hannah's wisdom

Nothing is as satisfying at seeing your adult children growing in love for Jesus, their Catholic faith, and wisdom. Today I want to share what my daughter, Hannah, just shared on Facebook. She is well spoken, bright, and articulate, but it's the wisdom that makes me smile.

She writes: Flora dawn

This is my daughter, Flora 💐 She is our third child and is already an absolutely delight. Right now she is just over 7 weeks old (on the left is a picture of her today). Just a few weeks ago she was brand new, as weak as you can imagine after being suspended and sustained for nine months in the womb. She was born a few days before her due date and was a little on the light side, weighing 7lbs and 4oz. My oldest, Holly, was 7lbs 11oz and one time, someone even asked me if she was premature! That's just ignorance, but the point is that babies are startlingly small...
Here in Canada, a baby can be aborted up until the moment of birth. We have no abortion legislation. Flora, as well as both of my other kids and many others, were born before their due date. Depending on who you talk to, they may or may not have been people before then. There is no decent or remotely scientific reason why babies like mine are not considered babies, or even human beings, while they are still in the womb. Most people in this country will tout a "woman's right to choose" -- a sterile euphemism for killing a fetus pre-term. What other choices do we have? We all have choices. Every criminal in prison chose to commit a crime. Humans have always had the capacity to make choices, even if those choices are evil. The question is not whether or not women have a choice, because they have always had a choice. But do women have a right? When does another person ever have the right to do something evil just because they have the ability to do it? Having the capacity to kill a fetus in the womb does not translate into the right to do it. Does a criminal have a right to kill someone because they hate them, or do they just have the choice? The answer is obvious. Killing is a choice, not a right.
My newest daughter was herself from the moment she was conceived. Her DNA was her own and she has never been my property because human beings are not property. Her own personal DNA rendered her an inalienable right to life since before she was born. She belongs to me only insofar as I have a responsibility to raise her, love her, and educate her. She was truly herself from that very moment of conception. Flora was never just an extension of me or of my body, she was herself: precious, independent, and valuable because she is her own person. Her personhood is as inherent as her DNA and it was there since the beginning.

happy birthday, hannah

Han collageHappy birthday to our Hannah Kathleen. She was a delightful-beyond-compare child, and thinking about her childhood floods my soul with sweetness. She was - and still is - articulate, compassionate, and a thoughtful, deep thinker. She had a noticeable piety, even as a child, knowing spiritual things mattered. That awareness seemed to go dormant for a number of years, but it returned with a studiousness that is rare. Even in her childhood, I used the phrase “still waters run deep” when describing her.
Her life still exemplifies that depth; depth of character, conviction, and purpose. She was named Hannah Kathleen after “Mrs. Hannah” (that’s what we called Samuel’s mother from the Bible) and Catherine Marshall, a godly woman whose spiritual writings greatly influenced me. Hannah has honoured her namesakes well. She is a praying woman, and a godly wife and mother just like “Mrs Hannah” in the Bible. And, I feel sure if Catherine Marshall were to meet my Hannah Kathleen, she’d be most honoured to have played a role in Hannah’s story.
My heart overflows with thanksgiving for Hannah, Darian, and their kiddos. Our world needs more families with their convictions and values.

mother's day, from hannah

God answers prayers, sometimes more beautifully than we imagined. For a number of years, Mother's Day was a sad day for me. I felt like I'd given my life to raising upstanding children and the effort seemed to have been futile. I wrote about it here on Mother's Day, 2012. If you read it, I think you'll sense my despair.

Seven years later, I want to share the note I received from Hannah for Mother's Day. Although I'm very proud of the progress we've made, I share this to testify that our prayers are never in vain. God came through! May I never cease to pray, because God never ceases to answer prayer, albeit on his timetable, not mine. Take this note from Hannah as proof. (I will give an editorial note explaining the first four lines at the bottom.)

Hannah at rach weddingHannah wrote:

M R DUCKS.                        
M R NOT DUCKS!             
S A R, C M BD I'S?              
L I B, M R DUCKS!      

Mom, I love you so much and you bless my heart. You are truly one of the most generous people I know... You're always giving! I think you sincerely try to love people more than anyone else I know, too. Your deep love for humanity and for individuals, your empathy, and your spirit of intercessory prayer for those you care about really does astound me and I admire you greatly for being that way. I want to be like that some day!

I don't know many people who will leave a legacy (in the truest sense of the word), but as I have said before, I believe you have one in the number of lives you have impacted by your humble conviction in the Church and in your faith.

Love you, miss you. Can't wait to see you again. Happy Mother's Day!

Can you see why I feel so blessed? God be praised for the great work he is doing in our lives.

Now about those first four lines that Hannah wrote:

M R DUCKS.                        
M R NOT DUCKS!             
S A R, C M BD I'S?              

It's a real country way of saying:

Them are ducks.                        
    Them are not ducks!             
Yes, they are. See them beady eyes?              
    Well, I'll be, them are ducks!    

