Thursday, December 31, 2009

NY resolution


As the last few hours of the year dwindle away I look back and feel a twinge of sadness that 2009 is nearly gone. 
It was a great year. 
 Lots of big changes for us....but there always seems to be change. 
Nothing ever stays the same. 
 And 2010 looms in front of us.
Full of promise.
New travels and adventures await.
And so as customary at this time I find myself assessing my goals for the past year and setting new ones for the next.  I'm not much for NY resolutions...losing weight, eating better, being more fiscally responsible..whatever.
The kids suggested I give up chocolate. 
STEADY..that's just crazy talk.
So after much thought I have decided on a very simple resolution. 
Just 3 letters.
Yep...that's it....Joy!
I'm going to try to look for the joy in all the things that I do. 
Sometimes, I think that joy comes easily, naturally, when we are doing something we love or that's easy but cleaning bathrooms or doing laundry....not so much.  But that will be my challenge. To step back, change my attittude and look for the joy.
Already I have decided its just the right resolution for me.  Matt and I were moving furniture this afternoon...and let me just say that there was much muttering and agitation going on.
"Find the joy, Donna"
That's my catch phrase for the year. 
In other resolution news...the kids and I have started " A K a day". 
For 2010 we are going to try and run a kilometre every day.  Matt joined us for our inaugural run around the neighborhood.  The kids enjoyed it however Jack did ask about half way through the run..."Why didn't you bring snacks?"

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Winter Images


We decorated our gingerbreadhouse last night.
I use the term "decorating" a bit loosely but you get the idea!


And finally, after much anticipation, the snow arrived last night.
Not much hope of getting a lot of school work done today with a 4 foot mound of snow outside so we decided to make the most of it and enjoy it while it's here.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Stealing From Oprah


I have to tell you...I'm not an Oprah fan.
Oh I think she's inspiring and all but her show is about as exciting to me as watching grass an Oprah fan I am not!
But...I do think she has some great ideas...well her or the one of the hundreds of people she employs to come up with good ideas.

And so as we come to the end of another year I think I will steal one of Oprah's ideas.
Her annual "Favorite Things List".

So without any further ado I introduce to you...

Donna's Favorite Things of 2009.

{thunderous applause}
..thank-you, thank-you...
I'm sure you are all breathless with anticipation!

Favorite Thing # 10: Nespresso CoffeeMaker.


Matt tried to convince me for months that we needed a new coffee maker.
That our existing drip filter coffee machine made coffee that tasted like dirty water.
I was blissfully unaware of the actual flavor of the coffee until one day when we ran out of flavored coffee creamer and I had to drink my coffee...{gulp} with plain, old milk.
(I know ...I can just hear your horrified gasps).
So after months of resisting I finally agreed to buy a new one.
Now all of you who know my hubby are well aware that he doesn't just go out and randomly buy ANYTHING.
Everything must be researched and compared.
And as usual he did an awesome job.
This machine makes the BEST coffee...honestly I haven't had a "store made" coffee or used coffee creamer since we bought it.

Favorite Thing # 9,8 &7 - Homeschooling


Why is this 3 favorite things in one you may ask?
Because embarking on our homeschool adventure this year has allowed me to spend time with 3 of my most favorite things in the kids.
I can't tell you the number of times I've bumped into someone at the store and they ask me how homeschooling is going.
Am I sick of it yet?
Are my kids driving me crazy?
Do I feel like I need a break?
The answers are always the, no and no.
So far homeschooling has been such a wonderful, liberating learning experience for our whole family and we are just LOVING it.

Favorite Thing # 6 - My Cervelo


This is truly bike love.
She is just the most splendid thing on two wheels.
Thanks to the hideously cold temps were are experiencing in Spokane at the moment though she will remain housebound through the winter and is relegated to the stationery trainer until it starts to warm up.
The upside is that there is something pretty cool about being able to ride 20 miles on your bike AND watch T.V at the same time!
Oh..and before you ask...yes...they are my shoes clipped into the peddles.
This being the lazy person's way of making sure they don't lose their bike shoes.

