Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Pass the Lysol, Please...

The sickies have descended into our house. First Connor, then me, then Connor again, now Sara. Steve has spent the majority of his days outside making an outdoor skating rink, so perhaps he hopefully has avoided our germs.

So far, Connor and I have missed one big party and left the people dining at the restaurant last night a little more than they bargained for and Connor and I making a real quick exit. Hopefully, this is the end of it!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Welcome to "Grace Between the Lines"

"Bump on the Road” was Annette’s attitude toward her cancer being one more bump in her life to get over in her journey of life here on earth. It was this journey that led her to her eternal home where she no longer must bump along but mount up on wings like an eagle. It is time for this blog to metamorphose, just as Annette’s journey led her to trade in her weary body for a beautiful new one. Like a butterfly.

I am happy to share my “new” blog called ‘Grace Between the Lines” . Grace refers to God’s gifts to humankind, especially the biggest gift of all, Salvation. This Grace left Annette confident in her journey home. Grace is between all the lines that weave together our lives. It is in everything. Grace Between the Lines.

Annette’s middle name is Grace. That is why I have chosen the title. Annette is woven in the fabric of my, her family and friends’ lives. Although not physically with us anymore, her grace-ful presence is always with all of us who loved her. Woven in the fabric of who we are and who we have become. Grace Between the Lines.

The tulips on the header are in honour of Annette’s favourite flower, the tulip. It symbolizes where she came from and where she went. I hope to continue to advocate and educate for people with disabilites. In her honour. Grace Between the Lines.

Welcome. I hope you will be blessed with Grace.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Year That Was...

It's so hard to believe that one year has gone by. 364 days since we've talked to, hugged, held, prayed with, cried over and laughed with (yes, even on her last day we shared smiles) her.

It seems like an eternity.

It seems like just a few weeks ago.

So much has happened in one year. Much grieving, growing, sorrowing. Many good and important things. Many hard and agonzing moments. We have been carried through. Not only has God carried us through, but you, our friends and family have as well. We have been blessed by so many of you.

I am anticpating Tuesday with much angst and anxiety. I am wishing those days away, while knowing that won't happen. We will face the day as we have faced the last three years: Arm in arm, together, for strength, for comfort, for hope, for peace.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Better Than Santa

I found this in my "inbox" earlier this week. Enjoy.

With 3 weeks before Christmas REMEMBER: Jesus is Better than Santa

Santa lives at the North Pole. JESUS is everywhere.

Santa rides in a sleigh JESUS rides on the wind and walks on the water.

Santa comes but once a year JESUS is an ever present help.

Santa fills your stockings with goodies JESUS supplies all your needs.

Santa comes down your chimney uninvited JESUS stands at your door and knocks.. and then enters your heart.

You have to stand in line to see Santa JESUS is as close as the mention of His name.

Santa lets you sit on his lap JESUS lets you rest in His arms.

Santa doesn't know your name, all he can say is "Hi little boy or girl,What's your name?" JESUS knew our name before we did. Not only does He know our name, He knowsour address too. He knows our history and future and He even knows how manyhairs are on our heads.

Santa has a belly like a bowl full of jelly JESUS has a heart full of love.

All Santa can offer is HO HO HO JESUS offers health, help and hope.

Santa says "You better not cry" JESUS says "Cast all your cares on me for I care for you.

Santa's little helpers make toys JESUS makes new life, mends wounded hearts, repairs broken homes and buildsmansions.

Santa may make you chuckle but JESUS gives you joy that is your strength.

While Santa puts gifts under your tree JESUS became our gift and died on the tree.

It's obvious there is really no comparison. We need to remember WHO Christmas is all about. We need to put Christ back in Christmas. Jesus is still the reason for the season.May the Lord Bless and Watch over you and your loved ones this Christmas 2008And may He prosper and bless the work of your hands in the New Year.May God Bless You All !

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Best Laid Plans

OK, I'll admit it. I did not get around to planting my tulip and daffodil bulbs. Boy, it sounded so good on paper. It seemed easy enough:
  1. Buy bulbs - check
  2. Dig hole.
  3. Stick bulbs in (point side down?).
  4. Cover bulbs with dirt.

Didn't happen. I know, it takes all of 3 minutes. You'd think I could find 3 minutes some evening or weekend. But I didn't.

So my question, gardeners of the north, can I still plant those bulbs on a warmer day, or will I be bloomless in the spring?

Monday, December 08, 2008

Not Me Monday!

I have become a bit of a blog junkie, jumping from one blog to another and becoming a follower of many people I have never met. One site I have started reading (who knows where I made the connection...) is called My Charming Kids. MckMama started the "Not Me Mondays" which is a fun way to admit we are not perfect and laugh about our funny mistakes. Here is my first "Not Me Monday" list.

I did not wear my high heeled shoes with socks and my pajamas to drive Sara to church tonight because they were the fasted things I could find to put on my feet. Not me. That would be embarassing!

I am NOT becoming obsessed with this blog thing. Who cares about widgets? I don't want to waste time trying to figure out headers. I'm not spending far to much time online trying to self teach myself these things. Nope. Not me.

I would never pinch my kids bottoms because they are the cutest bottoms in the world. Yummy, almost. Nope, that would be wrong.

I could care less about learning how to make words with a strikethrough through them. Who cares? I am NOT going to have a least six one word in each post with a strikethrough through it, just because I think it's cool. Nope. Not here.

Friday, December 05, 2008

"Tell Me About Your Annette Ornaments"

One of Annette's web friends posted this on the blog. I have asked their permission (and hope they say yes!-I just had to share and couldn't wait for their answers...)to share their stories and pictures here. Annette loved them all so much!

Anyone pulling out your holiday decorations and thinking about Annette? I know I am thinking of all of us so far in distance from each other but so connected as we display our memorials to Annette. Share your stories please..... Shannon

I met Annette only 1 time in Indy. I remember her smile. Annette's face glowed love. Also she was thankful to her husband for taking her on the trip to see her friends. Karol

One year Annette sent me a Pewter Angel and throughout the year it hangs on the rod iron of my dresser and it was bittersweet to carry it to the tree, here she hangs on my tree.... Belen

Yes, yes, yes,I have the angel that B made last year that is my connection to Annette. I was thinking I might ask him to make me one to symbolize my FIL, too. It is so beautiful and special. I will always cherish it. Chris

My secret Santa last year sent me a beautiful pottery angel!! She's on my tree and she's my Annette Angel! I can't believe it's been a year! Lisa I am thinking of you and your family as this difficult anniversary nears. Rhonda and Alex (8 yrs)

The ornament that reminds me of Annette is one I gave to her. I'm not a particularly religious person but I knew her faith was important to her so one day I saw a little ornament that was a little nativity scene in a hand and I thought, reaching into my brain for my bible teachings "The palm of his hand. It's perfect for Annette right now." So I wrapped it up and mailed it to her. I hope it's still somewhere with the family, but if not I hope someone else is getting peace from it. Clare

Mine isn't a treee ornament but it's a beautiful angel that I got from my secret santa last year. I keep it on my desk right by my computer and think of Annette each time I look at it, which is daily. I never had the pleasure of meeting her in person, but she was always such a wealth of information on any questions I had. Some people don't understand how you can feel so close to someone you've never met in person - to that I say you never had the pleasure of "knowing" Annette. I sure do miss her. Penny