Our family humor can be a bit quirky and this is one of the quirky things from my Arkansas roots that lives on in my children. It's something I taught the girls when they were little, and obviously, Hannah remembered it. 




welcome ambrose

IMG_1496 IMG_1496We've been blessed again! Hannah and Darian have given us a new grandson. Ambrose Basil joined the family on July 20, 2018, sharing a birthday with his Auntie Rachael. He weighed        . We are so blessed!!

His name, oh my, is his name ever strong! Two saints, Sts Ambrose and Basil, please pray for our little Ambrose Basil. May he become a holy man like you.

St Ambrose, bishop, was St Augustine's mentor. Both men were theologians and left tremendous legacies in the church. I'm believing the same for my little grandson, Ambrose. May he become a mighty man of God.


hannah and darian's wedding

IMG_1680 IMG_1676Our middle daughter, Hannah, married on May 7, 2016. It was a very Hannah-and-Darian type wedding; simple, sweet, and intimate. I was delighted that they chose our backyard to marry. Not only was it beautiful, it was an easy and low-stress wedding. 

My sister, Stacie, came from North Carolina to supervise (plan and cook) the reception dinner of lasagna. Everyone raved about it. Gordon's mom and brother, Grant, came from Edmonton.

Darian's grandmothers, uncle, aunt, parents, brothers, and a couple of friends, as well as one of Hannah's friends, Jody, attended. It was intimate to capture a few photos with all the wedding guests.

Hannah's two sisters, Rachael and Deborah, and her Junior High best friend, Jody, stood up with her. Darian's two brothers, Lyndon and Brendon, and his friend, Mackenzie, stood up with him.

Gordon's pastor, Mike, performed the ceremony and did a beautiful job. It was very God-honoring. I was pleased that everyone heard a Christian message.

IMG_1662 IMG_1717Three eagles circled above the wedding during the message. That was beautiful and seemed like a sign. I don't know what kind of sign, but it was an incredibly unique sight. The pictures didn't do the experience justice.

It was a beautiful spring day and the yard was in full bloom. What a treat to show off our lovely, new yard on the Sunshine Coast.

Thanks to Stacie's generous help, the reception was lovely. A lovely meal, simple, yet elegant decor, lively conversation, and some dancing. All in all, it was delightful.

The bride and groom were gracious, kind, excited, and loved their special day. Darian said it was the best day of his life and Hannah agreed. That blessed me enormously. 


walk into the questions

"Thank you God for this new day and for the time to work and play. Please be with me all day long in every story game or song. May all the happy things I do, make You, my Father, happy too." That's a prayer poem by Dale Evans Rogers that was in a book of poems I used to read to Rachael and Hannah back when they were toddlers in Mill Woods. Those were the days. I was so busy and tired with two active babies. I smile thinking of their laughter, fun, expressions, mischief and innocence. Precious indeed! So long ago.

I never would have dreamed that those innocent toddlers would become these teenagers. Where did the innocence go and why?

I'm reading Spiritual Direction, by Henri Nouwen. He speaks of "walking into the questions of life." Some questions have no answers in this life. I need to embrace the life that raises these questions, (why are my kids like this? what did I do wrong?) and walk into this life as I'd walk into a strong wind. There's nothing my questions will do about the "wind." Seek God in the questions of life, not seek God's answers to those questions. Just seek God. That is profound and beautiful.

I struggle so much with questions of why my kids are so spiritually, emotionally, mentally unwell. The questions don't help me. But embracing this phase of my life and embracing God in this time will make all the difference. I must remind myself often that it's all working for my good.

This weekend I was thinking about our kids and some of the problems they've caused and was so thankful that I had years of sweet, innocent history of them recorded. I may have forgotten 90% of those stories had I not been recording them in written form. I'm thankful for the memories. They are so special to me.

I know God can change my kids' hearts because of all the heart changes He's made in me. I pray He does the same for my kids. Hannah and Rachael are full of stupid choices. Hannah was arrested for vandalism Saturday. Rachael was with her but she got away from the police. With more kids, they were on top of Gish School painting the roof.

On the same day Hannah refused to obey me when I asked her to do a five-minute job and she told me to do it myself. I'm just about at wits end and don't know how I will carry on.

She turned 16 this week and her birthday was devoid of joy. We had an appointment with social works and she was absolutely full of disrespect and rudeness. It was so discouraging. What are we to do, God? She is always taking risks, being rude, behaving with no regard for others. I feel totally powerless as a mom. She sows nothing but negativity, anger and disrespect here.

God, please bring all three of my girls to an end of themselves. Please convict them of their need for you. Change their desires and draw them into personal, powerful relationship with you. Please give me wisdom as a mom.

july's 12 in '12


2012 july 12in12
July's 12 in '12

This is my July 12 in '12 collage. As I wrote here, for the remainder of the year I am journaling each month in picture. This picture is loaded with signficant and meaningful stuff irrespective of how insignificant it looks. 