Favorite Thing # 5: Organic Wine


I really stink at picking a good wine.
Unless I've tried it and I know what it tastes like I usually just pick something based on the cuteness of the label..(yeah...we're talking a real connoisseur here).
But Matt and I stumbled upon this fantastic organic wine.
We took the Merlot to a wine tasting party with some friends and it won...which was a surprise to everyone including me!

Favorite Thing # 4: Brooks Running Shoes


Being a newbie runner there are SO many tempting things out there that have me drooling..the Garmin 405 GPS watch, compression socks and Clif Shot Roks just to name a few.
But the best thing that I think you can invest in is a really good pair of running shoes.
We have an awesome shoe store here in town called Runners Soul and they measures and fit me for my first real pair of running shoes. Apparently I overpronate when I run...which means I roll my foot in...and so they fit me with this great pair of Brooks that provide support and stabilize my foot to help prevent injuries.
Who'd have guessed that there was so much to think about when you are buying a pair of shoes.

Favorite Thing # 3: Winter Warmers


You're all aware of my uber-stylishness...NOT!
But I have found a couple of things that I am loving so far this winter.
One in this Salomon soft shell jacket.
It's warm without being bulky, wind resistant and fits like an absolute glove.
I have been virtually living in this jacket so far this winter.

Favorite Thing # 2 : Chocolate


This one needs no explanation.
My mantra is ...

"There is no BAD chocolate. There is only varying degrees of awesomeness!"

Favorite Thing # 1 {otherwise known as most favorite thing of the year}: My hubby

IMG_8915 it was neck and neck between the hubby and the chocolate but I knew that if chocolate came in second on my list of favorite things IT would still speak to me.
Not sure the same thing could be said about the hubster if he had come in second to chocolate!

All jokes aside...he did turn 40 this year.
Still babe-ilicious for an old guy, we have been together for nearly 20 years...and after all this time he still manages to make me giddy {don't tell him though....a girl's gotta play hard to get ya know}.
So with a record like that he HAS to be number one.
(I wonder if Stedman made Oprah's list or not this year....the poor guy has probably lost all hope)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Part 2 - The Charlie Brown Christmas Tree


This is the OTHER tree we cut down over the weekend...

The ugly, stunted, dwarfed, bedraggled one that we have put in our school room.

This is our Charlie Brown Christmas Tree.

And we LOVE it :-)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Christmas Tree - Part 1


So I have a question........

Why does a fir tree look so small out in the forest....


You get it home and its E-NOR-MOUS?


We took a hike up to our acreage and cut this one down to use as our Christmas tree this year. Some friends came with us and the one they cut down is even bigger!!!

Thank goodness for vaulted ceilings :-)

Monday, November 30, 2009


Guatemala 50th 102

A few weeks ago I mentioned a project that we had become involved in.
A project that allowed us to touch the lives of children that we will probably never meet in a country we will probably never visit.
A group from our Church was headed down to Guatemala to celebrate 50 years of cooperation and support between our Diocese here in Spokane and the Church in some of the remotest parts of Guatemala.
We were lucky enough to be allowed to provide some special gifts for them to give to the local children.
You can read more about the gifts

Guatemala 50th 094

Now, I have to add at this point that when we were assembling all the gifts we really didn't expect any feedback. But it was such a nice surprise to get an email today from the lady who presented our gifts to the children. She has just arrived back from Guatemala and wanted to send me a couple of pictures of the children who received the gifts...AND she promised to send me more. How exciting!

Guatemala 50th 063

So while the gift is definitely in the giving it is really wonderful to actually see the faces and the smiles of these kids. Totally made our day :-)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

You Call This Fun?

The night before Thanksgiving most people are busy preparing for tomorrow's festivities.
Baking, cleaning, decorating.
Not me.
This is what our family was doing the night before Thanksgiving.


Yup! We hit the gym.


Let me explain....I did a spin class yesterday with some friends while the kids swam in the pool at the gym. After the class the kids noticed that there were little iddy biddy kids size stationary bikes and after asking the instructor about kids coming to the classes she assured me that they were very welcome.
So....all day today it has been...
"Can we go to a spin class with you, Mum? Can we? Huh? Can we? Pleeeease Can we? Huh, Mum, Can we go?"
It's not unlike the Chinese water torture...slowly, bit by bit, wearing me down.
So off we go to the gym.


