Tuesday, February 26, 2013

(Many) grandchildren photo opportunity attempts...

They gathered for a play date at a local park. 

The weather was spring-like, unlike here, so the first thing I noticed were the brightly colored rain jackets and rubber boots. No, we can't wear those yet, or surely frost bite will happen in a jiffy. 

My how they've all grown! 

These are our grandchildren, all were visiting in one place, at the same time. 

Wow, all ten!

These sweeties are ages almost one year to thirteen years. 

Ever try to get ten children to smile all at once?  No easy feat, that's for sure!

Our three year old granddaughter wasn't going to take her hands from her eyes, not once. It's okay though, it's happened before with another so it's just a phase. One day...

Aren't they just a lovely bunch? 

Love them ALL so VERY dearly...

Thursday, February 14, 2013

An everlasting LOVE...

Yesterday we (like it or not) ushered in Ash Wednesday, the official beginning of Lent. 

 ...For I have loved you with an everlasting love...
~ Jeremiah 31:3

Along with its entry, one couldn't help notably sighting both adults and children, darkly crossed on their foreheads, with visible reminders of "ashes to ashes, and dust to dust". 

With Ash Wednesday falling where it has this year on our calendars, being able to have "St. Valentine's Day" love feasting in our midst the very day next day, make no mistake that (sacrificial) love reminders are warmly embracing us, both spiritually and emotionally, and have never occurred back to back this way, simply by coincidence.

"Teach us...
that we may feel the importance of every day,
of every hour, as it passes."  
~ Jane Austen

   Week 3 is steadily moving forward for my husband's respiratory rehabilitation. Once again, we have been offered an uncanny and timely reminder, on how this often crushing cross lung disease affects our family. With the timing too comes the occasional reminder to take a momentary step back, to grasp how fleeting our daily moments really are, and to begin taking the next necessary steps ahead - concentrating on keeping one foot pacing along in front of the other...go,go,go.

Perhaps, rather than thinking this cross as an unfathomable burden, I've been really pondering, why not make the attempt to slightly turn it around, and be grateful for this gift of timing instead.

It is a love offering option to try, no one said it would be easy, and of course it's lent for a double reminder of sacrifices being made, but think of it... if only we would choose instead to pray for eyes wide open, and for the courage to surrender to all of the wonderful possibilities life can offer us throughout the lenten season ahead.

Certainly every individual has their own personal crosses to carry, so may this early entry into Lent once again remind us to mindfully reflect on how we are honestly doing with that important task.  

The decision to re-enter into resp. rehab, wasn't something my hubby wanted to submit to when doctors insisted it to be so, especially the part about having to be away from his family as an inpatient in the confines of a hospital ward, along with some 28 others in his respiratory hospital wing, all of them also making the grueling attempt at working hard to continue battling various types of lung diseases like him. 
But, for the love (and begging pleas) of his wife and family, his affirming decision has consequently offered us all, an example of a very real and sacrificial kind of love.  

As St. Paul declared in Corinthians 28:19; 

"...real love always protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres. Love never fails." 

There are times when the weight of one's cross quickly becomes much lighter with the love and cheering of family and friends. 
Our children have all offered their father (sometimes daily) love within their cheery texting/emailing sentiments;

"Go, Dad, Go!"
"You're my hero"
"Keep up the great work!"
"You can do it!"
 "We love you!"
"You've got this!"

He has never been far from my own heart, and my spontaneous prayer offerings throughout the day, thoughts frequently visiting me over what he might be doing at that present timing, hoping he's breathing okay, praying yet another new round of medical tests don't produce further complications (like two did last week), and attempting all the while to keep up everyone's spirits around here.
 "You can't make up time; 
you can only use what's left, better." 
~ Oscar G. Darlington  
Today, and every day, I continue to cherish and celebrate the love I have for this man, still strong so many years later since that very first "Knights of Columbus" dance where we vividly noticed how cupid's arrows began darting at our hearts. 
I eagerly await and trust in the journey ahead, submitting totally to God's will for our lives...because "he loves us with an everlasting love".
Happy St. Valentine's Day!

