Lest We Forget

Today we remember.
We remember those who left and never came back.
We remember those who came back and were never the same.
We remember those who were too young, but went anyway.
We remember those who stayed home and prayed, sent letters and care packages and waited anxiously for loved ones to return.
We remember those they liberated.
We remember the sacrifice and the freedoms they fought for.
We remember the stories they shared – pieces of memory of love and loss, of friendship and hate, of a time that can’t be erased.
Today we remember.
Lest We Forget.

My great-grandfather, Alvin Weidenhamer, was a signalman in the Canadian artillery during the First World War – a part of the Canadian Expedition Force.  According to his attestation paper he signed up at the young age of 22 years, 9 months, and on December 16th, 1915  – 9 days before Christmas.  His occupation listed was Farmer, he was not married at the time and he embarked on a journey that would take him overseas into the heart of the fighting of The Great War.
I knew growing up that he had been a soldier in the war but I honestly didn’t even know his story till a few years ago when my kids started asking questions about our family history and any information we had to share at school for Remembrance Day.
I found out that Grandpa had received a medal for “Bravery in the Field”. And his story is as follows (thanks to my Mom’s cousin Murray for passing this on to me) –

The army was in retreat – the weather was wet and rainy. The engineers had fashioned some sort of road over the soggy terrain using large wooden pallets.  Everyone was having a hard time staying on this wooden road. It was muddy, slippery and unstable.  Many men were falling off were at risk of drowning, and there were some who were jumping off the road and into the mud to help save those in trouble. As chance would have it, Grandpa managed to jump in and haul a British officer to safety – and that’s how he got his medal.  He wasn’t terribly proud of that medal; he felt that everyone there should have received one who was there helping.

But I think that just goes to show the character of this man. He didn’t feel that what he did was out of the ordinary, or extraordinary.  He was only doing what any other caring human being would have done – helped those who needed help.

Another story that he shared with Murray, and from what I understand he didn’t talk about his time during the war very often, was one where he was caught , in crossfire on one occasion. The army had retreated and he was left in no-man’s land.  As a signalman he was close to the frontline troops, and close to enemy lines,  his job to observe where the shells were landing on the enemy territory and signal back to the gunners so they could adjust their aim.
So there he was, left in no-man’s land, caught between the two forces.  He had to lie in a foxhole for three days while the battle continued and the artillery shells flew back and forth overhead.  The foxhole he took refuge in was also occupied by three German soldiers- all dead.  Three days and three nights. Alone. I can imagine it felt more like an eternity.  By the time Grandpa could leave that place, he felt he knew those dead German soldiers. They were young men, just like him.  They had parents, just like him. They had brothers and sisters, just like him.  And they had friends for whom they were willing to give their own lives for, just like him.

I can’t imagine what it was like. But we can honour their sacrifice and remember what they gave and keep sharing their stories so we never have to repeat and go through what they had to go through. 100 years later, and their stories are still remembered.  Lest We Forget.
#CanadaRemembers #LestWeForget #WeWillRememberThem #RemembranceDay #100years

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What’s in a Name

I called you Grandma and you called me Joey, and it has been one whole year since I’ve heard you say my name. The last time I saw you – I got a small squeeze on my hand and one last smile on your face when I leaned in and whispered “I’m here Grandma, it’s Joey”. There are a handful of people who are allowed to call me that -Joey- and anyone else who tries to call me Joey will be informed that that specific nickname is reserved for certain people. Those people are close to my heart just like you. And I don’t know why it bothers me when I hear other people calling me that – but it just seems wrong when it isn’t someone that is on the short list. Your favourite people had nicknames – and it’s something that I find myself doing as well – giving my favourite people nicknames. And I do it whether they like it or not – just like you. They learn to love it because it is said with love. So this morning, while I drink my coffee I’ll smile as I remember you and I’ll probably cry a little because out of all the voices that call me Joey – yours is the one that meant the most and the one I miss the most. Till we meet again – love you lots – Joey

Put Me in Coach

I always thought that there would be nothing better than playing a sport you love to play. You know the process, the game day prep, the pump up tunes, team meeting, getting hyped, the adrenaline rush when you take the field or go up to bat, and just the team atmosphere.  But I was wrong. There is something that matches that feeling of playing a sport you love – coaching a sport you love.

