Gigi Blog » The life and loveliness of Gigi's World

Gigi Blog bio picture
  • Welcome to the Gigi Blog!

    Blessed to be a mother to five charming girls. Wife of an undertaker.
    Photographer. Homeschooler. Daughter of the King. 
    Lover of life, coffee and all things pink and vintage. ♥

100 Buttons.

With the sunshine on our face and cheerful hearts, we walked, some ran, down the muddy, pot-hole laden driveway to our destination of the back shed … where we would be planting seedlings as a celebration of the spring like weather.

Finally, it was nice enough to be outside, donned with a light sweater and must-have rubber boots , instead of seventeen thousand layers of wool and winter wear that we’ve had to wear since November of last year …

 

The sunshine was warm on my sore, pregnant body … my aching legs worked hard to keep in time with the children … but I knew this well-overdue sunny day needed to be spent outdoors together … so I trudged on, seed packets in hand and toddler’s little grip in another … and some excited, sweet little girls racing ahead, ready to help me plant our seedlings.

Does it ever feel like you’re so tired you can’t move another step? That’s how I feel these days in the last bit of this pregnancy – so physically tired … over the past few weeks as the contractions start becoming stronger and my body wears easily, I have found it discouraging, hard to manage and keep up with everything that needs to be done …

 

 

… We lined up the seeds and figured out who was planting what … rosy cheeks and happy hearts that spring had finally arrived in Ontario … despite being tired, it was so wonderful to be outside and breathing in fresh, crisp air …

In the background of my thoughts, I could see the list of projects that will accumulate with the coming of spring …  the warmer weather will bring a to-do list miles long for my husband and I, seeing as this is our first spring at the old farmhouse, not to mention the addition of chicks and ducks coming in a few weeks and a BABY joining our family, as well … what an exciting, but full, spring ahead of us …

And yet as I tackle another chore or project on my list of what must be done before baby arrives, and I feel the need to complain or feel over tired and exhausted, my mind wanders to others who have been in far more challenging scenarios …

Together the girls and I have read through many of the Little House books and each time, I am in awe of the workload the pioneers had to manage just to stay alive.

We have it so easy. Very easy. We have no right to complain in most circumstances. We have running water. We have food in the freezer and food accessible if needed at the grocery store. We have firewood to burn to keep us warm on the chilly nights and flour with which to bake bread.

So yes, I’m tired … there are meals to make and schooling to be taught … and yes, I’m waddling about and pregnant and exhausted on my feet … but truly … this life, this easy 2014-technology-laced, jump-in-your-car-if-you-need-to, turn the switch on the laundry machine-and-voila-clean-clothes – it’s all so much easier than what  our pioneering heroes and generations of old faced.

 

After reading this blog entry, it really put some things into perspective for me …

“The day & night before school started in 1901,
I worked one hundred buttonholes and sewed on one hundred buttons,
trying to finish up the children’s school clothes.
I was still sewing at dawn. I milked the cows and fixed breakfast.
I worked all morning about the house and cooked dinner.
Then that afternoon I gave birth to my tenth child.”

Journal entry of Martha Lindsey, 1901

Wow …. and we think we are tired?

… okay, so my husband is working late night after night … and my feet are sore and my bones are aching … bread needs baking and school books need reading … but truly, I still have life so much easier than many … my mind is constantly being reminded of the blessings of my life … if we focus on the negative, that’s what we’ll see. Therefore, focusing on the good and the blessings and the gifts from God … that will be our encouragement! That is where we will draw our strength!

 

 

 

I think it’s time for less complaining (even if it is done silently in our hearts and no one can hear you) and time for more gratefulness and gratitude for all He has given us.

 

After all – when’s the last time I stayed up till dawn sewing on 100 buttons for nine children and then went into labour?

 

 

The joy of the Lord is my strength.

Nehemiah 8:10

 

April 3, 2014 - 6:38 pm

Erin Lynn - So very true! Amazing too, how, our attitudes “rub off” on our children. I know I am guilty of a complaining spirit causing my children to act critical of each other. Thanks for the reminder to cultivate a thankful spirit!!!

