Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Morning "brain food" surprise

Brain Food

...on an Autumn morning

It was a big surprise for them, smack in the middle of a school morning’s session.

Our former neighbor Betty used to set out what they termed “brain food”, her special "Betty cookies" for our older ones, on the days they sat in their home individually while taking schooling tests under supervision. The term “brain food” sticks to date, only the children who are still in school are the younger ones.

Every once in a while, trays of real brain food appear, you know, veggies and dip, bowls of sliced apples, cheese, crackers and a plop of peanut butter for them to slide their apples around in.

Yesterday however, something different happened in the center of the morning, unlike mother to offer such fine “brain food” at that time of day. When the glint of surprise shined in their eyes betraying their excitement about the fine offering, I could tell it was going to be a hit! In fact, I had surprises lined up all day long for the bunch - dessert first, supper at lunch, and then breakfast at supper (French toast!). What they never knew initially (and neither did we) was that their parents had plans to hit a cheap Tuesday movie night, and certainly swapping the meals around had advantages to slipping out early and having the kitchen all tidy first. Wink

They were all ready to grab one..

Whimsical and fancy cupcakes can thrill any child, but adults as well. When my hubby saw them all lined up on the buffet near my autumn décor, he reserved the one he wanted before the children had a choice. Yes, this was a hit!

Every once in a while, it is fun to set out on purpose to shake things up and see what happens. Fun!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Autumn traditions

Seasonal Traditions!

If you’ve ever seen the film, or play of “Fiddler on the Roof”, immediately you’ll sense how important “traditions” are when recalling how Tevye (the father) reacted in one particular scene…”Tradition! Tradition! Tradition!” he shouted.

In our home, our family has become accustomed to many seasonal traditions, established over many years, inevitably continuing on today. If I might forget to take the time for preparing yet another yearly occasion/event or whatever, (or a few), I’m quickly reminded in a flash that "it’s our tradition" (How dare I forget!) to do whatever I’ve omitted, thus a fire is swiftly lit underneath of me to get on with it. Sometimes I chuckle at some of the adopted traditions important to everyone (especially the odd impulsive ones enjoyed on a whimsical and blustery moment's notice), but the children tell me it’s “our family tradition” (deep inside I’d wonder just how I missed that, only having done it maybe - once before). So, if it’s important enough to them to complain, we proceed to do it all over again. This is truly just how traditions begin, isn’t it, one year at a time.

As wisdom comes with age, I have obtained enough “A-ha” moments over the years to know when something has become important enough to the children to secure a repeat performance if all are gamed. When I have not been aware of something from the past, the older children have rallied and made it happen for us anyway. Funny how that happens.

The four seasons in any given year present a myriad of opportunities to enhance our family life by sprinkling a wee bit of fairy dust about, surprising the gang with something new, something old, or something so emotionally tangible, clearly it couldn’t be that time of year without it present once again.

Our family traditions developed over the years, seem to have blessed and provided enough heartfelt memories, with each one, we have opted to either formally instill and/or continually recall each season's subject specific within our family when necessary. Likely whether it was remembered on purpose or something only stumbled upon, the children seem to stick it onto our yearly calendars as a must-do item. Often times the calendar is quite full and we must choose but a few. That's okay too as long as we remember the most important ones to them.

As the topic of autumn has been in many of my recent posts, I'm certain it doesn’t come as a surprise to you, to announce another of “mother’s traditions!”

Tradition! Tradition! Mother’s Tradition!

I’ve always loved photography and playing with a camera to view the world through my camera lens in odd sorts of ways. Our children have a plethora of photos in the family memory vaults to last all of them forever, with double copies of all sorts of shots taken at various angles and lighting situations, even triples. Now with the new (super duper!) digital technology, our family jointly accesses a photo upload center, sharing our photos over the miles, keeping in touch with our separate lives.

Each fall when the morning air becomes crisp, so fresh and cool, and when a particular day’s weather co-operates (read- no rain!), usually with the sun shining overhead, mother suddenly announces; “Everyone grab a jacket, we’re off for fall photos at the park!”. Off we travel in search of stunning and colorful natural settings, or in public gardens for our background desires.

This particular “Renee’s Tradition” became a part of the family’s photo scrapbooking history when I gathered the gang on impulse one fall morning to do this, and when I picked up my photos from the developers, they gifted me with an enlargement of the children. The clerk went out of his way to corner me before leaving, requesting to use the photo under their glass countertop, as all the photographers on site agreed all the photography details were perfect in the photo. I thanked him for the free enlargement - lotsa $$$ in those days. I convinced myself it was just a lucky shot!

