Monday, March 18, 2013

Ten Things I'm Thankful For ~ Pre-Lenten edition

I know. It's late...but please read on.

"Time and reflection change the sight little by little
'till we come to understand."
~ Paul C├ęzanne

Yes, this is the "pre-lenten edition", very obviously later than expected. It's sat patiently in my drafts' folder, awaiting editing, a few more uploaded photos, and the last of the text. And then, just as Lent tends to do, it intensified with its own rerouted agenda to disallow publication when due. 

Forgive me? 

Usually in our home, pre-lenten anything begins with winter in our midst, not such a good time health wise for my hubby, especially during February! 

This time of year is often dreadful for many, and seems to end up being the worst "winter month" for respiratory issues, freezing cold temperatures to create "freezing-cold-lung-pounding-pain" for him, and the rest of us working on building up our immune systems aplenty! 

Here's to a beautiful effort, a tangible, fruitful and prayerful lent ahead, a time for reflection, for delving even deeper, for the ability to carry our own crosses, and even in the toughest of moments, to be able to offer back everything - I MEAN everything (!!!) offered up to the greater glory of God, and towards others, who are in incredible need of our prayers during this fast approaching six week lenten season. 

The way to reflect while on our journey ahead on the road to Calvary this Easter, was never meant to be misconstrued as something easy peasy, no sir, not for anyone. If it feels easy folks, you either took a wrong turn, a short cut, or might possibly not be in tune with all there is to personally pray for. 

Honestly, maybe it's because I've grown older. Maybe not. But, there is SO MUCH to pray for! There are also so many opportunities to embrace those pay it forward moments in life. Like the one I was in awe of last week when the man at the Tim Horton's window handed our hot drinks out to us, and then announced "no charge because the woman ahead of you already paid for yours". 

Thankful. Humbled. I'm usually the one doing that, but have to admit this is the first I've had thrown my own way. 

"How far that little candle throws his beams!
So shines a good deed in a naughty world."
~ William Shakespeare

How to pay it forward? In action, word or deed?

You'll know what to do when these times present themselves to you...

Here's my "ten things" for today, no rhyme nor reason, just thoughts and memories to share with you this day.

- 1 - I'm thankful for weekend visits with my hubby when he's allowed a two day pass out of the hospital's respiratory rehabilitation program, to come home and recover with family surrounding him. 

Mostly, he sleeps during that recovery, and it's in tender moments like this one above that we find ourselves smiling. It's definitely in the little things. That's for sure! Blessed.

- 2 - I'm thankful for the love of all things family! My family! My big beautiful family! 

There is always someone pressing on my mind, held dear to my heart, someone I'm prompted to pray for, or memories revisited in a very surprising way. 

It's a beautiful day to remember they all used to live right here with us, well, not right HERE exactly in Ontario, but you know what I mean. Missing the big bunches, loving and dodging about to get me my share of hugs from the younger ones these days. They are handling their father being in hospital quite well, asking about him often, and knowing this is all good at this time.

- 3 - I'm thankful for ceremonies like the one above when our son is able to advance as an altar server to the duties of both senior acolyte on future schedules. 

Mass was offered for the intentions of this day, beautiful and touching for all the parents and boys being presented with new blessed medals. Good service Son! Congratulations!

- 4 - I'm thankful for maple syrup days ahead! Well we hope so anyway. We've been doing our homework, chatting on the telephone before my husband has to get to bed at the hospital for his next morning's routine, and hoping that this won't be too big of a project for our family this year. 

I'll be back to let you know what we decide. 

- 5 - I'm thankful for our family's favorite hot cross bun standby recipe, only used during lent around here, so that makes it extra special for all of us! 

Praying arms during lent? Always appropriate. :) Here's to many of these pans filled with our Friday hot cross bun offerings our the family and friends to consume. 

- 6 - I'm thankful for signs of spring, even if those signs are only ones recently found indoors. 

My husband brought me home a large bunch of carnations, enough to fit into three separate vases! So, currently they grace the dining room table, the kitchen table, and the family room side table. Boy, oh boy, do these ever last a long while!

- 7 - I'm thankful for surprise little gifties and/or inspiring cards from my children. They all know mom is alone in the evenings, and this asked me if I was lonely at night because if so, she'll gladly come and join me in my great big bed (she said), so I have someone with me through the night. 

Cute. Thoughtful. Sweet daughter. 

