Archive | June 2014

A Treasured Symbol of Love

Photo Courtesy of Bing Images

Photo Courtesy of Bing Images


I remember as a child, picking up a special flower and pulling the petals off one by one.

“He loves me, he loves me not, he loves me….”

This ritual was to give us the knowledge of a special someone’s love.

I think for this reason I have always loved flowers.

I will never forget Honeywood Heritage Nursery in Saskatchewan.  I had anticipated visiting this dazzling piece of restored property.  The day lilies, peonies, lilacs, plum, rhubarb, even apples and crabapples are all part of the horticulture of the prairies of days past.  Today was the day, my boyfriend and I planned to visit.

The warm sunshine filled Canada day was glorious as Dario and I set out for a wonderful day together and a hopeful picnic.  I felt the excitement way down to my toes.  I had been dating this wonderful man for six months, but my heart for him had already been lit many years previous to that.  Dario was my best friend and we always found ways to gravitate toward one another at group events in our church.

After the drive, we parked in the lot next to the swinging gate and met our tour guide.  For the moment, our picnic lay preserved and cold in the car cooler.  Dazzling whites, purples, reds, oranges and bright sunshine yellow filled the green landscape of trees and shrubs.  We learned of its history and how the many plants and flowers were hidden in overgrowth over many years of neglect after the change of ownership.  In later years the beautiful nursery was lovingly restored.  Tourism Saskatchewan and the Architectural Heritage Society of Saskatchewan have recognized their efforts in this cause.

The day turned hot and our gracious host allowed us to use the small cabin used for visitors to escape for a few moments to sign the guest book and use the facilities.  We set up to prepare for our now set- to-table picnic. The birds chirped nearby in eager anticipation of was about to happen.

I should have guessed that something was ‘up’ when Dario began to put a camera and tripod in place.  Very good friends at the time prepared red and white flowers in glass bowls, special sparkling water to drink, wine glasses with red and white ribbon and some tasty treats to add to our own summer sandwiches and coffee.  It seemed a little over the top just for Canada Day.  I thought to myself that since Canada deserved it, I would just have to enjoy the pleasant extras.

My life was about to change through one special treasured object.

We seated ourselves at the table we’d spread and being hungry after our little hike, I was eager to dig in.  The cuisine looked so enticing and the poured sparkling water so refreshing, I could hardly believe when Dario said to wait.

Seated next to me, Dario took my hand.

“You know Paula, I have really enjoyed the time we have spent together these pasts months.  I have always treasured your friendship too.  I have found that I have fallen in love with you.”

“Oh Dario,” I replied, “I know, and I feel the same way too.”  Now can we eat, I thought.

With a half-smile Dario bent down and got on one knee while fishing in his pocket for something and never losing his gaze with mine.

“You don’t get it.”

With that comment he presented the open ring box with the most magnificent diamond ring.

“I’m asking if you’ll marry me.”

Joy burst through me and tears welled up as I nodded a yes.  A gently kiss and warm embrace preceded the ‘putting on of the ring.”

The engagement ring was a solid gold band extending to a diamond shaped gold base.  Placed on the north and south rounded tips were two tiny diamonds.  In the positions of east and west were medium sized diamonds in a perfect trio, forming a heart shape.  These diamonds nestled together with a large diamond in the middle settled in a snug gold claw.  The diamonds cascaded in what appeared to be a perfect waterfall.

These cut stones, glistened and shimmered in the sunlight.  The sparkle reflected what was sure to be seen in my watery eyes.

The tenderness and affection expressed in the moments that followed devotion and loved promised surely had imprinted on my heart a love that would last a lifetime.  It would bring us through the great, the not so great and the downright ugly times that only a committed marriage would know.

This ring, my most prized object would represent all that love in the challenges that lay before us as husband and wife.  We were married on October 10th, 2003 and we’ve never looked back.

In the moments when life handed us disagreements, misunderstandings and even infertility, the icon of our love has never lost its shine.

This is why my engagement/wedding ring has such value to me.  Not just because it was a huge investment financially, even a simple band would have meant the same to me.  Dario once told me that this ring represents his love, but it isn’t his actual love.   Though this ring represents that love, it is only an object.  I can look at its beauty and remember.  He loves me, he really loves me.  The real treasure on this earth is him.

Happy Canada/Engagement Day Honey!

