Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Wedded Bliss.

It's a time warp!

Can you guess what time period this picture was taken in?

Celebrating for a while, be back soon.

Monday, February 26, 2007

On a clear day...

On a lovely clear day, the wintry landscape is authentically exquisite, fresh and wonderful for our eyes to behold.

Passing by the beach several days ago, I was able to capture another photo of the icy build up against the shore, piles of icy formations creating hills and valleys. When the sun shines just right, light beams bounce from the crevices within the icy bumps, almost clear green in color, yet the waters just beyond are still a tropical blue.

This scene is appreciated by all the locals, more vehicles than usual are taking the "scenice route" these days, at least it feels like it when we take the route ourselves.

Soon after this picture was taken, we were the lucky recipients of another snow storm mixed with ice to make driving conditions very treacherous. It's terrific to have a heads-up for the worse days to come, allowing all to prepare with a grocery run, and the security of a good book for reading in front of the fireplace.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

More on chess...

More on chess...

Since posting my last writing, our son was again inspired to proceed to the lego drawers, gather specific colored bricks to make thoughtful castle items for his "Castle" themed Lego Chess board.

Here's a zoom on the characters gracing this board.
I'm not sure which room this game will be set to play yet.

Who knows? Maybe we'll have one in every room to gather round and get some logical thinking modes into practise.


He stares at you,
Watching your every move.
Does he know?
He makes his move.
You breathe again,
Counting on logic,
You see it all come together.
Hoping that your accusations are true,
Calm and quiet, you make your move.
You take a deep breath,
Hoping the next game is as lucky as the last

Great work for the mind!

Of Bishops, Rooks and Knights...

And, Kings, Queens and Pawns...

These are the familar terms used to identity chess pieces, each having a value for a point system in the game. Our own legoboy has been wonderfully creative these days, challenging all to a game of chess, playing on his original lego chess board with lego mini figures for pieces representing those Kings, Queens, Pawns, Bishops, Rooks and Knights.

It must be all in the "elbow" position.

The chess how to books are on the coffee table, other assorted chess game boards located here and there around the house, several in fact, ready to play at a moment's challenge.

Other game boards are set up and ready.

At the Cub winter camp, our son found out you can actually purchase a Lego chess set, as the one below, when a fellow camper brought his to play with and challenge the others to a game during their schedules.

This Lego set is sold as a kit for approximately 55.00.
Why not build your own from the Lego you

own (or Duplo) already and use your
imagination to springboard a whole new creation?

Knowing too his older brother had successful created several game board in the past, he was newly determined to produce his own fresh idea with playable characters to move around for the action of the game. Voila! He did a marvelous job!

An original Lego chess board made by Legoboy here.

Chess used to be in our home many years ago when the older children were involved with the school "chess club", working their way to that desired first place. One son was a chess champion, bringing home this trophy to prove it.

Anyway, back to the Lego creation hit this week, I've also posted several other ideas below we found on the internet after he made his own and was surprised to find more suggestions to create more chess boards with matching players. Get a load of the one with sharks and alligators looming within the game!

Viking game characters ready
to use for a chess game,
found on the internet as an extra
unique idea for the future.

Get your Lego out everyone, send us a picture of your own original creation and we'll post it here to get even more ideas flowing to assist others in making their own versions. In the meanwhile, enjoy the fun!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


A few lovelies from God's beautiful creation.

Frosty branches

At the water's edge taking in the view below and above.

Snowy branches

Monday, February 19, 2007

Reflections of Lent

Of Lent in Springtime...

Winter eventually becomes a time of waiting; waiting for the warmer weather,for the icy thaw of the waters and the gifts of the sea in full view once more, lush greener grass to walk upon, the glorious singing of a songbird nearby, and all the other things one can envision while sitting upon a park bench such as this one near our home.

My favorite "thinking/praying spot"...

I loved to come here in the summertime, and this week with all the incredible amounts of snow accumulating, I drove passed my favorite "thinking spot", to discover it was almost impossible to stroll to its resting place, mostly due to the depth of the snow surrounding it.

Lent is upon us with Ash Wednesday happening tomorrow. We gobbled down our pancakes this morning on this "Shrove Tuesday", the eve of Lent. Did you know many restaurants are offering free pancakes tonight, or partial payment for a stack? International House or Pancakes for instance - free! Make a note to take part in this next year and it's growing as a tradition around here for certain, almost every church had a special Shrove Tuesday pancake dinner, McDonalds restaurant offered pancakes all day long, as well as all you can eat at Smitty's and IHOP after 10am.

