Monday, May 28, 2012

Watching a hockey game with my Grandpa

When the moment is directly before you...snap a photo! 

Okay, so in our home, ice hockey is not just a season, it`s a lifestyle. With four boys skating up the ranks of hockey levels throughout the years, and the girls also playing for sport, all continue to declare the love of the sport. 

When one son was temporarily away from the ice, choosing the sport of golf instead, he claimed he missed `the smell of the ice`, which left me speechless. Did you know the ice has a distinct odor calling all hockey players to bring their sporty blades to it, nope me either. 

Over the hockey seasons, all ages within our family have taken time to watch the television screen, mostly keeping up with our favorite teams. We have a fondness for the `Vancouver Canucks`, our home team from before our transfer east. 

So, imagine this scene if you will; it`s the beginning of the end of season hockey playoffs. The Vancouver Canucks are on the screen, and our grandbaby wants to hang out with her grandfather. First though, her mommy dons her with a hand me down team jersey from her baby cousin, and the stage is set with her noticing some of the action before her. She looks riveted, doesn`t she...

Cute as a button, our daughter decides to take photos of her propped up on a pillow in her jersey. I pass by behind them and realize, what a great photo it would make to capture the essence of that full scene. Very cute. 

The Vancouver Canuck team didn`t fair as well as previous years this season, but the team sporting clothing still gets worn. Maybe next time Canucks...

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Ten Things I'm Thankful for

 It's time for another (longer than usual) post of "Ten things I'm thankful for..."

Since the Easter season has been upon us, it's been my hope to keep all things related to this liturgical season out for a little longer than usual, mostly as reminders on the promises that salvation offers us; those yellow and purple hues of color in the flowers on my dining room buffet, the eggs which represent new life, and other deeply personal reflections. 

 I'm so very pleased to have been able to get a photo of this year's stunning Easter paschal candle displayed on the altar since the Easter vigil.  This is just a little something I like to do every year, mostly to include one when possible in the sequential order of photos in my family scrapbooking albums. Instead of using my iphone to "check in", this tells me "I'm checked in to the liturgical short timing of this season, and all the grace if offers to us". Kind of cheesy I know, it's just my own personal thing.

Some years, I've forgetten to get a photo until it's too late, however I do need to give myself credit as I was able to snap one on its way out to the back of the church last year, so I have two in a row to cheer about. 

Life is like that you know. We observe and instantly appreciate those small almost insignificant things, privately fall in love with them, for no particular reason really, they just tend to somehow draw our attention toward them. They're here one moment, and then they are gone, and if we can't pinpoint them in our memories, and remember them with full clarity for what or how they were to us in our daily lives, my remedy is to simply take a photo and preserve the moment.  

 No one else might chance the same photo opportunities, but when I view them afterward, I know, I remember, they're just happily all mine. Thank goodness for digital photography! I was going broke trying to do this on film cameras in the past. ;)

 Thus is the need to take time in our days to "smell the roses", and to "simplify the busyness" of life, mostly so we don't overlook those tiny details that truly are more important in the big scheme of life. There are traditions to consider, thoughtful reminders of important cherished moments, and so much more to remember. A few small details might include the ordinary to the extraordinary, especially when our senses are involved. To be thankful always.


Here are a few of those types of things in my life in recent always in no particular order at all, in fact out of order in some cases.

 - 1 - I'm thankful for BERRIES! All sorts of berries. One of my most favorite breakfasts in late spring and summertime includes enormous, most delicious blueberries first things in the morning. 

A solid runner up in the berry department are strawberries, and when I think of these red delightful yummies, I almost always think of the traditional shared waffles one of my daughters and I used to partake in, loaded with berries and whipping cream. But, the berries and cream had to be "on the side", just so we could ceremoniously dress the waffle our own way and not allow it to become mushy by already being on there when served.

Actually, to be honest, this particular day below, I never ate the waffle, just the berries, a bit of the custard, a bit of the whipping cream, just that there were so many berries offered "on the side" for me, and I thoroughly enjoyed every second of devouring them. I brought the waffle home, and someone else ate it.