This has been such a reflective week........as we approach the Dec. 16th anniversary of our friend, and sister, Annette's passing. I so want to memorialize this date in a special way..... My Annette Angel hangs above me right now, in my home office, and it will go back on the tree when we decorate this weekend. It says "An Angel Gets Her Wings" and has the inscription...Annette, you will always be remembered on the inside. Jeff purchased the angel after our road trip to Annette's funeral. I think I will reprint your wonderful ulogy on my blog and here..........and again think of our good friend and sister who I miss every day. And can't yet delete from my cell, but will do this on her one year anniversary and be brave as Lisa was. Jan
She's still on my cell, too, Jan......and her email is still in my address book. I don't know if I'll ever be able to let that go. My Annette Angel is on my refrigerator and I look at it every day - their Christmas card from last year, at Disney. In that picture, Annette is my living, breathing angel, and I am so thankful to have called her my friend.Amy
I have everyone's Christmas cards throughout the years and after Annette passed away, I knew I wanted to do something with them, other than store them away, so I put them in a scrapbook. Annette's family has their own pages, along with everyone else. It's a nice way to store them and have access to them, I can get them out and look thru at any time!! I can also see how everyone has grown!!! Rhonda

I have two, one from Annette and one for Annette... When I found out I had cancer, Annette sent me the angel of hope. She sits on my dresser and I see her everyday. The other angel I bought for our tree. I will post a picture of both when I have a chance. I miss her wisdom and her being. Kris

I met Annette and Kerri at Kei's house it seems like so long ago. We had the best time, drinking wine And Ryan had a blast with Bill...they were wrestling. Looking at those pictures is just so hard. Annette's Christmas card is hanging on my fridge. This is such a tough couple of weeks. Melissa

Many times a day I stop and smile back at Annette's sweet smile that radiates from her Christmas card from last year that is hanging on my fridge. I do believe that that card will always be hanging there, as it is such a huge part of my everyday life. Tara Marie

add me to those who have Annette's card from Disney on the fridge... i never had the chance to meet annette, but we did speak on the phone...it is really amazing how her presence is still so strongly felt, here and everywhere that she touched. Debbie
I actually have 2 ornaments that I purchased in Annette's memory. One is simple and beautiful and I wrote her name of the back of it. The other I HAD to get because it says, "Twas her thinking of others that made you think of her" Elizabeth B Browning. And that IS Annette's spirit that lives on in my memories of her. I cherish the times I was able to hug her and be with her, I miss her!
You ladies are all so special! Thanks for contributing these touching memories. Lisa

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Saving Lives

I helped save 3 lives yesterday.

I donated blood.

I have been donating for over 2 years. I had donated previously (about 15 years ago) but hadn't done it since. About 2 1/2 years ago, Mom was in the ER. The lady beside her was receiving blood and I thought, "I should do that." Annette was also sick at the time and I knew that at some point down the road, she might need blood products and I knew I'd want them to be available for her. (Mom did end up needing blood products during her last stay in the hospital. Thank you, strangers!)

The very next day, I was kidless and running errands. I had some extra time, and pulled into a plaza. There on the corner was a sign saying "Blood Donor Clinic Today". If that's wasn't a sign for me to donate...!So I went right in and donated. And have been back every 56 days since. I also coerced invited a friend to come with me about a year ago. We then coerced invited another friend. We make it a night out. I do it for Annette. I do it for Mom. I do it because I hope there will be blood products available when I need them. But I really do it because it's the right thing to do. And you get free cookies and juice

Consider this your little nudge or sign. If you are eligible, roll up your sleeves and give, because it's the right thing to do.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Some Good Advice

I have a great friend and we have great discussions about many mindless, useless, deep and provocative, soul-searching, trivial, supportive, chastising, honest and very religious topics. We are often on the same wavelength and radar screen of what is important to us. From this was born a small discussion group. Someone chooses a topic (often a video from a favourite speaker who has made the person think (our first was from Joyce Meyer, another was a pastor from Florida they had heard while on their trip, my next choice will be Tony Campolo). We watch and discuss. It's also always interesting to hear what other people heard from a message, and often it's not something you heard at all!

Our last session led us down the road of volunteering. I have decided to take a one year break from all volunteering (OK, I am on one committee at church). I was sharing how I felt I needed a break from all outside things this year, but that I still felt guilty, as many ministries still need volunteers and I think everyone needs to do their part. My one friend then said, "Don't you think that if you have a goal for yourself that God will bless what you do and be happy with your choices?" She shared how her goals were to be great at her job and be there for her husband (who has a very time consuming, travel involved, job) and her children. Once she set that goal, she realized other commitments weren't compatible with those goals.

That statement has made me think for the last 2 weeks. My goals are to be the best wife, mother and teacher I can be while giving myself time to rest, grieve, heal and grow. And right now, this year, other outside commitments are not compatible these goals. And those words of advice have lifted some weight (and guilt) from my shoulders. Thank God for great and wise friends.

No wonder she is a great counsellor/social worker. And I didn't even have to pay her $75!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Today, I deleted Annette's cell phone number from my cell phone. It's the first number I see (Annette starts with "A") when I scroll down through my numbers. I've been debating about doing that for almost a year. This week, I felt it was time and I felt ready to do it.


Saturday, November 22, 2008

A New Direction

Thank you for your comments. A new plan is formulating in my head after some inspiration at a meeting yesterday. Stay tuned for more details! But for now, my priority is report cards and house cleaning-my 2 favourite ways to spend the weekend!
Peace and Love,

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Ah... the things I can find to do when I should be working on report cards!

We had our first snowfall this week. It was very pretty and a stark reminder that winter is upon us! It also made me miss the warm days of summer... swimming, outings, fun! I hadn't posted any pictures yet, because of my camera issues, but I managed to get them onto my computer for sharing.
My new blog title will be revealed sometime soon, perhaps this week! Keep watching...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Where do I go from here?

I've wondered lately what to do with this blog. Many of you started reading to keep up with what was happening with Annette and her treatments. Many of you enjoyed hearing stories of things that she was passionate about: her children, Down Syndrome, respectful treatment for all people. Now she is gone. It is not my blog. I have been posting and many of you have commented that you like hearing from our family. I am happy to post. But it begs the question of where do I go from here? Do I make this my blog? Do I keep this blog for updates on Annette and Tom's kids and family and start my own new blog? Do I share only stories from the past? Do I share stories about myself even though many of you only know me through this blog? Should I change the name? I tumble these ideas around in my mind, but don't know the answer to these questions. I will continue to ponder...

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

News Clip

We are so very proud of Annette's work in bringing the Buddy Walk to southern Ontario. Click here to see the news clip from our walk on Sunday. The spokesperson reporting on the attendance and amount raised is Annette's dear friend, Susan.

PS: While the clip was well done, they missed the boat in saying that it is a disease, while in fact it is a syndrome.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Cake, flowers and sneakers.

Today was another bittersweet day. Today is Annette's birthday. Forty-two years ago, she was born. (Here we are at Annette's 40th birthday, two years ago, the day after Mom's funeral) We all headed to Tom's to spend the day together. First, was a memorial service at church for all the people who have died in the last year. This is the church associated with the boys' school. It is not the church that Tom, Annette and the boys go to, but it was nice to go nonetheless. Tom carried a candle in to church and put it at the front with all the others.

