May 31, 2014

Our Austin Lives

In the last few weeks I have been remembering 
Austin's last few weeks last year.  His last days here.
So many last things.  So many memories of the moments.
The last "good night".  The final "good morning".  

No good-bye.

So much blurs with the passage of time.
Memories fade and we cannot fully grasp the past.
So many details are lost in the events recalled.  We forget.
It hurts and is soothing at the very same time.
I do wish it wasn't like this.  

I want to feel it all.  And, yet, I don't.

~ Fraser, Austin, Emma, and Calvin 2004 ~

We were not the type of family that documented
every single thing in photos or video.  In my opinion, that is.
(That changed somewhat with the advent of this blog, thankfully.)
The main things ~ yes.  The everyday stuff ~ not so much.  

I had no idea how precious those things were.
How precious they would become.
We had captured enough.  Or, so I thought.  

~ Disney World 2008 ~

Now, part of me wishes that we had more.
More of the everyday.  More of the moments.
More of the life we lived.  More of everything.
But, it isn't possible.  We cannot go back.  

And now, so much is different.

On Austin's last day here, one year ago today,
we were rejoicing in his regained strength.  His regained weight.
In his ability to resume his studies.  In his strides forward.
The *old* Austin was emerging and it was wonderful.

We thought he was on the road to recovery.  
We fully expected it to happen.

The night before he was taken home to Heaven,
we had no idea that his life was ticking down in minutes and hours
rather than in months and years.  No idea at all.

~ Fraser, Emma, Austin, and Calvin May 2012 ~

I can still picture him, even now, sitting in the living room
on the couch with his computer in front of him and his notes beside him.
He was studying for a geography exam.  It was his most difficult course.
He expressed that to me as I worked just around the corner in the kitchen.

"Mum, this stuff is just so hard."
Perhaps it was so hard because he was so sick?  Perhaps.

He had such a strong constitution.  A determined spirit.
He amazed his doctors with all that he was able to do.
He shouldn't have been able to accomplish nearly all that he did.
Time and time again.  Until his last breath.  Until his last day.

We have lived through this past year in sorrow and in pain.

There have been moments of extreme sadness and grief.
Almost unbearable at times.  Overwhelmingly so.

But, then, we remember.  We must.

We remind ourselves of the wonderful hope we have in our Saviour.
His promise to come again and take us to be with Him.  Forever.
Continually filling our minds with truths like these is the only way forward.

~ Austin June 2012 ~

It is how we continue on.  What we cling to.  How we live.

It is the only reason we have survived this first year without our boy.
It is why we can still smile and rejoice.  Because of this hope.

Our Austin lives.  Truly and completely.  Better than us.
Soon, we will be taken home to heaven as well.
Very, very soon.  And, then...we will live.  Really live.

"But as touching the resurrection of the dead,

have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying,
I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?
God is not the God of the dead, but of the living."  Matthew 22:31-32

What incredible words of comfort to our hearts.

Our God is the God of the living.  The living!
Praising Him this day for His grace and goodness.
Just as our Austin is doing even now.

With love,


May 29, 2014

Two Days Shy

Early tomorrow morning, two days shy of the first anniversary of
our Austin's home-going to Heaven, his three younger siblings 
plan to go to the heart clinic with their Dad(dy).  They each have appointments.
It's the very same heart clinic where we last were with Austin.  Where we often were. 
The Lord-willing, they will be seeing one of Austin's doctors.

I didn't want to be the one to take the children.  
It feels too soon.  It's still too raw.  Perhaps it always will be.
My heart skips a beat just thinking about it.
So, Howie agreed to go.  And, his heart skips a beat, too.

Because Austin had DCM, we are having all our children examined.
It is something we were advised to do.  We have no reason to believe
that any of our other three have hidden heart troubles.  None at all.
But, there is always a chance that this type of thing can be genetic.

So, they are being checked.

As Howie and I chatted about these things last night, we shared some tears.  
And, we both had to remind ourselves once again of the bigger picture.
No matter what the Lord calls us to, He will see us through.
We know this to be absolutely true.  We have witnessed it first hand.  

The grace we need will be provided.  His provisions are never late.
The Lord is the first cause.  In everything.  Always.
And, because He is, we really have no reason to worry or to harbour fears.
We can trust Him and rest in Him.  In His perfect plan.

So, we reigned our hearts in, and we prayed.

