Monday, November 18, 2013

Winter for KA

I think that there should be special cameras made for folks who reside in the north. Where is the setting you turn it to when you look out and let a holler rip because you are blinded by white? My two year old informed me today that her "eyes were breaking" as the sunlight glinted off the snow and knocked her one straight in the peepers. Next to the big 'A' for auto, 'M' for manual, I wish there was a 'C' for cold. I don't think any kind of photo can convey the cold in a proper manner. Unless you feel yourself reaching for a hot cup of coffee, to pour on your toes, then you aren't catching what I'm laying down.

A friend wanted me to send pictures of the blizzard that reigned down on Saturday. Oy veh! Don't you know I can't see across the yard for the swirling snow? How does the rule of thirds apply to an entire canvas painted in white? 

"Let's drive around and see how much snow they got at such & such place," said every farmer in the country. "A drift? It's minus twenty five? I drive a dodge! We haven't been out for a month, but today is a great day to visit neighbours!'

The best bet is to wait until the day after the onslaught. Sure, what's a bit of ice fog to slow a picture taker down? What, you can't see half a mile down the road?  Neither can I! Let's hope that the neighbour doesn't hit the crazy momma standing out in the middle of the road snapping photos to let you in on the beauty of the great white north. This is why I wear neon pink muck boots, gentle readers.

We have had snow on the ground for awhile now.  I hadn't put much thought into it until I saw various photos of places south of the border showing off brilliant colours of leaves on the ground, or people talking about wearing chunky sweaters and boots, all this pumpkin latte blah, blah. Yes, I like the chunky sweaters too, just please give me a winter parka over top and I think there might be some leaves under the drifts that dollop the landscape like whipped cream. Pumpkin lattes? Puh-lease. Black coffee and maple syrup (straight from the tree.)

Despite my arms burning with chillblains, I better open them wide and welcome winter in. Eight months of the year is too long to be grumpy about something, so today I'll choose to look out the window and remark how the sight of sparkling white is about the prettiest one I've seen. Heaven knows the Littles will mimic whatever dear ol' ma says, and cuss words don't appeal to me much from the mouth of a child. 

Come on in, Winter! We won't fuss and whine like a two year old.

( Or at least until March. )

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Everyday Conversations

This chat went down between my Grandma and I after I checked a message on my cheapest of cheap junk phone. The great grandmother of my children and my dearest friend:

Grandma: Missy, did you get the new updates on your phone? Carson put them on my phone this weekend and whoo! Are they ever uptown!

Me: Grandma, this isn't an iPhone - in fact I can hardly text on this thing. I don't even know what you're talking about. 

Grandma and technology - one point. Cheyenne and technology - zero.


Between two little dresses in the back seat of the truck.

Taylin: Myla, what do you think is the worst? I think that definitely pig manure and chicken manure have to be THE worstest when they are spreading. I almost throw up when they spread chicken manure! Cow poop isn't so bad. What do you think?

Myla: Cow poop! Cow poop! 


On the way up the stairs, amongst the old wallpapered walls, which I'm sure hold their own stories:

Taylin: Hip! Hip! Mom, you be the old cow and I'll load you up the chute. Hip! Hip! Wait, lemme' go get a stick.

I may have shed a tear. 


These are my people and the everyday conversations help make up my days. With every tick of the clock, I am grateful for my family, even when I'm being referred to as an old cow. 

This kid, commonly referred to as Tuffy has blue eyes 90% of the time, the odd moment, those lil' peepers seem to look  a mite bit green to this mama. I don't think it's just when she is gawking at her sister's toys.

Scout in her winter glory. 
Our little man of the house. Wee Pepper, snuggled up, with that perfect soft baby fuzz to lie your cheek on and weep tears of wonder. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Home Folks

My friend Carmen and I camped in these coulees, mucked in that creek and shot gophers in the pasture. We've ridden horseback, quads, and even an old skidoo around that yard. We've slurped black coffee, sat in the warmth of the wood burning stove in the kitchen and listened to stories at the table. It is in these moments, I am so grateful for 'home folks' and to have grown up in a place where neighbours are the truest sense of community - they are like family. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Fall Decorating on the Cheap

I am a little concerned.

