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 

healthcare.

I’m guessing most everyone reading this post has access to healthcare for yourselves and your families, as I do. I know that for myself, having lived with this amazing benefit all my life, it can be easy to take it for granted at times.

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I was rudely awoken from my pleasant complacency a few years ago when we took a family road trip down to Arizona to spend a Christmas with extended family. I’m embarrassed to admit that it didn’t even cross my mind to purchase travel health insurance before we left.

On Christmas Day I had to leave a house full of loving relatives and go find the nearest emergency room due to very scary uterine bleeding. The hospital was beautiful; new and gleaming, and the care was unbelievably good. Within a couple hours I was tested, temporarily ‘fixed up’, and walking out the doors with printed pages in hand, detailing my diagnosis of submucosal uterine fibroids. (Evidently, this is the wrong kind to have; I don’t recommend it.) All the testing had been done right there, without any delays.

Then we came home to Alberta, Canada; where we have a universal, publicly funded healthcare system. Not so gleaming, and not so fast. But I was referred (relatively quickly) to a specialist, who performed an open-abdominal hysterectomy on me within a few months. She told me afterward that it was a good thing I’d had the surgery, as it had really needed to be done. Phew!

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That spring, while waiting for my surgery date, I received a terrifying piece of mail. It was an envelope full of bills amounting to about $12000 for my two hours of treatment in the American hospital. Our extended health insurance (through my husband’s work as a public school teacher) thankfully paid it, so my dreadful feelings of impending doom didn’t last for long.

But my heart goes out to the billions of people in our big old world who don’t have healthcare insurance. Those for whom medical bills spell financial ruin. And those who can’t even access needed medical care in the first place because it simply isn’t available.

Here are some sobering articles that make me appreciate just how good we have it:

Half of the world’s population lack access to essential health services…

and…

World Bank and WHO: Half the world lacks access to essential health services, 100 million still pushed into extreme poverty because of health expenses.

 

Thinking of this doesn’t  just make me grateful I can go to the doctor, get medical testing done, and receive necessary medications (as much as I don’t like taking them)…

I makes me want to help. To support humanitarian organizations who will put people in touch with healthcare.

Here’s a link, in case I’m not the only one who wants to do something about this:

https://www.doctorswithoutborders.ca/

We are 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

rainy days.

It’s a rainy day. I’m not mourning the sunshine. I know it’s still up there, bright as anything- above the clouds. Besides, rainy days make everything outside a bit greener, and I feel like the cool wet weather rejuvenates more than just the local plant life…

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I remember in my last year of high school, at the end of hot, muggy days the rain would come pouring down in the dark summer evenings. I’d call up my friend, Rosalind, and we’d meet for long soaking wet walks in the rain. We loved the feeling of getting drenched, but not feeling too cold. It was just such a relief after the heat of the day.

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But today I’m accepting this cool, wet weather as little gift from the sky in a different way; time to stay inside and catch up on some things at home. I love being outside, but I also love being at home. I did some yoga (of course) and some extra housework and even sorted out my emails, which I’ve been meaning to do for years. Literally, years.

I have the windows open, so I can hear the rain, and sense the moist fresh air from outside; I think it’s perking up my personal energy levels just by osmosis. Also, there really is something to be said for being cozy on the couch under a blanket while sitting by the windows and watching the raindrops fall outside.

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

cars.

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My husband and son like to talk about cars, just recreationally discuss them. They enjoy watching shows about cars on T.V., and going to car shows in real life. It’s fun for them to spend hours and hours messing around with cars, fixing them up just how they want them. The things that can be done to cars to make them do car things in better, louder, faster ways are endlessly fascinating to these two people I know and love.

I generally just tune out such talk and activity as background noise. They’re happy, that’s enough. On the rare occasions when my son kindly involves me in such conversations, I try to be a good listener because I love him. But I suspect that my eyes glaze over despite my best efforts. In short, I’m not a car fan.