We then went to the cemetary to place flowers on her gravesite. I hadn't seen her headstone yet. It was difficult to see her name and dates carved in marble. It is a beautiful stone that Annette picked out herself. It brought so many memories and feelings to surface again and we had a good cry.

After a quick lunch (including a birthday cake with candles to blow out), we laced up our sneakers and headed to the Buddy Walk. This is an annual event that raises awareness and money for those with Down Syndrome and the Down Syndrome Society. We have attended every walk since it began in their area. This was the 7th walk. What made is especially bittersweet was that Annette was responsible for bringing the walk to this area (and possibly Canada?). She has many internet friends, and through them, she learned about National Buddy Walks that happen in cities all over America. She worked hard to bring the Buddy Walk to her area. It started as a somewhat small event in 2002. This year, there were over 450 people and they raised over $28 000. Wow. It was wonderful to be there again and see the fruit of Annette's (and many others along the way, of course) labour. Annette's good friend, who spoke for the board, remembered her in her comments. They had photo albums of all the Buddy Walks thus far. Annette was in so many of them because of her primary involvement. It was hard to look at her so healthy and vibrant. It was great to see her looking so healthy and vibrant.

The walk has grown immensely from it's modest beginning 6 years ago. Ever modest Annette didn't take any credit for her hard work. Many people there today probably didn't know Annette. At first, that made me a little sad. But then I realized that Annette would have loved just that. The awareness and the event has become so large that it has taken on a life of its own. It has had to change venues 4 times to hold the ever increasing crowd. She would be smiling ear to ear. Through my tears, I tried to smile for that, too.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Mom ~ In Loving Memory ~ October 31, 2006


A Mother's love is something that no one can explain,
It is made of deep devotion and of sacrifice and pain,
It is endless and unselfish and enduring come what may
For nothing can destroy it or take that love away . . .
It is patient and forgiving when all others are forsaking,
And it never fails or falters even though the heart is breaking . . .
It believes beyond believing when the world around condemns,
And it glows with all the beauty of the rarest, brightest gems . . .
It is far beyond defining, it defies all explanation,
And it still remains a secret like the mysteries of creation . . .
A many splendoured miracle we cannot understand
And another wondrous evidenceof God's tender guiding hand.

~Helen Steiner Rice~
Two years ago we said our "good-bye for now"s. Missing Mom today, as every day.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pink Tulips and Yellow Daffodils

This fall I am planting some pink tulip bulbs. Annette's favourite flower was the tulip. It became her favourite after Ryan was born (click here and scroll down for the reason why). It is such an appropriate flower. It comes back year after year. It pushes through the hard soil after a long, cold winter. It brings new life to the garden, year after year. It brings hope for nicer weather, beautiful gardens and good things to come. I can't wait to see them in my garden year after year.

I also bought some yellow daffodils in memory of Mom. Many years ago I bought Mom and Dad some yellow daffodil bulbs to mark their 35th anniversary. Year after year they bloomed in the front yard. When Dad moved, I really wanted to dig up those bulbs and take them with me. I resisted that temptation and left them there. I will probably continue to see them year after year as I walk by (don't forget, I moved into my old neighbourhood). The next best thing to taking them with me was to buy some new ones.
And the best thing was the name of the variety of daffodil: Dutch treat.

'Nuff said.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Happy Birthday,Tom!

Not only do we measure in applesauce, we measure in years, too. Tom's big day is today.

Happy birthday, Tom! We're so glad you're a part of our family. We're proud of all you've done for your family this year. We love you bunches!

Come on out and say happy birthday to Tom!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Another Year of Applesauce.

People measure their years. Most measure from January 1 to December 31. As a teacher, I also measure my years from September to August. Or in seasons. Dance season. Soccer season. This weekend, I measure it in applesauce.

Every fall, we make homemade applesauce. Mom has done it for as long as I can remember. When Dad got home from work, he would jump in and help. Then, for a few years, while we were young adults, the applesauce stopped because it was't eaten all that often. But it began again once we were married. I started helping Mom and Dad on a Saturday so we coud do it together. Then the kids came around and all the grandchildren LOVED homemade applesauce. Wouldn't eat anything else. So it became a tradition that every fall, Dad would get the apples, Mom, Dad and I would make the applesauce and we would enjoy it all year. Several years ago, Annette came down to help too, and took several containers home each time she visited.

Yesterday was applesauce day once again. Dad got the apples and we made buckets full of sauce. It is a great tradition. We drink coffee and cook apples, get take-out lunch and grind apples. Add the sugar and cinnamon and taste-test it. Try to find all the matching lids for the multitude of weird shaped containers. It's a fun and productive day.

As I rinsed the containers, I thought of all the years of applesauce those containers have seen. Mom probably cooked a wonderful meal and opened some of those containers herself. Annette helped fill some of those containers in years gone by. Those containers saw many holidays and special occasions over the years. We've opened a container each and every week over the last two years when we shared a meal with Dad. Those meals have comforted us in our two years of grief.

We are now in a new chapter of applesauce making, new houses, new faces to enjoy it with us. We are missing a part of the tradition. I felt some sadness while rinsing those containers. Missing the times of years gone by. Missing the company of Annette and Mom. But, we have also added new parts to our tradition. Sara helped wash apples. Menny ran for sugar and helped clean up and did the dreaded job of washing the floor after (thanks, Menny!) That is the great thing about traditions. They can change and blend, but they are still traditions.

I know that we will be blessed this year by our hard work yesterday. I know we will enjoy our applesauce in the company of family. It is good.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Leaping into the Present...

Yes, I have had dial up forever (9 years). Yes, I have been happy with it. Yes, I am one of the four people left on the face of this earth with dial up. Yes, I had been happy to only spend $10 per month on the internet. Yes, the whole world made fun of me. Yes, I was OK with that.

Then my internet provider (my previous employer) said they were no longer offerering dial-up (what??? why not???). I'd have to find a new provider, they said. Huh??

So here I am with high(er) speed internet from Sympatico. You can actually now call our house and not get a busy signal while we are on the computer. Our kids can now play webkinz at home.

OK, I'll admit that I had been thinking of getting high speed even before we moved. Breaking down and paying the higher fees. Secretly planning my switch. And I am loving my new wireless high(er) speed internet.

Yesterday morning I spent 45 minutes on Facebook. Time I should have spent unpacking those last boxes. Now tell me again what's so great about high speed? :)

PS: Now that I have high speed, I was all set to post some great pics. Guess what??? Now our digital camera is BROKEN. *sigh*

Saturday, September 13, 2008

September 13, 1997.

11 years ago today a very beautiful bride married a handsome groom on a gorgeous, warm, sunny day. They promised to love, honour and cherish, for richer and poorer, in sickness and in health.
We're glad God gave them 10 years and 2 children together. We wish it had been longer.

Remembering today...

Friday, September 05, 2008

What a whirlwind!!

Haven't had much time to blog lately as our lives have been a virtual whirlwind of activity. I can't believe what we packed into a few weeks (and a million boxes!)

The wedding went very well and Dad and Menny are very happy.

Dad and Menny both moved out successfully.

We managed to pack all of our stuff and move successfully. We even unpacked most of our stuff already.

