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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Transform & live your best life possible

Today was camping errands. It's amazing the amount of work that happens to go camping. My husband and I have been working all day, in fact our work is never done. (Not exactly sure why) Ha ha. Summer is almost over. The weather is colder and the nights are darker earlier but we're heading out camping until Sept 3rd! Previous years we would never camp the weekend before school but this year we don't care. We are camping. We might not be ready for school like we're used too but my big two words lately is, "Who cares" Life continues regardless if we're ready for it or not. So we're spending every last summer moment together camping in tight sleeping arrangements. Doesn't that sound like fun!? So today I was purchasing everything we need to have for another successful camping trip. (Mainly food) Our summer has been jam packed with many memories. Here's our chance for one more! I really believe we should live our best life. In order for that - we have to make it happen. We haven't been home much this summer which has left my fitness waiting for its moment, that hour a day I've promised myself. In between cooking, cleaning, baking, homeschooling and other appointments - this September my hour is returning. Not only to my mountain but I've joined a gym for strength training. I am very excited. See, there is no excuse............we can do anything if we dedicate ourselves to it. The best known self help is being productive. Challenging yourself. If your day has started out lousy, take a step into another direction. Focus on something. The hardest step is out our own front door. Even with camping, all the work involved before, during and after is a step in itself but we reap the rewards with usually no regrets. There is one week of summer left, I leave you with this encouragement - if we can do it with (15+) of us continuously, so can you. We have our usual eleven children, adding our oldest son and his girlfriend, two dogs and another family joining us. It's going to be great! More boating, swimming, biking, hiking, smores and who knows what is our next week! "Get out and enjoy life" There is no excuses! Honestly. I have a pinched left hip for months, I am extremely busy always, our dynamics with special needs and behaviors top the cupcakes around here, I'm tired right now (2am-5am) was awesome (lol) and we are living our best life! AND don't let fear stop you.....transform your day, your week and your life. Start today! And have yourself the best life possible with your children building remarkable memories. We do - it's worth it! (I will write all about it when we return)

Ralph Waldo Emerson - "Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be cumbered with your old nonsense"

Saturday, August 25, 2012

"Sploosh - jump on in"

We had a wonderful day at the lake today with my sisters family. We haven't spent any time together this summer and today was the day! We had our boat and my brother in law had his, all our children had rides one after another all day long. I don't get to see my sister and her family very often. My two nieces and one nephew with his new son joined us too. That's the little guy I'm holding in the picture above. He is the sweetest six month old baby boy and our littlest daughter just loves babies, she was so happy to interact with him. Of course babies are the highlight of any occasion but for our children and especially our littlest daughter, they are our worlds gift. Today was special to me because it's been awhile. I used to be a very actively involved Auntie. Now as everyone is growing up and moving on, I don't see them anymore. It saddens me. I understand it's the course of our lives, we grow up and start families of our own. Family that was once very close seems to dwindle and all our lives change with time. I also know having a larger family has changed our dynamics so much that it has isolated us somewhat from our other family members. It kind of reminds me of my first pregnancy. I lost friends becoming a Mother. Now our only friends are far and few between. I find that our family has welcomed all our adoptive children but for some, it has changed on how our relationship once was. It's not about adoption. It's about how large we are. Who's kidding who? Our invites are minimal. Our home is full of people - us. Today just confirmed and validated my feelings that are correct. We are different. Some can't tolerate us. Don't get me wrong - we had a wonderful day. I just was aware of the obvious. Our children didn't witness my feelings of solitude nor did I want them too. On the same note; I understand. I really do and with that understanding I wouldn't change anything either. I know our dynamics have changed, I know that some might not approve or can't handle the amount of stimulation that several children can cause but they are our life. Our children. Children we love and here I write; honestly my husband and I have risked everything, relationships, family, friends and our reputation for our children. I know with our developing family we've risked that was once was, we've changed relationships and made a wedge. Concluding, I know it's us that has changed. I do apologize for my family members that are reading because I do miss you but I will not change what is, I will always be there for our children and we will move forward with who we are and still forever loving you too. I only hope and perhaps wish that we are accepted, every one of us are loved and only ask to open your heart because it can be filled with many, many people. I told my niece today that I haven't seen for a long time that our door is always open. I make enough food and we have plenty of room. That's all I can say. I made turkey caesar wraps for our picnic lunch today - I didn't think they would be popular but they were a favorite so who knows, we might have certain family come visit one day because what do I know what's popular and what's not. What is popular for us is children. In the above picture with the mushroom bucket and the little half dead flower inside was the sweetest little thing I witnessed from our littlest son. He found this flower, added water to the sand flower bucket and there it sat. He left it there. I couldn't help but take a picture because it's as simple as that, adding flowers to water and watching them thrive. Like our family - all it needs is a little nourishment. For the rest of our just need to jump on in.

