Sunday, January 31, 2010

Ice hockey at dusk...

My Backyard Hockey Rink

(A poem of the five senses)

~ by; C. Yee

I see the frozen glass
I see the trees do the "wave" as I score a goal
I see the snow blow onto the ice

I smell the sweat from my hockey gloves

I smell hot dogs cooking on the grill

I smell the burning wood on the fire

I hear my skates rip through the ice like a saw cutting wood

I hear the trees clang back and forth in the wind

I hear the pucks bang off the goal posts

I taste the cold snow

I taste my mom's hot cocoa

I taste my mom's hot brownies

I feel the sweat run down my cheek

I feel the cold wind blow open my jacket and sting my face

I feel happy when I skate on my backyard hockey rink with my hockey pals

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Thoughts to ponder...

We're just days away from another brand new month, the month of February, otherwise known as the love themed month, at least that's what the Hallmark calendar will proclaim it to be, and the florists, and the chocolate factories. :)

Other feast days and festivities enter our thoughts when perusing the freshly turned page on the calendar; The feast of the Presentation, Candlemas, and Blessing of the throat on St.Blaise feast day are but a few, and then very shortly afterwards, we will begin thinking about the seasonal changes ahead when spring will soon be here.

Perhaps this upcoming week of feast days will bring to mind the topic of candles for you. Why not adopt the practice of lighting a blessed in your home, somewhere safe and practical, one that has actually really and truly been blessed already or purchase/make a suitable one for blessing this week.

We spoke on this topic at length one year at a mother's meeting I hosted. One woman had everyone in the room amazed at the possibility and feeling all tingly when stating she makes a rather large candle, one she has blessed every year, that her family goes to great length to decorate with personal meaning, one enabling them to mimic a type of paschal candle all year long for using when saying morning prayers as a family together.

Needless to say, we all loved this idea and had her lead a workshop on candle making for us!

The Blessing Of Candles

Lord Jesus, You are the Light of the World:
we praise You,
and ask you to guide our steps each day.

Help us to love You and serve You faithfully,
and to carry our daily cross with You.

Bless this candle,
and let it always remind me

that You are our Light in darkness,

our Protector in danger,

and our saving Lord at all times.

Lord Jesus,
we praise You and give You glory,
for You are Lord forever and ever.


Thinking this past week myself about our decreasing supply of candles, those blessed during days past, I've decided making candles just hasn't been something I've practiced for a few years and have accidentally come to discover using pure beeswax candles over pure white candles.

Rather than light small tea candles and be exposed to lead in regular bulk purchases of these types, I've made a conscience decision to spend a little more for quality beeswax tealights instead.

Did you know they last more than double the time of a regular tealight candle? And the smell alone is worth the price when the scent of pure beeswax waifs through the air.

I love candles and as the children have grown I find I use them more than ever before. Being almost freakishly safety minded, I was not ever real comfortable having candles lit about my home unless I was present right in their midst every second they were lit.

Call me crazy but I've known too many people with personal stories of tragedy when it come to children and candles. As our children have grown and the younger ones are now already into their tweens and teens, so just now, I am much more comfortable with candles all over my home.

We light them for the family's evening rosary, at the dinner table every night, and delight in scented ones made from soy lit about the home. Soy candles like the pure yellow beeswax are a recent and delectable discovery for our home.

At first I shopped on Etsy and found several suppliers of pure beeswax candles, bookmarked them all, and then quite accidentally I found them located in a general store not even a mile away from our home. I bit the dust and decided to shop (pay more) to support the locals, and I'm happy to be able to do so.

Now that we've used the pure beeswax candles, I doubt I'll be returning back to regular candles again. There is a vast difference between both kinds, believe me.

Also, our maple syrup and lavender organic soy candles were made local to our home, another option for longer burning wax and nothing scented in the air to become a problem for allergy sufferers here.

Little reminders are now very obviously sprinkled about our home for creating warm happy thoughts and rendering simple possibilities with gentle reminders for creating happy hearts.

Memories begin here in the home by choosing to adopt happy hearts despite all of life's adversities and sorrows. Since love abounds in all things, why not celebrate that in action.

