Memories of Africa

It is hard to believe that a year has gone by since my daughter & I set out on an incredible adventure together; a dream we had shared for a number of years to travel to Africa became a reality.

Watching the sun go down on the Shamwari reserve.

I am not certain what was more precious, the adventure itself or the opportunity to spend 2 glorious weeks exploring another part of the world with my grown daughter.  Such precious time together & a journey I shall hold very close to my heart for years to come.

Reflecting back on our pictures, it struck me that we were not the only family members sharing this journey together.

Everywhere we looked when we were on safari, we witnessed the strong connection of family.  The unbreakable bond formed between loved ones.  Nurturing our young, protecting each other from harm, & sharing our love for those we hold so dear.

Mama looks like she might be asking to tag out while her babies share a romp with her in the grass.

Finally, a little quiet time.

This proud papa sat quietly in the grass, looking magnificent & fearless, as we came around the corner.

Yup, they’re over that way!

Mama, on the other hand, quickly shooed her cubs into the bush for protection.

Can you spot one of the curious cubs checking us out?

After tolerating our presence to take a few pictures & have a look at his beautiful family, Dad gave us an indication that perhaps it was time for us to move along.

That’s close enough!

Watching as a herd of elephants emerge from the bush, our ranger asked us to just sit quiet as this matriarch passed by to check us out.   My daughter could not believe her eyes as this beautiful creature strode alongside our vehicle, so close she could have simply reached our & ran her hand from tip to toe. Respecting the strict guidelines of not interfering with the wildlife on Shamwari, she did not!

You can see how close she was based on the mirror or our vehicle

It wasn’t long before this little one came trotting into view, assured by his elder that we posed no threat to the herd as they passed through.

Wait for me!

This was the second time we had the good fortune of coming across this mother & son. Mom appears to be enjoying every single one of her son’s kisses.

I love you Mom!

Even the zebras were feeling the love that day.  This guy looks like he has fallen asleep as his friends lovingly groomed each other.

I’ll scratch your back, you scratch mine.

For as long as I live, I will never forget this remarkable experience with my daughter.

I think it’s time we starting dreaming of another, don’t you?

Hugs,

L💛

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A Little Snow on the Mountain

Although I have visited the Western area of Canada a few times, I have not had the opportunity to hike in the mountains.

On a recent visit with a very dear friend of mine, I had put in a request that perhaps we could fit this in to our itinerary, weather permitting.

With the sun shining & the promise of a glorious day, we packed up our vehicle & ventured off to to beautiful Lake Louise.

With its stunning backdrop of the mountains, its pristine glacier lake & the gorgeous Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, it seemed a perfect place to spend the day together.

This jaw dropping view never disappoints

Proper boots, poles & supplies meant we were good to go!

Because of the amount of snow that had fallen in the mountains this past year, we thought it wise to check in with Parks Canada to ensure it was safe to head out on a hike.

Confirming we had all of the proper gear, our Canada Parks representative assured us that, although there was a little bit of snow up on the mountain, we had on proper attire & so, were good to go.

Making our way along the lake, the view is incredible & the colour of the water will take your breath away.

As we starting heading towards the trail, we weren’t very far along when we came across this sign.

It seems our friend from Parks Canada didn’t get the memo!

After speaking to a few hikers coming back down from the trail, we decided to ignore the warning & take our chances!

Such daredevils we are!

It wasn’t long before we came across the first evidence of a recent avalanche.  Although a little tricky to maneuver, the smell from the freshly fallen trees was heavenly!

The power of an avalanche. Hopefully our bodies would not look like this at the end of our hike!

The snow definitely made for some challenging hiking, sometimes feeling like we should have included our snowshoes with our gear, but we were not going to let a little snow stop us form enjoying this spectacular day!

After trekking for awhile, we sought out a little spot for lunch, each finding a rock sticking out of the snow to sit our butts on to as not to get soaked.  When in Rome!

It may have not been the most comfortable of seats but the view sure was spectacular!

This looks like a nice spot for lunch.

We came across this little guy when I put my pack down to take a few pictures.  He was determined to get into my pack but there are strict rules about not feeding the wildlife in the national parks which sadly for him, we chose to abide by.

I must admit, he was hard to resist!

 

After enjoying a yummy packed lunch, we continued trekking further up the mountain, finding the “little bit of snow” increasing as we climbed.