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The Day She Went Away

Writing 101, Day Eighteen: Hone Your Point of View

Here is my hand a writing a bit of fiction.  My assignment was:  Craft a story from the perspective of a twelve-year-old observing it all.

The neighbourhood has seen better days, but Mrs. Pauley has lived there since before anyone can remember. She raised a family of six boys, who’ve all grown up and moved away. Since Mr. Pauley died three months ago, she’d had no income. She’s fallen behind in the rent. The landlord, accompanied by the police, have come to evict Mrs. Pauley from the house she’s lived in for forty years.

Today’s prompt: write this story in first person, told by the twelve-year-old sitting on the stoop across the street.


Photo Courtesy of Bing Images

Photo Courtesy of Bing Images

It’s been a long boring day.  Summer time can sometimes get this way after you’ve worn out all of your wishing for summer.  It’s like that all year long, just wishing for summer when you are in school.  Problem is, I’m just not sure what to do.  I’ve been waiting for Ben to pay me some attention and maybe come over.

It has been hard not seeing him everyday these past two weeks since school finished for the year.  I like Ben, when he smiles I get all Jello-ee inside.

Siting here on this stoop has got me thinking about poor Mrs. Pauley across the street.  I wonder if she misses Mr. Pauley the same way I miss Ben in not seeing him everyday.  I’m sure she does.  I’ve seen her crying in the flower bed.  She’d just stop weeding, get a real faraway look and then she’d sniffle and finally start sobbing.  The silent kind, not the deep breath heaves like my Mom did when my brother Sam found the primer paint in the garage and decided to “redo” the car.  “Millie,” She’d said, “Get your brother into the house and into a bathtub.”  I did, cause twelve-year olds like me are responsible.  You could hear Mom crying from outside.  Sam was only ten and didn’t have any sense.

Mrs. Pauley was really nice.  She was a short lady and at 78 years old she was still able to garden and keep up with the little house.  She wore glasses and always smiled at me as I walked by.  She and Mr. Pauley always decorated for all the holidays.  Mr. Pauley would make wooden cut out of Santa, The Easter Bunny or even little leprechauns in March.  They had done it in the past for their own six boys.  I was too young to remember them.  They’d had long since grown and left home.  I wonder why they don’t visit now.  Every occasion bought the wooden cut outs to display.  It seems so lonely now for Mrs. Pauley.

Mr. and Mrs. Pauley moved into this old house as newly weds before this house was old.  Forty years are a long, long time.

Mid April was the spring thaw.  I remember because this springtime brought the pot holes on the street up from their snowy grave and put Mr. Pauley in one.

“Heart attack!” is what the neighbor boys said.  My Mom says he died of old age, “it sometimes happens.”

Mrs. Pauley sold her flowers on the curbside.   Mom said she was trying to “make the rent.”  Mr. Pauley always took care of those things with his construction business and home renovation consulting.  Whatever all that meant.  Now Mrs. Pauley had nothing.

This afternoon, I saw a small white Volkswagen pulling up in the front of Mrs. Pauley’s home.  She was not outside when a lady, a man and Mrs. Pauley’s eldest son Craig stepped out of the car.  I wasn’t sure what they were doing there, but I figured it out when I read the sign on the white VW:  Sunny Brook Retirement Village.

You should have seen the shocked, and then tearful look Mrs. Pauley gave when the three explained their visit.

Mrs. Pauley began to sob uncontrollably when moments later a police car came with the landlord.  Mr. Mason was our landlord too and Dad always paid him on time, so he treated us nice.  Mr. Mason owned half of the houses on Cherry lane.  Mom said we all paid for his Barbados vacation each year, but I wasn’t sure what she meant.

They had all been talking on the front step for a long time, “making arrangements.”  Mrs. Pauley just sobbed.  Finally the lady, man and Craig disappeared in the house.  They all came out after a while with Mrs. Pauley clinging to Craig Pauley.  She carried a small purse, and her green sweater.  She held a framed family photo and a her wedding picture.   The man carried a large old suitcase in what I imagined had all her clothes.  Mrs Pauley continued to silently cry, while the lady had a hand on her shoulder.  The lady kept saying, “There, there, Ella, it will be fine.”  The policeman and Mr. Mason talked so hushed I couldn’t make out what they were saying.

This was really, really sad.  I missed Ben now more than ever.  Mrs. Pauley looked up at me, our eyes held and my lips mouthed a quiet good-bye.  Those eyes, her eyes will always haunt me I’m sure.  I’ll never forget Mrs. Pauley and the day she went away.