I would encourage you to look around your homes and into the faces of those loved ones living there. You know just as I do, we can never relive this day again once it ends.

How will you spend your time this day?

How do you foresee it ending?

What sort of memory are you hoping to make today?

Now why not go and light a candle. In silence, begin to pray, hope, dream, cherish, hug and love those in your home.

This is the message we have heard from him
and proclaim to you, that God is light
and in him there is no darkness.

~ 1 John 1:5

Good Morning...

Rise and shine my little dear

the stars have left the sky

A new day is waiting

don't let it pass you by

Today is unique!

It has never occurred before

and it will never be repeated

At midnight it will end, quietly, suddenly, totally - forever.

But the hours in between now and then

are opportunities with eternal possibilities."

~ Unknown

Friday, January 29, 2010

Today's Birthday Post

One daughter on the left now has her overdue
birthday blog post up, on to the next daughter.

Yes, relief has come over me. For I am caught up on one of our younger daughter's birthday celebrations!

I can already feel the heat subsiding under foot (hehehe), but another daughter is stoking the flames and awaiting this post.

Not to be outdone and seeing as how we've already had a telephone call from this daughter asking where a blog post can be found for her own birthday TODAY, I thought I had better remain ahead of the game and hustle on over here to complete this today, on time.

Happy 24th Birthday our daughter,
our forever firecracker,
our bright sunshine on a rainy day.

Little Sister, Big Sister and their Niece

With you, I shall always remember being overdue (the story of seven of our children), and waiting in the doctor's office for my appointment when the radio announcer's voice came on suddenly to announce the explosion of the Space Challenger shortly after take off.

Wow, as the shocking news subsided, I decided it wasn't such a good day after all to have a baby, and you thought so too. We welcomed you into the world the next day, our strawberry blond gal, the first ever to offer a sneak peak ultrasound into your cozy womb spot during my pregnancy.

On this day I send you greetings from the Arctic! Well it feels like we're living in the arctic today after yesterday's full day's worth of snow squalls.

Today, the air was chilly early this morning with -22C reading on the thermometer, warming up for a while to -14C. As a birthday gift, I thought to send you a pile of snow via Fed-Ex to encourage you in your love of snowboarding. :)

I chose instead to come here and offer you an uplift. Some of us already sang to you when you called, a family tradition and one that has come to be fully expected by all of you in the west. Traditions! Oh yeah! Funny how that means so much to all of you, so we do it, we sing to you. That's why they're called traditions, right?

For those who don't know, this daughter holds rank in the family order right smack near its center.

She is our fourth child and the older sister to the four younger ones. She has always managed to swing with strong relationships between her older siblings right down to her ten year old sister.

She's the one who had a foot in the door about moving east, and then also couldn't take her other foot from the door back in the west. She chose to remain there and has since had regrets. Life moves on though doesn't it?

As older sister, she maintains constant contact with everyone here. Her voice offers smiles and much laughter when sounding off either as burly professional to silly gal antic tones. She can lift anyone's doldrums just by the sound of her voice.

First photos; Auntie and new Niece! Dec/09

She loves being auntie to many thus far, and was the first to visit her newest niece in the west, proud to take a few photos to send to mom, dad and family over in the east. We were all thrilled by her thoughtfulness.

Today, this very day, is her birthday. Yes it is.

Today she remarked how we owe her a birthday breakfast next time we are together. She nabs those traditions any time she possibly can because they are after all - Tradition around here with a capital "T".

Catching a birthday breakfast while he was in town
even if it was a few months after her birthday.

She caught her dad last time he was visiting in the west, to have a birthday breakfast later in the year at her very favorite restaurant with her very favorite waffle topped with strawberries and whipped cream.

And then, when either myself or my husband travel west for any reason, business or pleasure, she's right there wanting to soak up all of the time she has available, just to be near us and "hang out" together.

Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday TODAY!

Love you lots ;)

Photography "color" questions answered

Julie said;

Wow - you photos are great. I loved your mug, and your happy wall idea, and ... well, all of it really!
How do you get the colours so vibrant? My photos always look a little dull.


