Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Random Fall 2011 Photos

Gabrielle with her new winter coat! Thanks G&G! 

Dad and Gabrielle on 1-Year Birthday Celebration

Grandma Do & Grandpa David with Jimmy & Micky 

Gabrielle's first NHL hockey game (loved it). Thanks Thorntons!

Gabrielle with a magic princess on Halloween (Grandma Jane) 

Gabrielle with Mommy, taking care of her as usual.

"Papa" throwing Micky sky high 

Amy and the kids

Jimmy's pre-school field trip

Gabrielle blowing out her 1-year-old birthday candles

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Moments, Emotions, and Old Friends

One cool thing about being human is how we can carry a fleeting moment with us for the rest of our lives. If you really step back and watch the scenery unfold – in your backyard, looking out your kitchen or office window, or wherever you are – you'll realize that there's no stopping the motion of all things.

Past moments – past motion – can last a lifetime in our hearts and minds. Like threads through time, our ability to remember and feel keep us connected to old friends, even when we haven't seen them for decades. It's awesome.

When I was in school, I had some good years and some bad years. We all did. Through those years, I met a lot of people, and shared many, many fleeting moments with them. I'm sure you did too. But let me share a few moments I remember sharing with friends in high school, because ... well... this post is for them.

* I played basketball with a guy who was always taller and better than me, and even when he scored 40 points in a game, he made everyone on the team feel just as important. I think it's fitting he's in management now.

* In jr. high I knew this one guy who knew everything about hockey, and he would always lend me a quarter or two for a slice of 'zza' when I was short.

* I remember trick-or-treating with (in Gr.12 no less) this one girl who always – and ever so patiently – helped me in French class.

* There was this one gal whose laugh would make everyone else laugh, especially when she got herself into a laughing fit ... I wonder if she still laughs that way.

* I wrote plays and acted out sketches in drama class with this great gal who always had a knack for drama... and good conversation. She moved to Australia. I always admired her pursuits.

* I remember this one girl (in Mr. Duhaim's Gr.8 Socials class) "made" me listen to Sinead O'Connor's "OMG, this song is soooo amazing" chart-topper, and me pretending to like it coz I thought she was cool.

* I spent hours trying to learn Metallica riffs from this one guy. He always went on about veggie subs and why short summers were better than long ones because the shortness makes you appreciate it more. He married this amazing gal from the class a year behind us.

* I remember talking for hours with this one friend about music (especially the Beatles) and the importance of 'living' ... for hours and hours. She got mono. I moved away. We lost touch.

* This one guy from Nfld became a great friend, and no matter how high school frenetic things got, he always provided a calming presence.

* I rescued Larry the Lobster with this one guy who I wish I saw more of today ... if only because my abs would benefit from our joke-milkings.

* There was this one gal who always showed up when I meandered the hallways, pretending like I had somewhere to go. She's off teaching in another country with her young family, and I'm sure her amazing parents would like her closer to home.

* And there was this one gal who loooved country music and 2-stepping. Driving in her truck one day we talked about the types of people we'd marry one day: She was going to marry a cowboy, and I some super hot babe from BC (I grew up in Edmonton). I have her to thank for this post.

Out of nowhere, couple months back, this last friend I mentioned sent me a message asking what she could do to help our family. I hadn't heard from her in 15 years. She explained how she had her own family now, how she found meaning and inspiration by Gabrielle and our blog posts, and wanted to know how she could help.

Two days before Gabrielle's 1st birthday, a package arrived at the door. It was from this old friend who organized a care package with everyone I mentioned above, and some other genuinely concerned people I've never met, but who have been touched by Gabrielle.

I couldn't open it for two days. Every time I tried, I broke down.

When I did, and to put it simply, it was beautifully overwhelming.

The package included a letter explaining how all my old friends met up at her place one afternoon to talk about how they could help, a beautiful card, and several awesome gifts.

