Sunday, December 29, 2013

Now, we're really sick.

Health is one of many things easy to take for granted.

Voice is another.

Today is my 3rd day, Monique's 1st, of a terrible sore throat. Like, terrible, terrible.

Pneumonia was worse. Mono was worse. That's about it.

But unlike anything I've ever had before, my uluvula (?) is so swollen and irritated that I cannot speak at all.

Some of my colleagues had something similar this past month. For more than a week after they recovered, they couldn't speak more than a whisper.

Parenting is not so easy without one's voice. Teaching? Hmm.

OK, so I want your pity. Please send it my way.

I negotiated going to the doctor without speaking. The doctor made me say "Ooone, Tawoo, Thee" and then told me I had a viral infection. I'm trying hard to believe him. People react weirdly when you write all your communication. One nurse whispered to me. My kids love the miming - it's just that they do it back to me, so we are trying to overcome two communication handicaps.

I just want to drink a glass of water without extreme pain.

The kids have watched maybe 104 hours of TV today. They sort of managed to feed themselves, after I pulled out leftover Vietnamese and pointed at it vigorously before they could have cookies.

There are so many today in the world suffering - those who have nothing healthy to drink, those without useless doctors to go to, those who are bedridden, those who are voiceless, those who struggle to communicate with family through illness, those who can't work... why on earth does my own suffering narrow down my vision so I can see and think of nothing else? Courage exists in fearful situations, love exists in response to hatred, do you think I can be grateful for the many good things I've received even when I have also received one thing I do not want?

So many people close to me have undergone extreme trials of health and other struggles - somehow, I have faith that this suffering of mine unites me to their suffering... but I can't figure out how right now, cuz my head is pounding. We are all in this together, I suppose, and pretending we aren't to keep ourselves from suffering locks us out of our own experience.

Maybe I can experience this suffering wholeheartedly - maybe every moment I'm given now and after my recovery will be more vivid, more colourful, more whole, more intensely alive because my attention was so effectively called.

John Paul II's On the Christian Meaning of Human Suffering is beside me in bed, but I'm not reading it. Only so much suffering I can take. Can anyone send me Coles notes on it? Put it in the comments?

Instead, Francis's Gospel of Joy, which speaks of suffering which does not extinguish the joy we hold in our hearts - when Catherine starts pointing and grunting at her peanut butter toast, I find some of that there joy.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Christmas is coming

I am trying to take my friend and fellow blogger Anna's advice. (check out her blog at www.eastofcrazyland.wordpress.com). Keep Christmas simple. It is true that my kids would rather have a happy mom and some simple cookies than a grumpy mom and a amazing looking cake that took me five hours to make. So here I am on a cold (but not as cold) winters day making cookies and letting my helper get right into it. Then end result was yummy cookies, great Christmas memories and a really big mess! But hey she even "helps" with the clean up.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Today's lesson: sundogs

What are they?

A peculiar celestial phenomenon in which the ice crystals in the air refract the light of the sun so as to give the impression of two 'mini-suns' or sundogs on either side of the real sun aligned horizontally. Also, usually a ring of light that might have the colours of the rainbow in it.

Noah may have seen this if the Ark hit an iceberg.

It only happens when it is crazy cold. Like, um... TODAY!



thanks Janice Dobroski December 6, 2013 Waskada, Manitoba CanadaDate shot: December 5, 2013
http://www.theweathernetwork.com/photos/view/active-weather/morning-sun-dog-circle/16448022

OK, OK, OK.... it's cold.

"You moved here from Vancouver?!? Why did you do that?!?"
...
"So, how do you like the weather? Hmmmmm?"
...

Yes, indeed. Even weirder than having four kids, we moved back to Saskatchewan. My stock answer is, "I don't miss the rain." But nobody believes me.

My good friends on the West Coast, you have to understand that here in Saskatchewan we have a heritage of inferiority-complex, always thinking we had the misfortune to be placed in the last place anyone would want to live. Even people who love it here (like us) acknowledge that we are statistically improbable.

My good friends on the prairie, you have to understand that everyone else agrees with you: we do live in the last place anyone would want to live.

And today, I believe I have a good idea why.

Did you know that theweathernetwork.com will actually use the descriptor "bitterly cold"?

Really? This is the best scientific description? If you stick your tongue out, will you perceive a bitter taste to the weather? No one really knows, of course, because anyone who sticks their tongue out has it frozen solid and can't tell us.

[When I was my son's age, I did in fact get my tongue frozen to metal on a day like this. I didn't want to touch the door handle with my hand, because it was wet. And it would freeze to the metal. So I used my mouth. Luckily, I panicked and ripped the flesh off my tongue before it could freeze too deeply.]

SO, with nods of appreciation to tax-funded Environment Canada, here is the current situation:

Warnings

City of Saskatoon
4:30 AM CST Friday 06 December 2013
Wind chill warning for 
City of Saskatoon continued

Extreme wind chills in the minus forties.

This is a warning that extreme wind chill conditions are imminent or occurring in these regions. Monitor weather conditions..listen for updated statements.

A bitterly [!] cold airmass sits over Southern Saskatchewan this morning. Temperatures are within a couple of degrees either side of minus 30, and with northwest winds of 15 to 25 km/h is resulting in extreme wind chills in the minus forties.

Wind chills will moderate somewhat this afternoon, but are expected to once again reach warning levels in the minus forties overnight and into Saturday morning. With wind chills in the minus forties, frostbite can occur in as little as 5 to 10 minutes. 

http://weather.gc.ca/warnings/report_e.html?sk18

New survey!!!

In the comments section below, please suggest an alternative descriptor to just how cold minus forty wind chill is. Very cold? Too blah. Really, really cold? Too repetitive. Sweetly cold? Too misleading. What would be a better word?

