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.

More to come on safari…

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!

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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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All Hail the Queen

If there is one thing I have learned in my lifetime, it is the value of true friendship.

Those people in your life who stand by your side through thick & thin, through the good & the bad.  Their friendship never wavers.

The Queen & her subjects

The Queen & her royal subjects

Today I am writing about one of those friends, in honour of her 70th birthday.

We call her the Queen.

I can’t recall exactly when she took reign but I do know that she received the title based on being the Queen of all things in our minds.

15 years my senior, there are countless times in our 30+ year friendship, I have turned to her for sage advice.

Her wisdom in knowing when to just listen & when to offer encouraging direction,  when to question & when to just nod in agreement, when to be open to a new perspective & when to cry bullshit.  She can cry bullshit like no other person I know!

She is one of the kindness people I know, happily & unselfishly bestowing the most thoughtful of gifts upon you when you least expect it.  I cannot recall the number of times I have opened my mailbox to find a beautifully handwritten note on a card sent just because.

imageBecause the Queen’s birthday falls but a few days before Christmas, her special day often gets overlooked due to the craziness of the season.

And so, as we celebrated the 25th anniversary of girls weekend this past fall, we opted to also celebrate the Queen’s 70th so that this significant milestone did not sneak by unnoticed.

A weekend filled with reminiscing, sharing, & gift giving but most importantly, it was a celebration of the beautiful friendships formed through this remarkable group of women.

Birthday kisses for the Queen.

Birthday kisses for the Queen.

To the Queen on her actual birthday,  I humbly bow to your majesty.  The laughter & the tears we have shared over the years are tucked deep in my heart.

I am so grateful for your friendship & the impact you have had on my life, simply for having had you in it.

I wish you the happiest of days today & always my dear friend.  I hope the joy you spread so willingly on others, comes back to you tenfold on your very special day.

I love you with all of my heart.

All hail the Queen!

Hugs,

L

 

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Welcome to Shamwari

Originally when K & I talked about travelling to South Africa, our intent was to participate in a volunteer project while we were there.  Unfortunately, due to some time restraints, we were not able to participate in this kind of experience, however, in doing our research, we were led to the Shamwari Game Reserve.

Looking over a small piece of Shamwari.

Looking over a small piece of Shamwari.

Shamwari is a private reserve located in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. We chose it for a few reasons.  Situated in a malaria free zone & covering an area of approximately 25,000 hectares, we liked the idea of being able to visit the reserve we had hoped to volunteer on but more importantly, we were impressed with the very close attention paid to the conservation of the land & the animals who live here.

From the moment we arrived on Shamwari, we knew we were in a special place.

There are 7 choices of accommodations on the reserve, each beautifully incorporated onto the property.  They are small by North American standards, with the largest of the 7 only accommodating a maximum occupancy of 30.  This is part of what makes them so unique, creating not only an intimate experience, but a very tranquil one.

*We chose to stay in the Bayethe Tented Lodge, which consists of 12 private “tents”, each strategically placed to ensure privacy for guests while being surrounded by the quiet of nature.

We were blown away when we were escorted to our “tent”.

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Walkway up to our “tent

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The view from our tent. If you look closely, you can see another tent off to the left.

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Inside our tent

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A bath perhaps?

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Or maybe an outside shower?

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Or would you prefer to just sit & watch the world go by!

Over the course of the next 3 days, K & I would find ourselves speechless many times, drinking in the beauty of this place & the utter sense of calm we felt in being here.

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Making our way to the dining area. I believe “K” may be saying, “no seriously, we are never leaving here!”

After freshening up a bit, we made our way down to the common area where guests are treated to beautifully prepared gourmet meals 3 times a day as well as high tea each afternoon prior to heading out for the late day game drive.

Pool outside dining & common area

Pool outside dining & common area

Outside eating area which overlooks a watering hole on the other side where animals are often sighted.

Outside eating area which overlooks a watering hole on the other side where animals are often sighted.

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Dining area

Lounging area just below the dining area

Lounging area just below the dining area

Lounging area below dining area

Lounging area below dining area

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The Spa & yes, we booked a full body massage for ourselves!

Guests are assigned a ranger who is responsible for taking you out on your game drives & acting as your host for the duration of your stay.  I cannot say enough about our ranger, Alistair.  His knowledge of the plant & animal life on the reserve, his charm in making us feel so welcome, his patience in driving all over the reserve in search of animals we hoped to see & his enthusiasm for the work that he does, were all part of what made this experience so memorable.

We were so excited at the prospect of the sights we would see over the next few days.  Like two little kids in a candy store, we happily tucked ourselves in for an experience that would leave a lasting impression on our hearts.

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Our chariot awaits!

After briefing us on the dos & don’t of going on safari, we headed out for our first game drive.  We were barely out of the road that leads into our lodge when we spotted  a group of these magnificent creatures!

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Well hello!

First sighting!

Loved how the majestic this giraffe looked standing against the darkening clouds.

Stay tuned for many more wonderful sightings!

Hugs,

L

*Our tour was booked with African Welcome Safaris who were incredibly easy to deal with, responding to any concerns or questions in a very timely fashion.

 

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Our Little LAM

Our first meeting

Our first meeting

For the past 9 months, we have been waiting with great anticipation, for the arrival of our first grandchild.

Because our son & daughter-in-law chose not to find out the gender of the baby, we knew not whether this precious being was a girl or a boy until our first meeting.

Personally, I think it’s more fun that way.

 

Allow me to introduce you to our precious granddaughter, or wee little LAM. (her initials)

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How is it one little person can cause your heart to practically explode?

img_2109  There is something magical about looking into the eyes of your grandchild for the very first time.  An overpowering sense of awe & a knowing that this is a connection that promises to reach the very core of your being.

img_2175I was so grateful to have been invited to stay with Mom, Dad & our wee LAM for the first week after their arrival home, helping out in whatever way I could, & of course sneaking in as many baby snuggles as possible.

As I sat there with this little bean in my arms, listening to her little breaths & simply staring at her for hours on end, I often found myself overcome with emotion.

Just when I thought my heart could not feel more full, I look at her perfect little face & somehow my heart grows just a wee bit more.

My son & his daughter.

My son & his daughter.

Mom & her baby girl.

Mom & her baby girl.

 

How fortunate this precious little life is to have been born into a family with so much love to share.

 

Parents who, I have no doubt, will be there for this little one each & every step of her life.

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img_2151Above all else, our little LAM will know that she is loved more than words can ever express.

Of this, I am sure!

Welcome my beautiful girl!  I am so excited to share in your life and to learn how to be the best Grandma I can be as I watch you grow.

Hugs,

Grandma L💛😘

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