Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Sip a Little

The days are getting shorter and the weather is brisk! It's time to curl up with a tasty, warm drink and relax by the fire.

Who am I kidding? It's time to wipe that snotty nose off your toddler (wipe the snot off, that is, not the nose off...), reach for the screaming baby, and pray for the sun to peak out just a tad so that you might remember you are not living in the far north. If you can find that warm drink that you made an hour ago, you can bet your bottom dollar it will be lukewarm. However, I have learned to appreciate lukewarm drinks now that I have two little one's to chase after; taking slow sips of cocoa doesn't have the same appeal when you have spit-up running down your arm, and your toddler is glancing at your paints and the family pet with a gleam in her eye. When your two year old's precocious nature is leading her to experiment with fur and paint, lukewarm drinks are definitely better, they go down quicker and don't keep you tied up for long.

Just don't fret, my pet, all us mother's here on the prairies need to unite. Remember that these winter months are fleeting. *insert awkward laughter* Soon enough the calves will be laying on the ground and the crocuses will be popping up. For now, try and embrace the living room forts,  play dough you hope won't get eaten, and the Dr. Seuss marathon that will ensue. Cozy on up with your babes and cuddle their warm little bodies. Stare into their big, trusting eyes, and laugh at their antics. Know in your heart of hearts, that these are the good years. It might be chilly outside, but the sticky fingers on your clean windows, pointing at the snowflakes in wonder, are what will haul you through these long, Old Man Winter months.

If you are struggling with little sunlight, cyclical housework, and summer's opposite-remember we're all in this together. Find a neighbour mom to chat things over with or join a mom's group in town.  You can always do what I do, lay back in that fort, and stare up at the stars on that crazy quilt's back and let your heart swell with the knowledge that you are exactly where you should be in life.

Now, wipe off your counter, make that warm drink and recollect the fact that there are only five or six months until we might see a break in the weather. That ain't nothin'...

Cavities in a cup

Hot Almond 'n' Cream Drink-please, be prepared to rot your teeth out.

1c butter or margarine
1c sugar
1c packed brown sugar
2c vanilla ice cream, softened
2tsp vanilla extract
Ground nutmeg

In a saucepan over low heat, cook & stir, butter and sugars for 10-12 minutes or until butter is melted. Pour into a mixing bowl; add ice cream and extract. Beat on medium speed for 1-2 minutes or until smooth, scraping the bowl often.

To make one serving: spoon 1/4c mixture into mug and 3/4c boiling water and stir well. Sprinkle with nutmeg.

Mix can be stored in a covered container in the fridge for up to one week.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Home Again

When I ask my mom about round up in days gone by from when she was young, she covers her eyes and shakes her head. Shows like Heartland might give you a romantic idea of what a round up in the mountains might look like; mercy, I tell ya, there are too many stories in the family that aren't suitable to immortalize on my blog.

The cows are home now and I'm happy my husband is back in cell reception. Things were quiet this year and went without a hitch. It was snowy and cold, that wet cold that get's down into your bones.  When we popped in to see the neighbours, the girl that was riding with them out there had a mysteriously bright looking sunburn on her neck, with nary a ray of sun in the sky, you knew it was damp - the dye from her red scarf leaked onto her skin.
They're ba-ack!
My Dad and Uncle rode up to the 'top end' one year, in minus fourty degree weather and trailed strays back into corrals down at what we call the junction. They got back to the cabins around 10:00PM and when I gasp, "you could have froze to death," Dad just says they almost did. I'm glad the ugly weather this year pales in comparison to others. As much as we know a cold snap will help bring any of the cows left wandering the bush down, I'm quite content with our Indian summer.
I love the term Big Sky. It reminds me of who I am.

One of the boys I grew up with married a lovely lady from Calgary. She always gets such a crack out of things when I say my husband is out bringing home the bulls and that I'm on pins and needles waiting for him to be back in cell reception in case I go into labour. I know she pictures me out in a sod house with the wind a' howlin' and my babes round my ankles praying for Daddy to come home. That's fine, she can picture things like that because I picture her with her homeboys in the heart of the city, waiting for her man to bring her a latte from Starbucks.

Just so you know, Rebekah, if I had a clue how to run photoshop, I would put your picture right smack in the middle of the herd with a rope in your hand and poop on your boots and send it as a post card to the unit you work on .I am going to get you out here one day to help haul water and stoke the stove and maybe you could explain to me what a dishwasher and that thing they call the tee-vee is. I'll send an invite with the pony express on Monday and maybe we'll see you and the boys sometime early January.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Gracie & Wyatt's Flat

My little girl is only two and is ready to move to a new pad. I thought this started when they were eighteen.