April 2, 2014 - 3:06 pm

Lauren - Oh my, Gillian! That journal entry from 1901 really opened my eyes!

My kids are asleep now, and my finger hurts, and first trimester nausea and super-smell is annoying, and I just feel so tired from chasing around only TWO kids, lol. I guess I shouldn’t complain either ;) Compared to the olden days, life is very easy for us 21st century folk indeed.

Thank you for your lovely blog posts – I’ve gone through a good number of them and always am so encouraged afterwards!!

Your sister in Christ, Lauren

When Missionaries start small.

With five bright eyed girls sitting around their homeschool table, I crack open our book and skim to find the last page we read in our missionary story…

 

 

It’s a heart-breaking and wonderfully inspiring story of Amy Carmichael, a missionary to India in the early 1900s, who rescued hundreds of precious little girls from the clutches of the Hindu temples where they served as slaves and prostitutes (I have not introduced the topic of prostitutes, but simply use the word slave when reading to the children). The girls listen while coloring pages from the Amy Carmichael Torchilighter movie while I read …

 

 


As a child, I dreamed of being a missionary.

 

I specifically remember when I was about 10 years old, my school took a field trip to the Blind Mission in Toronto — seeing all those photos of the children, suffering, facing blindness, poverty and starvation, I just felt it was something I would be doing. I’d be a missionary. I just had to be one.

Shortly after Abby and I were married, we spent a few weeks in Africa with a short term missions team … it was amazing. Wonderful. Life changing. I’ve since been on another short term missions trip and it is something that just doesn’t leave your mind, your memory, your heart.

Fast forward 1o years and now I’m a full time mother … a housewife with five precious children gifted to me from the Lord on this earth and one in the womb …

and loads of laundry that need tending, homeschooling that needs planning and a family that needs caring for … but yet, in some ways, can I see this still as missionary work? … it’s not glamorous. It’s not fancy. It’s often, dare I say it, mundane. In fact, it can be downright humbling. Putting others needs before mine, unclogging toilets, changing diapers, helping little minds memorize Scripture and introduce them to Christ … all a privilege and an act of servanthood.

…but I see it – as we open our book to read the life story of one woman who gave up everything to take on hundreds of little children who ‘tie the feet’ and keep her from doing the ‘real missionary work’ she intended -I see these little girls of mine soaking up the heroic, godly, sacrificing story of this one incredible missionary …

 

We place the ‘Amy’ figure on the map to show where she was a missionary all those years ago …

 

 

Not far away on our ratty, old world map is the photo of the Nuefelds in Mozambique, Africa …

 

And then,  school time is over and the chapter has concluded … the girls run upstairs to their shared bedroom, prop open their loom case and begin making more bracelets. It’s all about missions … the reason the girls are working on the Looms for Love project …

And I see tiny seeds … seeds of God-seeking and kindness in their heart … and it clears my vision … I am reminded where my mission is … right here, right now, with these children.

Little girls, wearing cross necklaces, looming up bracelets for orphans … the cross necklaces made a day earlier with two other new friends who spent the afternoon at our house creating more bracelets for Looms for Love – all  for the precious African children who will be receiving these bracelets in July.

I see their young eyes light up when I tell them they have been invited to participate in a church event in a city two hours away … invited to tell other children about how they can help, show them how to make the bracelets for the orphans in Mozambiqe and raise awareness and funds for the missionaries, Rick & Heather  who are doing the daily, life-changing, faith-stretching, back-breaking labour of overseas missions.

And I am blessed to see something as simple as reading a missionary story every day to many little ears could help create a tiny project that will encourage and send love to children who need it all the way into Africa …

P.S.

Do you want to introduce missionary stories to your children? Here are some of our favorite.

Heroes Then and Now

Missionary Stories with the Millers

and these movies are fantastic for your children:

Torchlighters – Heroes of the Faith

 Using the notebooking pages from the Torchlighter website has been a wonderful resource, as well.

