Monday, November 17, 2014

Dark Days of November

Poor November.
To have to follow suit after the vibrant and glorious colours of September and October; while it is best known for being bleak, dark, damp and dismal.

Despite the cooler weather and early darkness, November can bring such delight. Cuddling up in front of the fire, hot drinks, hearty stews and soups, and wonderful candle light.

This past weekend Fiona, Patrick and I; along with friends; embraced the dark and participated in a night walk at Mill of Kintail, a local conservation area. It featured lantern-lit trails, education about nocturnal animals, and a wonderful bonfire.

This little bear is well over 40 years old.
 It was donated to the Mill of  Kintail's museum.
We especially loved learning about owls. Did you know that there are two parts to an owl's stomach - a proventriculs and a gizzard? Or that owls don't poop, but rather cough up a  hair-ball (a mixture of fur and bones from their prey they are unable to digested) called a pellet?

Pulling apart an owl pellet to find mice bones and fur.

The boys especially loved running ahead, on the almost pitch-black trail, to jump out and scare us making the funniest animal noises!

When one is outside breathing in the cool clean air; surrounded by glowing lanterns, a bonfire, a glorious star-filled night sky, and friends; November feels the very opposite of dark and cold.

Friday, November 14, 2014

{this moment} game night

{this moment} - A Friday ritual.
A single photo capturing a moment from the week.
A simple, special, extraordinary moment.
A moment I want to pause, savour and remember.

Inspired by SouleMama

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

lest we forget

Thank you, Daddy!

These two are sad their father is unable to attend their school's Remembrance Day ceremony today, instead they are proudly bringing in pictures of him.

Today I am taking the time to remember not only those veterans who have served and continue to serve Canada; I am also paying tribute to our neighbouring veterans in the American Armed Forces. Thank you. 

Joseph's handy-work

I leave you with this beautiful Canadian song, Highway of Heroes, written by the Trews and Gordie Johnson. 

Lest we forget.

Monday, November 10, 2014

we remember

Remembrance Day, also referred to as Poppy Day by my children, is very important in our home. Not only because my husband is military, but because I truly believe it is important to honor those veterans that have served, and continue to serve, our country with the very best of intentions. Those that have put their country, and fellow countrymen, first; risking their lives, their mental and physical health, and the relationships with those they love. For me, it has nothing to do with politics or whether one agrees with past or current missions. It is simply a day to honor veterans of the past, present, and future. It is a day to pay tribute to their lives, spirits and sacrifices.

Over the weekend, while taking the time to speak with Fiona and Patrick about Remembrance Day, and teaching them the first verse of the poem In Flanders Fields, we put together a poppy craft - poppy sun-catchers - to display in our front window. The kids made five poppies, one for each family member.

On the day after Halloween, the widow and six year-old daughter of one of my husband's friend's, who was killed while serving in Afghanistan (see this post written two years ago), made a Facebook challenge encouraging us, before pulling out our Christmas decorations, to decorate for Remembrance Day. Every year we have always hung a homemade poppy wreath on our door, however the kids and I took it up a notch this year by accepting their challenge, and created this window display!

The banner is made out of pages from an old ruined book, and the cardboard letters were cut from a frozen pizza box and coloured with a black sharpie. We pinned the letters on twine with clothespins, and admired our work! The pictures don't do it justice. My good camera's battery needs replacing, so I took these pictures with my camera phone. 

Tomorrow morning I will be attending Fiona and Patrick's school Remembrance Day ceremony, and in the afternoon the kids will be laying a wreath with my mother, who is avidly involved in a local Legion, at an Ottawa cenotaph. I have no doubt tomorrow will be a day filled with tears; and numerous discussions/questions about Remembrance Day, Daddy, Daddy's current deployment, peace, war, and soldiers. One thing is for certain, we will remember.

Friday, November 7, 2014

All Hallows' Eve, one week later

This year, as Halloween approached, my almost seven year old daughter had many questions about why we celebrate Halloween. She expressed that she found it kinda strange that people dress up and go door-to-door for candy. To be honest, I had a bit of a difficult time explaining it, myself. I started off by describing how Halloween was originally referred to as All Hallows' Eve, and how historically there was a strong belief that souls of the dead (ghosts) came to visit us in the living world for one day each year, All Hallows' Day. I explained how food is often an important component of any celebration, and after referring to this book, I further explained how food was prepared for the visiting ghosts, as they were thought to be starving and lacking in proper nutrition. My daughter replied, "candy is not proper nutrition!", I agreed with her, but that is a completely different post (maybe one day)!

Giving our skeleton an apple ('proper nourishment')
 so it has something to eat before he starts his haunting! 
Instead of just focusing on dressing up and trick-or-treating, we invited a couple of our special family friends over for a little old-school Halloween party!

Pre-party energy burn!
The kids bobbed for apples....

 ...they felt for zombie eyes (peeled grapes), toad's blood (runny jello), and monster brains (overcooked spaghetti)....

They all guessed the zombie eyes were 'guts'!

...and even had a little treasure hunt!

