Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Ten Things I'm Thankful For ~ Wintry Cold!

Country roads...
Yes, take me home, right to the bottom of this street. 

Isn't this the most gorgeous photo above?

The sky is the most beautiful shade of blue, snow has freshly fallen, and with this lovely landscape, one is always fooled over just HOW COLD it really is outdoors!

Wow, with temperatures of "feels like" -35C the past two weeks, baby it's been COLD outside!

It's pretty though, isn't it? 

 And, so pretty to gaze out our windows at the brightness of the wintry cold.

Maybe I'm the only one who really loves this stuff, maybe not. The wintry bitter cold can be awful some days, but the typical eastern saying of; "bundle up" takes on a new meaning for people living here. Get your winter woolens out everyone, and wear them well.

This edition of my "Ten Things I'm Thankful For" features a bit of our "wintry cold" weather, matching up with winter activities and warmer indoor assorted moments.

Here's to another "TEN" things.... right here; 

- 1 - I'm thankful for weekly ice skating sessions in our local indoor rink, the noon hour time slot was recently offered to local homeschool families to go ahead and use to their heart's desires. 

Yes, there are hockey sticks galore most days, a little bit of figure skating practice, and the bonus of a very shiny, well polished surface to greet us when arriving.

- 2 - I'm thankful for organizing all of our Christmas decorations once more, taking my sweet time in performing this activity, all now neatly placed away and stored until next year.

It's amazing how many seasonal decor items we tend to own, those over time which tend to evoke a certain depths of emotion. How often do we rarely even take a few minutes to observe them, devoting any acknowledgement at all? Like the angel above for instance, a staple traditional item that's been in our family for many, many years now. Always, the "youngest" child would handle with care and place atop of our Christmas tree, with daddy hoisting them upward to complete the task. Certain Christmas tree color themes gathered over the years can do that too, confirming for me, that it's most definitely the "little things" that matter the most.

- 3 - I'm thankful for this daughter choosing to purchase her very own horse, and witnessing just how wonderful it has been for her to secure her daily visits and riding, at the barn where this lovely horse lady is living/boarding.

I'm also thankful for visiting "Old Navy", because they are a horse rider's dream store for winter clothing wear. They just had a huge clearance sale on their winter vests, and both of our girls were lucky enough to sail away with the last of their offerings. At a sale price of only 12.00 each, many riders at our barn were laughing over having purchased four or five apiece, but we were just pleased with one each ourselves. 

And, another daughter is tacking up, preparing for her ride with her favorite new horse "Aussie". 

Check out her new bright orange tote tray on the floor, the one she asked for at Christmas time, the one also filled to the brim and organized well, with her horse brushes and grooming supplies.

Not to be undone, this little gal has her own horse to ride, just so she doesn't feel left out. Actually, her mommy has been a "Kijiji" browser these days, noting what's new and interesting for baby. She came home last week with a wonderful FREE wooden baby sled, a rocking chair, and this (nominal fee) bouncing horse. 

Our house is certainly becoming more and more filled with "baby activity items". This one takes the cake with the sounds of cowboy singsongs, galloping hooves,  and neighing horse sounds which are turned on for most of her time spent exercising within it. She's like a bucking bronco in that thing, so fun to watch.

- 4 - I'm so very thankful for the past two years at this barn, where our girls have spent hundreds and hundreds of hours there! 

It's been a time to mourn this past few days, specially after learning our beloved barn has been sold. The owners are having health issues, so the stage was set when one surprising day, a total stranger appeared and asked if they might be interested in selling their 100+ acre equestrian farm. 

It was a no-brainer for them, and surely all of the girls were taken into consideration in the sale process this past three short weeks since the man appeared on their property! Lots of emotion and floods of tears have spilled over, however, a new chapter filled with adventure is slowly, very slowly falling open before us. 

As other barns have already been secured for all the horse boarders to move to over the next two months, the "riding team" has been offered to stay until September. That left our daughter able to breathe well, due to now having a horse boarding there herself, an upcoming wedding and so many other things taking shape in her life ahead. She knows she'll have another barn to move to, complete with all the other riding team members along for the journey forward, plus the coach with her horses she'll be keeping, and a few other close friends with their own horses to board there as well. 