"Keep a good heart. 
That's the most important thing in life.
It's not how much money you make or what you can acquire.
The art of it is to keep a good heart."
~ Joni Mitchell

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

All a flutter, quite literally... Lent is here

Week 3 - Respiratory Rehabilitation

all began yesterday..

While my husband was home attempting his weekend recovery from being an inpatient at the respiratory rehabilitation hospital, almost as suddenly as he arrived after his brutal drive through the highly cautioned winter storm of the year, the following day he was knocked under with some sort of a awful flu bug. 
Interesting to later learn upon his return to be an inpatient again for the third week in a row, two of his fellow roommates had also fallen with a similar bug, both placed into isolation for the weekend. I guess so! But who "irresponsibly" brought it in there in the first place?
What to do with roommates who have come from a far distance away and cannot return home for recovery time on the weekend? You got it, they are sent into isolation, like jail time. sigh...

While my husband's head and body gently weeped through his time of trial that threw him temporarily against the wall, I monitored and placed my own husband into a type of isolation.

 Although he felt so much better before noon on Sunday, he was instructed by everyone to lay low, and to hydrate and nibble back to better health. There were family plans for the weekend, and with or without him now, the show had to go on. But, happy to report by 5am. Monday, he felt just fine, and was given the go ahead to return to the hospital.

His weekend schedule for using his varied breathing apparatus was not attended to per his daily appointed timings, a slight bit distracted by life as it were, but how interesting to get to know a new (life saving) breathing device so simple, and yet so powerful that it can take the place of a percussion vest for lung disease mucus extraction and lung lining/gasping to breathe control. 

It was the best hundred dollars ever spent, and so much more convenient than having to wear, and perform instead within the confines of a percussion vest! 

I've been alerted and will be summoned to visit the hospital several times over the next few weeks to learn proper percussionist cupping, to be performed several times each day for at home care on my husband, one lung at a time as a gentle daily measure. To supplement his routine, this little helpful flutter device has also now become a part of my husband's required daily mucus clearing regime.

What a wonderful and instant-relief type of invention! He's very impressed with it! It works by taking a deep breath, then blowing through the pipe to move around the steel ball inside. Then sound waves begin rolling up and down from the pipe through the depths of the lungs, to loosen up mucus on their linings. It works instantaneously to offer huge relieve and some normalcy.

 The traditional mom/dad and birthday child happened...

 Did I mention we celebrated the traditional birthday breakfast here, just in time, before my hubby fell ill. We also hosted a birthday party on Sunday evening for a newly turned fourteen year old daughter with a few friends, plus, we brought a son's friend home overnight from church who lives quite a distance away, and all the rest who live here were on deck to help ensure the birthday party flew well. Concern for their father had kept their minds and hearts full all day, the party was a great distraction. Believe me!

Yesterday, we all spent the day decompressing. For real. 

I'm sure I won the "crazy neighbor award" again this past weekend, for being a weirdo who had all our doors open wide, fans on, freezing out rooms to kill germs and freshen all up again. 

I actually stood in the front doorway, just absorbing the fresh air for sport. It felt great just to stand there, frozen in my deepest thoughts.
Yesterday it began to warm up and rain. Then, it snowed. It squalled too. And we all could hardly care less. There was a little math, english, and animal care performed, then a few found themselves napping, and there was the survival fallout to fend off, from one more stressful wellness moment that could have been life changing and disastrous in every sense of the word.

Sleeping on a couch for two nights has no perks, unless all my aching bones, and foggy brain from hourly waking to check on my hubby possibly count.

Forget the official Ash Wednesday start to Lent tomorrow folks, for it's already been here for some time now in my mind, already so much to offer up toward the many prayer requests promised out there. There are so many we know with difficult health circumstances at this present time, that makes me feel wimpy even daring to complain about my weary body and escalating brain fuzz. 

For these, and all we can offer wholeheartedly at this time ~ we pray to the Lord.

...never was it known, that anyone that fled to thy protection was left unaided... Amen.  