This renewing of our minds is a constant battle.

However, it is one worth fighting.  So we fight and we stand.
On the sure foundation on which our lives are built ~ on the Solid Rock.
How precious it is to rest in the Sovereignty of our Great God.
Lasting peace and comfort may be found in Him.  Only in Him.

"My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart,

and my portion forever."  Psalm 73:26

Many Blessings,

**11AM UPDATE: All is well.  And, the Lord is always good.

Even when the news is not.  Yes, even then.
Thank you so much for your love and prayers ~ y'all bless our hearts.

May 23, 2014

Today's Mail

On May 13, 2013 Austin mailed an envelope.
It contained documentation for a scholarship he was applying for.
He won the scholarship.  However, he never received it.
The Lord called him Home to Heaven six days prior to it being awarded.

Everything happened so suddenly in those days.

It was all such a blur.  We could barely keep up.

We were told that Austin's application would be brought to his

memorial service along with his graduation cap and school certificate.
It was a kind gesture of loving care on the part of our school.
It's a lovely community for which we are very grateful.

The cap and certificate made it.

Unfortunately, the envelope went missing.

It took nearly a year for that precious package to resurface.

When it was discovered, it was mailed to us.  It arrived this morning.
Austin's envelope was the only item in today's mail.

It came enclosed in a plain brown envelope addressed with unfamiliar writing. 

But, when I opened it up, the original envelope was tucked inside. 
Our Austin's printing was on it.  Seeing that took my breath away.

When I discovered what I was holding, the tears flowed.  Abundantly.

Here was a piece of our boy from the days just prior to his passing into eternity.
I held in my hands a little part of his last days on earth.  Part of him.
We had no idea how special those days were.  How special they would become.

And, we are once again reminded of what is important.

What really matters.  Where he is, and where we are going.
How precious it is to cling to those truths.  Truly precious.

It's the only way forward ~ without a doubt.

Absolutely the only way.

Many Blessings,

May 20, 2014

A System for Socks

Long ago I switched up our sock routine.
It is one of the smartest strategies I've ever implemented.
At the time of the switch, my three young men along with
my husband went through socks like nobody's business.  

It was overwhelming.  And, discouraging.
There were so many socks to sort and pair up and put away.

Enter the grand idea of never sorting, pairing up, or putting away again.

Brilliant!  The system has been working out wonderfully well.
I cannot remember how I discovered this way of doing things,
but, I am so incredibly thankful for whoever it was that enlightened me!

So, what do we do with all those socks?
They are washed all at once (in their own separate load
all by their lonesomes) after a full load has been collected,
or, when the sock bin is empty ~ whichever comes first.

When they come out of the dryer, they go straight into the dedicated
laundry basket which lives in the closet in the laundry/mud room.
When socks are needed, the basket is dug through and socks are found.
Never do they need to be paired up or put away.

Happy happy.  No more sock woes.  I love it!

Oh, and those doors are normally shut ~ neat and tidy.  
Better and better.  Out of sight ~ out of mind.

What about you?  Do you have a system for socks?
Do you have other laundry ideas to share?
Do tell.  We'd all enjoy some fresh inspiration, I am sure.

Happy laundry day!

Many Blessings, Camille

May 19, 2014

The Usual Things

Snapshots of life in recent days around these here parts.
The usual and ordinary things very often are the best, aren't they?
These are the things we will remember with fondness in days to come.

Mum, let's have popcorn!  Okay, let's.  
Of course, I joined them in the eating of it.  :)

Have I mentioned how much Emma loves to swim?
She corralled each of the boys to take her on separate days last week.
The trade-off is that she hangs out the swim gear once they're back. 

Emily the bride ~ she stood there for at least a day
waiting patiently to be un-brided.

The results of the recent sort-out.

 A three-man job.

One of the first buds of the season ~ Austin's rose bush.

Happy Monday, Y'all!
Many Blessings,

May 15, 2014

My Plans

I had my life all planned out.  Sorted out.  Figured out.
My plans were of the neat and tidy variety.

A husband.  A home.  A family.  A perfect life.

I expected that we'd live out our days with each of
our children and their families nearby.  We'd keep in close contact.
Everyone would be healthy and happy and thriving.
Always and forever until the day I died.  When I was old.

Those were my plans.
I never expected them not to be God's.
However, they weren't.  His plans were different.
Isn't it this way for all of us?  At some point ~
We all experience disappointment and sorrow.