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Sacred in the Mundane

A friend of mine emailed me the other day to let me know that she was expecting another baby. This is of course exciting even if not overly surprising. This is their sixth child and everyone of them have been a welcomed blessing. In fact, babies in their family and in fact the world are a really normal every day occurrence. I have lots of friends who are expecting a baby or have just had one. Babies are born every day, lots of them. You would think that such a normal thing would not bring us just surprising joy, yet everyone calls babies "miraculous" and they are.
Is it any surprise then that God brought the biggest miracle of all to us in the same "ordinary" way. What is so special about a young mother having a baby? What is so wonderful about the news "unto us a child is born"? Isn't that every day news. Why would God not do something more amazing? I don't know, like a big fiery, explosive entrance.
But you know, that is not how I have seen God working in the world. Usually He comes in the every day ways. In the smile of a friend, the beautiful sunset, that still quiet feeling that comes when you know that you are on the right track.
I am not denying that God can and does do big miracles. And hey, a big choir of angles in the sky is a pretty big thing, but for most of us, most of the time God comes in the every day.
Today I saw Him in the laughter of my kids. I felt His presents as I kneaded bread bough. The trick is to see Him, recognize Him in those moments. Most of the time I miss Him. But that is OK, He will be there again. In the next ordinary moment.
Where is He in your day? What brought to true joy today?

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Movember - Warning! Graphic visuals!

So, I didn't actually raise any money for cancer (did that last year) but I really wanted to do the 'stache thing out of solidarity with my grandpa who is an 11 year survivor of prostate cancer. 
 Feed back? 
From a colleague: "That's the second worst moustache I've seen in my life."
Second?!?
From my wife: "it looks very French. Like you should have a baguette or something."
I wore my beret last day.
From my kids: "yuck! It's pokey!"
One more weapon in my parenting arsenal.


And just because it's not gruesome enough on its own...
Thank you ios7!!!!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Hands Warmed by Love

The rational is that I am protecting my family from the elements. But really I love to knit.

 It is true that I can buy a pair of mitts that will keep their hands much warmer then it costs to buy the yarn. But come on, are these not better? And even with all the bravado that -19 is not really cold, they do like having home made mitts. I can tell, even when the big ones try to hide it.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Eat your peas to level up!

Last night we pulled the kids away from Wii Fit up-levelling  to come to supper.

Everyone was OK with at least a partial mix of peas to macaroni except vegetable-phobe Teresa. The deal was to eat some peas before a refill of pasta. Not pea in the singular. And I don't want to hear any whine.

Teresa crosses her arms, frowns, pouts, and says, 
"Congratulations. You've unlocked superwhine."

Friday, November 22, 2013

Pride comes before the fall

Order and organization do not come naturally to me. But I thought that after years of parenting I at least had the basics down. Well, pride goes before the fall.
Thursday I was volunteering at the school book fair. This seemed like a good idea before the cold snap. The temperature that morning was -19. That sound ok until you factor in the windchill. It felt like -30. That is cold. Not just a little cold for the wimpy west coasters but real cold.
So I have to get not just the three school kids ready for the walk to school with all the gear up also my self and the little one. So far so good. I added ten more minutes onto the morning routine and we were all out the door in time. Mitts, hats, snow pants, coats, scarves and all.
I get to the school on time and all is well. Until the little one poops in her diaper. This is not the problem. She is 2 and not toilet trained. I expect this, right.
We go off to clean her up. Oh wait, I totally forgot to bring diapers. By some miracle I have wipes in my bag, but nothing to wear after. There is still 2 hours in my volunteer shift. Plus as I mentioned before it is -30! There is no was I was going to run home to get more. It takes ten minutes just to get all the gear on!
What to do!?
The only thing I have in my bag is a maxi-pad. I stick it to the inside of her pants and hope for the best.
It actually worked fine. She was a little uncomfortable and needless to say I have restocked my bag. But you all need to know that I really do not have it all together!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Top Reasons to Not Shovel Snow

1: It's still snowing
2: I am sure it's going to melt tomorrow
3: I am sure it will snow again tomorrow
4: I am going to buy a snow blower tomorrow
5: It is too cold, I will wait until it warms up
6: the Riders are playing, I will wait until after the game
7: I am teaching my kids responsibility by letting them do it
8: I can't do it on an empty stomach, I will wait until after super
9: Now I am too full, plus it is to dark.
10: Ahhh, I'm late for work


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Forgive me, I'm new here

Oh my!
My neighbour just came by to tell me that I was flooding the whole street and turning it into a skating rink! You see, we have an underground sprinkler system and I had no idea that it had a turn off switch, or for that matter that you had to turn it off for the winter. It has been below zero here for the last week and a half, but today it warmed up. I think that the line to the underground sprinkler must have frozen and then defrosted and popped off spraying water by the gallon full down the street. I was in my happy, cozy home totally clueless. Yes, I saw the water in the street but I thought that must be the melt. How should I know, I have never lived in a winter wonderland before!
Well, with the help of my very nice neighbour the water is off now and I hope that I have not ruined my sprinkler for good.
I really feel like a new Canadian. It's me and all the other new immigrants that have no idea how to do these things. But at least they know that they don't know. I thought I knew winter, but I really had no idea.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Yes, you can eat Jack

What to do with your Jack-o-Lantern? It seems to me that most people just compost them, or thought them out, but pumpkins are food and food is yummy. So here are two of my favourite pumpkin recipes. 
To prep you pumpkin you can either cut in halve and bake it in a 350 degree oven for about half and hour or so. Let it cool and then remove as much of the skin as you can. But don't get to worried about it, just take what you can off. Cut in up into chunks and blend it up. Because pumpkins are very watery drain as much water as you can off the pumpkin puree. Now use it as you would canned pumpkin.

The other way to prep it is to cut it up raw and cut off the skin with a knife. You will lose more flesh this way but you can freeze the raw pumpkin until you want to use it.

Pumpkin Cake

(This is great as is or with cream cheese icing. I served it few nights ago when we had our new priest over for dinner and it was a big hit!)

