Thursday, August 19, 2010

Park Play

Today we went to the park.  We picked a very hot, humid day, and we stayed for an hour or so, sweating as much water as we drank, but it was worth it.  We met up with Raina and Andrew...and that's always worth it.  Though next time- we will definitely be seeking refuge in my living room with the air conditioner going full blast!

The reason why we chose this particular park was the train.  We saw it a few weeks ago when we were looking for the YMCA and made a mental note to return to it.  As we suspected, the train was a huge hit:

And oh, the joy! when a real train went by:

They were so busy running here and there, I only managed to get one picture of the boys actually playing together:

I love this picture:

So...that was our happy day in the park.  John has Joshua in the bathtub right now, washing all the sand and dirt away and I have a feeling he's going to sleep well tonight!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Salad Recipes

In my gluten/dairy-free, etc. cooking, I've stumbled across some pretty yummy recipes.  I thought I'd post the good ones from time to time. 


1 lb asparagus, trimmed and halved

1 cup grape tomatoes, halved

1 ripe avocado, cut into cubes

1 cup sliced basil leaves (next time I will chop them just a little smaller)

¼ cup olive oil

2 teaspoons lemon juice

2 teaspoons dijon mustard

½ teaspoon celtic sea salt

½ teaspoon pepper

Steam asparagus until fork tender (add asparagus to water, bring to boil, simmer 2 minutes).  Place asparagus, tomatoes, avocado and basil in a large bowl.  Stir in olive oil, lemon juice and mustard.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Serve .

2 to 2 1/2 pounds small red potatoes

Sea salt for boiling

1/4 c extra-virgin olive oil

4-6 tbsp apple cider or rice vinegar, to taste (I used 4 tbsp rice vinegar, but next time I will use 6 tbsp)

1 small red onion, finely chopped

2 tbsp prepared horseradish

Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper

2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

1-2 tsp dill, to taste

1 tsp caraway seeds- optional (I didn't use them)

Cut potatoes in bite size pieces and bring to boil in salted water.  Cook until soft.  Drain.

Put potatoes in a large bowl. While still warm, sprinkle with sea salt and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and vinegar. Toss to coat and to soften the edges of the potatoes.  Add onion, horseradish, salt and pepper. Add the chopped parsley, dill and caraway.  Mix.

Serve warm!!!

Chilling the salad subdues the flavor- it wasn't nearly as good, so you would definitely want to play around with the seasonings to give it a bigger burst of flavor.

Spur of the Moment

My parents called on Wednesday night to say they were coming for a quick weekend visit, arriving Friday evening and leaving Monday morning.  We made the best of their short time in our home and enjoyed it to the fullest.  I'm not sure what Joshua was more excited about:  seeing Grandma and Papa Jim, the Smarties that Grandma brought him, or having Flint (their border collie) to play with.  There's definitely no doubt as to who Flint was most excited about seeing- he got so many treats from Joshua, he probably won't eat for weeks.

We spent most of our time around the house.  Saturday was our best day: perfect weather, grilled shishkabobs, Joshua in the pool, relaxing in the sunshine, talking, laughing...good times.  My camera miraculously started working again, so I did get some pictures, which I was so happy about.

So when it comes to food, I do not make biased judgments.  These were seriously the best shishkabobs I've ever tasted.  We used an Armenian recipe for the marinade.  This was our third time using the recipe, but I don't remember them ever tasting this good- it must be John's special Armenian touch.

Welcome to Joshua's new smile.  A few weeks ago, I was getting these adorable squinty smiles, but a few days ago Joshua started closing his eyes.  "Open your eyes, Joshy!" I said.  And this is what I got: (and continue getting with every picture I take...

Joshua and Grandma:

On their last day here, Joshua got the camera off my desk.  He's not allowed to touch it anymore, because I think that's why it broke in the first place.  But instead of fooling around with it, he brought it over to me and requested a picture of him and Flint: 

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Because I'm Thinking About Mark...