The most amazing enclosure was a banner of little flags with everyone's name who contributed on the back. It was, like, imagine a part of your life you had almost forgotten about coming back to say, "Hey, we're here, even though we're not, but we've never really left, and we're here."

I wrote in a previous post how I think sometimes we shed tears when we're filled up with thoughts and feelings that transcend the present moment ... that transcend present motion.

I thought of this when I opened the package from my old friends ... from people who had never met Gabrielle before, yet somehow felt connected, and are connected.

Here were the words and gifts from a whole bunch of old friends, who's life paths had diverged from mine... many, many years ago ... who felt connected to us, and me to them, through the raw and real love of our little darling Gabrielle.

In her letter, my old friend (who organized the whole thing) shared:
but then, I remember it’s the miracle of Gabrielle.
We hung the banner of flags of names on the window at Gabrielle's party. 

It's amazing how we can carry with us a lifetime of memories ...

Memories of us being with others.

In motion with others.

Experiencing with others.

Feeling with others.

Thank you old friends.

You were there with us as we celebrated our darling Gabrielle's first year of life.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

I-Cell Angel

My heart was aching this morning when I read that another little I-cell baby gained her angel wings.

Bailey Marie Rosenthall lost her battle with I-cell disease early this morning November 20th.

She was 17 months old.

Please say a prayer for Bailey, her wonderful mother Laura, and the rest of Bailey's family as they work through this unimaginable and difficult time.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Reading Postcards from Italy

We've been reminded a lot about Italy this week.

We like living in Holland.

This song came on shuffle tonight. It's been one of my favourite this year for a variety of reasons.

I thought we should share it.

Artist: Beirut
Track: Postcards from Italy

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Every Adversity Carries With It ...

Jimmy's pre-school teacher at Creative Kids (great place, btw) is organizing a fundraiser this Saturday for Canuck Place (details here).  To garner support for the event, the local newspaper was contacted, and a reporter called us to collect information to run a story about Gabrielle (here it is).

Quite truthfully, the thought of our story being published in the local newspaper brought mixed feelings: we knew the cause was good and worth publicizing, but we didn't want to sensationalize our lives. We've known this blog is as public as it gets, but we have always imagined only friends and family reading it. We started stressing about our lives and struggles with Gabrielle becoming street corner news.

Tracy, the reporter, was sensitive to our concerns. She was very patient too when we called back a couple of times just to double-check: "Like are you sure it's written alright?"

Then we snapped out of it.

We had to reframe the whole thing.

Sure we could worry about what others might think, but we would be thinking those thoughts at the expense of celebrating Gabrielle's spot in the limelight.

We could dwell on how Gabrielle won't ever make the newspaper for soccer accolades and drama performances, or we could focus on her amazing ability to make people feel and want to be better people.

We could stress about being the family people pity, or we could focus on all the great things Gabrielle helps people learn (and re-learn)... awesome things like being more 'human' and enjoying life.

We could fret about the use of words like "terminal" in the article, or we could stand proud as parents knowing Gabrielle's story will help some readers reflect on what they have to be grateful for... like how many kids make people do that?!

In sum, Amy and I reminded ourselves that the newspaper story wasn't about us. It was about Gabrielle. It was her story.

We reminded ourselves that our lives aren't just about us. Our lives involve other people. Directly and indirectly. For better and for worse.

But the cool thing is that we can control the "for better or for worse" part because we can view things in more than one way.

Everything can be viewed in more than one way, and, to a degree, we can choose which way we want to look at things.

We can view struggles as opportunities to become stronger and wiser ... if we set that as a goal, and if we open our minds and hearts to different kinds of strength and wisdom.

And we can use our strength and wisdom to make other people stronger and wiser ... if we choose to set that as our task, and open ourselves up to it too.

Or we can wallow in despair and indulge ourselves in piteous thoughts.

Every adversity carries with it the seed of equal or greater benefit.

Life becomes more rich and more meaningful when you pause to realize things like these.

