Our little boy is 3!!!

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Today my sweet little boy turned 3!!!
Even as I watch and cuddle him as often as I can, I find myself stunned by the passage of time… both at how quickly it seems to have passed, and simultaneously how very much has happened in these three precious years of his life.
LEONARD MAKSALON TABAH… born on December 22, 2010… a few weeks ahead of schedule he was our Christmas blessing. And while he arrived earlier than expected, he certainly took his time to make his grand entrance.

And since the moment he arrived, he has brought joy into our lives. I will never forget the cuddles of those early months… when Leo had reflux and so I carried him in the sling all the time… sleeping upright with him resting against my chest so that we could both get as much rest as possible. And no matter what was happening, he always smiled. His sisters, of course, could make him giggle better than anyone. Still today, no one can cheer him up better than his sisters. He turns to them with his big blue eyes for support, for inspiration, for comfort, for advice… and happily copies anything they do. He is love. He is joy. He is peace. He is courage.

Every day her reminds me to be present and to forget my to do list for a moment to cuddle on the couch with a book. He loves to be carried and offers hugs and kisses without reservation. He can kick a ball for hours… and ride his two wheeler without end. He is full of energy and can run circles around the house… inside and out. And he never hesitates to settle in when an offer of a good book is available… whether by mama, or his big sisters (who adore reading to him).

he will tell anyone who listens that ‘i’m three’… displaying it proudly on his hand. quickly followed by… ‘i am a big little boy.’ he is excited to start school… but ‘not yet’… and that is just fine with me.

For his birthday he wanted something small, with a  few close family friends (and his sisters too, of course). His one request was that we all sing Happy Birthday in as many languages as possible… as he listened patiently and intently we did our best in English, Spanish, Polish, French and Italian!!! Mama loves you little man… today and always. Happy Birthday my sweetheart… happy birthday my perfect, courageous, compassionate, talkative, inspiring, strong, gentle lion.

Leo looking up as he enjoys the many versions of Happy Birthday!!

Leo looking up as he enjoys the many versions of Happy Birthday!!

Anais looks on as Leo blows out his candles

Anais looks on as Leo blows out his candles

Isabel laughs as we keep on singing!!

Isabel laughs as we keep on singing!!

English, French, Italian, Polish, Spanish...

English, French, Italian, Polish, Spanish…

Get ready to make a wish!!

Get ready to make a wish!!

Take it all in!!

Take it all in!!

Now I'm 3!!!

Now I’m 3!!!

remembering…

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It has been said, ‘time heals all wounds.’ I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone. ― Rose Kennedy

Today my mama would have been 68. Today she would have shared another beautiful month together with us… enjoying the kids, laughing, organizing. Revelling in the magic that is shared by three generations of Virgos. She would have loved isabel’s birthday celebrations, and she would have no doubt insisted on getting a cucumber eye mask along with all the girls!!! Today I will open champagne and share cake with the kids… each with their own candle to make an extra special wish. Today I have packed up gifts for each of the kids (and J too)… chosen specially from their Budi. Today we will still celebrate… even if it is through tears in my eyes. Today we remember… always, we remember… forever. I still miss her terribly… and I still can’t seem to find ‘peace’ with what happened… so perhaps Rose Kennedy does have it right… though for now, the pain has yet to lessen, and I just try to keep moving forward in a positive and compassionate way. Though I will admit, September has been a tough month to get through… so am doing it one tiny moment at a time.

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my mama… perhaps the same age as Anaïs is now… always full of sparkle!!!

There are a thousand photos that I still need to update from our summer and the first days of school… a time filled with amazing memories and pulled me away from the computer to revel in the magic of my children as the sun invited us to play outside daily… but today, i need to take a moment to remember my mama. Not that it takes any extra effort because her memory is ingrained in all that i do. and i remember her, and the hole that remains where she once was present, i find myself missing both my parents even more deeply.

budi & bodhi (c1982)

budi & bodhi were always having fun!!!

There is no death, daughter. People die only when we forget them,’ my mother explained shortly before she left me. ‘If you can remember me, I will be with you always. ― Isabel Allende

A big girl party!

