I have eight brothers and sisters. No, my family is not emulating the Duggars, but there are nine of us kids who all share the same father, Al. (Hi, Dad and Gail!) The nine of us kids span a few generations, and are spread across the country, and one of us even lives in London, England with her new husband. (Hi, Dayna and Matt!) Getting all nine of us together is almost impossible, but it did happen once upon a time.

On Matthew’s side of the family, there is just him and his sister and brother.

M&J&B

(All three of them are in ministry in their respective churches and their hearts shine through in all they do.)

That side of the family tree is a little less complicated compared to mine. Between the three of them and their spouses there were eight kids born in under five years. There was a flurry of boys and we finished off with two girls, only a year apart. Totally crazy, but totally awesome. While we get to see The Other Dykstras often because they live here, when all three families get together it’s the best. I grew up with all of my cousins living across the country, so I love that these eight can connect and play just be family together.

Cousins!

These two girls may look nothing alike, but when they get together they are inseparable.
Angella Dykstra

We wrangled my brother Lance to take a photo of the lot of us.

Dykstras and Peters

And then he took a shot of us “being funny.”

Craziness

When we talked about taking family photos, Matthew said that he’d like one with his siblings and their spouses.

Outlaws

(Thanks again, Lance!)

Having grown up across the country from my Aunties and Uncles and cousins, I love that my kids have an Auntie, two Uncles, and two cousins in their daily lives, as well as more cousins and family who we get to connect with more than a few times a year. This is in addition to other grandparents and other aunties and uncles who call often and send birthday cards and connect with my kids.

I’m feeling beyond thankful.

Treats!

One of the perks of being a Life Made Delicious food blogger is that they love to send me packages in the mail. When they send product, I’m usually amused because it’s almost always food that we already have in our pantry. This month they mixed it up, because Franken Berry cereal is back for a limited time!

(My kids are allowed a treat cereal on Saturday mornings and Graham has had Franken Berry cereal for three weeks in a row. It’s obviously a hit.)

I could probably end my review there, but I’m not going to. I do a lot of cooking and baking from scratch, not because I’m Super Mom, but because I really love to cook and bake. That said, there are only so many hours in a day and when I need to make a big batch of brownies or cupcakes, I buy a Betty Crocker mix. I always have, and always will, regardless of my current role at Life Made Delicious.

Emily had her birthday party last week and I made 36 (!) cupcakes for all of the friends she invited (She’s a social butterfly)(I wonder where she gets that from?) and I relied on Betty Crocker to make it happen. She did not fail, and I was not surprised.

Do you rely on our friend Betty? Or are you more hard core than I am?

Eight years ago, I was laying on the couch with mild contractions, knowing that I would be giving birth to a baby in the next twenty-four hours or so. I was scheduled to be induced in the morning because I grow big babies. I’d had my membranes stripped in preparation (TMI!) and I was already 3cm dilated when I had my appointment on the morning of October 10th. My body was getting ready to introduce me to my baby, but I wouldn’t meet that baby until the next day.

We decided to have a third baby because we felt like we both wanted a third baby, be it a third boy or a first girl. Did I want to have a girl? Absolutely. Would I be sad if my third baby was a boy? Absolutely not. Everyone (Including Matthew) told me that they thought I was having a third boy.

When the baby arrived, it was a girl. A GIRL. My doctor and my nurse both screamed, “IT’S A GIRL!!!” There’s something to be said about the element of surprise, because I can still hear their voices eight years later. My baby was a girlMy girl. Emily. Miss Emily, if we’re going to be specific, because something about her name screams to have a ‘Miss’ in front of it. It is also fitting to add ‘Little Miss’ in front of anything and everything she does. Little Miss Drama, Little Miss Creative, Little Miss Fish, and so on.

All of the above to say that I cannot believe that my baby — my baby girl — is eight years old. I remember counting her fingers and her toes and now we spend time after school talking about multiplication and division.