And then, mail call! This arrived at a timing like no other, from my extremely thoughtful, dear sister in law who worked with her loving hands to needle craft and create this special gift just for us. 

Believe it or not, she apologized for having purchased the kits some six years ago, and hadn't had the time to actually complete it until recently. 

As we all know, often our timing is not dictated in our own schedules, and the actual timing of completing and sending this gift via parcel post became the PERFECT timing for us, humbled recipients of this lovely and unexpected personalized gift. 

It's so perfect, and the timing is too! It really is! Thank you! Thank you!

Those are our chairs folks, the water's edge always our preferred place to be, at least for a breathing reprieve on tough humid fallout days, the sand weaving in our toes, the wind gently tossing about our hair, and the cherished (way out there) horizon before us, always manages to represent our deepest desire to just calmly trust and pray for all that is to come.
Onward to Lent then, and keeping our hearts all a flutter for St. Valentine's Day and beyond.
May you be blessed this week folks, with the love of family, hearts filled with good and wonderful lenten intentions, and the grace to carry it all through. 


Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Sometimes all you need is a little...

... cheerleading, and some prayerful support.

(photo courtesy of West Park)

I mentioned in yesterday's post, that my husband is currently in progress with week 2 of his respiratory rehabilitation this week, with another 3-4 (more or less) weeks until he steps over the finish line.  

Do you recall me mentioning quite a while back that my husband was a type of poster boy for the hospital's upcoming fundraising, where they will build a new addition onto the rehabilitation hospital for more respiratory and other types of rehabilitation?

"I Can Breathe"
... isn't that a great slogan, and for him - ain't that the truth.

These weeks ahead will continue to become more intense. They consist of 12 hour scheduled days, plus all the other health monitoring that usually goes along with being in a rehabilitation hospital. No one there can be ill, or appear to be getting unwell in any stage of their stay. Therefore, the monitoring exists because people depend on their neighbor to keep them well while there. 

Last week included an entire shopping list of grueling and often times ultra tough medical testing to update the staff and get recorded on his file at the hospital. 

Being an inpatient has its perks, sometimes not. Day one included a sleep test overnight, and really, does anyone sleep while having that? So, day two began with utter exhaustion, and the continuation of pulmonary testing to wear out any ordinary person who isn't plagued with lung issues at all. 

Lots and lots of test results will be rolling in over the course of the next few days, and weeks. The specialized sputum testing went to Winnipeg, Manitoba and can take up to three months! Patience helps when these types of tests are necessary, for the duration of the rehab. and beyond. 

If you can spare a prayer and some cheerleading, we would be very grateful. 

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Ten Things I'm Thankful For ~ Feb.4/2013

 Gratitude always manages to work its way through various stages in our lives.  We can't ignore it, it's just there for us to savor, embrace, and feel blessed to have hovering within us.

This week, I am so very, very grateful for healthier people living here, at least all are in so much better shape than last week. 

No one completely understands what life is like for a family when a loved one has a compromised immune system, and life always seems to feel as though it's tenderly hanging in the balance. Life is fragile. We constantly live with this loved one, for what seems like "borrowed time", blessed for every new sunrise morning when we are able to place our feet upon the floor.  It's a gift this thing we call life, a gift to be treasured, cherished, and thankful for.

We've become used to people shrugging to show their childlike ignorance at first, until the understood reality smacks them on the back of their heads, kind of likened to a thunder bolt flying through the air determined to have a bullseye mission.

We as a family attempt to bow out of all winter time activities where anyone may appear, or sound unwell, but we can't always live life walking on eggshells either. So we make huge attempts at balancing our lives with the here and now, well, as best we can anyway.

Today, while pondering my newest "ten things" to share with you, as usual, I am thankful for an entire shopping list of things, always very random and plucked out of no where after perusing my beloved myriad of photos providing the memory jolt for noting here.

Got your list of ten written up yet? If not, come on, get going...

How about a crisp new journal to begin your own daily ten things? Warning though, it's highly contagious, so once you pick up the pen, you'll always be picking it up!