Justine said;

Excellent post, Renee! I did a collage years ago, but never mounted it. I think it is time to do this in my new house! Thanks for the idea. :o))

Yes, and ditto to the vibrant colour question. I know my camera does 'things', but i have no clue what to do other than to point and shoot. I know there are things like huffing on the lens to soften the look, but what other tricks or settings can you explain to dummies? :o)

Dear Julie and Justine;

A small disclaimer;

Ladies, I am by no means someone who can offer you professional advice. That said, I continually seek to better myself as an amateur photographer.

I am my family's historian, memory keeper, and fun seeker. :)

Here's a whole bunch of hints and tips for both of you, hopefully all good things to pass along. I'll even share all my dud photos with you here. :)

Admittedly I too was surprised, almost shocked myself to see how vibrant the color really was on many of my photos shown here, especially once I had hard copy prints made, or was able to view them in my photo album I made for my husband.

Before that I could only view them from the lens in my camera or on my computer. They looked good there (to me), but stunning and way better in print.

Go back to that last post where you saw my photos. Look closely. Notice something? How about all that color oozing out of my subjects? They help set the mood for the photo before evening shooting the picture.

Usually I do seek out the "colorful" in a photo possibility before snapping, color offered by way of something either natural or from the lighting present; ie... the pink boots, the colorful beach towel, scenery through the year, etc. but I do have several "edits" I may or may not use, that is if they compliment what look I'm trying to achieve.

A great photographer friend of ours admitted his use of using the software "photoshop" was a necessary advantage for optimal photos. I don't own that software myself but was shown the differences in his "super edited" photos, ones that look spectacular.

I'm using Flickr for a photo sharing ability and felt inferior for a while when noticing how "bright" and "vivid" many photos from photo artists were there, until I heard many did something, actually fully edited their pics.

If you click over and visit the "Pioneer Woman", she offered a tutorial about a year ago on using PhotoShop with her photos, the way she could produce such depth of color in her ranch animals, her scenery and her food for producing her cookbook. I remember reading the tutorial and thinking, wow, that looks like way too much work. I guess it becomes second nature after a while, though as I mentioned I don't own or us that software myself.

One thing I may find useful is learning all the features on my camera, like the "D-lighting" option on my Nikon camera.

This feature allows me to brighten up background lighting, or improve the natural light on a gloomy day within the photo. Here's an example;

Using D-lighting sometimes works against
the photo,
unless of course you much prefer the
brightness it can offer.

This particular setting doesn't always benefit a photo though, maybe making it TOO bright, but for those with shadows, poor lighting, people with window light behind them and such types of issues, this works well...when I remember to use it before uploading to my computer that is. :)

Once in a while I will use the "I'm feeling lucky" feature on my Picasa photo viewer, and there are times too when this just isn't a bonus, often brightening the light too much or the colors to make them look fake and stupid.

Another feature I'll try if need be is a "saturation" level, which gives depth to color but again, a photo's color can appear almost fluorescent and unnatural.

Even with bright colors, adding color saturation looks ridiculous.
My flash didn't do much for these either, so I was sunk to begin with.

My preference is to "soften" the outer edges or "sharpen" the grain, but only sometimes, depending on the photo.

Soften outer edges like above to offer a focal point

The sharpen feature helps poor lighting,
but obviously my flash didn't help me here.

Therefore, for most of my photos, I look for opportunity to have natural and bright lighting, the right view to capture the scene with sun behind or to one side.

I try to capture a mood, element or a thing just the right way.

Often times I
*see* the photo in my head before placing the lens up to my eye, but then again, I have almost as many "duds" as I do good shots. Delete buttons are a good thing for me, everyone for that matter.

I follow the "The Art of photography" podcasts on itunes and when I heard him say for every great photo he snaps, he has to take 100 photos. I knew that was about right...LOL But for those like the colorful beach towel, I enjoy 50 great ones to 10 duds. Color and light are the key to begin with.

If your camera can handle an addition screw-on lens filter, go for it. A polaroid snap-on filter works wonders in summer and in snow/winter photo scenes. A colored filter can help infract light like nothing else.