Lent represents forty days of reflection before Easter, beginning of course on Ash Wednesday and we skip Sundays when we count the forty days, because Sundays commemorate the Resurrection. Lent begins on
21 February 2007 this year and ends on 7 April 2007, which is the day before Easter. In many countries, the last day before Lent (called Mardi Gras, Shrove Tuesday, Carnival, or Fasching) has become a last fling before the solemnity of Lent. (If you cursor down you can see our daughter's Mardi Gras mask she made last week)

Lent occurs in the midst of springtime, another waiting period as we prepare for Easter. Usually Lent is a time period where we willingly choose to abstain from certain pleasures, denying ourselves things as a sacrifice, and at times avoiding unnecessary grand feasting, saving the rejoicing for after Easter Sunday, Our Lord's day of his resurection, our hope for eternal life. It’s always been a more humble and somber time in many ways in preparation for a journey into the desert for spiritual renewal. It’s a personal journey for everyone, and also for every family. In a nutshell, it's a time to grow closer to God.

Even during Lent though, my hubby and I were granted permission to marry, resulting in feasting with family and friends, and enjoying our days as a newly married couple preparing for our first Easter together - something a wee bit unusual for the time period. Life was a big blur before our wedding day, more times than not, so naturally keeping our focus wasn’t at all an easy task.

Those days so long ago seem reminiscent of our current year, as we are in a flurry completing necessary arrangements for another feast during Lent, a day which just happens to fall into this time period all these years later. This one is a particular grand occasion happening soon, one which holds high value and extreme importance to us as a family in general. Plans were decided upon over a year ago, coming ever closer now to its fruition.

Admittedly, I'm finding it to be a rather poignant time personally, with Lent being observed at the same time as feasting yet again, and yet feel as though we’ve already been in a Lenten for several months now.

"Whoever wishes to be my follower must
deny his very self, take up his cross each day,

and follow in my steps."

(Luke 9:23)

Do you ever find there are moments in life where you have been blessed with both the sweet and the savory, almost a bittersweet tenderness, so gentle and fragile, it becomes enormously emotional? This is how we are feeling the past few days as hubby and I ponder and reflect upon our Lenten preparations.

Lent is a time for lots of things ~
some personal, some communal,
all beautiful when done with love.

So then, with the events before us,
do we still sacrifice?

This year will be purposely and markedly different initially for our family's Lenten journey, remaining ultra flexible in our selected goals to achieve during these next forty days, and yet, still observe Lent as a whole, offering our whole hearts with easy simplicity, keeping a balance of the beauty we thrive to seek.

The book of Ecclesiastes gives a beautiful account to ponder, reminding us there is a time for everything under the sun, so we celebrate, and we fast, and we pray, and we find a healthy balance between all, but not becoming so intensely prudish and stringent to the point of ruining the festivities by our over extended pious attitudes and behavior. There is a time to rejoice, and Lent has always been the time slot our particular celebration has occurred. Our Lenten journey will not be similar to anyone else, thus we are unique as we walk our paths this year!

" Let us feast and do so then with great joy! "

The following was sent to me this week, a superb reflection for sure, and now I'm passing it along to you to ponder for your Lenten journeys ahead...


Give up complaining. . . . . . . .focus on gratitude.

Give up pessimism. . . . . . . . . become an optimist.

Give up harsh judgments . . .think kindly thoughts.

Give up worry. . . . . . . . . . . . . trust Divine Providence.

Give up discouragement. . . . .be full of hope.

Give up bitterness. . . . . . . . . . turn to forgiveness.

Give up hatred. . . . . . . . . . . . . return good for evil.

Give up negativism . . . . . . . . .be positive.

Give up anger. . . . . . . . . . . . . .be more patient.

Give up pettiness. . . . . . . . . . .become mature.

Give up gloom. . . . . . . . . . . . . .enjoy the beauty that is all around you.

Give up jealousy. . . . . . . . . . . .pray for trust.

Give up gossiping. . . . . . . . . . .control your tongue.

Give up sin. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . turn to virtue.

Give up giving up. . . . . . . . . . . hang in there!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Snow, snow, snow

A neighbor's mailbox!

Of snowfalls and snow squalls, this area seems to have its fill of them this winter season. If we aren’t out driving when the severe weather battles the area with is aftermath, we’re happily inside seated around our gas fireplaces with our candles lit and either books in hand, music playing, school work being accomplished for the day, or hubby and children challenging one another to their new love of Yahtzee.

