Monday, April 23, 2012

Our Weekend

Hey everyone.. or myself in case no one reads this.. hehe.
Thought it was time for a new post.  This weekend I had the kids all to my self!   Jeff went away from Friday night til Sunday afternoon to a retreat for his youth.  Usually I dread weekends when he is away.  But as the kids get older, I actually enjoy having them to myself for the weekend.

 On friday I made a new recipe for supper which the kids loved!  I kind of made up my own recipe for a version of pizza bites.  They were really good.. In fact, our neighbor boys came in to ask for the recipe! haha!  I had my good friend Holly come over for a visit friday night.  The kids love her.  Especially Sweet Pea.  Whenever Holly comes over, Sweet Pea goes into snuggle mode.  It's not uncommon to see Sweet Pea snuggling up in Holly's lap within 5 minutes of her arrival.  Holly is also her pedicurist (is that a word?)    Anytime Sweet Pea sees Holly she points out that her toes are not quite as pretty as they were and Holly gladly makes them  pretty again.  We had a nice visit.

On Saturday, J was kind enough to watch the others for me while I slept a little bit.  She even knows how to make breakfast so it really is wonderful.  One thing I hate about Jeff being away is that I have a hard time sleeping.  Jeff joked that I missed his snoring.   We had such a lazy morning.  Well I did.  Our neighbor boy L was over probably around 9:30 or so and we pretty much spent the day with him.  The kids played outside all morning and by afternoon I was ready to get out of the house.  I wanted to get a few things from the store and go visit my Dad at his cottage.  He's fixing up his cottage that he bought and I hadn't seen it since the fall so I was anxious to see what he had done.    The kids were not ready to say goodbye to L so we just brought him with us.  Of course we asked his mom if it was okay.  Now my husband always is shocked that I take all 4 kids to the store with me.  I don't know why... My kids are usually well behaved in the store and it's not something that I can avoid all the time.  This time with L, I had five kids with me!  At the store, we got the usual looks from people and the occasional "You've got your hands full" comments.  I usually smile and nod or say "as always"

After the store we took the drive out the cottage.  I had said yes when the kids asked if they could bring their bikes.  So my van was packed with 3 bikes, a tricycle, 5 kids and myself.  That was one packed van.  When we got to the cottage, my dad had gone to town for parts so we unloaded the bikes and the kids had a blast driving them up and down the dirt road.  I sat on my trunk and just let the memories of my cousins and I doing the very same thing on this very same road wash over me.   A lot of fun bike riding happened back then.  I was so glad that I had said yes to the bikes.  We had such a relaxing and fun time.   When my dad came, I got to see the gorgeous work he and his friend Mark had done to the cottage.  Beautiful hardwood floors and hand made kitchen cabinets.  It really is coming along!

Sunday we headed to church and by afternoon, I was exhausted.  My wonderful hubby came home and made us supper.    I was glad to have him back!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


I’ve been thinking a lot about compassion lately.  And again God gives me things to read that relate to my thoughts.   For example in our weeky life group we are reading Max Lucado’s book “Outlive Your Life” and of course this week’s chapter was called “See the Need; Touch the Hurt”   In this chapter he wrote all about compassion. 

I’ve been struggling with what compassion really means and how I can have more compassion for others.   As I sat up with my sick little girl last night who for the very first time in her life was throwing up, I know I felt compassion for her.  But isn’t it easy to feel compassion for the ones you love?  But what about that homeless person standing on the street corner?  What about the pregnant teen down the street?  What about the tsunami victims in japan?  What about the men and women dying of aids in Africa?  What about their children who will or have been orphaned?  What about compassion for them?  I must admit, it’s a lot easier to gloss over or turn away from those you don’t know.   For those thousands of miles away? defines compassion as a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.  But how do you show compassion?  By giving the homeless person something to eat or a warm coat?  By donating to relief aid for those rebuilding in japan and ministries that help those in Africa and other third world countries?   What about looking that pregnant teen in the eyes and saying everything is going to be okay?  Is there more we can do?