With fewer horse rider lessons (all will be gone next month who aren't part of the show team), and less horse boarders over time, all of the remaining show team gals have been asked to come as frequently as they are able, to ride and keep all of the horses exercised, tend to the barn's upkeep, and ensure the chores are done. The barn is located just 2 km. away from us, a bike ride away in good weather, so "can you say our girls are smiling" over that? It's a little bittersweet right now.

They'll be doubling up weekly riding lessons, complete with daily coaching and riding to train the horses for show season ahead. We'll be marching into the "Trillium" show levels this year, a bit higher division for our girls, so all of the preparations seem to be falling into place. 

Still, the heart pangs just a bit, for the wonderful community we have been blessed with, the incredible support they all have been to our family in welcoming our girls there, and the horse showing advancement our girls have been privy to with the best coach anyone could ask for. We hope and pray her health improves, and that this is the perfect page turner to something special. It's a blessing to know she is still interested in coaching the girls elsewhere once she moves. Bonus.

- 5 - I'm thankful for more counter top blessings, with cheery notes and creative attempts to bless her family.

She tried to perform "free hand" with a bit of lattice work practice, but the rest were spiral and icing topped. Yum

I noticed a sign up at our local "Bulk Barn", advertising cake decorating classes this spring, so someone may just be taking the four week class with her friend. Won't that be great?

 - 6 - I'm thankful for that bloody awful bug having finally left my body! I'm hoping anyway. 

I have not been bedridden in years and years, but somehow three of us in recent weeks, contracted the worst cold/flu within our health limits.

Diffusing essential oils day and night, moving it around the 
house to keep it disinfected and airborne germs from spreading.

First, the chills and fever, followed by sinus aches, head cold, drainage into the lungs to create a bronchial cough so forceful, and our energy levels flattened to keep us heaving with great fatigue when moving about. Bed was just the best decision, and with sore eye sockets, there wasn't much else taking place outside of laying there.

Surgical masks appeared on everyone, and mom had to sleep in the guest room to avoid my hubby from contact with this "thing".

Garlic! The absolute key to kicking us forward this week. 
15 cloves in our Caesar salad dressing recipe! 

Thankfully, he never caught the bug, but let me tell you - this one came from the sickest place in the area, our church family! Yes, everyone seemed to be ill one Sunday morning, so we all leaned over and insisted my husband leave before he became exposed to more.

We never thought we'd end up suffering so much with this bug, but wow, it's been years and years since we've had to have daily naps, preferring bed to rising for almost two weeks altogether. Ugh! 

So, here's my yearly winter plea to all;

If you are sick, and even though you may still feel it your moral duty to ensure your family gets transported to attend church on Sundays, please consider the option of performing the unusual, and just opt to remain at home instead. 

Keeping your hearth and sickness burning in your own home rather than thoughtlessly extending your illness forward, even when attempts are made with the best intentions for a moral good - please try to consider possible outcomes toward innocent victims who cannot medically come into contact with your state of unwell being.

When you have to be sick, why not enjoy the view?

Oftentimes, it's just best to keep our unwell children at home as well, mostly to avoid also making older folks, or that newest parish baby, or even someone with an autoimmune issue suffer afterward.

And when I say "unwell or sick, or ill", please know there is a difference between a few sniffles to popping a few pills for suppressing that fever, pretending all is well with you and yours, or, gulping back spoonfuls of cough syrup to suppress that telltale cough, or sneezing rather grossly and blowing your nose nonstop through mass. We all especially love it when someone obviously has no tissue, and end up wiping their noses on their sleeves, or worse yet, rubbing their fingers over their drippings to dry themselves. Where, oh where do those fingers go afterward?

Sometimes, a family's weekend health welfare is just best left to spending time recovering at home, and observing instead the Sunday privately together there. 

Please remember to take the higher road, and seriously decide if your family's wellness matches the efforts to ensure all will be able to sit in a pew next to another unassuming victim, and not infest him/her instead with something that might endanger their very lives.

The stress levels have been HIGHER than HIGH here, in our attempts to protect my husband from contracting this thing, knowing he was on his way into respiratory rehabilitation once more, and he cannot be a tiny bit unwell to enter through the front doors for this wonderful lifesaving bootcamp, that ultimately we hope and pray, will offer him more days with us from his continued lousy medical prognosis. 

After my own illness, when this mama never gets sick like this, I will never, ever, have the same view from my pew, not ever again after that horrible Sunday where everyone knew, but no one cared enough to refrain from spreading their love around that day.