May I present a few of my "TEN THINGS" to you today? Here they are below...


- 1 - I'm thankful for a freshly scrubbed and mopped flooring. 

In the still of the night, while all of of our unwell family members were tucked away in their beds recovering from a recent illness, this momma hoisted chairs up onto table and countertops, working row by row to completely scour all the flooring below. 

Yes, this was part of the disinfecting, and home refreshing campaign I was swift to implement last week. The timing from this satisfying job completion was the best thing though, as I found myself smiling, almost chuckling over the fact the floor would truly remain clear and clean until morning.  All seemed calm, and so incredibly peaceful. No one would have guessed the action found here the night before, when I was up washing carpets from missed barf bowl deposits, and running washing machine loads, one after the other.

Ever find that the fruits of your labor feel mundane and completely wasted? I mean, check out the clean floors, and then engage your mind to realize how many people living here will quickly stroll across it again, perhaps forgetful with dirty shoes on, or with sweaty socks mucking it up, or worse - the strolling snacker attacking late evening cravings, dropping food bits as they pass towards another room. 

Nah, that never happens in your home, right? Here either, thus the reason to take a photo. Clean floors do exist, in photos. Grab your camera and shoot yours after your next floor wash session. You'll be glad you did. :)

- 2 - I'm thankful for lessons learned, hard lessons learned that is. 

Here lay Dad's ipod touch, the one his son borrowed to listen to music with while outdoors playing basketball. Of all the crazy things, when he removed the buds from his ears, he decided to place the ipod on top of my vehicle for the time being. And then, he forgot it there...

Later on, mom gets into vehicle to drive away for daughter's pick up at the barn. Mom doesn't realize what's going on, not at all. Once home again, son appears and announces that he had to rush outdoors because he forgot to bring in his father's ipod. Panic ensued for him once he realized his error, so with flashlight in hand, he sets off in the dark of the night to search for possible ipod along our long driveway, and then he began heading up the street. Whoa! 

Mom decides to drive up and pick up son, and together we drive in silence as sickened boy becomes incredibly humble in his search ahead in the vehicle's lighting on the road. One mile away, we spot the ipod in the middle of the road. Mom stops the vehicle. Son jumps out, picks up ipod, smiles very briefly, then jumps up and down doing a painful foot stomping dance. Quietly and somberly, he begins to walk toward the vehicle, he opens the door, and tearfully apologizes for the ipod having been run over and ruined. 

Hard lesson? You bet. Lesson learned as he is now required to make restitution and supply his father with a new one. 

- 3 - I'm thankful for former years old projects that are finally completed. 

Take this photo frame above, purchased about six years ago now, the one where the photos didn't quite fit and all it required was a black matting behind each to complete the framing properly. 

Perusing these four photos has done much for this mama's heart this week. Wow, all of these younger four children of ours are no longer so young. Instead of being ages; 8,10,14 and 15, they are now 14,15 (almost 16),20,21(almost 22). 

This photo frame was a one of a kind purchase for me, found at "Home Sense" in their photo's frame aisle, and one with the perfect quote which really spoke to me at that time. It still speaks to me. It's such a profound reality to remember... 

"HOME..is where your story begins." 

- 4 - I'm thankful for a wonderful rainbow of colors as I continue to pursue having this blog published into keepsake books. 

This past Christmas, my husband was gifted with blog book numbers 10 and 11, and every person here has spent many hours since, perusing the pages within them over and over again. 

How time flies when a family attempts to make memories along the way! 

How time flies when the family peruses these same memories, and passes their hands across the pages of photos and the written word, while in remembrance of them years later. 

Thinking of having your blog printed into a hardcover book? Just do it! You'll never regret it!

- 5 - I'm thankful for the last standing corner in our home, now completely finished. Yay!

This was the scene early last month when the cabinets and countertop were delivered and we awaited the arrival of the installation crew. We ordered everything last October which had to be custom made, such a long, LONG wait!