1. St. Francis of Assisi is one of the great mentors in my life. I read something in late June that sparked a desire to re-read some of the things I've read on this great man. I wanted to rekindle some of the truths that I learned from him. In July I re-read these books.

2 and 11. These pictures are from Deborah's 13th birthday. I officially have 3 teenage daughters.

3. Hannah found this kitten near 7-11. It was meowing and she looked down at her feet to discover him there. She brought him home and nursed him back to health. This picture was taken after we had him over a week. He was tiny and had already filled out by the time this picture was taken. It is pitiful that something so small was all alone in the world. Hannah named him Haze and was diligent caring for him. He temporarily softened her heart and since we were desperate for Hannah's heart to be softened, it was a no-brainer that we keep him. He was much work though -- I think he was blind and he meowed nearly constantly. Hannah soon tired of the job and I took him to the Humane Society where I figure he found a good home. But for the short time he was with us, he touched us with his helplessness and his ability to soften a young girl's heart.

4. In June I went to a seminar and heard the benefits of giving up grain products. I checked some Paleo lifestyle books out at the library and on July 1 started eating the way a Paleo enthusiast would. It has now been 36 days of having no junk food, no fake food and no wheat products. Bonus, I lost several pounds in July.

5. This picture of Hannah was taken a few days before going into PChAD. In this picture, although it's a fine picture, the subtleties of her expression reveal her hardness of heart.

6. I love summer and I love my little container vegetable garden.

7. While in PChAD, Hannah resumed her former love for painting. She painted four pieces while there. It blessed my socks off to see her embracing a former love. It's probably been a year since we've seen this side of her.

8. Deborah has had nearly two good months of not cutting. However in July she had a huge upset and she cut again. I'll be sharing some big news on that front very soon.

9. Casanova!, what a cool cat. One day I came home for lunch and found him on top of the cabinet. I couldn't be mad, it was too cute. However, when I came home in the late afternoon, the cow, which was a gift from Stephanie, was shattered on the floor. Casanova was still on top of the cabinet.

10. This is the Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission (AADAC) sign that hung outside of Hannah's safe house for the PChAD program.

11. Here's Deborah with her 13th birthday cake.

12. This isn't just a silly vain picture of my hand. There's some significance here. When Hannah's behaviour started getting erratic and volatile, I read her diaries to try to determine the extent of her drug problem. One thing I read in her diary was how she hates her fingernails and wished they were prettier. I realized that was something I could help her with. I have never tended to my nails with affection, but when I read that I decided I'd begin to stock our home with nail supplies and offer to keep her nails manicured. And I have. As a byproduct of this commitment, my own nails have gotten lots of babying too. This is the first time I've ever worn red fingernail polish. I feel eccentric.

temporary empty nest

Hannah's art hand
Hannah's first painting in a long time.
Home is so calm, uneventful and quiet this week. Hannah is in detox, Deborah is at Gull Lake Camp and, of course, Rachael hasn't lived here for weeks. It's just Gordon and me. The break is welcome. I don't know if Gordon shares that viewpoint. PChAD, I think, seems radical to him. I think he thinks I'm half crazed in pursuing it.

Weeks ago when I told Hannah I was pursuing detox for her, she laughed. It was a big joke, maybe even a badge of honor to need detox. She joked about it with friends. I asked if she'd go voluntarily, she said no. On Monday she was shocked to find out that in PChAD she checked her "rights" at the door. She had to surrender every item she brought. She must wear the clothes they issued her and they confiscated every single item she took with her, right down to her underwear. She isn't allowed outside. Once she experienced this lack of freedom she was furious and it wasn't a big joke anymore. That's when she pursued an appeal. There was an element of pride in hearing this; her independence is incredible. She was granted a hearing with a judge via video satellite. I was proud of her initiative. But, thankfully, her appeal was denied.

Hannah's art lorax
A lorax. I love this playful side of Hannah.


I went to see her the day after she was admitted. She was angry and acted like she couldn't stand the sight of me. She is allowed to call us at 7:00 every evening and she does. I think she is so bored and lonely that she is willing to talk even to me. We visit her every other day during visitation. She started out so ill tempered and short, but several days into the process she was proudly showing us paintings she had done. Slowly, she is becoming her old self. She isn't having fun and resents being there, but after a few days, she is laughing. One can't imaging how sweet that sound is to me. I haven't heard her laugh without a hard edge in a long time. She talks about what she is reading. She hasn't read in a long time. I know she hasn't painted in a long time. It's like she is getting in touch with herself again. Remove the pot and the friends and our Hannah surfaces again. 

Today she said, "I think I want to be a librarian." I wanted to jump for joy. My heart swelled with pride. She was talking about the future and it was positive talk. I cannot remember the last time I heard positive words come from Hannah's lips.