Apparently this winter season holds many records for viewing the mercury plummeting way down low on our thermometers for the longest period of time in a row here. Often the snow doesn’t melt before another snow storm hits, but I have to say it’s so beautiful to see a freshly sprinkled field each new day shortly before the sun crests and appears for the daytime hours.

Windy drifts gathering near the
fence before the hardest snowfalls.

With recent temperatures hovering around -25 degrees with wind chill factors down to -35 degrees in total, the air is freezing and nippy for sure, but the sun makes it so lovely. I met a woman this week in the grocery store sporting a lovely tan, and when the conversation ensued over where she had been, she remarked right here when she went outdoors for some cross country skiing!

Trampoline for a midget? Lots of snow!

It was almost eerie though to travel down the roads, seeing the freshly ploughed snow on the siding eye level, at least five feet high in many places.

Snow along roadsides was over
five feet in height, or more.

As well, there was so much wind blowing the falling powder last week, we had four to five feet up against our fence, and every hour the back doors had to be checked for snow gathering up against the doorways.

Checking doorways every few hours.

It was important to take the dogs inside on a few days to keep them safely indoors, however our husky buried herself in a nice snow cave a few times and thoroughly enjoyed herself in it.

Blowing snow is the worst, notice the ripples here.

The snowsqualls and blowing wind are the most hazardous, surely you've heard all over the news how upper New York had snow squalls hitting hard with an accumulation of up to 11 feet of snow recently.

And the sun always shines here!
Hubby poses just down the road for me.

A neighbor enjoys roaming our front yard
with his skidoo after yesterday's fresh new snow fall.


Of sunsets and beauty!

We're still admiring the lovely sunsets as they continue through the seasons. I caught this one with my camera a few days ago after our severe winter snow storm.

Isn't it gorgeous?

Sweetheart birthdays.

Happy Birthday Sweetheart!

I’ve been taking a lot of heat lately, with many fingers pointing at me for not blogging about our youngest daughter’s recent birthday. Jeepers!

Happy Birthday to you!

Perhaps my audience is growing to appreciate the special celebrations I’ve so often written about before and there are many just awaiting the recognition. In a nutshell, our baby turned eight this month! Instead of eagerly awaiting her special day and opening up a few gifts from her family, this daughter rejoiced as she was now old enough to exit from the mandatory law of buckling up in a car seat. The law states a child must be over the age of eight years old not to have one as a mandatory fixture within the family vehicle. The car seat is now stored for future visits of the grandchildren.

The biggest thrill; finally out of a car seat.

As usual, the birthday gal woke up on her special day, and was happily granted the family’s traditional birthday breakfast out alone with mom and dad. One of the deals of this day is allowing them to anything on the menu, so usually their eyes are bigger than their stomachs. She feasted on pancakes and bacon, asking for an ice cream sundae afterwards to match her brother, who had gobbled one on his own birthday.

On the way home we all talked this birthday gal into an ice cream cake this year, which she had asked for anyway. We found an old-fashioned ice cream parlor conveniently right next door to the local diner we had our breakfast at. The lovely selection of ice cream cakes were in the glass display case all ready to choose from. Oh, she chose such a colorful one too!

What a girl wants, a horse of course!

The “horse fever” in our home has now been equated to the “hockey fever” we’ve experienced over the years, accelerating beyond mine and hubby’s understanding to the point where barns are mucked out happily (!) next door for fun (?), often for pay, and other offers are trickling in for the girls to watch young horses being trained this spring, or the neighbor has offered to possibly have her brother bring his horse up for the summer for the girls to ride everyday over there. Both girls are still grooming horses, the friendly beasts the older daughter enjoys kibitzing with, and the entire barn full of them actually and taking riding lessons also. Well, only one is currently in a weekly lesson, the other though, our birthday gal was given her own lesson as a gift from her big sister last week, happily tagging along every week now to groom her own two to three horse pals, residents of the barn. These days the girls carry “treats” for their pals, usually carrots and apples, but a good tip came in, so we had to stop to purchase a few peppermints this time for a few of their pals.

Looking forward to later spring when her own riding lessons begin once more, our birthday gal happily delighted in her new “horse camp package”, items including a whip, gloves, equestrian pants, lace up boots, chaps for over the boots, helmet and a helmet cover, the latest fashion accessory around the barns, changing as often as the weeks for some of the girls there. It was time to purchase the new helmet as she had been borrowing one from the riding club stash at the barn, now banned we are told for the chinstrap was causing serious trouble when gals were falling. The entire package cost was an incredible buy, only a few more dollars than the helmet itself, so she’s all set now.