And how the heck do I teach my children to be compassionate?  I pray over them.  That the needs of other will be overwhelming to the point of action.   Already I’m seeing this kind of compassion in them.  I need to be a better example though.  

I googled "what compassion really means" just to see what I would come up with.  I came across a column called Dr Cecilia d'Felice's Step-by-Step Guide to Modern Life.  In it she writes:   

"Compassion, unlike pity, walks hand in hand with suffering. Compassion means acknowledging and understanding suffering, combined with the commitment to alleviate it. We could call it radical compassion: radical because it wants positively to influence the experience of suffering, to take care of it and therefore assuage as much hurt as possible."

Sounds like a good definition to me! 

Jewish Rabbi and Theologian, Abraham Joshua Heschel, said, “A religious man is a person who holds God and man in one thought at one time, at all times, who suffers harm done to others, whose greatest passion is compassion, whose greatest strength is love and defiance of despair," 

I want to be that person.. I want my greatest passion to be compassion, my greatest strength; love and defiance of despair. 

Lord help me.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Maple Syrup!

On Friday we took a drive... a long drive... to a mom with two kids who get carsick.. any drive is a long drive but this one was 1.5 hours... that's a very long drive.   Okay enough about the drive.   We took the drive.. no one got sick... Success!

So where were we driving to?  We went on our very first real field trip!  When I first started thinking about homeschooling I dreamed of all the field trips we would go on.   In reality, taking four kids by yourself somewhere educational has proved somewhat daunting.  So when the local homeschool group here announced a field trip to a Maple Syrup camp almost 2 hours away, I was thrilled but disappointed.  Going to a maple syrup camp was one of the field trips I remember best as a child and I really wanted to do the same for my kids.  Unfortunately I couldn't figure out a way to take four kids into the woods and not have one of my babies lost or eaten by coyotes.

Thankfully my wonderful sister said that she would take my littlest baby for the day.  This worked out for both of us.  My neice is only 4 months older than Sweet Pea and they are great friends.  This meant for my sister that she was off the hook in the entertainment department for the day.  This worked out equally for me because it meant that I had enough seats in my car that my friend Beth and two of her kids could come with us!  I didn't have to do it alone!!  Maybe just maybe, the remaining three kids would not get lost in the woods...
Now when I was a kid and went to on a maple syrup camp, we saw the trees tapped like this.   A lot of things have changed in the maple syrup business in the last twenty years.   Here is the new fandangled way to tap maple trees.

The sap comes out of the tree and down the white tube into the blue one.  Then the sap travels through the blue one into a black one.  That one runs down the forest and drips into a big tank.  They then take the tank to the place where they make the maple syrup.  Unfortunately, I neglected to take the camera out until we had already seen the evaporator and had pancakes and syrup so you don't get to see that.  Just the forest.  I did get some fun pictures in the forest though.

 The kids had a blast running through the forest and Beth and I each had a few heart attacks as we lost sight of one child or another... "I" was constantly falling in holes which like the good mothers we are, we laughed at.  One time and I wish I had thought to take a picture of it but I stepped backwards into a large round hole.  He kind of looked like a turtle who had fallen on his back.. The way he had fallen made it very difficult for him to right himself and get out of the hole.  Of course I just laughed and watched him struggle.  That's just how I roll.  In my defense, I was laughing too.

This may have been just before one of his falls.

J with her always beautiful face.

My boy.. And note to all you who are thinking of taking a trip into the woods with your kids.  Do not put a camo coat on your kid.  It creates havoc with your mind and you end up convincing yourself that a stump is really your son not moving when in reality, he's been behind you the whole time.

Beth's boy C... I think maybe he saw a coyote and was contemplating going to live with them?

Another pretty face.  Beth's B

Note the smudge on his left cheek?  Your left, his right.  That's maple syrup  I think.. Or maple butter.  He enjoyed that pancake lunch a little too much.

I think here "I" was contemplating joining C with his coyote adventures.. It looks like he's trying to start a fire the old fashion way.   Lets face it, just because you live with coyotes doesn't mean you can't keep yourself warm.