Linked up with:

 

 

March 31, 2014 - 1:01 pm

Heather - Beautiful thoughts. Our favourite is Gladys Aylward.

March 30, 2014 - 7:25 pm

Chris McCoy - Oh Gillian, what a lovely post! Its so wonderful to see your beautiful girls growing in their Christian walk! The tiny hands holding the beaded cross…Girl you are a treasure of God! Thanks for keeping us in your lives this way. What a blessing!

March 27, 2014 - 10:03 am

Erin Lynn - My girls don’t really have a Rainbow loom or we definitely would have been involved, too!! A focus on missions is such a wonderful gift to impart to your little ones. My girls best friend is a missionary (with her family) to Africa, and my husband’s best friend serves in India. Both of these families spur us on as a family to reach outside ourselves to serve the Lord by supporting them. I know what you mean about serving where you are even though we are not missionaries overseas. You know, the Lord is really opening my eyes to teach my girls to serve those around us, family but also neighbors, church friends, etc.

March 26, 2014 - 11:11 pm

Kristina - I love seeing how excited my children get with missionary stories. My eldest feels a real connection with Hudson Taylor, since his middle name is Hudson. And imagine our surprise when he brought a book about Eric Liddell with him to church one Sunday, and our pastor’s mother told him that she was in a prisoner-of-war camp with Eric Liddell when she was a child in WWII! Growing up Catholic, I really missed out on all these missionary stories. Catholic children are given “Lives of the Saints” books instead. Some of them real people, some of them mythical. But the stories about missionaries are so much easier for children to connect to, because they are so rooted in real-world geography, and some of them are current or not-so-long ago.

March 26, 2014 - 11:02 pm

Rebekah - Very beautiful and inspiring, Gillian. Your sweet girls, learning and loving, like their mother.
My daughter had a wonderful time creating with your five. How exciting that you are taking the message for more children to be involved.
I am glad to have met you and that we live so close!

A Little Bit of Nesting.

First off, I must say THANK YOU for the wonderful response to the Looms for Love project!

The girls are so excited to see so many other children want to get involved! We have stocked up on the elastic bands needed and nearly every afternoon, the three older girls are creating new bracelets for the orphans of Mozambique … it’s just wonderful to know so many people have a heart to help others!

Thank you, thank you, thank you!


If anyone has questions regarding Looms for Love, just add them in the comments or email me and I will respond with answers. Can’t wait to see this all come together!

__________________________________________________________

While at my midwife appointment last week, she asked if I was getting ready for the baby …. you know, nesting stage and all that fun stuff. It’s incredible how things change from the first baby to the … well, the sixth baby, in our family’s case … I feel so relaxed in many ways, knowing all this baby needs will be his or her momma (and daddy), loving arms to hold the baby, warm blankets and lots of time for nursing … I feel no huge rush to get anything overly ‘ready’ – I’ve not purchased anything (if it is a boy, I will need to purchase some clothes, that is for sure) except for a few more cloth diapers  …

{The pink is from the last few newborns, but we have added yellow and green to our collection. It will work either way, whether a boy or girl.}

 

Who doesn’t love a good stash of fantastic, bright and clean cloth diapers, ready for your baby? Ahhh, I just love it!

I guess I’m nesting in some other ways – like stashing up our homemade wipes …

I haven’t bought wipes in years – we just use wash cloths now. I used to use paper towel until I cut those out from our shopping lists, as well. I feel the wash cloths are much more resourceful, healthy and thrifty on a budget. And really, you just use and wash and restock your diaper wipes case with the clean wash cloths. It’s very simple.

{To make your wipes, fill a glass bowl with about 1/2 cup of warm water and add in a squirt of Baby-Mild Organic Castile Soap along with a just a few drops of teatree oil and that’s it. Mix and dip your wash cloths into the mixture to dampen them. Store in your wipes case or another container. I find I use up our stash weekly so the wipes do not sit and mold. The teataree oil is antifungal as well as antiseptic and will slow the growth of mold. I personally love the smell of it, as well!}

 

Another way I’ve been preparing for baby is making sure the freezer is stocked up with things like ready-to-go cookies … because with five children, a little afternoon snack is always needed, not to mention when friends visit, it’s nice to have a quick easy way to please the children.