I’m pleased to let you in on a little secret here, this seasonal photography has continued since then, and I’ll be sharing (Renee’s traditional walk back over the seasons) those seasonal photo gem occasions with you on my blog's sidebar at the beginning of each new season in the future. I have a few here to scan before I upload them, so keep checking.

There are times I will confess teens roll their eyes at the seasonal announcements, not wanting to participate, but I bribe them. That's the real secret you know; bribe them! snicker

There have been moments my photo archived treasures were caught suddenly, by slamming on the brakes (not really, but doesn't that sound like something so exciting, it must be worth doing it for?) and pulling over to the side of the road. On one such occasion, I'd obviously been admiring the autumn backgrounds enough to bark out an order, this time for someone older to stand as my photo subject near a specific area nearby (safely). The photo below is one of those wild and strange moments when our son was playing hockey away from home, and I had to the opportunity to visit him where he was living. After a tiring morning hockey practice, I asked him to hop out of the car so I could take this photo. Much to my dismay I wasn't able to capture the color I witnessed there on that roadside, and I'm sure this son can tell you I was completely out of my mind at that moment for desiring a photo such as this one. Actually, I can still laugh about it ten years later myself! What can I say? Every picture truly tells a story to those who snap them.

Traditions! They continue as the children leave home and develop their own renditions, believe me.

Our daughter the newlywed, shared a spectacular photo of herself amidst a flurry of leaves falling around her, after throwing them all up into the air. I recognized the park as the one we had frequented and inquired if that was the one where her photos were also taken. Sure shooting she said, and it was a family tradition to get to the park for those fall photos, so with hubby along, the two of them did just that – take photos in the park with autumn colors all about them.

As they leave home, they
carry traditions with them.

Two grown children shared with me the autumn traditions they have carried into their married lives this past week, and my hubby and I found it wonderful to hear the ones they’ve chosen to use, those still dear to our own hearts, those we too continue with the younger ones today.

Aside from colorful autumn leaf park photos, as mentioned in my last post, getting to the pumpkin patch is special for us still today. it's a tradition! This past weekend, we did just that, and the weather co-operated very well with the sun shining upon us, and the air was as crisp as any autumn day can behold. Wonderful! Memorable! Tradition!

I like this one!

Adventures through four corn mazes!

Assorted animals surrounded us.
The hog race was the funniest thing!

I can't encourage you enough to enjoy making traditions with your family, however humble, small, or seemingly insignificant. They matter. They really matter. Mark my word; you will know….year after year when the request comes in yet again, for another round of the same thing. Tradition!

Fall Follies

And they each hit the tire mark,
for two free shots!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Camp Day!

Camp day!

It is my own personal opinion; every mother (or father) who attends a child’s day long group activity should gain a badge, one mentioning “survivor”….

Today, I survived another fall Brownie camp, not overnight as there were too many mother/daughter teams signing up this time round and we were late getting our registration forms in, thus only a day long (which is quite fine with me, it’s a L-O-N-G day!). Up early, I was as other mothers were, tired before I arrived. (snicker)

Only three cases of Girl Guide cookies left.

(This is my (leader) friend Kim and her daughter with ours)

First though, it began with the Girl Guide cookie blitz the past two weeks, where each girl was responsible to see one case of cookies. The cookies this time were the chocolate mint ones, and of course, the teens in this home assist greatly in the purchasing of the individual boxes. Add a few of their friends for a visit, no problem at all. So, two days ago, these were the only remaining boxes of cookies left from our group’s sixty case sale expectations. These girls were ready for camp, and they earned it well!

Driving to camp was something else, not just for the duration of it, but what a lovely drive! As we neared the Guide camp, it became evident my drive turned into one of those “in search of autumn” findings with visual delights in abundance. The leaves on the trees were incredible, and beneath them lay a colorful autumn carpet underlay.

It seems a bit of a cliché mentioning the very word “survival”, as the mothers were summoned and then rallied into the kitchen together shortly after my arrival, where word leaked out about the sighting of a cougar nearby in the local town.

We were about to gather the girls and head off for a long hike, and another again later on, so the need to be extra careful and vigilant was necessary, walking sticks and whistles for the moms came were mandatory. Not far off, a cub scouting camp was also in session, leaving many people notified, and all appreciating the heads-up.

It was here at the Brownie camp where autumn was visible, beautiful, and wonderful. All the mothers took moments to snap photos, many collecting the colorful leaves to take home.

As usual the leaders worked like busy bees organizing a fun, fun, fun camp. The food fare at these camps is terrific, and my work duties were just fine, keeping me busy when my hands needed something to do. A friend was ill and could not attend with her daughter, so she became mine for the day. I took over her appointed tasks as well, which kept me busy and out of mischief.

