Archive for April, 2011

The Royal Wedding

As I write this, there are less than 24 hours until the Royal Wedding of Prince William, and Kate (who will now more frequently be called Catherine) Middleton. Once this is published, the grand event will be over, the newspapers, mags., (rags) and internet full of shots of the newest royal couple. And people, all over the world will be calling in sick at work, due to staying up way to late to see the event in ‘real time’.

The wedding of Williams parents, almost 30 years ago, was grand, and beautiful and oh, how the world cheered as they kissed on the balcony of Buckingham Palace.

I can so remember the engagement of Prince Charles and then Lady Diana. She, the shy, beautiful young girl, with a twinkle in her eyes, and he … the older, stoic … prince (really HE was only important due to the fact that he was a Prince). In the broadcasts of their engagement, she seemed to so communicate love, and excitement, and hope.

The hope she communicated was fully ingested by those of us who were single, young women and girls. The hope of finding a prince, the hope of a fairy tale ending …

Ah, but their marriage, their relationship did not, in the years to come, enjoy the hope of Happily Ever After. It ended in bitterness, broken vows, divorce, and, sadly death.

But that was then, in the past. And William and Kate are the future of the British Monarchy (and of the hopes and dreams of young women and girls world-wide). Their future is still unwritten. And I am sure the world will once again cheer, as the two kiss on the balcony of Buckingham Palace.

I haven’t decided if I will set my alarm for the ungodly hour their nuptials are occurring on the telly here. I’m really not a lover of ‘real TV’, as I find it so … unreal. But I do wish them well. Marriage is tough, on the best of days, and with the best of spouses. And they have the curse of the whole world watching their every move … that’s one fishbowl that I would pray my daughters not ever have to swim in.

But, there are many exciting wedding guests on the list to attend the royal event. My personal favorite, and the one person there who might be worth getting out of bed for,  is Mr. Bean Rowan Atkinson. I can already see him popping into the official photos, destroying floral arrangements, and falling asleep during the more solemn parts of the ceremony … who wouldn’t lost sleep over a guest who can really make this Royal Wedding one to remember?

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We had only one day to do a Disney theme park, and the Magic Kingdom was the chosen one. But we wanted to maximize on every moment we could.

So, we started out, as any family on vacation should … realizing the alarm did not go off when it was set to (well, it did go off, we just didn’t hear it, as the volume was turned off). That resulted in a mad dash to get out of the condo we were staying in (envision the scene from Home Alone, where they were late to get up on vacation, but we didn’t leave anyone behind).

It was a two and a half hour drive to Orlando, with only one stop to gas up and pee. Oh man, while at the gas station we saw this guy whose pants were so low, he must have had pins holding them up! (ever heard the son ‘pants on the ground’?).

But I digress …

So we arrived at the Magic Kingdom.

Our girls had reservations for lunch with all the princesses at Cinderella’s Royal Table (we only needed to take out one extra mortgage to pay for that). So, we dropped them, like a lead balloon, and headed with our son to Tomorrowland.

We spent the next few hours riding rides, trying to figure out where we were, and drinking lemonade slush (it was over 90 degrees that day, and every pore on my body was being cleansed, every minute). Then we had a mid-afternoon lunch, and met up with our girls.

The rest of the day was spent riding every ride we could (including Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, and for the girls, Splash Mountain), eating turkey legs (how primitive), seeking shade (by late afternoon, little kids were thinking I was from Monsters Inc. due to my profuse facial sweating), and buying little mementos.

In the evening there were spits of rain (I know my regular readers … mom and dad … will be shocked to know that I actually loved the rain, in this context), and thunder and lightening rumblings. The lightening closed a some of the vendors and rides. But this gave us reason to sit still for a bit, chat about the day, and people watch.

As the sun was setting, the park became busy with staff scurrying around like little mice, setting up for the parade and fireworks to come.

Finally we found a place to view the parade. But, then there were delays (thunder and lightening were the cause). This wasn’t so bad, though, because each delay resulted in more people giving up the wait (with little ones) and heading out of the park, meaning that our view got better and better. But then, the third announcement was that the parade was being canceled 😦

This was somewhat disappointing, as our girls have been to Disneyland, but neither have seen the parade, and this was our son’s first opportunity to see it. It was also disappointing, as we could have left earlier, and then not had to drive home late into the night.

