On the Road Again….

It’s that time in our family where the meeting of winter sports meet summer sports.  Our oldest is still playing second season hockey and has started ball practices, our middle is still prepping for her karate grading  and has also started her ball practices and our youngest is just dreaming of seeding fields on the farm – oh and his ball starts this week! My husband is going over the farm machinery, checking fields and looking after all the details for spring time work and seeding on the farm. And here I am prepping my piano students for May exams, coaching Ally’s ball team and basically organizing and scheduling our crazy life for the next couple of months.  Honestly – I wouldn’t have it any other way! We are all doing what we love to do and even though we might seem like we are going in 8 different directions at once – I do enjoy some of the one-on-one time I get with the kids because we are going in different directions.

There are a couple of things I do – prep-wise – that keep us going in the right direction.  A visible weekly schedule  – I had a fancy schmancy dry erase monthly calendar but honestly it wasn’t the best. It was overwhelming to look at the whole month as opposed to just a week at a time.  SO I pulled out a piece of paper and put it in a page protector. (Ya I’m crafty like that)   I fill it out weekly with a dry erase marker – with Manitoba weather chances are ball games are going to be cancelled and rescheduled. The kids and look and see where they are going – my farmer husband can see which towns his kids are playing if he has a chance to get away from the field – and I have a visual to see what’s going on and where everyone needs to be.  It’s cheap, it’s easy and it works.

Another prep I do for the controlled chaos is pack a snack bag.  My kids get off the school bus close to 4:00 pm and we are usually on the road again (if they have a practice or a game) by 5:00pm.  That means an early supper or a supper on the go, and once their activity is done they are hungry! Scratch that – they are HANGRY! So to feed the wild beasts I have a bag of snacks that goes in the vehicle with us.  Usually filled with snacks they like and will fill them up or tie them over till we get home.  This week we have almonds, Clif Bars, fruit cups, applesauce, granola bars.  I’ll also put fresh fruit and veggies in there or any baking that I’ve done (muffins, cookies etc).  Some juice boxes and Powerade or Gatorade will be there too , as well as the kids water bottles. Along with some wet-naps, napkins and spoons.

SO hopefully this crazy, chaotic season will run smoothly and everyone will get to the places they need to be safely and well-fed.  Moms on the go – what are your go-to time saving methods you use? Let’s help each other get through the busy seasons of life!

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10 years 

This week will be 10 years. 10 years since the scariest week of my life. 10 years since I prayed and plead with God to see my baby through his surgery and that there would be no complications. 

I was a young mother, just 24 years old and my firstborn was just a month old – in my eyes he was perfect! He was a cute ball of perfection – eating well, and sleeping well, and to the naked eye there was nothing wrong with him. But all that changed with the words “there’s a freight train going through your sons’ chest – we need to check that out”. It was then how I saw how doctors and nurses and our healthcare system, here in Manitoba and Canada, can come together and move quickly. There was a flurry of appointments and within the week we knew that our prefect baby boy was actually in congestive heart failure and needed a VSD repair done. 

But you – my boy – were a fighter and a charmer from day one. You smiled at the nurses and were so well behaved through all the appointments. You had been living with a hole in your heart – and even the experts said that you hid it well and from the outside you looked “normal” and you showed no signs of your broken heart. Fortunately , we live in Manitoba and we have the Variety Children’s Heart Centre. They provide so much for those families that have to deal with heart problems! We didn’t have a pediactric surgeon in our province – but Alberta did. The Variety Centre took care of our flights and accommodations- and I learned later on that not every province has the support that we have. So we waited for the call to go and get your heart fixed! And it came in January of 2007 – you had a surgery date January 21st. 

So off we went – your first plane ride was to Edmonton to visit the Stollery Children’s Hospital – one of the very best pediatric hospitals in all of Canada with some of the best pediatric cardiologists in the nation. There we were – me, your dad (who drove up while we were flying), grandma and you. Your dad and I were young, first time parents -and there was no “what to expect when your kid has congestive heart failure” books to read. There was, however, numerous pictures and stories of those who had gone through what you were going through – and had come through the other side and those who hadn’t. 

