You are welcome (in advance).

It is easy for me to tire of the same furniture layout, the same workout routine, or the same music. The same is true for me and recipes. I cook 21 meals a week, for five people. That is 105 meals each week (minus the times Dwight helps me). What the what?! I think it is understandable why I get tired of making the same meals. So, to spice (ha!) things up and to keep cooking fun, I try three to four new meals each week.

I usually pass them onto my Mom or a friend, but I have recently come across a few really good ones, so I thought I would post them here too. Most of them are paleo. I try to eat paleo Monday through Friday and then add some carbs and sugar on the weekends, 80/20.

Bon appétit!

Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Potato Topping

Honey Mustard Chicken Salad

Sweet Potato & Lime Taquitos 

Easy Gluten Free Apple Crisp

Cashew Beef Stir Fry 

15 Minute Zucchini Beef Skillet

Spaghetti Squash Casserole

One Skillet Tilapia Veracruz (Dwight doesn’t like fish, so I used tuna instead.)

Pumpkin Coffee Cake

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The Story of Stella’s Birth.

Our fourth child, our second girl, Stella, is four weeks old today.
Time seems to somehow stand still and yet fly when you have a newborn.
The first time we heard her tiny heartbeat, the first time she was placed in my arms, the first feed, the first eye contact … we are soaking in every moment with Stella. So thankful she is a part of our family, Bernier6.

This is Stella’s story…overall God’s story for Stella.

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(Sorry for the bad quality pictures. Our “real camera” died, so I only have phone pictures now.)

Stella was born five days overdue. The waiting time after your due date is hard! Lots of extra grace was poured over me as I waited, which is amazing considering how hot it was (no AC at the time in our house or our van), how restless our kids were (they too were waiting for their little sister to arrive), and how ready I was to be done. Did I mention how hard it is waiting? 
My doctor told me to call the hospital Thursday, July 7th, at 5:30am to see if there was room for me to be induced. “Yes! Come in at 8am!” So, we went. Dwight’s Dad dropped us off at the hospital which is only two kilometres away. (Dwight’s parents were in town to watch the kids.)

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With smiles on our faces and butterflies in my stomach, we walked into the birthing centre only to be told, “Sorry, there are no beds for you anymore. We will call you back at 3pm with an update.” Oh the sadness. Dwight and I decided to use this built-in-babysitter-time to go to a bookstore. Starbucks. Books. Waiting. Waiting.

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At three that afternoon the nurse called to tell me that I would likely be induced the next morning, IF there was room by that time. Deep breath, “O.K.!”. After a good nap, my phone rang at five o’clock, “If you come in right now(!), we can induce you. Can you do that?” YES! We grabbed our bags (for the second time) and drove to the hospital.

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Right away my wonderful (wonderful!) nurse got an IV going, hooked me and Stella up to monitors, and my doctor came in to break my water. I was surprised she was going to break it right away; and when I asked why, she said that if my water is broken they can’t send me home if another patient comes in. Best doctor.

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Dwight and I walked around the very small loop in the birthing centre for 45 minutes to see if any contractions would start on their own. No game. My nurse had me lay down to start the Pitocin to induce my labour at 6:25pm. (I was two centimetres dilated at this point.) She said once my contractions were steady and close enough together she would get my epidural right away. Music, sweet music to my ears. Not because I was in pain but because with my other three pregnancy (I was induced for all of them) I tried to hold off as long as possible before getting the epidural to help the process go faster. But not this time around!

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By 8:45pm my contractions were steady, not too painful, but steady and I was 4cm dilated. Cue the epidural. Ahh, relief. Dwight took a nap while I tried to get some sleep (fat chance). The nurse checked me at 11pm and I was only 5.5cm dilated.

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Around 11:20pm I started to feel the contractions a bit. They weren’t painful, but I was able to feel when they started, when they peeked, and when they left. My nurse upped my epidural some and then decided to check my dilation. In 25 minutes (!!!), I went from 5.5cm to 10cm! “Dwight, wake up, it’s baby-time!” My doctor was waiting in the hospital (I was her last birth before she left for Europe on vacation), so it was only a few minutes before she was there and they said I could push. It was 11:35pm at the time, and they wondered if I was going to have a July 7th baby or July 8th baby. July 7th I said—my babies come fast!

I was right. Less than three pushes later and there was Stella Sarai Marie. All red, “juicy” (my nurse said)—as in chubby cheeks, with white gunk all over her.

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This is my favourite part of this story. Not that the rest of it doesn’t already point to a big and wonderful God, but this part takes the cake. As soon as Stella came out the doctor saw that there was a very tight true knot in Stella’s umbilical cord. (A tight true knot in the umbilical cord could cause death when that baby is being born, cutting off their support of life.) My doctor and my nurse both said a few times, “She is lucky to be with us!” Dwight and I looked at each other, knowing that it’s not luck that she is with us. Jesus kept her safe, alive, well. She was born July 7th, 2016 at 11:38pm weighing 7 pounds 10 ounces and 51cm long.

This is His Story for Stella, and it’s a good one!

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The Things They Say.

Some of my favorite things the kids have said lately …

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While sitting around the table, the kids were practicing letters off of flashcards I was holding. One after the other, Nehemiah, “B!” Malachi, “B!” Sadie, “B!”. Another card, Nehemiah, “W!” Malachi, “W!” Sadie (without missing a beat), “I’m busy right now!”

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One morning Malachi was helping me prepare a whole chicken in the crock pot and we talked about the bones of the chicken and the skin and so on. Later that day, Malachi touches his leg and asked, “Mama, are there chickens in my legs?” After I second I said, “Do you mean bones?”

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Nehemiah, “We can share food because we are part of the same family, right Mom? But if someone is from another world, it wouldn’t be ok!”