So, to ensure I have a stacked freezer of cookies, I’ve been doubling or tripling my cookie batches, preparing them on Saturday when I have more chunks of time  in the morning for baking.  Simply roll out the dough as you would for individual cookies, place them on the cookie sheet and pop them into the freezer for a few minutes.

 

This will harden your cookies quickly. After about eight minutes, pull out your cookie sheet and pop your frozen, ready-to-bake cookies into a ziploc baggie. Store in the freezer and there you go! Ready to bake at a moment’s notice …!

 

We have done gingersnaps, chocolate chip and this week, we made up a big, tasty batch of Redneck Cookies.

This, to me, is nesting, I guess. It’s quite satisfying and wonderful to know that a newborn baby needs way less than commercials or any baby magazine or blog may have to suggest … all this baby needs is love, love love! And it will receive it, trust me! We are all looking forward to having a new baby in the house again.

 

P.S. I have blogged this recipe before but I am going to put it up again – because we love it that much!

 

Redneck Cookies

2 cups of oats
2 cups  of flour
1 tsp  of baking powder
1 tsp -baking soda
1/2 tsp -salt
1/2 cup – shredded coconut
Mix all dry ingredients together and set aside.
In a separate bowl, mix with electric mixer until fluffy:
1 cup of butter at room temp.
1 cup of brown sugar
1/4 cup  of white sugar
2 Tbsp of honey
2 tsp vanilla
Beat In:
2 eggs
Mix the wet ingredients with the dry.
Fold In:
1 cup of chocolate chips
and optional:
1 cup – White Chocolate Chips
1 cup – Chopped Pecans or Walnuts

 Bake at 350  for 10 minutes.
Enjoy!

 

March 26, 2014 - 5:19 pm

Teresa - I love freezing cookie dough too! The secret my SIL shared with me is that you need to use recipes with baking powder and not baking soda. Baking soda activates as soon as it’s mixed, but baking powder half activates upon mixing and then the other half activates upon baking. So no flat cookies. :)

March 26, 2014 - 4:58 pm

Grandma Cardinal - Way to go darling Gillian! <3

March 26, 2014 - 4:12 pm

Jen Heemskerk - That cookie recipe looks amazing! I will definitely have to try it with my children! I’ve been ill, so I haven’t been able to chat with my principal about the Looms for Love just yet…but there is still time! ;-)

March 25, 2014 - 8:38 am

Tara C - I love your idea of freezing cookie dough in little individual balls. That’s awesome!! I’ve been trying to make life easier for us this year and I’ve made mini banana muffins (about 150 at a time…which doesn’t seem to last long. lol!) and stashed them in the freezer. They’re perfect size for little mouths and a great little on the go snack or school snack. Cookies would be a great addition to the freezer :)
I’m so excited to hear about baby #6!! You are such a great mom! I need to learn to be even just a smidge more relaxed and magical like you are with your girls. It just feels so refreshing to read your blogs and hear about all the things that you are doing.

Looms for {Love}

I’m not a big fan of trends.

So when the Rainbow Loom hit our house earlier this year and our home exploded with tiny, brightly colored elastic band projects everywhere, I wasn’t that impressed.

I was tripping over these bracelets, they were driving me crazy … but the girls loved the Rainbow Loom. They still love it. And it’s a great craft for little hands and fingers …and from what I hear, it’s a trend that is not dying down anytime soon.

But … really -  what was the point of these bracelets that every young North American girl and boy were crafting up a storm on their looms, faster than you could say Biggest Christmas craze?

Yes, they can create tons of pretty bracelets and trade them with friends – but … what if we could do more?

 

Enter the Looms for Love idea!

