Monday, December 31, 2018

December Remembered

We are about to turn the page to 2019.  
Can another year really be over already?
I am so thankful for the many blessings of the year gone by

 For now, let me highlight a few happenings of the past month.

We began the Christmas season with a MGCC celebration hosted by Terry and Lovella. 

As you can was most special!
Fabulous food, beautiful decor...
along with the warmth and laughter of good friends...
 made it a most memorable evening. 

Earlier this month, we took in the Christmas Market in Vancouver (under umbrellas)...
had dinner on the waterfront and enjoyed a lovely concert at the Orpheum theatre with friends. 

Another evening...another Christmas celebration.  
Our small group was invited for dinner...
and our hosts went out of their way to make it special!

There were school concerts...
(Lucy sang her heart out!)

...and Christmas violin recitals.

Then there was the 'Irish Christmas' community concert...
 featuring a youth orchestra and an Irish dance school.

We took Maggie, Ranen and Lucy...
who enjoyed both the concert and the snacks after!

December was a busy month.
We moved dad from his apartment to a suite in a retirement community in Chilliwack.
His cooking days are over!
He can now sit down at the table and be served.

He's quite content in his new little suite...
 reclining in his chair and watching re-runs from yesteryear.

And then...
there was Christmas.

We took dad along to the Christmas Eve service and to our place for an evening of food, fun and games.

In the morning...
the family came for brunch.

And after...
gift opening fun!

What used to be so chaotic...
was really calm and quiet this year.

They are all growing up!

These three had worked up a special Christmas surprise for us.

Late afternoon on Christmas Day...
we went for a walk on the trails at Cheam Wetlands.
It was a lovely finale to Christmas Day 2018!

We had  December weather that was 'for the birds'!

They quite liked it...
and so did we.

We had the warmest December in years...
with lots of rain and sunshine...
and no snow (to speak of).
I enjoy watching the little birds through the kitchen window...

...but clouds of ducks settling in on the fields are not a welcome sight!
We encourage them to move on. :)

As the last day of of the year draws to a close...
the sun is shining on snow-capped peaks...
and the skies are blue.

What will tomorrow bring?

We do not know what lies ahead...
we can count on God's faithfulness!

Happy New Year!

Friday, November 30, 2018 for the rest of the month

We left the sunshine of southern California behind and came home to typical west coast weather. 

Every month has its beauty.
The blueberry fields of the valley turned red...
and surrounding peaks turned white.

This beautiful bouquet arrived on my doorstep soon after we got back...
and is still blooming beautifully weeks later.

We had November birthdays to celebrate.  
Micah turned nine.
Thoughtful. Kind. Quiet. 
And so knowledgeable about the animal kingdom of this world!  
You ask him.  He'll know.

Emme and Spencer are seventeen!  
Maggie is seven years younger but quite sure she will be taller than her cousins in no time!  
Sweet one year old and at seventeen.

They nailed it! Both took their road test on the same day.  
Both passed.  
Of course. 
One of these days they will take me for a ride!

They are graduating this year...and their grad events have already begun.

Ranen competed in the western Canadian finals for Irish dance in Alberta last week and did great.  She is on to the North American championships next summer. 
Between playing violin and dancing...
she has no time to be bored.

We had record rainfalls this week...
with the fields in our neighbourhood looking rather like lakes.  The seagulls were happy! 

The house lights are up, as is the Christmas tree and the mantle decor.  And that's about it!  

It has been a busy November, dealing with aging parents. My step mom had a stroke a month ago and is now in residential care. Being apart after seventeen years of marriage is a challenge but we know God's timing is always perfect. We have been looking for options for dad and he will likely be moving out of their apartment and into a retirement home soon. He is still doing well at 96 and is ready for the next chapter of his life...the one where he no longer has to cook, clean and do laundry. 

Wishing you all a wonderful advent season...
as you prepare your hearts and your homes. 

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Time away in the desert...

The beginning of the month found us in the desert... a favorite spot of  ours near Palm Springs.  This little get-away deserves a post of its own!  This was a vacation almost a year in the that included all the kids and grands.

We started off from home in the wee hours of the morning and all met up at the airport in Bellingham, where we hunkered down to wait for our flight.  All eighteen of us! 

Courtesy of  Allegiant Air...we found ourselves in sunny and hot Palm Springs a few short hours later.

Though we had hoped to have four adjacent units, that is not how it worked out.  But we soon knew the pathway to each of the suites.

The grands discovered that they could wait below to have Grammy 'fill their order' from her second floor balcony.

What a great place...

...for kids of all ages.

We all spent hours in the lazy river...and some of us even managed to read a few books!

Cousin time!  Every day.

Jeremy and Kris took the five oldest grands to Knott's Berry Farm one day (where they had a hoot!).  We took the other five to the Living Desert Zoo.

Our first stop was at the lorikeet 'pavilion' (they are a bird belonging to the parrot family and are native to Australia).  The kiddos all had nectar to feed the lorikeets while I was just 'along for the ride'.  My plan was to take photos of the kids feeding the parrots.  For some reason the lorikeets never noticed that I came empty-handed and landed all over me.  I freaked out!  I really like birds...but not up close and personal.

As you can tell, most had no problem with having birds roosting on their arms, shoulder or head.  Lucy and I were just looking for a quick escape!

Watching giraffes from behind the fence was more my style.

The kiddos were so impressed with the cacti...something they had not seen before. The boys were hoping against hope to find a rattlesnake.  What boys!  The rattlesnakes behind glass in the reptile building were not what they had in mind.

One day we took Ranen, Ryder and Maggie to the Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve with intentions of hiking through the oasis on the San Andreas fault.

Though the hike never turned out quite as we planned, they thought the ride there and back was fun enough!

A few weeks before we arrived, a massive storm hit the area washing out all the trails in the preserve and covering the highway leading there with a layer of mud.  The trails through the oasis were still closed...

...but a few trails trails through the high desert were open so we headed there.  Maggie had a hard time seeing any sights along the she was too busy keeping her eye out for rattlesnakes!

Though we weren't able to hike along the fault line...the grands got to see one of the largest groves of desert fan palms in California.

It was a good week of time spent with family.  One night we had a scavenger hunt/pizza night with all the grands while the moms and dads went out for dinner on their own. Oh what fun! For the most part, each family looked after their own meals.

And on the final night together...we all went out for dinner to Jackalope Ranch. While our table was being set up, we had a hostess take a group photo.  For the record. As we were in November 2018!

Our dinner that night was also our family celebration of Heidi's 40th birthday.  We shared memories around the table. There are many Heidi stories. :)   She shared her birthday dessert with us all.   It was a good way to end our vacation in the desert!

They all left for home the next morning...and we stayed on a few more days.

We made for the hills one day....

...and hiked along the Pacific Crest Trail.  From there, we carried on to Idyllwild.  We passed through miles and miles of burned out terrain before we reached the little tourist town, which was hit hard by the California wildfires this summer.

We returned to the Gastrognome restaurant where we had lunch with good friends a few years ago.  Sitting on the patio in November was a treat!  Usually it is cool in the little mountain town by this time of the year.

We happened to be in the USA on election day.  We heard views on American politics that are a little different than those we hear back home.  Though we don't understand the half of it, we pray for wisdom for those in both Canada and the USA.

Soon we were on our way back home...with memories of sunsets and palm trees and a great time together as a family!

And that was how November began for us.  To be continued...