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Sadie was trying to finish eating her cheerios fast, “I’m eating like a cheddar!” Me, “Do you mean a cheetah?”

Healing through food.

Since the beginning of January I have changed the way I eat. It has been hard at times, but overall its been good, so good. I have seen my body change and I have seen my body start to slowly heal. Let’s back up. Before the new year I sat down at a cafe in the Old Port with good friends, Shar and Severine. I explained to them about my new allergies in the past year or so and how it seemed that my allergies keep growing:

First celiac disease – no wheat, rye, barley, or oats.

Next raw fruits – ALL. From watermelon, to apples, to avocados.

Then raw vegetables – yes all, carrots, broccoli, and so on.

After that, dairy – goodbye milk, ice-cream, and yogart.

Shar and Severine (who know all things food) informed me that I might have a leaky gut.  Which means my gut is literally leaking and when it leaks my body responds by becoming “allergic” to these foods. Thus began my three months of gut healing. The first month Dwight, Shar, and Emilio joined me (because they are wonderful like that). We began using the method of healing called GAPS Full–no dairy, grains, sugar, and most legumes. There are a lot of other foods that aren’t allowed, but that gives you an idea. Within the first week I could feel a difference and see it! Before I started eating this way, I would almost daily tell Dwight, “My stomach is hurting again!” but within the first week no pain! Also, no more bloating! I didn’t even know my stomach was bloated that much. I just thought I needed to do some more ab exercises (ahem); but within the first week of changing my eating, down the bloating went. (Let me be clear that I still should do ab exercises but that will have to wait till my abs are actually back together after having kids, but thats a different post.)

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After the first month, Dwight, Shar, and Emilio eased up on the GAPS while I kept going strong for another month. Not once did I cheat. Still feeling great but could feel that my gut wasn’t completely healing. I again talked with Shar, and we decided it would be best for me to change from GAPS full to autoimmune paleo.

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Autoimmune paleo (AIP) is like GAPS full but worse (I mean … better). Foods to avoid: grains, legumes, dairy, eggs, nuts, seeds, nightshades, gluten, alcohol, caffeine, chocolate. (Gasp.) It’s been me and AIP foods for three weeks. I’ve been feeling really great. No pains, no bloating, 100% goodness. The plan is for me to eat this way for one more week. Then I’ll slowly add the foods that I was “allergic” to back in to see if it was a true allergy or if all along it was from my leaky gut.

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I have already seen my body healing though! People, I can now eat raw fruits and vegetables. That is amazing!!!

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Thank you Jesus for leading Severine, Shar, and me into learning how to heal my body.

(If you have allergies or just want to know more about why your body isn’t responding to foods the way it was made to, you need to buy the book Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo. The first half of the books is written to explain food and your body and many meal plans to help heal AIP conditions to thyroid health, to fat loss, and chronic fatigue and so on. The second half of the book is full of recipes.)

Change is Good.

A few weeks ago we switched around all the rooms in the house. The boys got our room. We moved into the room across the living room. Sadie moved into the boys’ old room. And the guest room is now Sadie’s old room. Change is good.

We still need to hang up pictures, but all the furniture is in place.
This post will have pictures of the boys’ new room! They love it! It so big. All of their toys got moved from the living room to their room. Now in the living room there are only their books and a basket of some of Sadie’s toys.
Pictures!

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All three of the kids play more with their toys now that they are in here. Its nice to have an “away” place to send them. It looks something like this, “Nehemiah, if you still want to be crazy Iron Man guy, that’s fine, just go be Iron Man down in your room!” Or, “Malachi, this is the second time you’ve tried to ride your bike over Sadie, go ride it in your room please!” Their room is their basement, their outside. Sometimes it gets really messy. Sometimes it gets rather loud in there. Sometimes there is fighting and other times there is peace and hugs. There is always fun.  Memories are being made in that room.

 

 

Spring is Here!

After a long, long winter, spring has come to Montreal. It’s still not warm, but no more winter jackets, boots, or hats so I’m not complaining. Last week, Nehemiah’s friend Emilio came over for the day and then spent the night. Around 4pm, I felt it: our apartment became very small, my ears seemed to think every noise was 10 times louder, and it felt like everything inside of me was screaming “get me out of here!”. So, we did. Light jackets on, shoes on, and slowly walked down our two flights of stairs to freedom!

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My goal this summer is to take more pictures with my camera. It is so easy (and fun) to take pictures with my phone and throw it up on instagram. But I know in a few years I’ll regret not taking more “good pictures”.

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Park outings are fun. No distractions that house seems to always give (laundry, dishes, cleaning). Just them and me. These kids have my heart. I love just being with them, to be all there.

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After work, Dwight joined in our play. Right from his job to being a Dad … he’s good like that!

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Thankful for spring.
Thankful for being able to get out of the house.
Thankful for a place right down the street for my kids to run!

 

 

All in a year.

Happy Birthday to our Sadie Paige! This year has past so quickly, too quickly. But, its been an amazing year. I have loved watching this little girl grow, change, turn into a one year old! We love you Sadie , so proud of you. You are so beautiful. Your smile lights up the room. Love watching the way you love your brothers and smile when you see Dada. You are loved my little girl!!

 

The Beginnings of 2014

2014 did not start out amazing. Sickness filled our home. Since the new year I have only made it to our church gathering once … maybe twice, I can’t even remember now. Lets just say not enough! Fevers, sneezing, coughing, oh the coughing! There has been a lot of this:

and a lot of this:

and this:

and…. this:

With some of this:

and this:

Minus a few runny noses, we seem to be on the up and up! So very, very thankful.  Thank you to those who brought us food, prayed for us, and offered to help out. Even when we don’t have family that lives close, you guys help fill in that void a bit.

February, you better have something better up your sleeve for this family! No more sickness please!!