During nap time yesterday I kept flying down to the burn pit. My legs couldn't seem to carry me quickly enough as I tried to haul as much rubbish out of this house before any of the children could see me throwing out precious scraps of paper, pine cones, or any other tiny piece of garbage they may have collected. I've started referring to their reaction as "the wrath."  Up in Sister's room there are tiny piles of semi precious items. We put up apples this week and the big lids that came off the apple boxes seemed to catch her fancy and sure enough they are upstairs hiding in the corner of her room. There are approximately one zillion tiny plastic bags with tiny precious things in them and each and every night I sneak in there and haul them out.  The problem is, she notices everything that I throw out. She will go to the bathroom and I'll quickly toss stuff, all the while formulating my answer to her questions and now I spend most of my time simply evading her inquiries.

 "Momma, where is that special piece of pretty pink ribbon I found yesterday on the floor in Wal-Mart? Remember that other time two years ago when I found the shiny purple ribbon on the floor *insert any nasty, dirty and disgusting place you can think of."

"Taylin! Look at the hawk out the window!" 

Am I a bad mom?

The only benefit in having real life mini hoarders living in my house is they can easily spend hours outside with a pail in hand 'collecting' things for 'decorating'. For my lazy bones, non shopping frugal ways this has definitely helped in my fall feathering.

Folks, we like to just bring the outdoors in! Forget the Pottery Barn fancy tablecloth and Pier One doo dads, a simple bowl full of pine cones and some ratty ol' leave will do us just fine. We don't even Pinterest those ol' pine cones up with glitter and white spray paint, no m'am, they are just fine as the good Lord intended them to look. The best part is, it can all be collected by tiny hands and can save oodles of moolah. It's true, simply put, my shopping skills are, shall we say, lacking? I don't really love perusing the aisles and don't overly want to part with twenty bucks on a plastic pumpkin, so we keep things simple. I'm not the girl who knows what the heck you are talking about when you mention pumpkin spice lattes, I'm more the apple crisp with coffee - fall kind of girl. So, yes, let's gather outside junk to bring bugs and dust inside. 

I think I know where Scout got her hoarding tendencies from and why Tuffy likes to stop and proclaim the beauty in every. single. rock, stick, and leaf out there. Two hours to walk to the truck? Sure! Why not! Who cares if Old Man Winter is brushing our face with his windy fingers and we can feel his presence in the early morning frost - 'cause we found that glorious pine cone and whipped out the cutters to pull down branches. We are loving fall.

Wheat kernels with candles, in a mason jar, and some scrappy fabric & twine. This takes four seconds to put together and no brain power. My kind of style.


Forgive the horrible picture. It's how I roll. Trust me, these mirrors are not that dirty! This picture is going to drive me crazy. I want to get my little cloth for cleaning my glasses and just scrub the computer screen. Right now.

 The main point of the photo is to show Grandma Myrna what I did with the window sills from the old chicken coop. A similar one went down to my sis, only in a distressed white that a four year old helped paint. 

Friday, October 11, 2013


You. Yes, you,  the quiet encourager - YOU MATTER.

Thank you.

Thank you to the old soul in the young pretty face, framed with red hair who stood across the counter from me and handed my children free, warm cookies. You watched me try and pull my two year old out of the stroller, with screeching babe in arms, and an exhausted four year old standing watch - you looked into my worn eyes and smiled.

I close my peepers and picture the ordinary middle aged woman in white sneakers, who in spite of having teenagers, seemed to remember these 'early days.' When you noted that I am not an octopus and offered to rock the car seat in Costco while I unloaded groceries made my throat feel a big fat lump.

Gratitude fills me when I think of the Grandma who told me I look like a natural, even though I knew I was flailing around like a fish out of water. Dear Grandma-lady, your kind heart, sweet voice, and dainty flowered dress made me almost believe you. It was your words that carried me throughout town to finish my chores, even though my dear babes had almost finished me. 