"There is no possession more valuable than 
a good and faithful friend."
~ Socrates

And thankful to a whole bunch of friends, my hiking buddies who were so thoughtful and sent me this card above. That's the kind of support one often realizes during small storms of life, so incredibly grateful to all of them! xox

- 8 - I'm thankful for new pretty pyjamas, a soft cotton set of long sleeved shirt and pant bottoms, a gift from my hubby to keep warm this winter. I forgot about them, and finally pulled them out to wear after a nice warm bath this week.

I'm usually not a pyjama type of fan, preferring nighties, but lately, well, it's winter and so cold. Time to warm up under my flannel sheets! Delighted.

- 9 - I'm thankful for boys, the ones that live here and the ones that visit often!
They bring games to play (Angry Birds above), and they bring homemade pies to share with our family;

They come to watch and cheer our son on at hockey games, especially when his team gets to the privilege of playing in the BIG ARENA where the OHL leagues play. 

Here's to one of my sons, who has recently found a fun way to study his Wordly Wise vocabulary for the week's testing, making it a game for his own memory. 

He's been really pleased, and encouraged by the great results from challenging himself to remember words and their descriptions in this game format. Anything to make it fun he says...


And here's to the boys who presented me with an entirely different end result than I could ever have expected the day I left a fun winter edible project on the table to complete. 

Yes, the following photo shows what were supposed to end up as cute little snowmen, but what ended up as white little robot men. HAHA! 

Oh boys! You make me smile. You all make me laugh. You are all so protective of me, a whole unique bunch of your very own caliber who richly bless me. Thank you!

- 10 - I'm thankful for mornings after the winter rushing storms the night before. The sun shines, roads and sidewalks are fairly clear, and everyone just resumes their "normal", whatever that might be for them. 

There you have another "Ten Things I'm Thankful For" post. Please grab your own pen and paper, if you haven't already, or go ahead and challenge yourself to become a 365 photo snapper of one thing everyday that makes you thankful. Do something towards that end at the very least to trigger gratitude from within for all the many blessings that fall unto you each and every day.

"The longer I live the more beautiful life becomes. 

If you...ignore beauty, you will soon find yourself without it. 

Your life will be impoverished. 

But if you invest in beauty, it will remain with you all the days of your life." 

~ Frank Lloyd Wright

To find the beauty in our days, the days that are already numbered like the stars in the heavens above, well now, let us really search for our intentional items to offer prayer for, and when we recite our morning offerings, let us do so with eyes, wide open! Rejoice if your cup becomes quite full, then you know you're doing something right. Indeed lent has its own plans for all of us, so relax, let go, and accept them.

Are you scared to proceed? Come on. Take my hand, let's jump in the next six weeks together. Shall we?

Sending warm thoughts your way as you too prepare for the Liturgical season changes ahead, when we walk our walk, and attempt to do the very best we can, baring any uncertain circumstances mounting up as near impossible road blocks. 

The path awaits, and we hope 
you will enjoy your journey.
Think the thoughts and see 
the sights along the way...
and delight in the anticipation 
of what may lie ahead.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Ten Things I'm Thankful For ~ March 16/2013 edition

"The power of finding beauty in the humblest things makes home happy and life lovely"
~ Louisa May Alcott 

Winter storms continue to visit, bucket loads of snow drifting downward upon us each time. The weather is warming up though, and we can actually smell a wee bit of spring in the air. Well, sort of.

It feels like "forever-ago" that we were able to, very impulsively, snap the photos in this greeting card below. One can see autumn was still in full bloom, and that my friends,  was but a mere short time ago. 

Are you tired of winter? 

Take heart then because it truly is almost at the end.

The brighter blue sunny skies are becoming more common, and the snow is quite tolerable because of all those glittery rays. Those photos of footprints on the snow in the sugaring post were just that, footprints "on the snow" because the ground/snows were frozen solid. Now, we sink, and dip into the depths still laying on the ground, boots are absolutely still required.

It's time to recall all those goals, events, or activities yet to happen in this season of winter. Like our sugaring. Like the younger two using up their ski/snowboard passes as long as they are able. Like our local outdoor ice skating rink, and getting in a whole lot of play before it's surface turns to slush before disappearing for good.


It's still time to enjoy a more hearty kitchen food fare, keep using the crock pot (my best friend these days) to create those wonderful homemade soups and stews filled to the brim with nutritional goodness, before spring's fresh garden varieties become available again. At least we won't have limited fresh food selections of choice from Africa, Chile, and Mexico, rather our more local farm produce will once more be available and in high demand.

On that very long note, here's my "Ten Thankful Things" to share with you today, in no particular order (except for the first one, smiling...), and without mostly no rhyme nor reason for some. They make perfect sense to me though, just favorites for this blog post.