There was also a balance beam available.  The kids mastered that one.

And this one.. although "I" fell many many times before successfully crossing it.  Again we laughed. 

 Beth and I... adventureous mom's wandering through the woods with 5 small children.  yes we are crazy and that explains the laughing.

All tired out and ready to make the trip home.

Monday, April 16, 2012

I wanna wake him up!!!

Would it be horrible of me to want to wake this handsome little Griffin boy up so I could snuggle him??  I mean I only get to have him on mondays for only 45 minutes... is it too much for me to ask that he be awake for his Auntie Tash during that time?   Yah maybe it is... after all he's only 8 weeks old..

The temptation was too much so I banned his cute little face to my bedroom where he could sleep in peace and not be subject to me "accidentally" making loud noises for no reason right next to him in efforts to wake him.  All I can do is hope that maybe he'll be awake next week.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Birthday party number two

We've had a busy weekend.  We decided to have T's big friend birthday party today.  With Easter so close to his real birthday, it was hard to find a weekend that worked.  This was the year for a big party (We only do big friend parties every other year)  so we had invited 11 kids over to our church's ministry center and had a blast!   This year's theme was LEGO!   Here's the cake I spent the weekend making.  I didn't want to mess with fondant this year so I decided to try melting colored chocolate wafers.  While it made the cakes look pretty cool (and also look like they were melting. lol) it made it very hard to cut and even more difficult to stick candles into.  As you will see in the cake picture, we had to use an extra cupcake to stick the candles into.

First thing, I'm thankful that my hubby works at the church and knows all the equipment.  While waiting for all
the kids to arrive, he put on a lego movie from youtube. 

This was excellent because normally birthday parties here at the ministry center sends poor parents home with headaches.

 You see those weird looking things on the wall and the ceiling.  Well those are there to help with the acoustics.  Unfortunately when you have that many kids in one room, good acoustics is not a good thing.  The adults in the room are usually the ones that have to suffer because of it.  I couldn't tell you how many times I came home from a birthday party here with a raging headache.  So like I said.. My hubby is awesome!  The kids stuck like glue to their chairs while we waited.

When all the guests arrived, we started with the games!  First game we played was toss the lego!  We had the kids line up in two lines which was a bit chaotic but fun... 

Each kid had three turns throwing their lego piece into the rings which had scoring numbers on it.

At the end of the three turns we tallied up the scores.

Next game we played was guess how
many legos.

I had filled a mason jar filled with lego candy.  We had index cards numbered from 100-200 and spread them out on the floor.    The kids had to run down to the index cards, pick a number and bring it back to see if it was the correct number.  If it was not,  they ran back to get another one.  Finally the right number was picked and that kid got to keep the whole jar of candy.. Yay for their mom!  ( who happens to love candy.. hehe)

The next game was a fun one.  I had one kid leave the room.  When they were gone, I would give a piece of lego to one kid in the room. 

They would all stand holding their hands behind their back as the one kid came back into the room.  Then it was up to them to guess who had the lego... 

They really had a lot of fun with this one.

The last game I had was lego races.  My friend Beth has this neat little board that races two cars that she had made for her son's birthday party a couple years ago.   Unfortunately we found out that one of the little lego

cars that I had brought to race was too wide.  Thankfully we had taken our lego bin with us so Beth and I dumped the bin looking for smaller wheels to make another one.  I wish I had taken a picture.. It kind of looked like we had stuck the kids in front of the screen while we went to another room to play lego. hehe.

Anyway to get back on track.. (Get it track?  hehe I crack myself up)  This game was another hit.

Next it was time for the pinata.  Unfortunately there was no place to hang it so Jeff had to stand on a chair and hold it.  Thankfully for Jeff it wasn't the bashing kind of pinata but the non violent pull the string and the pinata opens kind.  

Funny story about it.  I had put one extra string on the bottom of the pinata thinking that Kaia might want to pull one.  Wouldn't you know it, all of the 14 kids picked a false string.   The one that actually opened the pinata had to be pulled by Jeff. hehe.