This is why we're so grateful to have Gabrielle in our lives.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Center of the Universe

Lying in bed one night with my laptop and headphones (I know, bad habit) I stumbled upon the amazing video below. I thought I'd share some of the thoughts it made me think:

1. The distance travelled in this video is roughly as far as the world's best telescopes can detect light ... which is about 14+ billion light years away. That means the light we're seeing from the most distant stars is 14+ billion light years old. That means it would take at least 28 billion years to make the trip shown in this video (there and back again, at the speed of light). Best estimates put earth at 4.55 billion years old. That's 4,550,000,000 spins around the sun. On average, we're alive for what, 60-80 spins? There were millions of buffalo roaming the prairies only 150 spins ago. Jesus was walking around talking to folk in Israel 1,980 spins ago. And we say a lot happens in a year? For us, a lot has.

2. In terms of logic, we really won't ever know what we're a part of, and we never will. When you reach the farthest point in the video, it shows up as a sphere not because that's the end, but because that's the furthest light our instruments can detect. What if you double the distance? Triple it? Billionth it? Then what do we see?! Or, better question: what the heck are we seeing? And then the video zooms back to this tiny little particle that we all live on ... a particle that's orbiting one of trillions of stars in one of trillions of galaxies. Like really! What are we a part of?

3. I felt a brief feeling of panic after watching this video when that last question came rushing into my mind. I thought of Gabrielle. I thought of last breaths. I visualized my own last breaths. I imagined how earth could have been created 5 times over in the duration the video's journey took me on (at light speed), and that made imagining the end points I just mentioned seem really easy. And scary. It was my first existential crisis.

4. But then some words came rushing into my mind that made me smile ... words from a conversation I had with our Buddhist-monk-yoga-instructor from our time in Korea. (For the record, I was horrible at yoga ... I still can't touch my toes or sit cross legged and, whenever Amy came with me, she and I would start laughing because she knew how much pain I was in doing all those poses, so we agreed we couldn't go to the same yoga classes any more, and then I stopped going altogether because it just hurt too much ... but I really should start again). Anyway, in one of our sessions he explained something like, "You are the center of the universe. I am the center of the universe. How could it be any other way?"

And those simple words helped me put the incomprehensible amounts of space and time and matter and energy shown in the video into a very simple and very beautiful perspective.

And I fell asleep listening to little Gabrielle breathing in the crib beside our bed.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Gabrielle's One-Year Celebration ~ Thank You

I don't think anything I could write would say it better than below. And I want to share this because our thanks and gratitude extends to so, so many more people than were with us in our house on that special day. Thank you everyone.

Monday, November 7, 2011

A celebration of life

I have started this post so many times.  I have been stumped in finding the right words.  I have stopped and thought.  And thought.  And I find that so many times, I can just feel.  And there are no words to explain.

Just love.

We invited friends and family over to help celebrate Gabrielle's first birthday a couple of weeks ago on a beautiful, sunny, warm October day.  The same weather on the day she was born.

It has been a journey this year and when I think back to 'us' a year ago I am overwhelmed and saddened, and overjoyed all at once.  We have dug deep, we have hit bottom and we have been the happiest we've ever been.  We have started all over again, rediscovering what life is about.  We have been beaten, we have been left to the wolves and we have begun to resurface.  And Gabrielle has taught us what matters.

Thank you to our many friends and family who have been by our side this year.  It has been lonely, difficult and we could not have done it without you.

Thank you for helping us celebrate Gabrielle's first year of life.   It was magical to see you all, and have you all here in our home.

Cheers to friends, family, love and life.

Saturday, November 5, 2011


We have had a wonderful fall with so many special, and fun 'firsts' with Gabrielle.   Here are some of my favourite memories from the fall so far.

First commercial with Roberto Luongo

First trip to the ghost train at Stanley Park

First birthday!

First Canuck hockey game!  

First time in exersaucer

First time picking a pumpkin

First tractor ride

First party hangover

As the weather gets colder and winter just around the corner, I look forward to many more memory making days with Gabrielle.

I love you missy moo.