My Auntie Pat has the best play house this side of the Rockies. It's chalk full of childhood exhilaration and is the type of thing memories will be made of. Ya'll, this is the ticket; the ticket to being numero uno Grammy, Auntie, whatever title you are seeking after.

Now, be prepared because this fine prairie dwelling will make your heart a tad envious if you have the run of the mill, Canadian Tire version of a kid's fortress. If you think you can handle it, feel free to carry on.

Uncle Merle, being the man with a vision, saw this hundred year old bunkhouse, complete with the fact the  pigeon's made this their home, and knew that the setup would make a fine place for imaginations to soar. With the original steel wheels still being able to turn, he hauled this bad boy back to their home place from the neighbours. Can you imagine transporting it from field to field with horses for harvest? Being the hired man who bunked in this beneath a starry sky?
A little before

After a thorough cleaning, new flooring laid down, a couple of windows and the inside being painted a cheerful yellow...the babes were allowed in! Auntie Pat has the sweetest little red play kitchen, table & chairs, and a fancy pants sock monkey tea set. It's settled the fact my girls don't want to go to Disneyland; they want to go to the end of the gravel road, to Uncle Merle's house.

Ain't she a beaut? 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Times are a Changin'

My Grandpa was one of the most well read, well travelled, and intelligent men that I have ever known. He journeyed the world with an international organization, C.U.S.O, throughout the seventies and eighties to help local people in  second and third world countries improve farming practices. He was always open to learning and progressing as a person, and as an intellect. Well, almost always. He was also a Scotsman: a stubborn Scotsman.

While years passed and farming practices changed, my Grandpa liked to stick to the tried and true, tested method. One year while painting the big shop on the home place, my Uncle hurried along with a huge roller brush. Looking over and seeing Grandpa methodically painting away with a little brush he commented, "Dad, why don't you get a roller like me? It goes way faster."

"This has worked well for me for the past twenty years."

Things did work well for Grandpa over the years.  That's why we never argued with him while he continued to fork feed by hand daily to feed well over a hundred head of cows, while the new front end loader sat in the yard.

As time passed and my Uncle began to farm with Grandpa, Uncle Ian decided it was time for a new combine. Keep in mind this isn't the early 1900's or anything, this was the time of big bangs, probably somewhere in the early 90's.

Grandma loved to tell the story about Grandpa coming in to put his long red underwear on and crawl into his winter coat when the temperature was somewhere near thirty degrees Celsius (mid to high eighties Fahrenheit). Grandma must have thought the stress of harvest was really getting to him, because as much as a person loves heat, it's not exactly common practice to parade around in clothes like that with the warm prairie sun beating down.

My other Grandpa (Larry) farmed the neighboring quarter to Grandpa Bill and couldn't figure out why the combine was working the field with the door hanging open. After he was cornered, and an explanation of his strange behaviour was demanded, we heard something that we would laugh about for years to come. The long underwear and open door were desperate attempts to stay warm in the new combine, one with air conditioning! A luxury Grandpa had never known. He didn't know how to shut it off, and was too stubborn to ask for help!

With harvest 2011 wrapping up for many farmers in the area, I wish you much luck with your air conditioners, not to mention the GPS systems. If you are having trouble, look up my Grandpa Larry, he'll come and help you shut it off and you don't have to be embarrassed by having to ask your son.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Living on the Funny Farm

I thought life was a little on the cuh-razy side when we were attacking some reno's in this here abode while I was nine million months pregnant - until I stopped and realized what was actually coming out of my mouth today.

A little before. I have photos of the process, but I'll spare you the details.
Ripping apart this bedroom, to spray foam insulation in and finding a GIANT bird's nest in the ceiling, a table hockey game, multiple vintage board games and an old wallpaper sample book from the 40's was nothing.
Thanks to Alyssa Penner out of Drayton Valley, Alberta,  for the photos. She took time out of her visit with her sister to come and take pictures of our wild prairie children. I don't know if we were more than she bargained for when she was led to the loft of the barn.
Pulling up the carpet- sanding, sanding, filling every single crack in the original hardwood, sanding, and sanding some more 'till I was praying the sander would blow up, was not crazy.
We put new dry wall up and painted the walls a very boring tan. I thought anything could go up on the walls to spruce the place up.
What was a little on the unbalanced side was when I actually said to my two year old, "Do not rope your sister," in a calm manner. I didn't realize that this is not your normal everyday conversation.  Complete with blue ribbon out of my sewing cupboard, she looked up at me and said, "catch Momma?"
My favorite part of this room a few weeks ago was the floor. I think the sheer amount of effort that went into it, made me want to kiss it sometimes. Now my favorite part of the room is that baby in the crate. No, it is not her bed for the night.

