Thursday, March 28, 2013

home is wherever I'm with you

I remember when I first got married and my parents' house still felt like "home". I had two homes. The apartment I lived in with Jamie in Kitchener and the semi-detached house in Toronto that my parents and brothers still lived in. 

The longer we were married, the more the house that Jamie and I lived in seemed like home.
And then when we started having kids it was solidified. We moved a bunch of times, but home, our home was wherever we all lived together whether it was on Brant Avenue or Gaw Crescent in Guelph or Plot 334 Kampala, Uganda. 

With our move back to Canada closing in on us, I oscillate between calling it "Canada" and "home" when I talk to the boys. I think for Jude, Uganda is home. For Noah, home is in Canada. But for both of them, we will be changing it all up. The house we left is not the house we'll be moving back to.

This house in Kampala has become my home, but growing up in Canada for 29 out of 31 years, for me we are going home.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

when there's silence

When it's quiet on a blog {at least when it's quiet on my blog} there are usually two main reasons;

1. There isn't a whole lot going on in my life to blog about.

2. There's too much going on in my life to blog.

I've found this to be true with a few other blogs I've been reading lately and with pregnancy announcements and some other pretty big life changes the silence on those blogs has been explained. {No, I'm not pregnant.}

Our time here is winding down. With less than three months left here in Uganda, I'm having trouble shutting off my brain. It's always, always going. Usually at hyper speed. I'm making lists in my head, on my computer, and on paper. I'm googling and researching and emailing and crossing things off said lists. {Which feels amazing, by the way.}

We've been house hunting online and our agent and a good friend of mine have been going to view a few houses for us. It's been a bit frustrating to not be physically present in these houses but also really amazing that they would take time from their lives to take pictures, videos and seriously consider the best options for us. But we've also been a bit disheartened with how expensive everything is. So we've started to rethink a bunch of things and now we're just not sure where we'll end up exactly. We're putting all the viewings on hold for now as we just can't fathom buying a house without first stepping inside of it.
But I'm still looking at houses online and favouriting all the ones I like. Even though they probably won't be around by the time we get back to Canada.

Trust. It always comes down to trusting Him. He's got a plan. He's got a house, our home. 

So if I'm not blogging as much as usual, you'll know the reason why.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Make Ya Smile Monday {03}

Not gonna lie, I love memes. {Although I'm not even sure how to say that. Is it "meems"? Or "memms"? Anyone? Buhler?}

This one cracks me up. Every.Single.Time.

Who doesn't like The Rock?

There's gonna be more bloggin' this week. I couldn't get into blogger after last week's post via Google Chrome for some reason so my brilliant husband suggested I use Firefox and voila! Back in business, baby!

Happy Monday to you!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

on changing my perspective

Sometimes I just need to change my perspective on things.

*Quote by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Monday, March 18, 2013

Make Ya Smile Monday {02}

Have you heard of Kid President? I love this kid. Seriously this kid is hilarious and adorable and he's got the moves like Jagger. Or Jackson. Or someone.
Happy Monday to you!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

6 month letter

Dear Blaise,

You are six months old. Half a year! You are amazing and I am just so in awe and in love with you, my little man. You've learned so much this month! The growth never ceases to amaze me.

There was one day when me and the boys were in the room with you. You were in your crib, happily playing. We were talking and laughing loudly. Jude left the room. I walked over to you in your crib and noticed you curled up in the corner of the crib. You had grabbed your giraffe and fallen asleep. Windows wide open. Noises abounding. You are definitely chilling out and can still fall asleep in my arms and on the go. Thankful for this.

You have the most adorable belly laugh. And you are laughing! lots! It melts my heart every single time.

