inspiration garden

The weather is beautiful today and I had a few minutes to myself so I headed over to the Coquitlam Inspiration Garden. This year they really did an amazing job with the colors, types of plants and flowers.
My faithful buddy Romeo was along with me today and even let me take a few pictures of him! I love this Pup! He makes me smile everyday :)
If you click on the pictures it will make a slide show and you will see the names I gave them! :) Enjoy!
Grace and Peace,
Sunflower

it happened

June 4, 1995 I celebrated one of my first large accomplishments in life…..High School Graduation. NEVER did I think 20 years later that I would sit in a theatre on June 22, 2015 and watch my son walk across the stage and graduated from High School!

ready or not!

ready or not!


I’m not sure if I want to cry or be happy. I think I’m somewhere in the middle.

The story of our Buddy:

After high school I was married to the love of my life and we were blessed 1 year and 9 months into our marriage with a blessing we have loved and cherished ever since. Our first born, a son. Someone who looks like, talks like, and even acts like us! I remember the day like it was yesterday. I wanted to see that sweet baby grow into a man of God, a man who loves, a man who gives, a smart man like his daddy. I’m SO blessed that God had plans for all of that to happen.

Early on I knew Buddy was going to be different and we would be challenged. God wired him in a way that is unique and special. He walked at 10 months and was talking in 3 word sentences at 12-14 months! (And he hasn’t stopped talking since!!!!!) After starting pre-school at the local church when he was 3 we knew we had to motive him in ways beyond what we thought! Like when he was about the start pre-k 4 and he had to write his name to be in the class. I tried everything. Nothing was working. He knew the letters, numbers, colors, and shapes…but was NOT going to pick up that pencil and write his name. I resorted to the old trick…bribery! “Write your name so I can show the teachers and you can and get that really cool ($expensive$) StarWars costume at Toys-R-Us!” He did it right the first try! I couldn’t believe it! He moved through pre-k and on to K at the big public school. He wasn’t reading well when he started and I was once again wondering how to make it happen. We found the book series Magic Tree House and it happened over night. Needless to say in first grade when his teacher called and said “I’m sorry I can’t stop him, but your son has learned his multiplication tables from the videos at the end of the morning announcements.” I just laughed!!! :) When 2nd grade rolled around I was back to feeling strained and not knowing what to do. He was in trouble for sharing the answers. They moved him one day a week to the “gifted” class and his teacher I’m sure enjoyed the day off!!! After that we knew he needed to come home and work with Mom. He was moving ahead in a fast way and wasn’t doing well in the classroom. He came home and moved at his pace through grades 3-8 and excelled at so many different subjects. Then we moved to Canada. Once here we wanted the kids to meet others and make some friends. We put them in Maple Ridge Christian School and Cameron was able to skip 9th and go right into 10th grade. It was a rough year socially for Buddy. He was bullied and had a hard time. He did ok academically but really wanted to be back at home. So for the start of 11th he was back at home and this was a time of real struggle. His wiliness to take on his studies alone was too much. So off to public school he went. He was able to take some great classes and finished up his 11th and 12th grade year in 1 1/2 years. I’m so proud!
But walking the stage….that was rough on this Mama Bear! I’m confident that God has great plans for you Buddy He says in His word “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

our grad

our grad

almost time!

almost time!

1st stop on the stage

1st stop on the stage

2nd stop on stage

2nd stop on stage

3rd stop on stage and tassel switch

3rd stop on stage and tassel switch

final stop with the principal

final stop with the principal

I’m looking forward to seeing how these plans play out in my young mans life. I pray he grows to love Jesus even more, I pray he seeks wise council when feeling the pinch, I pray he finds a sweet girl and they have LOTS of babies for me to take care of!!! LOL No really I do hope he finds a sweet God loving girl!

As of now my boy you want to join the US Navy and I could be more proud. To serve your country is wonderful. I’m happy and scared for you. I’m excited and nervous. But most of all I’m thankful to be your Mom and to have the opportunity to call you son.

family

family

with Grandma Milligan

with Grandma Milligan

Grace and Peace,
Sunflower AKA Mom! :)
When the grads were all walking into the theatre they had the side screens showing a video feed…..look who made the screen!!! hee hee

we made the screen!

we made the screen!