  - 2 - I'm thankful for cute little outfits for the feast of St. George,  remembering him for his famous fight with the dragon. This cute little green outfit below was worn by our sweet little grandbaby. How cute it was to play with all the little points on her hooded hat.

And just when the feasting was plentiful, a big surprise parcel arrived in the mail from a dear friend, who blessed this wee babe and her mommy in a very special way.  The exquisite rag quilt and matching diaper bag are just so very beautiful, truly lovely for both mommy and baby, and just perfect for some baby tummy time fun. I know my photos snapped on my iphone don't do this lovely quilt justice, so more are coming soon. 

How thoughtful of you my special friend, how loving the works of your hand have always been when constantly choosing to bless another. You are amazing!

 - 3 - I'm thankful for easy lunches that offer a bit of color, enough variety, some nutrition to write home about, and no one complains. That is the best part to be sure!

- 4 - I'm thankful for music in our home, especially after my husband was finally the lucky recipient of a new electric guitar, my gift to him, a long overdue gift to be sure.

Here's what my husband's announcement was;

"Just for the record, and after many samplings , I bought the FENDER special edition telecaster with the symore duncan humbucking pick-ups, mahogany body and neck... and the spalled maple finish. Very nice in my opinion... nice tones and sounds and nice action on the neck too."

(this is all Greek to me of course....)

There is one more thing of course that I would be remiss if I never mentioned it; An electric guitar requires use of an amplifier. Did I mention before how loud these were? No? Well let me say, not only can they carry quite the decibel range, but they also contain approximately 100 built in various instrumental accompaniment jam sessions for use with such a guitar. Returning home from an outing one day, I entered only to feel (and hear) my whole house pulsating with the beat of some hilariously crazy concert, yet I only found my husband all alone, happily fulfilled and sitting on a chair with his guitar in hand. 

Our younger two broke out in giggles at their guitar dad. It's sure been a while, wasn't sure I'd be a fan of the noise part, but it's fun to see a passionate revival of father and three guitar playing sons talking about the accompaniment of even more instruments in our home. Stay tuned... 

(I asked him to pose for me at the store...)

- 5 - I'm thankful for little signs that make me smile, that are hints or tips on how to view life in general. After giving our younger daughter a little talk about how acronyms like LOL shouldn't be used in the context of a live conversation, trying to coach her on proper language skills, along comes a restaurant with a strange name. So, you see, life's like that. It's sometimes a complete waste of energy to dwell on these types of small things, isn't it, though I still say, we really shouldn't use online language IRL (in real life, grinning). After all, when one remembers what this stands for "Laugh out loud", or whatever you choose to use to abbreviate for yourself, laughing is a most definitely a very good thing. :)

- 6 - I'm thankful for the light coming up through the end opening of the schooling tunnel before summer breaks the daily grind up for a time. I'm actually enjoying the sense of peace these days with fine tuned school syllabus weekly schedules, and books becoming complete as each week passes. We're really on target for the most part, and everyone is properly completing and checking off their assignments. 

I'm thinking though of not breaking for the full summer just as I always manage to do, because it's just happening when prime math functions and topics have finally been mastered after placing our son in a great math course offered by a university math professor mom who also homeschools her children. Wow, she's just wonderful! She covers only one math topic per week for at total of ten weeks, ensuring they understand each concept and challenges the teens to follow up at home using "Khan Academy" resource links she provides. She makes it sound so easy, they love it all, and they all love her!

- 7 - I'm thankful for prayerful silent moments, when I'm able to lay it all out there in my conversations with God, be it here in the quiet solitude of a church pew before the rush of a congregation attendance, or on the trails of my forest pathways. There's been so much to chat about these days, so much. 

When the news came, that of my mother in law's passing, we knew everything must fall by the way side, and travel to the westcoast was necessary. There were so many small details where no one knew what to do about them, scrambling became a normal way of life for a few days until all was completed. 

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord,
And let perpetual light shine upon them.

May the souls of the faithful departed,
Through the mercy of God,
Rest in peace.


I can only urge every family, young or old, to begin a file folder titled "Estate Planning", and begin gathering documents, ideas and necessities for the "some day" those which will be required during your final moments in life, or after you've passed. And, just because I personally feel this is a huge topic of importance, I'll write a separate post on the topic very soon, including details on what to include in your file folder.