You had your first taste of rice porridge (congee). NOT a fan. Not sure whether it was of the spoon or the actual rice that you didn't like.
Then I tried letting you gnaw on a whole banana a couple weeks later and you LOVED it. Literally attacked the banana and ate about an inch within a minute.
So far you've had oats {we're not going to try those again for awhile as you vomited twice after trying it}, banana, butternut squash, carrots, avocado and apple. You didn't really like the apple {you just got introduced to it} but we'll try again. You get solids sometimes once a day, maybe twice. I'm pretty random about it and just go by your mood and appetite for it.

You still tolerate others holding you - even those you don't know. Sometimes you're happy about and make fast friends, sometimes you're not so happy.

Still not sleeping.

You love your jumperoo and will usually stay in for anywhere from 10-25 minutes. It's a lifesaver for Mommy.

You are somewhere between 20-21lbs and ticklish when I pinch the inside of your upper thighs. Cutie.

You roll onto your belly and often in the night will cry because you either don't have room to roll back over or you won't roll back over. I couldn't recall either of your brothers doing this and it took me awhile but then I remembered: it's because they would actually sleep on their bellies. You will NOT. But during the day you roll around and rock back and forth on your hands and knees. You're getting close to actually becoming mobile.

You LOVE the bath now. Baths are so much easier now that you can sit on your own. You sit in the little red tub and splash and hold onto the edges and lean forward and sometimes flip yourself forward onto your belly. I laughed a lot while bathing you last night.

You'll watch tv with the boys sometimes - or maybe it's just that you want to see what keeps your brothers so preoccupied. It doesn't last long, but I think it's adorable to see you watching alongside your big bros.

I love you, little guy. I'm thankful for you and I love seeing your little personality coming out more and more every day.

I love you,

watch Blaise grow!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

an update and what I want my bedroom to look like

A little update, shall we?

He's sick. Again. Not sure how he got sick exactly, but the runny nose is ever present and always increased in stuffiness at night. As if we needed another hurdle to overcome when it comes to sleep. {In other news, I am so tired.}

The sugar-free thing is going pretty well. I did have some chocolate last week after a particularly rough day and Jamie and I were having a night in. I've discovered a small business here that makes the most amazing Greek yogurt. So I've been making Greek yogurt popsicles, blending up pineapple and banana with a tiny bit of honey and yogurt. Mmmm, so good.

Things are coming together with some arrangements for when we get back to Canada. We've got some temporary housing set up with our dear friends and we've been pre-approved for a mortgage! Hoorah! So now we hunt online and my friend Jen is going to check out some places for us.

I've been pinning ALL THE THINGS and have decided I want a white bedroom. Full of texture and various shades of white/cream/grey...oh it's going to be so fresh and lovely.

Aren't they lovely?
I think so. The best thing about white is you can bleach it and it comes out looking oh-so-lovely and new again. 

So I'm on Pinterest. And looking at real estate listings. And making lists. I love lists.
And it's almost midnight. Gah. This is a contributing factor to me not getting enough sleep. A small factor, but one nonetheless.

{There's so much more going on in my brain to do with sleep in older children and judging Moms and hospitality and tons of things that are going on here in Uganda. But I can't quite make them coherent enough to post here.}

Monday, March 11, 2013

Make Ya Smile Monday {01}

Yesterday I watched this on my news feed of Facebook and couldn't stop smiling. It made me think that we need to smile more. And what better day to smile than a Monday?
So I'm starting something new around here; Make Ya Smile Mondays!
Every Monday I'm going to try my dangdest to post something that made me smile and hopefully will make you smile too!

Enjoy this awesome video.

*If you have a picture or story or video that you think will make me smile, please feel free to email me the link/picture at vmstrickland (at) gmail (dot) com and maybe I'll feature it on one of the upcoming Mondays!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

on not sleeping and mosquito bites

Blaise isn't the best of sleepers. In fact, he's my worst sleeper of the three boys. But I still love him. 
However being in Uganda presents some unique challenges.

Enter the mosquito net.