Yodel-ay-hee-hoo!

At times, it seemed the trail was non-existent but we managed to find little glimpses here & there.  You’ll notice the change in attire from the photo above to the one below.  Off in the distance, it looked like a storm was coming in so we chose to layer up a bit rather than get caught on the side of the mountain in a shorts in a snowstorm!

Where is the trail?

Thankfully the storm blew off in another direction so we decided to take a break to shed a few layers & enjoy a little champagne.

As we sat sipping our champagne & talking about how incredibly grateful we felt to share this experience together, we heard rumblings off in the distance.  You can imagine the look between us!

Thinking about that warning sign (we ignored), we agreed if we were to buried in snow, this appeared to be a beautiful spot to do so!

We were relieved, none the less, when the snow coming down the mountain was a little further away from where we were sitting.

Snow coming off the mountain in the distance

Taking this as our cue, we thought it best to pack up & start making our way back down the mountain.

Can you spot the Chateau off in the distance?

The Chateau coming back in to view.

Safe & sound at the bottom of the mountain.

What an incredible day spent with an amazing friend.  Lake Louise was already a very special place for the two of us, this hike only made it more so!  Perhaps next time we’ll try rock climbing!

Have you ever found yourself in challenging hiking conditions?

Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Hugs,

L💛

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Accumulated Baggage

baggage.quoteAccumulated baggage.

The stuff of life that stays packed in our cases, like the outfit we took on a trip, but never wore.

Some of us only accumulate a small carry-on, while others tip the scales with the weight of our baggage.

The key in lightening our load seems to be in how we deal with that baggage as we move forward in life.

Do we continue to heave more weight into our bags or do we make some attempt at unpacking it along the way.

To discard those things that no longer have the same hold on us.

I encourage you to purge that baggage.

To let go of the things that no longer matter, to find forgiveness for the people who may have disappointed us along the way & to seek help & guidance for those items that may weigh a little heavier on our hearts.

Imagine how much lighter we would feel to let go of some of that accumulation.

Free to continue our life journey without all of that heaviness weighing us down.

Hugs,

L❤️

 

 

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Love the Life You’re In

Despite our best efforts to embrace each & every day, some days can be more difficult than others, in seeking gratitude for the life we have been given.

To love the life we are in.

In a world where we are inundated daily with images of people seemingly living much richer, happier & fuller lives, it is easy to fall into the mindset that we are somehow missing out.

But the truth is that challenges come to all of us in some shape or form.

Life is not perfect.  For anyone.

Nor does it last forever.

Recently, I have sadly been reminded once again, of how very precious each & every day we are given in life is.

How one moment we appear to have an infinite number of days to embrace the dreams we hope to fulfill, only to suddenly have that option taken from us.

How important it is to to spend time with the ones we love, to share with them how much richer our lives are for having had them in it.

How we must grab hold of not only the opportunities presented to us, but to find a way to seek the ones we so hope to attain.

I encourage you to be present in the life you have been gifted, for however long you are meant to be here on this earth.

Whether it is full of everything you envisioned or not, squeeze the life out of every moment.

Embrace it & find joy in it.

Love the Life You’re In.

Hugs,

L❤️

 

 

 

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Mom’s the Word❤️

 When I began this blog 4 years ago, this was one of the first posts I wrote. As we approach Mother’s Day this weekend, I thought it was worth a re-post with a few updates.  

May 6, 2013:

We don’t need a calendar to know it’s Mother’s Day this weekend. The media have been attempting to sell us on Mother’s Day pretty much since the Easter Bunny dropped his basket of treasures and retreated back to the safety of the woods for another year.

The media suggests that we need to buy that special something in order to demonstrate how much we love our Mom. From cards to flowers, gift cards to diamonds, the sky’s the limit.

On my drive into work this morning I heard an ad claiming that by buying your Mom a diamond necklace, she will know how much she is loved.  In their words, “it will be a daily reminder close to her heart of her children’s love”.

What an utter load of nonsense. Now don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against diamonds, but I certainly don’t need my children to buy them for me to be convinced of their love. (insert a sigh of relief from my children here)

I can’t speak for everyone, but I am pretty sure most mothers don’t need diamonds to be convinced their children love them.  A simple hug will do. Regardless of how old your children are, there is no feeling in the world that compares to your children wrapping their arms around you and saying “I love you Mom”.