The kids eventually did dress up and go out trick-or-treating, but both Fiona and Patrick agreed that the 'party' was their favourite part of the evening. Fiona has since asked if it can become an annual tradition. Maybe next year we'll have the adults bob for apples, make homemade caramel apples, use pumpkin 'guts' as one of the sensory bowls and perhaps concoct a special witches brew! Yes, I strongly suspect I had as much fun as the kids did!

Halloween 2014

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Taking Time to Reflect

Last week I took my 'baby' to our family nurse practitioner (NP) for his regular 18 month check up. While there, our family NP asked me if I was still blogging. When I explained I didn't have the time for it, he gently encouraged me to get back at it. Initially I thought to myself, "yeah, right", but the more I thought about it, the more I  realized I had been missing it. I miss writing. I miss checking in more frequently with many of the bloggers I follow, who I actually have more in common with than some of my friends of close proximity. I had convinced myself I stopped blogging to spend more quality time with my family. By doing so, I lost precious reflection time - a set-time to savour special moments from our busy days. So here I am, back at it. I doubt I will be a 'regular', but it feels good to be back in this space.

What is new with me, you ask? My family is in a much different rhythm than when I last posted here. I have been back to work for six months now, after a one year maternity leave; and my husband has been deployed overseas for the past eleven weeks. As you can imagine, with only one parent and three kiddies, life has been overwhelming!

Patrick is now in Senior Kindergarten, and Fiona is in Grade 2. 

Joseph attends a very loving home daycare (the same daycare that Fiona and Patrick went to) while I go to work four days/week. He loves it, and enjoys playing with his friends. 

With being back to work, getting out the door in the morning can most definitely be a challenge! Finding the right socks and underwear (ones that don't cause wedgies), proper outdoor attire, and ensuring school forms and agendas are read and signed.  Time after school is spent getting a little extra outdoor time (before it gets too dark), preparing supper, story time, and games (the kids most recent favourite is Connect Four). Once the kids are settled down for the night, my evenings are spent getting ready for the next day - tidying up, making lunches, meal-planning, laundry, and reading a couple of pages before I fall asleep exhausted - only to be wakened several times throughout the night to nurse a teething toddler!

The kids are also enrolled in Jiu-Jitsu. While I must admit I was extremely hesitant about it when my husband brought up the subject (I pictured Patrick taking down kids on the school play ground with his newly learned training skills), it has turned out to be a wonderful after school activity - a perfect blend of both physical and mental exercise, it almost has a yogaesque quality about it. 

 Story time!

Yes, life is busy. A little too busy for one parent. But hopefully (fingers crossed), by this time next month, my husband will be home and we will be setting a new rhythm to our days; while preparing for Christmas, and planning for fun winter adventures. 

It is so nice to be back.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Remembering Scotty

I was taught at a very young age Remembrance Day is a day of respect. A special day to honour those men and women in the armed forces who sacrificed themselves and served their country.

Before marrying my husband, a military man, I often associated Remembrance Day with elderly veterans who had served in WWI, WWII and the Korean war. I still, most definitely, pay tribute to those soldiers, however I now have a much stronger association and a true personal remembrance of those who have served and continue to serve in Afghanistan.

Through my husband I have met, socialized and have become friends with many soldiers and their families. One such veteran who I remember each and every November 11th since 2009 is Scotty. Scotty was a friend of my husband's. They served together in Afghanistan in 2006/2007 on a  7 month tour of duty and became close friends developing a military friendship/bond unbeknownst to civilians. Scotty was a true soldier, as my husband liked to call him, meaning a front of the line infanteer. My husband always spoke of Scotty very fondly and I know he looked up to him and admired him for his bravery and comradeship

My husband (2nd from the left) and Scotty (far right) while in Afghanistan in 2006/2007.

In March 2009 while serving on a tour of duty in Afghanistan, Scotty was killed by an improvised explosive device (IED) while on patrol. I can remember the moment I found out about Scotty's death. I was sitting at my computer writing a paper for school when my husband called from Afghanistan. He wanted to let me know himself  about Scotty's death before it was broadcast on the news. I could hear and feel the grief in his voice. I immediately felt such sadness for Scotty, for his beautiful wife and baby and for my husband who had lost a dear friend and brother in arms. Scotty was due to return home to his wife and 6 month old baby the following month.

Scotty was a beautiful man - inside and out. A man who loved life and and people. I can remember running into him one day shortly after my husband told him I was pregnant with our first child. He ran up to me and gave me one of the biggest bear hugs I had ever received in my life lifting me right up off the ground and offering me heartfelt congratulations on my pregnancy. Later, when I couldn't have been any more than twenty weeks along into my pregnancy, he gave us (for the baby) a stuffed old-fashioned Winnie the Pooh that played twinkle twinkle little star. He posessed a true generosity of spirit unlike most men I have known and I feel so lucky to have known him - even if briefly.

My daughter still has that Winnie the Pooh and she knows it was Daddy's soldier-friend who is in heaven that gave it to her; although the music has since died the memory of the man who gave it to her lives on forever in our minds and hearts - we will always remember.

Scotty is one of many brave veterans who have sacrificed their lives for our country. This Remembrance Day I will be thinking of him and all those veterans who have served and continue to serve our country.

Thank you.