4 eggs
1 2/3 cups white sugar
1 cup oil
1 3/4 cups mashed pumpkin
2 cups flour (I have used white, whole wheat, or spelt and it has always worked)
2 tsp backing powder
1 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg

Beat eggs, sugar, oil and pumpkin. In another bowl mix dry ingredients and then add to wet and mix thoroughly. Put in a 13x8 pan and bake for 30-45 mins at 350.



Three Sisters Stew
2 cans pinto beans
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp oil
1 onion, chopped
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can chopped tomatoes (do not drain)
4 cups pumpkin cut into chunks
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 1/2 cup frozen corn

Fry onion and garlic in oil until soft. Add oregano, cumin, and cinnamon and salt to onions and cook stirring for one minute. Add tomatoes, pumpkin, beans and chili powder and simmer until pumpkin is soft (about 20 mins). Serve with crusty buns and grated cheese if you wish.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Snow day

Wow, getting four kids ready to go with a foot of snow takes a lot more work and time than I thought!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween

This was in the school bulletin. I have to say that I have never read such an inspirational school newsletter before!

"Halloween is here. The word hallow is another word for a saint, a holy person. So
the night before All Saints’ Day is called All Hallows Eve, or Halloween. For Halloween, some
of the rules of life change a bit. Instead of ordinary clothes, we wear costumes. We can play
the part of saints or heroes or people with special talents. We can play funny tricks and ask
neighbors for treats. We also change the rules of fear. We laugh at things that scare us: spooks, skeletons and slimy things that go “boo!” They cannot separate us from Jesus and
the joy of His resurrection"

So enjoy your All Hallows Eve. Laugh in the face of death because it has no power now, Love has truly won.

Friday, October 25, 2013

A Thank-You For a Thankless Job

As parents, our job is mostly a thankless one. We get up in the morning, make breakfast, do the dishes, makes lunches, pack the back packs, kiss the ouchies, wipe the noses, clean the smelly diapers, do the laundry, clean the house, make money to then spend it all on groceries, make dinners that mostly get eaten, brush teeth, and sing the lullabies. Most days we hear nothing back, on a bad day we hear "yuck", "no", and "that is not what I wanted" accompanied with eye-roles or tiers.

But every once and a while we will get something that make up for it all. Last night while sitting down to help with home work after supper I was given this note. (I have left the spelling as is)

To: Mom

I love you! You are so nice. I love it when you knit stuff for people. You are awesum. You are so good at helping me at stuff (espspcely kniting.) I don't know why I am writing this note I just feel like writing.

Yours truly,

Teresa.

I don't know if I will ever receive any thing this meaningful every again.

Monday, October 21, 2013

We got a second hand backyard fire pit for some new friends of ours. The great gift that these people have been to us is another post all together, but the fire pit would have been amazing even if it had not come from such a wonderful family.

In some ways this fires pit is symbolic of all that I love about where we live.  We got it because people here are friendly enough to talk to you after mass, invite you over for a BBQ and then let you take their old fire pit. Prairie people really are friendlier then any other people I have met. Ryan says it is because the weather can kill you so every one has to look out for each other. Hopefully I will not find out if that is true.
We now have to space to use a backyard fire pit. We could never have had a backyard to put it on the west coast. 

Plus it was actually cool enough to make sense to use it but it was not raining! The reality of winter without 40 days of rain (in a row) is truly amazing. Yes it snowed again last night but it was not grey and wet all day. And sitting outside after dinner it was beautiful.

The wood for the fire was brought over last night by Ryan's brother. It was wood that they no longer needed and were happy to bring over. The double blessing of this was getting to hangout with our family. That is the major reason we are here. I love having them over for dinner, for a quick hello, seeing them at mass, or any of other chances we get to see them. I love that my kids are getting to grow up with family so close. 

And the part that I really love. Sitting around the fire, with my kids, cocoa in hand, telling stories, singing songs and roasting things on sticks. It was magical to just be a family. A normal family that loves each other and has fun together. It may not sound like magic to you, but I saw four happy kids who are here because some cute guy loved me enough to start a life together. They were laughing and loving the nature that the Creator made for them, just so He could see them enjoy it. I felt the heat of the fire and the heat of the love that surrounds me every day. The love of my husband, children, family, friends and over and through it all the love of my maker. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Snow today


Let the records show October 20 was the first snow of 2013/14. Not much. The locals did not seem to even notice but we did!

The kids made some important discoveries.
1: Snow is cold. 
2: If you want to pick snow up it is better to ware mitts on.
3: If snow sticks to the bottom of your boots they slip like skates.
4: Mom may not look cool but she stays warm
5: Jumping on the trampoline in snow is just as much fun as it is with water. 


Deep Thoughts Big Red Chair




We have met Jacinta. We met her parents this weekend at a do.

In an age flooded with yuck-sharing, this YouTube Channel absolutely blows us away with goodness, joy, laughter, hope.... and just enough reflection on goodness to see the grace in the moment.

Refreshing, delightful, fun, real.

God's word said out of the mouths of children you have found perfect praise.

God's Son said do not prevent the little ones from coming to me.

The meek are getting ready.

Check this out and like and share, should you feel urged.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

All Stocked Up

This is what my fridge looks like after a trip to Costco. You should see the pantry!

Miscarriage Workshop

A few weeks ago we had a chance to go to a workshop on miscarriage and loss hosted by the Diocese. It was a blessed chance to hear other families stories, join in prayer with and for our children in heaven, and hear from a local psychologist who works with grieving parents.

It was very healing, and gave us a rare opportunity to talk as a couple about what were experiencing. One of the most helpful pieces of information was about grieving styles. There are two main grieving styles, Intuitive and Instrumental. They are both healthy and helpful. The problems start when we try to make ourselves or other grieve in a style that does not fit.