My goal, as a coach, is to develop, not only the skills they need to play the game, but the love for the game. I want them to appreciate the little nuances of the game – to look at a team we are playing and have them see what they are doing well and where the weaknesses are.  I love it when I look up from writing the line up and see them watching the other team warming up, talking about how what they see. I want them to understand the game – so they can, in turn, coach the next generation to love this game.

This team though – this year was so much fun.  This team has so much potential and a few times throughout the season I saw flashes of brilliance out on the field and I got excited. I was excited because it was starting to click – they were starting to not just go through the motions but they were playing the game, understanding the game. We had so many compliments from other coaches about our catchers, our infield and how they covered and played, our pitchers mechanics, our base running and just how consistent they were in playing the game.  I watched each and everyone of our girls do something that we worked on in practice and have it transfer over to a game.  Just to highlight – a headfirst slide, delayed stealing (that even surprised me), a grand slam,  a bomb of a throw from Left Field to home to get the runner out, framed pitches, and change-up pitches. They played as a team, they won as a team and lost as a team – and I can hands-down guarantee, that win or lose, we were having the most fun out there. Just ask any one of the girls on this team what time it is and you let me know what they say! #dingertime

A huge shout out to my co-coaches  – the endless energy and hours they put in, the way they know how to explain a concept or what to say to get the most out of the girls.  I could not do this without them.  It takes a team to coach a team, and I am so glad these two are on my team.  Kali – who has been there from the start is the calm to my storm. She has a way of getting the girls to dig deep and play from their hearts. Her quiet confidence keeps me (somewhat) calm on the bench.  Chantal – one of the best decisions I’ve ever made was asking her to help coach these kids. I’m not sure if I’ve met anyone who loves this sport more than she does and that infectious love of the sport was instantly passed onto the team. The wealth of knowledge she brought to this team is priceless.

Our season ended at provincials this past weekend, our goal was to make it out of our pool and play on Sunday , which we did.  And when our season ended, we did what we do best, had fun.  Team pictures – water fight – and crushing a piñata.  Thank you girls for a great season – it was one to remember and one I won’t forget.  I am so proud to be your coach and I can’t wait for next year. #gocents

On the Road Again….

It’s that time in our family where the meeting of winter sports meet summer sports.  Our oldest is still playing second season hockey and has started ball practices, our middle is still prepping for her karate grading  and has also started her ball practices and our youngest is just dreaming of seeding fields on the farm – oh and his ball starts this week! My husband is going over the farm machinery, checking fields and looking after all the details for spring time work and seeding on the farm. And here I am prepping my piano students for May exams, coaching Ally’s ball team and basically organizing and scheduling our crazy life for the next couple of months.  Honestly – I wouldn’t have it any other way! We are all doing what we love to do and even though we might seem like we are going in 8 different directions at once – I do enjoy some of the one-on-one time I get with the kids because we are going in different directions.

There are a couple of things I do – prep-wise – that keep us going in the right direction.  A visible weekly schedule  – I had a fancy schmancy dry erase monthly calendar but honestly it wasn’t the best. It was overwhelming to look at the whole month as opposed to just a week at a time.  SO I pulled out a piece of paper and put it in a page protector. (Ya I’m crafty like that)   I fill it out weekly with a dry erase marker – with Manitoba weather chances are ball games are going to be cancelled and rescheduled. The kids and look and see where they are going – my farmer husband can see which towns his kids are playing if he has a chance to get away from the field – and I have a visual to see what’s going on and where everyone needs to be.  It’s cheap, it’s easy and it works.

Another prep I do for the controlled chaos is pack a snack bag.  My kids get off the school bus close to 4:00 pm and we are usually on the road again (if they have a practice or a game) by 5:00pm.  That means an early supper or a supper on the go, and once their activity is done they are hungry! Scratch that – they are HANGRY! So to feed the wild beasts I have a bag of snacks that goes in the vehicle with us.  Usually filled with snacks they like and will fill them up or tie them over till we get home.  This week we have almonds, Clif Bars, fruit cups, applesauce, granola bars.  I’ll also put fresh fruit and veggies in there or any baking that I’ve done (muffins, cookies etc).  Some juice boxes and Powerade or Gatorade will be there too , as well as the kids water bottles. Along with some wet-naps, napkins and spoons.

SO hopefully this crazy, chaotic season will run smoothly and everyone will get to the places they need to be safely and well-fed.  Moms on the go – what are your go-to time saving methods you use? Let’s help each other get through the busy seasons of life!