Prodding along the trail

Almost two years ago my Daddy joined his Father in rejoicing each and everyday. It wiped me clean off my feet. I knew it was , but I didn’t know what to do about it, or how to overcome it. I lived in a fog. I operated each day, but inside I was a mess. I told few how I felt, and hid my feelings as much as possible. The process of coming out of the fog has taken me a long time. Taking pictures was something I loved (and still do!) but it was hard. I know it is something my Daddy did and loved and I have the same love for it. Without my Dad here to see my pictures and tell me how much he loves them is hard. I let this little space on the web die a bit with him.
Slowly I’m coming back. Slowly I’m taking more and more pictures. Seeing life, seeing Gods most amazing earth through my lens. I marvel at the way God created this place and all of the minute details. It makes me smile deep in my soul. It draws me to Him, into a closeness with my creator.

Today I wanted to enjoy another beautiful sunny spring day here in Beautiful British Columbia so I asked Buddy to come along with me and the dog as we walked Hoy Creek trail!
While walking I saw things that made me smile, pause and experience God. I took out my iPhone and started taking pictures. It was refreshing, relaxing, enjoyable and made me feel like ME!

hoy creek coquitlam

hoy creek coquitlam


It takes time to heal. It is different for each of us.
hoy creek
Some point along the trail my son said “Hey why don’t you put these pictures on your blog?”
my boy

my boy


That’s a great question…
 hoy creek hatchery

hoy creek hatchery


One I’m working on….
hoy creek
One that for me is taking a bit more time…and prodding!
Buddy and Romeo

Buddy and Romeo


So today I took time to see you Father, to connect, to listen and hear you talk to me through my son. Thank you.
simple beauty

simple beauty

Heres to taking more pictures, seeing the beauty around us, and listening to our children.
Grace and Peace,
Sunflower

P.S. My ever so sweet and loving Father-in-Law gave me the most amazing lens and I LOVE it and need to use it more. He also shares my love of photography and is always encouraging me. For that I am so grateful. Double blessed, 2 dads, 2 who love taking pictures! My next walk will be with my favorite lens! Thanks G-pa.

summer 2014 camping!

We finally got out the camping gear and headed out for a weekend of fun!
We didn’t go far from home, but sure did find a good spot. The camp ground was clean, tons of families, campfires were welcomed, and it was on the river.
After arriving on Friday lunch time we set up camp, and sat down to chill! My favorite thing about camping. You have no reason to do much of anything other than chill and have fun!

Romeo the watch dog

Romeo the watch dog

Toska

Toska

For friday night dinner we made hobo packets in the fire and then had our favorite dessert…Banana with marshmallows and chocolate! We also wrapped them in foil and tossed them in the fire. Super yumminess!

dessert banana boats..YUM!

dessert banana boats..YUM!

On Saturday we went on the trail to the lookout and found what turned out to be one the highlights of this weekend…..the river! Once we walked the 2k {mind you this is my first time walking more than around the house I’ve done in almost 2 weeks….I hurt my toe a bad one and have been on the couch :( } When Romeo and Toska caught a whiff of the river water and gray mud/clay river bank, they went NUTS!!!!! We laughed so hard watching them run, play, chase the crashing wake of boats, drink river water, bark and just go CRAZY!!!!

Dirty DOG!

Dirty DOG!

White or Black???

White or Black???

River fun

River fun

River fun

River fun

doggy fun!

doggy fun!

We weren’t sure how we were ever going to get Romeo clean. ( We did hose him off at the camp, but he is headed to the dog wash tomorrow!) We ended up tossing Toska in the dish washing sink and cleaning her at camp! IT was cold but she didn’t seem to mind :)

Dinner on Saturday was made fun thanks to our great friends..…they came had dinner, roasted marshmallows, and we rented to funkiest cool pedal bike things. We all took turns and sure did have fun cruising all over camp!

way cool pedal bikes

way cool pedal bikes


The girls got a bit silly around the camp fire after the sugar rush of dessert!!!!
campfire craziness!!!

campfire craziness!!!

I’m so glad my family likes to camp. I just love it and it really brings back so many fun memories of my childhood.
Hoping we go again soon…..

Grace and Peace,
Sunflower

Coquitlam watershed tour

While looking for things to do this summer that are free or nearly free, I came across the Metro Vancouver website. It list all kinds of events from tours, to how to canoe, to many other topics. The one that first grabbed my attention was the watershed tours. You see we live off of a road named Pipeline Rd. And while out exploring the area one day we drove to the end of the road and were greeted with a DO NOT ENTER gate. I always wondered what was behind that gate because on the map it shows Coquitlam Lake. Well, I’m all about water and if you tell me a lake is about 2 miles from my house I want to see it!!! I was in luck…the watershed tour is of said lake!
I came to learn many a new thing today on the tour. Pipeline Road is named that because the main pipe leading from the watershed goes right down the middle of the road! Second back in the 1940’s they voted to colse off the local watershed and not allow the public to be in them. We currently have 3 in the metro Vancouver area. These areas are natural, beautiful and brimming with all of Gods critters great and small. And they are left to do what they want! So special. :)
We loaded on a school bus today and entered the “gates” and went on to learn all about how they get our water, and how they treat it.
While I would have LOVED to go on the tour when it was a nice, hot and fresh summer day…today was cold, rainy and full of fog! But Gator and I made the best of it and enjoyed ourselves.