I finished my first week of school.

Now hopefully we settle into routine. I am really looking forward to a boring, routine-filled fall and winter!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Words from the Heart

Advocating for people with intellectual disabilities was such a passion for Annette. It is also something Tom, I and so many others care passionately about. The following letter was written by an online friend of Annette's, Amy, mother of Emma. I have copied it here with her permission. I know Annette would have been appalled by this movie and would speak loud and clear about it. Thanks, Amy, for letting me use your voice here ~Lisa

Wednesday, August 13 is the release date of the movie “Tropic Thunder.” The film is expected to be a summer blockbuster, and features Ben Stiller, Robert Downey Jr., and Jack Black as self-absorbed actors filming a big budget war movie on location. Through a series of freak occurrences, they are forced to become the soldiers they are playing. Stiller’s character is a fading action star who failed in his bid for an Oscar as “Simple Jack,” a man with an intellectual disability. “Simple Jack” is featured as a film-within-a-film, with Stiller sporting a classic institutional bowl cut and bad teeth.

This film is meant to be a satire about actors and the entertainment industry, but the result is far more sobering. The damage the film will do to people with intellectual disabilities and their families is immeasurable. The word “retard,” considered hate speech by disability rights advocates, is used frequently in the film. “Simple Jack” is described as a “retard,” and until recent objections, marketing materials and a website featured the tagline, “Once upon a time…There was a retard.” Scenes include Robert Downey Jr.’s character advising Stiller’s character to “never go full retard.” This phrase is already available on a t-shirt on the Internet.

A coalition of advocacy organizations has met with DreamWorks and Paramount executives in an effort to educate them about how extremely offensive this word is. Although the companies removed offensive marketing materials, they fail to understand the impact of their decisions. Advocates have been told they are overreacting, that the intention is not to make fun of people with intellectual disabilities, that other groups are made fun of as well. As usual, they’ve been told that it’s just a word, and words have no power.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. The words we say define who we are, and define how others see us. Words that denigrate and dehumanize an entire segment of the population have far-reaching effects. People with intellectual disabilities are routinely targeted for ridicule, abuse and violence, all because of how a word defines them. What starts with hateful words ends with hateful violence, and that should not be accepted in our society.

Films like “Tropic Thunder” not only foster a negative stereotype, they tell young people that it’s okay to belittle others, especially those who can’t defend themselves. I have a child with an intellectual disability, and in a few weeks, I will be sending her back to school, along with millions of other parents of children with disabilities. The hallways have never been exactly welcoming of those with differences, and many of us are already cringing at the thought of our kids enduring “full retard” remarks.

I call on parents, schools and teachers to make sure this doesn’t happen. Avoid “Tropic Thunder”. Banish the word “retard” as hate speech in your homes and schools. Educate people about why this word is so offensive. Don’t allow my charming, funny, and yes – smart – child, and others like her, to be targeted.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

And We're Back...

We have returned from our two weeks at the cottage. Sun, sand, rain, friends. Good for the heart and soul.
The first week we spent with our friends. We had seven cottages filled with friends. The 17 kids had a great time together playing, boating, tubing, swimming and making s'mores.

The second week Tom and the boys, Dad and Menny and another couple that are longtime friends of theirs came up. Steve's parents also came for 3 days.
I have to admit I have been dreading this week since the registration form came in January. I would have liked to skip this week if I could. Last year was difficult as we adjusted to Mom not being there. This year, I knew it would be even more difficult to experience that again, plus the huge hole of Annette's absence. It was a week full of difficult moments of missing and remembering, thinking back on past years both wonderful (when the kids were younger and everyone was healthy) to harder summers (last year and the year before, when health issues were paramount for Mom and Annette). I think we all had our own moments this week.

BUT we move on. It is especially important for the kids I think, to have this very fun and special part of their childhood continue. Kurtis said at one point, "I just love, love, love the cottage!" And that made it all worth it.

We also had a lot of fun the second week, tubing, fishing, playing, building sandcastles, reading, eating s'mores. The kids learned the game of (Spongebob) Monopoly and became obsessed by it (the game lasted most of the week!) It was good to be together as a family and enjoy each other and God's wonderful creation!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Life in Boxes...

Someone tell me again why I thought moving would be a good idea? Moving the same week/day as Dad and Menny? Moving the same month as the wedding, 2 week vacation, beginning of school? Ah... the fleeting moments of stupidity...

We have been busy going to the bank, packing boxes, seeing lawyers, recycling a TON of unwanted stuff, trying to help Dad pack a little here and there, preparing for a vacation and wedding... I'm sure you're getting the picture. If my camera were working, I'd add a snappy little picture of our or Dad's boxes. It's a sight to see.

It's also a sigh to see. Change is good. Change is hard. I've been doing a lot of sighing lately. Sighing over the mountain of work that awaits us. Sighing over the work that awaits Dad and Menny separately and together. Sighing over the money it costs to move. Sighing that I have no patience or time for my kids right now. Sighing over where all this stuff came from!

But my biggest sighs come from being in Dad's house the last little while. This was the only house I lived in as a child. Dad and Mom had had it for 40ish years.I'll admit, it ain't been easy. Emptying my first little bedroom where my earliest memories are. This same room that Mom spent her last days in. Seeing the bathtub and recalling the picture of 5 year old Annette was holding 6 month old Lisa. Picturing the basement before renos where I learned to rollerskate, played hopscotch and school, made forts. Packing up the records that Annette and I sang and danced to. Every nook and cranny has memories, almost all happy ones.

I know I take the memories with me. They are in my heart and not in the house. But it is an emotional change. It is a good change, but still a difficult adjustment. I wonder how I will feel to see a new family in the house in two weeks. I hope they love it as much as we did. Don't worry, I think this is a great move for Dad and am very happy for him. I will be OK. I'm getting used to change (not really). But please excuse my sighs for now.

(And let's not talk about leaving our house for the last time yet...)

Friday, July 25, 2008

Could've, Would've, Should've Been's....

The premature departure of loved ones from this earth often leaves behind these phrases. It should be like this… it could have been like that… it would have been now... I, too, have had these thoughts: It should have been Annette and me taking the kids to Zooz the other day while the guys golfed. It would have been our eighth vacation together this summer. It could’ve been such happy times. Yes, I do occasionally go down that road… *sigh*

What about what should have beens? Should we have to mourn Mom and Annette in a 13 month period? Should we have to pack up all of Mom’s stuff and Annette’s stuff? Should half of Dad and my family be gone so (in our eyes) prematurely? Should we have to go on without them? Should we have to learn to live with this pain for the rest of our lives?

But, more often, I think of the other could’ve, would’ve, should’ves. Annette could’ve died 23 years ago from cancer (Hodgkin’s) if modern medicine hadn’t cured her! (People can be so negative about cancer treatments (which I totally understand) but Annette really was an example that treatment can work. She experienced 21 years of perfect health! I am thankful for the modern medicine we have, as "flawed" as it sometimes may seem) She would’ve never traveled, became a CA, met Tom or had 2 incredible kids. We would’ve missed out on all those years of much closer relationship and love. Of a growing family that we continue to enjoy today.