There are many fellow parishioner regrets coming forward in the form of apologetic telephone calls, (they just didn't think they'd say), especially after one of our priests gave a talk from the pulpit about how dangerous it is for some folks trying to blend in their midst each week, to become exposed to such things. A five day old baby also contracted the illness, plus two others suffering from respiratory illness, not to mention entire families who were down the same time as ours. Never again! Oh my! 

The health status of an entire parish family seriously matters to us this time of year, so we must refrain from even attending when there is suspicion of illness within the church building. There's something to say about a permanent dispensation for being able to choose this option, that's for sure.

~ Amen. 

- 7 - I'm thankful for thoughts of spring ahead, after hearing many birds out and about hiding in the barn nesting while our girls were last riding. 

I sure do miss my resident birdies this time of year when few are around to watch and listen to, but from time to time I'm still able to spot a pileated woodpecker, a downy woodpecker, and a few pigeons roosting noisily in the barn.

- 8 - I'm thankful for the tidiest desk I've had in recent days. It's amazing how well it looked for the two weeks were were down with our illness! Nice.

I guess that's the key, huh? No one uses the books when they are ill? Uh, no! I'd rather trade being up and about though, having a messy desk any day, than have a spotless one like this all of the time due to illness in our family.

So, after pondering this whole idea for some time, I did what came naturally, took out my camera when deciding a bit of mess does indeed manage to breathe much life into a family's home, definitely marking a sign and letting everyone know there are other loving people alive and well, diligently working on their vocations from day to day in our home. Yes! Life abounds here, illnesses - just leave and go away.

- 9 - I'm thankful for a house filled with guitar players! This should be most interesting to have three electric and three acoustic guitars for our three men to play together at home. Yes, they are jamming quite regularly, and don't sound that bad considering the volumes used at times with the guitars plugged into the amplifier!

Music is filling the air waves here folks. It's rather fun to watch them all playing their stringed instruments. 

My husband has again requested I consider leaving my craft room so he can make a music studio in it instead. I'm still giggling, and scratching my head over that one. 


...and more thankfulness for another guitar, Canucks hockey reminders, and Hobbit movie materials left on a young man's bedside.  Such a man this one, hardly a spot available on his night table, but it's loaded with interesting (to him) things.

- 10 - I'm thankful for more "little things", for a son who has been well trained, and who knows well how to tape up new hockey sticks by himself now, preparing them well for game day.

Both his special and beloved composite sticks broke at the same time, and thankfully there was a sale on similar composite sticks the next day, so he could quickly prepare and tape new ones up to use at his next hockey game. We are bartering the purchase of these (not so cheap) sticks, for his action filled snow blowing driveway duties. That's actually working out quite well. 

I remember many times watching our older boys wrapping up their sticks, twirling the tape around to get their precision lines flowing, and then binding all over top well row by row. And then, there comes the handle, perfectly padded up with tape to get a grip once the hockey gloves are on hands.

It's been like a walk down memory lane for sure, mostly as I never completely knew for a long, long time how creative this process really was for the boys regarding taping their sticks. It really matters...

So, once game day came, a couple new sticks gave this son's confidence levels a big boost, when he became the boy in red in front of the goalie this day.

And, there you go! Ten things that rendered an entire blog post, and loads of words to roll along with the photos uploaded here. Yes, I apologize for becoming rather 'wordy', though there are times when a few things need to be shared, noted, and passed along.

Are you passing your important and thankful things along? Do you have ten things you can count in this week, perhaps every day instead of once a week? Come along, and join me in saluting yet another ten, ten, ten only, special things I'm thankful for, in no particular order whatsoever.

Have a beautiful week everyone!

Our "Tintin" and his sister holding their nephew...

I want to share a fun photo at the end of this post. I fell in love with this image of our son kindly loving his sweet little nephew last summer. With his haircut and whimsical facial expressions, he was nicknamed "Tintin". 

Every time I see this photo, it just breaks a smile from me, and my heart warms up all wonderful and lovingly for him. How sweet these years are!  

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Snowy ATV riding adventures.

Our roads were tough to maneuver over after a foot and half of snow fell from the skies. Instead of driving over, our daughter's fiancee decided instead, to use his ATV to get here. 

These two were outdoors for some winter fun, zooming about in the depths of snow covering the grounds near and far. 