A person who is more intuitive experiences grief as waves of feelings, their emotions are mostly clear and it helps for them to express their feelings by talking about them. Others can help them by validating their emotions and simply listening to them.

The other style, Instrumental, grieve by doing, they mostly experience grief cognitively, and it helps when they have something to do. For example, planting a tree, planing a service, making a memorial box.

This was one of only many things that I learned, experienced and took away from this wonderful workshop. I wish I could write about all of this but in stead I am including some of resource list they gave us. You might find something helpful it them.

Wedsites:
www.babiesremembered.org
www.babyloss.com
www.miscarriagesupport.org.nz
www.hopelifters.com
fathersgrievinfantloss.blogspot.ca
www.griefwatch.com/infant-loss
www.stillbirthday.com

Books:
Grieving the Child I Never Knew (2001). Kathe Wunnenberg
When Hello Means Goodbye (2012). Paul Kirk and Pat Schwiebert
Something Happened: A book for children and parents who have experienced pregnancy loss(2008) Cathy Blanford and Phyllis Childres.
A Guide for Fathers :When a Baby Dies (2007) Tim Nelson.


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Thanksgiving

The following prayer was included in my kids school bulletin this week. It sums up all that I have been feeling and thinking this season.

"This Thanksgiving season, let those of us who have much and those who have
little gather at the welcoming table of the Lord and share this wish for our loved
ones:
May you have enough sun to keep your attitude bright.
May you have enough rain to appreciate the sun more.
May you have enough happiness to keep your spirit alive.
May you have enough pain so that the smallest joys in life appear much bigger
May you have enough gain to satisfy your wanting.
May you have enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.
Loving God, who created and sustains the universe, who loved us all into being,
And who gives us every good thing; we thank you for the blessings that you bring
into our lives. Increase our gratitude this Thanksgiving season, and help us to
recognize all the good things that we have, both large and small"

Many mornings as I walk on this beautiful land, looking at the endless sky I have been filled with questions. Can I be thankful that we had Hilary, even if his time with us was so painfully short? Can I be thankful for this beautiful home even if it meant leaving so many people I deeply love and miss? Can the pain of today really be transformed by Christ?

A month and a half ago, as I sat in the ultrasound room waiting for the radiologist, I knew something was wrong with the baby but I did not yet know what. In those few moments I had an image of a gift wrapped in pretty paper. I had a choice. I could take the gift thankfully, graciously, even if I did not know what was in it. I could say thank-you even if I did not really like the present. Or I could bout and complain as a spoilt brat at Christmas who got socks when they wanted a computer game. I chose to be thankful.

Somehow it seemed easier that day then it does today. Today I feel sad and lonely. I am full of questions. But again I choose to be thankful. And I have to believe that even the gifts we don't understand are beautiful, even the sad days are worth living, and feeling pain is better then feeling nothing.

May you have a blessed Thanksgiving, may you bless all your blessings even the ones in disguise.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Gearing up for Winter

Getting winter kids cloths for a west coast mama is an intimidating venture. I do understand the basics, like what a toque is and that they will all need mitts. But other things are way beyond me. How cold is it really?  How much should a kids winter coat cost? I send out a plea of help to some of my new friends here. Their advice was a great help.

I also needed to find the winter stuff that we brought with us and go through it. What fit, what is useless here but made sense on the west coast. In this project the children were very helpful. They had a blast trying on all the hats, mitts and coats! 

I also discovered some important things. Like no one had a winter coat that fit but we have lots of hats! That gum boots are not winter boots. And a $200 down coat for a 2 year old is a bit of over kill! So with what we had in the moving boxes, the advice of some lovely local mamas and a trip to Sears I think we will survive the winter with no frost bite.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Hymn of All Creation



Fall trees on our walk to school
Praise the Lord from the earth...
Fire and hail, snow and mist,
storm winds that fulfill his word,
You mountains and all you hills,
you fruit trees, and all you cedars...







Yesterday the sky was blue, the air was fresh and the trees were beautiful. Today the wind is blowing the rain hard against my windows. Either way, Praise the Lord.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Jack Frost is a Saskatchewonian

Monique cant believe it.
Frost in the morning. The sun is taking care of it but still.
By this afternoon it will be sweltering. Happy Autumn.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The LeBlanc Process: Free glory!



Not even that early. 630am
Here on the prairie skies like this are commonplace twice a day. For free. No charge. 
So beautiful, ever-changing, o ancient beauty! How late have I loved you!



posted 9Sep

My new classroom!


I am still in a bit of shock.

After a grand total of zero subbing days, I was interviewed and hired for a classroom teaching job!

I am the "extension" teacher for language arts in a small high school amidst the part of town Jesus would be hanging out in. I get a small amount of students with the largest needs to complete successfully.

So far I am loving it. My experience with the Communications course in BC has been super helpful. I have tea and apples in the room. Still need more decor.

My students are awesome. They even study once in a while. Seriously every time they show up and get something done I have the strong sense they would never have done it in a regular class so that makes me feel proud to be a part of givng them the chance they need to succeed.

And communiting is significantly more fun on a motorcycle! !

Monday, September 16, 2013

WGM... Weird Grief Moment


I have coined a new term, a WGM, or a weird Grief Moment.

These WGM can happen at any time. For example, when the bereaved mother is sent to the Liquor store for a few beer to bring to a BBQ, and she comes back not with one case but two and a bottle of wine because she could not decide and plus they were giving out samples.

Or while sitting in line at the local Co-op gas bar, the before mentioned mother contemplated applying for the help wanted add for a gas jockey. Why... well I don't really know... but I could.

Or again when the thought crossed the grieving mothers mind that they should get a puppy because if she can't have a baby at least she can have a dog. (Ok that thought did not last long, and luckily sanity returned before she could say anything to any of the kids.)

But if you think that WGMs are reserved for the mother, rest assured that fathers also experience this phenomenon. Although their WGMs do tend to be less frequent, they are more momentous.

for example, buying a motorcycle!