But here’s what really cuts me to the core. So many penultimate could’ve, should’ve, would’ves…: I could’ve been born a Jew in WWII. I might’ve been born a child during the crusade. I would’ve been left to die or sit in an orphanage had I been born as a female in many places in the world. I could live in Darfur or Bosnia. I could be watching my children die of AIDS or starvation in Africa. I could be born to a Buddhist family in a far away country. It could go on and on. But this is not my story. I am blessed. And grateful.

And here is the definitive should have: I should be responsible for my sin. I should suffer the consequences. I should be eternally rejected and alone. But I’m not. Amazing love.

When I play the could’ve, should’ve, would’ve game, I try to keep these things in mind.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Happy 9th Birthday, Sara!!

Sunday was Sara's birthday, and boy, did we celebrate!

She had a party at a play place on Friday with 8 of her friends. Saturday, we had Kurtis and Ryan over and went to Zooz, followed by a BBQ at our place. Sunday, her actual birthday, we had family over and opened yet another round of presents. Boy, is this girl spoiled!! Everything Hannah Montana has entered our house. Gone are the days of Barney and Sesame Street and into Hannah Montana and High School Musical. Can't say I miss the former much, though!!

I have already packed the digital camera attachments so I can't upload any pictures until the new house. So the best I could do was LAST year's birthday picture (she still looks the same, just change the 8 to a 9 LOL) and last year's recital picture. I also can't share some of the great pictures I took of the boys at Zooz on Saturday. Man...

It's hard to believe she is 9 already! Where does the time go?? Sara has a great sense of humour, loves to laugh and be silly and is such a blessing to our lives!

Happy birthday, girl!! We love you bunches!!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

SOLD!! Part Two...

Things are looking good for us, too! Today we accepted an offer on our house. It is conditional on inspection, financing and waiting for a certificate on their place, but they have already sold their place and get this: They requested the closing date that is the same day we get our new place!! How great is that? I asked if they knew that we needed to move then, and apparently, it is just a co-incedence (God's providence!). Fabulous! So hopefully, all things will go smoothly and we can relax for the rest of the summer (or maybe get to packing).

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Dad and Menny both have sold signs on their front lawns. Hooray! Now comes the *fun* part of packing in a hurry. Ughhh...
Dad's looking for a flat driveway to camp out in. Any takers....? :)

Friday, July 11, 2008

R and R

Where does the time go???

July has been a fabulous month of rest and relaxation and catch up. It has been a time for me to catch up on house responsibilities-fastracked because we had to put our house up for sale. What normally would take me 6 weeks, I accomplished in 2 due to the "For Sale" sign on the front lawn. Plus, our house is now in magazine style neatness. I think we should permanently have our house for sale if it means it will stay as neat and clean as it is now.

We have done a ton of decluttering. Let me tell you, this is good for the body and soul! Getting rid of and releasing all that "stuff" that literally weighs you down is so liberating! You know, the jolly jumper, baby toys, old bikes, (the kids are now 6 and 9), textbooks and on and on, all that stuff that really makes you feel some stress. It is so great to have empty shelves, an empty basement, empty closets (OK so Steve's sister's basement is half full of our boxes, but still!) I really hope to keep our clutter in check in our new house. (Somehow it just regenerates itself though.... how does that happen??) (Right...kids...)

Dad and Menny have both tentatively sold their houses, but will each need to be out in a few weeks. Good thing they have a motorhome for one of them and relatives who like them!! Hopefully it won't be too crazy! We have had some showings but no bites yet.

Kurtis is away at camp for 10 days. I worry about him being away from home, but Tom says he was fine when he left, he has some buddies he knows and thinks he'll be OK. Say a prayer for him that he's enjoying himself. The nanny hasn't arrived yet, but Tom has been able to patch some help together. Ryan is going to camp this week (horseback riding?) and hopefully is enjoying it too. There's not much that kid doesn't enjoy! I'm looking forward to having the boys down next weekend while the guys go golfing. It will be great to see them again since it's been several weeks.
Thanks for checking on us!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

An Article from Jan...

Annette made many wonderful friends through the internet community. I have posted in the past about many of the special things they have done together and also in her memory. Jan wrote an article for her local Down Syndrone society. She has kindly allowed me to share her thoughts here. Thank you, Jan, for your beautiful thoughts and reflections. Thank you also for sharing the beautiful picture of Annette. She loved you all so dearly.

Our family consists of three, plus a few hundred or so, since the birth of our son Nash in February 2001 thanks to the members of the IDSF, now DSI family, and those we have met via internet support boards.When Nash was born, and his diagnosis of Trisomy 21 official, we bought books, cried a bunch, loved on our son, and went on-line. My support was my loving husband Jeff, our families, a box of tissues and a group of gals originally on a parentsplace.com Down syndrome board, which later evolved into the tri21online.com discussion group. On this board, I was able to somewhat covertly discuss my fears, dreams and issue-of-the-day, share my love of internet research and my findings to all those that will listen, make some friendships that still, to this day, feel stronger than genetic family ties. The strength of the bond among those of us with children with Down syndrome is inexplicable to those not officially members of our exclusive club; those with a family member with Down syndrome. The strength of this bond was evident at the 2007 Buddy Walk.

Annette and her husband Tom became friends with Jeff and me via the internet in early 2001 when Annette and I met on-line. Their son Ryan also has Down syndrome and is Nash’s age, born within a week of each other. Our friendship grew as we shared triumphs and disappointments, and finally met each other in person. These meetings are known as “IRL’s” in the online communities, or “In Real Life” meetings. The IRL’s were held in various locals, and the last one with Annette was at our home in Indiana for the 2007 Buddy Walk. We had over 80 people attend the IRL at our house in Noblesville after the Buddy Walk from all over the country, including Annette and family from Canada. But I knew this was much more than an IRL. It was a gathering of friends for Annette who all share that special bond of having a child with Down syndrome, as we didn’t know how long we would be blessed with her friendship and presence here on earth.Annette was diagnosed with synovial sarcoma in February 2006, five years from when her son Ryan was born. She passed away on December 16, 2007, just two months after that wonderful gathering at the Buddy Walk.So you see, the Buddy Walk is a special event for many of us; a place to gather family, friends and those special in our lives. It’s for educators, therapists, friends and family to show their support for Down syndrome Awareness. It’s an event to celebrate, and for us that knew Annette, to remember. And we will be doing just that for the 2008 Buddy Walk Indianapolis. Celebrating and remembering. We hope you all join us!
Annette at the 2007 Buddy Walk- God Speed Annette, we miss you.
Annette and family on the far right, with the rest of the internet group.

Monday, June 16, 2008

6 Months...

Six months has gone by today.

It some ways it seems so fast, and in some ways it seems like so long ago that we got to talk and be with Annette. We all miss her indescribably.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day

We have been blessed with three of the greatest men and fathers in our lives. Dad has been a loving, solid role model who would do absolutely anything humanly possible for his girls. Perhaps he even spoiled us some over the years. (Did I say that?) We love and appreciate you greatly, Dad. Plus he's been a fabulous babysitter, every day, for the past 8 years. And he doesn't charge.

Steve is an awesome dad who loves to spend time with his kids. All of us are appreciative of all the things you do for us and we love you immensely!

Tom is the super dad of the year. He has really had to step up and take on so many roles this year, and he has done it gracefully and without complaint. He has shown strength and humility, love and compassion and strength beyond measure. We love you Tom, and know your boys do too! Annette would be so very proud of the job you are doing.