- 8 - I'm thankful for airport reunions when sudden travel occurs after being summoned west for urgent last visits with a family member who is seriously unwell. It's bittersweet to reunite under such circumstances, and always tough to return to normal life when all feels so very helpless from living life at such a distance away. The photo below, believe it or not, was our Easter Sunday afternoon family reunion, but how happy were we to have safe and uneventful travel behind.

- 9 - I'm thankful for healthy imaginations, and child-likeness at any age. This is one of my favorite books these days as we prepare to build surprise fairy houses around our forest trails, little shelters for little visitors, and wonderful scouring from the forest floor to build them with. Who says this is something for children? I'm just a big kid then, right? 

- 10 - I'm thankful for the discovery of Sea Cadets this year and having a son who has realized his love of being on the water. It's been extremely interesting thus far, he's liking the discipline and personal best goals he's set for himself. 

 Whether obtaining his Sailing level 1 ticket, attending a drill marching team, rising to the honor of being awarded the guard drill position no one has obtained in the past four years during his first year of attendance, or being part of the marksmanship team, it's been a busy activity on our calendars to be sure. 

 Recently he attended a mandatory fitness bootcamp weekend, and survived the unexpected drop in frigid temperatures while sleeping in army tents. It was quite the experience to be boiling hot by day, and freezing cold by nightfall, but he survived and slept almost three days straight afterward from a happy fatigue from so many fun and successful accomplishments of those Canadian fitness challenges. And for this, he earned a new badge mom will have to sew on his uniform.

 There's been much in the way of volunteer work, participating in parades and training days, learning all the rope knots one could ever imagine, and learning how important it is to shine his boots and iron his various uniforms. In just two short weeks, up ahead is the mandatory weekly sailing classes for even more experience on the water's edge when having to sail in his own boat. 

I have just one thing to say about all of this - he's loving it....  

And so my family and friends, here you go with another very l-o-n-g installment of just a few of the possible hundreds of thankful things for me at this time. 

Have you been making a list of your own, snapping photos of little details in your life when your eye catches them, or committing them to memory at the very least? If not, begin today. And do share with me. I'd love to hear from you. 

~ Renee

Monday, May 14, 2012

The "Mass of the Angels"

Most things in life are trifle compared to the death of an infant child, but  happy are we who believe in the  "Mass of the Angels" for our little children, called home so early into the arms of Jesus.

As I've mentioned before, our parish family has been in mourning, all praying for a miracle (if that is what God's desire for this wee one was to be), our little baby "Marie", who's body was buried last week. 

Two days after her early baptism, Marie was rushed to a children's hospital over an hour away from their family, when it became apparent her breastfeeding actions were all too much for her, the toll was draining her heart, physical evidence became traumatic, and an urgency to perform medical tests were a necessity.

When the discovery came, that of "Edwards syndrome/Trisomy 18", it stunned everyone who had only two days before, gathered and shared in the joy of her first sacrament. 

I am so very thankful to Jessica for posting so many beautiful moments with her new baby Andrew this past January. She has personally blessed me - so very much with all her posts from his baptism. 

The gorgeous and most perfect baptismal blanket posted with her baby in the photos inspired me to contact the fabulous folks at "Catholic Embroidery", and have a similar keepsake created by their loving hands. These folks dropped everything to offer much prayer, coupled with an immediate order shipping within 24 hours, such fabulous service. I can't say enough about the folks who assisted us during this timing, and I highly recommend their services for any personalized embroidery items. (Thank you so much again Mary!)

In my absolute haste to assure immediate delivery upon receipt over to Marie's family, I quickly (sadly) realized I never took one moment to snap a photo of it for my own heartfelt blessing keepsake. The family were so very pleased, accepted the beautiful gift, absolutely adored it, wrapped their little girl up, then cuddled her close to their hearts.

Death was knocking at this wee babe's door, yet she proved in the end to be a fighter, and with her efforts, she blessed everyone who met her even more, allowing all the stages of grief before her passing, such a healing timing to be sure. 

The first week of Lent, doctors allowed her to go home, to be cared for and nursed by her family, with the help of a visiting pair of nurses for a bit of relief, but all were preparing for the inevitable. She was never far from our minds, not ever. 