Or Two!!!!!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Big Wheels

In most ways our new school is like our old school. Faith is at the center of student life, kids are happy and welcoming and teachers are professionals who like kids and excel at teaching. But there are some major differences.
First of all there are a LOT of kids. The new school as two of each class starting with preschool and going until grade 8. All of us have found this overwhelming. Including the mother tiring to see over the sea of other mothers.
One of the other differences is the modes of transportation. Tons of kids are on bikes or on foot. In our old school there was maybe a handful of kids that were self propelled. Here it is just normal.
Also there is a school bus. Yes, a good old fashioned yellow school bus that drives around the neighbourhood. I feel a little bit like I am in a Beverly Cleary novel!
Lots of cars are still parked our side the school. But still, I love a school that has that many bike racks and they still need more.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Bountiful Harvest

We went Great Grandma's and Great Grandpa's house this weekend. Like any self respecting Prairie people they have a massive garden. We picked carrots, cucumbers, onions, potatoes and rhubarb!
Now I just have to use it all!
Monique

New Look This Season

Here is Catherine's new outfit. It was 31 degrees today and prefect weather for hanging out in your swimsuit.
There also happened to be a sale on snow boots today. Put the two together and this is what you get.

Back to School Haircuts

Don't they look great! Francis also got his hair cut but refused to get his picture taken. What a bum! But he looks way older now. I am not ready to have a kid that looks that old. Do you think I can claim to be the babysitter?

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Readings from the Memorial Liturgy for Hilary


The king was deeply moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept; and as he went, he said, “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!”

2 Samuel 18:33



First Reading



The Eternal Father, out of his tender care,
has willed to share with us, along with the grace to bear it,
a portion of the Divine Love with which he looked down
on his broken Son at Calvary.

The grief of Eve, of Jacob, of David, and of our Blessed Mother,
has become our grief, and our grace,
surrounding us with the solidarity of those parents who lost their children,
who hold us in their understanding and sympathy.

We gave Hilary all the love he needed here on Earth.
Yet we had more - much more - to give.
The pain in our hearts is that enormous love
that our son suddenly outgrew,
as he went on into his Heavenly Father’s arms,
where all his needs are met,
and the love he receives is infinite.

Now that we have successfully led him to Heaven,
the Father wills for us
to pour out our love for Hilary
into the world, toward the tiny and helpless ones,
loving with the same trust and surrender that Hilary lived.

To help us in this, we have a Heavenly Father,
and now we have a heavenly son,
who does not receive our care, but,
through his prayers before the throne of God,
cares for us,
to strengthen our family in the Communion of Saints.

We open our hands, we raise them to Heaven,
and we release our pride and our control.
The life we would have willed for Hilary,
the life we would have bound our hearts and souls to,
is not so holy and perfect as the life God gave him nor, in Eternity, so long.

In the glory of the Resurrection
we will feel Hilary wrap his arms around us,
in fulfilment of this present moment’s embrace, his love
which we cannot see or touch, but will go with us from here
until our tiny saint  welcomes us into our Big Life.



Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord 
And let your light shine upon him.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Hilary Julian LeBlanc - August 23rd, 2013

We're sorry what means to be a fun and uplifting blog has to communicate such sad news, and you might not be expecting it, tuning in. We weren't.

Last Wednesday, at our standard structural ultrasound, we learned that our unborn baby had died a few weeks ago. The following day, Monique and I went to hospital, where the miscarriage was induced.

Our tiny son, Hilary Julian, was born Friday morning. It was the toughest thing I have ever seen or experienced. Grief will hold us, squeeze us, and drop us as it wills over the next while.

Our family has received gracious blessing around this tremendous loss. Right now, the kids seem fine and are grieving in their own way. The toughest thing about them for me is that we didn't have full information when we left them Thursday for the hospital, and we were caught up in our own necessity - we were gone 24 hours, but they got through the sudden circumstance very well. The biggest grace in this was my family: my cousin Katherine came over and cared for our children so generously, and her sister Cheryl and my dad were there to back her up, ensuring our children were safe and well as we attended to our son. We are so grateful to them.

The staff at Royal University Hospital, with very few very minor exceptions, were absolutely outstanding at the difficult job of providing the utmost compassionate and professional care. They brought their very persons to encounter us in our shock and grief, always introducing themselves and expressing their sorrow. They extended every option to us, listening to and respecting our needs. We requested and got a confirmation of the diagnosis - this was important for me, because I was not at the original ultrasound. We were not overloaded with information or choices, but given everything we asked for when we were ready for it. We even met a neighbour, who was a senior nurse there. Oh, and the gluten free food wasn't bad at all!

Our hearts are broken in such a unique way. Our loss is early, but tangible, as our child lay nestled in our hands. Our loss is mysterious, since we never got to know our son's personality, but with a name and face. We join many many parents - 1 in 4 pregnancies ends in loss - but our loss is below the surface, rarely talked about, seen or understood. My grandmother, my aunt, our friends, these women and their husbands have gone before us and have borne their losses bravely, and have already extended their compassion.

Monique says she knows that there is a reason for this, we just don't know what it is. And we won't for a while.

It's still early in the planning, but we will have a service and an interment... right now we're hoping for Wednesday. Please say a prayer for us, that God's Spirit of healing will be with us.

Not everyone will want to, but I wanted to allow those who did to see Hilary. His beauty is hidden and mysterious, but holding him and seeing him was absolutely necessary for me.

You can see him here.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Not Ready

This morning while sitting on the deck watching the kids in the backyard, I saw something I am totally unprepared for. Geese. Beautiful and patriotic they may be but I am not ready for them or what they represent. It is not fall, and I do not want to admit that it is coming. I know that I am not prepared for this fall, my first real Canadian fall that has more then rain and wet rotting leaves in it. 