I am just one mother, but I am happy to share my perspective for all of you racking your brains this week, trying to figure out what to do or get for your mother on Sunday.

The answer is simple.  Give her the gift of time.  

Time means different things to mothers depending on what stage of being a mom you are at.

Early days of motherhood with my 2 year old son & brand new daughter 💛.

When I was a young mom, there could have been no greater gift than someone giving me some “me” time.

When you are a young mom, you rarely have a moment to yourself, spending most of your waking hours & sometimes your night time hours, tending to your children.

To gift a young mom an hour or two to call their very own, is like being given a little piece of heaven.

Alternatively, for us “older” moms, time with our children has taken on a whole new meaning; there never seems to be enough time spent with our grown children.

I have two beautiful grown children, each with a wonderful spouse & now a precious granddaughter.  There is nothing I treasure more, than just having the opportunity to spend time with them.

Me & LAM checking out a micro brewery. I think she likes this one!

Celebrating your Mom should not just take place on a Sunday in May.

Our moms deserve to be showered with love throughout the year, finding ways to express our appreciation for everything they have done & continue to do for us.

Their love is not one to be celebrated in a single day.

I would ask you to pause for just a moment or two & think about what your Mom has meant in your life.

I invite you to ask any person who no longer has their mom, what they miss most about her.

I guarantee you it won’t be about how a “mother’s day” was spent with her.

A vintage shot of me showing my Mom some love!

Most will tell you how much they miss their mom.

How they long to hear her voice & her laughter, how they miss her unwavering support & her guidance, or perhaps her never-ending sense of when you just need a Mom hug to make the stresses of life melt away.

No diamonds involved.

So I encourage you to stop fretting about some material bobble to present to your Mom on Sunday. Trust me when I tell you, the most beautiful gift you can share with your mother, is simply the gift of your time .

Take a moment to visit, to call & try the words, “Thanks Mom, I love you!”

The only diamonds you will see will be the ones sparkling in her eyes due to the words spoken by her children who taught her how to be a Mom.

Wishing you a beautiful Mother’s Day.

Hugs,

L❤️

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Hearts Alone

When I met my husband’s family many years ago, I learned very quickly that they were a card playing family.  Euchre was & is their game of choice.

Rather stunned to hear I didn’t know how to play, his grandfather half jokingly, but rather sternly pointed out that if I was going to be part of the family, I had better learn how to play euchre.

And so I did.

As a shy, non card playing 20-year-old, it was rather intimidating to sit & learn the game with this group. They were & still are a family who are very vocal in their card playing shenanigans.

It comes as no surprise then, that our children were taught from a very young age.  Playing euchre in this family is just a given.  At pretty much every family function over the years, the cards come out, sometimes spanning 4 generations at the table.

LAM’s Daddy at the table with his Great Grandma, his Grandpa, his Auntie & his Dad.

And so it seems only natural our wee LAM is next in line to learn.  As I sat watching her in her Grandpa’s lap, cards in hand, I couldn’t help but think of the number of times she too, will find herself around the table with family, discovering the game her Great, Great Grandfather taught me how to play all those years ago.

I am sure he would be absolutely chuffed to bits to know that despite his absence, his legacy lives on as we continue to share the tradition he so loved with his family.

Holy Crap Grandpa, “I think we’ve got Hearts Alone”!

Hugs,

L/Grandma L😘❤

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Going on Safari-1st drive out

There can be no doubt that the highlight of our trip to South Africa was our safari experience.

That is not to diminish the beauty of the the other areas we explored but to come face to face with with the beings who freely roam the reserve, is an opportunity of a lifetime & one we will never forget.

Shamwari provided us with an up close & personal experience, often finding ourselves within such close proximity, we could have reached out & touched the animals we were viewing.

We did not, for one of the things we loved about Shamwari was the very strict guidelines with respect to protection of flora & fauna on the reserve.

As we set out for our first game drive, we were met with a fairly substantial downpour of rain.  These are the kind of unpredictable moments in travel where you can either allow the situation to cause you stress or you can opt to just go with it.

K & I exchanged a mutual shrug of the shoulders, a kind of an “oh well, we’re going to get wet” look & added a few more layers.  We were in Africa afterall, living out a dream we had dreamed of for some time.  No amount of rain was going to dampen our spirits.

We had barely made it out of the drive before seeing some giraffes loping across the road. They are such interesting creatures to watch, almost dinosaur like in their size.

