Archive for Apr 2011

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April 29, 2011 A New Generation…

I remember as a 5year old, getting up with my big sister and mom to watch Charles and Diana. I don’t remember all the details of the wedding – but I remember that sense of something BIG happening. I can remember that loooooong train though and the big, puffy princess wedding dress.

So – when it came time for the next generation’s Royal Wedding… I knew my girls had to watch! I asked them if they would be interested – and they both jumped at the chance! So at 5am, I woke up my 6 and 8 year old girls… and we cuddled up on the couch, donned our big hat, fascinators and pearls and watched history unfold. Mark came in when he was leaving for work, completely confused at the big deal and why I was hushing him just because the Queen was driving in a car.

I wasn’t sure how the girls would react as they don’t really know anything about the Royal Family. They didn’t disappoint though as they asked questions and gave a running commentary.

From 5am until the big reveal, Madi kept saying “I can’t wait to see her dress!” And when Kate got in the car, Madi covered her eyes and refused to look… she didn’t want a sneak peek until she got out of the car and she could see the whole dress.

Eden giggled every time anyone said “Prince Harry”…. I had to explain it was “Harry” and not “hairy”. She still thinks it’s hilarious. I also told her my Grandpa’s name was Harry… and he was bald. I don’t think she believed me.

Both girls felt Pippa and Harry should marry also.

Eden asked if Kate will be on our quarters now instead of the Queen. Madi piped up with “Yeah! FInally someone without puffy hair!”

When I pointed out the Queen and “Prince Philip”  the girls asked why he’s not a King. I tried to explain with the little knowledge I have, and said that there isn’t a King right now and that it’s the Queen who is ruling. Both the girls looked at each other, smiled and nodded, and sat up a bit taller. They might as well have hollered “Girl Power!” because that is what was going through their little heads.

Eden said she wants Madi to be the one to hold her train for her one day and that she wants all her friends and cousins with her. She said she’d have mom and dad walk her down the aisle. Madi said she wants to walk down the aisle by herself.

Madi kept saying “I can’t believe we are watching this exactly as it happens!”

As the commentator pointed out Big Ben, Eden asked if there was a Medium and Small Ben also.

When Mark came in, Beatrice and Eugenie were just entering the church. I told him Fergie wasn’t invited and I told the girls those were Fergie’s daughter and ex-husband. They look confused. “You mean the girl who sings ‘Tonight’s going to be a good, good night”? No. Not Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas.

Madi, my shy daughter, was horrified that they had to kiss in front of all those people… while Eden joined in the chants for a kiss. Madi commented that it wasn’t really like a wedding, but more like a show. So true.

The girls were disappointed the flower girls didn’t get to “do” anything. Not sure what that would include. When my girls were flower girls it involved them lying down and falling asleep during the ceremony, picking their nose, jumping off the stage, lifting their skirts up, etc. So probably a good thing the flowergirls didn’t “do” anything after all.

We all agreed Kate looked absolutely gorgeous. I loved her classic, timeless dress. The lace was just lovely and she looked gorgeous! The whispers and glances between Will and Kate – made my heart skip a beat.

And of course, what is a British wedding without fantastic hats and fascinators! My girls asked if they glued them to their heads. Eden tried to get her hat to stay on just one side of her head like some of the guest’s hats but to no avail.

I have to say, I have been more and more impressed with Will & Kate the more I read about them. How they don’t have hired house staff – and do their own cooking and shopping. And I loved how Kate stood her ground on some aspects of the wedding that she wanted. Her choice to drive with her dad in a car rather than a traditional carriage. Will having only one Best Man rather than the tradition of having a few. And their surprise farewell exit in the convertible driven by Will…. perfect! I love when couples put their own touches on their day!

So – no post is complete without a photo… here are some great hats from a British wedding I photographed last summer. Enjoy!

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As was said in the ceremony…

“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” (Said by St. Catherine of Siena whose festival day today is.)

Celebrating life and love,


April 28, 2011 What a Difference…

Last night the girls and I enjoyed some time out in the yard while Mark was at a meeting. I grabbed my camera on the way out the door and I’m so glad as I did… who knew it would be the last time our yard would look like that! This morning I put the girls on the schoolbus and it was crazy windy… branches everywhere. I got showered and dressed, came downstairs and looked out the window and was shocked at the change!