Friday, August 24, 2012

"One for one - Toms"

It is that time again. My back to school ritual. Clothes shopping for all our children in the States. For two days my oldest daughter and I skipped over to the Seattle area and shopped. Once again finding name brand jeans, shirts, hoodies and shoes starting at $3.99 and up. As you can imagine, clothing as many children as we do can be expensive. So in my mind, the cost for travel is the least of my worries. Our one night stay consisted of having a Red Lobster dinner with their featured special "All you can eat shrimp" Then we went back to our hotel to label and fold our purchased goods. The two days really was a lot of walking, searching and getting my list accomplished. (Work) One of the purchases I made three times. It was "Toms" shoes. Very comfortable, practical simple slip on shoes. With every pair your purchase, "Toms" will give a pair of new shoes to a child in need. "One for one" (Picture seen above) So I bought our two older sons and myself a pair. If interested, go to "Show it. Share it. Raise it. Fly it." Toms, there is 5 ways to get involved. Buy the shoes, put their sticker on your car, host a "style your sole" party, screen the Toms documentary, For tomorrow: "The Toms shoes story" Go barefoot on one day without shoes, stay connected and share your Toms story. So here's mine; while shopping for shoes for my family, I thought about making a difference for another child. Purchasing Toms is not only comforting to our soles but for another child with every pair we buy. One for one! Also with Toms you can write all over them with either fabric or permanent markers, make a statement and write your favorite quotes! Toms was one of the highlights for this shopping experience for me. Besides the Outlet malls, my favorite place to shop is Marshals. It's like Winners here in Canada but cheaper for name brand clothing. I'm always impressed with Marshals. At most, hoodies are $19.99 each. Hurley, Billabong, Hollister, Quick Silver, Volcum, Element, Skull Candy, DKNY are just some of the brands I purchased. For me, name brands aren't important and I won't pay the Canadian prices although I will purchase these brands if the price is right in the States. During our second day we went to Costco. I was SO excited because the cheese is half price compared to our Canadian Costco. Believe me, us Canadians are getting hosed. No wonder why some of us travel to the States and purchase clothing, milk, eggs and cheese! (Canadian cows must be high maintenance) On our return we missed the ferry by 5 minutes. We had to wait for the 8:15 pm ferry and we returned home by 11 pm. Once a year shopping in the States is like having Christmas in September. All the organized pre-labelled piles are our children's surprise. I enjoy it. When I'm away I miss our children although because my mission is for them - I feel I'm still with them. It's interesting because even though I'm having sometime away, I'm still focused on their needs. It's always a good trip. Today, everyone is happy and ready for school. Our newest son gave me the biggest hug and said, "Thank you Mom" All our children seem appreciative and not once do I hear complaints about what I purchased. The easiest shopping experience for this Mother is not taking our children but returning with their goods and just receiving a simple "Thank you" Remember, if you want to make a difference and you need to purchase shoes; think about Toms.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

"Perfectly cooked noodle"