Yes, this is the perfect area for a wet bar in the future for our large rec room family entertainment events. We have a small sink already picked out, and in the near future my husband will complete the rest of the task at hand to install it. Voila! Perfect!  Now all we need is a huge popcorn maker machine to rest there. Yum!

- 6 - I'm thankful for a husband who has revisited and reunited with his musical passions from years gone by, the ones he fairly much gave up to concentrate on providing a living for his family, the one he previously sold all of his guitar collections so we could use the funds to help purchase our first home. 

Yes, he's a guitar player, but not only that. He enjoys the sounds of various types of guitars, noting their pickups, tones and unique characteristics. It's easy to accompany him to guitar shops because he's quite fussy about the kind he would enjoy playing on, so it's a fast window shop at the best of times.  

- 7 - I'm thankful for the world's BEST respiratory rehabilitation inpatient hospital program in Canada, for those who suffer from debilitating lung diseases with lousy future prognosis.  The entire staff provides a personalized wellness program for each patient individually, so as you can see in the photo above, all of those professionals work with every patient loving there for their designated timing. My husband's Week 2 of 5 (give or take), is here now! 

So, back to the talk of guitar shopping...last month my hubby found a second electric one he pined over, and eventually hoped to add to his newly growing collection. I laughed, as I figured he couldn't possibly be serious! He was. I wasn't. But he was. And was he ever! 

Even though we've been married for 36 years, I never knew how long he had been bridling his desire and passion to become reacquainted with owning a similar type of guitar collection he once owned, played, and used in a popular (now famous) band before we married? I guess that potential thought has been there, growing, lingering long and hard as other physical energy things aren't working out any longer, and the list of "I can" does include playing guitar. I realized there was just no denying his humble desire of being able to pursue his retirement years of guitar playing to come over the crest of the horizon nearby.

We didn't mean to, but we did walk out of the store with another guitar, rather I walked from the store with one. I bought it, not him. You see, there was a promise attached to it, that he would listen to his doctors and freely attend an upcoming respiratory rehabilitation refresher for the length of time they wanted him there for his personalized term. Always the gentleman, he has stepped aside to allow others before him the past two years, but this year, he very much requires this refresher, big time himself. 

The deal was, no playing the new guitar until home after his first week of resp. rehab. That was last weekend. He was especially thrilled to have his new instrument in hand, to become familiar with, especially after returning for his weekend home recovery, only to find himself confined to our bedroom for the entire weekend, due to the importance of not being exposed to a (throwing up kind of) flu (recently visiting) our home. 

Yes, that guitar has been well used already, and once more, our home is definitely alive with the sound of music these days.

- 8 - I'm thankful for night tables slowly ridden of telltale signs of folks unwell within our home. Those were two doozies back to back, and the "throwing up kind of flu" had not been in our home for ten years. It was not fun to revisit those times, although I never did get that one myself, nor did my husband, thank you God. 

I think forcefully jumping into mother servant mode, washing bedroom carpets from people who missed their barf bowls, changing sheets and towels, insisting on daily washing and airing out bedrooms, well, maybe I became immuned to it somehow. Having to wear a surgical mask around the sickies, and then change it to wear a separate more sterile mask around my hubby to protect him from what I'd been up to, well, I found it extremely trying this past weekend to say the least. I needed all of yesterday to decompress.

Between an unwell baby, and my hubby on leave to recover in between resp. rehab weeks who had to remain well, that was so not fun. Here's hoping this week improves and this mama can relax a bit more and roll with the times ahead. 

Is it Lent yet? It sure feels like we've been in it already.

- 9 - I'm thankful for the ambiance and comfort of apres ski moments with our children. Shortly before the second illness arrived in our home, we took to the slopes with our younger ones and two neighbors, all opting for a later evening ski/snowboarding time. 

The large picturesque windows allowed us the visibility for the action on the slopes, while we hung back and enjoyed the coziness of a wooden fire nearby, and hot drink in hand. 


Once the gang was finished for the night, we surprised them with some delectable hot chocolate hot drinks, topped with fresh whip cream and a cherry on top. They were very grateful, so relaxed, and it was the perfect end to a great night for all.