When Blaise cries out two or three or fifteen times a night {sadly I'm not exaggerating} it means me getting out of my mosquito net and then walking to his crib, lifting up his mosquito net and either rolling him back over {he's in a crappy "help me! I rolled onto my belly and I hate it!" phase} or sticking in his soother or taking him out and moving back to my mosquito net and nursing him on our bed. Then if I'm nursing him, I have to lift my mosquito net up again, walk over to his and lift up his net again to put him back in. That's multiple mosquito-net-liftings. Which creates opportunities for mosquitoes to fly in or out. Usually in. And in the dark {and in my half-awake state} I don't check for mosquitoes because if I did, that would mean a lot more work, more light and the potential for Blaise to wake up any more than he already is. 
This morning he had over 20 new mosquito bites all over his face, arms and legs. 
And it's too hot to put on a sleeper with long arms and legs. He's a little hot box.

So what do I do? I'm not really up for making any newfangled mosquito net contraption {unless it's super easy and doesn't involve sewing or extra materials} as we're leaving in just over 3 months. 

This morning I took his net down, soaked it in water and a few drops of citronella oil and rubbed a few drops of citronella oil all over the wooden pieces on his crib in the hopes that this will deter mosquitoes from hanging out around his crib at night.

Waking up with him wouldn't be so annoying or difficult if we didn't have the danged mosquito nets. 
I'm glad they generally keep out the bugs, but if you trap a mosquito in the net with you, you're almost worse off than if you weren't under the net at all!

I know most of you reading this don't sleep under a net, but maybe you have some brilliant ideas for me.

A little help?

Friday, March 8, 2013

my provider

The days are going by and my mind is nonstop thinking, thinking, thinking.

Two nights ago I lay in bed designing cupcakes, thinking up flavour combinations and dreaming of opening up my own bakery.

Today I emailed the school board we'll be putting our boys in, our old doctor's office, a real estate agent and a financial adviser in Canada.

I've been frequenting sites such as Kijiji {like Craigslist for my American friends} and looking at furniture and houses.

I make lists in my head of things to do here, people to contact, information to acquire. {I really need to write these down. My brain is useless for actually holding onto information.}

I am googling resources on transition. I am looking up flights and packing restrictions.

I am pinning places to go, things to do, tips and tricks and recipes and DIYs that I want to do in Canada.

I think and I dream and I plan and I pray.
I'm here, but my mind is all-too-quickly going there. And I don't think it's a bad thing. Because all-too-quickly it will be my body going there too.
It's not that I'm unhappy here or anxiously counting down the days until we can leave this place. Because I'm not. I have loved these past two {just under by the time we leave} years here. I will miss this house, this city, this country. There are things that I look forward to in Canada, but there are things I know will drive me crazy, too.

But the transition from and preparation to leave Kampala has begun.

If there's one thing I have {re}learned while living here, it's that God knows. He is in control. So while I think and plan and research, I have not worried. In fact, I am excited to find out what He's got for us in Canada. What house we'll live in, where the boys will go to school, who we'll live "close" to. All these things and more, He already knows and they are good. He will meet our needs. He will take care of us and comfort us and be our Rock and lead us into adventures with Him as we learn {again} how to live like Canadians in Canada.

It's a daily reminder to my heart. God knows. He sees. He loves. He IS Love. He will provide.
Jehovah Jireh.

Thursday, March 7, 2013


“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it.” 

- Roald Dahl

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

on staying tenderhearted

To my oldest child, my firstborn son, Noah,

I wanted to write this down so I don't forget.

Please stay tenderhearted. Don't let this world crush you and make you cynical. Don't be overcome by your disappointment and anger when you don't get your way.

You are so sweet. And you love your brothers. So very much. I pray it only strengthens as the years go by.

The other day you walked into my room with a bit of an attitude. And then you saw that Blaise was awake and playing and you went right over and started talking your baby talk and letting him claw your face and grab your fingers. You absolutely adore your baby brother. And the feeling is most definitely mutual.