Marie received all the sacraments possible; Extreme Unction, and even Confirmation, so rare to hear of this offered to a baby. 

Instead of passing early, she hung on, her mother spending every single possible moment with her, several appointed parishioners visited daily to assist with the family's homeschooling, doing laundry or whatever hands were welcomed to offer. Marie blessed everyone, bonding an entire parish, all wrapping a prayerful hedge of support around the family. 

On Easter Sunday, a respite offered Marie's mother the opportunity to attend mass where her younger son was to receive his First Communion. She sat in the pew as usual in front of our family, and shared with me that it was a huge miracle in itself her baby was able to be home with them at all. Instead of tears this day, a peaceful acceptance for God's will towards this child was in the mother's eyes now, the entire family open to whatever was to be. If that was even possible, it now was for them. 

And then, suddenly, Marie took a turn, her heart slowly beginning to cease beating life in to her wee body. When the family was absent from mass one Sunday morning, everyone just "knew" what was beginning to happen. Fervent prayers rose from the congregation, all could feel the silent acknowledgement of what was occurring, and one could also hear a pin drop with strangely quiet babies, children who sat perfectly well in their pews, and parents bowing their heads with thoughts far away. 

Last week, our parish family happily gathered again, this time to support the family and perform the corporal works of mercy of burying the dead. On our drive to the funeral, I shared with our children they might never again attend such a mass as this one, for it is a rare thing to be honored to attend such a "Mass of the Angels". I also explained why it's a time of joy for this baby.

Our priest offered a few words on the reasons for this beautiful mass, that there was to be no sorrow this day, only joy at the knowledge little Marie is already in heaven with the angels and saints.

Breathtaking was the church when arriving there, all immediately noticing the efforts of one special elderly woman who had been with Marie daily, for she had wrapped large and lovely white floral garlands around the outdoor stair railings, and made the little white rose wreath of flowers which was placed on top of the casket. 

Joy and grief in one day was a little confusing, and yet so comforting by day's end.

To You, O Lord, we humbly entrust this child, 
so precious in Your sight. 

Take her into Your arms and welcome her into paradise, 
where there will be no sorrow, no weeping nor pain, 
but the fullness of peace and joy with Your Son 
and the Holy Spirit forever and ever. 


As if an entire parish wasn't offered enough by the gift of much grace this day, profound love and beauty reigned high by day's end. When we were leaving and saying goodbye to the family after the luncheon reception, Marie's mommy asked our daughter if she could please hold her own wee baby, our granddaughter.

Our grandbaby attended with her mommy.

In that moment, I felt such joy, a joy to be able to witness the scene, joy that our own grandbaby could offer this mama a special moment. A happy tear of two began trickling down, a smile cracked my lips, and then, my heart gave a little bittersweet lurch when she moved cheek to cheek, closed her eyes, and offered a loving kiss before handing her back. Like myself, my two daughters present at that scene will be forever touched by this quiet hallway moment, away from the crowds of the day.

This heartfelt blessing showed the beauty of an aching mama's heart coupled with the knowledge and acceptance that her baby is in a better place. This mama who now cradled our little one, was a woman of who was obviously heartbroken, but filled with peace. She was the same mama who had offered loving support towards our daughter, her family had attended our grandbaby's baptism during their own daughter's tougher early times, both women praying for one another the past few months. So touching!

Sometimes there are no words, just blessings to cherish forever. Sweet Marie, how you have blessed so many! We will never forget you, always in our hearts. 

Friday, May 11, 2012

In spring, these are some of the things on our property

One of the many resident downy woodpeckers, but this one was pecking away at a lovely hemlocks nearer to our home. 

I am so disappointed to realize this tree died over the winter, one of the ones I used to hang up our hammock last summer. boohoo... We figured all that soil pushed up against it when the house was built, had a lasting effect to smother it to this sickly end. 

At least we still have 41 of these particular trees about the property, but really...STILL! I liked this one! boohoo..

There's nothing like a crystal blue sky, and blossoms exploding on every tree, bush and flowering item around our property. 

Yes, we can certainly "smell" spring coming...