Good Friday

I witnessed something really cool today. It was the community Good Friday service that took place at our church.  It was a combination of all the churches in our small town.  Each church was represented and for an hour today there was no difference.  It didn’t matter (and really it shouldn’t matter) which church you were from.  We put aside the little, and some big,  differences in our denominations and we worshiped – together – as one congregation – as the body of Christ.  I really wish I had taken a picture of it  – because this – this is how it should be.

Because when it comes down to it I don’t think that faith is a complicated thing. Do you Believe? Life changes, the world changes and stuff happens but my faith, my Jesus, my God has been there for me even when I didn’t recognize it.

I was reminded today of something I used to listen to.  It’s the Apostles Creed put to music and when I was a part of a vocal group in college, Veritas, we sang an arrangement by James Fast called Credo.  This was before our cellphones recorded anything so I don’t have a physical copy of this musical masterpiece but I remember it well.  I do, however, have a version by the band Third Day and if you want to listen to it head over to Spotify and give a listen to Creed.

If you want to know what I believe – the following is what I believe.  And I think that if you were to ask the community of believers who were at the service today – regardless of denomination – they would also claim that this is what they believe. Because when it all comes to an end here on Earth and when we get to the gates of Heaven I don’t think we’re going to be asked what church we went to or what denomination we are a part of – but we will be asked “Do you Believe”.

The Apostles’ Creed

I believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate was crucified, dead, and was buried; he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven, he is seated at the right hand of the Father, and he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.
Amen

Image via Pinterest

Road Trip

This past weekend my husband and I went on a road trip. I haven’t been able to convince him to go on a warm vacation but I did convince him to go south….. to……. Minneapolis!!

I know what you’re thinking – “wow, Minneapolis, woo hoo, totally on my top ten places to go on a winter vay-cay 🙄”

But it was great! And here’s why.

1) there’s a lot of things happening and going on in Minneapolis. We took in a concert (Demi Lovato) and an NBA game (Timberwolves vs. Golden State Warriors). And the evening we arrived we found out that we also could’ve taken in WrestleMania – we chose to go to an Irish Pub with live music instead (#goodlifechoices)

 

“Don’t let the Bastards Grind you Down”

 

 

Demi – slaying on stage

 

 

Cover Band who opened with AC/DC TNT #legends

 

2) The Food. We didn’t have one bad meal. The food was a amazing. From the greasy pizza joint, to the fancy schmancy hotel restaurant and everything in between – we ate well.

 

Pizza La Vista 

 

3) Location, location, location. We stayed at a hotel  (The Loews) that was right across from the venue we were going to be attending. Literally a 30 second walk from the hotel to the venue. Did we pay a lot to stay there – YES. Did the visiting Golden State Warriors stay at the same hotel – YES Was my husband scared to drive/park downtown so we picked a hotel with valet parking- also YES. We were two blocks from the metro station – so we could catch the metro to anywhere in the city. We opted for the hotel driving service due to me wanting to shop at Mall of America 😁 it was a 15 minute drive and our driver was great and knowledgeable. And there was a lot going on around us that we could walk to. Restaurants, Pubs, clubs, shopping, theatres, etc.

 

Watching GSW leave the hotel 

Draymond Green – opted to walk across the street instead of taking the 30 second bus ride. 

 

We would totally go back to Minneapolis!

BUT the best thing was it was the first time in 11 years that my husband and I got to go away somewhere – just the two of us – for more than one night. Don’t get me wrong – love my kids – but it is nice to have some time with your spouse. Now you might be thinking – “what? 11 years? Seriously?” Yup – no joke. Our farming lifestyle (up until this past year) consisted of a cow/calf operation in which my husband would be feeding cows daily and during calving season was basically a walking zombie who lives off of coffee and minimal sleep. We’ve switched our operation slightly and now we don’t have the cow/calf side of the farm anymore. And this means a quieter winter – farm wise. The kids,on the other hand, had us on the go 99% of the time with hockey and karate. But there it was ONE WEEKEND, no kids, no cows – and the GSWarriors were in Minneapolis. Nothing was going to stop us!

Mall of America #restingbuckface

Ready for Demi!!

Room with a View #theloewshotel

Finally a smile! 