None of us is immune ~

We all must give up our idea of perfection. 

For our family, it came in the form of sickness and death.

The first funeral that our children attended for a family member 
was not for a grandparent or an elderly aunt or uncle.
It was for their oldest brother.  He was eighteen.

All his grandparents are still with us and he is not.

I didn't write this story.  Our story.

I wouldn't have written it this way.  But, God did.

And, His ways are perfect.  And, His ways are best.  Always and forever.
Though the path is sometimes more difficult than we ever could have imagined.
Though the way may twist and turn and be hard and rocky and sorrowful.
It is good.  Because He is in it with us.  Each step of the way.

And, He turns our mourning into joy.

Joy that lasts is not found in things.  In circumstances.  In people.

Lasting joy is found in our Saviour.  Only in Him.
No matter what happens around us, or to us, we can rejoice.
Because of the hope we have in the Lord Jesus Christ.  
Because of the hope of heaven and eternity with Him.

We are able to find joy in the midst of sorrow.

To rest in His perfect plans ~ His perfect ways.
These sorrows have been necessary to wean us from this world.
They are necessary to prepare us for the real living that is yet to come.
And, while He has us here, we seek to follow our Lord wherever He may lead.

So, though this is not the path we would have chosen,

it is the path we must tread.  By His grace.  For His glory.  In His strength.
Because He is worthy.  And, we belong to Him.  Always and forever.

Many Blessings,


**Photo in this post courtesy of my Uncle Gordon ~

Thank you so very much!  XO

May 14, 2014

Yummy Coleslaw

Are you a coleslaw person?  If not, prepare to become one.
This salad will change everything.  Promise.
I could make a meal out of this stuff!
(In fact, I think I have.)  Oh YUM!

Grab your biggest bowl (I use a stainless steel mixing bowl),
and gather your ingredients and a cutting board so you can
start chopping and shredding.  Hurry.  I'll wait.

You ready?  Good.  Here's what you'll need:

1 medium head green cabbage, shredded 
2 organic red coloured apples, cut into small chunks
2 carrots, peeled and shredded
1/4 cup green onion, chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries or raisins

Chop, shred and dice and throw into that large bowl.

And, for the dressing:
1 1/4 cup Mayonnaise
1/3 cup Sugar (add a little more if you like)
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 tsp each celery seed, pepper, and sea salt

Whisk together until smooth and creamy.

In case you have never done it before, 
here's how to shred a fresh head of cabbage.
A photo tutorial ~ just what you wanted, right?  :)

 Remove outer layers of leaves to get to the fresh ones.
Then, cut off the bottom stem.

Cut cabbage down the middle and then into quarters. 

Cut the core off the end of each quarter.

 Shred by slicing thinly across the grain.

See?  Easy peasy.  Nothing to it.

Mix everything together thoroughly and taste to see if anything needs to be adjusted.
I often will add more of the spices and vinegar.  Store in fridge until ready to serve.
This salad should have a little time to marinate prior to serving.
It's yummy served up with a BBQ on a hot summer day.

Is it warming up where you are?  
The last few days have felt quite summery here.
Emma and her brothers have already gone
swimming in the outdoor pool.

It's time to dig out the warm weather clothes and fire up the BBQ.
That is, until next week when it likely will rain rain rain.  And, rain!  :)
Ah, well, that's how it is here on the West Coast of Canada.
It's a trade off for all the lush green we enjoy most of the year.

What are your favourite summer foods?  Please do tell.

We all would enjoy some inspiration for the hot days ahead.

Hugs to you all!

**This recipe originally was shared with me by my sweet friend, E ~
It's since undergone a little tweaking to make it mine.

The One I Grew up With

When we stayed with my sister over Christmas,
she and I took turns being in charge of cooking dinner.  
We made a master plan to go off at the beginning of
our time together ~ and we shopped!  Did we ever shop.
But, once that was done, we were able to relax and enjoy.

What a wonderful thing it was to have that master plan!
It removed the guesswork out of meal time.
It made things run more smoothly.  Stress-free.  Mostly.

One of my sister's meals included homemade mac and cheese.
The recipe was the one I grew up with.  She did too.  Of course.  ;-)
I didn't remember it being so yummy.  But, it was.
Even Howie, who isn't normally a fan, had seconds.
He also was heard commenting on its many merits.