Love, Lisa, Kurtis, Sara, Ryan and Connor.

Here are my outdated pictures again. We love our dads!!

Really, Tom did have fun on the car ride!

Happy Birthday Connor!

Our big boy is 6 today! Hard to believe that six years has gone by. The time sure does fly. I was looking through some pictures, and boy, is that fun and tear jerking. I love my babies so much. They don't look like this anymore, but I love these pictures: (Sara is around 5 and Connor is 2, about 4 years ago)
Connor, we love your kind and gentle spirit. We love your sense of humour! You make us laugh each and every day. You have been blessed by God and in turn are a blessing to us. Love you to the moon and back and moon and back!!

Love Mommy, Daddy and Sara

OK, here are some more current pictures. I know, if Iwere a real good momma, I'd have pictures from today. This is the best I can do during report card and getting house ready to sell week.

These are from last fall, Halloween, and when his first tooth fell out (great for drinking out of a straw you know...)

Monday, June 09, 2008

News Bits

Here's what's going on in our lives...
  1. Tom continues the juggling act of life without nanny. He certainly is a man on the run. But he seems to be keeping all those balls in the air, so that's good. There is a new nanny arriving from Hong Kong in about 5 weeks. In the meantime, he has been managing alright, so he tells me. The boys are doing well, probably eager for summer to begin. Tom tells me he might have found "THE" house plans. Annette and Tom have always wanted to build on the current lot they now live on, and Tom continues to keep that dream going for both of them. That would be exciting for him and the boys and keep Tom extra busy! WE'll see!
  2. Dad is getting married! He and his fiancee, Menny, are planning to get married on Aug. 22. Menny is actually Steve's aunt (his mom's sister) so we already knew and loved her and her children. We are very happy for Dad and Menny. They have been busy buying a house, trying to sell 2, buying a motorhome and so on and so on. They just don't stop!!
  3. We made a 5 day trip to BC to visit Steve's brother, sister-in-law and children. Jeff works on an island called "Keat's" directing a Christian kids' camp. His parents celebrated their 40th anniversary and flew us all out there to celebrate!! It was a wonderful time of family fellowship, hiking, reading and loving nature and each other. Thanks, Mom and Dad, and Happy Anniversary!


  1. We are moving too! Spur of the moment, we decided to buy a house! We have always wanted to buy a bungalow on a specific street in our city. It is one street over from where I grew up. So when I saw a "For Sale" sign last Wed. I had to inquire. We went through it, loved it and put in an offer. There was already an offer accepted, so we had to put ours in with no condition, and we got it!! It was very sudden and unplanned (we were NOT looking to move! We love our current house) but it is our dream home so we went for it! So now we have to sell our house by the end of August! Wish us luck!

If I had high speed, I'd show you pictures of all these things. Maybe in the new house!

Thanks for caring and reading about us. We are doing well.

PS: I didn't break anything playing soccer and even scored the opening goal of the season. Happy to still have all my parts intact! Although I was rather sore last weekend!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Time for the Question....

Why am I doing this to myself???

Every spring I ask myself this question on the same evening of the year. Tonight is the night.

Tonight is my first soccer game of the season. Yes, I am old. I play in the "senior ladies" division. Nice title. That includes everyone 18 and up (yes, that is half my age!). I am older than 18 and out of shape. But I love it. Of all the sports I've played over the years, soccer was my definite, all time favourite. Still is. I love the mental part of it, even if the body doesn't co-operate all the time. So I play. Again. I hope I don't break anything valuable. Hoping I won't be too stiff and sore to get out of bed tomorrow. Wish me luck!

Sometime soon I hope to share about our wonderful long weekend to B.C. But for now, I'm off and running...

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Okay, I'll bite...

I've been tagged. In the blogger world, this means that someone has "tagged" you and would like you to anwer some questions or share some information.
This game of tag requires me to share 6 random tidbits of information about myself.

1. I am a night owl. I love to stay up late. Right now, it is 12:20 and I am watching a movie all by myself. Quiet. Peaceful. I'll have to force myself to go to bed at 1:00.

2. Steve and I love 80's music. Our collection of CD's has many "best of" albums: Pat Benetar, Platinum Blonde, Eagles etc. We are modernizing a bit and have turned kinda country! Whoda thunk??

3. I still love to play soccer in the summer. The body is much older, slower and out of shape, but I still love the mental and physical challenge involved in the game. Soccer has always been my number one favourite sport.

4. Steve will tell you I am a reality TV addict. Love Survivor, What Not to Wear, Trading Places, and, yes, even Big Brother at times.

5. We listen to music a lot in our house or while we are driving. Our kids now say to us in the car, "Can you turn it up louder please... and put it on number 3?" I play music in my classroom when I can, classical, praise and worship or those nature sounds. Love music.

6. As much as I love music, I'm not musically inclined. Played the piano for a year or two as a kids, plus the clarinet for 2 years. I like to sing, but other than that, can't do much! Wish I had kept up those piano lessons!

I'd love to hear your top six tidbits!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all of you moms! I hope you had a wonderful day.

I had a great day, beginning with breakfast and tea in bed, great homemade gifts from my fabulous kids and wonderful patio martini glasses and shakers and 2 pots for plants from my super husband and kids. We then had a great BBQ lunch after church at Steve's parents, followed by a trip to the cemetary and a long nap with Sara (so we can stay up late for Survivor!) So many blessings for which I am grateful!

Last June- Connor's birthday

And of course I couldn't help but think of two of the greatest moms I know and love dearly. I miss them both immensely.
Annette - August,2007 at the cottage

Mom with the grandkids- Jan. 2006
(unfortunately, I don't have a lot of pictures of Mom alone or with the kids on my disc. I have some earlier shots, but they are printed on hard copies- you remember, the old fashioned way...)
I am who I am today because of them both! I'm sure they are together right now, maybe even sipping some wine like we loved to do each mother's day.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

I Love Surprises...

I received this card in the mail today:
Dear Aunt Lisa,
Thanks for all your motherly help and advice this past year. Know that you are loved and appreciated by us all. Happy Mother's Day.
Tom, Kurtis and Ryan

How wonderful to find that surprise in my mailbox today! Thanks, guys.
You are in my top six favourite guys of all time.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Scarf

It was time to get rid of Annette’s clothes. Tom asked if I wanted anything before he got rid of the clothes, so I went through her closet. I often drop in and visit the closet when we go to Tom’s house. I like to look at and touch her clothes and remember. So, I was going through the clothes, taking some things for me to wear, taking some other things as mementos, and feeling OK about things. Some melancholy, (the maid-of-honour dress from my wedding). Some sweet memories, (the Mickey Mouse sweatshirt from our fabulous trip to Disneyworld).

Then I came upon the drawer. The second drawer from the top. Inside that drawer were all the head scarves that Annette wore. They stopped me in mid motion, hand left hanging in mid-air. I cursed each and every one as I moved them aside, one by one. I even said, “I hate you.” Like it was the scarves’ fault. Isn’t that a sight? A grown woman telling head scarves, “I hate you.” To me, at that moment, they symbolized her cancer. I felt pure hatred for the scarves.