Mercy law, send in the troops.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Just Hangin'

I love the look of little old fashioned clothes hangers but couldn't find them anywhere when I had my first daughter. The closet in her room doesn't have any doors, so everything is exposed to the world-good or bad. I painted up a bunch of pink hangers so everything looks a little more uniform and tidy.

I also made a whole pile of vintage, western hangers to take to some Ag trade shows I sold my goodies at. I have a bunch of hangers left over and are in my stash that I sell from home. If you are local and need a baby gift and a trip to the city is out of the question, come on by, there are shelves full of unique gifts.  If you are looking for old fashioned baby hangers-I'll hook you up.

Saturday, September 17, 2011


I'm posting photos that have nothing to do with this post because today is the kind of day I'm letting myself surrender to a 'whatever' sort of attitude.

Frightened?! Watch me!

If you were to walk into this humble abode, you would possibly find a momma in such a relaxed  state of mind that you would want to just fall asleep in my presence. I have turned over a new leaf, ladies. I am conciously making the decision not to be too stressed over things. That wound up ball of, must get the floor vacuumed nine trillion times a day, has been chucked out the door.

I had company over last Wednesday and considered scrapping my list of to do things for the morning to prepare for these chiquitas coming over. That left me feeling a bit like a sandwhich without bread. I still made my list and when my husband saw it the night before, he laughed at my 'start cider-9:45 (ish.)'

I thought I should get a pat on the back for placing the 'ish' on the end.

The unfortunate part was the cider was prepped by 8:25 AM and I watched the clock and didn't turn the stove on until 9:46, just to be a person of calm.

I'd like to be the kind of mom who could possibly feed on demand, let their kids run willy nilly once in awhile, and for seuth not be irked when the house is run amuck. The sad side of things is for a personality like mine, you would expect things to be perfect in this home, but alas the kids are rangy tangy, things are a bit loony, and sometimes when I fold laundry there are more pairs of jammies than clothes. I'm just trying not be so worked up over it and am realizing you have to be flexible in this motherhood gig or you might be on the road to losing your marbles.

I can happily say the transition to two has been one of the smoothest and happiest times in my life. I would have enough kids to create my own sports team, if my husband and I weren't ancient of days and pregnancy wasn't just so plain nasty.

The key in it all is to be a cool cat and to just relax your bones. Somehow I am missing that key, because it wasn't labelled, organized and put away in the right spot. If you find it, let me know, otherwise you'll probably still hear my two year old following behind me scrubbing floors saying, "eew, sick," just like her momma.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Out on the Prairie

It's Kids Day in Russia around here again.

The enthusiasm from every childhood Christmas is encompassed in a  Fisher Price Kitchen that some dear friends have lent us for our little girls to play with. We chuckled over the fact that those little girls would shout out the plastic window above the sink, "whoo hoo, supper time!" Hoping this might encourage my daughter's domesitc skills and waiting for the day she might shout out the window, "come for supper," I was sadly mistaken.

Listening to this wild little prairie girl play happily at her kitchen first thing in the morning, I hear her shout out the window of that kitchen, "I SEE 'EM! I see coyotoes! Get 'em!" Biting my lip, I peaked out her window that faces directly against the wall, "I don't see anything." Seconds later she shouts out again, "It's a badger, get a gun!" Egads! Keep this kid away from fish and feathers. This little lady doesn't know a thing about a fancy zoo that has giraffes and elephants, but she'll gladly tell you about a red tailed hawk, deer, and yes ladies, a badger.

Relaying this story to my Momma, she commented how this little hungabee will be talking crazy talk on her first day of Kindergarten. I reminded her that I volunteered for a few years in our little local school's kindergarten and I had absolutely no concerns. Consistenly on the first day of school, there was some little boy who would pee out in the playpark during recess and we would have to explain that this isn't the farm and they needed to ask to go in to the bathroom.

 Oh, livin out on the prairie...

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Rainbow

The day we heard heart aching news about Auntie Patty Lou, the sky was painted with a brilliant picture. One that reminded me that He is mighty and reigns over the Heavens and Earth, but He also cares about our every whispered prayer and every cry in the night.  He loves us personally.