So, off we paraded to the gates, to being our trek home. Unfortunately, half of the park was leaving at the same time! It was not an expeditious exodus! We headed to the buses, which we arrived on, but they were only heading to the resorts. We headed to the monorail, but were stopped by a traffic director who suggested the boats were faster. Our day had gone from Magical to Mundane!

Finally we did board a ferry boat!

As our boat was ferrying us to the train that would transport us back to our car, we were given a little bit of wonder to close our day. It was in the form of loudly blasting fireworks, in beautiful, colorful arrays of light and design. Suddenly, as I leaned over the side rail I felt such gratitude that, despite the all-day-sweat-fest, despite the parade-canceling thunder and lightening, despite the over two hours we would need to drive back to our condo, we were able to end the day with not Mundane, but Magical.

Oh, and the mouse hunt … they are everywhere! The place is infested with the little guy!

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This was written a week ago, today while we were driving to Orlando, from North Port, Florida:

We are enroute to Disney World, to do a little Mouse hunt!

According to my 11-yr old son visiting the Magic Kingdom is the number 1 reason to visit Florida.

Going on the rides, at the Magic Kingdom, is the number 1 reason to visit Florida, according to my 14-yr. old daughter.

Dining with Cinderella, at the Magic Kingdom is the number 1 reason to visit Florida, according to my 18-yr old daughter.

But for my hubby and I, going to the beach is the number 1 reason to visit Florida!

We are on the west coast of Florida … the Gulf Coast … the clear turquoise water coast … the temperature of which was 78 degrees yesterday! Why would anyone go to Mexico, when they could come here? It is totally beautiful, and the city we are staying is so clean! (heck, why would anyone live on the Pacific Northwest coast? You can buy a house here for just over $100,000 … that’s barely a down payment on a house on the Pacific North WET coast … where the water temperature of Georgia Strait was 48 degrees yesterday! … just sayin’ …)

But, I digress from our mouse hunt.

So, we are now enroute to Orlando, to spend the day with Mickey, Bambi, Dumbo, and yes Cinderella. The last time I was here we came with our, then 18 month old daughter, and I really do not remember much of it. Today will be great, because our kids are old enough that they should remember this for life, and hubby and I are young enough that we shouldn’t forget it for quite some time. Hubby will probably remember more clearly than me, as he keeps hyperventilating whenever he thinks of the cost!

So, my question is, what will be memorable about today’s mouse hunt? Will it be the 18 year old’s lunch with Cinderella? The 11 year old’s riding on Space Mountain? The 13 year old’s experience of riding every ride in the park? Hubby’s passing out cold, and experiencing chest pains related to thinking too long about the cost of a hot dog in the park?  Or my vomiting on everyone below me, after eating that $6 hot dog, and then promptly going on Space mountain? Now those are the memories to make a scrapbook of!

I am not sure what memories we will gather today, but I know we will be gathering them. And, I expect, the memories that we take from today that will be the most memorable, the most long lasting will be the ones we experience with a sense of humor, a sense of intimacy with each other, a sense of ‘awe, a sense of … wonder.

And really, if we walk away from today (if we can all still walk after a day in the Magic Kingdom), with tired smiles on our faces, pictures to put in the scrapbooks, memories of laughing together (at each other, no doubt), and having experience a sense of wonder, all that money (currently giving hubby heart palipatations) will have been well spent.

So rodents, look out, we are on our way,and we we will snap you up (for the scrapbook, of course).

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This is Home

I write this on April 22, as I am looking out past the lanai, at the sun rising over the houses, reflecting in the pond behind out condo. It is 7:30am, and everyone else is asleep. Ahhhhh!

I have been here, with my oldest daughter, in North Port, Florida (the sunny, turquoise water, Gulf Coast), visiting my hubby, son and youngest daughter, for five sleeps now. They left home, on hubby’s sabbatical, to drive here (from British Columbia … can you see me making the ‘L’ for loser sign on my forehead?). We had all been apart for almost four weeks, when my oldest and I arrived.

In just one and a half sleeps (it’s one and a HALF because the flight leaves at 7am, meaning I’ll need to be at the airport at 5am, meaning the alarm clock will need to be set for … I so don’t want to entertain that!), my daughters and I will board a plane in Orlando, Florida and head back to the Northwest, land in Seattle, and then head to the great north, to the place we call home.

But what is home? Where is home? How can I be sure?

Recently there was a study released of the Best Place in Canada to live 2011. And the four places I have lived were on that list (I always check, because I have them prioritized in my head, but it is fun to see if someone else agrees with me).