But later that evening, I got to thinking about the scarves. About their purpose. About what they gave to Annette. About how the soft fabric protected her sweet head from getting cold. About how they provided her with some modesty and comfort in her home. About how she began to feel comfortable enough that she would sometimes wear them in public. The scarves actually provided comfort and security. They served their purpose well. So, in a way, I am grateful for the scarves.

Then I thought more of some “ugly” props in life. Walkers. Canes. Wheelchairs. Hospital beds. Yet they all have their place. Then the ugliest prop of all came to mind.

The cross. Roughly hewn. Crudely nailed or tied together. Shoved into the ground without a foundation, I’m sure. Ugly, like the head scarf. And yet, it has its purpose. A beautiful and grand purpose. The ugly prop, which never was beautiful, also served its purpose. And for that reason I need not hate the head scarf. Or the hospital bed. The walker or cane. Because the ugliest prop of all made all these other things not all that important. The cross made them just that… props.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Happy Birthday Kurtis!!

Kurtis is NINE today!!

Your mom and I really enjoyed being pregnant together and having our first babies 3 months apart. We loved to talk and share and compare notes about everything. We shopped and planned and compared names. I remember the day your mom and dad were blessed by your birth. Your mom was sent to the hospital because the doctors thought it was high time you arrived. (I'm not sure how many days "overdue" you were, you'll have to ask your dad). Your mom went into the hospital on the evening of the 17th. Opa, Oma and I were at your mom and dad's house eagerly waiting. I dozed all night long thinking of your mom and dad. We were all very excited to finally meet you after so many months of waiting. The first grandchild!! And you were so handsome (still are!) Your mom was worried about the scratch you received on your cheek from some of the instruments used. But after a short while, she knew that you were fine and that it even made your handsome face even more so!

We are all blessed to have you in our family and in our lives. You are loved very much by us all.
We hope you have a wonderful day celebrating your big day!!

With lots of love,
Aunt Lisa, Uncle Steve, Sara and Connor

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Mike's Miracles

Cancer has long reaching, ugly tentacles. No one is spared it touching a life close to them, at some point, at some time.

God has longer reaching, beautiful arms. He wraps us in arms and brings good things from the bad.

I'd like you to meet a very special guy named Mike. Many of you are familiar with his story already. Mike is a 12 year old boy who attends our church and is a student at the school I teach at. He unfortunately has a very rare, aggressive sarcoma (Annette also had sarcoma) and right now is discontinuing treatment. Yet in his most difficult times, he has the foresight to think of others. Future patients who might be in his shoes some day. He has displayed the greatest grace in taking this ugly tentacle and turning it into something for God's glory. I know Annette was often encouraged in her own journey by hearing about Mike's tenacity. Read more about his legacy here and see a video clip of Mike on the local news here.

Mike, you are an example for us all. We are encouraged and inspired by your story.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

I'm Learning...

I'm learning a great deal on my journey, and then again, sometimes I need to be reminded over and over and over again.

I've already learned but keep forgetting that while one moment is very difficult and heavy it doesn't mean I'll feel that way in an hour or tomorrow. I knew that but keep forgetting. Sometime soon, I'll master that one.

I've learned that public mourning is something that has fallen by the wayside in our society and that is not a good thing. We no longer wear black, take time off of our regular tasks/jobs, let the world know we mourn and are in pain. I wonder how I'd look in sackcloth and ashes?? I have learned why public mourning is important. When you share your hurt and pain, people respond with prayer, gestures, hugs, kind words or posts. When people respond, you feel better, you feel loved and cared for and it makes the cloak lighter to bear. It's a neat little chain reaction. Had I not shared my pain on Sunday, I would have missed out on some special moments this week. I feel loved and am loved.

I have learned and felt the power of prayer. I know many people have held me up in prayer this week. You have prayed for my comfort and peace. I know that. I can feel that.

I am learning and I have learned.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Any New Posts?

I have been a blog and internet board follower for many, many years. It's funny how through one blog, you get connected to another blog and soon you are following many lives through the internet world. I also know that when I visit a blog, I hope to see a new post. Many times I click on "Bump on the Road" and absent-mindedly hope to see a new post. But then I think, just who would post that? That'd be me. And I have a touch of melancholy. I miss the surprise of seeing a new post on "Bump on the Road". The things I have discovered that bring a flash of sadness....

Many of you tell me that you still visit the site and I am glad that you care for us and our grief. Quite honestly, I personally have been feeling very low lately. Things are settling, change is occuring, sorrow grows and grief is heavy. Sometimes it feels like I'll never see the light of day again. Another holiday has come and gone and I can't help but reflect on the carefree days of 5 years ago, or 3 years ago even. I grieve. We grieve.

I have been reading through many of Annette's files this past while. I feel close to her when I read them, like we're having a conversation. I can hear her voice like she is beside me. I also feel much sorrow when I read them. I think I will leave the files for the time-being.

She had written her own obituary. We hadn't found it before (it was on her laptop and not on the home computer). I think we did it justice, but there were a few lines that she had written herself that we hadn't included:

"Annette was a chartered accountant but had spent the past 3 ½ years at home taking care of her beloved children. She enjoyed spending time with her family and before her illness, volunteering with the Down syndrome community.

Please come rejoice with us as we celebrate Annette’s triumphant return to the Lord. Her faith was a source of great comfort to her and she received great strength by knowing that her God carried her in his hands throughout her illness."

Triumphant. What a great word! And I'm sure it was... triumphant.

Amen, Annette. I will carry those last 2 senteces with me throughout this week.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Today is another milestone in our family.
Dad is turning 70 today and we are very excited to celebrate this day with him! But it is more than a day, really. It is a landmark to a legacy. Dad, as many other people by the age of 70, has led a well-traveled life of joy and grief, good times and bad. The last 2 years, of course, have been very difficult. However, Dad has always been our rock in the midst of the storm. He has weathered much because of his faith in God. He has shared and passed on his faith and love, and we are grateful for the gift he is to us all. Some of Annette’s last words on her final day here were, “You are the best dad ever!” And I certainly share those words whole-heartedly. Thank you, Dad, for your never-ending love and generosity, your kindness and caring, your endless free babysitting and the joy you have for your grandchildren. We pray that today you will feel blessed by a lifetime of love, and that this year will bring you much happiness and excitement, come what may. We love you!
So, even if you’ve never had the pleasure of meeting Dad, come on out of lurk-dom to wish him a wonderful birthday!

Lisa, Steve, Sara and Connor
Tom, Kurtis and Ryan

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Life Goes On...

Life goes on and in so many ways it is a blessing.

Life goes on and in some ways it is really crappy.

Joy and sadness walk hand in hand.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Happy Birthday Superman!

Ryan is 7 today. Can you believe it? I can't. Seven years he has graced our lives with his laughter and love. Do you remember the pictures Annette posted last September of him in his Superman costume? He is larger than life! (Does that phrase even make sense? But I still like the sound of it and even if the phrase doesn't make sense, I still think it applies to Ryan!) Ryan, you are loved by all of your family, always have been and always will be, now and forever. Have a wonderful day!

Ryan had a Pirate Party last Saturday with 25 of his closest pals! The kids wore costumes and ran around like pirates after too much rum! Ryan looked so cute in his swash-buckling pirate costume. The black around his eyes is make-up. He also had a great pirate ship cake. What a fun day the kids had! There was also a magician who kept the kids entertained for over an hour (as all the adults breathe a sigh of relief!)