Thank you to the brown eyed sister who stopped to coo at my babe. Thank you for noticing my two year old's enthusiasm for life, shall we, and giving my back a pat while telling me how sweet they are, even though I know we look remotely like we have spent the week with some type of small wild animals in our midst. Our skirts whipping out in that Fall wind,exchanging words about her grandchildren and my baby were my cup of coffee for the heart that day. It was my moment of community for the week, this stranger provided friendship in those two minutes and my heart was encouraged. Really, she wasn't a stranger, because girls, we are all in this together. 



and many praises to those dear hearts, the encouragers.

It is so easy to put our heads down and worm our way into our own thoughts and not notice those around us. We march about like ants on a mission. Busyness, exhaustion, routine, and a day in age where neighbouring seems to be a bit of a lost art seems to have us all shuffling on our own path.

So, sisters, remember all it takes is a smile, a word of encouragement, or that extra hand someone may need and you are not only giving someone else hope, but placing extra meaning in your life. You, YOU, the revitaliser, you are appreciated!

For the mama with an empty nest, thank you for your kindness. You are valued!

For the Grandma whose grandchildren are so far away, and when your hand reaches out, I am thankful. You matter!

For the mama in the same boat as I, with a full heart, and full hands thank you for your moment to say 'I understand.' You are precious!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Head Outside

Oh, a mother's guilt. Books could be written on it and sometimes that dreaded emotion wants to creep in on me like a bad cold. I worry that if I don't do enough of those fun activities that are printed in pamphlets at the local touristy hot spot, or are listed in the paper and summer will spin by, leaving me only with other mommas chattering about story hour at the library or elaborate play dates at the swimming pool. 

There is talk of camping or wandering down to the corner store to buy ice cream. My friends, I know to let it go when I see Big Girl sitting beside her Auntie howling with laughter when that 'skrat (Tay's way of saying muskrat) swam up beside her and splashed her with its tail. I know to ball that guilt up and chuck it out the door when I see my girls feel like they have hit the jackpot when they get to check cows and play in the creek. My heart swells a bit while they marvel at three hawks circling and screeching over the pasture, diving and swooping while Taylin exclaims, 'This is the best summer ever!' 

We might not head to the splash park, but I do believe we have a small advantage with our source of summer fun. We don't need to worry about the hoards of people on days when the sun flexes it's muscles and pours out it's power when I can feed a tiny babe with my feet dunked in the cool water and our only concern is whether we packed enough snacks or not. I do believe nothing beats the smell of sage when you hop out of the truck at the creek meandering through the prairies.

My little pigeons, with summer whipping by us and all of us northerners wanting to weep a little that this is the last time we will mow for the season, relish these last days. Don't worry about packing the stroller, fifty two thousand diaper bags and the kitchen sink, just let your ol' door creak open and head outside. Feel stifled by your four walls? Go outside and look up. Look up! Talk to your children about the cotton balls in the sky, listen for that purple martin sitting high on top of the tree, and kick off your shoes and feel the prairie wool beneath your feet. Friends, don't worry about the fancy summertime Pinterest list on your homemade chalkboard of all the things you wanted to do with your babes, I have said it before and will say it again, they just. Want. You. Play with the rocks on the lane, look for an ant hill or collect some of the leaves that are falling on the ground. Don't worry about the play date, don't worry about the 'Summer Fun' page in your local paper, just walk outdoors, and open your peepers. You have the best play park ever - one designed by the master designer. All of nature is ready to have a party, and if your two year old wets their pants in the water, there will be no major break down, 'cause the cows don't care. 

Here's to the dog days of summer. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Alberta Beef

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Beautiful Day

It's a beautiful day! Don't let it get away!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Miscellany Monday (on Tuesday)

Miscellany blog post means miscellany photos. 

* All stars! Let's address the subject all rural Albertan's first discuss - weather. Now, I know the Caraganas may be snapping and popping, that fields are being steadily harvested and the dang geese seem to be flying in a southward direction. Folks, this does not mean you need to be spouting off about Fall and things a-freezing at night. I don't wanna' hear it. For moi, I feel as though Summer just began three weeks ago, now all the running to the city for appointments is over.  If you really need to run your dirty mouth about Fall, pre calendar change of season,  feel free to wander out behind the barn. I read this year that summertime in Alberta isn't just a season, but it's an event. Yes! An event! Please keep in mind, this event is still taking place and your bad manners about bringing Fall up are just that, bad manners. So hush. 