I was fully expecting the kids to last all of about 5 minutes before they lost interest.
I was waiting for Jack to give me THAT look. You know the "look"
"Is this it?". "Is this ALL you do? Just peddle and peddle and don't go anywhere???" BORING!
But I was pleasantly surprised.
They really stuck at it! I think it had a lot to do with the fact that our friends came with their kids too AND there was a big mirror so they could check themselves out as they cycled.


I'm really proud of all of them. They stuck at it for 30 minutes straight...and it was a pretty tough class. With 15 minutes left, they decided they would take a dip in the pool to cool off, except for Ciara who was determined to hang on till the end.
The outcome...we all had a great time AND we we can enjoy our turkey today totally guilt free!

Friday, November 13, 2009

First Snow


Nothing like the first snowfall of the season.
The first sign that Christmas is just around the corner.

It makes me think of drinking hot cocoa in front of a roaring fire...and putting up Christmas lights.


Hmmm....might have to get onto that this weekend.
Just a light dusting so far, but winter is definitely here.


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Random Shots


Just a few random shots from a trip downtown today.

My creation

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Hardest Thing to Teach


{WARNING: Long post ahead}

There are textbooks that teach Math, Science, History and Spelling....but there is no textbook for one of the most important lessons a child should learn.

Unfortunately our culture sends our children a subliminal message about entitlement. That they deserve...indeed SHOULD have.... the newest cellphone, toy or clothing. They look at the world around them...their friends, their parents, the media and they see it all the time. They see the excesses of consumerism as normal. That buying and having the newest and best things must automatically lead to happiness and fulfillment. If that's what Mom and Dad are striving for then naturally that is what a child sees as the example for their own lives.


Its easy to get caught up in this cycle of wanting, buying and having. We have all done it...but what of the effects on our children and their future. They develop a sense of entitlement that they take into their adult lives and inevitably it leads to financial irresponsibility, rampant consumerism and greater social inequality. When it's all abut "Me", the needs of others become irrelevant. So how do you teach them that buying the newest motorized sccoter is not what life is all about?

I have a couple of theories...( as you might have guessed)

1 - First....say "no".
"No" you don't need those $200 shoes. "No" you don't need a new ipod just because they sell them in pink now. Saying "no" can be powerful. Now I don't mean that you should say "no" all the time and and to everything and I don't mean to just say it to your children. Sometimes you have to say "no" to yourself when it comes to buying that new cell phone. Children learn by example and when they see Mom being OK with last years model cell phone that works perfectly fine, then they will see that owning that new cell phone themselves won't really make their life any better either.

2 - Give them a healthy respect for money.
There are plenty of theories about how you should go about doing this. Each family has their own approach. Our approach is that our children must earn their money. If they don't "work" for it then just giving them pocket money for doing nothing reinforces this whole sense of entitlement...that they deserve it with really earning it. All work has value..including theirs.

3 - Teach them to think of the needs of others first.
This can be practiced as part of your daily family life and in a larger sense as part of your community. Getting your kids involved early in community service is a priceless gift you can give your children that will last them a lifetime.


This year we decided to go global for our community service project. I had heard that a delegation of people including Bishop Skylstad from our local diocese would be going down to Guatemala this November to visit the missions that have been established down there. The people who live in the mountaineous areas of the country are very poor and the missions provide health care and education for those in some of the remotest rural areas of the country. So after many emails back and forward we organised with the groups leader to take some Christmas gifts down to the local children.


The logistics have been a little challenging but everything is finally ready. Well over 120 gifts for the children from toddlers up to teens have been purchased, wrapped and packed. And the most amazing part for me is being able to watch the joy my children have experienced preparing all these gifts...for others. Maybe this entitlement thing isn't quite SO hard to teach after all!

Friday, October 23, 2009

What a Feast


It just makes me laugh.
My brother arrived here for a visit and we out him straight to work.
He wasn't allowed to sit back and relax.
No siree.

He was carving pumpkins, playing monopoly, kicking around a soccer ball...and of course participating in a medieval feast....huh...what?