Last night….

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And a few hours later… this morning…

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(this tree fell behind the shed so it’s hard to see – but you can tell by the roots it’s huge!)
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Half of my lilac bush is gone….

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Branches fell all around my car… amazing not on my car!

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I am so thankful that we are safe and no one was hurt! A good reminder of what is important in life…. although the loss of these trees is like mourning the death of a friend. They were loved and will be missed!

Celebrating life and love and safety!


April 27, 2011 Finally….

Finally… the days are long enough that we can still enjoy a bit of sunshine before bedtime.

Finally… the flowers are starting to break through.

Finally… the birds are singing, frogs are caroling, squirrels are playing, and nature is rejoicing at Spring.

Finally… I took time to enjoy a rare break of sunshine in this dreary month!

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Celebrating life and love,


April 23, 2011 Happy Easter

It’s been a long winter. Even as late as last weekend it was snowing! This winter felt a bit like the movie Groundhog Day… never-ending. Another day of shoveling, snowblowing, throwing wood in the furnace, bundling up…. and repeat. And repeat again. I was starting to get a bad attitude and grumpy.

Then this weekend it cleared up long enough to do some yard work. And as I cleared away the dead leftovers from last year’s garden I was shocked to find LIFE!

And it seemed like such a fitting discovery on this Easter weekend to find the surprise of LIFE hidden beneath all that was brown, dried up and miserable.

This Easter I’m celebrating the surprising discovery of LIFE two thousand years ago… and thankful for the daily reminders of this Gift! Happy Easter!

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Celebrating LIFE and love,


April 23, 2011 Haiti: Susie

While in Haiti we met so many amazing people – wish I could blog every person! On the weekend, I photographed Susie and Jodi photographed her good friend and co-worker Emelyne. Part of Susie’s job is to take photos for the orphanage of the kids to keep the adoptive parents up-to-date, so it was fun to also include a bit of a photo lesson for her while there. What a treat it must be to receive these photos as the families wait for their new members to join them!

I am so thankful for people like Susie who give to these children on a daily basis in Haiti – it was an absolute honour to photograph her!

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And one of the two friends together – love these gals!

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Celebrating life and love,


One of the amazing parts of our trip to Haiti was the people we met who had left their lives of luxury (comparatively at least) for a life of sacrifice for the sake of these children at the orphanage. Amazing, amazing people. On the weekend, we had the chance to give back a small, small gift to some of the people who give so much. Jodi and I each did a couple photo shoots for some of the staff.

Meet Patrick and Holli. Patrick’s parents are the founders of GLA and Patrick and Holli just moved back to Haiti this past summer with their family. Their little daughter, LIly, has the most amazing red hair… so to say she stands out in Haiti is an understatement! Was so sweet to have her come up and hang out with us and the kids at the orphanage. Love how colour blind kids are!

Here’s a few of my favourite images….

Sometimes you think siblings with a big age difference won’t be close. This brother-sister pair were ridiculously cute together! Again proof that age is just a number.

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And I love seeing couples who have been married for a number of years, still smitten.

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We shot all of the images at the new orphanage building site where the family is now living. It is such a huge part of their lives, it was fun to incorporate it into the photos!

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Celebrating life and love,


Preparing to write this blog post about the orphanage I volunteered at and the kids there has proven to be emotional. Each website has different figures as to the amount of orphans in Haiti – 380,000 or 500,000 or one even estimated 1million. Any way you look at it these are numbers I can not comprehend when talking about children in need. This is the equivalent of an entire city – a large city! – but please, not orphaned children.

We were volunteering at “God’s Littlest Angels” (GLA) orphanage in Haiti. To clarify… GLA has some children who are there for medical needs and then the parents will need to decide if they are taking the children home, or will be putting the children up for adoption. Some children are “true” orphans and some children’s parents have realized they are not able to properly care for their children and have given the children up for adoption. GLA does offer international adoption – and to read a powerful article on this topic read Dixie’s blog post from last Feb. 12 (link).

Now, when we got to GLA… we weren’t entirely sure what we would be doing but were willing and ready to do whatever was needed for the next week of our life. Each of the four of us (my sister, Marcie, my friend Jodi, and her mom Wanda) were assigned three children. Over the next week we would spend 8am-5pm daily giving each of them some one-on-one time. I loved that GLA put value on the need for one-on-one care rather than just giving us “tasks” to do. So many studies have shown the value of care, love and attention in these early formative years.