Next up!  Snack time! 

Not that it was much.. Just juice boxes and chips.  They were pretty happy with it.  And their place cards that I made for them.

 Then it was CAKE TIME!!   Here's a picture of the cake!  Our little buddy C was kind enough to let us borrow his lego guy flashlight  to complete the look!

And yes I know the lego blocks look like they had been sitting out in the sun a bit too long.


T didn't seem to care though.

I should have taken a picture of the cake after it was cut..  Because I used chocolate as icing, it was too hard to really cut into.. it kind of broke all over the place and in turn broke the cake all over as well.  It was good though anyway.

Next was present time and as usual, J did a really good job reading the card... well until some people signed their names in writing and she can't read writing yet...  I won't mention any names.... ****ahem Holly***

Anyway he was very happy with his presents and very thankful.

Finally I ran out of things to do... and we still had a half hour before the end of the party!  So we stuck them in front of the screen again to watch more of the lego show they had been watching before. 
Then we sent them home with all kinds of loot in their treat bags.  All in all it was a very successful party!

I'm ready to crash and Jeff has already crashed!  Unfortunately the kids still need to eat supper and it's getting late so off I go to see what I can come up with for supper... probably sandwiches.

P.S.  I meant to write a post on friday about our day at the Maple Syrup camp but I didn't get a chance to... so be on the look out for that post.. it will be coming!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

We definitely do loud!

I'm sitting here on the couch... relaxing after cleaning up the supper dishes.  

I'm surrounded and I mean surrounded by noise.  I've got Sweet Pea giggling her fool head off as "I" pushes her up and down the hallway in a laundry basket.  The other two are yelling and laughing with the two neighbor boys who are beyond excited about actually being invited inside to play.  Normally, I kick the kids outside when they come over to play but today it's just too darn cold.  So they are excited and using outdoor voices in my inside.

At one point today, I was looking forward to a quiet relaxing evening.. Maybe sticking a movie on for the kids and just vegging on the couch... 

But then this happened.....

Actually this happens quite often.... 

This is L.  He is only 2 months older than T.  He lives 2 houses down and comes over after he gets home from school quite often.   He's a sweet and mostly silly boy.  

He likes to watch us eat supper.  The kids love it when he does.   

Of course I have been outside today and I know how freezing it is.. I couldn't resist but to invite the boy over for supper.   

We were just having cheeseburgers and french fries but he didn't seem to care.  

Who am I kidding..  Any kid loves that meal!

After supper they ran off to play and within a matter of minutes Thor shows up...

Well not really.. That's L's older brother S. He's the same age as J.  

So there you have it.. my own very loud kids plus 2 more very loud kids makes for a loud house.  J just took the camera and ran around taking pictures...   let's just say that the results have been interesting.....

 I have no words for this...  I don't even know what this is and how it managed to occupy my boys room..

oh wait... they are boys...

boys like this kind of stuff.....
  The two seven year olds were very opposed to J taking their pictures....  as a result.. we get ninja boy pictures!

This little cutie had no problems with getting her picture taken....

So yes... I didn't get my nice quiet evening..... but my kids are so happy right now.  I'll have quiet after they go to bed.  Speaking of which... the first bedtime has arrived so I guess I'll have to send the boys home and get started on bedtime....

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Are you willing? Am I?

I can't sleep.... I should be sleeping but I can't.  My mind is just too full.  I need to process.  I feel as though God is testing me today. Not in patience, not in understanding, not in wisdom but in willingness.  He's been giving me dreams, giving me little prompts and calling me to action.  All day, all week actually my mind has just been full.. people I need to be thinking of, things I should be doing....  These people, these things... I'd never think of on my own.  I'm just too human for that.  God has put these people, these places, these things on my heart.  He's asking a question... Are you willing?   And I ask my self.  Am I?   What if he asks me to do something that's so totally terrifying to me.