Today I am very encouraged.

court-ordered intervention

Hannah on the beach

2004, Hannah's first experience with the ocean, Florida

Monday I went to court to get Hannah's PChAD (Protection of Children Abusing Drugs) order. I had to prove why I thought Hannah needed the protection of a court-ordered detox program. It was hard revealing these gross things to strangers who didn't know Hannah prior to drug use tainting her. 

The reasons I gave for the application:

  • She was caught using pot at school.
  • Her diary indicates frequent pot use, MDMA and cocaine use on occasion.
  • RCMP confiscated paraphernalia once.
  • She attended 4/20 at the Alberta Legislature and took her 12-year-old sister with her.
  • She frequently smells like pot.
  • She’s had violent outbursts where she has destroyed property.
  • She got in a truck with two strange men for free smokes. (This was the scariest one, the one which convinced me to pursue PChAD.)
  • She drinks alcohol as often as she can get it; has been drunk on a number of occasions.
  • She exposed herself to others while high. As a passenger on the Anthony Henday, she showed her breasts as they passed cars. (According to diary and confirmed by Rachael)
  • According to her diary, she had multiple "playing around" partners once when high at a party.
  • She “lives from one high to the next,” according to her 17-year-old sister.
  • She gives pot to her 12-year-old sister.

It was humiliating divulging these things about Hannah. Making these things public is equivalent to saying, "I've been a neglectful, bad parent," or at least it seems so. Others don't know my heartbreak and how I wonder and ask myself all the time, "God, what went wrong? I certainly thought I was being a good mom."

Hannah and casanova
Hannah and Casanova, a few days before going to PChAD

Once the judge gave me the court order I had to wait at the court house for the clerk to get the paperwork in order. While there I texted Hannah to tell her it had been granted and tell her I loved her. I'm thankful I had that opportunity to touch base with her about it because the next phase of the process totally caught me (and Hannah) off guard.

Once I had the court-ordered apprehension notice, I was told to take it to the RCMP for enforcement. I knew this was coming, but I had been told that it would take a few days as someone would have to be discharged from the "safe house" before they could admit Hannah. As it turned out, a constable read the court order then said, "I'll follow you to your house to get her." I was nearly speechless with shock. I hadn't prepared her, wasn't certain she was home, etc. It felt too quick and so wrong.

Thankfully, the officer was kind and personable. She spoke respectfully to Hannah and Hannah went willingly. I hugged Hannah, told her I loved her and watched her get into the backseat of the car. Then I sat down and cried. But, I was convinced the PChAD was the right thing to do.

Several months ago we had a huge episode in our house and I told the girls that it looked like I was losing all of them. "If I'm losing you, I'm not losing you without a fight," I told them. I hope they remember that and view these crazy things I'm always doing as me fighting FOR them.

God, please soften Hannah's heart. She so hard, uncaring, worldly, angry and filled with bitterness. Please use this experience in detox to soften her. Please give her clarity and direction this week. Teach her some things that will make her want to live differently. God, please work in Hannah's heart this week. Help her know how much I love her. Sometimes I don't think she knows. Show me how to show love to Hannah in a way that truly speaks love to her. Please be glorified in Hannah's life and help her turn to You. Please change her this week.


god, why?

Hanah and frodo in her room
Hannah (9 years old) and Frodo 2005

Hannah came home today. Since we’ve not known where she has been for a week, this is wonderful news.

Eight days ago, Hannah left the house around 2 a.m. Things similar in nature have happened before, enough so that they don’t terrify us like they use to. But they exasperate, exhaust, and burden us. Gordon and I sat in our old Adirondack chairs sipping our tea in silence as the morning sun warmed our faces. I know Gordon was thinking the same thing as me:  God, why?

Hannah grade 6
Hannah, grade 6

Hannah is into drugs (mostly marijuana) and alcohol. We anguish over the lessons she’ll learn on this path. I’ve begun the process of getting a court-ordered intervention called PChAD, (Protection of Children Abusing Drugs). Once a judge orders a PChAD, Hannah will be subjected to 10-days of assessment, education, counseling, and detox. It’s only 10 days, but hopefully something in those few days will strike a chord with Hannah and make her want to alter her course.

All her life she’s been strong, comfortable walking her own path. I remember my pride when her grade 1 teacher told me of Hannah’s strength to stand for what she believed. That strongwill was usually directed toward something I could affirm so I loved it. Now that strength is channeled in a direction that’s harmful at the very least.

We have prayed for Hannah her entire life. We trained her in Scriptures; she was loved, nurtured, adored, disciplined; her parents loved each other and were committed to family. I was a stay-at-home mom. Surely the good in Hannah's life outweighed the bad. Repeatedly I think about these things and always come back to, "God, why?"

My prayers have changed over time. I’m wearing down and not praying lengthy prayers anymore. It seems my words are used up. But “terror prayers” go up often. Terror prayers are what I call prayers that follow a terrible thought or new knowledge.

H smiling
Hannah, Summer 2012

A few days ago I saw a young girl about Hannah’s age stumbling. As I saw it happen, a horrible thought of Hannah stumbling, drunk or high, into traffic entered my mind. The terror prayer began, “Oh God, please protect my baby girl. Show her her need for you. Show her the futility of this life. Please draw her to you. Show her yourself in a personal powerful way. Please God, save her."

