Saturday, June 02, 2012

Ten things I'm thankful for...

It's time!

Yes indeed ~  it's time again for another of my "Ten things I'm thankful for", installments, just a friendly culmination of assorted items off the top of my head that warrant a placement in this post here today.

Thanks for stopping by.

- 1 - I'm thankful for great neighbors! There are more families who have recently moved into our country acreage area, and slowly, over time... what a fabulous community we have become.

For instance, when the children are all together, there are banded folk, ready to keep a watchful eye on the children as spring and summer creep up. The presence of wildlife can be near at any time, so the whistles and walkie talkies are all on the same channel when the gang is out and about.

We've been happy to provide a sporty paved area this year for all to play basketball together on our property.  After stocking up on more basketballs, everyone is bouncing them and playing giggle fit games of "bump" on a regular basis. Even the older young adults are out there sweating it out. Fun times! 

Meanwhile, the adults also gather regularly. 

One of our neighbors hosted a clean up day, where everyone gathered to pick up garbage, recycling items and those larger items which someone felt led to dump in our area. The township provided all the vests, gloves, various types of garbage bags, and free pickup a few days later. What a team effort, something to "give back" and create a sense of pride for keeping our area free from debris.

 - 2 - I'm thankful for the springtime visit of our Ontario provincial flower - the Trilliums burst forth with their explosive natures, each one growing steadily upward and blessing all with their floral presence along the forest floor for about six weeks or so. In the photo above, the junky residuals of my bramble cutting still rests atop some of the trilliums, but rest assured all were picked up.

- 3 - I'm thankful for "comfort food" when necessary, like when everyone began complaining about the lack of baking in recent months. So, with my trusty recipe box on the kitchen counter to peruse through, a head full to the brim with anxious thoughts, I chose to spend an entire afternoon producing some great time tested family favorites; peanut butter cookies, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, a banana loaf, a German struesel swirl cake, and of course, the evening family dinner. We had to have something nutritious, didn't we? 

 ...all unpacked, horses stalled, and the girls are awaiting her show times...

- 4 - I'm thankful for the start of this year's horse shows. Out of the starting gate (no pun intended...hahaha), the first show of the season turned out to be very interesting. Alarm clocks sang good morning at 4:30am., and it was off to the barn by 5:30am to prepare for the long day ahead. It always amazes me how many fresh, early morning smiles are ready to greet us at the barn in those early morning hours, the blessing of camaraderie as all pitch in to ready the horses and supplies necessary for the journey of the day.

We traveled not too far from home for this event, about 1.5 hours and all were stunned to find snow on the ground amidst Amish horse and carriage on the roadways! The venue hosts had to set up a plan B to accommodate the riders and the day's schedule, change fields to a lesser wet/snowy one, and include indoor barn riding which wasn't originally on the agenda.

The funny part about riding inside the barn for competing this day, was to find rather large mirrors on the walls, and when horse and rider rode past one in particular, the horse caught his reflection and spooked just a bit. 

Our younger daughter competed in a different division this year, one which included an eight jump course, which were "2 ft. 3 in or more", and if she didn't memorize the course properly, ended up in the wrong order, she would lose points. All the points count towards the end of the day's recognition of winners were are either pronounced "champion (1st place)" or "reserve champion (2nd place)" overall. This day, our girl captured herself three second place ribbons, and a reserve champion ribbon (second to champion) to add to her growing ribbon collection.

Horse "Hunter/Jumper" season is now in full swing, and after having to miss a horse show when we recently traveled west, luckily her missing points for the year won't count this time round against her. The girls (both of ours) are working hard, out riding often, to gain even more confidence and partnering with their assigned horses to thrust into the next three months of show scheduling. There are quite a few shows they'll be participating as riders in, whole entire show days, where an entire year's worth of all their riding efforts will culminate and count for everything they've been working toward.

When a child's passion advances to higher levels, every parent knows it's time to be "on deck" for them. Here we go girls.... 

