Our Blessed Chaos

My hubby + a 1st grader + twins in kindergarten + 4 critters..... Yeah it is chaos, but we are blessed!

Today's Verse

After our brief stop in Toronto we continued on to Welland where the kids were excited to meet GG's sister.  It had been a long time since I had seen Auntie Anne and Uncle Percy as well.

We were able to visit for a short while and go out for supper before we had to continue on.  We hope that we can come back and spend more time soon.  The end of day 4 found us at a hotel in Niagara Falls. 

Here was our first glimpse of the falls. 

It is much more exciting and amazing than when I was 15.  Gave me the idea that we should get in as many vacations as possible before they are teenagers.  Nothing beats this reaction!  Check out Ben's face in the photo, then watch the video.  LOVE it!

Yes, it is real and it is spectacular.

and it wouldn't be truly our chaotic vacation if there wasn't something to laugh about...

We have finally crossed the border.  Home is getting closer and we are all tired of being in the van.

While driving through Pennsylvania I see a huge billboard advertising an animal park that is only a few miles off the interstate.  Time for another detour.  It was worth it!  If you are anywhere close to Pittsburgh, PA I highly recommend visiting the Living Treasures Animal Park.

This particular animal park is a petting zoo that also sells food that you can feed to the animals.  How fun is that!

But there was so much more than just animals that you can feed and pet...


Lions tigers & bears...oh my! 

But that is just a small sample, it was such a fun place and I wished that we had more time.  
I am sure we will go back.

It was a fun way to end our trip.  We arrived home safely the following afternoon.

The morning of day 4 of our trip we arrived in Toronto, which I was calling "The Biggest City in Canada" and we had plans to go see the "biggest tower in Canada". 

Too bad the weather was not cooperating.  This is all we saw of the CN tower.

Oh well, we chased pigeons instead of paying the $70+ it would have cost to go up to the top of the tower.

Day 3 and we are still travelling along Lake Superior.  The amazing thing about this drive is that around every curve is the potential for an amazing view. 

After driving for a couple hours it was time to look for a place to stop for a few minutes.  We found a great place called Katherine's Cove.  Here are several short videos for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy.

When we got back to the van I asked everyone "Does everyone have their shoes?"  and everyone said "Yes Mama".

Too bad I didn't check closer.  A pair of brand new shoes got left by the picnic bench...sigh

But this face sums up how much fun they had in that short stop so it was at least worth a lost pair of shoes.

Day 3 of our trip and we are STILL driving through western Ontario.  The drive is absolutely beautiful, but it is not an easy drive because it is two way traffic on a winding, hilly trail cut out through rocks and bordering lakes both very small and very large.

I grew up on the prairies so I am used to seeing deer signs along the road.

But as we drove further away from the prairies we started to see these beware of moose signs. 

Of course if you happen to be travelling with three young and very observant children you will have to answer about a million questions about moose.  What is a moose, how big are mooses, what do mooses eat? Which will then lead to a grammar lesson explaining that sometimes plural things do not end with 's and my standard answer for when I don't know why...."Well you should ask Daddy because he knows all about that kind of stuff".  Anyway, the million questions continued and I am quite amazed at how many questions can be thought up regarding a moose.

Not long into our 3rd day of the trip I saw yet another of one of these moose signs and I said, "Wouldn't it be cool to actually see a moose?"  Less than 10 minutes after I said it, this is what we saw!!!

 The car ahead of us braked and pulled over because the moose was on the side of the road.  So we stopped too and I happened to have the camera beside me and quickly snapped the moose running into the bush.  I thought that was the end of it and the moose would disappear into the bush.

 However, I suppose the moose was curious too so he turned and stuck his tongue out at us. 

Yes, it was really cool to actually see a moose! 