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For her 7th birthday, Isabel decided that she wanted to have a sleep over with just a couple of her closest friends… a sleep over?!?! is my sweet girl ready for a sleep over? how about all the other girls? Well, I sent out a scouting note to all the mamas and papas to gauge the appetite and all were game… so off the races!!!

Of course, we planned way too much and somehow managed to pack it all in. All the girls were to be dropped off before dinner on Saturday, and picked up after breakfast on Sunday. We played, we ate, we had a puppet show, we did yoga, we created a ‘home made organic spa’… we laughed… a lot!!! we danced. we laughed more. We even had champagne (the non-alcoholic variety, of course!!!). Isabel had a smile from ear to ear all day, and night!!! i think it was permanently glued on so it never even disappeared while she slept!!! Not all the girls made it as a couple got home sick when it came time to curl into bed… but we had fun all the same, and she still had a sleep over with her friends!!! And the next morning we made banana pancakes with fresh berries. Life is good!!!

As per tradition, here is a little video clip of the fun: Isabel’s 7th Birthday Party!!!

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This year Isabel made her own birthday cake… i just did the decorations!!!

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Fun on the swings

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Lia singing on the swings

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Rubina having fun!

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Anna asking me to stop taking pictures!!

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screaming as we cut the cake!!

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madison & isabel

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mask made of bananas & honey, with cucumbers!!

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sea salt foot soak with marbles (for an added foot massage)!!

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watching a puppet show before bed

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happy birthday sweet girl… may all your dreams come true!!

My girl turned 7 today!!!

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She has a golden heart. She is curious about everything. She gets frustrated when things don’t come easily for her. She loves without boundaries. She has the most contagious laughter. She dances without inhibition. She never stops talking. She hugs. She kisses. She cuddles. She plays. She adores her friends. She is the best big sister ever. She dreams. She lives. She loves…

To celebrate we had banana brownies at school with her friends. At home a meal designed by her… veggie sheppard’s pie followed by her favourite cake: chocolate with white icing and raspberries. Lots of presents and lots of laughter.

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banana-chocolate brownies were a hit at school!!!

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Flowers purchased by her little brother, Leo, for Isabel (pink, with a little blue for Anaïs)

IMG_6450Happy Birthday my sweet princess. We love you so… to the moon and back and the around the world without end forever!!!!!!!

As the years pass, I am coming more and more to understand that it is the common, everyday blessings of our common everyday lives for which we should be particularly grateful. They are the things that fill our lives with comfort and our hearts with gladness — just the pure air to breathe and the strength to breath it; just warmth and shelter and home folks; just plain food that gives us strength; the bright sunshine on a cold day; and a cool breeze when the day is warm. ― Laura Ingalls Wilder

Summer Memories (Part IV): returning

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After a very emotional and full trip to Toronto, we were happy to return to the poolside… and even though the weather shifted and turned cooler, there was no stopping the kids from enjoying the water (especially when the hot tub was available for a quick warm up)!!!

the water was so cold... but both isabel and anaïs were diving in!!! Leo preferred the bubbles in the hot tub (along with the rest of us)!!

the water was so cold… but both isabel and anaïs were diving in!!! Leo preferred the bubbles in the hot tub (along with the rest of us)!!

We also managed to make a trip to Lennoxville to visit our amazing Piñero-Tabah cousins!!! Anabel and Benj were the most incredible hosts giving up their beds so that we could find a comfort zone with the three kids. Everyone had a magical time and it was sad to go… the tears were an indication of the love and the joy that these cousins share… and that brief 24-hours was a reminder of how easy it would be live just a little closer… of how amazing it would be to share these magical moments regularly. We are so blessed to have such an incredible family.

The most beautiful memories... the most welcoming home... the most wonderful family... so blessed that you are ours.

The most beautiful memories… the most welcoming home… the most wonderful family… so blessed that you are ours.