The girls and I were brainstorming – and although this idea is not entirely unique as many wonderful children are already blessing others with Rainbow colored bracelets around the world – we thought it would be pretty neat to have the girls make bracelets for an actual purpose. And for a cause they understood.

So we contacted our friend, Heather, who lives and works with the people in rural Mozambique, Africa, under the care of SAM Ministries.    We asked her if she’d be interested if we mailed off packages of Rainbow Loom ‘Love’ bracelets for their local orphans. She gladly said yes!! And now, we are planning on having all these looms bracelets ready to be handed out to about 100 orphans in their Orphan Care packs this coming July.

 

We’re spreading the word and hoping you and your children will join in this fun, colorful project! It’s so exciting to see the girls and their looms, spread out on their beds and couches throughout the house, making bracelets for little children across the world. We are hoping it will simply bring a little cheer, a little Rainbow love to their day and encourage them even in the smallest way.

Your children can join in! It’s simple,  easy and if they’re already Looming, then why not loom for a cause?

 

 

Here’s how your child can help:

 

1. Create Rainbow Loom bracelets – as many as your child wants to! Our goal is at least 100 bracelets total for the orphans.

2. Send the bracelets to our Loom Headquarters (here – ha!) where we will be packaging up and sending the bracelets in one big package to help save on costs. When you are ready to send the package our way, send me an e-mail (gillian@gigiphotography.com) and I will provide you with the mailing address.

3. We are asking that you donate $5 to the cause. You can do it via their ministry’s website, which will go straight to Rick & Heather’s children orphan mission in Mozambique. If you could please write “orphan care pack” in the message area when you donate, that will ensure the money goes straight to filling the orphan care packs.  Here is the link.

4. All bracelets need to be mailed by May 31, 2014. If we feel the need, we can extend the date, but I’m just thinking it is good to have a timeline so we can see a completion to the vision.

5. The bracelets will arrive at the mission by July and will be added to the Orphan Care packs which are delivered throughout the rural areas of Mozambique. Of course, Heather has promised us photos of the children when they receive the bracelets – so make sure you check out her blog or this blog for updates!

 

 

 

 

Turn your child’s handiwork into something of love … Share the link on facebook, your blog, twitter or pinterest! Let your children know about this project and help them  send some Loom Love overseas!

 

 

 

 

 

March 24, 2014 - 8:17 am

Annie - Love this idea. And love the donation contribution as well. Bravo Gillian — I’m sure my seven year olds will be all over this when I mention it :)

March 23, 2014 - 4:44 pm

Jessemyn Pekari - My girls are super excited to make and send some bracelets! Please let us know when you would like them by!

March 21, 2014 - 6:20 pm

claire - There are a couple simple loom designs that can be made on their fingers (single and the fishtail) or two pencils, also one you can do on a fork. We can include instructions on how to do them. Just an idea :)

March 21, 2014 - 11:54 am

admin - Claire, that’s wonderful! I’m so happy to hear Abby and Hayden will be joining in!
Regarding the supplies, they don’t have looms (unless we find someone to donate 100 looms!) so I’m not sure how that would work … maybe we could use them for the children who are looming here in Canada, but are running out of bands?

March 21, 2014 - 11:50 am

Claire - Abby and Hayden were so inspired by your idea. They started looming this am. Thanks for sharing a wonderful idea! We will be sending a bunch your way. Abby wants to know if they would enjoy some supplies so the children can make their own too? She was given many packs of elastics for her b-day, more then she’ll use and would like to donate them to kids who don’t have any.

March 20, 2014 - 6:41 pm

admin - Jen, what a fantastic help this will be! Thank you for spreading the word at your school!

The suggested donation is simply $5 per family/child who donates the loom bracelets … all the money goes straight to helping fill the orphan care packs.

Thank you again and God bless! The girls and I are excited to see how many bracelets come in!