Creatures are flocking to our property for a springtime visit once more, everything from small animals, and many types of insects too. 

I especially don't enjoy the hoards of black flies circulating about me on a forest clearing day. There's nothing like a few landing on my warm glistening arms while working a gas device with both arms.

We have several of these - black cherry trees, apparently quite rare and in great demand.

There's something about the onset of spring, new growth, new life and the prospect of a sunny bright day when rising from a deep night's slumber.

Our temporary resident watched us for a week's span of time, from high above his perch up in one of our trees. 

I had to try and figure out just "what it was" at first, and the only way to accomplish that was to use the zoom on my camera or the binoculars. 

I knew they were around our area, just not seen one on our property yet. Until now... But, alas perhaps we scared him away with all the racket we've been making, because he's vanished from our sights. 

Dozens of these butterflies are floating about right now. 

They seem to love our dandelions, the ones I worked real hard on in my attempt to thin them out, while using a corn gluten feed supposedly rich enough to kill them. Ha! They are still here! And in huge abundance. 

The blessing offset has been the beauty and simple pleasure of watching the dozens of butterflies all over the place. 

Here is Mr. Porcupine once more, and just take a look at his claws! 

Yikes! I sure wouldn't want to meet up with him on a forest night walk.  Not that I would walk back there on those trails at night of course...

Well that's about it for today. I hope you've enjoyed my little tidbits here, about our life amongst the Boreal Forest surrounding our property out back. 

I love carrying my camera around with me, in the hope of discovering daily treasures of seasonal changes, especially the simple, and little things most folks wouldn't even pay any attention to. 

Happy Spring! 

Spring forest clearing continues...

Spring has sprung, and along with the change of seasons, the open window for clearing the forest floor continues. 

And so, we work.... and we work hard!

Tools for our outdoor goals have varied, and helpers have been many.

Even our dogs have been anxious to partake in the forest ventures, well, they have really taken to meandering about in our newly carved trails.

New to us this year has been the incredible introduction to this piece of equipment above. It's a hedge trimmer on a gas weedeater wand and just perfect for feeling like a farmer with a sharp scythe.

My many thanks to a local friend who lent it to us to try it out, and wow, does it ever pull down brambles and small trees well. I am now pricing one out, the perfect item for us to use in our forest, mostly for keeping control over the new bramble growth over the seasons.

He even created an open window around his busy work on-call schedule to assist in carrying many of the hundreds of trees we had to cut down to create a safe forest this year, free from dangers of forest fires and dense thickness to keep trees growing properly. 

This pile above was one of two, that grew and grew! 

What a blessing it was for a new soon-to-be neighbor, who offered to include them all in his tree chipping the following week. After carting an entire pile over to his property, it was a huge surprise to come home after mass the next day, only to find out he had driven his tractor over and pushed the other huge pile over for us. 

What great neighbors already! 

Everyone pitched in, even the girls who were forest floor wood gatherers for the continuous burning bonfire for many days in a row. 

When our weary and aching bodies wouldn't, no - couldn't move one more step, we would sit next to the fire in our chairs and enjoy the rest of the day and the sunset ahead. 

 Our firestarter, wood gatherer upon occasion, and main general keeper of the flames. 

Another special piece of equipment went to work trimming those smaller trees creating that dense forest setting. 

Everyone tried it out. No one really liked it though. It was too noisy and not strong enough to cut trees above about an inch or so in thickness. Too much work...

She likes this wheelbarrow, her friend for many a day. 

This is how we assist our children in their goals, creating jobs from mom and dad for their own monetary goals. Hers was having to purchase all new horse riding show clothing. 

How dare she grow so much. :) 

Aside from growing out of all her clothing pieces, she was even surprised to find her "snug" size 5 summer riding boots required a much larger size - a 7.5 much larger boot! She's the same size as some of her older sisters in footwear now.

Clearing out more trail clutter. 

All are looking so much better now, despite the last of the tree cutting piles, and other assorted forest yanking downed trees we've been removing. 

 A scene from the end of one day. Yes, even the wheelbarrow allows for a resting spot.


My favorite spot at the end of the day when all stops and we just sit and smile over our accomplishments, you know, the ones only we can see because there is yet so much more to complete.