That said, I am convinced that cars (and by cars I mean motorized vehicles of various kinds, including ambulances) have saved countless lives. And not just directly; how many places in the world are able to have necessary supplies on a regular basis because of trucks? And I don’t have to wonder how many people would miss out on countless experiences and opportunities without the ability to get from one place to another in a relatively short time, without cars.

I love the mountains, lakes, and beaches. I’m able to access such places to go hiking and camping only because of the invention of the automobile. I also love my grown children and sisters and parents and cousins and other relatives. I’m able to live hundreds of kilometres away from these dear people and still see them fairly often thanks to cars.

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Also, grocery shopping. Errands. Going to IKEA. Church. Dates. Late-night movies. Doctor’s appointments. Library visits that end with large stacks of books. Apart from vacations and extended visits with far-off friends and family, there are thousands of little, practical ways that cars make our day-to-day lives so much more convenient and comfortable.

Where I (and a lot of other people) live, most things are more accessible by such vehicles. People who don’t drive, whether out of necessity or by choice, still benefit from buses, rides in cars, and things being delivered to shops etc nearby, usually by truck or van. It’s how we get to the farmer’s market, the hospital, the bank, and the ski hill. And it’s how Amazon gets to us.

In my heart I sometimes yearn for the long ago or far away walkability of being able to get around without cars; I’m not going to lie. And when we lived in England, I enjoyed a lot more of that. But even there, castles in the country were easier to get to by car.  

Any way I look at it, I can’t get around being grateful for the blessing of cars. They help.

So blessed,

Leah 

 

faith.

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painting by Simon Dewey

This is how I feel about Jesus Christ. Like he loves me, and I can trust him to always care for me. I’ve felt his love too many times, in too many ways, to ever doubt it. And I love him with all my heart. I feel safe and secure in his amazing love; he knows me better than I know myself, sees all my flaws, and only wants to help me. I am grateful for many blessings, every day, but he is everything to me.

“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”

C.S.Lewis

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Photo by Casey Horner on Unsplash

I can’t imagine my life without him in it, and thankfully, I’ll never have to experience that. Because no matter what life throws at me, I can always count on Jesus to be with me, as long as I’ll be with him. This changes everything, in the best possible ways.

“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come…. Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”     ~Bible, New Testament, Romans 8:38-39~

The most beautiful thing about all of this is that it’s just as true for everyone else as it is for me. He loves us all with a pure and perfect love. He fills me to overflowing with the feeling of it, and it changes me; I want to share it with everyone I can. I try.

So blessed,

Leah

white chocolate craisin cookies.

Today is our 24th wedding anniversary. What we had planned was a visit to this dreamy nearby destination: Kananaskis Nordic Spa.

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-what we had in mind-

However, this is not to be. (Once again, thanks, COVID-19.) Instead, we exchanged cards and gifts at home, and we’re ordering in from our all-time favourite restaurant (NOtaBLE), which is now very local to us, since our move almost a year ago. I’m sure the dinner will be delicious, even though we’ll be enjoying it as take-out. Better not complain.

In the meantime, I wanted to make a treat for Kirby today. I asked him what he’d like, and he replied, without hesitation, that he’d love these cookies. I’ve adapted the recipe a bit, and here’s how it goes now:

White Chocolate Craisin Cookies

Cream 3/4 cup butter with 1 & 1/2 cups sugar. Beat in 2 eggs, and a teaspoon each of salt, baking soda, and vanilla. Stir in 2 & 1/2 cups flour, then 2 cups combined craisins and white chocolate chips. Bake in 1 tablespoon lumps on parchment paper-lined cookie sheet, at 350 degrees F for about 9 minutes. Let cool a couple minutes before lifting them off the pan with a thin metal flipper. 

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So, this isn’t quite the romantic spa getaway we had in mind. But, all things considered, it’s a pretty sweet anniversary anyway. Celebrating at home, yeah. But so grateful for what we have to celebrate at all. Plus, cookies. Mmm.

So blessed,

Leah