Monday, September 24, 2007

Parc Jacques Cartier & Parc Chauveau

This Saturday we went to Jacques Cartier Park, which is about 30 mins north of Quebec City. We figured it would do us good to get out into nature and relax and enjoy the fall colors. We phoned the Nelson family fab 5 and met them en route.

We brought everything to have a picnic (hotdogs,chips,juice,fruit,etc) and went to try to find a day camp place that allowed you to have fires. Well that was easier said than done. But eventually we found one.

Parc Chauveau is inside quebec city, right close to our friends house. Bennett loved to go there because there is a small creek, and he loves throwing rocks in the water. Arielle loves exploring and I love the peace and quiet and gorgeous colors, so we all win! I brought Bennett's rain boots so he was so happy to sit on a rock with his feet in the water and play in the water. Of course he got pretty wet elsewhere still, but was so happy.

Arielle kept sneaking over the snack bag when i wasnt looking and I caught her several times with her "hand in the cookie jar" . Shes my little snack hound.

I fear in a few more weeks the wind will have taken all the bright colored leaves off the trees and the maples will be naked. I'll miss the bright mix of reds and oranges. Until then, I intend to go out lots and enjoy them, which suits the kids just fine!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Have you seen these bikes?

So a few of you heard that about a month ago Pauls Rocky Mountain ETSX-50 was stolen from Laval University while he was in classes. It was locked up with a thick cable in plain view. And yet someone walked up with big tools and took off with it. That was a hard blow for us, especially Paul. If you know Paul, you know his bike was important to him and mountain biking is his favorite thing to do in his free time.

So we decided to fly my good bike (Trek Fuel 90) out to Quebec from the safety of my parents basement so that he could still go on good rides. He bought a $200 bike to ride to and from classes and mine would always be at our apartment or under our butts. Never locked up or left in public.

Then yesterday happened. In the middle of the night, someone scaled the brick wall up to our third floor balcony (no stairs or access point) and stole my bike too. We have no idea how they managed to get up there. Scary thing is that we were sleeping only a few metres away and there is no lock on that patio door. They could have just walked into our bedrooms too. So now I dont even feel safe in my own home.

Add this to the fact our mailbox was broken into and everything ripped apart and a cheque went missing, and you will begin to feel the welcome here hasn't been so "warm".

I wont lie, this is brutally hard. A few things that we didnt give away when we moved, and were important to us and our lifestyle, have been ripped away. I can't comprehend the reason that this happened. Twice! And we certainly dont have the $8000 to replace them both now. Im afraid to leave anything of any value alone, am not safe in my own apartment, and feel discouraged and hurt. I know we left everything for a reason and are moving forward in trust and faith...but my faith doesn't feel so strong in times like this. Why do you get kicked when you are already down and live far away from anyone to pick you up? Such is the way of my thoughts. Paul is really angry too.

We thank you for your prayers and support. We know we made the committment to give it all up, to put it on the altar and trust...but those are not always easy.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Retreat in Niagara

This past weekend I had the wonderful retreat. My very good friend Jen F surprised me a few days earlier with a weekend getaway to the Niagara region. She grew up there and her parents and family still live there in a plot of land just outside of Saint Catharines.

What a blessing to have a weekend getaway to be surrounded by peace and beautiful scenery and a great friend who knows me well.

On Saturday (which was my 31st Birthday!) We headed to Niagara Falls. I had never seen them before.

The power of the falls is amazing. The river rushing down to it is much rougher and faster than I thought it would have been. And the power and sound of that much water falling is impressive. We walked the paths along the falls and edge of the canyon and then walked the tourist streets.

After the falls we went down the road a few kilometres to the Whirlpool. We hiked down this rough steep trail to the bottom to get a geocache and take in the scenery. We got a bit muddy since my coordinates for the cache were a bit off and we scrambled up dirty rough mud to a rock where nothing was hidden :) But we found it eventually.

Then we headed to the beautiful little town of Niagara on the Lake. We stopped at a vineyard and walked around first, then walked around downtown. Jen used to work at a wine tasting store, so we went there and saw some of her old coworkers and tasted some testers of the new best wines.

Then we continued to walk around town and hit lots of little stores. Guess what store this was :) We had such a great time. After this we spent a wonderful evening with some of her friends before going home late and talking more.

Sunday saw us up bright and early to go to the church Jen and her family attended.
It was an awesome, inspirational service and I left feeling really refreshed in spirit. You can check out the webpage of the church at:

You can also access links under the sunday section to listen to music and messages to inspire you as well.

After church Jen went to spend some time with her family while I sat outside and did some reading. Jen's family has a little vineyard out back and after I was done reading, I took the time to wander through the vines, enjoying the taste of a few grapes, the sounds and peace and quiet. What a wonderful time of refreshing that I am so grateful for.

Sunday night we went for supper and stayed up late talking. That was the best thing about the weekend - a trusted old friend who loves me and encourages me so much. I am so blessed. Thank you so much Jen.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


So those of you who know me know that I have always had a hobby of photography. Even back in Jr. High I was always the one behind the camera. Over the years I hope to have improved and I still really enjoy this past-time.