Looking back I was so calm – maybe because of shock – but I knew – I knew deep down that you were going to be ok. You came from a long line of stubborn people who fought through numerous adversities and this situation was going to be no different. You – my son- are a fighter and it was in your blood to fight this. I held you as they put you to sleep for your surgery and it was then and only then that I cried. The nurse walked me out of the room where they were going to fix you and told me that you were in good hands. But I knew that. Dr. Ross is one of the best there is – but it wasn’t just him in that room there was a team of qualified medical professionals working on you. And outside that room was an army of people who were praying and sending their thoughts your way. I knew my baby was not only in the hands of a great doctor – but the Great Physician who is in control of all things. 

In the NICU after the surgery

Johnny and Dad – still in the NICU but later on that day you were moved into a different room

 

Within a few days of your surgery you were ready to come home. And now the only reminder of that time is a faded scar on your chest. 10 years – you will turn 11 later this year and I couldn’t be more proud of the kid you’ve become. There is no 50% with you – you have a competitive spirit that is second to none. You feel with your whole heart and show empathy to those around you. And I truly believe that it’s because of what you’ve gone through. You had to fight for your life, and even though you were young, and don’t remember that time specifically –  it has shaped you. I couldn’t imagine the last 10 years without you and am so thankful for you! 

We are so thankful for you Johnny!

Apple Roll-ups 

Back in summer/fall I canned an obscene amount of apple sauce . The apple crop this year was amazing and I wanted to take full advantage of it! So here we are in the dead of winter and it doesn’t even look like I’ve made a dint into my apple sauce hoard. I canned regular apple sauce as well as blueberry/apple, strawberry/apple and raspberry/apple. And as much as my kids love apple sauce – they are getting kinda tired of it!  😬But that’s ok because then I can make fruit leather from the sauce! #winning 

The first batch of apple goodness that was canned this past summer/fall


So out comes my Excalibur 4-tray dehydrator! I’ll usually start the leather around 5:00pm and let it dehydrate all night and in the morning it is good to go! I’m thinking of upgrading to a 9-tray dehydrator because these roll-ups are one of my bestsellers at the Boissevain Farmers Market in the summer. 

My dehydrator + blueberry apple sauce = yummy


I think these are a great alternative to the store bought fruit roll-ups because

  • I know where all the ingredients came from 
  • It’s all real fruit 
  • They cost me significantly less than the store bought. 
  • They make my kitchen smell very good! 
  • I made them 😏

    Plain apple roll-ups

So if you have extra applesauce in your pantry and a dehydrator (you can also use your oven and a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper) I highly recommend making some of these! 

#homemade #growyourownfood #makeyourownfood #whitewatermusings 

Granola Goodness. 

Once again winter has reared its ugly, windy head here in southwest Manitoba, and the kids are home from school. By noon we are all going a little stir crazy! Lucky for me I picked the mail up the day before and my sanity is being saved by a wonderful new cookbook Brown Eggs and Jam Jars by Aimée Wimbush-Bourque. 

So I opened up the book and found a recipe we could make right away! Maple Walnut Granola! Boom! Let’s do this! My kids love yogurt and I refuse to buy granola from the store when I know I can make it at home! BUT we are snowed in so some modifications were made – we changed it to Maple Almond Granola! And let the notes on the page begin! 

The kitchen SMELLED SO GOOD!! And the kids could barely wait to eat this granola goodness! We ended up making two batches because it was that good! My two youngest were beyond excited to help make this and then we’re beyond excited to “taste test” it! And I like that I could use one of my many jars of applesauce that are in my cold room (the rest of the jar is already being made into fruit roll ups!) 

I can’t wait to see what other treasured recipes are in this book! But right now I’m going to go have a granola snack! #winning 

So long 2016….

We did it! We made it another year! Another 365 days! And as we say good bye to 2016 and ring in the new year – you know what happens? Well nothing really – unless you want something to happen. 

I have never been a huge fan of New Years resolutions – why would I want to make a list of things to “change” when I know I’m not even remotely close to wanting to change my…. insert word of choice – lifestyle, habits, schedule etc. For me it’s a no brainer – I don’t resolve to change anything – BUT  I will set attainable goals that already fit into my family and life dynamic! 