Onward ho! Keep writing and making notes about your own very personal "ten things" everyone! It's so worth it all, being grateful for every little bitty thing, all of the time, every single day, every moment if possible. There is so much to be thankful for, and likewise during this lent, there is so much to pray for.

- 1 - I'm thankful for already out of date photos, those only a couple of weeks old, but yes, already out of date. Like the one above of our grandchildren, already out of date. Check out our new grandbaby below, due in September.

Such a wee little baby growing in a mother's womb, someone to be protected, cherished, and ever precious to many. Welcome wee one to our family. You are already so loved!

- 2 - I'm thankful for father and son music mentoring, and continued music in our home. With several guitar players here, lately there is always someone strumming and plucking strings, bringing happy tunes into our airwaves. It's been great to see them join together, and share new personal twists on the usual scales, or offer one another fun new challenging tunes to learn

- 3 - I'm thankful for discovering these delightful, and most adorable Saint Softie dollies.

I've ordered quite a few of these original lovelies from Erin's Saintly Silver shop on Etsy, and I have fallen in love with every single one! Sadly, I've given most away, those bundles of sweetness to be sure, so I decided it was high time to have a few around here of our own.

This little Guardian Angel was a must-have item for me to gift away, the prayer on the reverse one that I have fond memories of reciting myself plentifully over my 36 years of parenting. 

I was delighted with the quality, the intricate detailing, and the inclusion of a personal additional prayer on the reverse of each one of these. Smitten...two granddaughters now have these same Guardian Angels tucked in with them at night. 


Perhaps you noticed my St. Valentine in another post, and here you'll now see we've made a switch to St. Patrick for this weekend's actual feast day for him. Aren't they adorable, and so filled with sweetness?

Up ahead, I'd like to add a few more to our mini collection, personal Saint dollies. Yes, Erin knows where all of ours have been mailed and who the lucky recipients were. She makes everything as a "special order", so each is made with loving, and personal care. (No, I am not an affiliate of hers, just an admirer) Love them!

- 4 - I'm thankful for things happening at the barn, some awfully sad to witness (another post is brewing), and other positive adjustments and changes are rolling along to benefit those show girls remaining until September. And, wow, are these girls EVER working hard towards this summer's horse showings. 

Personal riding licenses and insurances are already purchased for 2013, the show schedules are printed, and what a busy season this one will prove to become over the next six months. Both of our daughters will be upping their competitions to "Trillium levels", and our youngest will be thrust out into the Junior "A" circuit, one of the highest levels available for her age. This should be a totally new experience, and a great one at that.

 (another mirror shot - new riding level gives preference for a different type of boot)

I pulled off a surprising photo of myself above, one a typical teen would have no problem doing, several times a day if allowed, to snap self mirror type photos. The long mirror on the side of a twirling cabinet caught my eye, a little giggle, and then a quick snap. (Funny) I showed the girls, they thought it was great. Ha! 

Notice the heavy coat, scarf, hat to whip on as necessary (I usually also have a zip-up hoodie hat underneath too), and boots. It's freezing butt-cold to be present watching our girls ride, (a real sacrifice to be honest) to accompany them in their love of all things horse in the dead of winter. It can also become dusty in the riding arena, so I tend to return home in my navy jacket, adorned with a lovely shade of a dirty hued dusty coating. And, the horse smell also seems to linger lately, so it's officially become my own "barn jacket". 

Never did I think I'd be a "barn mama", a "hockey, ballet, ball, basketball, anything else kind of mama", but never a "barn mama" to this degree. Spring can come now. I'm tired of having to thaw out my toes, and nose for hours afterward, small sacrifices really to witness the girls enjoying their sport. Guess I'm not really complaining, just noticing what comes from the intensity of a more active season at this time, than most other years prior to now.

- 5 - I'm thankful for Tim Horton's "roll up the rim and win time". I've won many free coffees so far (hot chocolates for after barn/ice hockey/ski times), a fun little reward awaiting those freezing cold barn days. 

How about you? What's your score to date?

- 5 - I'm thankful for sweet surprises in the mail! 

Thank you to my sister Helen for her lovely handmade card, and the Starbucks coupons. What a special treat! You're the best!

- 6 - I'm thankful for yet another year of marital bliss, and golly the numbers are happily rising quite well. This is our 36th wedding anniversary, which seems to be huge between the numbers and the health odds placed against this time being here many years ago now.  