Later in the evening when Jude was running laps up and down the hill as a form of his discipline for being too rough {for the millionth time} with Blaise, you decided you would join Jude, even though you weren't being disciplined. You did it together with Jude and I melted a little {okay, a lot} at your compassion for your brothers.

I pray that God keeps your heart soft and tender and compassionate toward others.
Two thousand years ago, love changed the world. I pray that one day you will know that love and let Him change you and teach you how to love above and beyond your natural inclinations. Because He's created you fearfully and wonderfully. Know that. Believe that.

I love you fiercely,


Monday, March 4, 2013

sugar-free citrus & cranberry scones

So I randomly felt that I needed to cut sugar out of my life for the next little while upon returning from Spain. I definitely indulged myself while in Spain {they served these things for breakfast that can really only be described as crumbly cookie-dough. I ate a lot of them.} and felt the need to detox.

I also like a good challenge when I'm baking/cooking.

My boundaries for "sugar-free" were such:

no refined sugars

So things like pure maple syrup, honey and fruit are perfectly acceptable. Last week I made sugar-free chocolate cupcakes {for our Oscar party where we watched Zero Dark Thirty and not the Oscars because that would've meant waking up at 4am for us. Although I'm sad I missed this. I think I have a girl-crush.}. I think I'll make a few changes, but they were still really good. I've made pancakes with no sugar in them. {They were amazing. Check out the recipe here.} I've been snacking more on nuts, fruit, and drinking heaps more water than I already do.

Today I made sugar-free scones and they were amazing. I will share the recipe, but only if you promise to make them, eat them warm and give someone you love a hug. Promise? Okay. Here ya go.

{Refined} Sugar-Free Citrus & Cranberry Scones
adapted from

Yield: 18 scones

2 cups flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup dried cranberries
2/3 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup butter, cold and chopped into pieces
1/2 cup honey
2/3 cup orange juice
zest from 1 lemon and 1 lime

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, wheat flour, baking powder and salt. Cut in the butter using two knives or a pastry blender. Add the cranberries and walnuts and set aside.
In a separate bowl, combine the honey, orange juice and zest. Combine with the dry ingredients to form a thick dough.
Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, drop the dough onto a cookie sheet, slightly flattening the scones with your palm as you go. Bake for about 12 minutes or until lightly golden brown.

You can even make an Orange Honey Butter to go on these if you like.

Sunday, March 3, 2013


Three boys!

I love these three. I continue to see how different they all are from each other. Day by day, new surprises and differences are revealed.
Noah and Jude both love to make Blaise smile and laugh, but Noah is sweet and tender while Jude is active and louder. Blaise already loves each of his brothers as they interact differently with him.
Blaise is full of hilarious facial expressions and is happiest when he is naked.

Noah and Jude fight a lot these days. When we were in Spain they were in different childcare groups and Jude especially really missed his big brother. It made my heart melt to see that yes! They do love each other. They might just need a break from each other more than they currently have.

These boys. My three little Wild Things.

Every month on the third, I take a picture of my three boys. Check out past months here.

Friday, March 1, 2013

daily self portrait

Have you heard of this little trend that's going around the interwebs?
Okay, here's the sitch. So often it's the Mamas who are taking all the pictures of life-as-we-know-it and we get left out. When we look back over our year's worth of pictures, we are nowhere to be found.
I want to look back and see that I was an active part of my children's lives and for my children to see that one day too. I know that I am involved. But it'd be nice to see some proof.
So Sarah from The Sunday Spill started taking pictures every day of herself; with her kids, her husband, by herself and either holding the camera herself or using a timer. I was so inspired that I decided to join along for the ride.
I've included a link on my sidebar to my album of daily self portraits and you can follow along with me there!

It's interesting because I'm really hard on myself and how I look in pictures. So this is also a journey in me continuing to learn to love myself in a realistic way. Because at the end of the day, my kids don't care if I'm a size 6 or 16. They just want me to be present. To cuddle with them and read them stories. To bake them sweet things and play hide-and-go-seek.

So here we go!
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