Dad.

As long as I can remember, I’ve loved my dad and been so proud to be his daughter.

The longer I live, the more I feel this way.

And the more I learn from this kind, intelligent man I’m blessed to call Dad.  He’s shown me unconditional live, had faith in me when I was a difficult teenager and sometimes lost faith in myself, and he’s a great example of optimism and hard work.

When I was young, I remember he had this quotation on a small card:

“To live greatly, face trouble with courage, disappointment with cheerfulness, and triumph with humility.”

~Thomas S. Monson~

This is actually how he lives his life; that’s what makes it so inspiring to me. You won’t be surprised to learn that those words have spent plenty of time posted on a small recipe card in my home since I’ve been a grown woman with walls of my own to fill.

From my dad I’ve learned to ride a horse, treat everyone I meet with humanity, build a fence, read and enjoy good literature, value loyalty, understand history, and to study and share my faith. No matter what life throws at him, he keeps calm and carries on.

He’s the one I call when I need to comprehend the backstory to what I read in the news; he’s very well-informed. He’s the one I called on the phone one night many years ago from my bedroom in England when I was frozen with fear over a scuffling sound I heard in the old chimney. (To his credit, he helped me feel a bit better before pointing out patiently that there wasn’t much he could actually do for me from Canada. That was ok; by then I felt better. Also, it wasn’t a mouse after all.)

Best of all, because of him, it’s never been hard for me to believe and trust in a kind and loving Heavenly Father who cares about me and always wants to help, forgive, and bless me.

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~my son with me and my dad last summer~

So blessed,

Leah 

apartment living.

I live in a high-rise apartment condo. There are 7 levels of parking under the building and 20 floors of homes. Between our tower and its twin is a great fitness club with a lovely salt-water pool, a hot tub, steam rooms, and a variety of workout spaces. We’re right down the hill from the city’s biggest university, and only a few minutes’ drive from downtown. There is lots of traffic on the road out front; part of the Trans-Canada Highway almost passes by our front door. And yet…

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me in my ‘backyard’ last summer

Out the back is a beautiful park with miles of lovely paths for walking, cycling, and even some hiking trails through a pretty Douglas Fir forest across the footbridge over the river.

Although we live almost in the centre of Calgary, we are so blessed because nature is readily accessible just outside our door. Last year on Canada Day (1 July) I was cycling just across the river from our home with my daughter; we were amazed to see a full-grown mama moose walk out a little way ahead of us! For real. She dawdled on the path for a moment before disappearing into the woods on the other side.

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me a bit downriver last summer

I’m sure there are hidden treasures of nature, small or large, to be discovered in most cities. It feeds my soul to be out there.

So blessed,

Leah 

mamma mia.

Being a good mom is no cake walk. Ask ours.

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Here’s my lovely momma getting some kisses from me and one of my three younger sisters, when we were together at the Calgary Temple one day a few years ago. Isn’t she adorable?

She has more energy than most people I know. She works harder than most of us. And she has a great sense of humour. She cooks, gardens, and organizes like a queen. She’s super smart, endlessly generous, and amazingly fun with little children. She’s educated, and smart; and she loves animals.

Her faith has informed and inspired my own, and if that’s all she ever did for me or gave to me, it would be enough.

But that’s not all. She cares so much for me, and for my family. She’s forgiving and nothing can take her down for long. Her life hasn’t been an easy one; I wouldn’t want to trade. But mine has been sweeter and more gentle and beautiful because of her, turning herself inside out time after time after time to create for us something better than what she started with. I feel like I’m standing on the shoulders of giants in my own life, and she’s definitely one of them.

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On a walk near her home today…

Do you know how encouraging her example it to me? I believe I can do hard things.

And this is what she tells me:

Loved you yesterday.

Love you still. 

Always have.

Always will.

I believe her.

So blessed,

Leah

end of migraine.

What a relief! I just recovered from a migraine that had kept me in bed since Sunday…

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This is me, feeling happy that I could half uncover that eye this afternoon, knowing the end was in sight. I get migraines pretty often. Well, very often. But I can catch most of them early with medication etcetera and don’t often get knocked down for days a time. But when I do, I hate it.

I know I’m blessed to have medicines and a supportive family, and a comfortable bed. I appreciate my earplugs and eye mask to block noise and light, and I’m grateful for my Cefaly. It gives me amazing relief during migraines. I alternate between that and ice packs for my head and neck, but my best relief during a migraine is sleep.

