Thursday, December 29, 2011

Merry Christmas from our family to yours

 Merry Christmas! 

I realize at this time of year, many people can become irritable with the busyness of the Christmas season. 

I really wondered about life's nuisances when simply attempting a family photo. First there was the tripod which wasn't connecting to my camera well, and then as a quick solution, I had to ask our youngest son to fetch the step ladder from the basement. 

From the platform base near the top step of the ladder, I was able to safely perch my camera there, about a foot from the opening of the steps behind it. 

Ladder platform out-takes

As my led window has been out of commission for a year, I was having incredible difficulty trying to look through the tiny viewing lens a foot away from my chin before setting the camera to timed mode, what I needed to run back to my chair (pant, pant, pant) and smile before the flash blinded us. 

I watched my hubby grow terribly impatient with my "tilted photo attempts", saying things like; 

"Forget this, let's have birthday cake". AND; "We can do this later". 

In my mind I began to wonder, why was he being so difficult? Little did I know, there was a new camera waiting for me to unwrap. *smiling now as I type this*

So, we'll try this again soon, another family photo attempt will be in the near future.

Happy New Year and many blessings to you and yours in 2012. 

With love to you;

Thursday, December 22, 2011

As we draw nearer to Christmas...

Never far from our sight, "Hail and Blessed be the hour..." sees lips moving silently while reciting the St. Andrew novena above. A gift from a friend, this daily countdown through Advent has been a lovely addition to our seasonal preparation.

Some precious items about our home this time of year have become solidly etched as our personal family traditions. Some years we rotate the collection. And some years, we find ourselves drawn to particular items more than others, those that seem to evoke the most spiritual sentiment. It is such a comfort to unpack each item once more every Advent.

With the year rolling into the Christmas season ahead, and certainly almost at a close, I have reflected upon the reasons why it's been such a strange year, absolutely filled with an abundance of change in our lives.

Life is fragile, handle with much care and prayer...

This year has had plenty of emergent health reminders for those both near and far, concerning just how very fragile life can be; all fending off worry, everyone continually hoping for better, and taking charge of the emotional roller coaster when it suddenly arrives and scoops us up against our will, for an incredibly unexpected bumpy ride.Weeeeeeeeeeeeeee

However, and most definitely, in all the down turns, there is still joy lurking everywhere - if only we have the mindset to notice, and if only we have a place in our hearts to include those findings. 

All year long, I've worked on choosing joy! 

"Joy" was my one-word focus on during the 2011 year. It was, for me, an uplifting and seemingly happy word, for purposefully smiling and distracting myself when required, to enable a sifting with wide arms moving to clear through the fog, and conscientiously beginning the daily search to dwell on all the joy there really is - no matter what the situation and circumstance. Admittedly, there have been many "circumstances" through the year, scary and difficult ones, both in our home and beyond.

JOYFULLY, we remain so grateful for the opportunity as we were finally able to meet face to face with our newest grandbaby, such a long awaited time had arrived at last! But the joyful occasion was not only the hugging and kissing, it was also being around this incredible, happy, smiley sweetheart!

Praying for you dear readers, to find the "JOY" in your lives - always, and praying God's many blessings for you and yours this Christmas.

Merry Christmas

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Intrigued by Fungi

As I've mentioned in a previous post, this year we joined in with other homeschool families and we've been participating in a wonderful junior naturalist club program. 

Twice each month, we travel to a general meeting location parking lot, found deep within a forest, and it is there where we join with the leaders who are seasoned Biologists and local Naturalists.

The first gathering was scheduled in mid September which was to include the study of "Fungi"

As a premature jump out of the gate to learning about this topic, after spotting a few fungi in the grass, we thought to scout about on our acreage, a day which took us totally by surprise for what we were able to gather here and study beforehand.

Our local library happened to have this book in the photo above awaiting and staring me straight in my face as it sat patiently for me to notice it on the rolling book return cart. Within seconds, it was mine. All booked out for one month! Mine....and was it every the most prefect companion to use for this topic study.

As each specimen was located, it came to the kitchen and lay for further study. 

Off to the fungi reference book we browsed to discover type, and fun facts. With  the exception of only one type, this book was a goldmine in this part of the country for their discover and accuracy.

We were taken aback when learning just how many fungi had been accumulated with just a few short days. There were so many shapes and varieties were lurking about awaiting our wildly excited discoveries. 

 "Intrigued by fungi" is the title I chose for this blog post, and believe me when I say, all were very intriguing, even fascinating to note their delicate natures and unique appearances. 