Clouds rolling in.

Clouds rolling in.

Love how this giraffe looked against the darkening sky.

Love how this giraffe looked against the darkening sky.

Moving further into the reserve, we kept our eyes peeled for any wildlife. Clearly our ranger was much more adept at doing this than we were as we would have passed right by this beautiful creature without even realizing she was there!

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At the outset of a safari experience, guests are given a run down of dos & don’ts, both for the protection of the people in the vehicle, but also for the protection of the animals who call Shamwari home.  One of those instructions was to try to refrain from gasping or shouting when spotting an animal, thus sending them fleeing in fright. This can prove more challenging than one would think.

It was difficult to suppress startles of surprise as we rounded the corner & came to a halting stop to allow our friends to cross.

Giving our friends, the white rhinos, the right of way.

Giving our friends, the white rhinos, the right of way.

Oh, hey!

Oh, hey!

Receiving word through the radio from a fellow ranger of a sighting of the eldest male lion on the reserve, we opted to make our way to that area in the hopes of getting a glimpse of this beautiful guy.

It surprised me how camoflauged he was, sitting contently in the rain.   With his colouring, he quite easily blended into his surroundings, seeming very uninterested in us as we approached.

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Having a snooze in the rain

It was only when he gave his mane a good shake that he really took any notice of us at all, most likely because we were interupting his nap!

After giving his mane a shake.

After giving his mane a shake.

Moving along, we ran into these two, leisurely grazing on the land.  Mom & baby went about their grazing, as we sat quietly taking in their movement, giving us an opportunity to snap a few pictures, before they moved on.

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I’m coming Mama!

Squeals of delight were difficult to control when we came across this baby giraffe.  Our ranger estimated him to be not more than a few months old as he still had his umbilical cord hanging from him.  If you look closely, you may be able to spot it in the 2nd picture.

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Standing with Mama gives you a little better idea of his size.

Imagine our surprise when we came upon this rear end, quietly lolling along the road! Elephants are such fascinating creatures to observe.  It was surprising to learn how very quiet they are as they move through the bush.  With the exception of the snapping & cracking of branches, one would never know they were there.

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Just when we thought we couldn’t possibly see more than we had seen that evening, we had one last sighting before heading back.

If my memory serves me correctly, I believe these two cheetahs were mother & son.

There are simply no words to describe the feeling of coming face to face with any one of the animals we came across that first night.  To have the opportunity to sit quietly & observe them in their natural habitat truly left us in awe & at times, absolutely speechless.

Hugs,

L💛

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Knee Deep In It

I found myself in a funny predicament recently when visiting my son, daughter in law & my granddaughter for a few days.  Funny, that is, if you happened to be a bystander watching me & the comedy show that ensued.

In an attempt to offer Mom, my daughter in law, a bit of time to herself, I set out to take our wee LAM for a nice, long walk.

You see, our precious girl is not so fond of sleep these days, preferring instead to wake after a half hour or so, regardless of how tired she is.  My mission?  To have her nap last longer than 20 minutes, ideally working towards the 2 hour mark!

ottawa

Me with the baby on my front & lots & lots of snow!

Suiting up with my granddaughter strapped to my body in a carrier, and the dog at my side, we made our way to the dog park, in the hopes of the fresh air lulling our wee gal into a deep sleep.

Having received about 2 feet of fresh snow in the area, walking was a bit of a challenge but with the sun shining & high hopes of giving Mom a break, we set off on our little adventure.

Grandma, grand baby & grand dog, making their way to the dog park.  We were a happy lot for the first little while.

LAM fell asleep without much fussing & seemed quite content against my increasingly, sweating body. Fozz (the dog) was elated to be running in the dog park, & seemed unfazed as he frolicked in the snow up to his chest.

As for Grandma, the fresh air, the beautiful snow & the opportunity to have my precious LAM sleeping blissfully against my chest, filled my heart with absolute contentment.

Hurry up Grandma!

Hurry up Grandma!

After a beautiful walk, I was feeling victorious as we were approaching the 2 hour mark.

This is when the comedy show began.  Deciding it was time to head home, we began making our way back to the gate of the dog park, when I inadvertently stepped off the beaten path.

Into snow above my knees.  With a baby strapped to the front of me.