I haven't been in a court room very often. I was summoned years ago to be a witness that lasted approximately three days. It was interesting to say the least. An open court room, different cases one after another. My husband and I had a day being in a court room recently and by the end of our situation (an excellent situation) we found ourselves praised by the judge. I thought to myself, "Wow, he was speaking those words to us!?" "What? Really!?" A huge "sigh" of relief entered my soul. I'm not giving out information but my underlining read-between the lines is; it was a long, long, long day and while smiling with the other parties we were with - we clearly left together thinking, "Once again, everything happens for a reason" It just takes time to understand sometimes the reasoning's onto why. By the end of the day, everything was what it's meant to be. I also "thanked" the Judge as I thought he was very professional, very respectful and completely understanding to all parties. That is a Judge we want to make decisions for our society. I like to reflect back on what happens in our past, rationalizing and understanding all the steps that we take to get to where we're going. It's interesting. Another interesting aspect that I'm learning is tons and tons of paperwork can be silently soothing. I was up filling out forms well past midnight to get them mailed the next day. My "remind me" list is dwindling finally and I feel content right now that everything is moving accordingly. One huge trait that my husband and I both have is organization. With that, we're very happy when deadlines are met, goals are finished and in an orderly fashion. Even with as many children as we have, our life is moving to what I believe like a perfectly cooked noodle. We aren't no where near straight nor normal, we're kind of twisted with sudden curves that we can straighten out with a firm pull but we always have a handle on any sticky situation. If not, we will loosen it down with some love and tender oil, wrap it up and start over tomorrow. Like left overs, they're so much better the next day! Speaking of the next day....
"Happy Birthday" to our fourteen year old son! It's interesting around here with birthday's every month, our littlest daughter with speech delays sings fluently "Happy Birthday to you!" and blows out pretend candles! This morning our son instantly celebrated with candles lit sticking out of his toast smothered in nutella and a brand new year started for him. For me, it was a brand new day inside knowing that for now.....our life is like a perfectly cooked noodle and I wouldn't want it any straighter!

I love quotes - it's a short statement that you can read or say to yourself when in doubt, or when you're just having one of those moments and you need a little inspiring. Once in awhile through my posts I will leave some that trigger my inspiration in hopes it triggers yours. Today I leave you with......."The fact is, that to do anything in the world worth doing, we must not stand back shivering and thinking of the cold and danger, but jump in and scramble through as well as we can" - Robert Cushing.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

"In the palm of my hand"

We've been camping with some friends. In fact this summer we've been camping a lot and with several friends that we've become close with through our adoption world. The nice part is our children and their children all accept each other and have each other as not only friends but for support. Never is there any scenarios that are out of control. This last camping trip was at our friends lot on a lake. Between us two ladies, we had fifteen children between us. Believe me or not, it was easy. All our children had fun. (Mostly swimming) My fondest memory for this little trip was sitting on my friends bed with her at night chatting while every child was sleeping. I have one handful of friends I can clearly think of that puts a smile on my face. We can share, we can trust and they're a part of our family. I feel like an "Aunty" to many as clearly blood means absolutely nothing to families like us. Its whose important, and remains connected with love. "The bond that links your true family is not one of blood , but of respect and joy in each other's life" - Richard Bach. After camping we went boating with our littlest sons previous foster parents. Once a year during the summer they come for a visit. Their children never tubed before. Everything we do as a family becomes "sometimes" unappreciative because it's so accustomed to our children. It was nice to witness and give other children the opportunity to experience what we take for granted. (I pointed this out of course to our children that were complaining how boring boating was that day) Every family dynamics is different, ours is completely active on a daily basis with constant stimulation from riding a peddle bike to driving a go-cart to hopping into monster trucks to hanging on behind a boat! We don't believe time should be wasted. With that time, it should be spent with people who we love. Our summer has been just that! Family, friends, extended family, foster parents and birth family - its been a roller coaster that we don't want to get off! The individuals that know they're in my palm of my hand, "Thank you" so much for being and continuing to be in our family's life. For me, you're as special and dear to my heart as any other. As beautiful as a flower. A gift in our life. An honor and treasure I will always hold tight. Just a moment I've had this morning while reflecting over our summer, thinking about everyone who truly matters. Feels good to have you regardless if it's a short time or a forever time - I appreciate the individuals in our family's life. Have a great day, "We're thinking about you!"