There was only one we all found a terrible dislike for, as it seemed to spit out a cloud of spores when squeezed, super dangerous for breathing into the lungs. However, the rest were wonderful to observe, sketch diagrams and label with species type.

Our study turned from making simple discoveries on our property in advance of the group gathering, to an entire biology study filled with thoughtful assignments, photography, and more reference reading on the computer and in our guide books at home. The library book companion though was a definite favorite which saved the day more often than not, such a wonderful find. 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Summer rewind; Canadian National Exposition (CNE) in Toronto

Every once in a while, our family sets out to explore something, or somewhere new-to-us, and this day - our spontaneous day's event turned out to be spectacular!

This year, our big event timetable was most interesting as it was an impulsive idea during my husband's vacation timing (what shall we do today, our one and only day no one has some other commitment) , and happened to end up being the morning after most of southern and central Ontario had the most alarming and dangerous lightning show, with several tornadoes touching down in the tornado warning's wake across an entire lower province span of many, many miles.

The day was going to be great. The weather was supposed to be warm and sunny, except for the occasional black, passing, and spitting cloud. We knew though if rain fell upon us, we could quickly dip into one of the many buildings and allow it to pass. No matter, the activity would be trying if it didn't meet with success by all. 

Sitting areas were a must, distances away from parking lots had to include an easy walk to the event gateway, something of a challenge seeing how we had not yet been to this two week summer event before. Still, we were hoping all would be just fine.

A few very dark clouds never ruined the day, just a wee bit of rain was all, misty and very light. 

It was a fine day. It really was delightful and very fine.

Off we traveled towards downtown Toronto to attend the 133rd birthday anniversary of the great "CNE" (Canadian National Expedition), an event we had always heard of but weren't all that eager to experience unless we could convince our children the rides weren't the only part of the festivities while there.

Having "Wonderland" so close by to this expedition, rides were plentiful there if one only wished to partake of those. And we've already been there before. So, on the horizon this day was the CNE.

There were rides, and then there were also plenty of other assorted interesting items we all very much enjoyed.

He's getting quite bold, shown here on the "Zipper", a ride which his sister would not accompany him.

But, she did accompany him on almost every other single ride, boarded here and there all during the day and evening ahead. They were quite a pair this brother and sister, both having an incredibly great and memorable time together. We had fun watching them, and the best part overall were barely any lineups at each ride. Probably the storm the night before deterred many folks.

One security guard told us he had videotaped lightning hitting some of the rides and of course the CN tower many times. He said he and fellow colleagues had counted some 1500 lightning bolts per minute, up to 20,000 on their afternoon shift alone. The skies lite up and it appeared as though daylight was at hand, very freaky was the expression of the night.

And the sun shone the rest of the day...

We attended a magnificent ice skating show with performers galore; vocalists singing all the songs live, skaters performing to the tunes, and even some aerial acts combined with the skaters. Wow, almost akin to the "Cirque to Soleil", no doubt.

This gal was smitten by the Royal Horse Show Palace where once each year, a famous agricultural fair and horse show worthy of worldwide attention is held here called "The Royal Fair"

Although it wasn't opened to the public this day, the doors were unlocked and with others doing the same thing, we helped ourselves to a tour inside. :) 

After hearing so much in the way of horse loving hoopla about this fair, at last, the "Royal" will be here again in just three weeks, so our girls very much hope to get there for the first time this year.

 Other tidbits;
  • The "Food Channel" had a booth, and those real live chefs featured on their shows were there cooking live. 
  • A half hour "Super Dogs Show", and then meeting all of the dogs afterwards.
  • Several buildings were linked featuring; an International Market, live entertainment from around the world, a fabulous food court, displays galore, and a luxurious (ohhh-la-la) 20 minute shiatsu back massage and foot reflexology was mine compliments of my hubby. 
  •  All of the crafting entries were interesting, and it was here our youngest daughter took note of the possibilities of entering our local fall fair next month. She is going to show her bunny, very sweet.
  • The agricultural and animal buildings were loaded with live animals, and many interesting exhibits.
  • The Mardi Gras parade was so much fun, short as it was. We ended up with six necklaces which had been tossed in the air us to catch. 
  • Live entertainment was plentiful. When darkness fell, my hubby and I took our seats to watch an up and coming country entertainer who was going to be assisting in the CMT awards. For some reason I simply cannot remember his name! ugh... He was a great musician and wonderful singer playing a large genre filled playlist. The audience rewarded them with rounds of clapping. 
The evening ended with a clear sky, and warmth enough to see us comfortable. As the children continued again towards the rides, all agreed it had sure been a stellar day.
The adventures for our family "in the east" continue with fond moments of goodness and fun pleasures. This day afforded us all the action of the CNE. And now that this has already been experienced, we'll just stick with our little country fall fair in the future. We came, we saw, we had enough and then happily departed with many memories to remember this day always.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Summer rewind; Horse Rider Equitation Championships

This summer both our horse loving daughters competed in horse riding competitions. Both are very serious about their love of horse riding sport, and both have purchased and gathered an entirely new riding wardrobe reserved for their competitions. 

