July 28, 2012

best-ever date ideas

There are many little date-idea lists floating around on the web, but when I found this one, I knew it was a keeper! This is the first list I've seen with truly original, completely laughable ideas,

We completed number one on the list back in our dating days and it is a fond memory now! Due for a repeat I think... 

And leaving notes to people in your favourite books - YES! Totally have to do. Dress up as superheroes and stop a petty crime? I think I have always wanted to do this (stop a petty crime that is, perhaps not the dress-up part...). Short silent plays in front of security cameras? Awesome!

Hmmm... the summer fun list just got a whole lot more interesting...

Which ideas might you try for your next date night? 

p.s. Thank you for the lovely anniversary wishes! We had a great day and Neal had a fantastic surprise in store - more to come soon ;)

July 25, 2012

Happy Year 3

On a hot July day, 3 years past, this little golf cart carried me down to the sandy shores of Slave Lake, 
towards the man I love deeply.

We said our I Do's  in front of family and friends,

vowing to love, honour and cherish.

An evening full of laughter and memories followed,

as we reminisced on the paths which brought us together.

We enjoyed the evening in a pretty backyard garden,

the perfect end to a perfectly wonderful day.

The past three years have been exciting, challenging and stretching. Yet I know in my heart, whatever comes our way, we are stronger facing it together.
Love you my Mr, Happy Anniversary!

photographs by Heart2Heart Photography

July 20, 2012

flowers & light love

What happens when you wander with your camera in hand just as the sun is setting? Well, if you are lucky, you may just find...

Neal and I were out at the farm last night, celebrating my dear dad's birthday and taking in a gorgeous prairie evening. I brought the camera along and wanted to try some new tips and tricks from an article I recently read.

Shooting in evening light is crazy fun. Flares and sun spots pop up everywhere and you never really know what you are going to get until you check your photo on the display screen! (I like to shoot right through the viewfinder, no screen for me unless I'm trying to get a funny angle or something - it's more of a surprise that way...). 

Scenery and flowers are so well behaved too - no squirming or squinty eyes, and they never tire of being photographed (unlike my husband, who is often the victim of my photo-experiments, and tires of it quickly - as evidenced here...)

no more photos!

Since I am in no way professionally trained, practice I must! Perhaps someday I will find some more-willing human participants... 

until then, I'll settle for the flowers.

July 17, 2012

holding on, letting go

It is Tuesday and the heat is stifling. Seeking relief, we wind our way down dusty roads, climb a hazy set of stairs, cross a smouldering gravel road and stop. Can you hear it? Rolling, rippling waves flow from horizon to shore as they foam and froth their was across a vast expanse of water. Each wave crests and diminishes gently as it reaches a hot, sandy shore. Can you feel it? A fresh breeze blows across miles of open water. Suddenly, I can breathe again. Feet pound down thick wooden steps. Down, down, down to water's edge. We two-step through hot sand, lay down our beach bag and towels, and get ready to take the plunge.

It has been a hard day. A simple meeting to discuss details of our re-build house produced tension and short tempers. Is it the heat or is it more? I thought building a house to sell would make it all simpler, yet pesky, diminutive decisions remain. Naturally, we are not going to agree on everything. Where did that expectation come from? 

This is not fun.

Somehow, though we do not mean to, the decision conversations often include five weighty words: 'that's what we had before'. For some reason this time, these words, they reverberate in my ears like a gong rattling deep. Shaken, I find hot tears begin to leak from my eyes in our contractor's office. Biting the inside of my lip doesn't stop their salty slide, neither do the fingernails curling hard into my palm as I tighten my fist, desperate to control the flood. This is not fun. I like to hold it together, this time I can't. Something in my heart cries, 'this is not what I chose'. This result of an event utterly beyond my control. And I realize - I still miss life as it was, while yet being thankful for life as it is.

Shoulder-deep in rolling green water, hands cut through waves and energy mounts.

Go out deeper, deep into the waves...

Cool water refreshes. Tension, instead of causing tears, propels me up and over large swells as I kick, rise and fall, my body riding each wave. Waves roll loud and strong. Some froth and foam as they roar on through, some seem to come from left and right at once, meeting me in the middle. Yet I rise and fall, rise and fall. Had I not the good fortune of knowing how to swim, I may drown. 

But drown I will not.

Each roaring swell, each sideways swipe, I meet head on. I know this rhythm and I rise and fall. I will not drown, I will rise and fall.

Deep in the water, I liken waves to my woes - they are not my first, neither will they be my last. The horizon is full and swells remain. It takes effort, muscle to ride the waves, it takes intuition and an eye on the horizon. I realize; these waves, these troubles rolling water, I can neither stop them nor avoid them. My choice: drown or ride. So I rise and fall.