- 5 - I'm thankful for the joy I find in assorted paper crafting, to have the ability to work with my hands and create personalized designed cards for those special people in my life. All I seem to require is enough time to get into action, and when able, it doesn't take me much to launch loving hands forward after choosing the specific materials from my craft room. My only hope will be the recipient will embrace the sincere message that I very much wish to convey.

While any card is in progress, I find myself concentrating, and praying for the receiver at the other end who my card crafting was intended for. 

Just as I tend to do while scrapbooking, I find this is something I can offer of myself, especially when I gift a card to someone who lives thousands of miles away from me. Rarely does one card ever leave home without a final personal heartfelt thought before dropping it into the mailbox, and I've practically sealed the card envelopes every time, with a kiss before sending them on their way through the postal system.

Oh sure, often some folks don't get all sentimental about these sorts of things like I do, but in this modern day of email and the lack of written letters or cards, it might just be that one simple stroke of a pen on a handmade card that shows someone "I care" enough to make it for them, truly - just.for.them.... And, that's enough to keep me motivated to press on with making more as I'm able to over time.

- 6 - I'm thankful for warm sunshiny days, when my husband and I can congregate in our special chairs on our little deck, conversing with a glass of wine in hand before dinner, or while discussing our days further later on, while watching the sun set before us.

Ahhhh, the days of summer are surely upon us now, and so will be more sun saluting moments like this in the months to come.

- 7 - I'm thankful for school syllabus guiding us toward the finish line, that is except for a final few weeks up ahead where I'm able to finalize the year's schooling and learning outcomes for our two younger ones.

It's been back to "Dickens", and watching "Oliver" for the thousandth time, chatting about our Wednesday Shakespeare tales, skimming stories of the family's beloved animals again in the "Thornton Burgess Bird book", binoculars handy on a side table for quick viewing out the large windows to the forest beyond, hoping to spot and identify our own variety of birding population living here.

There are no shortage of good books nearby on our family bookshelves, and truth be known, as our children are reading so much quicker and more for the love of it nowadays, I've been slipping in extra reading assignments on their weekly lists to instill in them yet more love of plain ole' simple reading pleasures.

Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; 
they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, 
and the most patient of teachers.  

~ Charles W. Eliot

Speaking of schooling, it's been great to entertain the option of monthly homeschooling days offered at our church. Having been a homeschooling group leader for many years in the past, where hard work and sweat on the brow offered many others wonderful First Friday monthly activities to partake in, or Little Flower meetings to attend with their daughters, or teen groups with guest speakers in our home, and so forth, I especially appreciate these ones I've been able to tap into because a priest does all the teaching, and he expects the mothers to take the day to relax and enjoy a teacher's day off. Can you say - wonderful?  

Teaching teens and working on the timeline of Salvation History, 
with a bit of Canadiana thrown in.

It's especially great to watch a priest run around playing hockey or basketball during a break, with his cassock on. And, again this year, we are blessed by a fellow artist parishioner who offers free art lessons with various media, incredible fly tack making, and his wife teaches beading to anyone wanting to learn. The special works of art that have been created are really something else, and the talents freely shared, create an atmosphere everyone sure appreciates.

- 8 - I'm thankful for fun moments when seeing our daughter wanting to read to our grandbaby, something that results in her hand reaching close by for a book on the shelve next to her, and this happenstance chosen one was opened for a little show and tell. I grabbed my cell phone nearby, snapped this photo, and then asked her if she saw what she had picked out. We both got a good giggle from the whole thing. I suppose it's never too early to begin now is it? :)

- 9 - I'm thankful for an employer that cares enough to say it with flowers! How thoughtful they were to send not only the flower bouquet above, but also one more to the church on the day of my mother in law's funeral. Actually, my husband and four of our adult children work for the same company in several geographical areas across Canada, so we ended up unable to bring them home, so we sent both to two employees from the westcoast; one went home with this daughter, the other with our son.