Many of you have commented on photos I have taken, etc. So I decided to make my own little gallery of photos that I have especially liked over the past years. It will grow as I work on new ones and travel and take wonderful shots in Africa. So feel free to go and take a look :)

As an intro to the wonderful art of photography, please enjoy this new family photo. It was taken in June by a good friend and amazing professional Photographer, Mike Heywood. Thanks so much Mike.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Lessons and Loss - My dog Sanka

Got a few minutes? This one is a long one. Got some kleenex’s nearby? I’ve been told you might need ‘em. Recently I learned that grief often goes in a circle. You think you are past it, over it, dealing with it, and suddenly it is there before you again in an overwhelming way, and the tears flow and emotions boil over, and you feel….grief. We expect that a few weeks can make things better, but sometimes it’s a process of learning, of allowing yourself to grieve, of remembering, and slowly letting go, all the while knowing the grief may return at totally unexpected times, hopefully with less and less intensity than the time before. That was what I have been experiencing this week at times. I miss my dog Sanka. We had to give him away a few month ago. We are moving to Africa to a place whether there is no safe creek to swim in, waayyyy too hot for him to stay outdoors, and a culture that dislikes dogs and sickness wouldbe highly likely. So please humour me while I remember him, tell you funny stories, why we loved him, and how he was so much more than just a pet to us. Sharing loss is part of the healing.

I remember when we brought you home. You were 6 weeks old or so. You were so soft and fuzzy and you sat on my lap on the way back to our house in Calgary. We had a big pen built for you and a house and blankets, etc. You were pretty spoiled. I tried to be diligent and wake up often to let you out to go pee, but inevitably you still peed in your pen for the first while. Can’t blame you. You were just a little guy.

When I had my second miscarriage I came home and sat on my bed in the dark with you, and when Paul came home he joined us. We were so sad, and you were oblivious and just thrilled to be in the bed for once in your life. You fell fast asleep and were soon snoring up a storm, which made us laugh so much in a time we really needed to feel joy. Thank you for that.

You knew you were not allowed on the furniture. Only once did I come downstairs in the middle of the night and catch you fast asleep on the leather couch. Mostly you were quite content on the big oversized puppy pillow at the top of the stairs where you could be a sentry between Bennett and our bedroom, or on a carpet on the ground next to Paul in our bedroom. (Yes, Paul is the guy who said he would NEVER let you in the bedroom, and thought you should be an outside dog, etc. You suckered him in good!) The furniture exception was our big striped King chair – the “Movie Chair”. When we settled in there to watch a movie, our popcorn and drinks all ready, you would soon come over and rest you head on the big ottoman on our feet and give us those sad eyes. If we didn’t respond fast enough, soon your one paw was also up there on the ottoman. Every movie you managed to get invited to drape yourself over our feet and between our legs on the ottoman and gets lots of love. You loved movies!

Goofing around in front of the movie chair

And then there is your red ball. When the red ball came out, your brain turned off. Just like that. Every bit of training, or discipline or reserve in your body completely left and you went haywire. On cold days I would throw the ball from our deck down the long street (quiet cul de sac with little traffic) and you would run back and forth 30-40 times chasing it. I knew when you stopped bringing it back to me right away and would lie 5 feet away with it to rest that you were good and tired. On sunny days we went often to the escarpment and I threw the ball until either my shoulder was sore or the slobber on the ball overwhelmed me, whichever came first.

We took you camping often. You LOVED being out there, hanging out with us all day and night, and the long walks and lots of sticks. You also loved the water. One trip we rented a canoe and paddled around an island by Vancouver. You would jump in the water and swim behind us for a long time until you got tired. Then you would let out a little yelp if we got too far away and we would come for you and pull you into the canoe. You would lay in the sun and bake and rest until you were ready again. Then you would jump out of the canoe and do it all over again!

You were definitely a water dog. You loved to swim and chase sticks and bring them back, and you were good at it. Such a strong swimmer. Did you readers know that Labs have webbed paws? They do. Thats why they swim so well. My favorite walk to take with you was along Nose Creek. You could be off-leash and almost the whole walk was along the creek. You would run back and forth between the creek and me. You would jump in the water and chase sticks or birds and swim in the current. Then you would rush up the sides to me on the path to make sure me and the kids were ok and invariably shake your wet coat all over us, before heading back to the creek. I love the pure joy on your face when we were here.

Your best friends

You have two best friends too. I know you loved Paul and I more than anything, but truly your heart was with Bennett and Grandpa. You would let Bennett roll all over you, pull your ears, steal your food or otherwise be a nuisance around you. You never once got mad or snapped at him. You would lick his face and make him laugh when he was just a baby. He would stick his arm in your mouth and you would gnaw on it so soft and he would laugh like crazy.

Snuggling with Bennett

My Dad, Clem was definitely your other best friend. As soon as we would turn down the street even getting close his house you would start to whimper, and as soon as we pulled out you were off like a bullet! You would stay at his house when we were gone away and had all your favorite spots. Grandpa would take you for runs everyday and throw your stick until you tired out as soon as he got home from work. Grandma also enjoyed you and would sneak you snacks. Grandpa was also known to take you out and get you your own scoop of ice cream after your runs. He would take you to the river lots too. He loved having you around and hopes to still be your number 1 babysitter.

So what else have I learned from this grief and love? I have learned to see two sides of my new little daughter. The same reasons that I gave up my dog, to a better life where he would be happy and strong, are the same reasons that they gave her up. They loved her so much that they wanted her to have a wonderful life, to travel and experience life with us, to have a brother and a young energetic family who would pour their love into her. We were on the receiving end of that beautiful gift. Their grief at giving up something so precious gives me insight to my own grief. Sometimes we have to let go of someone/something we love simply because our love for them is so great that we want something better. And by letting go we act unselfishly and learn to put the happiness and future of someone else first. A tough lesson, but one I truly believe is worth learning.

Through these times of change and stress right now while our whole lives are uprooted and seem topsy turvy as we move our lives and family to the other side of the world, I wish you were here. You would curl up on my feet, shine with joy when we went for walks and love my hugs. I could sure use you here now ,but I know you are happy with J&C&C. So I sit here with tears streaming down my face, being so thankful that I had you. I couldn't have ever asked for a better dog. I miss you, but I always know we made the right choice. So I sit here, enjoy this cup of coffee in your honour and am grateful for all the gifts God has given me, even those I have to give up.