Then, it gradually fades away… often leaving my poor head feeling tender; even a bit bruised. But emotionally, I feel a sense of fragile euphoria. Being up, and especially outdoors feels almost too good to be true.

This evening I meandered slowly down to the river just outside with my dear husband. We just sat there together on the riverbank, soaking in the peace and beauty of the sun on the water. I felt like I could really relate to Mole, in Kenneth Grahame’s classic tale,  The Wind In The Willows. He was so relieved to go outside into the spring sunshine after being stuck inside in the dark for so long; so was I.

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“…tired at last, he sat on the bank, while the river still chattered on to him, a babbling procession of the best stories in the world, sent from the heart of the earth to be told at last to the insatiable sea.”

So blessed,

Leah 

Grace.

This is one fun girl; let me tell you.

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I’m feeling pretty blessed this week. I get to spend some sweet time with my cute niece, Grace. She’s being a good sport about going out to soak up some smiles from the sunshine with me day after day… We take walks and bike rides along the river; such a good time.

We decided to try making homemade perogies this week, since we both love cooking and baking. The recipe (if you can call it that) was super simple, and they turned super yummy! Here’s how we did it:

Homemade Perogies

Mix 2 cups of sour cream with just enough flour to make a smooth, soft, somewhat sticky dough. Knead it for a few seconds on a floured surface and cut into about 20 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and then use a rolling pin to flatten it out into a thin little disc. 

For the filling: Boil 4 medium-sized(russet) potatoes, and mashed them with butter, shredded cheddar cheese, and bacon bits. Then put a little blob of this on each perogy,  fold it over, and pinch the curved edge closed tightly to seal. 

Set half of them in a large pot of boiling water, and gently stir as needed to make sure they don’t stick to each other or to the bottom of the pot. (Repeat with the other half once these first ones are finished). They’ll be floating when they’re done, in just a few minutes. We took them out shortly after this, and laid them in a serving dish with butter until we were ready to eat them with sour cream. Mmm.

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Grace is sweet, affectionate, and funny. I like playing with her gorgeous hair, laughing our way through a game of Dutch Blitz, and making sourdough bread for her to eat. We all enjoy her slightly cheeky sense of humour, and love having her come to visit!

So blessed,

Leah

sourdough.

I first cultivated my rambunctious ‘starter’ culture years ago, and it’s still going strong. I haven’t named it until now, but I think I’ve just hit on the perfect appellation for this happy and healthy little creature; I’ll call it Baby.

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This is hardly an original thought, now that I think about it. My family and friends have teased me about my ‘bread babies’ for a few years. I can see why; both are soft and squishy, smell delightful, and are ever so satisfying to nurture. Both babies and Baby like to be touched and need to stretch, and grow especially well when tucked up in a cozy warm place for frequent naps. Both have within them innate qualities; given the right conditions and enough tender loving care, both turn out more wonderful than the mama or the baker can really take credit for…

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When my children were in high school and my house was full of my little dayhome children, I baked 2 loaves a day. At lunch hour, the house seemed to fill up with teenagers who obligingly devoured homemade sourdough bread, helped heartily by the half dozen cute little people who populated it all day with me. Those were the days…

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Sourdough baking is an addictive behaviour, as many will attest. I once saw a man’s twitter account introduction in which he described himself as a ‘pathological sourdough baker’. I could write an entire blog on the subject; many enthusiasts do. But I’ll stick to an occasional post here and there on the topic of my wild-yeasty friends and their exploits.

Again, this is another sweet and simple thing that enriches my life every day, including now, during the pandemic. It makes me happy; making it, seeing it grow, baking it, eating it, and sharing it.

So blessed,

Leah

 

security.

We’ve got it so good. Do we really know how good we’ve got it?

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Photo by Casey Horner on Unsplash

When I say security, I’m not talking about a security system or security guards. I’m more talking about the comfort we have knowing we’ll be ok for home and food, etc.

Those of us who are so blessed as to be sure of our homes and not worry about feeding ourselves and our families for the coming days are part of a very small minority of people in the world. In the oft-repeated words of Precious Ramotswe, one of my favourite characters in modern literary fiction, written by the brilliant Alexander McCall Smith, (The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency):

“This is a well-known fact.”

Like many other Canadians, and people in most parts of the world, I’ve been unable to go to my work since the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Like so many others, I’m healthy, and would be glad to work if only I could. But since my employment is on hold, so (of course) is my income. This is a first for me, and let me tell you; I’m so grateful to live in a place where there is financial assistance available through the government to help us ride this crazy wave.