* Three. It seems to be a magical number up in this hood. I am loving having three babies. I think there is nothing finer than a little boy to round out the circle of pink in this home. Oh, the gushing that takes place by the big sisters and the frightening moments of, 'Please don't poke baby brother with your hockey stick!' seem to keep us busy. Who knew a three year old could be such a big helper and that a two year old, well, isn't? We are well and floating through summer days on clouds of baby brother joy. 

* It's zucchini season! I love small towns, especially on these sun soaked days when you run into the grocery store and fly back out, worrying you forgot a kid somewhere, and there is often a dirty old zucchini on the seat of your pick up truck. Everyone grows 'em, everyone gives them away, and usually in a haphazard sneaky fashion of dumping them on the neighbors doorstep in the middle of the night or sneaking out of church to get rid of the blasted things in everyone else's vehicle. There has to be some kind of balance here. Truth be told, the only balance I'm looking for is the one that weighs heavily on chocolate zucchini cake ending up in my freezer.

*I am starting to wonder if the reason I seem to pack weight on post-baby might have something to do with the fact I am finding crumbs in Little Man's hair at 3AM? Crumbs from cookies, muffins, and cinnamon rolls that my dear heart neighbor ladies have been dropping off. Do you think it could possibly contribute to my resemblance of the saggy baggy elephant and the fact I wish I had a sports bra for my bottom when I'm running? That lil' ol' issue of happily shoving my face at any given feed in the middle of the night? The way I look at it is - life is short, let's not make waste of Mennonite cooking. Duh.

*My computer has been in a funk. I haven't had one of my very own to yatter on since pre babe. I am constantly searching out ways to get my grubby hands on one to check my mail, whether I pilfer my husband's phone or make the trek to mama's house. Truth be told, it's kind of nice to not feel the pull of always having to respond to e-mails. I knew it was only stirring the pot of my anti social ways when our phone lines were down too and we were told the yahoos weren't able to come fix them for near a month. If you need me, you know where to find me, but there is a good chance I may be in my pajamas at 10 in the ay-em, so please send some sort of smoke signal first. My First Nations ways will hear your calling. 

*My cup runneth over. I have multiple girlfriends that have had babies within weeks of mine, days of mine really, and my sister has a stork due to arrive at her pad any ol' time. It is like one monster baby shower around here.  I'm thankful for my people.

Three Price babies - hooray! Photo courtesy Robino. My Little Man looks somewhat like a homeboy in his Wranglers - brother needs to put on a few pounds. 

Sunday, August 18, 2013


My bare feet creak along the old hardwood floor, while I open windows to let an evening breeze blow through this old house. Little girls lie quietly underneath their white sheets, as the lace curtains flap in the warm air. In a hushed awe I sit on my three year old's bed, smoothing the hair out of her eyes. My heart so grateful for the three gifts wrapped up in snuggly, tiny selves our family has been given.

A couple of weeks ago we drove down the old back roads that I drove on as a teenager. We headed towards the city and for the third time in my life, I knew that soon, we would welcome another little life into our home. I wondered if the same curves and juts in the road will be familiar to my children? Would they know the feel of these gravel roads beneath their feet? Would these pastures look the same? Will this country tug at their hearts? In low whispers I offered my thanks. 

Here we are, a family of five, and I think back to the course my life has taken and I'm still boggled by what a miracle it is that we are exactly where we are today. And I'm ever grateful for the small things. For those tiny, long sweet fingers that grasp my one, for the smell of freshly laundered onesies, and grass stains on little blue jeans. I'm heartsick grateful to be here, to be exactly here in this time, to have four hands smaller than my own to help bathe baby brother. I'm grateful for the sound of baby snuffles in the night and for the moon that shines through his window while feeding someone who has hardly known what sunshine is for two weeks. I am overwhelmed with the big girl holding a swaddled up boy, while the middle one snuggles onto my lap and we all cram into one bed to read bedtime stories, our bodies stuck together in the heat. While my sandals pad along the dusty road, beneath the hot August canvas of blue, with a babe nestled close to my body and wild girls ride their bikes each step is filled with gratitude and days pass. 