The making of an organic
bird feeder!

Cut a pumpkin in half, scoop out the gunk!

Two holes were drilled on either side,
a stick threaded between the two.

Nailing the string holder to the bottom

Filled with bird seed and all ready to
be hung outside on a hanger in the garden.

Between the hikes, crafts, singing and group sessions, games, meals, hikes, and attempted campfire (which did not work out in the end when it poured on us) were just grand. The chalet was toasty warm, and at least it was not icy like last year at the same venue. No one would guess there were 39 people in attendance!

After a very long day, I am once again within my nice comfy home. I am happy to report there was no encounter with a cougar, no sighting of one, and none from the Scouting camp either. Being from B.C., cougars were always a possibility as well as bears. Last year at the camp, it was wolves, but I never knew that until the week after the camp…

So, until spring camp, and I end up in a tent again amidst a bunch of non-stop chatty mothers and daughters who take the time to make memories for their daughters, I will dream of my day today…smile. I also have homework to do, three more badges to get onto my daughter's sash for Thursday night's meeting.

Three more badges awarded ...

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Chicago mandate!

The Chicago mandate!

When our friends Jim & Diane came to visit this past August, Diane gave the children a weekly mandate, a “weekly (Wednesday) mandate” in fact, stating to the children every Wednesday, they must ask their dad: “When are we going to Chicago?”

Chicago is on our minds as we wait to travel there soon for another medical visit for my hubby. Our friends live nearby and would like us to visit them again, this time bringing along the children and taking the train to the Navy Pier, visit famous museums and perhaps if we're really lucky, take in a Chicago NHL hockey game. Now, ears did perk up mightily when the latter was mentioned, and over the course of the next few weeks, we will know when the mandate will become a reality.

It has been fun to collect the mail and find weekly reminders there from the souvenir postcards sent to each of the children reminding them of their mandate.

The souvenir postcards are enticing us!

It’s also been fun to have the history of the postcard photo noted from Diane each week to keep (me!) everyone so excited about the mail! Laugh

Well Diane! What joy you have brought to this family with your sweet messages, the anticipated daily mail collection, and the welcomed invitation to travel and spend more time with folks like you. You are very special people. Thank you for being in our lives!


You gotta make it happen!

The practice of dating, even after a couple is married.

For us, it has been “LONG AFTER” we were married, more than thirty years in fact, however we still place a weekly date at the top of our priority list as a couple.

We bid the sun good day last night
while driving on a wee time limited date.

It may be a date only consisting of simple pleasures, something like sitting on a park bench and taking in a lovely day.

It may be an impromptu breakfast together, each sharing a piece of the morning newspaper.

It may be sitting on the back deck and warning the troops inside to create a time of peace for us to “visit” in our own home together.

It may be summer cheap Tuesday matinée moments, nothing at all but chance time spent with one another, long drives to doctor appointments together, watching the sun set at the local beach, a great barbecue dinner courtesy of hubby’s chef talents, or even just chatting while running errands.

Take a Frisbee or a ball glove and get outdoors if you have to, just make it happen on a regular basis!

Perhaps the choice is a dessert and coffee, something like we did last night (and the newspaper).

Starbucks decaf House blend and a
volcano chocolate (carmel filled) cake yummers.

Whatever the decision, whatever the day holds, time well spent with one another as a couple will count toward the future when the children have left the home at their appointed times.

When our wee time was over, we
followed a full moon home.

If a moonlit night falls upon you day after day, and there hasn't been any "couple" time, you're walking a thin line.

Our advice to you - Life is too short - You gotta just go ahead and make it happen!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Ah yes, catching up.....

Catching up!

It’s that time of year again for Girl Guide cookie sales, Scout popcorn and apple days, camps, and sewing on new badges recently earned. I've become the official Brownie Badge tester, that is for all 28 Brownies! Fun!

With needle and thread at my disposal, I’ve sat quietly this week listening to the children read aloud to me, or keep them company while they are busy completing their reading assignments.

He's become a sixer, a leader of his group.

(Notice the new color on the walls? Another time...)

Naturally next to me is a hot cuppa something…

Autumn Inspired!

Autumn Inspired!

As the season progresses, and those entire seasonal expectations advance towards the dead of winter, we have truly been blessed with an incredible late summer, in fall!

A few rainy days have filled our grassy fields on our property. The outdoor (and indoor) greens have thirsted mightily in recent weeks hoping for the wet stuff to pour down.

Using last Sunday for instance on the more typical late summer weather experienced here, we arrived home from church, not only all wilted from the heat outdoors, but the thermometer inside gave a clear indication of temperatures also soaring and just shy of eighty degrees. On went the air conditioning system to cool everyone off.