Currently I live in Langley, BC … and it is so beautiful! And it was rated #44 … out of 180! I’d say that was pretty good for a place that has everything a person could need or want, in the Vancouver area, and is littered with farms and greenhouses … nice contrast. Our son, Ben, was born here. From the hospital, high on a hill, we could look down on the valley and watch the fog lift in the morning. This is all Ben knows of home.

Prior to Langley, I lived in North Vancouver, it was rated #98. I think it’s good marks must have come from it’s proximity to Vancouver, because it was certainly not it’s affordability! Nonetheless, in the summer, it is the most beautiful place to live (in the winter, you need anti-depressants just to get out of bed). Our youngest daughter, Cris, was born here, early in April, with Magnolia trees, full of blossoms, surrounding the hospital.

Then there was Orleans … and it was rated, for the second year in a row (as part of Ottawa-Gatineau) as #1! This is the home where hubby came to the conclusion that hell is not hot, but cold (-50 windchill will do that for you. Imagine, living in a winter wonderland where tobogganing could result in frost bite … before even taking one run down the hill). Our oldest daughter, Brytt, was born here, just across the street was the autumn colored, trees, lining the Rideau Canal. This was the home, that felt most like home, as so few in Ottawa-Gatineau are from there, so everyone is from ‘somewhere else’, and everyone strives to make it home, for each other.

And then, the only home I knew until I was 21 (and that was half a lifetime ago!), #11 … out of 180, Moncton, New Brunswick! Okay, so I didn’t actually live in Moncton, but a village (my kids think it is hilarious that I grew up in a ‘village’ … their only knowledge of ‘village’ comes from the Shrek movies … quite a comparison!), just minutes down the highway. Only about 1600 people lived in the village … and, believe me, everyone there knew everything about anyone there! It was a great place to grow up, with four distinct, equal seasons (maybe not so equal this year, though). And there are so many wooded areas, you never see bears while out for a walk! (or snakes, for that matter)

But, what is home? Where is home? How can I be sure?

Hubby and I have often talked about moving to sunny San Diego, California, once our youngest graduates high school. You see, we chose Langley as our home, way back when our oldest was in kindergarten. We liked what the community could offer to a young family. We thought it would be good to ensure our kids would grow up knowing, as we did, a sense of hometown. So, we chose Langley as their hometown, and have trusted that God would provide meaningful employment for us. And He has.

The rain, the dark, endless winters (aka. monsoon season) of the Lower Mainland drive me crazy! And I pray for release from this wet, dark bondage.

But, I am starting to see a flaw in our long range dream of moving to San Diego, once the kids are done school. We have worked so hard to develop ‘hometown’ for them, in Langley, BC, that if we move, they will probably stay. All of a sudden, we are faced with ‘home’ without our kids. Now that is not so unusual, nor is it bad, but …

what is home?

where is home?

At one point in our lives it was more narrow, more black and white. It was owning a house. Living in a nice community, that was safe, and family-friendly. It meant finding one school that all of our kids would graduate from.

Here, on the sunny Gulf Coast of Florida, with Palm Trees swaying in the breeze, I am coming to the realization that ‘home’ is where-ever we are, as a family. For this week, home is in a condo, in Florida. Next week, home will be in Langley, BC, for three of us. And from Florida, to Dallas, to San Diego (hello Legoland), to Oregon and everything in between will be home, for a time, for the guys in our family.

We have such fond memories of all of the places we have called home, and, in the words of Maya Angelou, “You can never go home again, but the truth is you can never leave home, so it’s alright.”

April 24, 2011

As a postscript, today, my daughters and I were driving North from SeaTac Airport. As our vehicle crossed the US Canada border this above song starts playing, and doesn’t go unmissed by any of us …

“And now, after all my searching,

After all my questions,

I’m gonna call it home.

I got a brand new mindset,

I can finally see the sunset,

I’m gonna call it home.

Maybe this is home … “

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More than Chocolate?

ANY excuse to eat chocolate is a good excuse, in my books! And today my family will, like millions of people, hunt for chocolate in the most obvious and not-so-obvious places!

Actually, that is not true. Today, I am boarding a plane from the South East to the North West with both (ya! I get to have BOTH of my daughters at home with me) of my daughters. We will either be driving, or flying all day … but I think we will have chocolate with us 😉

Yesterday, my three kids (do they ever get too old to call them ‘kids’ and hide chocolate for them? Heck, my mom could call me anything, if she would hide chocolate for me) hunted for chocolate. And we had a blast! At their ages, 11, 14, and 18, hunting for chocolate eggs has become more about competition than about the eggs themselves … what am I saying, it has ALWAYS been about the competition, for my three kids (they must take after their father)!