One more little excursion to visit with Roger and family at the lake… then a few final days with Nana & Jid’do… building a bonfire and sharing time with Theo, Andrea, Sam & Molly. Life is beautiful.

final days

and as the summer in Canada came to a close… i was left with the feeling that home, perhaps, is not a place… for us, home seems to move along with the people we hold most dear. when we are in canada, it is home… for we are with those that we love. and this will always make it home. yet, when we live abroad… wherever it might be… that too becomes home in its own way… not because of the place, but because of the people… because of the memories we create as a family that give meaning to the place in which we are living. So often we hear that home is where the heart is… home is wherever we feel at home. This summer, we were home… and as we leave Canada again… we are also returning home.

I believe the nicest and sweetest days are not those on which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens but just those that bring simple little pleasures, following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string. ― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea

Creating sacred places…

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Nothing is ever really lost to us… as long we remember it. ~ L.M. Montgomery

While we were in Canada, we  went to visit the bench that is dedicated to my mother on the waterfront in Toronto… a place she loved to walk and did so daily… looking out on to the water. The bench held a weight that I had never imagined… as it rests upon the ground, it holds with it the weight of a life that touched so many people… a life that held so much more of the future… a life that is no longer with us in the way we had always imagined. It is the weight that we carry in our hearts… that seems to lighten with a smile each time we see a rainbow or a passing cloud that seems to mimic an angel… each time a new orchid blooms in our home. Yet the weight remains… ever present, it holds a heaviness that reminds us never to take any single moment for granted. Whether it is a moment of joy or sadness… it is a part of our life… and somehow it holds magic in it.

I hope that each person who sits upon this bench as they pass by… to take a breath, to look out at the lake that reaches into eternity, to chat with a friend, to giggle, to cry,  to pause, to reflect, to be… that each person is reminded of the magic of this moment, and the celebration that is this life we live. Wandering our way through, trying to do our best… one moment at a time. I hope that each person who sits upon this bench is infused with a sense of hope, and appreciation of the beauty that is all around. Whether rain, snow, clouds or sunshine surround… there is beauty to be found in the light, in the mist, in the water, in the uniqueness of each snowflake… and even in the sound of the squishy slush that forms as the snow begins to melt.

As I sat on this bench, I remembered as if it was yesterday sitting with my mom on one of the neighbouring benches. The flurry of memories was immense and intense… our conversations, holding her hand, watching her run along the edge of the waterfront with Isabel. Precious memories that will live on in our hearts forever.

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the view from my mama’s bench

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we will always remember…

After a small picnic at the bench, we drove over to the cemetery to spend some time in the place that holds a physical memento of my parents… my mom and dad. While the moment was tender, the kids managed to bring joy into it with their smiles and laughter. Celebrating life, while recognizing the brevity of it all in the same moment.

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a candle on the wall above the resting place for my mom and dad… love.

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Summer Memories (part III): a few excursions

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As has become tradition, we enjoyed a fantastic day on the Island with Rhonda… the kids getting to steer the boat on the way, and Isabel enjoying her very first tubing experience. What a marvellous day!!!

on the boat... steering, relaxing and enjoying the wind.

on the boat… steering, relaxing and enjoying the wind.

having fun at the island with Rhonda.

having fun at the island with Rhonda.

We were blessed with a wonderful visit from Nic, Lori and Ava… and shared some beautiful moments by the poolside.

special moments shared with Lori, Nic & Ava by the poolside.

special moments shared with Lori, Nic & Ava by the poolside.

And then, we were off to Toronto for just a couple of days to share precious moments with dear friends, and make a special visit to the memorial bench and cemetery. The kids were amazing on the long drive… Leo diligently coloured in his colouring pads (thank you dollar store!) and Isabel (as per usual) was absorbed in her books… anaïs did her best finding her own distractions and moments of comfort.

Friends are always friends... no matter the distance of space or time... somehow, nothing changes amongst friends.

Friends are always friends… no matter the distance of space or time… somehow, nothing changes amongst friends.

visit with Jay-Jay, Christina & Gus

visit with Jay-Jay, Christina & Gus

Shared moment with Tao; Ceilidh, Jesse & Lily... another great visit with the Sturdee's, and then meeting up with Ted upon our return to Morin Heights.

Spontaneous visit with Tao; Reading stories and playtime with Ceilidh, Jesse & Lily; another great visit with the Sturdee’s (best hosts ever!); and then meeting up with Ted upon our return to Morin Heights.