Well as part of our history study of the Middle Ages we have been learning all about Knights. This week we were studying chivalry and decided to make a knights heraldic shield. guessed it....Pete got to help with that too!


As Pete is leaving tomorrow what could be more appropriate for a send off than a medieval feast...prepared by Ciara.


We had the King and Queen present as well as the court jester. I was apparently the serving wench! ( Mom sounds like a better title but the duties are much the same!)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009




Really...crazy lucky.

For so many, many reasons.

Here are just a few that I have been reminded of this week....

1 - That I have a great family....One that will travel the long distances between Australia and the United States to visit us.


2 - That I have children who "GET" how lucky they are and who want to make a difference in the lives of other children who are less fortunate than themselves. (More on this one later)

3 - That despite the fact I am a summer girl I never tire of seeing the constantly changing seasons and enjoying all the fun that goes with them.


4 - That my 40 year old body can still hang together after a bit of exercise....and ...

5 - That I have a nice neighbor who took me for my first ride on my road bike and didn't mind that I slowed him down like a rock.


6 - That there are so many exciting things on the horizon for my family and for me. Even though we are headed toward the end of 2009...( I know...where did it go?)...2010 is going to be GREAT! :-)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Fall is in the air


September spoiled me a little.
Lovely Fall weather in the mid 70's was just too good to last.
And sure enough the last week has seen temps starting to dip down to freezing.
Usually I spend all of October in denial about summer being over.
I've decided that I like my weather in the extremes.
I love summer and I love lots of snow in winter....but I'm not a real fan of anything in between.
I have to say though one of the greatest things about this time of year is all the fruit and pumpkin picking that we can do here.


Today I took the kids on a CVA planned field trip to Walter's Fruit Ranch at Green Bluff. They got to ride the "Fruit Loop Express"...(which I think was more in reference to the guy driving us around on the tractor trailer than the fruit itself....he was a little out there!)


They got to pick apples and a pumpkin, saw apple cider being made and tasted it. Delish...( but a little gross to look at)
...and they tasted apple butter which was a lot like apple sauce with cinnamon in it.


Next week my brother Pete will be in town and we have lots of fun things lined up for him.
A wander through the corn maze, pumpkin carving, a trip to the IMax.
We are going to send him home exhausted :-)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Kona Ironman 2009

A big shout out to Craig Alexander who yesterday became the 2009 Ironman World Champion. The kids and I watched the race from start to finish ....all 8 hours and 20 minutes....and were so excited to see an Aussie from our home town in Cronulla cross the finish line first. Way to go, Craig! And I thought running 3 miles could be tough!

Friday, October 9, 2009

My Poor Blog


That's what it is.

My poor blog!

Well, it has been neglected for good reason. Living life is getting in the way of my writing about it :-)
We have been getting through plenty of schoolwork. And I'm not going to bore you with details about math or spelling but I wanted to share some of the fun stuff we have been doing this month.
We have just finished an in depth study of the Vikings. To compliment all we have been reading about them we also...


Made viking bread.
Tasted great straight out of the oven and then quickly turned to concrete!
Those Viking were hardy folk!


We made viking weapons to add to the boys collection of medieval weaponry.


For art Ciara and Max had to design and build a viking longboat out of vegetables....and it had to float.
After a few design modifications both made something pretty cool that worked.


Jack made a viking person that he quickly decided was actually more like Matt than a Viking so it became a portrait of Dad.
Obviously Matt has some kind of vision issue that we need to check up on!


More on the creative front...


we did some painting


We made cookie dough and then everyone got to add their own secret ingredients to see who could make the tastiest cookie.
Jack's had sour patch candy, sprinkles and Hershey's kisses that definitely had taste to them.
Ciara went for the more conventional choc chip variety and Max created a banana cookie that was surprisingly popular.


We also joined some friends for a field trip to a hands-on kids science exhibition called " Mobius Labs".


So much fun....
and what a great way to see science in action


So I think I have a pretty good excuse as to why I haven't been blogging.
Throw on top of that working, remodelling and exercise and you'll understand why my house looks like a tornado hit it. cleaning. That might have to be this weekends project!