I realize it is these small things, they are the moments that are making up my life, my story, and they are my heart's song. 

He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Cookbook Cookin'

Falling apart and full of vintage charm, the happiest part of a girl's kitchen are those old cookbooks cheerfully lining a shelf.

My heart had a tiny tear inside it seeing the stack of cookbooks a girl had piled high that were to be passed along to charity.  Her tiny computer, lacking any room to write notes in the margins or carry the character of a dog eared page, would sit on top of the counter blasting out directions to create supper. Realizing I might still have one foot stuck in the boot of 'things from the past' I can't help but want to hang onto my dear cookbooks.

In any small town freckling the map of our western provinces, you are sure to find a ladies club who have tirelessly hounded members of the community to put a book of recipes together. In these books you can find recipes from the grandmother, mother, and daughter, with maiden names in brackets and the food reminding you of the history of generations before us. Such common shower gifts are these cookbooks, along with the 4-H cookbook and possibly one that one of the local families have put together.

Some of my favorite books are the ones from the Grandmas or even Great Grandmas before us. With recipes that hold instructions for feeding a crowd of 100 at a fall supper or some secret nugget of wisdom on how much snow to use as replacement if you don't have the right amount of fresh eggs in store - these are a treasure. The best recipes are often found on the grimiest pages and the worst have your cousin's writing across the top saying "forget it!" in bold letters.

The only con that comes along with these kitchen bibles that make their way into our homes, wrapped in tea towels and given with love in a church basement, is the enormous amount of pressure that comes along with them. When Aunt Annie, the famed cook in the family, hands you her family recipes, you can bet she is sure to expect you to cook them - and cook them with the expertise that her hands hold. You can pray the housewife's prayer when Aunt Annie is coming for supper, because she was raised up right on the plains of Alberta. She will expect a meal that will meet the quantities of feeding fifteen after a branding, and the quality of something made for the queen. The strain of your meal will mount when you see her car pull into the drive half hour early and it looks like your kitchen has had fourteen toddlers helping out. Although tears might nearly be in your eyes by this point, I don't think any recipe found on the internet or some sort of starter mix found in Wal-Mart will ever meet the satisfaction of pulling one of those old fashioned meals together that the kin before us have chowed down at their supper tables.

So, for those of you out there who have left your cookbooks dusty on the shelf, pick one up and peruse through it. Chuckle at the tips, be grateful you aren't eating that jellied salad tonight and best of all, give one of those recipes a shot. I double dog dare ya. I'll pop over and share in your delight and we can leave the mess of our kitchens for the next day.

Tried and true, this smell greeted us so many days after trekking up the lane after school.

Banana Drop Cookies

2 1/4 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup margarine
1 cup sugar
2 eggs 
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup mashed ripe banana (about 2 medium)

sugar & cinnamon

Sift flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Cream margarine, add sugar gradually, beating until light & fluffy. Add eggs one at a time beating each addition. Stir in vanilla. Add flour mixture alternating with bananas, beating after each addition until smooth. Drop by teaspoonful on lightly greased cookie sheet. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon mixture. Bake at 350F for 12-15 minutes. Remove from pan at once. Makes 2 1/2 - 3 dozen. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Tiniest Horrors

Sometimes it's the tiny things in life that are our biggest nightmares. Things that make grown men turn as white as the snow covered prairies in the dead of winter and ladies full of maturity shriek like a two year old. Kids growing up amidst the wheat fields in cheerful, tidy old houses and worn trailers know of these nightmares and know how to watch for the signs of them. 

At a young age, I remember opening the drawer in my Auntie's beautiful old farmhouse to my delight to see a plastic mouse - some great thing I thought that she kept toys in her kitchen. My Auntie was working hard to overcome her fear of mice and thought that by becoming so used to seeing this dreaded creature in her cutlery drawer, it might fill her with the strength to stay on the home place when, yes folks, a mouse was found in the house. 