Personality Preferences on the Page, Media Style

Photo Courtesy of Bing Images

Photo Courtesy of Bing Images

I am living with one of my fears even at this moment and I am pondering what to do.  No it isn’t that I may live my entire life without my own child or watching a dear sibling struggle with cancer, or even that I miss my family from another province so much I would consider relocating.  I am a overcomer, however and I know I can cope with these challenges.  These are issues called life and they visit the strongest and the weakest of us.

My biggest fear is that I may have unintentionally hurt someone and in doing so they have pushed me away.  Sometimes  silence can hurt more than painful words.

Many times for me this fear has played itself out in the world of social media.  I am a Blogger, texter, emailer and other social media user.  I and others normally have similar rules to life as they do to their media expectations.  For instance if I am a person who enjoys an immediate response from those around me in the real world, my expectation is that I would get a similar response in the media world.  While this is completely unrealistic, it does reveal an unwritten code of usage.  This unwritten code is very different for each person.

Recently I sent a message to someone and I waited expectantly for a reply.  When I didn’t hear within a reasonable time excessive of 24 hours, I wondered if I had said something to offend them.  In fact I carried around a heavy bag of metaphorical sand and was concerned that what I sent warranted a ‘silent’ treatment.  In reality, the message was simply read and then life got very busy for them. What was important for me to learn is that ‘if in doubt check it out’.  I just simply asked if everything was ok… and it was!

There is no way to avoid this situation, if you haven’t faced it yet, you will.

In reality, usage of media is a personal thing, and unfortunately there are people who have to depend on it for their work.  At the end of the day the last thing they want to do is answer another email or a text message.  They simply want to unplug!

In Memory of Cassia, Part three: Lost and Found


For us Cassia and her creation in our hearts and in our imaginations has become an icon to what infertility has meant to us. She has a face that for us is what we have lost.  This blog speaks to that loss a million ways.  I am consistently reminded of her almost daily.

Earlier this month I had turned our additional bedroom area into a music room and office for my own reading and writing and other projects.  I replaced the bookshelf with a leather chair.  I replaced the toy shelf and some additional toys with a medium desk and chair.  The dresser now contains my winter clothing instead of the plastic storage bins I had been using.  We were able to move my husband’s keyboard and music to a side wall.  The room is full and the earlier appearance of a child’s room is a fading memory.

It was an important process, and in a sense a healing one.   I found as I was clearing out toys and other items I noticed a medium plastic pouch containing several things.   I carefully unzipped the pouch and to my amazement there was a small pink woolen suit.  The leggings and socks where all one knitted piece,.  They were pink and new looking.   The sweater was a complete match with attached knitted hood.  I had found it years ago at a yard sale.  It was so tiny I had seen it had hardly been worn.  I had bought it at that time when dreams were still real in my heart.  Years before I was even married.

It seemed so odd now to know that this little sweater was never to be worn by Cassia.  The odd part was that I felt no pain, no hurt, and no tears.  Just a little quiet as I fingered the soft knit.

I have learned that all grief has an expiry date, only it is often unknown to others and to oneself.  No one can tell you when that is and how long it will take to “get over it”.  The key is to get up each morning and regardless of the type of grief, just keep reminding yourself to breathe.

Sometimes what is lost stays lost and what is found stays found.   Sometimes they are not the same thing.

Dear Integrity (just for fun)

Photo Courtesy of Bing Images

Photo Courtesy of Bing Images

Dear Integrity,


Please accept this letter as submission to your complaint department. I am filing a formal complaint as it is in the sincere hope that you will leave me in peace at times.


Ever since I made the decision to employ you in my life, I have sensed your constant presence. You continue to urge me to use you as a guide for my behaviour. Although this was in our contractual agreement, I believed that you would cut me some slack. As I have made small changes in my lifestyle, for instance being fully truthful on my yearly taxes, I would like to bring to your attention some areas that I’d like to refer to as grey.


Last week I had just finished a wonderful visit with a very dear friend, it was the middle of the night and traffic had slowed to almost none. Well, I really needed to get home for some beauty rest as the day begins early. I paused just before and made that quick decision to drive on through the intersection. Yes I know the light was red but there was no one around! Did you have to whisper in my ear that integrity is doing right when no one is watching? I felt guilty all the way home, was that necessary?