Please pray for me. I am going to need it.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Ahhh....

Alright, thats not too bad.... I finished a first draft of a creative project (dont worry its not my thesis) and decided to celebrate with the hot tub, a glass of scotch that my kind colleague gave me (thanks Ags!) and my hat from the Saskatoon farmers market. Yes, they grow hats in Saskatchewan, I was shocked! Anyway, it is against all manufacturers recommendations to drink alone in a hot tub while wearing a hat. I'm a professional; dont try this at home. I know my limits... eventually I took off my hat.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Have wheels, Will Ride

This weekend all of the kids (almost) got to a new level on their bikes.
When our stuff got here on Monday one of the first things that the kids got out where their bikes. Francis was the most excited. With the quite family neighbourhood we now live in, he could ride on his own to the school, park, or just around the neighbourhood. He just hopped on his bike and went! This is the freedom I dream of for my kids.
Teresa was a bit more nervous. She had ridden before the move but not a lot. While, after half an hour of me walking beside her, she was complaining that I was way too slow and she was also off on her own.
Carlo was scared to start off on his two wheeler. He had not had a lot of chances to ride before. Dad took him for a short ride and he feel in love. But he still needed help to start off. The next day we all when on a family ride, me walking, Dad with Catherine in the bike seat and the rest on wheels. I am not a very fast paced person normally but with my added belly my waddling speed as gone even slower. I would help him get going and he would speed off the keep up with the others. At some point he would stop and need to wait for me to catch up. While he got bored of that really fast. One time he just gave up on me and started off on his own. I wish I had got a picture of his face. He was so proud and happy!
Watching them ride is like watching them fly. These little people that use to be so small, so completely part of me, now off in the distance. So free, so confidant. I swell with pride. No, not really pride. Because I have done nothing to make this happen. I swell with thankfulness, that I have them in my life, that they have this gift and that I get to see it.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Bunnies and owls at the farmers' market!

Catherine and Carlo got their faces painted at possibly the funnest farmers market. Wild boar sausage, by toutatis!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Singing in the rain

The weather yesterday is what I am now coming to know as a normal Prairie summer day. And it followed Carlo's mood with the same ever changing nature. It started out cloudless and beautiful. After a slow start to the morning we headed to the local park/school ground. There were lots of other kids there to play with but my kids where all still pretty unsure about going up to strange kids and asking to play. Carlo and Francis went off in their own separate directions to entreating themselves while Teresa sat with me. The sun was hot and my snacks and water ran out pretty fast. After about an hour or so of playing Carlo was running through the grass and something hurt him. I have no idea what but this sent him into a screaming, cry ball of furry. He just screamed at me, his siblings and anyone else who looked at him. It was time to go home!

After a drink of water and some lunch Carlos felt much better. We decided to head off to a wadding pool/playground down town. It was also filled with kids, but this time my kids jumped right into playing and swimming. They where having a blast and then the clouds came, fast. Just like Carlo mood the weather changes fast here! The sky turned black and the rain started. Every one in the park ran for cover and headed home except Carlo! He was having so much fun in the pool he did not get out. He played in the poring rain, full of live and joy. The poor live guard had to stand at the edge of the pool in a rain slicker for 20 minutes for only him. The rest of us sat under the cover of the change room roof soaking in his joy.
Until the thunder came! Then a live guard made him get out and he is still mad that the ruined his fun.




Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Whew! Having no stuff takes the stuffing out of you!

This is Week Two in Saskatoon Shines (TM) - I got 4 1/2 kids here in 5 days, and it's now day 13 since our departure and our stuff is... in Calgary. Yes, our worldly possessions have yet to catch up with us, and so we still occupy a (to us) gargantuan house that is mostly empty space. This has taught us a few lessons:

  1. No matter how loud we think our children are, they are louder in an echo-y cavernous room. We also have these neat little 7/8ths walls that don't go up to the ceiling - very bright, very airy, very loud even when you send the kids into the other room.
  2. Saskatchewan people are amazingly friendly. Our neighbours, met on day 1 and 2 of our arrival, have lent us:
    • portable DVD player and a stack of kids' movies
    • soccer ball
    • puzzle, game, books, colouring
    • lawn mower with a full can of gas
    • amazing bran muffins "we were just making anyway...once we borrowed flour..."
    • lawn chairs (a substantial portion of our current furniture stock)
    • the offer of a two-inch hose and submersible pump to empty our hot tub
    • a folding plastic table I use as a desk
  3. Having no stuff, rather than being simple, is actually quite complicated. You can cook meals with one pot, one pan and a baking sheet. But not an enormous variety of meals. You can sleep on an air mattress, even if you're pregnant, and even if you are sharing with 3 other siblings, but a week and a half of it does not result in greater restfulness. And just sitting down for a change was nice after a few days of zero chairs. This makes dining on the floor a continual occurrence. We packed clothes for a 4-day trip. It's now two weeks of living out of backpacks, and I used my shirt to mop the floor today. We went to the pool, with 3 towels for 6 people. Our current furniture line up:
    • two queen-size air mattresses (floor)
    • two folding lawn chairs, two folding 'church hall' chairs
    • a love seat and easy chair (red velour) passed down for free
    • a plywood student's desk made by my grandfather for my brother twenty years ago
    • a deep freeze purchase by my parents before I was born
    • I suppose I should include the 4 deck chairs lent to us
  4. Even having minimal stuff is even more complicated! Monique has figured out how to care for the hot tub - we never thought we'd have a luxury like that. We have had to figure out central vac, care for hardwood floors, care for stainless steel appliances, automatic sprinkler systems, and trampoline assembly - another luxury Monique and I were happy to provide our children with today. We are painting the kids' rooms colours the kids have chosen - this intense forest green for the girls, and a very cool icy-blue-white for the boys. Keep the floors clean! 
It's weird. We don't really need stuff, but in this new transplanted experience, the lack of stuff has definitely taken its toll. Sometimes we are bored, tripping over each other - it feels the kids have not much to do. On the other hand, we often get in each other's way as the summer gets rolling, and we need to consciously choose a routine to sort ourselves out and make sense of the freedom of summer. We also are forced to entertain each other, get out of the house, try new things, pray for patience, appreciate what we have, trust God with our stuff... and my hunch is that this time without stuff is helping us invest emotionally in the newness of this space, before all the familiar stuff shows up. Maybe as we unpack we will see 'stuff' we no longer need, or we will see old stuff in a new light. Or maybe we'll just unwrap every spoon and pair of socks like it is Christmas all over again, and God can give us all our worldly possessions in a way that we can receive them with grateful hearts, that is, with fuller knowledge of the love with which God gives us stuff. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Where are we?