Another accessory is a rubber screw on hood over the lens area. Its purpose is to cover extra unwanted sunlight. It especially allows for shooting photos directly towards the sun, eliminating the rays overhead that refract into the lens itself to ruin a good shot.

Study your manual and see what additional options or accessories your camera can handle. If you're a visual learner, why not google your camera by name and find additional information and tutorials online rather than hashing out and scratching your head over the accompanying manual's pages that might not make sense.

Check out links you find after a search. Maybe you'll be lucky and find something via Youtube. Why not try this option out?

Check out your flash settings,
and use your manual to discover
more about your camera.

Check out your flash.

Does it reach far enough to reach your subjects? If not, consider a replacement if allowable on your camera. An average of only six feet is the standard it seems for most focus and shoot cameras.

Flash, way too much flash that with your settings

Play with the features allowable for use on your flash. For instance I have six features possible; delayed, night time, action, constant, none.. etc.

I have actually come to love using an SLR and not just everything automatic. My camera has manual setting ability, so I've found the manual a necessary education, blundering often and yet I'm beginning to find success these days.

My husband is an artist, a real artist unlike me (see last post, hehehe). He is a painter and has used various mediums over the years. He sees color and light in various forms I cannot, or have not, until he points out a better way.

With his itty bitty tutorials over the years, I can now find my options myself. He actually loves many of my shots and says, all is spot on. I like those compliments from my extra picky artist husband, grin, grin. He has already decided I need a better camera already, we'll see. I think picky artists like him should learn to pick up a camera of their own, don't you? :)

Most of all ; * Never* give up shooting photos, just keep snapping away and practicing for that is what makes one improve as a photographer.

Learn from those who use the same type of camera as yourself. Visit your camera sales store and pick their brains. Keep learning. Perhaps you can find a photographer club in your local area, a few courses or a mentor who will teach you everything they know. Lucky you!

Just learn all you can about your camera, read about artistic light impression possibilities (for light in photos, sunlight, moonlight, etc), and most of all -try, try, try again.

I hope something here helps. If you have any more questions, fire away. :)

Belated Birthday post

Okay, so the HEAT is on folks!

I've heard for several months now;

"Mom, how come you haven't put anything on the blog about my birthday yet and my traditional birthday breakfast with you and dad?"

I responded with;

"It was way back in October, kind of late don't you think?"

She looked at me, you know with that look of "Huh?" and then blurted out;

"NO fair mom, I want you to blog about me so when you gather all the posts from this past year for your blog keepsake book, I'm in there."

Wow, now I felt even more guilty for not complying long ago, as several weeks has passed since that last encounter. For today, I "will" surprise her by posting this belated birthday celebration and beautiful memory.

Without further ado, my dearest daughter, we love you and we are so thankful for the blessing you are to us.

We love celebrating your autumn birthday and treasure you deep in our hearts. As you know since it is well in the past now (sorry baby), we spent the following your birthday in Montreal, exploring and discovering new geographical terrain and listening to the humming slang of French Canadians speaking their native tongue, a language only I understood completely within our family.

The day before we left town, your younger brother was very proud and surprised you when you walked through our door. He had begged to make you a birthday cake. It was grand with twirly whirly candles all over the top.

The icing was spectacular. Remember all that gritty grit between your teeth when it was discovered he used white sugar for it instead of icing sugar? Crunch. Crunch. LOL

There were a few gifts to open from family members, many items were horse something or other in nature, your all time favorite sporty thing to do these days.

In advance, for the first time in your life, you actually had a birthday gift request from us, a super surprise actually as you've never requested a thing before and are always purely content with life overall, no matter if you are gifted, or not.

Your request (blew us away...) was lovely and made your parents speechless! You asked if it might be possible to have a special ring to wear, on your wedding finger to be exact, a purity/chastity ring that would be a reminder of something sacred towards your future.

Some day it would either become replaced you said with a wedding ring or upon your profession day as a religious. We all know you are really hoping God will allow you a vocation of matrimony with many little babies to fill your heart's desire and love of all things baby but since we know not what God has already ordained for us, we trust.

As our discussions together continued to grasp the understanding you were trying to convey to us, we concluded it wasn't a flippant sort of decision, rather much thought to this request had been in progress.