I suppose my Aunts' came by their fear of mice honestly. Engraved in my mind is my red headed Irish Grandma going after a tiny grey creature, with the strength of ten men, in the aged farmhouse with a straw broom in hand. Our Grandpa, a hulk of a man and hero in our eyes, perched atop his chair, face bleached white too full of fear to holler. Luckily in our house, our Dad took care of these lil' "problems" and when I heard a rustling in my closet one night, and came out to let my folks know, Dad emerged from the bedroom in a short time, after some thumping abounded, and let me know it was fine to go back to bed, it was only a "big moth."

We were carefully trained as children to take a peek in our boots before we'd pull them on to head outside, so strong are the memories of my mom's of pulling on her chore boots only for her foot to meet a wriggling mouse. I am not sure what it is that makes us shriek, holler, and claim them as some of the nastiest creatures to endure out here in the wild west. Those little field mice, out there destroying crops, carrying disease and seeming to pop out of nowhere like some sort of terrible Halloween prank make so many plumb near lose their minds. 

So many of these stringy tailed creatures meet their fate nowadays in a bale buster, but in days gone by when  everyone set out bedding with small square bales, a much more fearsome blow was found - not so much for the mouse, but for the one who came across them. Family members love to tell the stories on my dad while bedding the cattle, when all of a sudden the giant man was doing the hippy hippy shake, ripping clothes off, as a mouse ran up his leg - the memory of it scurrying around his skin making him shudder now. Similar things happened to others, like my Uncle, but both men are quick to mention the neighbor lady who had a similar experience putting her hand in her pocket and screeching like a banshee. As she hopped around hollering, ripping at her coat, she somehow lodged that balled up wad of Kleenex in her pocket to realize that the "mouse" was just remnants of a cold.

Now, I know all those outside of the Alberta border, who don't know about the Alberta rat patrol, are probably scoffing at our arch nemesis and you'd like to tell your rat stories, but for now let me revel in my mice stories. Come Fall, when we are all crying and fighting the battle with any of these dreaded creatures, we'll commiserate, laugh, and curse the dickens out of them. We'll also know in our heart of hearts that along with the Red Tailed Hawk, the swift Pronghorns, and the old mother Badger, that the bitsy Deer Mice are more a part of these prairies than us grizzled old folks who have taken up residence here. It still doesn't mean we have to like them.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Miscellany Blah Blah

1.First things first, thank you to the few of you who have sent e-mails and left comments checking in on us. We are well and semi- sound of mind, nothing out of the usual really. It was nice to take a break from the blog world for the Christmas season, it just seems I took a bit more of a holiday than expected. This left more time for me to take leisurely bubble baths and eat bon bons like all mothers of young children do -  all. day. long. Isn't this how you fill your days?

2.As much as wintertime is part of what we are made of around here, I can't wait for the soil to start to thaw and when that smell of black earth comes alive in my nose. While I don't wish the Now away, the hope of the arrival of calves in a few short months, days filled with more sunshine and the chance to haul children outside without fifteen layers of clothes is a sweet, sweet thought. I may have already bought slush pants for the girls even though we have months of snow left. 

Iced up windows-ain't she warm and cozy in here girls?

3.Christmas was a great success as it is bound to be with a three year old and one year old. The girls sat a local Christmas concert in the lil' hamlet down the road. A small handful of families gather and any child who wants to get up, in their Christmas finest, and sing their own rendition of Jingle Bells or Rudolph can go ahead and haul up and belt 'er out. Taylin & Myla perched on chairs beside their cousin and we realized that these kids were the fourth, possibly fifth generation, to get up there and sing loudly in front of the wee crowd. History in the making, folks. 

4.It has been routine around here, with a few specialty days marked with the flu bug as all families seem to monkey with at this time of the year. There have been a few days following that flu where the eldest child has crawled out of bed in the morning and wondered if she might be a "little bit sick," only because in her mind, a  cartoon on youtube equates with those blasted sick days. For the love of Pete, for a kid with no TV, she is some kind of TV hound and certainly gawks when we are in Costco and go down an aisle where there is a TV in sight.

5.Our days are white, white - grey, and more white. My eyes hurt because of the glare of it all and I'm ever grateful for the rising of the sun, and the time of day when it falls to sleep - the colors that reflect on the snow are startling and beautiful. Despite the cold, I'm thankful for this old land. 

Hooray for colors, mountains in the distance, and that sense of  "home is best" as one particular three year old would put it. 

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