But...it started a whole new series of a million questions.  How come a moose is so big, why doesn't the moose have antlers, why is he so brown? and so on and so on.  Until finally they started a whole new series...Wouldn't it be cool to see a raccoon?  Wouldn't it be cool to see a bear? Wouldn't it be cool to see a mountain lion?  Of course all of these animals had their own series of questions.  About the middle of day 3 I was regretting my decision to not have a DVD player in the van...sigh

Close to the end of day 2 of our trip we finally got to Lake Superior.  I found a place to pull over and we got out with the plan of sticking our toes in "The Biggest Lake".

At least that was the plan...The plan changed very quickly when they realized how cold the water was.  Middle of May in Ontario is only early spring.  We even saw ice on the lake in a few areas later on.

It was much more fun to throw rocks in the water...

Here is a short video of the rock throwing fun.  Note the quick progression of tossing to heaving rocks.  I soon became very nervous (thus the short video).

Day 2 of our trip home I saw a billboard advertising North America's Largest Amethyst Mine.  Of course we had to stop! My birthday is in February for crying out loud!!!

One of life's small blessings is that we arrived two days after they opened for the season!  I would have been so disappointed if they had been closed.

We were so excited to find amethysts just laying on the ground right in the parking lot!

 In my opinion, it is the prettiest of all the birthstones.  I would rather have amethysts than diamonds...(hint hint hubby...10th anniversary not too far away)

Away we went on an amethyst digging adventure.  It was so much fun hunting for treasure...until I sliced my hand open.  Raw amethysts are very very sharp!  Anyway, wasn't too serious and we ended up with some really nice pieces.

With Papa doing much better we decided it was time to go home.  So the day after his birthday party we packed up and headed back to North Carolina, but this would be a more leisurely trip, with a few planned stops such as Toronto and Niagara Falls.  However, it is a very long drive from Saskatchewan to Toronto!  Worse, I had no cell service through all of Manitoba and half way through Ontario - about two whole days with no contact.  With no calls to Daddy...meaning I could not threaten "if you don't quit that I am calling Daddy right now!"

Anyway, we managed just fine.  Once we got a day or so into the trip the scenery started to change from prairies. Soon it seemed that every curve in the road had a view like this...

 It always amazes me what the kids notice.  I had to explain what the vertical lines in the rocks were.  I drove many miles pondering what these lines were until I finally realized they are the blasting holes.  Imagine the conversations we had while going past mile after mile of "blasted mountains". 

How blessed were we to be able to celebrate Papa's birthday with him.  He was able to come home for a few hours on the afternoon of his birthday.  I am wondering if have high school friends as nurses helped?  Thanks Carla and Wanda for taking such good care of my Dad!

 The kids decorated the front step for when Papa came home from the hospital. 
I love that this was their idea.


When it was time for cake Papa was resting so his grandkids were thrilled
to be able to blow out the candles for him.
Not only were we blessed to be home for Papa's birthday but we get to spend time with his mom,
my precious Grandma who is GG to the kids.
GG uses a walker, and at the time Papa was still using a walker.  One of the kids, I think it was Carlee, noticed that both GG and Papa were using walkers and suggested that they should have a walker race. LOL never a dull moment!

We love the jacuzzi tub at Mimi & Papa's house!

Seems that the last several days have flown by and I have not even turned the computer on!!!

Anyways I thought I better post a quick update on my dad...

He has been slowly improving every day and his strength is returning, just very slowly.  He is able to move around a bit more and is even managing to get in and out of bed by himself, although it is very tiring for him.  Yesterday was a big day for him as the doctor at the hospital he was at agreed to send him back to the hospital at home.  This is a really big deal, especially for my mom because she can go back and forth to the hospital several times a day.

I am sure that it is also nice for him to back where there are nurses that he knows he can pester.  Two of the nurses have been good friends of mine since elementary school!!!  Also being at the hospital at home means that there will be more people who will be able to visit, which will give new faces and more things to think about.  At this point it is all looking pretty good, except for his appetite. 