Your father and I decided to get out and shop for the perfect ring one evening, wondering all along what we thought we be the right kind for your request.

First we sought those "chastity" rings at a Christian book store local to us and didn't care for them - at all. After strolling through several other stores, nothing we saw was really entirely appealing, for the "wonderful" we were hunting for wasn't making an appearance.

By this time, your dad and I had been discussing types of rings, and we knew we wanted to allow the ring to have a message of sorts by having three stones if possible to represent the Holy Trinity.

We also wanted a good solid ring, not a cheap one, a ring you could have Father bless for your purpose, and a ring which would become one day replaced by another.

Until such a time as we would find one, we continued to shop and as we strolled along case after case through jewelery stores, I knew that I was flustered not to mention your father (we had to buy it this night!), so I quickly stopped in my tracks to pray for a moment that we would (pretty please) soon find one.

When I opened my eyes, your dad was waving me over, and there it was, merely six feet from where had stood. And it was truly perfect.

Once we were home again with our precious cargo, your father had decided it was something he wanted to do, have a special time with you behind a closed door, no other children present, not even me. it wasn't his typical behavior so I wondered what was up.

Unbeknown to me, he had already formulated a whole presentation in his mind, and assured you the ring would represent a covenant between you and God, and you and your parents.

And finally then, he presented the ring to you, and (amazing!) it was a perfect fit - just exactly your size!

You wanted to delay your birthday breakfast alone with your parents (moi and your papa) because our trip interrupted your timing, so we waited until two weeks later.

You chose "Cora's restaurant" and ate like a queen. Your favorite strawberry filled crepe was huge, and somehow you managed to consume the entire plate full.

Before hopping in our vehicle to leave the parking lot, I was able to snap a photo with your father and the memory of the day was seared in our hearts forever.

Happy 17th Birthday Baby!

We love you!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Just a wee note...

Overdue posts are going to be continuous for the next few weeks.

I am being made to feel quite guilty by a few family members here for not posting things of importance to them, even as far back as our trip to Montreal, and other assorted events within our family's memory banks.

My Christmas posts are not coming because I've realized I haven't the photos yet to accompany much of them, but they will.

As I publish my blog into family treasured keepsake books, this is my own labor of love while attending to the duty of family historian during our overall journey to the east.

If you are an email subscriber or read my posts via RSS feeds, you might reckon I've lost my mind as perhaps many posts begin to come your way for a bit. Thanks in advance for your patience with me. *blush*

If you hop over here from the blog URL, not so much as I will back date some of them to fit into the chronological order for when they actually occurred.

Have a great day everyone!


Teen nights

We've always encourage our home to become the "teen hangout". For many years now in fact, this has been our slogan, bring them home, let's meet and get to know them.

The two teens currently living at home are our third double batch, the older four were used to being able to bring home friends just like these ones are.

This new home of ours serves a purpose. We wanted a home with a larger gathering room to continue with our parental philosophy of "everyone welcome" and our policy of "everyone or no one" ruling.

To date, especially since the beginning of the new schooling year, teens seem to LUV flocking to our home. And since we're used to the hubbub these multi-teen visit are consumed with, we invite them into our lives with pleasure.

They walk our dogs together, shoulder to shoulder taking up the entire width of the roadways as they complete this task. As our present weather consists of much snow, outdoor play is often the case after the dog walking.

They are a newly formed bunch, many new to the area themselves and so fun when they gather in a group setting.

Oh sure, they are noisy especially when battling out a tournament with all playing Wii games together!

Oh sure, they are hilarious actually!

And they are kind to the younger siblings living here, they are courteous and they have no problem carrying out a grand conversation with us, the parents. They say a prayer before their meal, they watch out for one another, they support one another by attending each other's hockey games, choir performances, and other activity groups.

A few have thought to seek us out on facebook and ask to be friends. I think that is a compliment myself. We really like this group who hang around here, we do.

But we wouldn't have it any other way. And besides, it's different than our older children because there are no babies to wake up early in the evening anymore, only tweens and teens living here.

It feels like our teens have finally "arrived" and become settled here, all good things. They've truly formed a great group of friendships together, with other sibling groups included in the fold.