Two weeks ago, a technician visited our home to perform a yearly inspection and tune-up so all would be ready for the winter season and colder weather ahead. I thought the appointed day obtained was going to be too late in the season, not wishing to turn on the furnace before it was all cleaned out and ready to go, but all my concerns quickly escaped me. As the date on the calendar drew near and our weather held on, I was so pleased not having to gag on that first of the season smelly furnace vent poof of air up our nostrils.

As thoughts usually turn towards shifting the heat upward on the indoor thermostat control, here we have had just the opposite without having to kick on the furnace at all yet to date. It’s not been necessary to raise the temperatures, a little odd considering it’s almost November.

Instead of fall colors, we're still green here!

Last year we noted the trees surrounding our home, their colorful hues painting a typical canvas of fall palette colors. This year, there is a little color about on deciduous tree leaves nearby, but for the most part, either leaves have blown off the trees with wind storms, or are still mostly green in color from the extra wonderful weather. However, if we were to take a drive a few hours eastward where the hilly regions offer a colder climate at higher elevations, leaves there are certainly lovely during this same time period and many travel companies are offering tours to view the fall colors gracing those hills.

Thoughts of duties associated with being a “keeper of our home” have turned my head towards soon implementing warmer and heartier food fare, meals that stick to the ribs; things like stews, soups and baked items are going to soon become more of a family meal standard. That is, when the temperatures begin to plummet more, as my hubby has been using his beloved barbeque often with the high temperatures. (It is here I’ll admit; Even though it was a tradition for us, it was not very ideal to cook a large turkey in the oven for Thanksgiving when the heat outdoors registered ninety degrees on the thermometer. We had to turn off the air conditioning to complete the task! Gasp!)

Confused squirrels are sure winter is approaching...or is it?

With each new day, we wonder how long this lovely weather will last. It's just so very wonderful to soak up more rays of the warm sun, taking a moment or two to suck back more outdoor air. It's becoming a little crisper the odd morning or late evening when darkness appears, but only a few of those days have been at hand. There have been a few nights where we've turned the air conditioning unit on inside the house again, mostly so we were more comfortable while sleeping. Our overhead fans we installed in each bedroom owe us nothing, they're all on all day long still! Amazing but oh so lovely!

Speaking of fall, have you visited a pumpkin farm yet and taken home a few pumpkins to cook, or decorate? This is a special tradition in our family, to buy pumpkins and cook (and freeze) many pumpkin pies! How nutritious is that? One pie per person for dinner! Try it sometime! It's so yummy...and the kids will think you've lost your marbles for sure!

About the pumpkin patch expedition; we are heading there this Sunday afternoon as a family fun time to a local farm referred to us by many people. This local pumpkin farm serves the community well, also offers logic skills of entering and exiting a huge corn maze, and other assorted fun things for the children to do. Since we’ve always followed the weather ahead of time for this activity, we are usually lucky with sunshine, even if it’s very cold out. This has always been a heartwarming and memorable activity for our family, and it was great to hear our son and his family continued on with it this year already themselves.

Family Traditions!
Our favorite pumpkin farm in the west...

Until the icy white glassy shine appears outdoors, one thing is for certain. We don’t have to wait for the cold air to rosy up our cheeks, we can pretend its winter already! Lest you think I”ve totally lost my marbles, let me just say, Starbucks has their pumpkin spice latte drinks out in full force, and soon (very soon) those yummy peppermint mocha hot drinks will appear. If you are not coffee minded, why not head out to your favorite location and grab a steamy cup of foamed milk with a touch of flavor added, no caffeine involved but a dreamy sleep will result. Add some ambiance to the room while sipping by lighting either a pumpkin or cranberry scented candle, beautiful music to top off the whole mood thing, and sip on your drink, recounting all the many blessings you have been given in your life!


  • May you find something special to celebrate Autumn and become inspired each day until the end of the season.
  • May you never take for granted those who love you, and reciprocate that love.
  • May you be blessed with the colors of the season, the rainbow of hope offered to all of us each day by simply gazing out the window or taking a drive to witness it outdoors.
  • May you find reason to bless another with something of autumn; corn on the cob for dinner, scents and aromas to remind you of this time of year, press a few colorful leaves, collect nuts on the ground before the squirrels clear them away, keep the feed out for the birds, hit a pumpkin patch (and bring along the camera!), and pray for others less fortunate than yourself.

  • May you find time to sip a hot cuppa and fill your tummy with warmth and goodness, again, blessing you abundantly with simple pleasures.