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Shrimp & snap pea couscous green curry

I haven't written a recipe in a long time. In fact, I use to write recipes all the time. Tonight for mine and my husbands 13th anniversary I made a wonderful dinner because as you might suspect - having as many children as we do consists of not leaving our home together. So we celebrated with a homemade cooked meal by me. I like to experiment in the kitchen and this dish was completely simple but "tasteful" Very quick and easy to prepare. I even explained to our children (12) tonight that this dinner could be a $10.00-15.00 plate somewhere! Everyone ate and enjoyed every bite! I'm also writing on our anniversary but heh, regardless if I folded 10 loads of laundry, cleaned our house, made a wonderful "eggs in the basket" plus a pizza lunch and we both ran errands all day, it was a good day. The uniqueness of mine and my husbands time is we don't expect much from anyone or each other. For us we're confidant and our celebration is remaining together forever for us and our children. Now this recipe.............scrumptious. I recently was introduced to a filler called couscous. Couscous is a North African Berber dish of Semolina. A staple food throughout Africa. It's a grain based product that resembles tiny little wheat balls. The Pearl Harvest brand I used was mixed with couscous, orzo pasta, baby garbanzo beans and red Quinoa. All tiny little pieces mixed together. Tonight I made, what I would name.......Shrimp & Snap pea couscous green curry. See below...........

Shrimp & snap pea couscous green curry  (reduced into a smalled (3) person portion) So add accordingly.

1-1/2 cups couscous
8 cloves diced garlic
cup & a half of snap peas
2 cups prawns/shrimp
1 can coconut milk
3 tbs of green curry
1/2 cup brown sugar
7-8 dashes of fish sauce
7-8 dashes of hot sauce ( add more to taste)

Gently fry garlic, add snap peas, prawns and continue to fry, (2-3 minutes) add coconut milk, green curry, brown sugar, fish sauce, hot sauce and couscous. Simmer until couscous is cooked. Approximately 15 minutes.

Because I was experimenting, I didn't get carried away. Although I could of added onions, or green onions, tomatoes, red peppers, you name can be added. You just need to be careful with the amount of couscous to the amount of other products with the liquid content. When I cook, I don't even measure. I have an idea on what is needed to create a certain consistency.

With this recipe, of course I made it larger and I served it with Caesar salad. The Caesar salad I make is homemade. You make the dressing during the morning. So it sits all day before adding to the romaine lettuce. You will not find this in any restaurant and I prefer this Caesar salad over any other. Here it is.

Famous Caesar Salad

1/2 cup Bertolli extra virgin olive oil. (It has to be Bertolli extra virgin olive oil)
1 egg
8-10 diced garlic cloves
a cap and a half full of pure lemon juice
7-8 squirts of Worcestershire
salt and pepper

Stir this mixture, let sit for the day. Or a couple hours at least in the fridge. You can use 2-3 heads of romaine lettuce depending on size. Two large heads for sure. Add Parmesan cheese, take out prepared dressing (mix) and add to lettuce - serve and eat right away. It's delicious.

Mmmm.........Bon Appetite. A nice meal. Now it's time to wish my husband a "Happy Anniversary" His card says" It's you and me together forever...a challenge maybe but definitely worth the effort!

13 years! Cheers! Together 15 years and together we will stay.......................................................