Today she receives a 'new set of lungs' and her Jesus is welcoming her home, in His loving arms.

Our hearts are so, so sad, but in the middle of our weeping, we continue to have hope and remember His promises.

Thursday, August 4, 2011


Saturday night, all the tiniest ladies will be wearing these fine skirts made by my talented Auntie Pat. My wild hungabee will wear the one on the far right. 

Watch out! We're a family of four now and this weekend we are on the loose.

This weekend is a "celebration of rural Alberta roots" and my clan is a gatherin' in the badlands of Alberta. There will be plenty of wild, thick, curly hair, freckles and bright blue eyes. Tales will be told and "remembering big" will abound.

Cousins will fly in from as far across that big ol' blue ocean and enchant us with their Scottish accents. Folks from the West & East coast will be on hand too, to try and verify some of the stories that are told.

My heart is full to the brim to be able to arrive with my two little girls, one barely on this fine planet for two weeks.

It's going to be a blast, most likely a little crazy, but family is what makes life Beauty Full. Relationships are all we can take with us when leave this Earth and are the only thing worth investing in. When we are reminded of the fragility of life, relations are the first thing that rise to the surface of what matters.

A little bit of yeehaw is going to reign this weekend and I'll be happy to report back to ya'll to let you know how it went.

***Thank you for all the well wishes and congratulations on the birth of our second girl. The transition has been smooth and we are all doing well. Please continue to pray for a miracle in my Aunt's health; we know that our God is good.***

Friday, July 29, 2011

Country Roads Lead Me Home

Walking down this country road, seven sunsets ago I stared up at the vault of Heaven.  My heart streamed out feelings I can't put into words to God, staring at His handiwork in the sky. I didn't even know how to pray, my heart was so heavy thinking of an Auntie whose heart is beating softer, coming to a place where she will soon meet Jesus face to face.

I also knew that within hours I would be bringing another life into this world. A wee little girl who would feel the wind on her cheeks and the sun on her skin for the first time.

I was overwhelmed with the fact how I'm not in control. What was to happen in the next few days, weeks, months-my whole life-it's out of my hands. I can look up at that big lid of blue and remember that someone who loves me is in charge of it all. That our lives here are temporary and my children aren't my own.  I can rest in that, take comfort in that, and know that the little soul that has come into this world will rest in the palm of His hand and that His voice is already speaking to her spirit. I can pray that my Aunt will feel the comfort of her God rocking her to sleep tonight and that she too will rest in the same hand. A hand of eternal love.

He is the one in control when we come into this world and when we take our last breath on Earth. I am grateful for a personal faith. A faith that I'm always reminded of when I walk down that dusty path, that will lead me home.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

To Quiet the Storm

I feel like life dumped a big ol bag of marbles out in front of me and gave me a push to start running. I've been running and running, getting no where. Some days I feel like I can hardly take a breath or even see where I'm trying to get to. There are the moments where I'm bankrupt of any emotions; I feel simply drained.

We've had some heart achy things grasp hold of us in life; we've had surprises and challenges. There have been moments of overwhelming hilarity and happiness. This season for us is just full.

When I lay down my heart pounds in my ears and I beg for a moment of calm.  I expect too much of people-to fill my heart up with that happy feeling. I exhaust myself even more trying to fit that patience into my day, like it's an awkward piece of a puzzle that wasn't cut right.

Last night my husband was out pulling a calf, my girl was asleep in bed and I had a moment. That Moment rained down on me. It's when I realized that we don't need to chase that quietness, we just have to simply Be Still. It's right there.

Jesus drops stuff in our laps all day long and we don't have to chase it like a wild animal.

There is sweet encouragement in the kindness of strangers. 

There is tranquility in the sunset.

Laughter of a child is balm for any soul.

When I am still I'm overcome with gratitude for all these simple things. Oh, we all talk about the simple things, the simple life, but yes and amen, they are actually there. We just have to quiet the noise of life down and there they are.

If you just stop and take that breath, it's all right there, you don't have to find it. It's right there.

Hoping that in quietness you will find your strength today.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Muck Boots

Ladies, let's talk boots.

I bet you're enthused, sitting there with your cup of coffee, thinking I'm going to chat fashion with you. You're thinking about those Frye boots or a nice pair of Lucheese that you've been wanting.

I'm here to tell you about a whole new realm in fashion.
Hollywood here thinks she would like to chat about boots. Do you see the reflection of white in her sun goggles? The fact that the goggles were busted out is proof that that white won't last too much longer.
Kids from the prairies are part mud.  You probably didn't grow up here if you haven't had your gum boot fall off , trudging through that ooze, and  kept on going in your sock feet because your feet  were so cold in springtime weather.