I love that she is so much like me, and that she is nothing like me at all. She’s a fireball of love and of justice and of creative energy and of a connection to the God who created her.
[click to continue…]

Connections
I was in Toronto last week for the fifth! Blissdom Canada conference. I had the honour of leading a series of micro sessions, I got to introduce a panel of friends who inspire me, and I got to sit in on sessions that gave tools to the writer in me. The biggest takeaway for me was the connections I made with my fellow writers and bloggers.

Being a writer is known to be a lonely profession, and while blogging is no longer new, telling your stories on the Internet is still considered to be different. I started this site over nine years ago as a way to share stories and photos with family and friends who don’t live here, and I’m still doing that. Along the way, others came to read, and the connections made have been amazing, but that’s a story for another day.

The only frustration I have about being so isolated here in Summerland is that I don’t have somebody here in the flesh to bounce post ideas off of or talk about the ins and outs of blogging. (Do you remember when Amanda posted regularly? You should all petition her to share her FB wit on Kickyboots.)

The time I spent in Toronto was refreshing to the writer in me, yes, but it was the lunchtime chats, the connections in the halls, the impromptu dinners, and the late night chats with people like me that filled my soul. There was no explaining of what we did, because we were all there. There was a common history, a common wiring, and a common love of making witty comments. There’s something to be said for spending time with people who get you.

I have people who get me in different areas of my personality here at home. People who share my faith. People who love running as much as I do. People who like to cook (and eat) good food. People who share my accounting brain. People who love to take photos. People who like to ski. People who laugh at things like they’re twelve. People who love to sing and dance (Sometimes at the same time).

I get all of the above on a constant basis, but while many people in physical proximity to me may read what I write, sometimes I miss having that little circle in the Venn diagram of my life who understand this piece of who I am and why I am compelled to tell my stories. It was a huge recharge for me and I walked (flew) away feeling very thankful for the chance to connect with the other weirdos who write their stories on the Internet.

They get me.

Sunny Days
Last night, as I was making dinner and G was working on his homework, he made a comment along the lines of, “I like this binder, but a bigger binder would be SO AWESOME.” I kept chopping vegetables, and putting things into the oven, and didn’t even respond to his comment. Passive aggressive comments are something I refuse to make, and something I refuse to respond to. They do not foster open conversation.

He made a second comment as I was taking things out of the oven and placing food onto dishes. It was identical to the first comment (Because I didn’t acknowledge his first comment), and once everything was out of the oven, I shut off everything and addressed him directly to ask what his comments were about. He explained that he had 1-inch binders, but everyone else had 2-inch binders. He was in charge of his list when we went shopping for school supplies, so I asked him why he didn’t buy the right binders. He said that he knew he had binders from last year, and thought he could use them, but he now knew that they were the wrong size.

Fair enough.

I took that opportunity to tell him that if he needs something, he just has to tell me. Passive-aggressive comments make me shut off immediately, because that is not conducive to communicating. (MAN, would I LOVE to have a BIGGER BINDER.) If you need school supplies, I will buy them. There is no need to make vague statements that just make me turn a blind ear. You need it? I will buy it. It’s so simple, and as we talked about it and I explained my initial lack of response, he understood why I chose to not respond. He is also on board with communicating his needs (And wants) directly, instead of making vague statements.

It was one of those parenting moments where I felt like we understood each other. (This will surely be less common as the teenage hormones take him over.) I bought him a big binder today and he was so very thankful for it. He told me that he planned to decorate it and then he cracked a joke about how next time he’ll just ask for what he needs.

I know that the teen years will have many (MANY) challenges, but I love these moments of open communication where we can speak openly about how to be a decent human being. I hope we can keep it up, and I have a pretty good feeling that we will. Not because I’m The Best Parent On The Planet, but because my kids are pretty great, and appreciate that I speak to them as fellow humans instead of Underlings. I hope that they continue to learn to simply ask for what they need or want. They may be told no, but more often they will be told yes … or wait, something even better is in store for you.

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