Apples and Combines 

The apples are ripe, so we headed out to my parents’ farm for our annual apple picking. 

When I was a kid, I thought crab apples were kind of a useless fruit – so sour, who would want to eat them?! But I’ve seen my dad walking around the yard countless times, enjoying his own apples. As I got older, I grew to understand the appeal of crab apples. 

And now, with applesauce pancakes being one of our family favourites, we’ve discovered how great it is to have a freezer full of crab applesauce. So every fall, we bring home a load of apples and do nothing but make applesauce for two days straight. 

We even made extra this year so that our girls could do a little applesauce fundraiser! (Let me know if you want to buy some!) Our house smelled delicious, our arms are still sore from grinding all that sauce, and we’ll be finding apples all over the house for weeks to come, because Everett kept running off with them! 

While we were out at the farm, Everett got to experience his first combine ride. 

At first he was very unsure about everything, but by the end he was begging for more! 

I love seeing my kids enjoying the same things I enjoyed when I was a kid. 

I’m not ready to let summer go yet, but apple picking and harvest time are pretty good ways to get me excited about this time of year. Soak up the last bit of summer! 

Enjoying Simple, Small Things

I’m back to share a few more staycation photos! We spent a beautiful evening at the Forks yesterday. 

We walked around, enjoying all the sights and shops, and had a picnic. 

Everett loved watching the planes flying overhead. 

I love how the simple, small things can become special when we slow down and enjoy them together as a family! 

Weekend Favorites: Start of Vacation

Every August since we moved away from camp, Ben takes a week off for a family vacation. We’ve usually gone to my parents’ cabin, but this year, we decided to try a “stay-cation”. Everett is easiest to take care of at home, which makes it the more relaxing option! Plus, there are so many fun things around here which we just don’t take enough time for, so we made a long list of things we want to do, and we’re all pretty excited about this week!

We decided to kick off our first day of vacation with a fire, sparklers, and banana boats. It was the most beautiful evening.

banana boatsSince we don’t eat much sugar at our house, the girls thought this treat was pretty exciting. Ben and I have fond memories of making banana boats at camp, so it was fun to introduce our kids to this little fireside tradition.

Everett

EverettWhenever I take a picture of Everett, he starts shrieking, “SEE! SEE!” because he wants to look at the screen of my camera.

EvNow most of my pictures look like this, because he’s saying “See” in all of them….

EvWe also had to do some apple sampling, to see if our little apples are ready for picking.

Ev and KayliaAfter we were done snacking, Ben played soccer with the kids, while I did yoga.

2016-08-14 08.36.48

socceryoga

sparklerWhat did you do with your beautiful weekend?

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A Letter to My 18-Year-Old Self

Grade 12 photo

Dear 18-Year -Old Kendra,

This week, I attended our 20 year high school reunion, and as cheesy as I think these kinds of letters are, there are some things I really wish you knew. The reunion brought up a lot of memories – some good, but some really hard. There are thoughts and feelings I hadn’t realized were still lurking around down in the depths, and churning them up last night made me wish I could tell you some things which would have made these last 20 years easier:

You are stronger than you think. You will spend far too many years claiming the labels other people have given you, and some you’ve given yourself. You see yourself as small, weak, insignificant, but just as every single person is created beautiful, resilient, and unique, so are you. You have what it takes to find your way through, and you don’t even realize it yet.

Some things which seem wildly important to you at 18 actually are not. But it won’t be disappointing – rather, it will be a gradual awakening to new passions, adventures, and tools you will discover to get you further on your journey. Hold things loosely, because they might not be as important as you think. But when you discover something worth standing up for, do it with everything in you.

Your world is very small right now. The people in your world and their opinions of you seem like everything, but they won’t always. The hoops you have tried to jump through to feel accepted and validated can be left behind, and you can go out into the world to discover there are so many wonderful, amazing people and experiences which will change how you see yourself and the things around you. You don’t have to go far to find them – you just have to be open.

You will see how much we all need room for grace, forgiveness, and growth. Just as you need a lot of time, experiences, wisdom, and depth, so do all those around you. You have some scars and old hurts you need to accept, because everybody has them. You’ve given some, and you need to take some, because that’s life. There are misunderstandings, immaturity, and a lot of private pain which lead people to do things we don’t understand. Let it go.

Many of your dreams will come true, but life won’t turn out the way you imagine – it will be better. You will look back and realize you did not get the exact life you thought you wanted, but it will be so much harder, richer, and more worthwhile.

There will be many times when it will appear as though you’re approaching a dead end, and you won’t be able to see a through – keep going. Trust that with God, there is always a way. Life and it’s challenges keep coming, and you will keep growing as long as you choose to rise to the occasion and not give up.

You have no clue what hard things are coming your way, but 20 years from now, you won’t want to change any of it. It will be the hard times which will also bring beauty and hard-earned joy. Accept all of it. You can’t have one without the other, and you will see how it’s all worth it.

You can’t control everything that happens to you, but you get to choose how well this will go. You choose your attitude and response – nobody does that for you. Don’t complain or blame somebody else for your problems. Figure out what you’re going to do about them.

Be okay with messing up and making mistakes. You expect perfection from yourself, but it’s not possible, and it makes you too hard on the people around you, as well. Go gently.

I can tell you all of this, but in the end, I know you need to go out there and learn it for yourself. And that’s okay – it would be less painful to learn it by simply being told, but sometimes it’s necessary to learn from experience. So learn. Be open to it. You are in for a fantastic 20 years.

Sincerely,

An older and hopefully wiser version of yourself.