March 20, 2014 - 6:07 pm

Jen Heemskerk - What a great way to loom away and raise awareness and funds for a great cause. I run the Rainbow Loom club at my school. How can I send you the bracelets? Also, is it a $5 donation per bracelet? Not sure if that is do-able as my school is low-income….but I will put a donation in the envelope on our school’s behalf. Can you email me derjen@hotmail.com with information of how I can mail the bracelets to you? Thanks

March 20, 2014 - 5:51 am

Heather Neufeld - Here is a link if you would like to see us handing out the care packs purchased during our 2012 campaign… this coming july when we hand out the bracelets we will be handing out packs purchased this past Christmas and following.
http://rickandheather.blogspot.com/2013/11/unique-christmas-gifts-orphan-care-pack.html

March 20, 2014 - 5:34 am

Heather Neufeld - Gillian- you and your girls never cease to amaze me! Thanks so much for thinking of us! The kids who recieve this years Orphan Care Packs will be thrilled to find these brightly coloured bracelets inside. Not only that, but we can tell them that each bracelet was made JUST FOR THEM by another child, far across the oceans who wanted to let them know they are thinking and praying for them! What a fabulous testimony!

The link should work, please if you could ask folks to just put “orphan packs” in the space under the donation amount where it says Message for …. That way we can easily track what area the funds are for. Thanks so much!!! (i did walk thru the link myself and recieved no error message so it should be good).
Again.. Thank you so much! This is such a lovely idea!

March 19, 2014 - 9:38 pm

admin - Lisa, that is fantastic that your daughter wants to help! Thank you for spreading the word…

I’ll check that link right away! Thanks!

March 19, 2014 - 9:23 pm

Lisa - My oldest daughter would like to make a bracelet for this cause. I agree that this is a great reason to make a bracelet!

When we clicked on the link in your post to learn more about the ministry in step 3, and make the $5 donation, we were taken to a “page not found” error. Would you be able to update this link please? We’d love to read more about it. Thanks so much!

March 18, 2014 - 9:35 pm

admin - That’s GREAT, Sherry! Thank you! Yes, please, please spread the word!

March 18, 2014 - 9:27 pm

sherry varkel - Nick is AMAZING at doing these…..I think he will like to give some to kids. I will also ask him to let the rainbow loom club at school know tomorrow :)

Mommy, Please Cut my Hair.

Today, we cut hair.

You see, the girls have been asking me to cut their hair so they could donate it towards creating wigs for those with cancer …

For months, we’ve been praying for two people in our church with cancer.
On Sunday, we met a little boy, the same age as Lyla, who had cancer and fought it with his life and survived.

A few of their friends have donated their hair recently … it was inspiring for the girls to hear how they could help someone simply by having their hair cut.
Who am I to stop them from giving to someone else in need this way?
Yes, I love long hair on little girls … I love braiding their hair … but it will grow. And this is for a fantastic cause.

They were SO excited to actually do it!

A very proud little girl.

Lucia’s hair was so lovely and very long – it took her a while to decide to give up her Rapunzel hair, as we called it, but she choose to follow through today.

She, too, was very proud and said she looks like their Aunt Kate now …{I forgot to take her after photo! I shall tomorrow.}

 

One of our favorite verses in our house says it all.

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young,
but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.

1 Timothy 4:12

March 18, 2014 - 10:25 pm

shelley - precious :) I just donated my hair again a few weeks ago ( over 12 inches!)

March 18, 2014 - 11:09 am

Lynda Lu Gibb - Giving something precious and what they have to others in need…your bible based teachings are being put in to action…good job ,mom and dad.

March 18, 2014 - 10:45 am

Monica - My ten and a half year old has done this twice and my 8 year old has just recently done this for the first time! I believe it is a kind and loving thing for girls to do :) My five yeast old might do it this summer if her hair is long enough. I love that your girls did this too!

March 18, 2014 - 10:43 am

Grandma Cardinal - Love it! They all look so cute! <3

March 18, 2014 - 10:38 am

sherri smith - Way to go girls. Wow, does Lyla ever look grown up! You girls did a very good thing. xo

March 18, 2014 - 8:45 am

Jen Heemskerk - Our Rachel just did the same thing! It is a joy to watch our little ones give something so special to someone in need! Way to go girls!