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Photo by Felix Mittermeier on Unsplash

Because of benefits like this, millions of people who would otherwise suffer loss of homes and food insecurity are able to pull themselves and their families through times of economic instability. We can concentrate our pent-up energies on doing our part to keep ourselves and our communities healthy.

So blessed,

Leah 

 

 

 

dutch blitz.

I’m not really one for card games. But this one is definitely an exception.

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Little did I know what good times I was bringing home to my family when I picked this up randomly, shopping one day several years ago. You may wonder why I haven’t gotten rid of this poor old box, and just wrapped the deck of cards in a rubber band. This is why:

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While I appreciate and admire those talented individuals who can ‘do accents’, I am not one of them. But when I read the little ditty on the back of this box, I think I actually sound a bit Dutch. Maybe not, but it’s fun to try. 

It’s simple, even straightforward to understand how to play. The hilarious intensity is because it’s played all at once! No turn-taking. No dull moments in between turns. No mind-wandering. Nope.

Each player gets one of these sets (from the main deck). If you want to play with more than 4 players at a time, there’s an expansion pack you can buy. Personally, my attention is spread to full capacity with four players. One of our adult daughters has A.D.H.D., and playing Dutch Blitz with her is enough to make my head spin. She’s definitely at an advantage in this game!

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The general idea is to make lots of red, blue, yellow, and green stacks of cards in the centre of the table, each stack beginning with a 1 and ending with a 10. There’s a pattern to how and when to use the cards in each players’ hand, and it’s fun.

Don’t take my word for it, though. I’m pretty sure you can order it on Amazon. During this pandemic, a lot of us have extra time at home with our families (or housemates), and this is just one more way to enjoy it.

Here’s the official Dutch Blitz website, which has a video you can watch to see the game played:

 
The craziest, and best memory I have of playing this is from last summer. My husband and I were out car camping with our two adult daughters. It was cold and pouring rain there in the majestic mountains of Banff National Park, so we all squished into the back of our little Subaru Forester to play a few rounds of Dutch Blitz. In all honesty, we didn’t actually fit. Oddly though, we all cheerfully contorted ourselves into pretzels in order to laugh our way through this silly game together. Good times. 
 
So blessed, 
 

Leah

this man of mine.

I love him. Can’t help it; he’s a lovable guy. His name is Kirby, and I’ve been married to him for almost 24 years…

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This is us out for our first bike ride of the season, yesterday. It was his birthday! After he finished his work (at home, thank you COVID-19) we couldn’t wait to get out and cycle for a while in the warm spring sunshine. It was the warmest day of the year so far; so nice for his special day. I say that with a wee tinge of jealousy; on my birthday, just a couple weeks ago, the temperature ranged between about -4 and +5 degrees celsius. But my jealousy is the nice kind; I wouldn’t have the weather on his birthday be any worse. I just wouldn’t have complained if mine had felt a bit more like spring.

So back to our bike ride. Kirby suggested that I ride ahead of him, since I am not especially athletic, and therefore a slow rider. He was nice enough to not put it quite like that when he offered to keep behind me. Being considerate enough to cycle at my pace is a little thing that says a lot about the kind of guy he is.

He also has a great sense of humour; this is one of the first things that attracted me to him back in the day. He’s a talented and innovative teacher, and has a way of connecting really well with older kids and teens that seems like an inborn superpower to me. (I specialize in babies and very small children.) Kirby also has a knack for technology. This is something else I really appreciate; he just laughs when I say that the printer and the remote controls etc behave better when he comes in to help me with them, but I know in my heart that it’s true.

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Again, it’s my intention to make my blessings blog posts as relatable as possible. I do realize I’m the only person who has this strong and sweet husband, but so many of us have people in our lives who love us and are always there- for better or for worse. It’s sometimes easy to get used to these loved ones; almost a form of hedonic adaptation… I’m writing to remind myself, and my dear readers, how good we really have it.

So blessed,

Leah 

Hayley.

Today I’m feeling especially grateful for my nieces; in particular, this one!

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A couple years ago in an airport, as a complete stranger walked by us, she smilingly commented, “Well, that’s not a mother and daughter, is it!” She meant it as an ironic statement of the obvious, but Hayley and I laughed because it’s not the first time she’s been mistaken for my child.

We have a lot more in common than our colouring though. We’re both avid readers, with a special taste for historical fiction. We both enjoy knitting, and cooking, yoga, and family history research. And we’re both nature lovers, so we like taking walks together when we get the chance.

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So blessed,

Leah