 

I highly recommend planning a trip, or if that’s not an option a date night, with just you and your significant other. It was great to just talk, or be silent, singing to the radio, argue about directions or whatever. We were just us. We were able to talk and communicate without the interruption of our children or our every day responsibilities. It is so important to carve out time to work on your relationship with your spouse, because marriage is a work in progress. Is it always easy – no. Does it take work – yes. Does it take respect – yes. Does it take forgiveness and mercy – absolutely. Nobody is perfect and no marriage/relationship is perfect – BUT if you work at it and put time into it – it does get easier.

Did our kids Snapchat us? Yes. Did we miss them? I guess so….. I mean yes. But, you know what – it’s ok to miss your kids. It’s ok to spend some time away from them. I appreciated them much more after being away for even a few days. And I appreciate the guy I chose to spend the rest of my life with even more as well. Even if he doesn’t smile for selfies 🙄#restingbuckface

 

Classic – #restingbuckface

 

Finding Jo Again

I don’t know exactly when I made the decision that enough was enough.  It could’ve been when my kids thought it was their Aunty (instead of me) in my wedding pictures.  Or when I had to buy another size up at the store. Maybe it was when my youngest asked if I was having another baby.  I’ve known for a while that something needed to change. I also know that I don’t like the taste of “fake shakes” as I call them – I hate giving my food a point system but I knew my food choices had to change.  I was in a constant state of mind-fog, super emotional, unhappy with everything and everyone – including myself.  Knowing what needed to be done but not having the energy to do it felt overwhelming, being stuck in a self-destructive cycle of emotional eating and not being active was life-draining.  I was done – done physically, done emotionally, just done.

I was lost – I didn’t know who I was or what my purpose was.  Who was Jo? Before being married and having kids I would define myself as smart, an athlete, musician, outgoing, and confident.  I didn’t feel like that anymore.  I wasn’t sure what defined me now.  Was I destined to be an overweight, over emotional person for the rest of my life? Ugh – how sad.  I wanted to be a great mom/wife, active, supportive, confident and content. So I put my big girl (literally) panties on and I started to change.  I made a list of what made me feel good (emotionally/physically/spiritually), and I would try to do one thing on that list daily.  Music – being Outside – Walking/exercise – Family time – spending time with Friends. I found that even if I did just one thing on that list my mood improved.  And it began to snowball.

I had a couple of friends who came alongside and in the fall of 2017 we started a little competition (YAY!!! I LOVE COMPETITIONS #legit).  It was to keep each other accountable in our health journeys and whoever lost the most weight (percentage) got paid $25 by the other two. We are all busy moms and we all knew that we needed to carve out time for ourselves in order to be the best moms that we can be. It was the accountability I needed and the push I needed to become consistent in my fitness journey. My kids are getting older – the oldest two don’t always need me at their team practices so I got a gym membership.  When I drop them off at practice I go to the gym. I get my hour or hour and a half cardio time in (and I get to listen to my customized playlists).  I was carving out “Me” time.  It did me good.  It allowed me to think and be alone and process my day and what needed to be done – while getting a workout.  And it didn’t take away from my Mom time with the kids or time with my husband.

So I was getting there  – I had a fitness routine and it was going great.  But I tell ya it’s the food that gets me! I was browsing Facebook and one of my friends from high-school had a post about her program Mama Recharged and was starting up her 7 day cleanse.  Not gonna lie I was skeptical at first – the word cleanse was scary to me.  But I read what she had on her page and this is what jumped out at me

“You won’t be eating many strange diet foods, chugging weird powders or following some kinds of gimmick diet program.  The Mama Recharged cleanse consists of real whole foods that are delicious and support your body. Period. “

So I did it – I joined her group and the cleanse and I learned a lot about my body and how it reacts to food.  The recipes were easy – I was eating real food – I wasn’t going hungry and I wasn’t craving sugar and caffeine like I used to. In the seven days that I followed the cleanse I found that the “mind fog” lifted, I slept better, I had more energy.  I was amazed at how much of a change I felt in one week.

Thanks Teri!! #checkitout 

Has it been easy? No.  Is it a quick fix? Also, No.  December was basically a complete cheat month and write off with the move/Christmas.  But I have the tools now to get back on track and not fall back into bad habits. I’ve found that when I am active and eating well – my emotions are not so cray-cray and I’m way more even-keeled. So there is a connection.  I feel more confident, more energized and more stable. I feel like I can give more to my kids and husband.  I feel like Jo again.

Summer 2015 vs Winter 2017

January 2018 vs. Summer 2016