So, of course, I copied out the recipe.
And, now, I am going to share with you.
You are excited about this, right?  Of course you are.

 ~ The Ingredients List ~

3 Tbsp Butter

3 Tbsp All Purpose Flour
1 tsp Sea Salt
1/4 tsp Pepper, freshly ground
3 cups Milk (I use whole, raw)
2 cups Medium Cheddar Cheese, grated
1/2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce (don't omit...secret ingredient)
1/2 tsp Prepared Mustard (don't omit...another secret ingredient)
2 1/2 cup Macaroni noodles, uncooked
(My sister likes to use the Barilla Brand of
gluten free noodles for this recipe ~ so yummy)
Bread or Cracker Crumbs (for topping)
More grated Cheddar (for topping)

~ The Way to Put it All Together ~

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and set a large pot of water to boil.

Once water is boiling, add the macaroni noodles and cook till just done.
Drain and rinse the noodles.  Pour into a 9 x 13 inch pan.

While the noodles are cooking, prepare the cheese sauce.

Melt butter in a medium heavy-bottomed pot.
Whisk in the flour, salt, pepper and finally, the milk.
Whisk constantly on medium heat until bubbling and thickened.

Remove from heat and whisk in the Worcestershire sauce,

mustard and grated cheddar cheese.
Stir together until the cheese is melted.  Mix thoroughly.
Pour sauce over the macaroni and stir together lightly
so that all the yummy sauce covers all the noodles.

Sprinkle the bread crumbs and extra cheddar (1/2 cup or so of each) 

over the macaroni.  This will make a nice, crunchy topping.
Bake at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes until bubbling and browning on the edges.
Serve with a green salad or veggies on the side.


Many Blessings, Camille

May 12, 2014

Soaked Oatmeal Pancakes

I'm not sure what happened.  I guess I just dropped the ball.
These pancakes are a favourite around these here parts.
But, I've neglected to share them on the blog.  So sorry!

Well, today, that is going to change.  :)

Soaking grains is a good idea.  It makes them more digestible.
A good thing, right?  Soaking also frees up valuable morning time.
Since some of the prep is done the night before, 
a good breakfast is more quickly put together when time is short.

Another good thing, if you ask me.

I served these many moons ago to a sweet friend and her hubby
when they stayed with us for an overnight visit.
They were a hit.  She's since made them for her own family.
Over and over again.  Recently, she reminded me of their yumminess,
and I dug out the recipe and began making them regularly once again.

In the photo, above, you see the oats and flour after an overnight soaking.
Ready and waiting for the add-ins of the morning.

First, all the wet ingredients are mixed in, and then the dry.
It goes much better if the dry ingredients are mixed together in a bowl
before adding to the batter.  There's nothing worse than a clump of
baking powder or salt to wake up the taste buds!  This will alleviate that.

Once thoroughly mixed, the batter needs to rest for a few minutes to 
allow for a little baking soda action.  The mixture will rise a little.

Have I mentioned that I *love* coconut oil?

Well...I do!  It's a perfect substitute for butter in baking.
It has a high smoking point which makes it wonderful for frying.
And, it's good for you.  Yippee!  Yahoo!  :)

When the pancakes are ready to flip, they will be getting dry on the edges,
and there will be little bubbles forming and popping on their tops.

Flip them over and cook a couple minutes more ~
after that, they're ready to serve and enjoy!  
They never seem to come off the grill quick enough for my clan.  
I think one of those big, flat griddles would be nice.
However, the frying pan does the job just as well.

Soaked Oatmeal Pancakes
~ Originally discovered here and adjusted by moi ~

2 cups Rolled Oats (Old-fashioned variety)

1/2 cup Whole Wheat Flour
1 cup Buttermilk
1 cup Filtered Water
2 Eggs, beaten
1/4 cup Butter (or Coconut Oil), melted
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
2 Tbsp Sugar (Coconut Sugar works well)
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Cinnamon, ground
1/2 tsp Sea Salt

The night before ~ mix together the rolled oats, flour,

buttermilk and filtered water in a glass bowl. 
Cover with plastic wrap and let sit on the counter overnight.

In the morning ~ mix eggs, vanilla, and 

melted butter into oat mixture.  Stir together well.  
In separate bowl ~ stir together the remaining ingredients.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix thoroughly.