 

Summer So Far

It is a good summer. I like this one. It’s very active, because Everett keeps us on our toes, so I wouldn’t say it’s relaxing at all, but things are good around here!

Here’s a little sampling of July:

Everett is pretty convinced the only reason we have peas in our garden is so he can play with them. He carries them all over the yard, and sometimes he eats them. I have to keep an eye on him when I’m picking, so he doesn’t steal them all!

Everett

tomatoesOne of the swings on our play structure broke, so Kaylia improvised. She was sad when Ben fixed it, cause she liked her version better!

Kaylia

flower

kids

flowerFavorite: When Everett bends his head verrrry low over his paper while he’s coloring, because he’s seen the girls do it.

coloringI am super thankful it’s only the end of July, because I feel like we’ve got lots of time left to enjoy summer. A whole month! With VBS, and a stay-cation to look forward to!

sunsetWhat’s been making your summer nice?

Birthday Favorites Part 5

On Friday, life happened but a blog post didn’t, so I’ll sneak one in today, and finish up my birthday favorites!

Favorite Essential Oils

I’ve dabbled in the wonderful world of essential oils for a couple of years now, but this last year is when I realized it was time to get serious! Last summer, I got an insane infection, and was able to avoid antibiotics by using garlic cloves and essential oils. I was blown away by how effective essential oils were in treating the pain and infection.

It can be a bit overwhelming to learn about essential oils, because there is a ton of information, but a wise lady once told me to start with one, and add on as I felt comfortable. That was the perfect advice, and now I don’t feel overwhelmed anymore – it’s fun to find out how to use all of these oils to treat pretty much everything!

My absolute favorite will always be the Stress Away blend from Young Living, but a new favorite is a blend from Rocky Mountain Oils called Balance. Although I have a membership with Young Living, I still don’t order enough oils to benefit from their rewards program. I prefer to order from Rocky Mountain Oils, because the cost and shipping is much lower, but the quality is still great, some would say even better. I like the simplicity of not having to worry about points and passwords, and there are so many great blends.

Favorite Form of Stress Relief

Over the years, I’ve gotten pretty tired of hearing how moms need to take time for bubble baths, and that will somehow be the perfect escape. I really, really dislike baths. I know that sounds weird, but I just don’t take baths. What does that leave for me to enjoy when I’m stuck at home with my kids, and needing an escape?!

Fortunately, someone told me about adult colouring books last summer, and I am saved from bubble baths. Once I start colouring, it is so hard to stop! I love it.

Favorite Song

This song kept popping up all over the place for me this last year, and every time, I would get that big lump in my throat from trying not to cry. It gets me every time – “To tell you my story is to tell of Him.” Isn’t that amazing?! God is so good, and comes after us with love and mercy – how can we keep quiet about all He’s done for us? It’s why I love writing and speaking, why I love talking with people and hearing their stories, and why I believe every hard and horrible experience can be redeemed. There is so much to learn from each other about God’s goodness to all of us. I’m teaching a class this fall about the power of sharing our stories, and I’m getting so excited!

That’s the last bunch of favorites! I’d love to hear what’s brought joy into your life recently – I need to find some new favorites for this next year!

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Birthday Favorites Part 4

Today is my food post. I love food. I’m not sure how interesting my food favorites are for anyone else, though, because I have a very basic diet (basic” sounds so much more positive than “restricted”!). I have some issues with food intolerance, but my health as improved a lot in the last few years, and I’m hopeful that as things continue to improve, I’ll be able to add a little more variety to my diet – eggs and Greek yogurt are at the top of my wish list!

The funny thing is, I wouldn’t actually change a lot about my diet, even if I could. In my college days, I ate chocolate ice cream and Fudgee-o’s every single day, and I wouldn’t have believed it was actually possible to survive without chocolate. When my health took a big hit in my 20’s, I had to make some dramatic changes. I quit sugar, dairy, and gluten, which gradually led to a major improvement in how I was feeling. In the beginning it was torture, but with time, I stopped craving junk, and now I completely love eating tons of colorful vegetables, and keeping food simple and unprocessed. That doesn’t mean I never have weak moments – popcorn, chips, and pasta are foods I have trouble eating in moderation, and since all that stuff turns to sugar in the body, I try to stay away from it – usually physical pain is an excellent motivator for healthy eating.;) Anyway, the point is, I eat weird, but this doesn’t bother me, and there are delicious, healthy things to enjoy every day!:)

Here are a few new favorites I discovered this last year:

Sweet Potato Breakfast Bowl

Breakfast is hard when trying to avoid eggs and processed carbs. This is my favorite treat, and I’ve been eating it every single morning for a few months now. I mash up a small sweet potato, melt a ton of butter over it (the only dairy I’m okay with eating), and stir in chopped walnuts and a little bit of sea salt.

sweet potato bowl

Roasted Broccoli Chicken Potatoes

I never know what to call this, but it’s my favorite thing to make for meals these days. It is easy, fast, and I love how it tastes. I cut potatoes into chunks, drizzle oil on top, and season with salt, garlic, or oregano. I roast it for 20 minutes at 400, and then add broccoli and cooked chicken (I always keep some in the freezer so recipes like this are much faster to prepare). Roast for about another 20 minutes, and it’s done! Easiest meal we have around here.

potatoes broccoli chicken

Snap Pea Crisps

If I’m going to have a treat, this would be it. I love these things. While it was brilliant for Costco to start selling the snack size bags, I would have to argue with what the portion size should be.;) We broke up during my pregnancy with Everett – it was just one of those foods that made my stomach turn. Happily, I got over that, and this last year, we got back together again!

snap pea crisps

What are your favorites? I am always looking for new recipes!