My goals for 2017 are as follows 

  1. Meal plan at least one week/ month and try to follow said plan. I know that this will save my family money – and it will save me time in our hectic schedule! Jumping into meal planning and trying to do it every week can be exhausting and overwhelming and frustrating – so by doing it for one week/month I’ll get a feel for it and be able to build up to doing it more consistently! 
  2. Try one new recipe a month. This can be baking or cooking. I’m tired of spaghetti and I want my kids (and husband 🙈) to expand their food palette! 
  3. Tell my kids I love them and give them a hug every day! They need to hear that and this is something that isn’t hard to do! Even if they have done everything in their power to annoy me – they need to hear that I love them regardless of what they do or say! #momgoals #unconditionallove 
  4. Choose to be grateful. I might not live in a new house, drive an SUV, or have a pair of Jimmy Choo’s. But I am very thankful for the roof over my head, the dust wagon, and my walmart shoes that I got on sale for $10! #winning 
  5. Create a vision board. This I’m going to do with my kids and they will each have their own vision board! I want to see what they are excited for, what they want to work towards, what their goals are in life and school and sport. By doing this together we can see what each others visions are and can encourage each other and keep each other accountable as we go through 2017! 

What are your attainable goals for 2017? I’ve already tried one new recipe and meal planned for this next week! However most of the meals will be at my Mom’s because of delayed Christmas and we are staying at their place for a hockey tournament 😂 so I only needed to plan 3 out of 7 days this week! #itstillcountsright 

Making goals and crushing them 😂 #mealplanning #newrecipe

The Snow Days

It’s every prairie child’s dream – snow days. Too much winter in one shot = snow days on the Canadian Prairies! As a child growing up in South-West Manitoba you learn to listen for key words/phrases on the radio/TV/ parental conversations – these words include: Colorado Low, Alberta clipper, massive system coming up from the Dakotas, Winter road conditions, Blowing snow advisory, and windchill! Not gonna lie – we were due for one of these systems! The last couple of winters have been – dare I say it – warm  Mild.

But let’s be honest people- we live in Manitoba – gateway to the arctic, home of the polar bears, arctic foxes, hockey and 3-4 day snowstorms. We try to brave it and tough it out – we go right up until the #1 highway is closed – then we know Mother Nature means business. Once you shut down the #1 the rest of the highways follow suit – #10, #5, #2, #3 and #23 and basically every other road south of the #1. This latest system was no different!

Now for those of you living in town, great! You can climb over your snowbanks and visit your neighbours, get to the grocery store, theater and liquor store. But those of us who chose the country we are screwed yard bound. There is no seeing neighbours unless your family piles into the John Deere chore tractor to make the trip. Or if you own a fleet of snowmobiles – then you are allowed to travel to your hearts content.

As a kid I looked forward to these snow days – sleeping in, cartoons, snowmen, and not having to go to school! As a mother – uh, well, um, yes – they are a “life experience”? After day 2 your kids start asking “is there school today? Can the bus get down our road?” After day 2, as a parent, you start to question your sanity and why you live in the middle of nowhere. By day 4 – kids have free reign of the house – Netflix marathon of Paw Patrol? Sure! With popcorn at 9 am? Absolutely! Whatever it takes people – there is no judgement on day 4 of snow days. 

But now we are set – we have a white Christmas and snowhills pushed up in our yards. A few days of snow and our kids have a story to tell “hey guys remember that time we had no school for 4 days?” “Hahaha, ya! And we drove Mom crazy?” Memories made, and we, as farmers and parents, discuss the blizzard of 2016. 

And before I got to publish this – Colorado low #2 arrived just in time for Christmas! We are digging out again! Plans put on hold and we celebrated Christmas quietly – just our family and you know what – it was great! Gatherings will still happen and turkey will be carved and massive amounts of chocolate and candy will be consumed. But the Christmas of 2016 will be one to remember. So travel safe, or stay put – and create memories with your family that will last a lifetime!

