listening to my rambles, hope your having a fantastic summer, and don’t forget to leave me with your boredom busters… or summer dinners, could totally use those too 😜

Just off the Beaten Path

Wednesday of this week I dropped my daughter off at gymnastics and had time to spend with just the boys. After an errand, I told them we were going to go for a little walk on the river walk, just to the Medal Caterpillar and then back. It wasn’t far- so they were game. We parked where our town has a large medal steam shovel and the boys groaned and physically itched at the sign telling them not to play or climb on it. I’d ignore the sign, but that particular sign (on that side) was literally put there for us. A year ago my kids were all over the twelve foot structure, dangling from every limb when we drew the attention of a stressed city employee. I told the truth when I explained that I hadn’t see the sign on the other side of the structure…. and… well now there are two signs. One on each side. And I’m very aware of both.

It’s a deep loss for my kids and they grieve it upon every visit.

So after passing said grieving site, we came on the next medal structure- A pump and broiler. “It has no NO PLAY signs!” Sammy squealed. “Right?” He can’t read all the words but the one sign looked way friendlier and the sign was clearly up high. The “No play” signs tend to be down low. “Can we mom?!”

So while the boys climbed on the broiler, I gazed out at the river beyond the path I was on. I saw people down by the water in the distance. I called to the boys and we stepped off the path. We wandered down across a lawn and through some bushes to the rivers shore. We made our way along the rocks talking about all sorts of boy things and just enjoying the incredible fresh views.

We worked our way from the Frazer river shore over to the aqua waters of the Quesnel river where we noticed the river rock size changed.

We even made it in time to watch the train rumble it’s way over the tracks.

And all I could think of as we explored and were smitten with the beauty around us- is how many times I’ve walked that path and never done this.

Then today as we wound our way home along a path we often take through the woods, we took a deer path we’d tried, but oh so long ago, and found a old dump site. We’d looked down the wreckage of cars and dumped pails in that pit before- but today we followed Jonas and Sammy down into it. To explore.

Treasures are all in the eyes of the beholder. My kids excitedly brought each one they found to me for approval of its value. When they started pleading to bring their rusty treasures home, I directed their enthusiasm to building a drum kit that we could come play. Right here. In the woods. We could even bring our friends to show. And oddly enough I, the adult, was the only one who came out of there with a rusted treasure I wanted to bring home… an old lantern.

And then like a mix between Sound of Music and the Trashing the camp song from Tarzan- my babies were playing me beats. With good old fashioned imaginations and a pit of treasures.

To think if we hadn’t veered of the path yet again we would have missed it all. I struggle with just doing things thinking “because they worked good once, let’s just do it again.” Also with finding safety in what I know. But there is something in me keen for adventure, and every now and then it convinces the safe predictable side of me to step off the beaten path. To go somewhere on a whim, pull over on the side of the road and go see, try something tricky, or new, or listen to a crazy kid suggestion.

Adventure doesn’t always have to be something you have to save money for. Sometimes it’s just stepping out of normal.

Like who rides a sled down a sand hill?

Um we do.

The very top picture of this blog is a sign I managed to create for our kitchen this week. It’s a reminder to me to look for life’s adventures and say “yes” to them. And to trust that God’s got so much more for those willing to step off the beaten path and trust Him with all the unknowns.

Two Big Questions

Ok so I’ve got two big questions for you.

Number one:

Is this not the cutest owl?

Don’t feel too bad, I had to be told it was an owl too. He might possibly have a hard time getting in his car… poor owl.

Number Two:

Don’t most siblings make ridiculously random competitions? Seriously, my husbands family (he has 7 siblings) STILL do this every time we hang out with them. And I have all brothers… 4 to be precise. Half our life’s adventures started with the sentence

“Bet you can’t do this!”

Here’s my kids the other night,

And yes, we eat lemon juice on our fish sticks.

And can you tell the bottle has been dropped? That’s the sacrifice one is willing to take when getting a 3-year-old to set the table.

(I also feel like justifying that we’re eating processed frozen food… but don’t we all have those days? Wait… don’t answer that or I’ll have to change my post to 3 big questions.)

Both these random questions originate from the normal ongoings of our household. My fridge sheds pictures like the autumn trees do leaves, and my children are often challenging eachother to perfectly useless uses of their skills. But every now and then I actually notice it.