When Hannah was 8 or 9 I gave her a little pink devotional and she did regular devotions. Nearly every night when she and I prayed, she would say, “But Mama, I don’t feel anything. How come I  don’t feel God’s presence?” She longed to “feel” something. She never did.

Several weeks ago when her erratic behavior was escalating, I read her diary. I was so saddened to read that she still hangs on to that period of life. She told about her and me praying regularly that she would know God’s presence in her life. She told about that little devotional book and how she sought God almost daily. Her conclusion: either God doesn’t exist or he doesn’t care for her.

I cried out to God, “God, why didn’t you answer the prayers of my innocent daughter? She sincerely wanted to know you. Why, why, why?”

I am not angry with God. I’ve been through enough in my life to know there is a bigger picture that I’m not privy to. However, I have a constant refrain in my heart: God, why? I know, there is a reason we are on this journey; I know He’s fulfilling a bigger purpose. I believe Romans 8:28 with all my heart; He is working everything for my good. Without that belief I don’t think I could bear the pain of Hannah’s present path.

Yet still, even with that strong conviction, I wonder “God, why?”

mothers' day blues

I sit on Stacie's porch and enjoy the quiet and beautiful North Carolina nature show. I will sorely miss this quiet-time spot when I go home in a few days. This is a foretaste of heaven. I'm so thankful for the reprieve from real life.

It's Mothers' Day. I'm thankful for all the mothers who have positively influenced the way I mother. Mama! I'm thankful for the hurdles she overcame and/or at least wrestled, to bring us up with values, conviction, humor, work ethic, warmth and smiles. She taught us manners which I didn't really appreciate until more recently. She modeled prayer and Bible reading and it was a powerful model and I'm grateful. Now I'm ear deep in raising teenagers and appreciate Mama's efforts more.

Mama reading to us
Mama reading to us, 1971 or '72

I am so disillusioned with motherhood. I want my kids to know my deep love for them. Gordon has told me a number of times that they don't feel I love/like them. It's a preposterous notion. I hope it's his idea and not theirs. My kids have all taught me special things and I adore each one in a different way. They're all so different and bless me in different ways. I'm thankful for the variety.

Stephanie's birth shocked my "old man" to death and brought forth the bones of this "new man," new creation. I'll ever marvel and be grateful for the profound spiritual awakening God brought to me through her warm, pink little body.

Full bodied and quite upset after the birth ordeal, Christopher was precious and sweet. I was shocked yet again by the intensity of this love called motherhood! I was a great mom to Christopher those first four years and when I saw him over the years after that. But as I only realized in the past six or seven years, he felt abandoned by me when I lost custody of him. Will this pain, his or mine, ever subside? Probably not in this life. Something about fallen man, sin nature, imperfect world . . . I get it. I just wish it were different. I wish he could know the intensity of my love. It's still there.

I'm thankful God let me be a mom. I tried so hard, put my heart and soul into it and it seems I've failed on every front. Deborah is an absolute mess. Rachael and Hannah have thrown all our values away. I feel like an incredible failure as a mom and I'm so puzzled why it went so wrong. I sought hard after God. I read parenting books, took parenting courses; prayed, taught them Scripture and applied the principles therein, homeschooled. Why is it all so f----- up? I don't understand and it hurts so, so badly. I expected to be so proud of my girls' choices at this time in life. I expected them to be pure, making good choices, etc. 

Mothers' Day. I know this will pass. But today all I'm thinking is how all my mothering seems to have gone awry and I'm confused and disillusioned. Maybe someday it will all make better sense. Today is not that day.

same boat?

Hannah One of the reasons I've blogged for so many years is to capture family memories, especially things my kids have done. However, try as I do to get my kids to do cute things these days, they tend to be "too cool for cute." Growl.

Several weeks ago Hannah told me she missed my blogging. I was mildly blown away by this because Hannah seems so aloof and uninterested. I was touched by her desire and told her I'd try harder to blog more often.

Hannah has friendship issues. She has two friends and one of them is an off and on relationship. Her best friend doesn't go to her school so she's a bit of a loner at school unless her friend D is in "on" mode. D is a boy and Hannah does not like him in a romantic way, but she loves him as a friend. Her day is not a good one unless she and D have slugged each other in the hall. That is the test of their friendship. If they slug each other, they are "on". If there's no slugging going on, they are off.

Recently I asked Hannah who D's friends are. She said he kind of drifts among groups, that he doesn't have a set of friends who he is always with. He just kind of tags along with whomever he's in the mood to tag along with.

Encouraged that others have the same issues as Hannah, I enthused, "Oh, he's kind of in the same boat as you."

Very seriously, she retorted, "Oh no, he's in a much better boat than me."

I was tickled.

discovery cove, orlando

 Stock Photo 01

For each of us, Discovery Cove was a highlight of our time in Florida.