Quietly, my husband and I dressed up, and then drove out for an anniversary dinner date to one of our "special places". A private little corner enabled a lovely ambiance, and a lovely waitress surprised us with this dessert from the kitchen chefs. How special was this! thankful to them for this photo memory. 

- 7 - I'm thankful for relaxed schooling moments around the kitchen table, observing concentrated efforts towards assigned topics for the day. 

Observing times like this are great moments for me, mostly as this past year has offered zillions of active distractions, often due to our grandbaby living here with us, so sweet and cute that everyone loses their day when she's around, obviously much preferring to play with her than complete their day's work.

The word "flexibility" has an all new meaning for me, and I think our newly discovered version isn't totally matching the dictionary's version. A little baby always brings incredible joy to a family, and this one is no exception. She's walking now, and wants to play with everyone, right now (or I'll throw my toy on the floor so you'll have to come get it for me...)! That's been fun. Now to keep the big kids on tract though, smiling.

- 8 - I'm thankful for scrumptious lunches of late, those put together with "healthy" in mind, let along "color", "crunch", "fresh", and "YUM". 

I've been very much loving a whole foods online class I've been registered for and a part of the past few weeks. Heather over at "Beauty that moves"  offers an incredible class, with weekly modules to print off, and videos with her in her own kitchen to watch. She's so knowledgeable, and even though it's been a stretch to spend lent learning recipes without wheat, sugar, gluten free, many likened to those resembling the paleo diet, well, it's been a very interesting to say the least, and an alternative form of food preparation here. 

I've had to restock my pantry with "new to me" items such as; hemp and chia seeds, sesame tahini, herbemere, and other assorted items which haven't been there before. But, I'm actually liking all of it, the class especially (wonderful weekly handouts and videos to watch), and dragging others here into the learning curve right along with me! 

There are a few hundred women gathered in the class over there, plenty of ongoing discussion, and lots of cooking happening. She's getting her 2014 classes ready, maybe you're interested in taking a peak? 

- 9 - I'm thankful for maple sugaring syrup time! It's a newbie experiment for our family, and through trial and error, we're proceeding. 

I'm not entirely sure what kind of yield we'll end up with, not much from the look of things. The sap has been flowing mightily. We've had to check and store buckets filled, three times each day. Tons for our first time! The maple syrup yield though, ends up being only a tenth of what we evaporate and boil down, so perhaps just a few glass maple syrup jars will be in our pantry for this year. It's sure been an interesting special project for our family this winter.

- 10 - I'm thankful for family celebrations, wee one's birthday parties, and taking in all of the loving hovering round when feasting on these special occasions.

She had the most adorable party dress on for her family birthday party, a sweet little flowering pretty with her petal tulle poofiness. So cute

Two families gathered to celebrate this little one in our lives, marveling over a year filled with this little gal's very unexpected presence and continued blessings. She sure offers unending heaps of overflowing love, tender and protective innocence, and we all shared gratitude for her very entry into our families.

It's at times like this that we also think and love our other grandchildren from afar, well pleased with all the efforts of our adult children to keep us in their celebrations and family happenings over there. How sweet it is to see photos in real time, to have videos sent over iphones, and to hear voices of loving thoughts towards us. What did people do in years past, without the technology of today? My mother herself experienced this, and says snail mail was her only lifeline to her family after moving so far away after marrying my father. I can only imagine how difficult that must have been for everyone. 

There are another "Ten things I'm thankful for", another blog post filled with words and photos, perhaps without rhyme nor reason, and no doubt way too long this time around. One can only continue to offer posts when one gets the opportunity to do so with our slower than ever (hair pulling out) internet connection.

What are your ten things? 

Come on, write them down! There's so much to be thankful for, to become grateful in every possible way, even if it's only for our very breath. And speaking of "breath", yes, my husband has been discharged from his respiratory rehabilitation, with only a few complications and further investigation remaining. Thankful? You bet! 

~ On another serious note, my lenten sacrifices and prayers are being thrust heavenward these days for my dear friend Letha after a sudden diagnosis of acute leukemia (APL). I'm finding myself terribly heartbroken for her after hearing this news last weekend, but oh, so grateful for her friendship, her possession, and example of someone beholding a most beautiful and unconditional love and demeanor towards everyone. She's a women in need of our prayers. She's been on chemotherapy for 24/7 this week, hoping all will be complete after the weekend. Join me in prayer for her?

On the eve of St. Patrick's Day, I will leave you with this...

God our Father
You sent Saint Patrick
to preach your glory to the people of Ireland.
By the help of his prayers,
may all Christians proclaim your love to all men.
Grant this through Christ our Lord.