Though the waves take work they also refresh, and I discover a deeper truth. Joy through struggle. If it weren't for these waters I'd be parched and dry. My heart sings as I rise and fall in cool waters. I acknowledge the effort and I acknowledge the joy as I offer praise for both the rising and the falling, the effort and the waters. I crest wave upon wave and I cannot keep a smile off my face. I know who commands these waves; a purpose in each one, though I may never know the reason. His strength in me, my only hope.

And in the waves, {the word in my heartand {the song in my head} are reminders to trust. I will trust You as I fall and rise, I will love You as I fall and rise.

Deep in the water, this muddled heart is holding on and letting go.

July 11, 2012

Light-sabers, Lego and birthday fun

I was excited to pull this building block cake idea out of my Pinterest files and bring it to life for Neal's birthday! Lego was a huge part of many happy childhood memories for both of us, and some sets have even made their way into our hands as adults... 

I have to say, trying to ice marshmallows cut in half during a summer heat wave was a daunting task, but in the end, definitely worth it. Our favourite homemade Chocolate Coconut Milk Cake made it a real treat!

It was hard to top the light-saber given as an end-of-year teaching gift or the Mr. Potato Head Darth Tater we found on a recent trip through Canmore, but this cake was the most creative attempt to date! Other than that, our birthday weekend was fairly low-key, we enjoyed visiting with family and had some good laughs over funny cards.

Even Grandpa tried out the lightsaber...

Happy Birthday my love - every day I love you more xo

July 7, 2012

Celebrating Family

{photo courtesy of my talented cousin}

This smile means the world to me. It belongs to a special someone who is the very definition of a gentle spirit, with a healthy dose of spunk to boot. I saw this smile on many Christmas mornings, Thanksgiving dinners, Easter egg hunts and upon each greeting after extended absences. This is my Oma, and the reason why four daughters and their families all converged on a tiny town in British Columbia to celebrate family.

In years past we gathered often from all corners of the western provinces; celebrating holidays, summer camping or house-boating and birthdays which grew into graduations and weddings. Our family has grown from four young daughters to four grown daughters + husbands + six children who now also have husbands and significant others (and one cousin & his love expecting a baby boy in a couple months - the first great-grandchild!). We have grown and we have spread out; making gatherings a larger undertaking, and the happenings fewer and farther between. Yet nothing can break the ties of family, no matter how far or how long between celebrations.

A few gathering traditions were out in full force,

#1 - Food!!

and lots of it, which explains why we had to take walks,

even when it was drizzly.

#2 The Dress Up Game:

which consists of a bag of frightening thrift-store finds or back-of-the-closet items, passed along to music. When the music stops... you get to reach in and subject your ego to whatever you pull out of the bag! This particular rendition was quite entertaining as one aunt and my mom ended up with The Bag several times in a row, thus explaining why mom threw the bag back at me (who had managed to avoid it thus far) after the music had stopped with the bag in her hands... nice try mom!

My personal favourite was Rob's nylon dog-ears...

#3 Local Dairy Ice Cream:

so tasty that you continue to eat it while checking out the new calves in the barn...

(mine was dripping...)

#4 Puzzles and other assorted games:

Each evening was spent out-of-mosquitoes-way inside the hall which hosted our event, solving crazy-hard puzzles or playing Dominoes.

As for the rest of the weekend...

we pitched-in with meal preparation and happened to spy some great utensils - especially useful for making mashed potatoes...

for a large group of people!

We celebrated Canada Day and the two-firetrucks-plus-one-horse (except I didn't see the horse - was there a horse?) parade,

We hiked to a waterfall and cooled off in beautiful hot (and not so hot!) pools.

we cleaned;

(hey Megs - we almost make this look like a synchronized sport!)

We listened to the story of my Oma's family immigrating to Canada, and the story of my grandpa's immigration journey. We remembered the faith which has seen us through rough times and good times.

{above photo by Steve}

As the weekend drew to a close, Oma sang a song for us:

"May the good Lord bless and keep you,
Whether near or far away.
May you find that long awaited,
Golden day today . . .

May your troubles all be small ones,
And your fortune ten times ten,
May the good Lord bless and keep you,
‘Til we meet again . . .
May you walk with the sunlight shining,
And a blue bird in every tree.
May there be silver lining,
Back of every cloud you see . . .

Fill your dreams with sweet tomorrows,
Never mind what might have been.
May the good Lord bless and keep you,
‘Till we meet again . . .

May the good Lord bless and keep you,
"Till we meet again ..."

{Family Love}