Last year we started planning this trip. Initially the main purpose in going to Florida was to see my friend Debbie. We didn't know that she would be gone by the time our trip rolled around. Several times during our time in Florida I felt melancholy remembering that the whole purpose of the trip - in its initial stage - was so I could spend some time with Debbie.

Stock Photo 02I'm sure you've noticed that I don't blog quite like I use to. There are several reasons but among them is the absence of my friend and faithful reader Debbie. So many times I wrote just for her. She loved reading this blog and I loved to write stories for her. I miss her and the trip to Florida was mildly bittersweet because I was often reminded of how the trip originated.



  H kissing dolphin Our sweet Hannah developed a love for anything related to marine life several years ago. She said she wanted to be a marine biologist and we wanted to encourage this love. That is how Discovery Cove arrived as one of our destinations.

Our desire to encourage the "marine biology" thing was really enlivened when she declared that she hadn't decided which to pursue; marine biology or tatoo artistry. That's when Gordon enrolled her in the Trainer for a Day program.

Hannah  pushed by dolphin
She worked with dolphins, swam with and rode dolphins, fed sharks and rays and I don't know what else. It was a glorious experience for her. I'm so glad she had the opportunity.





  Stock Photo 12 Deborah surprised us by falling in love with manta rays. We couldn't hardly pull her out of their pools. Every time we tried for pictures - almost every time - she was unavailable because she didn't want to leave the mantas.





Stock Photo 15
I did a lot of everything, but my favorite part was being all alone with the waterfalls. For hours I had the waterfalls to myself and I loved that.






Stock Photo 19 Years ago, I put "swim with dolphins with Hannah" on my bucket list (things to do before I die). Things got a little wonky and Hannah and I both swam with dolphins but not at the same time. But that's okay.




 Trainer for the day



This is our Hannah, trainer for a day.




   Hannah and rays



Deborah wasn't the only one who loved the rays. Hannah did too.










Family with dolphin



I quite love this picture of the family. Discovery Cove was a great experience!

happy birthday hannah

Scan20001(Newborn Hannah and me, 1996. She looks kind of cute here.)

I am very very behind on this. Hannah turned 14 in August. Her birthday always gets the short end of the stick around here. No matter how often I tell myself it won't happen, it does. Even her "birthday post" is weeks overdue. The poor dear.

She turned 14 on August 22.

These pictures are a few sweet reminders of her little life.

(See how ugly she was. 1996)  If they hadn't taken her straight from my body and laid her on my chest, I would not have believed she was mine. I would have said, "This isn't my child. I have cute babies." But I was there. She is mine. I was awed once again by a new baby, but this time I lovingly said, "Awww, she's so ugly." 


Thankfully she started cutening up several months later. It was acutally quite a few months before she was truly cute. But she was precious all along. She had no choice but toughness. With a sister just 13 months older, she was the brunt of all Rachael's experiments - including be drawn on with marker and pen regularly.


But by one year old, she was genuinely very cute. She had lovely long hair but wanted a hair cut. She was just as cute with short hair.

(2 years old, 1998)

Scan20171 - Copy (3)Scan20206 - Copy

Then she was in school and losing her first tooth.

013_13 (3) (2004)

It wasn't long before she was in grade 4. She was tender kind and sensitive. She loved animals more than any thing. She read her Bible, wrote in a little prayer journal. She was a true seeker. She was delightful.


Now she's an independent 14 year old. She can be super crazy and high energy. She reads lots and enjoys art. She's growing up too fast. She has abandoned all things cute. Recently she started rejecting all those cute things in her room -- storing them away or just getting rid of them. It's sad. She's saying goodbye to those cute things and opting for more teenager ways of decorating. Strangely, I never expected that of Hannah. The other kids yes, but I thought Hannah would stay the Hannah I knew. I don't really know who Hannah is. She was the one I thought I understood best, now I don't understand her at all. 

But my love stands firm. I'm still trying to understand her likes and dislikes but having a real hard time nailing it. I wouldn't consider buying her clothes or anything else nearly. For her birthday I gave her a shopping spree -- took her out on a shopping trip and didn't like anything she bought. I tried to get in her brain just to see if I could. I picked out a couple blouses, she was mortified by my taste. So I just relinquished the effort.

She's the subject of much prayer. There's a wall between us. She doesn't like me and I'm not scaling that wall very successfully. But I love her with everything in me.

Hannah I hope this year is a great year for you. I love you so much.

(2009, 13 years old)


festival and a hannah story

Db lethbridge This past weekend I had a dragon boat festival and was away from the family for Friday - Sunday. Not something I've done a lot of. The kids were on my mind often. There was a 10ish-year-old girl that reminded me so much of Hannah that she startled me every time I saw her. She had on an orange t-shirt like one Hannah used to wear way too often, she was long and thin with blond hair. For a split second I'd think it was Hannah, then I would realize it wasn't Hannah and that Hannah hasn't been that "short" for several years. I couldn't wait to get home to Hannah and hug her. That little girl at the festival kept Hannah ever present in my mind. I realized anew how the girls are growing up. Hey, I was away for the weekend. If that's not evidence that they're growing up, I don't know what is.