When we walked into the nursery, we saw cribs upon cribs. There are Haitian nannies in the nurseries who give them their daily care, and on-site doctors and nurses. But even with the staff and the wonderful organization of GLA… it’s heartbreaking to walk in and see this…..

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When we walked in there was kids milling around with the nannies, and some in the cribs. One cutie bum-scooted over to me and as I reached down to pick him up I fell in love for the first (of many) times while in Haiti.

Let me introduce you to the first of my three kids. Mr. C. In June he will be two years old… he arrived at GLA on Valentine’s day severely malnourished. His little legs look as if there’s no muscle to them. My goal was to work on his legs trying to get him on his feet and to shower him with love.

Day one with Mr. C he was pretty mellow, calm and low energy and emotion. (It was nice to have Jodi along as now I actually have some photos of me on this trip!)

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We took the kids upstairs to this big balcony with toys, books, and lots of fun things every day for their special one-on-one time!

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By the end of the week not only had Mr. C managed to steal my heart… he also had made some significant improvements!

Although he still liked to do the bum scoot to get around….

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….he also pulled himself to standing using the mirror and with someone’s hands. He’s get tired quick, but little by little he’ll get there!

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Mr. C managed to climb into the car all by himself – and would climb in and out and in and out….

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We did lots of leg exercises!

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And by week’s end the sad little boy I met looked more like this…

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Well… until I took him to the nursery the last time. He bum scooted to follow me and cling to my ankles the whole way out. He finally had to go to one of the nannies to get him off of me so I could leave. Once I closed the door – I think I cried more than he did!

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Next up I had sweet, darling petite Miss F. She will be two in July but is so tiny! She also is not yet walking and was an area to work on. She had arrived at GLA only in late February. Some of my first impressions of this doll…

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What I soon discovered was a quiet little, gentle girl who smiles easily and enjoys a good cuddle!

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On the last day I was so thrilled to turn around and see that Miss F had pulled herself to standing when I wasn’t looking! It still gets to me to think that volunteers and staff are witnessing these “firsts” – standing, walking, teeth – and not a loving parent. But at least they are being noticed and celebrated!!

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This is my last impression of this darling. Smiles. She was such a darling!!!

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And then lastly, I had Miss D who is the youngest of my three kids at a year old – but is the only one walking. I was told she was quite a weak baby when she arrived – sure wouldn’t know it now! Miss D looks pretty serious most of the time, but is quick to laugh and loves playing with the other kids!

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None of my three kids were verbal yet – but Miss D made the cutest little noises when she wanted to draw your attention to something – like a cooing sound. Love that. And she would start to giggle each day as we got to the balcony door. She also has been assigned an adoptive family who has come and met her but still in the long adoption process. They had sent her the best gift – there was a story book read to her by her mother, and one by her grandma. SO as she turned teh pages she would hear and learn their voices. Such a thoughtful gift!

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On the last day I made sure to get each of my kids out for a walk and took a pic of each one of them so I can frame it on my desk. Here’s “my kids”….

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The orphanage could be such a sad place – I mean, that’s how it’s always depicted (Annie, Anne of Green Gables, and any other movie with an orphanage!) but these kids are LOVED! Even though their circumstances are heartbreaking – their smiles and hugs are heartmending.

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I could sit and tell stories about each of the kids we met but a few stories that stick out….

One of the little guy’s in this photo taken at the Toddler House… his dad is trying to tell GLA he no longer wants to “give” his son up for adoption (although he’s signed all the papers). Instead he wants to SELL him to them. GLA is firm on the fact they do not buy children. But… it’s now waiting to see if this dad will remove his son from GLA and ry to sell him somewhere else or if he’ll come to his senses. Sell your own child. I think I could throw up just thinking about that.

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This gorgeous little girl started to regress a few months ago – and I love that GLA noticed, and has been staying on top of this medically. They had her go live at the Guest House with the missionary family so she could get some concentrated love and attention, and now that she is back at GLA, instead of being on the list of kids to get a turn up on the balcony – she stays up all day long to stay stimulated. All the volunteers work with her. I just am so thankful that each and every child is noticed. Is loved.