I’ll look down at the art in my lap and not just say what I say to the million that pass through my hands. Or stop and film their crazy antics because one day dinner will be way too quiet and boring. And realize how full life is with little gifts if I just notice and remember to be thankful. It’s downright easy to fill my mind with annoyances, but my whole being fills with peace when I let all my blessings sink in. And the blessings are right there, always before me- if I only just look with eyes of gratefulness.

Happy Thanksgiving you crazy lot. Hope your eyes see more than turkey this weekend, and your filled with more than food.

Thankfulness is a choice,

and it’s worth seeing.

When the Well Ain’t so Well

I don’t think we even realize how much water we use in a day. I know I didn’t. And I didn’t find out by going on some Save-the-earth, Think-of-the-water, Minimalistic, “What would it be like??” kick.

Our property’s Well stopped working.

I was pleasantly surprised when our plummer friend, Rob, pulled up in the driveway shortly after I’d phoned Sam at work explaining the situation. That was fast…

Sadly though, it wasn’t gonna be a quick fix. He had to give me the report that nothing INSIDE was broken… meaning something deep down in the Well was.

A nearly 300 feet deep Well.

So while we waited for the Well guys to call us back, the kids and I carried water from the neighbors. The first few days. Till my kind neighbor suggested hooking our garden hoses together and basically saved my poor body from elongated arms.

Before said idea, however, (when we were still carrying/ pulling in the wagon buckets of water… ) I’d managed to carry two 5 gallon buckets down the road in one go and help the kids with theirs in the wagons. Then lifted all 5 pails and a Rubbermaid bin of water up onto the porch.

The kids had left a doozy in the toilet, so I slugged one pail through the house and into the washroom. I began pouring it quickly into the back of the toilet as my arms were really done. The satisfaction from a job well done however, drained from my face as I watched the water drain away…

the toilet handle was stuck down.

Really??

I dropped the pail to the floor and groaned… It’s bad enough ONE flush is half a bucket, but there goes a good two.

I instantly felt for people in less fortunate countries who carry water daily as a way of everyday life.

The other struggle I was faced with was when I reminded the kids to not flush for just pee as they’d head into the bathroom.
“I won’t!” They call as they pass you, crazed by your ridiculous reminding.

Then WOOSHhhhhhh!!!!!!

and a head pops out the door.
I squint- eyes narrowing.

“Oooopppppps! Sorry Mom! I didn’t mean too!”

And I slug in another bucket.
(It’s the years of drilling “did you flush?” into their little minds- it’s like an animal instinct now; right up there with migrating. Except for the youngest, of course, pretty much still just working on general AIM with that one.)

If my career as a Homeschool Mom doesn’t pan out- I could always take up Pun-comics right?

I recently came back from a 5 day camping trip, which I felt had prepared me for this situation. You know- stinking and living unhygienic.
No actually, for washing dishes in minimal amounts of water, using paper towels for grease, leaving things in the rain, and capitalizing on baby wipes (what? I told you it wasn’t a save-the-earth kick).

Things camping didn’t prepare me for, was cooking meals like homemade pizza and the insane amounts of dishes that dinner requires . Or two kids puking, a bed wetting, and having to see actual CLEAN people in my “camp” state.

Let me assure you though- things really didn’t go so bad. In fact, I never got to feeling “crazed”or “desperate”. My kind neighbors beside us we so compassionate, they graciously lent us buckets, hoses, a hand, and their water whenever we wanted. A friend a street over let me use her shower one night, while other friends prayed. And running water really wasn’t too life changing, where as electricity, or heat, would have been so much harder. SOooo thankful it didn’t happen in the winter too.

Also, 3 of our off-road friends came over Friday and Saturday to help Sam yard up the cables and pipe with his truck, winch, and engine hoist. Because those well guys Sam kept calling?- never had time. And as fun as camping is and not doing laundry for a week, the time had come.

Getting the pump above ground and back into it was stressful with just Sam and I. But actually pretty fun with friends. At one point Sams magnetic beer holder fell in the well and Sam’s head came up drinking the last of it. His friend Alex was also flung over the well when the hoist took a lunge from some tape getting wedged into the spinning spool. And when we reached really inconvenient knots in the rope being winched up, before we knew it Robs volunteered. He’s the tie-down supporting the whole works with his body while Sam un-clips, switches, ties new knots, and loops. Our friend Teela worked and rewound the winch, and her and I both drove the truck.

Of course the very best was the purr of that new motor,

and water reaching me “un-carried”.

And knowing God takes REALLY good care of us. Not just blessing us with running water, but with awesome friends and neighbors. And per usual

So many things to be thankful for.

Sometimes we just need to be reminded of just how good we’ve got it.