I thought I'd share this.

The "anniversary" of Mark's homegoing is coming up, and I tend to think about him more and more as the day draws near.  It's not on purpose.  I don't particularly dwell on that date.  It just sort of happens.  It's an emotional few months leading up to "the day."  Same with his birthday.  Mark loved his birthday more than anyone else in the family, so December 1st sticks out more than any other birthday in the family and I miss celebrating it with him.  He started counting down the days as soon as Dad's birthday was over on August 21st.  

I've always felt that God laid this project on my heart, and when I lack inspiration, He is always faithful in giving it to me.  I have quite a few chapters written, but the first chapter never felt right, so I prayed about how to open the story.  My friend suggested a "flash-forward" and it was something I had actually been considering, but wasn't sure how to do so.  Well, God gave me an idea.  We were driving at the time, so I found a pen and a scrap of paper (I really should put a notebook in the van, for moments such as these) and started scribbling away.  Within a few minutes, I had this:  (in its rustiest, first-draft form, so pardon the errors, repetitive words, etc.)


As we drove down the dusty road, tears sprung to my eyes. I could see it. A little island of trees in the middle of the wide open prairies. We got closer and I could distinguish the lines of the house, nestled in the middle of the poplars. The garage. The old chicken coop. The beautiful Sweetgrass Hills in the distant horizon, smoky blue against the golden prairie grass. The sky was bright, cheerful white clouds spotting here and there, warm sun, strong breeze. I felt like I was being transported back in time.

John rounded the corner and steered the rental car slowly down the long driveway. He avoided the deep tire tracks, evidence that this abandoned home had once been lived in. It must have rained recently. The tracks were filled with murky brown water. I craned my neck for signs of life. There were none. Even the grasshoppers were gone. Everything was still, aside from the wind that rippled the long prairie grass like waves in the sea.

I stepped out of the car and heard the familiar crunch of the dry weeds under my feet. I shuffled through the knee-high grass and it was clear that the place had been empty for a long time. I reached the front steps and lifted the flat, smooth stone by the front door. The key was gone. I tried the doorknob. It was locked. A vague sense of relief swept through my mind. I wanted to go inside, but the memories were so powerful, so much emotion tied up in that vacant prairie house, that it scared me to release it. I didn’t want to cry. If I started, I might not stop.

I walked to the nearest window and stood tall on my tiptoes, peering through the dusty window pane. I couldn’t see much from my vantage point. There were several dead birds on the basement stairs. I wondered how they got in the house. I pressed my face harder against the window and strained to see the foyer. It was the same as I remembered, but empty. No coats hanging across the rack, no shoes littering the plywood floors. Just dust and another dead bird. I had seen enough.

Turning towards the garden, I motioned to John that I would only be another minute. Joshua was sleeping in the back seat, exhausted from our long trip. The garden was empty, nothing able to survive the scorching sun of the previous summer. Somebody had burned the big hedge down. The garden had been built around that hedge, and it looked out of place now. I reached down and ran a hand over some of the rocks my parents had used to build around the garden. I hesitated, trying to find Mom’s favorite. I wasn’t sure, so I grabbed the most distinct rock, brushing away the dirt as I carried it back to the car. She would be happy to have it.

As I neared the vehicle, I saw that John had left his seat and was walking around the house. He came around the corner. “See anything?” I asked. He shook his head. The wind had blown his hair to stand on end and I remembered how much I had disliked the prairie winds. Today it seemed like an old friend. “Everything looks the same,” he said.

I stared at the house for a long time, etching it my mind. I knew this was good-bye, possibly forever. The memories continued to tumble through my mind as I climbed back in the front seat of the car and looked back at my sleeping baby. I wished he would wake up so I could show him my old home- the place I had spent five of the most meaningful years of my life. One day, I would share them with Joshua. I would tell him all the memories that were wrapped up in that yellow stucco house on the southern Alberta prairies. The story of my family. A story that started with my earliest childhood memory. Mark.