Boxing Day Morning – the aftermath of the blizzard

Christmas Morning 🎄- the start of the blizzard

Clearing the lane – December 23rd

The wind doesn’t help keep the roads clear! #driftstallerthanme

Ultimate Christmas Playlist

It’s time! Bring on the Christmas music! Yes I’m one of “those people” who like to blast some Christmas tunes before December. This is something that is deeply ingrained into my being. So let’s pull out the CD’s, the Spotify playlists, and iTunes – and not so very long ago the Loewen household would pull out the records! Music has always played a huge part in my life, and Christmas is no different.  Memories, traditions, moments, ups and downs and just life in general  – has a soundtrack in my world. And chances are if you stop by my place from now until Christmas I will be dancing and singing to all things Christmas. You’ve been forewarned.

Now, my musical tastes range from the crooning voice of Bing Crosby, to the dancing in the kitchen Boney M, to the reverent sounds of Christmas Choral. So this is no ordinary playlist……

We are going to start with the voice that is smoother than warm eggnog, Bing Crosby. There is no voice like his, the deep bass-baritone, articulation of the words…*sigh*. Be still my musical heart and listen!
*must have tracks* ALL OF THEM

  • The Little Drummer Boy
  • It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas
  • Silver Bells (feat. Carol Richards)

Let’s move on a few decades to Boney M. I don’t care who you are – if you don’t know Mary’s Boy Child/Oh My Lord we cannot be friends. Christmas Disco at it’s finest! If you don’t dance when Boney M is playing – there is something physically wrong with you.
*must have tracks*

  • Mary’s Boy Child/Oh My Lord
  • Feliz Navidad

The next couple of selections might not be on your playlist (which is totally fine) but they are on mine.  These are the RECORDS (use Google – for those of you who are unaware of what a record is) my sisters and I grew up listening to at Christmas. Dancing in the basement while Mom was putting up the wheat weaving ornament tree (Now there’s a mental image that screams 1980/90’s). I’m also sure that we were wearing acid wash jeans and B.U.M equipment t-shirts. Anyways – back to the music!

Sandy Patti – Voice like an angel. Full on 80’s.  Still to this very day – totally transported back home when I hear the opening to Worship the King, and the AMAZING choreography that we did! *Must have tracks*

  • Worship the King
  • The Gift Goes On (Justice MB Church Christmas Eve pageant favourite!!)
  • Bethlehem Morning
  • Some Children See Him

Evie – is a contemporary Christian artist who is from Sweden. I tried to find her music on Spotify to create a playlist but all the tracks were in Swedish  – so I went to iTunes and found her Christmas album – purchased it and had a flashback to Christmas Eve concerts at Justice MB Church. Again  – late 70’s early 80’s being pumped out on the record stereo system in the Loewen basement. Mom also had Evie’s  Christmas Piano music so these are the songs I played growing up. *must have tracks*

  • Come on Ring those Bells
  • One Small Child
  • A Thousand Candles

Let’s fast forward to my college years. Records are basically done and obsolete, and we have moved onto the the world of burnt Cd’s. #poorstudents
Jewel came out with a Christmas CD (1999) and so did Celine Dion (1998).  I don’t think there was a hallway at Providence that wasn’t playing one of these albums on shuffle and /or repeat the weeks leading up to Christmas break. *Must have Tracks*

  • Winter Wonderland (Jewel)
  • Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer (Jewel)
  • Adeste Fideles (O Come All ye Faithful) (Celine)
  • Les Cloches du Hameau (Celine)

Moving on to the last couple of years – Well from 2006 to now.  Now that I have kids I want them to love Christmas as much as I do and appreciate Christmas music and have the memories that I do from my childhood and life. SO bring on Straight No Chaser, The Pentatonix, Harry Connick Jr, Third Day, Downhere and Chris Tomlin.  Go ahead – go find their Christmas Albums, listen to them and pick your favourites!

Last night on the way back from town we had It Must be Santa by Bob Dylan playing, followed by Boney M, then Straight No Chaser’s 12 Days of Christmas and Downhere’s Good King Wenceslas.

I’m sure you all have your favourites – I ask you to share them! What’s on your Ultimate Christmas Playlist? Here’s mine I have created on Spotify and I’m sure I’ll be adding to it as I listen and get all things Christmas ready! #NowPlaying Ulitmate Christmas Playlist! by Jo-Anne Neufeld