We still have feet of snow on the ground, but it won't be long 'till we are swimming in sludge. A big ol' nasty, mire of nothing but pure dirty, that makes a grown man grin as he digs trenches in the lane. That huge ball of fire in the sky is packing heat on some of these afternoons and my little girl has discovered the joy of puddles. Trucks are filthy, the farmers in the coffee shop are grinning, and gophers are running around on top of the snow. We are busting out the Muck boots.

I mentioned Muck boots in a previous post and I received an email from a lady thinking it was funny that us Albertan's call our gum boots Muck boots. Girls, we don't just call em Muck boots-they are an actual brand of insulated rubber boots here that are meant to keep your feet warm and dry all year long. They are a thing of beauty.  Pair them with a dirty ol' Carhartt coat and you're Redneck stylin'. I love these bad boys so much that I'm writing a whole post on these blessed chore boots.

Back in the day there weren't such luxuries as these treasures. Ranchers would wade out in the sludge to check calves and come in with stained socks much to their wive's dismay. I'm sure no one really minded that much; you're just thrilled Spring arrived here.

One of my favorite famed 'muddy' stories in the family took place right where my folks live now. It was my Great Grandpa's place many moons ago, the legendary hero we all called Pappa. Years ago, when Charolais bulls were relatively new to Canada, these big beasts got out and were heading to get in with the heifers. My dad was out with Pappa in the barnyard soup when Pappa started hollering to beat the band at my Uncle, at the top of the pasture, to cut the bulls off. With all the bellowing Pappa's teeth flew out of his mouth and landed right in the slop and manure. Losing his teeth paused the hollering, but Pappa just gave those teeth a quick wipe, popped them back in his mouth and commenced whooping. Only in Alberta- we don't let the mud and manure get in the way!

Monday, March 28, 2011

It's Really Coming? When?

March came in with a mighty roar and left like a hormonal lioness, leaving her six inch paw prints in the snowdrifts. She twitched her tail and had a little sauce in her step.

I stuck my tongue out at her as she departed.

Like I mentioned, we hunkered down and battled our way through the winter. It's all warm and cozy until Christmas is over and January greets our unsheltered prairies with a cold hand shake and a snarl on her wind whipped face. March came along and we all breathed a little, hoping to see some sunshine.

It was a trick ya'll.

March madness, St. Patty's Day, the first day of Spring-nothing could really lift our spirits. We were left desolate and bleak, much like our landscape. I think it snowed everyday since the first day of Spring, without a break for a splash of sunshine.

My Canadian spirit of happily embracing the cold and getting excited over curling and hockey was rapidly diminishing. We bring entertainment indoors in Winter, but I was ready to boot this party outside.

Oh yes, it's a gala inside the house in the winter. Us Albertans, we install swings inside the house!

Who needs Disneyland? Take me to Oma Helga's!

We sit by the window and watch the tractors. You question why we don't have TV? You thought it was because we lived in the boondocks?
Tractor? Cows? Tractor? Moo?
We bring the run bike inside, folks. It's Kid's Day in Russia!
My poor kid isn't allowed to have a tricyle. She has a run bike, no pedals, ladies. Helps with balance (again, insert eye roll here.) Good thing she just learned to walk.

We sew and make so much stuff that the mounties are looking in the basement to see if we have a small sweat shop.

If you need some western baby stuff, send me a message!

We eat, we read, we get plumper-and we wait.
I LOVED this last book. Go read it. I might have to do a post dedicated to this book.
Some of us try to run away, even the hound, but when you're born on the prairies, you just really can't get away. They become a part of you.
Photos one, two and this last one were taken by good ol Jenny Keet. Picture taking extraordinaire and a girl with really nice feet. 
The minute you think you're going to crack and think you see snow falling INSIDE the house (which it will drift inside the door in the entrance) you suspect you heard the weatherman muttered something about plus temperatures. Hoping the man hasn't lost his marbles through Winter and hasn't been drinking, you get your hopes up.

That's what Spring is all about anyway, isn't it? Being reminded of hope and remaining hopeful.

I hope Mother Nature remembers to be hopeful and whistles a little zip a dee doo da here in Alberta. I'm sure she'll do just fine as long as she's not hormonal like that young lioness...unless of course she's menopausal and is trying to battler her hot flashes with these cool temperatures. Sheesh!

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