Ages are varied, something homeschooling kids are known for, and this is true socialization - learning to be with anyone of any age group. We encourage younger siblings of friends to come along, and they do, rather when the older sibling brings them.

The group consists of approximately a dozen regulars, and they've even assigned their group a name with a Facebook page to upload photos and memories made together. At first glance, they can appear a bit rowdy with all the laughter they exude, but they're a great bunch who love to hang around my husband and myself to boot. Too funny.

Last week, the teens invaded our home yet again in the later afternoon. We are a fairly informal bunch living here, so they appreciate how I treat them, making them quite comfortable.

They all know they are most welcome, but heh - you wanna eat here on a big night like the one below - either help make the food or pitch in to help clean it up, hehehe. Actually we do this on purpose you know; they feel like part of the gang, they have teamwork and they make a memory together.

So they comply by rolling up their sleeves and pitching in. Some say they never do that at home but love to help in the kitchen here. Funny how that works huh?

When it was time for all to depart for the evening, all remarked how great their evening was, at least for the ones able to attend this time on this particular day together. It was truly heart warming to hear them all comment to our teens and thanking them for having them over. Nice.

So we encourage the teen visits, come one or come all.

Shopping for our grandbaby and more...

There is something so precious and so irresistible as hanging out in the newborn section of a children's clothing store.

Our fresh from heaven new grandbabe is already well over a month old, ever so sweet and already growing mightily.

Shortly before the new year, my mother and I happened upon a "Gymboree" store in our shopping mall when we went specifically to return something to another store nearby.

You could say we just wondered over there, it was drawing us inside.
I mentioned before it wasn't a store I usually shopped in because most prices are almost over the top for their lines of children's wear. At least that's my humble perspective from a seamstress' point of view. I will however pay for quality clothing that can stand the test of everyday wear.

We never had this store available to us previously in our former home, so it's been a while since I shopped there. I was smitten with the cute, cute, cute selections right at the threshold of the front door, drawing me inside to further view delightful finds awaiting us in there.

Sale signs were everywhere, not only in this store but the entire shopping mall seemed to be loaded with them.
A sale in Gymboree? The place was packed, maybe because there was a sale.

The little bins were filled with sale items, and these were the first wee bitty things I was drawn to. Aren't they precious?

And then my mother and I found the cutest bunch of clothing, and there we were picking and choosing almost everything matching from the entire line of similar sweet puppy dog clothing bits. Adorable!

I was quite impressed with the woman at the counter, so helpful and thrilled she also included several oh so cute gift boxes and bags, even tissue paper along with the items because she knew they were a gift for a special little someone and all would be transported back to the westcoast with my mother when she returned home herself to hand over to our grandbabe.

This little gal is the fourth girl in our son's family so by about now our daughter in law says it's nice to have a few newer newborn-3month sized clothing for her. Too bad we can't see her in them for a while, but we'll get to see photos for sure until then.

Warning; The photos below simply DO NOT do this bunch of sweetness any justice, believe me.

Before I knew it I was sunk, soaked and done! hehehe

I also was able to learn about "Gymbucks", and I seemed to acquire a bundle of them from my shopping.

Okay, so I confess I returned to the store again, my ten year old accompanied me this time.

She too was sunk, soaked and done.

Smiles plastered over her face told me it was her new favorite store.

She's a froo-froo girl that one, that is when she's not wearing her barn clothing or sporty gear.

She chose two very pretty outfits, one with kittens on the sweater, tshirt, matching socks, and a pair of nice brown corduroy slacks. The other was a set with all matching clothing line skirt, tshirt, pants, long sleeved tshirt and she had to have the scarf to accompany the entire set.

Admittedly, I felt a sweat coming on when I saw the load she was heading to the change room with. She's quite the shopper that gal. Where did she get that from? hmmmm.

You could say the gym bucks were well spent but I was also awarded even more coupons to return late next week for 30% off more purchases. When I caught my daughter's eye, it was too late. She already saw the coupons herself, grinning from ear to ear. I'm gonna be sunk again! I can just feel it already. :)

She's such a cute froo-froo girl that one, so sweet.