It was an emotional moment, such a lovely thing to breathe in the floral scent during the following Sunday morning mass, and to recognize the exquisite orchids arranged in the beautiful floral filled vase. As it was the month of May, one of these vases containing all was resting under the statue of Our Lady, offered there as a tribute to my mother in law's incredible devotion to the BVM. She would have liked to find them resting there under her mantle.

- 10 - I'm thankful for those times when something so very exciting comes our way, where we can feel like a big kid again and let loose and enjoy!

While on the westcoast, the family gathered several times at a relative's home. He had built this incredible tree fort for his children, with a special staircase around the other side to climb up, and a secret knotted rope passageway only small children could fit through.

My sister in law offered to give me the royal tour, so of course I was interested! Ha! Who wouldn't be? We stood high above, overlooking all upon the balcony, enjoying catch up conversation, and I for one, wasn't in any hurry to descend from here. I remember waving over to the upper deck where many were dining, someone taking our photo from there. I'd love to see it

There's only one problem for me after this experience though..... totally inspired, now I want one of my own! Golly gee, I have enough trees out yonder, surely we can make one of these too. Yes?

Maybe someday when all the kids have grown and leave home, I'll get my own fort. If my kids aren't here to enjoy it, I'll more than make up for that. (snickering,,,)  And yes, even a rope swing like the one in the left of the photo, would just be a lovely thing for this Nana. Just so you know, yep, I love swings too.


~ ~ And there you have another ten things for the week, just a few that are in no particular order as usual, a few heartfelt random and personal thoughts I was led to share here.

Are you writing down your "thankful things" yet?

I know, I know, I've been asking the same question on this blog now for many years, but come on, gratitude can only be true to heart when it is a remembered and practiced habit.

Even if we attempt some joyful thought, unless we truly "try" to consider having thankful moments throughout the day, on purpose, and yes, each and every day, how then will we sift through the tougher things in life, when one simply cannot see the trees through the forest?

 The greatest gift you can give yourself is joy, 
not only because of the feeling that goes with it at the moment,
but because of the magnificent experience it will draw to you. 
It will produce wonders in your life." 

Happy many unhappy people do you pass by on a daily basis? 

Find joy folks, just make it a habit to look for it in your daily rhythm of life, and eventually, it will come to find you first. I promise. 
  • Get rid of the grumpies. 
  • Drop the grumblies. 
  • Wipe off the frown. 
  • Turn I can't into "I can".
  • Stop thinking of things that just aren't so.
  • Forget the self righteousness. 
  • End the nit picking legalistic tendencies.
  • Remember to see Jesus in every face (quote by ~ Mother Teresa)
  • Dive into a lifestyle that welcomes others with a smile, show your joyful and happy heart by the words you choose to use, the body actions you demonstrate, the tone of your voice (are you yelling?), and the simple everyday deeds of each ordinary (even mundane kind of) day.  

... And that my friends, sums it up. If you aren't able to sift through the stormy clouds ruining your clearer vision, offer a prayer to help guide you this day. 

I leave you with one more thought for today folks. (Aren't I just full of sharing today?)

...When the sun goes down, offer a moment of silence, then salute the day goodbye.
  • Never forget to say your prayers and an act of true contrition. 
  • Never go to bed angry. 
  • Resolve issues today before tomorrow comes. 
Ask yourself; "How can I improve my tomorrow" - the very words that should be the whisper of your heart overflowing on to your lips, shortly before your head crashes onto your pillow full swing, for your nightly slumber. 

"Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning."
~ Psalm 30:5

One never knows the day, nor the hour when our last breath may occur, and if we live by the slogan; "Every day a blessing", then surely we also must reflect on our days before we close our eyes to see how well we scored the previous hours.

On the shores of the Pacific Ocean once more, enjoying the view, 
saluting the sunset, and breathing in that saline air.