- 10 - I'm thankful for our little trinkets, those particular Delft blue things from Holland. 

In my cleaning moments, since replacing all of our Christmas decorations into storage, I was able to remove each item from my curio treasure area, to wash and buff them up for spring. 

There were beloved rushes of memories attached to each and every item resting there, all warming my heart in tender ways which words cannot even eloquently describe. 

My mother in law (may she rest in eternal peace) purchased quite a few of these items for me/us each time she returned from a trip to her native Holland. I've had most of them for over 30 some years, so naturally all have been around for some time to physically grace our space. I thought of her then, as I was lovingly buffing them up, before replacing again in some sort of renewed semblance upon my antique buffet shelving. 

 (Circa 1991)

It's hard to believe she's been gone for quite some time. I can still hear her thick accent in my head, the one I learned about when I first met her, and the one that sometimes got her a bit of a pickle when her attempt at her Dutch to English translation offered unintended strange choice wording insults. 

How we laughed at those awkward times over time, and how I came to love that accent. I'll never not giggle in the future when I hear the word hotdog, and not think of her dutch pronunciation of  "Haahaatdaaaag". 

Ik ben ble - Yes Mom B, I am happy! 

Miss you!

memorable blogging rollbacks

If you suddenly find yourself a bit inundated with memory rollback blog posts in the near future from me, I apologize in advance, but please know it's not meant to become a spam type of reading for you. 

Oh, please; I can fully assure that there will never be spam coming from this blog expressly to annoy you. :)

If there's one thing I've realized this past year when reviewing blog posts I come across while editing newly biyearly publishing efforts of this blog's keepsakes books, it's visually becoming aware (and gobsmacked!)over the many important intimate family moments, left off the blog either intentionally at that time, or very unintentionally during a blogging hiatus. 

Blurb has a special on right now, 25% off until next week. It's definitely proved to be my most preferred blog book publishing company, one I've used now to publish all eleven of my blogging family keepsake books. 

As I've decided this special offer is "carrot enough" to bring on one more wonderful hardcover possibility to the family bookshelf, and after scrolling through most of last year's photos, we've decided there were quite a few omitted which we want included within those next blog book pages, the end result which ends up being a richly recorded family legacy, loaded with heartfelt remembrances. 

The timeline of photos I'm reviewing for inclusion into the next blog book will come from June-December 2011, therefore, a little warning that any posts you may suddenly find popping up in your readers though dated as such (2011), may still show up as a 'current post'. 

If you incur a sudden flood, instead of scratching your head in wonder, just smile and offer me the grace I require to continue onward with the success of this new blog book project endeavor. 

Won't you please walk along side of me, meandering down the road towards those precious important family places and times? 

Come take my hand, and waltz or skip with me along the memory paths to come...

Thank you in advance, and blessings to you;Renee

Saturday, February 02, 2013


Candlemas - February 2nd

If Candlemas Day be fair and bright
Winter will have another fight.
If Candlemas Day brings cloud and rain,
Winter won't come again.
If Candlemas Day be dry and fair,
The half o the winter's to come and mair;
If Candlemas Day be wet and foul,
The half o the winter's gane at Yule.


A daughter brought home another flu bug, this time the 24 hour throwing up kind. 

She was down yesterday, baby was whisked away and tended to, and then three more were down overnight, including our grandbaby.  Poor thing!

I love my new washer and dryer!

I'm serving my family, all those sickies quarantined to their bedrooms.

I'm wearing a surgical mask to protect my husband on his weekend pass from being an inpatient at respiratory rehabilitation. He "cannot" get sick! Cannot!

I'm disinfecting as fast and as often as I can.

I'm shoveling snow after several snow squalls, around walkways and decks.

I'm thankful that I'm not down yet, thanks to plenty of garlic, probiotics, homeopathics, and a great glass of red wine! 

Hoping your day was great, and all your candle supply has been renewed and blessed...
~ Renee

All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle  
...Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words.”

~ St. Francis of Assisi