A HUGE thank you to my ever so wonderful Father-In-Love for gifting me with an amazing camera lens. It sure didn’t let me down on this rather odd day! Thanks G-pa :)
First part of the tour was on the back side of the dam, and they have created a salmon habitat.
DSC02637

salmon habitat

salmon habitat

DSC02639
Next we stopped on the top of the dam and looked out over the lake and at the water intake tower. circa 1913

Metro Vancouver intake building, built 1913

Metro Vancouver intake building, built 1913

Metro Vancouver intake building, built 1913

Metro Vancouver intake building, built 1913


Then we drove to the tower and were able to walk around it. So neat! (As you can see the weather was wet and cold and Gator has on a winter coat and hat!)
view from intake building

view from intake building

iew from intake building

iew from intake building


We traveled up the mountain to see the view from the top…but along the way we stopped for a small nature walk into the rainforest. Beautiful!
DSC02649

DSC02650
At the top!

view from top of Coquitlam Lake on a fog filled day!

view from top of Coquitlam Lake on a fog filled day!

view from top of Coquitlam Lake on a fog filled day!

view from top of Coquitlam Lake on a fog filled day!

view from top of Coquitlam Lake on a fog filled day!

view from top of Coquitlam Lake on a fog filled day!

view from top of Coquitlam Lake on a fog filled day!

view from top of Coquitlam Lake on a fog filled day!

view from top of Coquitlam Lake on a fog filled day!

view from top of Coquitlam Lake on a fog filled day!

tree tops amidst the fog

tree tops amidst the fog


My favorite shot from the top was little guy…can I say it again…I love my camera and my most amazing lens!
DSC02655

We made the drive back down and when were almost about to exit we saw these 2!!!

mama

mama

baby

baby

tree tops amidst the fog

tree tops amidst the fog

A fun free activity on this not so nice summer day!

Grace and Peace,
Sunflower

P.S. I’m not a trained photographer, and I have not edited them in anyway. Photos are taken using a Sony NEX-5 camera. These are straight off my camera and into this post! I just love capturing Gods great creations. :)

Dance

Summer 2014 has been fun so far….Gator started the fun with a trip to Olympia, Washington (suburb of Seattle) to attend Northwest Dance Intensive.  She had the most amazing opportunity to dance with some of the greatest teachers, including Paloma Herrera from American Ballet Theater.

Paloma!

Paloma!

The intensive was 3 weeks, and to say I missed her is an understatement!

Here are a few picture of the performance the night of pick-up. (this was after a full day of classes!!! (Dedication, determination, and strength.)

warm up barre with Philip Beamish

warm up barre with Philip Beamish

warm up barre with Philip Beamish

warm up barre with Philip Beamish

dance

dance

DSC02552

DSC02566

dance

DSC02567

At the end of the night the students were presented with awards. The guest teacher who presented them is from Italy and speaks very little english…..it was quite the laugh, listening to him announce each girls name. First and last!!!

awards with Vincenzo Lapertosa

awards with Vincenzo Lapertosa

When you put 3 girls in a dorm room together for weeks they become great friends!

friends!

friends!

What a wonderful, learning, challenging, and fun time Gator had. We were are so proud and excited for her.

Grace and Peace,
Sunflower

Portland, OR–part 3

Eighteen years.

Fun times, sad times, great times, rough times but all times together!

Guitar Man and I got married young (I have now spent half of my life married!) and have grown up together.  We have lived in 3 different states and now another country.  We have 2 absolutely wonderful children and 2 furry friends.  Life is good! God is Good!

We have spent many an Anniversary just hanging out, a few taking care of little kids, and some enjoying a nice dinner out.

This year was so far the best!  We had our children with us, we were on vacation, and we got to see extended family.  GM had never even meet my Uncle before today.

Special is what I’m calling it.

Special is what my Guitar Man is.  He loves me and loves me well.  I am blessed.

God has blessed us and this past year is just another reminder of Him and His awesome love for us.

To be in Portland this year was special.  After being out at our families house all afternoon we headed back into Portland and dropped the kids at the hotel…Deschutes was calling our names!  Yes, we went back for anniversary dinner!  Thanks to our hotel for the courtesy shuttle!

18 year selfie!