Hello, everyone. We apologize for the delay in communicating... we have made it! We arrived safely in town this week, moved into our beautiful home and have been settling in. It's rather spartan at the moment - our moving truck was delayed by a breakdown and we expect to get all our stuff early next week. So we have a great big home with almost nothing in it! The neighbours and my family have been great with lending us a few items... and until our phone/internet is set up, we can only blog from other places with WiFi - thank goodness we have a chromebook! (Really, it's Monique's but I've been monopolizing it.)

There is so much to write about, I don't know where to start... but I wanted to at least post with how we are doing. I will send an email with our new contact info; if you don't get it send us an email or leave a comment and we'll try to get you.

Video coming, soon, too, so you can see the start of our new chapter.

Thanks for the love and prayers!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

On your Marks, Get Set,

GO!!!!

Yes, we are on our way. If slow housing markets, glacial movement of bank managers, stomach flu, moving truck mechanical break downs, and vicious sugar ants can't stop us, nothing can!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

One Day to Go

I am having a hard time believing that this is really happening. We are moving tomorrow! For a year now we have been thinking, praying, and planing and now it is all here.
This last week has been very busy. Packing, and organizing. Calling utilities here and there. Meetings with the bank, and lawyers. But mostly saying goodbye.
This has been really hard. I knew that I had good friends here and so did my kids, but the depth of their love has been made abundantly clear. I have been overwhelmed by their love and good wishes, and even their tears. I know that we will make friends in our new home but we can never replace what/who we have here. I will miss them all more then I thought possible.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Mortification

I have always struggled with the idea of mortification. Why would I do something on purpose to make life harder? Well, never fear. God gave me the perfect opportunity for mortification with out me even trying.

My kids have wanted to go to the swimming pool for ever. I have always had a reason why it would not work. Chiefly that I can not take them on my own because you need one adult for every 2 kids. Well, on Canada day my husband said that we could go all together. Great! The kids were over the moon.

I got all the gear together, towels, goggles, snacks, and suits. SUITS! My baby belly has grown to a healthy but also generous size. My regular swim suit was not going to fit no matter what. My last maternity swim suite has long since left this world for the great pool in the sky. The only suit I have that will fit is a hand-me-down for one of my sisters. I have no idea what my sister was thinking when she bought this suit or what I was thinking when I kept it.

I was going to post a picture but they would have to change my rating! Let me describe it. It is a bubble gum pink one piece. It is high cut on the leg and low cut at the chest. Actually it is so low cut that it almost came down to my navel. To add to the fashion it has a tortoise shell clasp about 3 or 4 inches down the chest bringing the two sided together. This makes the suite have a chest the is low cut, closes and then open again even lower! It was hideous! And on my soft (read chubby) pregnant body it was down right scary!

But in order for all my kids to go into the pool, I went out into public in this suite. I think I have filled my mortification quota for awhile.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

No Complaining

This is my new motto: No Complaining about the Miracle!

You would think that this would be easy but really it is hard to not complain about all the things that I need to get done before we go. Now that the house is sold (almost, conditions do not come off until the 5th) there is a lot to do. I have lists every where about every thing. Here is just my list of people to phone.

-Mortgage Company
-Realtor with documents for purchasers
-Health Insurance (both BC and Sask)
-BCAA/CAA
-Home Insurance
-Car Insurance/Driver's Services
-Canada Post
-Credit Cards
-Bank
-Lawyers
-Movers
-Telus
-Fortus
-BC Hydro
-Cell Phone Company
-Sask Power
-Sask Tell
-Parish
-Kids School (BC)
-Kids School (Sask)


But I am not complaining. I am so thankful that God has made this list possible. I just keep forgetting to say thank you in the middle of the busyness.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

20 hours in Saskatoon - A controlled flood

Whew. A week ago, we were begging creditors to back our owning two places, renting one out, de-listing our property... today we are watching our sale close and our purchase close within minutes of each other with ideal dates.

Sunday: we make the call to delist. Monday: 'serious' buyers beg one last showing, which becomes two. Tuesday: the 2nd buyer offers, we accept, I buy a ticket and fly to Saskatoon that night.

Wednesday. The South Saskatchewan River is higher, faster, more voluminous than I have every seen it - and at 20,000 gallons a minute, more than has ever been recorded. With the devastation in Calgary, my mind quickly went to imagine the damage this force could wreak. But my dad had some insight - the river, though dramatically dangerous, was controlled. As soon as the authorities heard what was happening as far upstream as Canmore, they opened the Gardiner Dam as far as it would go. Since then, the river through Toon Town would sweep you away in the blink of an eye, but stayed within its banks, booking it for the Lake Winnipeg.

The day was also a controlled flood. I met the superintedent and principal who hired me at Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools. We had a great meeting about the meeting of needs and energies between myself and the school division (they call districts divisions there, btw). Then I was able to drop in to the School where the kids will attend on September. Finally, I inspected the house itself. It passed.

In between, I spoke with father, brother, mother. It's incredible - I can't believe I am bringing my family to the city I spent my childhood and adolescence in.