"Our five year old daughter loves this song and lip syncs it" A great workout song!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Live in the moment

While reflecting back on this past week I've once again appreciated everything and everyone around me. I've had sometime to think in between first aid training while hiking in our beautiful wilderness. Another first aider I know passed recently leaving his children and wife behind. A father, a husband and a genuine gentlemen to absolutely everyone. I had the pleasure for many years working with him in the first aid room. I often thought about all our lives - every ones. While surviving (that's what we're doing) we are continually taking life for granted. I thought about my husband, approximately the same age as my first aider friend that passed. Death is a devastating loss. We are very fortunate to have our health. I continued to contemplate and deeply I've been known to over think, worry and try to change the future. I had this reminder thought enter my brain. I always remind people that life is too short, it's unpredictable and that we should live it to our fullest. This means to our family, "Love, honor and respect each other" and "Educate, travel, exercise and experience" But here's the enlightenment that came to me within my brain - we can do all this; although stress, worry and anxiety could make us seriously ill creating a unhealthiness that will inhibit our abilities to live to that fullest. Of course I knew this before but my little reminder in my brain was saying, "Live in the moment Carrie" We can choose to stress, worry and develop anxiety over the past - but why? We can't change what's been done in the past, we must move on. We can't predict the future, we shouldn't expect anything in the future either - we can only try to have the fullest life for ourselves and our families in hopes that healthy living and decisions will be made. So I wanted to share my thought (as much as everyone already knows it) but it's just a reminder that we all need once in awhile to live in the moment. One thing I know if we're living in the moment, if it's positive - it has developed a great memory. If it's negative, was only a moment and it's long gone. The trick is we get to choose on if and how much we'll stress - and guess what? Moments in life are just that; take one moment at a time, learn and move on says my hamster. Every moment is an experience - that's it. Like spilled milk, or a broken window - what's done is done.

"Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment" - Buddha

"In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing" - Theodore Roosevelt

"Try to live a stress free life, it won't matter in the end" - Me.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

A pouring tea cup over a rambling post

From boating, to quading and driving to different swimming destinations we've been once again - busy. Adding doctors appointments, curriculum consults, wheelchair fittings and dinner dates it's been productive. Our youngest daughter was recently fitted for her wheelchair. A chair that she can independently maneuver herself. It's very exciting. The chair we made her a year ago is getting too small (A rolling chair) and when we saw how happy she was in a actual wheelchair, learning to push and steer was awesome to witness. We can't wait until her chair arrives! Besides our own family camping trips, we've had six children independently camp at different camps for five days each. It's interesting when our dynamics change. It also changes on how we get around. With some missing children, we can actually take one twelve passenger vehicle! I still have a hard time when it's meal time, I'm still dishing too many plates full of food when our child isn't even here! We have their "spots" at our kitchen table and when they're not home.....I often look at their empty spot wondering how they are. It was nice tonight - everyone was home! Our August is really exciting with more camping trips with friends, it will be my husband and I thirteenth anniversary, our one son turns fourteen, my oldest daughter and I are heading to the States to shop for children's clothing and half of us will be at the Monster trucks! Tons of activities in the next four weeks. We went and voted on the Sandcastles and my favorite was a tea cup. It was simplistic but had this elegant look to it. (Seen above) My vote went to the pouring tea cup. Our children voted for the "Place of Mind" (Seen Below) Kind of weird. There was approximately fifteen sculptures, interesting to look at and as you can see - lots of artistic talent! I ran tonight in the scorching heat with three of our sons up Notch hill. It was so hot (not complaining) but so hot that my head was pounding going up - but regardless of our busy life, our filled summer, I will always find time for my dedicated fitness. 30 degree weather to wind/rain minus 1 - I will continue to run and hike. I hope your summer has been productive, I also hope that every parent is finding "their hour" for themselves every day and I wish everyone a great August!

Thoughts to ponder-

Oprah - "Breathe. Let go. And remind yourself that this very moment is the only one you know you have for sure"

Oprah - "If you want your life to be more rewarding, you have to change the way you think"