When we are taking our boat to the starting line we're supposed to be totally focused, "all energy in the boat", not looking outside the boat for anything. Saturday, at the end of the lake near the starting line, there was a spot where a few spectators sat. They were far away from the crowd sitting in their own quiet private spot.

Scan20222 (This picture is Hannah in "that" orange t-shirt, 2007)

As we approached the starting line, I heard a crystal clear "hi". My heart instantly smiled, my face joined in. I "left" the boat -- meaning, I let my focus drift to the little girl who stood there so innocently seeing if anyone would answer her greeting. I smiled and waved before I realized what I'd done. The innocence of that little girl gripped my heart. "Hi," she said so sweetly and trusting. It was precious.

My kids have grown/are growing up so quickly. Some days it staggers me with sadness, other days I bite my tongue, hard, so I won't yell, "I CAN'T WAIT FOR THE EMPTY NEST SYNDROME."

A few nights ago Hannah came into the living room and said, "Adam is so weird, so lame." I asked why and she said they were chatting (via computer) and he started talking about puberty and how boys have it worse than girls because, and I quote, boys "have urges."

The word "urges" in our family is barely shy of a curse word. Gordon and I have a skit that I'm dying to perform for someone. We haven't had opportunity to perform, but our poor kids have had to endure it a few times. In our skit, the main word is "urges" and it's kind of sick. You'd have to see the skit to get it. Suffice to say, "urges" is a gross word to us.

Imagine Hannah's disdain when Adam started talking "urges". Adam told her about "boy urges" and then said, "Do girls have urges?"

Hannah was mortified. Rachael and I both screamed, "Well, what did you say?"

Hannah said, "I said, 'I don't know, why don't you ask one.' Then I logged off."


Eric and girls(Grandpa and the girls)

Eight years ago today my father-in-law passed away. He was 67. It was a hard time for our family, but I have some sweet memories from that time that I cherish.

We told the kids that Grandpa was very ill and that he would get to go to heaven soon. Deborah was nearly three. Rachael was nearly seven, Hannah was nearly six. Each of them processed it very differently. Rachael acted like it was no big deal, but that's a regular coping mechanism of hers. We knew it was big to her.

Hannah was astute and forthright. During prayer time at church on the Sunday before he died, Hannah's voice rang out clearly as she asked for prayer. "My grandpa in very sick and he hurts really badly right here," she said as she pointed to her side. (He had liver cancer.)

I thought Deborah was too young to process it one way or the other. I was wrong. One day I was in the garden and I overheard her talking to herself in the tree-house. "Grandpa is very sick and he's going to heaven soon." She said it several different ways, several different times. At that point I knew she was agitated too.

The call came that he'd passed away and we went to his house. We gathered around his bed and his kids and wife told stories, we prayed and sang a few hymns. We learned that one of Eric's favorite hymns was "Morning has broken, blackbird has spoken...." We sang it.

When we cleared out of the room for the funeral home to come, Hannah asked if she could see him once more. She and I went back into his room alone. She held his hands and thanked him for being a good grandpa. She told him she looked forward to seeing him again in heaven and then she kissed him.

After the funeral home had his body on the gurney, the sons and son-in-law carried him to the waiting car. We all stood in the yard, solemnly watching them drive away. As soon as the car turned out of sight, 2-year-old Deborah jumped up excitedly and said, "Yaaay! Grandpa's in heaven." In Deborah's mind, when he got out of sight, that's when he entered heaven.

Over the next day or two, even Rachael revealed her heart. We had learned that "Morning has broken, blackbird has spoken..." was a favorite hymn of his. Rachael drew her therapy. It's a card. The front page is a blackbird in a limb.

Rach's card 1 

Inside the card, there is Grandpa on his bed and Beppe phoning us to tell us he had just died. May always wore a bun back in those days. See her bun?

Rach's card 2 

These memories and this card are precious to me.

my kids are... ?

Scan20191 - Copy (2)(Precious Rachael and Hannah, in 2000)

Because I'm getting wiser with age, I resisted the urge to title this post, "My Kids Are Idiots." That was noble, I think.

In the 80's I loved watching The Cosby Show. In one episode Dr. Huxstable comes home to find Clare seething. She hisses, "I want you to go upstairs and kill your son." More than once I've said that to Gordon. Unfortunately he never watched The Cosby Show and he doesn't have a son, so my theatrics are sorely lost on him.

Quoting movie phrases is one of my coping mechanisms. Even though Clare Huxstable's saying is not perfectly suitable in our house, I keep it in my repertoire of fine things to say when I'm on the verge of snapping. Thank God for all the movies that have given me anti-snapping phrases through the years. I've not even come close to injuring a child, so there's proof they have served me well.