 If you know me, then you know that I have a hard time putting my feelings into words, and an even harder time putting them into action.  I have this shyness about me that I just can't seem to kick.  Something is always holding me back from being more loving, being more kind.   Am I willing to do what He asks me to do???  Sure as long as it doesn't require me to speak in front of people, to put myself out there or even to introduce myself to someone I don't know.  Is that even being willing?  I get the feeling that it's not.  That's being scared, that's being full of fear.  That's not who He's calling me to be.  That's not who I want to be. 
Who do I want to be?  I want to be the kind of person that just loves on people unabashedly.. with reckless abandon... no fear...   God put a big thing on my heart today.. Not something that I feel I can share publicly but in order to do what I think he's asking me to do... It's going to call for some reckless abandon.  And so here's that question again.  Am I willing?  Am I willing to do what I feel God is asking me to do? 

I've been reading some books... and some blogs... funny how the books and blogs I've chosen to read lately have the same theme... stepping out.  Doing something extraordinary. Show compassion. Being everything I know that is inside of me waiting to burst out.  It hasn't been on purpose.. it seems as though these books, these blogs have just placed in my lap.  Probably more prompting by the Spirit.  And I've felt convicted by them.  I've spent too many years letting my fears rob me of blessing.  No more....

If you are still reading this... thank you for bearing with me through my rambling.  I've needed to get this off my chest. I think I can probably sleep now.  I'd appreciate if you know my God, could you please pray for me. I suspect that this new journey is not going to be easy.  No one ever said that living fully for God would be. 

But that said...  I'm willing.... Scared.... but willing..... 

I read a prayer tonight that just hit me to my core.  It's what I've been praying for weeks now.  I want to leave it with you.  It's from a book called "Outlive your Life" by Max Lucado.

Heavenly Father, every breath is a gift from your hand.  Even so, I confess that sometimes my own hand remains tightly closed when I encounter the needs of others.  Please open both my hand and my heart that I might learn to open my door to others.  As you help me open my heart and hand, O Lord, I ask that you also prompt me to open my life to those who need a taste of your love and bounty.  In Jesus' name I pray, amen.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A Call for Support

I'm sure most of you who read this knows that I've been given the privilege of being part of the 2012 Africa Mission team to Pemba, Mozambique, Africa.  I have always dreamed of helping the motherless children in Africa.  I am so grateful for this amazing opportunity.   I wanted to let you all know what it is that I may be doing.  I am super excited to be a part of this mission!

We will be leaving November 6th and spending 17 days away.  We'll be back on November 22nd.  We will be working with Iris Ministries ( in providing assistance to an area of Africa which has been ravaged by AIDS. Nearly 50% of the young adults are dying of AIDS and leaving large numbers of orphans behind with no one to care for them.   It breaks my heart to think about it but I think we can make a difference.

We will be involved in projects such as much needed medical care, dental care, health training, and possibly a construction or other project intended to improve the economic opportunities for the villagers, blessing and being blessed by some of the poorest of the poor. 

So far we have committed to purchase a piece of land and build a foster home, we will also be purchasing desks for the new learning center.  We will also visit the orphanage, deliver shoe boxes, clothes, toys and medical supplies.

To be honest when I heard about the opportunity I doubted I could go as it is costly and leaving Jeff home with our children seemed like a challenge.  How many days could the kids go eating Kraft dinner?  Just kidding.  Jeff has been gracious enough to take his holidays during this time.  And with the help from his wonderful mother Theresa and friends, the kids will be taken care of.  The only other part to consider was the cost.

Part of the commitment to the mission is the requirement to request the support of others in funding and praying for our participation and the success of the mission. I would love if you would be part of my team, either by donating and/or with your prayers. The total funds that I need for the trip is $4,000.00. This covers all things I will need…. food, lodging, in country travel, plane tickets, as well as supplies.   

In addition to donating if you have any fundraising ideas I would love to hear them.  So far, I have made Christmas cards for families, edited photos, created posters for community events, done administration work, and sold used household items in an effort to raise funds.