The dog took this as a cue that I wanted to play, thinking I had purposely dropped to my knees to engage at his level.  Running circles around me excitedly, I waved him away, quietly muttering, “no Fozz”, trying not to wake the baby as I struggled to get myself up.

As I stood there knee-deep in snow, I couldn’t help but thinking I should be yelling “MAN DOWN!”  I did not, for fear I would wake the baby.

With LAM now starting to fuss, I somehow managed to work my way to a small little tree sticking up out of the snow, just big enough to grab hold of the trunk to use as leverage to pull myself up.

The baby was nice & dry; I was not.

Covered in snow with the dog still running circles around me, I watched in utter panic as he ran right out the gate of the fenced dog park, which was pried open because of all of the accumulated snow.

FUCK!  Crap!  Now fearing I would lose the dog, I willed my feet to act like snow shoes, as I gingerly made my way back to the main path, all the while gently bouncing & shushing the baby, & cursing the dog under my breath.

Making a b-line for the gate to capture the dog & trying not to raise my voice in a panicked tone, the stars aligned for a brief moment as the dog came to stand beside me so that I could put on his leash.

As I attempted to fumble with his leash with my snow laden mittens, Fozz noticed a dog he didn’t particularly like, & lunged forward pulling me down to my knees once again.  I think it was at this point a passerby asked if they could help.

Being the stubborn mule I am & determined to get myself together, I politely said, “no thank you, I’m good!”  Finally managing to right myself, I chuckled most of the way home, thinking of how I must have looked to any onlooker who happened to witness my shenanigans!

I am sure this is not the last time this Grandma will find herself knee-deep in it, in some sort of comical predicament.  The good news is, baby, dog & Grandma, all managed to survive the ordeal unscathed, although admittedly, cocktail hour may have come early that day!

See, she is as right as rain❤❤❤

See, she is as right as rain❤❤❤

Wishing you a wonderful day.

Hugs,

L💛

 

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Share the love❤️

Cone on in & stay awhile.

Come in & stay awhile. All are welcome.

This morning, I was impacted by a post written by my friend Norm over at Norm 2.0.

Norm hosts a weekly feature called Thursday Doors where he invites fellow bloggers to share their favourite door photos from around the world.

But this week, Norm’s weekly feature shares a very heartfelt message we all need to hear.

I couldn’t agree more with his thoughts.

Please take a moment to read and to share. You can find Norm’s post here .

Hugs,

L💛

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Family Traditions

Many of us practice family traditions, particularly around this time of year.  One we established with our kids from a very young age, was making the annual trek to a local tree farm, in search of the perfect Christmas tree, a few weeks prior to the holiday season.

With the exception of a bit of grumbling during the teen years, this has been a tradition we have enjoyed taking part in as a family. Even the debacle of our less than perfect moment, didn’t dampen our spirits when it comes to this annual ritual.

Over the years we have had trees of all shapes and sizes in our home.  Trees we have had to stand up in our garage for days, to melt the ice off of before moving it into the house. Trees we mistakenly cut too much off of the bottom, causing us to feel the need to build a platform to stand it on, in order to recreate the proper height, & of course the most common mistake made by Christmas tree cutters, selecting the tree that appears relatively small in the woods, but explodes to swallow up most of the room when untied in the house!  Remember the Griswolds?

In search of the perfect tree!

In search of the perfect tree!

A tradition may seem like a small, little thing, but they are part of what define us as a family.

They begin to weave a tale of our time together, a story that is unique to us as a family, often passed down for generations to come and shared with those that we love.

Whether we are smiling or whether we are grumbling, they are all part of our journey of growing together.

A few weeks ago,  at the tender age of 7 weeks old, we bundled up our little LAM, making sure she was all nice & toasty, & made the trek to a tree farm close to my son & daughter-in-law’s home, in search of the perfect tree for her very 1st Christmas.

Although she will most likely be too young to remember this particular outing, it brought this Grandma great joy to see this tradition continuing on in the next generation.

As difficult & challenging as it may seem some years to continue this annual little trek, my hope is that they continue making the effort.   The reward of doing so & the stories gathered along the way, are far richer than giving in to the grumbling years!

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Whatever traditions you may honour as a family in celebrating the holiday season, I wish you precious time spent together with loved ones, creating your own stories to share for years to come.

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas & extending my sincere gratitude for continuing to read & share all of your wonderful thoughts & stories!

Hugs,

L💛

 

 

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