Here are some pictures of the spring flooding in the area near my parents house.   I have also included some older pictures of the same areas so you can see the comparison!!

These show the flooding at Lake of the Prairies in Manitoba where my parents have their trailer.

This was taken a couple years ago.  Do you see the boat upside down in the grass? 
Look for the red strip straight up from Sam's redhead...

I am now standing just above where that boat would have been.  The entire beach area is gone!

Near that beach is a boat launch area that is now completely under water. Notice the tiny white speck in the water just past the blue and white dock....

...that little white speck is this sign!  YIKES I certainly won't park there!

 To the left of the boat launch area is the fish cleaning shack.  Do you see that bit of bush in front of the shack?  I used to part the van by that bush!

A few miles down the lake, the parking lot and fish cleaning shack are flooded.  The trees on the other side of the shack are supposed to be on the bank of the lake!

Close up of the shack

Another place I won't be driving my van!

At another lake many miles away, this is my Aunt and Uncle's boat house.  Thankfully the water did not come up high enough to get in the cabin but it was very close.

Nope, won't be driving there either!

Many, many people were effected by this flooding. Including my parents.  While I was there water started coming into the their basement...what a mess!

Yesterday was my turn at the hospital with Papa.  When I got there I found out that he had been moved from ICU up to a regular room!   Of course, this is good news because he is no longer sick enough to be in ICU!  However, I quickly realized that the big change will be with the level of nursing care he will be receiving.  I was there all afternoon and there was very little contact with the nurses.  He is still incredibly weak and still cannot get himself in and out of bed on his own so I am concerned about that.  However, it might make him do more for himself which will hopefully increase his strength.  Anyway, I was thinking that we would have to spend even more time at the hospital to help him out.....

Then we found a bunch of water in the basement late last night!  Mom hauled out the shop vacs and we vacuumed and sucked up gallons and gallons and gallons and gallons of water and it just keeps seeping through the floor.  Places that we had just sucked up are soon sopping wet again.  The worst offender was the hole in the bathroom floor that is still there from when they had to fix a crack in the basement wall.  I would guess that this hole held about 5 gallons of water.  We would take all the water out of it and it was full again within 30 minutes! So every 30 minutes one of us were in there emptying the hole and sucking water out of the carpet - neither of us slept much!  Then this morning mom called a friend to help her set up a sump pump in the hole, then at least we wouldn't have to worry about that - just the water seeping up through the floor...sigh... 

Of course I have the strangest kids in the world and they thought this was all very exciting and soon had all their pant legs rolled up like mine.  Then they started running back and forth on the wet carpet singing "Slippety Slide, Slippety Slippety Slide".  I seriously need a nap!

On Saturday we were treated to one of the worst blizzards many people around here can remember - including my 89 year old Grandma!  Sunday we were completely blocked in until a family friend was able to get to us with a Bobcat.  However, even though we would have been able to get out of town, most of the highways between here and the city where Papa is in the hospital were reporting that travel was not recommended.  So obviously we were not able to get to the hospital on Saturday or Sunday.  My mom was able to talk to Papa on the phone once and then he even called us on Sunday!  That was a surprise!!

So after two days of not seeing him at all, my mom went in today.  She said that he has been taken off of oxygen completely!  And all his IV's and whatever other wires he was attached to have been removed as well.  That is simply amazing to me as just one week ago he was in a medically induced coma and was on a ventilator doing most of the breathing for him!!!  A walking miracle for sure!

Well, speaking of walking - he actually is not doing much of that yet.  He is still very weak but is slowly and steadily improving.  The physical therapists were there twice today and got him up to walk a short distance.  At one point he was seated in a wheelchair and asked mom if it was locked.  She said that it was and asked if he wanted it unlocked, which he did.  He managed to take himself for a little spin into the hallway!  Progress!

The complaint of the day is that he is not eating enough, so we are praying that he will gain a bigger appetite so that his strength will come back more quickly...