If you feel led to support me in this effort I would really appreciate it.
You will receive an income tax receipt for your donation.  You can donate by sending a cheque made out to:

Summerside Community Church  
340 Court St., 
Summerside, PE, Canada,
 C1N 1N6

Or if you would like you could contact me for my address and send it to my home.  Or if you prefer paypal you can send your paypal to 
Please be praying for our whole team in the months leading up to November as we gather supplies and raise funds.  Also be praying for us as we are there. For safe travels and health.  

Thank you so much for reading this and for your part in this journey.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

My baby boy is 7

It's a sad day here at the Gillis house.  Our little baby boy is seven.  Why oh Why do kids have to grow up so darn fast.    It's seems like yesterday that he was this sweet baby boy with eyes and a smile that just melted your heart.  Now my blonde haired little baby boy has turned into a very dark haired big boy who still has those eyes and smile that still melts my heart.   This baby boy has grown up into a kid with a huge heart.  He's so special to me.  I'm so proud of him.

Look at those eyes.. and that smile.. wonderful......

He woke up this morning and came straight out to hug me.  First words he said was "I'm seven now!" What a sweetie.  He is soo proud that he's seven.  We had a big day planned and the first stop of the day was church.  I think he was a bit offended that not everyone knew that it was his birthday. hehe.  But he was sure to let everyone know.  Next stop was our friends Darcia and Jordon's house for our semi weekly sunday brunch.. Every couple of weeks or so, we get together with a couple of families and have a themed brunch after church and play games in the afternoon while all the kids play together.  Usually the kids make up some kind of play for us to watch and we all have a fun time.  We usually agree on a theme and then each family brings something that goes with that theme.  Last time it was Asian food.
 Here's a picture of Darcia's awesome Chinese Potstickers!

Today however, the two other families couldn't make it so it was just us and Darcia & Jordon. We still had a ton of fun.  Our theme this week was appetizers so we munched on potato skins, bbq meatballs, butter noodles, pizza bites, carrots, celery & dip.   Darcia baked a surprise cake so we told the kids to sit down in the living room and that the adults were going to put on a play for them.  Instead we came in with the cake and sang happy birthday.  Afterwards the kids had fun upstairs and the adults settled down for a game of euchre.  It was fun teaching Darcia how to play.  In her defense, it is a confusing game to keep track of.  I think so anyway.   After our fun afternoon we rushed home to clean  up a bit and have supper.  Of course on "T's" birthday we HAD to have pizza.  He also requested broccoli salad and I was happy to comply considering this kid usually won't touch vegetables with a ten foot pole.  We had my dad over for supper as well and after supper Jeff's parents and my sister and her kids also joined us for a little ice cream cake and presents.

 I made the ice cream cake myself and not to toot my own horn but I must say it was pretty good.  The bottom was a layer of crushed maple cream cookies, then a layer of caramel, then butter pecan ice cream with whipped cream and skor bits on top.

Bad Mommy moment though... when I went to find candles for his birthday all I could find was the number 5 and two pink candles.  Hey that equals seven right?  Jeff is always telling the kids that math is a part of everything.. This was just a lesson in math.  hehe..  I don't think "T" minded too terribly much.. He's easygoing like that.  I bet all he could think about was eating it.
Here's the big guy taking a huge breath to blow out his three candles. hehe.

All in all, he was pretty happy with this birthday.  He got some fun lego toys and a cool dinosaur excavation kit. Along with the little toy wolf he's had his eye on forever at Owls Hollow. There's this section in this store that has a ton of little animal figures.  "T" would LOVE to collect them all.  Well he got his first one.. now he'll have to save up his money for any more.  To top it all off, it was a beautiful day and he got to play outside for some of it.  Our neighbor boys even came over to play and from the sounds of the laughing and giggling going on out there, they all had a blast.

Now I've got to start planning his friend party.  You see every second year we plan a big party with his friends.  Since we still have a party with just family, this year I was smart and decided to space the two parties out a bit so I still have two weeks to plan his friend party.... which by the way is going to be lego themed and we (mainly "T" and I) are quite excited about it!  Anyway after supper, we played with my camera and took some fun pictures.  And that's what I will leave you with...