As we were driving from a friend’s house this evening, we came across this beautiful sight a few minutes from our home. Beautiful Canada Geese singing in chorus on a lake, likely taking a break from their southward migration for the winter. I couldn’t help stopping to take it all in!
Weekend getaways with the kids usually involve a significant degree of preparation. There comes a moment when I must sit on our suitcase trying to squeeze in all the various kid paraphernalia one needs while away from home. Our car is a Toyota matrix (not very big) but somehow my husband manages to cram in our suitcase, car-seats, food, playpen, feeding chair, books, toys, stroller, diaper bag and let’s not forget our two children and massive dog (Great Dane-Boxer mix) who takes up the entire trunk of the car! Despite the usual drama of preparing for a trip with kids, we had a beautiful weekend in the Laurentians visiting some of my husband’s family.
The weather was perfect all weekend for outdoor activities. While Caleb, daddy and Granny veered off the road and tromped through the woods investigating various kinds of fungi and insects, I continued to walk along the road with Naomi, not wanting to push the stroller to its limits in the vast interior of the woods. It was so peaceful with tall, sturdy trees lining both sides of the road, the sun glistening in between the leaves and casting abstract shadows on the ground below. Every so often, the sparkling lake came into view as random birds called out to their companions.
It’s moments like these when I feel especially close to God. I breathed in the fresh air and took the opportunity to pray and sing. There were no requests or complaints for God that day, just a simple prayer to thank Him for his goodness and to appreciate the beauty of nature. Just then, a small deer trotted quickly past us almost as if he waited for the opportune moment to cross right in front of us. I scrambled for my camera but he was too quick for me to catch him in action. Before I knew it, he had disappeared in the dense foliage of the woods. Granny later informed me that he was probably a young, excited “teenage” deer, exploring the woods for some adventure.
After the tromp in the woods, Caleb and Granny got to work making cheese puff pastries and they were delicious! Caleb and daddy then disappeared into the woods again, sneaking in a canoe-ride and swim in the lake. The water was tranquil, undisturbed and peaceful. The “boys” had dared to cross it at this moment of complete calm and solitude. As we said goodbye to the panoramic mountains, I couldn’t help feeling an overwhelming sense of gratitude to be blessed with family both far and near. Sometimes I just gaze at my children and wonder, “Are they really mine? All mine? Amazing!”
As I write this post, I hear grunts, giggles and thumping sounds as my son Caleb and my husband roll around in the basement. Every so often, I hear “I’m ready to begin the battle” and “fight!“. In getting caught up in the day-to-day mounds of laundry, dishes, cooking and cleaning, I sometimes forget how blessed I am to have two little children and how the joyous sounds of their voices and laughter brighten up our home.
The past few days have been a grand celebration of Caleb’s fourth birthday. It seems like just yesterday he was born. Now he’s growing up into a funny, loving, curious and energetic boy and I love watching him experience the world through the eyes of a child. His birthday present was his first ever bike and as he donned his helmet and teetered precariously on it, I felt a little tug in my heart. I remember when I was riding my first bike and my older brothers were guiding me through the long grass of our backyard. Now it was our turn to guide our little boy and let him figure out how to maneuver his way around.
One of my oldest friends visited this weekend from the States to celebrate Caleb’s birthday with us. It amazes me that as children, we used to race around our local neighborhood on our BMX bikes wearing mini-skirts. Now here we are as adults and my friend is an adopted “auntie” to my children. It reminded me that close friendships are a beautiful thing and something that must be worked on and held on to.
We took a trip to downtown Montréal, about 45 minutes from our house, something we haven’t done in months. As we walked along the famed cobblestone streets of the Old Port, I noticed a newly married couple holding hands. The bride’s shimmering white dress flowed behind her and her husband pulled her along gently. Strangers, tourists and families milled around them oblivious, yet here was a new couple at the very start of their lives together. I had a quick flashback to my wedding day and it brought a smile to my face.
My husband decided it was time to initiate Caleb into some Quebecois culture and so Caleb had his very first poutine (a dish of fries drenched in gravy and cheese-curds). It’s not the healthiest meal in the world but something you must experience at least once if you live in or visit Quebec. As we partook of our poutines at a restaurant called “Frite Alors!”, I was again thrown back in time. This restaurant used to be a cafe called “L’etranger” and my husband and I spent a lot of our time here during our dating days, sipping on hot chocolate topped with whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles. The decor was still the same with its faded red booths and plain square tables. An old piano sat on a raised platform waiting for some warm, pliant fingers to run along its keys. There was something very special about bringing our children to a place where my husband and I had spent our first dates, getting to know each other and growing our love for each other.
This weekend was a beautiful one of celebration, friendship and a walk down memory lane. So simple, yet so wonderful and a reminder of the many blessings I have to be grateful for.
When my husband and I got married in 2007, one of the things he pledged to me (aside from a lifetime supply of chocolate) was that he would write me a note every day for the rest of our lives. I was impressed and waited to see if he would pull it off. He was inspired by a book called “Night Light, a devotional for couples” written by Dr. James and Shirley Dobson.
Within the first few pages of this book was a little excerpt describing the love between grandparents. They would play a daily game with each other where they wrote the word “shmily” somewhere around the house for each other to find. It was an expression and reminder of their love for each other.
“They dragged “shmily” with their fingers through the sugar and flour containers to await whoever was preparing the next meal. They smeared it in the dew on the windows overlooking the patio…”Shmily” was written in the steam on the bathroom mirror, where it would appear after every hot shower. At one point, my grandmother even unrolled an entire roll of toilet paper to leave “shmily” on the very last sheet” [pg. 16].
My husband has been true to his word and somehow a note (usually a brightly colored post-it) has materialized in some unusual corner of the house. Sometimes it is in a kitchen cupboard where I find it when I’m cooking. Sometimes I find it rolled up in a box of cereal. Sometimes I find it hidden behind the leaves of one of our house plants as I’m watering it. When we travel, the note makes its way into a sock or a hidden pocket in the suitcase. We are certain someone might find one of these notes in a hotel room, left behind by mistake. Hopefully, it will brighten their day. Today, I found my note in my shower cap!
Caleb, our son, is starting to catch on. He proudly presents pink notes he has discovered and says, “Mummy, here’s a note from daddy”.
I sometimes joke that I will enter my husband into the Guinness Book of World Records for the most number of personal notes ever written. Since 2007, when we got married, they now number close to 3000 notes! I have kept them safely in a box in our bedroom hoping that one day the kids will read through them and know that their parents loved each other very much. I love these notes, they brighten up my day, motivate me, make me laugh, and remind me that I am appreciated and loved.
“S-h-m-i-l-y…..See How Much I Love You”