My new horse camp set.

This little gal’s claim to fame is the fact she holds the record for being the latest to greet her family in this big new world. She threatened to arrive five weeks before her due date, several trips were made to the hospital when we weren’t sure but wanted to take precautions. Overall, she fooled us well when she ended up being fifteen days later than anticipated; once again I had to be induced (boohoo) for her to finally decide to come out from her cozy warm hiding place.

Both grandmothers adoring you the day of your birth.

Lucky for us she’s truly such a sweet daughter with a super peaceful disposition, happily living her role as baby of the family ever so sweetly, but also having to learn much in the way of sharing and caring for younger nieces and nephews in close age proximity.

Being the baby...

Rather than being the spoiled baby, there are times when she has to accept the fact there are many other babies in the family as well surrounding her and takes her position well.

Happy Birthday dear daughter,
born in the month of love and hearts.

You are our little sweetheart!

Cub Winter Camp

Welcome to Winter Camp!

Arriving at the gates of the Scout campground.

Our younger son experienced one night at the Winter Cub Camp recently, eagerly awaiting such an opportunity to work on more badges, plus others to sew on his camp blanket.

Lovely road conditions to travel this day.

Little did we dream a fresh snow fall would be the driving condition to travel to the scout camp where they’d be staying though, so it was most interesting to note several other scouting groups also participating in their winter camps, one younger group (The Beavers), one older group (the Scouts), then the VERY brave group who pitched tents outside in the -10 degree snowy weather (The Ventures).

The camping list included all the basics, bringing a helmet and sled were even on the list noting the recent weather conditions locally. It wasn’t noted however to bring along a mattress, so through trial and error it won’t ever be forgotten in the future. Our son’s first camping experience offered little in the way of sleep from strange noises surrounding him in the one room cabin, let alone a very hard surface to lie upon. Triple bunks were the norm in this cabin, located on three sides of the inner walls, tables, and benches in the center, and a kitchen area on the last wall. I haven’t mentioned a washroom here, so why not guess where the bathrooms were. Yes, a short walk away, down a bit of a path and you can bet no boy was brave enough to run out there for too long and especially not during the dark of night.

Hiking was the mode of entry,
an unexpected surprise (and workout)!

As I arrived at the designated parking lot, I noticed no cabin around the area and luckily arrived at the same time one leader and his son were loading up a toboggan to haul along the snowy paths. Little did I expect the incredible workout ahead awaiting us all, lucky for me too, I brought my older son along to help.

Taking a little break, napsack was heavy.

We had to hike up two very large mountainous hillsides, down into the valleys, meandering along long paths, until at last; we arrived at the boy’s assigned cabin. Truly, I thought the leader was joking, but we all made it just fine carrying a suitcase, large garbage bag with sleeping bad/pillow/blanket contents, sleds, food to contribute, knapsack, hockey helmet, and oh, my purse! I had no gloves (dumb!) and my hands were frozen before reaching the first hill summit! No Kleenex tissue in my pocket either, so all of us were sniffling all the way up and down our pathways. The park ranger roared by on his skidoo, and at one point I was most tempted to ask him for a ride. Once arriving at the cabin however, we were able to unthaw a while, settling in our son with all the other boys and marvelous participating fathers we’ve come to know as very good family centered men.

Two badges were being worked on during this mini camp session, those being the “winter camp badge’ and the “Hiking badge”. Snowshoes were worn for one of the hikes, useful with the recent snow falls of three feet and more gathering up in one area of the mountainside. Two other hikes were on the agenda, all campers and their fathers/leaders participating, one hike had been scheduled during the dark for a night owl hike, flashlights in hand.

Rules of the camp!

Toboggans, sleds and snow boards came in handy but none of the boys were allowed to take a ride down the hill nicknamed “Broken bones”, as the many trees lining the run were much too dangerous enjoy a gleeful ride around them all. Helmets were mandatory nevertheless, and of course, all the boys and big boys (men) were passing some of the time making jumps to zoom over along the way.

The first hike - Snowshoes!

As usual the campers eat very well at these camps; all enjoy a toasty warm campfire and lots of creative activities with the badge goals at the forefront of the planning for agendas to follow. The next camps for both the younger ones are for the entire families to participate in, sleeping in tents! Did I mention my hubby hates to camp and we’ve never owned a tent large enough to enjoy such an event? Uh-boy!

Heading back to the parking lot,
downhill before the climb.