But, really, today is about so much more than the chocolate (and if I can say that, with confidence, it must be true … my hubby thinks I put chocolate ahead of everything else, including him … and, at some points of the month, he is right). Today is about the giver of chocolate (no, not the Easter Bunny), the giver of life, the Giver.

So, although I do not usually post on the weekends, consider this my Easter gift to you, the reader.

And a reminder to me of who my greatest gift giver is.

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Good Friday

What an oxymoron!

Good Friday?

Good? Friday.

Good. Friday?

Good? Friday?

What is so … good, about Good Friday?

I will spend today contemplating a most horrific death, a most vile end of a life, a most traumatizing execution.

I will spend today, tears streaming down my face, imagining the horror of a mother watching her son tortured, and, finally, die, right in front of her.

I will spend today considering the whys and hows of a father … not just any father, but the only father with the means to stop this event, at any time (even before it began). And that he not only didn’t stop it … He purposed this very event, this very death, even before His son was conceived into human flesh.

His Son.

And then, I will spend today realizing that it wasn’t all about Him, the son.

It was, it IS, about ME, today.

It was, it IS, about YOU, today.

The Father, so loved me (so loved you), that He wanted to save us. But saving the innately guilty without cost is impossible! And the cost is always, blood. It is through the blood of His son, that we are saved, that we are redeemed.

“He is so rich in kindness and grace

that he purchased our freedom

with the blood of his Son

and forgave our sins.”

Ephesians 1:7

If I  (you) accept this gift, this sacrificial gift, that He never forces upon me (you), then today is, in every way, not just Good Friday, but the best Friday, ever given.

Good Friday? Yes

It wasn’t the nails…

… that held him to the cross …

… it was love

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“A Billion Act of Green”

This is the campaign theme for Earth Day, to be celebrated, tomorrow, around the world. I believe it has been celebrated, annually, since 1970 … that’s a l o n g time … it’s only a year younger than me! (and I’m archaic)

Tomorrow is also Good Friday, certainly one of the most important dates on the Christian calendar. It is celebrated around the world, annually, since … hum, thousands of years ago (it kinda makes me feel young again).

Two important celebrations, both on the same day … very interesting …

This post began when I was perusing my calendar, wondering what I had forgotten to do, where I had forgotten to go … yesterday! I tend to be a ‘bit’ (ha! ha! ha!) of a procrastinator (can we say, understatement?). And I noticed that Good Friday and Earth Day were both on the same, April 22, 2011 date. And I thought … how odd.

But is it odd? Is it wrong? Is it contrast? I don’t think so.

As a Christian, and especially, as one who loves the wonder of the created, I can relate to a respecting of our Earth, and it’s resources. I understand the value of conservation. I value, and enjoy green! I love green so much that I just let the moss cover my lawn (I live in a rainforest … if it hints it might be a fungus … not fun guy … it grows … everywhere!). It is green in the driest drought, it never needs to be watered, and is always soft on my tootsies! But, I digress.

There are so many experts out there … on both issues. But I think I know someone who knew far more about being ‘green’ and being ‘Christian’ … my grandmother.

Now she was no activist, nor did she contribute her hard earned quilting money to environmental groups, nor did she ‘buy green’ (for that matter she didn’t buy greens either … she grew them!). But she was one who understood what it was to conserve.

I don’t know if she ever used the word ‘sustainability’, or, for that matter, I do not know if she would have known what it meant. What she did understand, very well, was stewardship.

I think she is my greatest life model of both, and environmentalist, and a Christian. She was amazing at making something out of nothing, whether it was food, or clothing or home decor. But she did what she did, first out of necessity, but also out of moral responsibility. But her moral responsibility came, not from a love for the Earth, but for it’s Creator.

To be a good steward, for her, was to use the resources that God gave her in a responsible and God-honoring manner. She didn’t need a someone who held a placard telling her to take care of our future, she just DID IT, because, as a Christian, that was the right thing to do.

Maybe, if our Earth were ‘littered’ with people who acted out of a love for the Earth’s Creator, then the Earth, and all it’s inhabitants, would have a brighter future?

Just sayin’…

This is my Father’s world,
oh let me ne’er forget
that though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world,
the battle is not done.
Jesus, who died, shall be satisfied
and earth and heaven be one

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