(When a potential employer asks how I handle stress I respond with a professional smile, "I tell my husband to kill the kids.") 

It's no wonder that sometimes mama animals eat their young. I'm guessing it goes something like this: Mama rat looks at baby rat rolling her eyes at her and thinks, "Yep, this one's liable to steal the family car when she's 13." Chomp chomp. "Took care of that problem."

I won't tell present problems, but I'll share one from two years ago. Rachael was 13. In some homes that might mean she's the cock of the walk, the boss, the indomitable force. In our house 13 means you're an idiot. (In a couple years I'll share our present woes, if I'm not doing time or rolled up permanently in the fetal position sing-songing, "They were such sweet babies.")

Dear, sweet, idiot child Rachael, with her friends, planned a boy-girl movie night. "We're going to the movie and then we're going to Adam's house." Gordon and I shook our heads like dogs hit between the eyes with a tennis ball. Gordon gave me the shut-up-wife look just as I was forming the words, "Like hell you are."

I had an appointment that I could not miss so I had to leave. When I got home I asked how things had turned out. Gordon said he'd take her to the movie. He'd unobtrusively sit elsewhere in the theater. She could invite the kids to her house afterward. Rachael responded with, "Well that's going to be mildly embarrassing." Gordon responded, "Mildly embarrassing, eh? Sounds to me like mildly embarrassing is a good balance between wildly humiliating and uninvolved. You choose."

That little battle turned out well. Rachael went to the movies with friends, Gordon went too. She invited the friends over; girls came, boys didn't.

She was not bitter.

Rachael is doing well these days. Her mind is coming back. Slowly but surely, I see signs of sanity. She's kind of between stages, part idiot, part sane.

Hannah is 13. I think a lot about the above mama rat. 

thursday thirteen

I love Thursday Thirteen. It's a great way to catch up.

1. I've been kind of sad/contemplative/nostalgic lately. I've been busy scanning pictures from the days before digital photos. I've got a lot done, but still have a ways to go. Anyway seeing all those pictures of my little people, . . .  Now they are so big. It's enough to make a mama weep. A couple are grown. A couple morphed into a different species. And one is still a child. In a way it seems like a few days ago that Stephanie was born and in other ways it seems like a totally different life. Time keeps going.

2. As I looked at all the photos, over and over I saw evidence of Debbie Tannehill. She gave us sooo many clothes for the girls and all three girls wore them. Thank you, Debbie. You are such a good friend.

3. Was reminded all over again how incredibly sweet my wee ones were.

4. Was reminded all over again how incredibly tiring Rachael was. She was a handful. I created a few "funnies" for the occasion.

5. Funny 1.

  R mischief

6. Funny 2.

  God have mercy

7. Funny 3.

  R 2000

8. I love the smells of the season. I sat in the back yard last night and got intoxicated by all the floral scents in the air. I am sure heaven will have those same scents.

9. Do you remember that I'm working on a book? (Actually it's three books.) I'm getting pretty close to having the first one finished. I'm excited about the potential.

10. Hannah was such a writer/card giver when she was wee. This week I thoroughly enjoyed reading through a bunch of her sweet greetings from years ago. She doesn't write me love letters anymore. I miss those, but am thankful for the ones she gave me when she still liked me. {Sigh, people warned me about this.}


12. In case you can't see it, it says, "You are the best perins in the world. I love you. Have a Heavenly Day." See why I'm nostalgic and blue?


13. Reading through Hannah's photo album reminded me of some of her quirky ways when she was little. And she had more than a couple quirky ways. I had totally forgotten one until I read it in her album. In 2000 we went to Colorado and met all my family for Thanksgiving. For many, it was the first time to meet my Canadian children. Hannah was four and Deborah was still nursing. Hannah was often invited into people's lap to get acquainted. Hannah's method of getting acquainted was asking, "Do you have milk in your breasts?" and/or "How come your breasts are so small?"

hannah's bedroom

Here's the finished product of Hannah's room update. As you can see, she's quite the collector.

We're pleased with the outcome and looking forward to the little Hannah Banana seeing it.

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Hannah's room 4

PS Hannah has a thing for animal calendars. There were three on her wall when I started this project and I'm betting she hangs the other two when she settles in. My little Hannah will be home tomorrow. :-)

hannah snoozing


Hannah asleep 6-09

Sweet little Hannah has been battling a horrible cold. Plus it's finals week. So my little babe is exhausted. The proof is in this picture. Seldom does she fall asleep in the living room.

I'm well aware of how hideously she's dressed. You wouldn't believe how often she wears that get-up. They are her favorite comfy clothes, much to my chagrin.

I guess no matter how old a child gets a mother finds her perfectly innocent when she sleeps.

After I snapped this picture of her snoozing and got it up on the computer I saw a little detail I didn't notice earlier. Can anyone spot the little stick-man?

There he is on the bottom of her foot. I guess you never outgrow the doodling stick-man thing.

Stick man on hannah's foot