18 year selfie!

I’m so thankful for our time in Portland.  We needed a get-away and this was perfect!

One last pic of the fan!

The Fam

The Fam

Grace and Peace,

Sunflower

Portland, OR–part 2

Sunday, March 23, 2014 a special day…The 18th wedding Anniversary for Guitar Man and I!

We had planned this family getaway as a fun for all vacation and also a special treat for us!

We set out Sunday morning to do a bit of shopping for Gator and for me!  Of course you can probably guess it was fabric for me and dance stuff for her!

We found this little local breakfast shop called The Pig’nPancake.  It was so funky, had all kinds of pigs, and offered gluten free pancakes, toast and a few other items!  Once again we were shocked and excited!  Buddy was super happy when we was able to order 6 gf pancakes.  He ate them all and was one stuffed boy :)

After b-fast we found the fabric store and it was massive!!!!!! I almost felt confused and I was defiantly overwhelmed! :)

Fabric Depot

Fabric Depot

Fabric Depot

Fabric Depot

If you need any kind of fabric…check them out @ Fabric Depot  You will love it!

After shopping for me and my girl we went out to Washougal, WA and enjoyed what turned out to be one of the best parts of the trip….family time at my Aunt Lynn and Uncle J’s house!  My cousin Katie arranged for us to go out and see them and have lunch, hang out, ride quads, and just chill.  It was so relaxing, fun and super exciting for the kids.  My Uncle J has done so much to his property and made it such a fun outdoor place.  He has a few quads and we rode them all over. Down to the river, through the neighborhood, along the trails, etc.  The river was beautiful, the little waterfalls coming down the mountain were so pretty.  Buddy, Gator and I have never been on quads and we sure learned, learned fast, and ENJOYED!!!!  Both of the kids actually drove and Buddy even did it by himself!  I was so proud of him. :)

2nd cousins playing

2nd cousins playing

cousins at the fire pit

cousins at the fire pit

Uncle J and Gator

Uncle J and Gator

GM and Buddy

GM and Buddy

Gator and GM

Gator and GM

The girls!

The girls!

The girls!

The girls!

Buddy

Buddy

So many of you knowI’m not a gun girl.  It’s not that I hate them, or that I don’t think people should have them, it’s more like stupid people own them and do stupid things with them.  I just stay away from them.  My dear husband has owned them and I have NEVER even touched his guns.  I just look once and say great, now lock it good and tuck it away!  Something crazy happened though….My Uncle is special and I have loved him dearly for my entire life.  A super long time ago, before he was blessed with his awesome daughter, I was his girl!  I really can’t explain it, I just know he holds a special spot in my heart….so yes….you guessed it…he got me to hold one of his guns!  This is for you Mom…I’m a gun hlod’n crazy southerner for sure!!!! For the record, it’s an AR-15. (and yes I had to ask Matthew just now what kind of gun it was…see I’m really not a gun girl! I did it for you Uncle J and well…cause it was our Anniversary and Matthew LOVED seeing me with a gun!!!!!)

A FRIST

A FRIST

A FRIST

A FRIST

We had fun out at the house hanging and enjoying family.  We were all a bit sad to leave. ( Next time I will get even more pictures….I’m not sure why I don’t have one of all of us….or even of my cousin!  Goofy me…sorry…next time!)

 

The Fam

The Fam

Part 3…..next!

Grace and Peace,

Sunflower

Portland, OR –part 1

It’s the time of the year when things are just starting to bloom and the kids are ready past ready to be done with school!

Spring Break!!!!!
Since it was spring break & Guitar Man and I’s 18th wedding anniversary we took a family vacation! Our first in many years!!!
IT WAS FANTASTIC!!!!!
We headed down on Friday morning and had a somewhat long drive.

At a Starbucks stop I saw these great purple and blue flowers…..I was so excited to snap a shot of them. It wasn’t until I came close that I saw they were spray painted! :)

paint flowers

paint flowers

The traffic was thick and things seemed to be moving at a SLOW pace. When we arrived at our hotel The Rivers Edge we settled in our room and then went on the search for FOOD!
Along our walk to dinner:

blooming!

blooming!

new buds and tracks

new buds and tracks

being kids!

being kids!

being kids!

We found a cool place called Little Big Burger. It was a simple burger place, with fries that are drizzled with olive oil after being fried. They were yummy! :) We enjoyed the catsup that was served with the fries….funny name and great flavor!

little big burger catsup

little big burger catsup

Saturday morning we woke with BIG plans to have fun, see the downtown, and eat!
We set out to catch the streetcar and ride into town. It was a fun ride and the cars are really neat.