The girls train hard and still upon occasion, beg for us to purchase each their very own horse. One even offered to bake to raise funds to assist in her own purchase. 

We've moved on from that now, finally even the younger one understands although we own land, it is residential property and not for horses.

On this pictorial day shown below, our younger daughter entered her fourth such competition and fared very well.

The one day her father was able to attend, of course it just had to be the day we were under a tornado watch, and then a warning throughout the eventing. Instructions were announced on the loud speaker system on how to deal with such an occurrence. In my own mind, I became concerned with a safety plan, wondering how we could move quickly without possible shelters, how to keep our two neighbors safe, our daughter on a horse, and get my husband moving quickly. 

What a crazy day filled with so much intensity from everyone in attendance, all anxious to participate and leave early before the storm was to arrive in the area.

To our surprise, just when we were all finished and ready to make the trek back up to the horse trailers, our daughter's name was called over the loud speaker, and instructed to head over to the winner's circle with her horse to have a professional photo shoot. You see, she was declared the winner of not one, but two championships for having achieved the highest overall points for her equitation riding over the course of four competition summer shows. Her coach was over the moon thrilled, as were we, and I was able to surround the media photographers to capture my very own photos of the celebration below.

After the long drive back to the barn, no tornado ripping around us just yet but radio media warnings everywhere, all the barn competitors worked quickly to get all the horses safe in their stalls. And then, in all the excitement of the day, suddenly everyone wanted a group photo with all their awarded summer ribbons hanging from one of the horse trailors. 

Happy kids. 

Happy coach. 

Happy parents. 

Snap! Snap! Snap! ...... And then we all rushed home, safe at last from a worrisome day. 

 Congratulations everyone !

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Delicious Autumn!

October gave a party;
The leaves by hundreds came -
The Chestnuts, Oaks, and Maples,
And leaves of every name.
The Sunshine spread a carpet,
And everything was grand,
Miss Weather led the dancing,
Professor Wind the band.
~George Cooper, "October's Party"

Delicious autumn!  
My very soul is wedded to it, 
and if I were a bird I would fly about 
the earth seeking the successive autumns.  

~George Eliot

I've been on a surprising, self administered sabbatical, not one so much as preplanned, rather one flowing gracefully through some concerning times, and eventually and unintentionally lasting right through the bulk of the most colorful of autumn weeks. 

Add to this an overdue and much anticipated (six times attempted but never fulfilled until this past while) trip to the westcoast where we spent two weeks visiting, loving and catching up with the rest of our family, it doesn't appear as though it will be the season of fall for much longer. As the clock fell back, we find ourselves home again tending to the remains of autumn. Gone are the mounds and mounds of colorful autumn leaves on the ground, and we are almost complete and fully prepared for winter's harsher weather in the coming days ahead. 

I have many photos to share, lots to say, but as it is nightfall while I type this post, I just want to leave you with a blip of autumn day leftovers from our (now leaf barren) forest trees out back on our property, snapped in mid October. 

Goodnight all...

Friday, September 16, 2011

37/52 weeks

52 weeks of daily life in pictures:
trials and celebrations,
the extraordinary and mundane --

whatever is unique to the week.

Join me if you like.

** Ice hockey season fast approaches, and woe (YIKES!) to the parent whose son has outgrown almost all of his hockey gear! 

Off to a few hockey swaps and the only reward of the moments was the purchase of a new hockey bag on wheels. Everything at the swaps has been too small for this grown up and giant son of ours. :) 

We've already completed several ice hockey skate tryouts, now awaiting contact for this year's assigned coach and team. Here we go.....

** After the humidity and bug weeks, it's definitely time for more bonfires before sunset. 

We had a new-to-us moment last weekend when the entire family gathered after dinner to recite the rosary around the fire, both dogs laying ever quietly nearby, taking in the rhythm of voices in prayer and likely mesmerized by the flames of the bonfire before them. 

That was a highlight for all, a special Sunday evening, and one to most definitely be repeated soon....because the bugs are disappearing and don't surround us so easily when attempting to enjoy the flames and falling sunset at the day's end.