While seeking out the trails in our back forest area, all was thrilling, that is until they go stuck, stuck, stuck, and getting out wasn't going to happen unless they drove back the way they came in. 

After settling down and deciding to skip more thrilling adventures, out came the GT sled, and a neighborhood of children wanting rides up and down an adjacent road to our home. 

Fun was had by all. That's for sure, and all thanks to these two for including everyone else in that great activity for the day. Too bad one child broke the helmet clasp though...boohoo.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Ten Things I'm Thankful For ~ Winter edition

 I thought about posting a seasonal "Ten Things" for some time now, so why not begin with winter? 

Yes, when one thinks of winter, immediately thoughts of colder temperatures, winter woolens, shoveling snow, and outdoor (freezing type) of sports comes to mind. However, there are other small blessings along the way, which often are not even pulled to the forefront when thoughts of winter come to visit. Like how beautiful it looks with a fresh canvas of fallen snow covered trees, bluer than blue skies offering plenty of vitamin D to a soul, how beautiful and purposeful those handmade winter woolens really are, and how one really can be a four season outdoor person year round.
It's about being prepared for any type of weather, taking it all in stride, always looking to the bright side, and knowing full well that spring is just around the corner, just when everyone gets fed up with more snow covered roadways. 

If you've never read this blog before, then you'll not know just how much I love snow. Yep, bring it on! But, be prepared...that's the key. Trust me. :)

Here's a "Ten Things" post for winter...

 - 1 - I'm thankful for the discovery of foot and hand warmers, even though they only last for a few hours, still they keep me "warm". Ahhhhh.... These offer a fabulous  reprieve from feeling frozen digits and thinking about how they will surely snap off any time soon. 

For me, these are terrific for when I accompany my girls to the barn, and subsequently freeze within minutes after arriving in the arena corners to watch their lessons. Aside from jumping up and down to keep warm, and face spooking horses, these are my best option along with my blanket I remain bundled in on the sidelines. It's just that cold some days, and it used to take me hours to thaw near the fire afterward, but now these babies are my solution to the problem. 

- 2 - I'm thankful for crazy things that shake the ground at 2:30am during a ferocious wintry storm, the ones that never hit our home!

Yes, the American Beech tree above was very tall alright, and we were already aware that it appeared to be dying. Perhaps it was hit by lightning? Perhaps not? Either way, the lower trunk was really looking sorry, and we alerted our tree faller to take a look at it last September. 

We thought we'd have until the spring to figure out how it could be safely removed without ripping up our yard. Alas, just a few weeks ago, with whipping winds going crazy, we awoke to the ground shaking, branches breaking, and an "oh,oh" for which tree might have fallen. It was dark, vision was poor, so the hours ticked by until dusk when we could peer outside to learn it was this tree that had toppled over. 

It was approximately 160feet tall, and it's base about 8 feet wide with roots pulled up from the sheer weight of the fall. It's now sprawled from one woodsy path to touching another out back, but it will just have to wait until spring now to be removed. Looking to the bright side, it didn't cost a thing for us to have it chopped down, it fell for free. Free is good. However, tree loggers we are not, so we'll have to call the big guys in to get it out of here. In spring. I'll think about it then, and not now.

- 3 - I'm thankful for owning a snow blower! Yes, this machine gadget is about as wonderful as it gets when snow begins to build up on the ground. Okay, okay, I'll admit, coming from the west coast, I thought machines like this were complete nonsense and a poor investment, just a big boy's toy, you know? I now willingly stand corrected. Since we've now grown accustomed to having a foot or more of snow fall at one time, this little baby has been very helpful for clearing the driveway and pathways to our home. 

It's a little intimidating I know, but I was determined to learn how to use this machine by myself this year. as my big boys are not always around when the earth gets covered by a passing snow storm, and vehicles need to drive in and out of our long driveway.

I'm happy to report that indeed, I can start it, run it and carve artistically patterned rows all by myself now. It's just like mowing a lawn, or vacuuming. Right? Row by row, and inch by inch, within a few hours this duty feels great to be complete. :)

- 4 - I'm thankful for summer-like blue skies in winter, providing (as mentioned above) loads of vitamin D for winter people to keep healthy and happy. 

There is something to say about these types of days, when temptations to thrust open windows and doors is the only activity to be mindful of not doing. 

It makes me happy to have these lovely winter days upon us, it gives me incredibly energy, and sings merrily to me when waking up to these types of mornings. 