To the Edge and Beyond

This has been a crazy few days. Or blessed, maybe that is a better word.

After much prayer and stress we decided that we had to take our house off the market and try to find a renter, remortgage it to get some money for a down payment for the place in Saskatchewan, and hope and pray that someone who give us a loan for the rest.

So, Monday morning I call up our realtor to tell him the plan. He calls me back five minutes later to say that he just got a call form someone who really wanted to come see our place and asking us to hold off for one day. OK, so we call the mortgage guy to see if we can get an extension on the rewrite and I run home to clean like a crazy woman.

Eventually our realtor calls to ask if one more couple can come by at 7 pm because they to wanted to look at our place too. Sure why not, it is really the last chance and the place is already clean.

Well cleaning I start to pray (again like a crazy lady), and I call one of my very best friends and ask her to pray too. She in turn asked a group of women that we have met with over the last few years to pray too. Well, the phones in heaven were ringing off the hook!

I was really hoping for a miracle late night call on Monday night but even thought I stayed up just in case nothing came. Oh well, we still had plan B.

Tuesday Morning: As I am about to call my realtor the phone rings. He wanted to tell me that the last people to see the house were sitting down to write an offer that morning. Oh My! Wow! Hallelujah! But I don't want to get my hopes up, until I see what they are offering.

As you may have already guessed God is good, and has good timing. (I some how keep forgetting this)

The buyers were offering a fair price and were very flexible with timing and move the dates so we could buy the house in Saskatchewan with no need to bridge fiance. Every thing worked out exactly as we needed, when we needed it. All that stress and worry and God had our back the whole time!

Now the real busyness starts!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Gideon and St Joseph

OK, so yesterday Gideon came to me in the shower. It was slightly less surprising than meeting an angel while hiding in a wine press (Judges 6), but still. The man is totally the underdog and the angel says get on up and take on an enemy whose numbers amount to a plague of locusts or Bieber fans. He's a coward, a rookie, low man on the Asherah-pole - what I've fondly referred to myself as an Omega-male. Sorry, that's lower-case omega. low-voltage. flat-line.

And, naturally, Gideon is one of these post-enlightenment thinkers who wishes for empirical proof before he gallops off into certain death on the words of a hallucination. *gallops: he might have had a goat. So he sets up his experiment - get the wool wet while the ground is dry.  Make things scientifically impossible for God, so you can excuse yourself from paying attention to this spiritual whimsy of his. Then it happens. OK, that's not quite enough God, now I need to know that wasn't a fluke. Wool dry, ground wet. Next morning: check and double check. Your laws of science are taken care of, now you have no reason to shirk.

Gideon first is sent within his family, to tear down idols to Baal and Asherah. This does not make him popular. But he gets it done. His boldness gets noticed, next thing you know he has 30,000 men! Not bad. Not the enemies' numbers, but a decent showing.

And what happens?

God continues the whole 'are you really there?' sign language - precisely because Gideon has demonstrated rather imperfect faith. God says, "send 29,700 of your men home" - 99%! That's right, God was the first one to tell the 99% to pack up their tents and go home.

When tested, God plays the game way beyond what Gideon's comfortable with - because he knows Gideon will forget how dependent he was on God when he was cowering in the wine press.  Emphasis on "play" - God says, 'you like signs? well, then I'm going to keep on giving them to you.' When God conquers Israel's enemies with a measly 300 (ha! take that, Sparta - losers!) he definitely reveals Gideon as the omega-person on the battlefield, trying to give Gideon the enduring gift of humility.

Cut to me in the shower. EEEEKK! No, I'm fine, ain't nobody got time fo' vlogging in da shower.

All year, we have been asking God, show us what you want us to do. And he only ever says to trust him.

It's an uncomfortable fit, our will and trust. But it boils down to: we make the decision to follow God's will, but it is GOD who accomplishes it. When we choose to dream, to apply, to accept a job, to buy/sell/rent/rent-out a house, we lay down 'our will be done' and take up 'thy will be done' - as Rohr says, "thy kingdom come - my kingdom GO!"

Today one of three possibilities will become clear. Or something totally different. The wool will be one thing, the ground another.

My job is to tear down idols, keep listening, resist the temptation to test.

After victory, Gideon keeps Israel faithful - sort of. Their enemies don't trouble them, but Gideon sets up an 'ephod' - an oracle, that becomes 'a snare to his family'. We just can't resist peppering God with all the unimportant questions - are you really there? give me the answer I seek! - when victory lies in trusting, listening, following orders.

St. Joseph, pray for us. Gideon, Judge of Israel, pray for us.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

We Bought A House

Well, as I knew it would, it is all happening at once.

We bought a house. Sort of. We have an accepted offer, and are still waiting on an inspection and the financing. Financing in the more stressful one by far.
You see, we have not sold our house here. If we don't sell by the end of the week, we will most likely rent it out. This scares me a bit. One of our big reasons to move was to have less debt not more! But financially it does make sense.
So now we are in a flurry of busyness. Getting all this in order. And I know that here is only more busyness to come. Packing, cleaning, garage sales and all that good stuff.
Still, this is way better then the waiting!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Qunito Pinto

Well we have big news!

No, we have not sold our house. That is still all the same. Waiting, hoping, trusting and now preserving. All good virtues in which God thought I was lacking and in which I could use a good lesson.

No, our news is even more exciting and live changing than an move across the country.

We are having another baby!

The nickname for the baby is now Quinto Pinto. Here is the back story to this one.

When we were pregnant with Cathrine, the nick name we called her was Quatro because she was number four. So this time Quinto sounded about right.
Then, then day we told the kids about the new baby they wanted to know how big the baby was and how far he/she had developed. I looked it up and the website I was reading said that the baby was the size of a pinto. And well, that has suck, even though I am sure he/she has grown way pass legumes.

Well, now I have more to blog about and way more to have fun with. And something to keep me cozy during the long prairie winter.