A few crummy photos to follow snapped on my iphone, nevertheless they too tell a story of the tapestry of our days.

** The photo above shows the organization of this year's schooling, and this week our children are becoming more familiar with early morning rising to hit the books for this new school year, as opposed to reveling in those allowable lazier summer mornings. They are truly not great fans of such change. I'm hoping (and so are they) it won't take too long to get rolling on a new discipline because these two used to be early risers, yes, they used to be. Now, they have discovered the novelty of laying in bed a while before plunging feet to floor.

** One of the summer goals we had hoped to accomplish was taking one or two rooms a week, and spending a selected amount of time to perform a deep cleaning and organization of all items resting within. 

It was a reason to celebrate last week when we completed a two day break down of the kitchen, chosen dead last to check off the list. Everyone I know dreads the big kitchen cleaning duties several times each year. We were no exception. As mouse season is almost upon us with cooler nights in our midst, all crumbs and a good scrubbing were highly required. No temptations should lay there to invite rodents inside.

I happily brought this task to the bottom of the list at first. Happily... and now, with bottom cupboards and counters cleaned out one day, followed by upper cupboards another, we are done! 


** Come September, the days grow cooler, but in no way have we been prepared for frost appearing so early.

Thoughts of seeking those more cool autumn comforting morning moments reappear, and hubby and I have revisited our weekly cuppa dates. Conversation carries easily, sharing hearts belong there in our purposeful times together. 

** Slowly rolling into September, we were able to attend our Canoe Club's family corn roast. 

Sitting by the water, it was a lovely evening and a great opportunity to catch up with those we've paddled and took courses with throughout the summer months. 

Our son was famished and couldn't wait, found here standing at the front of the line with my hubby down a bit behind him.

I love this club, it's so family and people friendly and I'm pleased it doesn't end here. Monthly indoor meetings will begin again next month, complete with guest speakers and more opportunities which will soon present for autumn paddling sessions.

** My husband studied his lines from the script formulated after an intensive interview from the media bunch at his respiratory physiotherapy hospital. 

He only required six takes this week and was teased when being proclaimed as a TIFF natural after being filmed for an upcoming movie, which will be used in part as a fundraising promotional tool towards the building of a new wing on the hospital. 

After two photo shoots to obtain stills for the precursor medical journey story, we await and are eager to see the edited version featuring his highly personalized bit of filming content. It's been a brutal and horrible week respiratory wise for him, so this filming was a welcomed distraction in between several sudden required emergent tests in the attempt to try to determine what seems to be going on internally.

As a gift for his part in the fundraiser film, he was presented "prezzies"; a tshirt, lunch bag and pen. It was the lunch bag that really resonated with me (wink), insulated and so handy. :)

** When the local children return to school, we have a list of desirable outings which are perfect for less crowded enjoyment. 

First up last week (besides the beach) was a great visit to the zoo of course, and the weather was just perfect! 

Our children have grown up visiting zoos often in their childhood, and love to spend long lingering moments near the animals any time.

** A new adventure awaits our youngest son this year as he has registered to become a "Sea Cadet". 

Among having to be fast tracked into the program to learn commands, marching and other assorted knowledge bits, formal sailing practice and shooting marksmanship begins over the next two weeks. He is found smiling often over the thought of joining this group. 

Before the first meeting, a haircut and shopping expedition was required to buy him a white golf shirt and black pants. This week he said his hair is still too long (it's short) and he wants another cut soon. Gotta love that.

This is just an introductory photo above, the older newbie cadets were only observing when I snapped the photo and a few other groups were marching outdoors before "colors" began.

** I won this color palette this week during a fun interior guest speaker hour at my local Newcomer group. In case some of you never knew this (I didn't), "Benjamin Moore" has teamed up with "The Pottery Barn" for seasonal color choice encouragement. 

I have high hopes of painting our kitchen/family room this fall, so I'm shopping for colors. Maybe one will be in here? Not sure yet.

** History abounds from the "War of 1812" and is prevalent all over the province of Ontario. 

We are continuing our study using real life field trip outings for getting to know more and appreciating this time period. Next week we are off to "Fort Willow" and the "Nine Mile Portage" for a live time period representation.

This boy is loving this...and so is his mother. (Oh, and photo was snapped before the Cadet required hair cut day.)  

** Did someone say "beach time"? 

The air was cooler and less humid here last week, and moments along this water's edge are always welcomed.

I have been overcome by the beauty and richness of our life together, those early mornings setting out, those evenings gleaming with rivers and lakes below us, still holding the last light.

~ Anne Morrow Lindbergh 

Head on over to Barbara's to check out the invitation to join the