- 5 - I'm thankful for the opening of our local outdoor arena again this year. Last year, there weren't enough volunteers, nor was our winter as cold for as long as the year previous, resulting in a closed arena for the season. 

Every family around these parts really missed it! Happily there are two other outdoor arenas within a very short drive away for usage, but this one in particular is the best of the best. 

It's a bonus to be the size of a standard arena, complete with all the boards intact. Daily ice hockey players are skating here, always so much fun awaits the avid hockey nut for hours and hours at a time should one desire to be active for that long.  And for a $20.00 yearly family fee (pays for night lights, heated shack, equipment and gas to keep it cleared), how can anyone go wrong having this a stone's throw away from home.

- 6 - I'm thankful for hot cocoa and homemade egg/ham breakfast sandwiches fresh from the oven. In winter, these become hearty food fare to warm up anyone from the inside out. And they are so easy to make too! 

  • I always make at least one dozen at a time by breaking an egg into a greased muffin pan, and baking for 15 minutes @ 350 degrees in the oven. If greased properly, they just pop out intact. 
  • Because I use a convection oven, I can place all the opened english muffins on a cookie sheet, and toast on another rack, at the same time the eggs are cooking. 
  •  Next, I take pieces of ham, enough for each one, and also warm on another rack at the same time. Three trays in the oven at once, talk about time management! 
  • Slice pieces of cheese and put aside, use any type you have on hand. Today, I used cheddar. 
  • When the eggs are cooked, it's assembly time! 
  • If you aren't going to eat all the ones you make at one time, simply pop them in the freezer for a quick breakfast another day. Lately, these have been great accompaniments to bring for snacks to the ski slopes.

- 7 - I'm thankful for good sweeper/scrapers in winter! These photos were snapped at 6:45am. while we were on our way to drive my daughter to her twice weekly, before school babysitting job a short distance away. 

What a surprise to find the incredible amounts of falling snow at that time of day, and not usually parking outside in the first place. Over a foot of snow fell in just two hours that day. 

Our daughter was on the ball, the first one outdoors, and hopped to it clearing off the windows. Luckily she worked quickly because we hadn't factored in a flurry of activity at this early hour. My husband had left for work just an hour before, and his vehicle tracks were already gone.

- 8 - I'm thankful for beautiful night skies in winter, and bright snowy grounds lighting up our way. 

This photo screams winter to me, with a hockey net to one side (used all year long), snowy grounds, and straight ahead two pathways. The one on the left side was from an ATV blasting across the deep snow in the back, the other from the snow blower making the path to the back deck. It sure did look pretty outdoors this night. 

- 9 - I'm thankful for a few decent snow shovels! Winters here require the proper tools of the trade for use outdoors, and I feel we have greatly improved our snow removal stash, especially since the ones we used to own weren't really as good, or even necessary while living in the west. Here, we require "sturdy", and "tough". 

With all the snow falling, it was due time to get out to our back decks and get them all cleared off. What a job that turned out to be for this mama who insisted to do it for "exercise". It was quite powdery still, as it was freshly fallen, however it was heavy to get that deep stuff all removed. 

One wouldn't know from looking at the photo above, noticing the drop down from the doorway, but just to give you an idea of how deep the snow was this day, the snow shovel black area stood 18inches high, plus the drop in height!  

So now you can just imagine how deeply this snow fall had accumulated back there. "Done" though, is my kind of word. 

- 10 - I'm thankful for living in an area, that despite all winter weather odds, fun seasonal activities are not cancelled, or prevented, for they still exist outdoors. 

The usual fun for our gang since living in these parts has included many sporty activities, still we have a few firsts this year already. 

A friend pulled out their skidoos for the first time in two years, finally fixed and ready to blast off. This year our daughter and her friend were instructed on how to use one of them once more, and both were zooming about their property and trails while dragging one another on a GTsled. 

How so fun it was to watch them together, and to cheer them on!

There you have it folks - Ten Things! 

There are many other assorted activities I could feather in this "Ten Things" post, but then it would be only ten now would it? Smiling at that thought ~ only ten? Yes, Renee, only ten for today. 

Checking off some of my thankful notes that are uploaded and included here. Do you have a winter list filled with thankful things too? If not, maybe perusing my photos above will spark a few for you today. 

Offering snowy thoughts your way;