Fry on hot (400 degrees) greased griddle or in frying pan.

You will know you pan is hot enough if a few drops of water *dance* on the griddle.
I like to use coconut oil to grease my pan.  Grease between batches.
Cook until bubbles form on the tops of the pancakes.  Flip and cook until golden.

Serve with Maple Syrup and Butter.  Yum Yum!

Makes 16 three inch pancakes.

Enjoy ~ Happy cooking!

With Love, Camille

May 8, 2014

Usual and Ordinary

Just a little peek into the usual and ordinary things of life
around these here parts in recent days.

Spring is arriving in our neck of the woods ~ we are ready!
Emma brought me flowers (evidence) while she was out rollerblading.
In the mornings, the birds sing early and the breezes filter through
the screens open to the great outdoors ~ I love what spring brings.

Well, maybe not all the rain.  No, I don't love the rain.
But, it is necessary for all the green.  Right?

A few little things for a few little friends.

A Monopoly game in progress ~ it went on for days.

First BBQ of the season ~ Burgers.

Sheets fresh from the line ~ a favourite.

Morning time of quiet with her Daddy.

Preparations for a Theory Exam ~
he will be glad to have it behind him.

Handmade birthday cards for Calvin from the other two ~
It isn't obvious what he enjoys, is it?  I didn't think so.  *wink*

What's been happening in your neck of the woods?
Are you enjoying the usual and ordinary things of life?  
Sometimes those really are the best things after all.

If these are trying days with difficult things, please know

that I understand some of the sorrows that can accompany times like these.
Feel free to email me privately and I will lift you up in prayer.
The Lord knows.  He sees.  He is faithful.

May the Lord give much grace and strength 

for whatever season you find yourself in.
He is always good.  His ways are eternally best.

Happy Weekend Y'all!

With Love, Camille

May 6, 2014

Logging Hours and Going Grey

So.  Here's the deal.  True Story.
In our part of Canada, there are stringent rules and regulations
placed upon the learning driver.  It's strict.  I like it that way ~ I really do.
However, this translates into a certain amount of sacrifice ~ 
of either the monetary or the time variety.  It can be a bit painful. 

We have opted for the sacrifice of time.  Mostly mine.
As a result, I am logging hours and going grey all at once.
But, it's all good.  Say it with me ~ this too shall pass.  :)

In order to fit in all the required *learner* hours,
I often have Calvin drive me on errands.
I like to think of him as my personal chauffeur who, incidentally,
(hopefully not accidentally) is getting more proficient all the time.

We live near the Canada/USA border, and we frequently cross
it for fuel, postal services, Trader Joe's and Costco.
One day last week, my chauffeur expertly navigated through
a construction zone, and, after resuming his cruising speed of 70 mph
 eventually (nearly an hour later) got us safely to our destination.  

While we waited (in that construction zone at a standstill
on the freeway) I snapped a few photos.  
One of them was of me ~ in the passenger seat.  :)

Oh, I forgot to include an important piece of information.
One of those regulations I mentioned earlier, is that only one extra passenger
other than the instructor, is allowed in the vehicle while the learner is learning.
A little tricky to do when there are more than three in a family.  Quite tricky, actually.
Emma has joined us on many of our outings ~ does she look traumatized?

One of the bonuses of having my Calvin along is that he can 
load and unload the van for me.  It's a win-win all around.

I am sure that when these days are behind me,
I will look back with fondness at the memories we've made.
But, with two more to go through Mama's Driver Training,
that won't be for awhile yet.  I am not rushing things.  Not at all.

What about you?  Do you do the driver training in your family, 

or, is it a combined effort?  Are you there yet, or, 
does driver training seem to be far off in the distant future?
Are you one of those who has already traversed this road?
Please encourage us if you have.  We'd like to hear that it all went well.
Regardless of what stage you are at ~ let's cheer one another on.  

Happy Tuesday Y'all!  :)
Many Blessings, Camille

May 2, 2014

It is Necessary

"...thou art my hope in the day of evil."  
Jeremiah 17:17b

"We need winds and tempests to exercise our faith,
to tear off the rotten bough of self-dependence,
and to root us more firmly in Christ.
The day of evil reveals to us the value of our glorious hope."

~ Quoted from C.H. Spurgeon's "Morning and Evening" ~
Morning reading for April 29th

Have a wonderful weekend!

With Love, Camille