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A little girl with down syndrome and a heart condition. She will be flying to Michigan with this staff member for heart surgery in the next week.

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Miss Vicky. To meet her – is to love her. Seriously. SHe is a nurse from Michigan who comes and gives specific high risk children 24hr care. You never see Miss Vicky without this baby in her arms – no it’s not a doll, and yes, his eyes are always that large. He is 5 months old and about 6lbs now. Miss Vicky is loving him – and has loved several others – to health and recovery. An amazing woman!

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This little boy playing balloons with Marcie is a healthy two year old. But he came to GLA weighing only 5lbs at one year old. Thanks to Miss Vicky’s 24hr care… he is doing awesome! He is so happy and smart – and such a personality!!

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I could go on and on with stories and pictures… and I’d love to share with anyone interested. But if I can convey one thing to these kids…. is to know they are LOVED. And if there’s one thing I can convey to us all back home is that we are blessed with so much. I have a new appreciation for the many, many blessings in my life.

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If you would like to contribute to GLA – please visit their website (link) where you can easily donate.

Celebrating life and love,


If you’ve been to my blog, you know that I spent the past week in Haiti. It was an amazing week and I can’t wait to share everything. I thought my first (of a few) blog posts on Haiti I would give you an overview of the country.

It is hard to imagine a third world country so close to home. Today I woke up in a dry home, although it stormed all night. I went to the doctor for a checkup this afternoon. I opened my fridge to a variety of choices for lunch. I can wash and dry my clothes from the trip in my home. When I turn on a light switch – the light comes on. Today I am reveling in the luxuries I have taken for granted for far too long.

Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and has known nothing but pain and sorrow throughout the island’s history. To think, a few hours drive away from Haiti are the beautiful resorts of the Dominican Republic that I have enjoyed in the past.

So these first images I’m sharing and video are to give you a taste of the country. The earthquake in January 2010, not only shook a nation – it shook the world. And I hope that it made us realize that our not-too-distant neighbour is in need. Many of these statistics in the video are from before the earthquake. The earthquake devastated Haiti – but a lot of the conditions are not changed. It was a country in need prior to the quake as it is still now.

I can honestly say I fell in love with Haiti. And just with those we love, they can break our hearts and cause us joy at the same moment.

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These are what the roads look – and not just post-earthquake. This is just what they’re like in Haiti.

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We have always banned the word “bored” in our house and told the girls they can always find something to do. These two boys were pretty creative in their quest for fun… watch the video for more of these two sweethearts I fell in love with!

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And without further ado…. (remember video is not my medium of choice… I apologize if some of the words go too fast!)

And I’ll leave you with this thought…

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Celebrating life and love,


April 18, 2011 Haiti

Today is my last day in Haiti. It has been such an amazing experience and I can’t wait to get home and share with you all – watch the blog the rest of the week for new posts and LOTS of pics!

For now… I’ll leave you with a photo of a cutie at church yesterday to tempt you to come back and see more later this week….

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Celebrating life and love,


April 18, 2011 Moments: Story

(While I am away in Haiti April 11-19… I thought I would share some of my favourite images and moments and explain why they’re favourites…. enjoy!)

I love stories! Swapping stories, listening to stories, reading stories… I love it! Likewise, I love to document the stories on a wedding day. A portrait is gorgeous and needed, but the stories are what sets your day apart from every other bride and groom and makes it your own.

I don’t like to add a lot of props in my photos “just because” – unless they tell part of the story and have meaning… Mark and Kate are both avid tri-athletes and had been given a bike trip in France as a wedding gift. To include bikes in their wedding was a natural fit for two people who adore biking in their everyday lives.

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Kent is an RCMP officer, so to have RCMP at his wedding made sense. Kent and Chantelle as people of faith, took a moment to pray before the ceremony. As I rounded the corner I saw the group with their heads bowed – RCMPs in full uniform, minister, bride, bridesmaids… and I loved the moment.

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Mike had been learning to play piano without Vanessa’s knowing throughout their engagement. He surprised her – and everyone! – by playing “their song to her at their ceremony. She didn’t even know he could play!

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Today listen for stories… enjoy the stories of those around you and actively participate in your own story!

Celebrating life, love, and stories,


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