(waiting for our ride!)

looking for a ride!

looking for a ride!

We made our way to the famous Saturday Market What a market it is! Tons of vendors selling all different kinds of handmade things, and it backs up to the river! It was a sunshine filled day and the market was busy. I was able to find 3 pieces of art from Karla Dornacher that are going to look wonderful on my mantle. :)
After the market we were off to the music store! Yup…Guitar Man said it was a “must see” when in Portland! (store #1…he had 2 “must see” shops!)

GM having fun!

GM having fun!

The kids at the store!

HEY!

HEY!

smiling in the music store

smiling in the music store

After the music store it was off to find a good cuppa coffee for GM. We had a recommendation from the guy at the store so we went and found Stumptown Coffee What a cool place it was!
Guitar Man had coffee, Sunflower had tea, and Gator had a hot cocoa…and Buddy…He had a treat!

Stumptown Coffee

Stumptown Coffee

Buddy treat

Buddy treat

Next was music store number 2, and then lunch!
We had seen this place and wondered if it was going to be gluten free friendly, and had received a recommendation from a family member, so we went to check it out. It was gf friendly in that they offered a full menu and also had GF beer on tap. Which is something we have never seen, or even knew was available. The lunch portions are HUGE and we really enjoyed our massive sandwich on the BEST gf bread EVER! If you are ever in Portland you MUST eat at Deschutes :) It was in one of the old buildings downtown and the main eating area had these cool wood carved entrance beams.

Deschutes, Portland, OR

Deschutes, Portland, OR

Deschutes, Portland, OR

Deschutes, Portland, OR

Now that we were all stuffed to the max….it was time to find a good book and rest! haha….It was time to find a good book and just up 1 block is the worlds largest book store Powells Books! A quote from the website: “Powell’s City of Books is a book lover’s paradise, the largest used and new bookstore in the world. Located in downtown Portland, Oregon, and occupying an entire city block, the City stocks more than a million new and used books. Nine color coded rooms house over 3,500 different sections, offering something for every interest, including an incredible selection of out-of-print and hard-to-find titles.”

Powell's Books

Powell’s Books

Now we had a few bags of goodies, including books for the kids, it was time to head back to the room and chill for a few.

The sun was shining and the temps were fantastic…Gator and I enjoyed time out on our balcony to read and chill, while the boys read a few of the new books and had some time to relax!

We really didn’t need dinner since we ate a late lunch and we had leftovers…so we went out for a bike ride along the river behind the hotel.

floating houses on the Willamette River

floating houses on the Willamette River

Gator

Gator

Willamette River &Mount St. Helens

Willamette River &Mount St. Helens

Gator in a tree!

Gator in a tree!

We finally crashed and called it a night…after watching a little cable TV. (something we ditched since we never watch it at home!) Oh the luxury of staying at a hotel…no cooking, cleaning, laundry, taxi cabbing….oh the list goes on!!!! Day one in Portland was AWESOME!!!!!

Part 2 up next……

Grace and Peace,
Sunflower

naming……

I’m not sure how it started or even why, But naming things is something I seem to do a lot of. I name my “favorite” pen, my “funky” bag, I give a million nicknames to my kids and dogs, heck I even give new names to people!

But what’s in a name? Do you name things thinking about what that name means? Do you even names things!!!

While at church a few weeks back our Pastor was talking about names, and mentioned how he and his beautiful wife named their first child a name they thought was special, different and unique. As he started talking to friends and co-workers at church, they were naming children for Biblical reasons, and meanings, and he soon felt odd and like he had done something wrong in choosing a name for their son. That is not the case at all, he and his wife did not, and the little guy they have is super and his name fits him quite well!

Naming my car has always been a thing for me. When I started this blog I talked about this truck. I LOVED Big Blue. It was my American vehicle. It was my tie to home. It was a beast and I loved it!

Big Blue

Big Blue

Today I am naming yet another car.

2013 Ford Flex

2013 Ford Flex

I’m so excited to have this new ride. My new ride is nice, fancy, has navigation :) and is super smooth. I can still take lots of kids, it seats 7, and it has so many other features I never had I’m not sure what to do with them!

I digress…Naming….

It’s color is kodiak brown metallic. I’m liking it :) It looks black sometimes but in the right lighting and up close you can see it is brown.

So it’s name…The Bear? How about Kodiak? Kodiak Bear?
Let me know you favorite!
I can’t pick….something I’m not use it, since I like to name things!

Grace and Peace,
Sunflower

P.S. God has blessed Guitar Man with a wonderful job that can afford us fun things like this new ride. I am so thankful GM works so hard every day to provide for this family. :) Love you GM!