Then the other day while shopping in Walmart, I had just purchased some new summer sandals. You know they were the kind that have the Velcro in the back. Well, when I went through the checkout, the clerk gave me my change from two twenty dollar bills and I saw she’d given me $10.00 too much in change. Oops! I didn’t realize it until I got into my car and attempted to put the money away. I had to walk all the way back to Walmart from my car and give the money back, because you kept screaming at me that I needed to do what was right. Sigh. The clerk was really happy I did that and I suppose it did feel kind of good. I’m still ticked at you though.


Okay, so today was the final deal! I was parked in the Laundromat. I always park in the second spot near the door. I usually go in the evening when there is no one else there. So how was I to know that someone would pull into the parking spot three seconds after me?   I opened the door. Wham! My door smashed into his door leaving a small dent in the side. He must have been in a hurry because he was gone when I looked to see if I was seen.   Oh man! I felt so bad. I thought maybe I could drive to another parking spot, but no, you had to start yapping in my ear again. You kept repeating yourself too! “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” You said. Did you have to say it in old English?


So dear Integrity, I love what you stand for, but I didn’t realize I would actually HAVE to change. If I am to abide by your stringent guidelines, I will have to re-evaluate what complete honesty means. I would appreciate some space while I make this calculation.





Hopefully the First of Many

Here is a post that I am trusting will encourage you as it has encouraged me. Let’s all let the world out there know: infertility is worth talking about!

Ever Upward™

My first television interview on the book and blog. So thankful that Great Day St. Louis on KMOV was willing to help me break the silence.

If you found this post enjoyable, inspiring, helpful, hopeful, interesting or even infuriating 😉, please take the time and the chance to share it through your social media! More shares means more eyes, means more people helped and the message heard on a wider scale. Thank you! Justine

This post included in Amateur Nester’s Link Up.

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In Memory of Cassia Part Two: Children Found

Photo Courtesy of Bing Images

Photo Courtesy of Bing Images


Cassia was our dream child, conceived only in our imagination.  For my husband and me the qualities we valued in a child would not be claimed in our own offspring.

Unknown to me, God was unfolding a wonderful surprise in our lives.  An amazing thing began to happen when I said yes to a Nursery School Teaching position seven years ago.

I loved teaching little people.  I knew this very special little school had me hooked during my entrance interview.  I took a seat opposite the owner and main Teacher in the Montessori and Day Nursery.  I was pleasantly amused when after this husband and wife team were seated, their two year old son pulled up a chair!  His opinion mattered too!

I must have made an impression because this began a wonderful relationship with 2 year old Colton* and later his little sister Karen* whom I met when she was just three hours old.  She marked the occasion by pooping on me that first day.  Colton and Karen both made their way through my Nursery Class and parked permanently in my heart.  They attended my Summer Day Camp and enjoyed sleepovers together at our house.

Hugs and snuggles became our daily routine for hellos and goodbyes.  It was wonderful watching them grow and blossom into the school age and preteen children they are today.

Eva* was 2 1/2 when she tiptoed into my Nursery class and simultaneously crawled into my heart.  She had a quiet wisdom about her and loved to laugh.  She always encouraged me with her smile.  Her long blonde hair was fun to pull together into ponytail or pigtails.  They often fell apart due to a nervous habit of pulling strands of hair out.  Today she is a Kindergarten graduate and will soon welcome a little sibling into her and her parents’ lives.

Brothers Carter* and Walter* stepped into our school boisterous and unafraid.  First Carter then Walter, one year later enjoyed the environment of school and play.  Carter was loved immediately by all the girls in Senior Kindergarten while younger brother Walter’s quiet personality “morphed” into a comedic energetic kid.  Today Carter is the “bug” man, sharing fascinating facts about all six or eight legged creatures.  Walter today is the weather man for his family, sharing weather predictions and nature’s storms.  Both boys share the role of big brother for Little J, the child I am present day Nanny.

My husband and I didn’t realize that God had been answering our prayers all these years.  Though they are not our own, these three families are children found to us.  They all have come and have celebrated a special warm relationship with us.  As a couple we are focused on these children and are to them unofficial ‘God-parents’.  Birthdays, Christmas, play dates and celebrations are a part of our lives too!  We love them just as we would our own.  This is the best tribute we can give in memory of Cassia.

*Names Changed