Oh, and it only took me 3 hours to upload the pictures on my dial-up! (Kidding, but close!)

Here We Are

We are here. We are quiet. Quiet and contemplative, I think. Reality is setting in. The road into the valley narrows and deepens, at least for me. Two months. It seems like it has been so long since I've talked to Annette, and yet it seems so fast. Two months can seems like such polar opposites; so fast and yet a lifetime ago. The same can be said for Grief. Some days (some moments...), it is managable and the large picture is so evident. Other moments, it is heavy and never ending. The light at the end of the tunnel seems like a pin-point at best. I am learning to ride the waves and experience each emotion as it comes. Because I feel good today, does not ensure I'll feel that way tomorrow. Because I feel so down today, does not mean I'll feel that way tomorrow. Such is the journey we travel.

I am an avid reader and have read several books on grief. It is good that someone has charted this journey for me and told me which landmarks to look for. I find that immensely helpful. I like knowing what to expect, although I know everyone grieves differently. I take hope and comfort in knowing I am not the first to travel the road.

Someone close to me shared an analogy of her grief. To her, grief is like a cloak. Some days it is a heavy cloak to bear, ever present and cumbersome. Other days, it is like a light spring cloak, still there, but easy to carry. I long for the days when the spring cloak will be on my back on the majority of my days.

We continue to covet your prayers more than ever as the journey becomes more difficult. Your friendship and love help carry us through and help to lighten our cloaks.

Monday, February 11, 2008

In Memory of Meta

At some point during her treatment, Annette sat in the cancer clinic waiting room. Another patient and she began small talk. It turned out that this co-patient belonged to the same denominational church as Annette in another city. Annette felt compelled to share that Ryan had Down Syndrome, which she normally did not share in the course of small talk conversation. It turned out that Meta had a foster sibling with Down Syndrome. The two felt a strong connection after finding so many similarities about their lives and developed an immediate and strong bond. At the prayer service last fall, Annette was very committed in her desire to also pray for Meta and Marisa. Meta was able to attend the service and it was moving to see the two women in such similar circumstances embrace each other in tears and love.

Meta made the trip to the visitation after Annette died. I know it was an effort filled trip. I told Meta how much her friendship meant to Annette and she also proclaimed the same. She then told me that she was even a little jealous of Annette that now her pain was over and she was in heaven.

Meta finished her fight and now is pain free in heaven. I'm sure they had a wonderful reunion together. Tom was able to visit with Meta one last time the week before she died.

We think of her husband and children as they journey the valley of grief and pray for their peace. Meta was 53.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

The Horizon

I am standing upon the seashore.
A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean.
She is an object of beauty and strength.
I stand and watch her until at length she hangs like a speck of white cloud on the horizon.
Just where the sea and the sky come to mingle with one another.
Then someone at my side says, "There, she is gone."
"Gone where?"
Gone from my sight. That is all.
She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side,
And she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.
Her diminished size is in me, not in her.
And just at the moment when someone at my side says.
"There, she is gone," there are other eyes watching her coming,
And other voices ready to take up the glad shout:
"Here she comes!"
And that is dying.

Henry Scott Holland

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Gifts Left Behind

Annette left many files on her computer for us to go through after she died. She named the file Documents If I Die. Always practical, she left intructions for the funeral and some other housekeeping things. She also left many of her thoughts behind for us to share. Annette also made a video last May and July for us. It truly is such a gift to have these words from her. I would like to share some of these thoughts.

Annette did not want anyone, especially her boys, to blame God for her death. She wanted no one to ask, "What kind of God would take away a 41 year old wife, mother, daughter and sister?" She continues..."I hope that, even through this, we can praise God for his unfailing love and faithfulness. I do not believe that God sent this cancer to me. Disease, illness, and death are a consequence of the fall...it is because we are not in perfect harmony anymore with God. Some people ask, "Why did God allow this (to happen) to me?" I find that a very selfish question. There are so many things that are tough in the world... genocide, the Holocaust, poverty in the 3rd world.... I do believe God CAN take away the bad things, but to do so would be the end of the world. He put the laws of nature in place and put us, human beings, in charge of the world. It's up to us to take care of it. "

"God is a God of LOVE. Pure love. What He wants more than anything is to be in true commune with us. But because of our break with Him, we are unable to be totally in community with Him at this time. But we can try. Meditation, praying, reading the Bible and getting to know the God of love are all ways."

"I look forward to being with God when I die. I'm just incredibly sad that I have to leave this world and my loved ones".

Annette never blamed God and didn't think she was "given" cancer. Her greatest desire was that, "even through this, we can praise God for his unfailing love and faithfulness".

Friday, January 11, 2008

No More Lamps Needed

Just after Annette died, my daughter Sara (8) and I were reading a children's book that dealt with death and heaven. One page was talking about heaven and all the things that would be there:

And all the things that wouldn't.
No more pain.
No more sickness.
No more cancer .
No more sadness.
No more darkness or night. Huh? Sara said' "Mommy, it says there won't be darkness and night in heaven. Is that right?" I had never heard that before! I told her I wasn't sure, but that we'd check that out soon. The following Sunday, in church, I was looking for some inspiration from Revelations. Lo and behold I came across Rev. 22:5 "There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever".
No more night! No more darkness! (Will we still sleep? Because I love my bed and a good night sleep!) Not needing a lamp because we will see by the light of God! How cool is that?
Take comfort that we will no longer have long, dark nights filled with pain and grief. No more shadows of longing for things we wished had been. Only God's bright joy to guide our every minute!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

In Christ Alone

Annette chose several of her favourite songs to sing at her funeral. However, she didn't want anyone singing them "wimpy". So we did our best. I thought it was beautiful. One of them was "In Christ Alone". The words have so much meaning and hope for all of us. I have uploaded the song here for you to listen, to remember if you were able to join us at the service, to share now if you were able to join us only in thought and prayers and for all of us to enjoy and reflect.

Peace and Hope,

In Christ Alone Worship Video with Lyrics

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

The Power of Hope

My friend lent me a book to read entitled When I Lay My Isaac Down by Carol Kent. Much in this book has spoken to me while I read it. One of my favourite parts I want to share with you. It begins with the words "The Power of Hope"

"Hope becomes unsinkable when we realize our hope is not in having spouses or friends who will never disappoint us, or in enjoying financial security or in having perfect health or in having children turn out exactly as anticipated. Hope remains constant when we get to know the Source of all hope.

"Perhaps the psalmist said it best: I wait quietly before God, for my hope is in Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honour come from God alone. He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me (Psalm 62:5-7).

"Hope's power is that we have the energy and desire to gon on living because we believe something better is coming. That's the bottom line for Christians: something better is coming. There is more to this world than meets the eye. No matter what happens to you or your familiy, no matter what disappointments you encounter, no matter what diagnosis the doctor gives you, even if the end result is physical death, there is still something more.

"But we're not home yet, So my encouragement for today is that if I put my hope in the Lord, there are great benefits. Isaiah once said, "But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." (Isaiah 40:31)" (p. 108, Carol Kent)

What a wonderful comfort! I know Annette had this comfort too, which is such a comfort to us. We know the end of the story! I pray that you will also experience this hope in 2008.

Peace and Hope,