Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Fancy Napkins And Crying

Last week was our church's VBS week. "VBS" stands for "Vacation Bible School" and even though our church changed it to Vacation Bible Camp to make it sound more fun (whatever), we still all call it VBS. For the past number of years we have combined with two other churches in our city to all do VBS together and it is always hosted by the one church. It makes me a little sad that our kids will never get to do VBS at our church but, again, whatever.

The theme this year was "Give And Receive God's Great Love" and, even though I was doing the JK/SK Science and Snack centre this year, there was actually no science. Sadness. The kids were sad too. However, we did read a lot of books about hospitality, learned how to serve a fancy meal (tablecloths, place mats, and napkins make a meal "fancy," right?!?!), and wrote our own book about peace.
The best part of the whole week was that we blew the roof off our records of attendance (we were completely full at 200 kids and had a waiting list), and, even better than that, our offering collection. We raised over $2800 to be split between our national church's work in The Philippines and to help homeless youth here in our city.

As usual, I got teary every day during worship. The worship at VBS just always gives me goosebumps and makes me cry for some reason.

Rachel cried almost every day too but that was because I left her in the nursery. The first day was forty-five minutes of her screaming, "I WANT MOMMY!" which I got to hear most of because my room was right next to the nursery. Awesome. After that she did improve though. Thank God for small miracles.
The pictures are of Sam and Rachel dressed in the colour of the day. Wednesday's colour was yellow but I don't blame you if you thought it was orange. We don't own all that much yellow! Oddly enough, Rachel doesn't own all that much purple either. And you even get a picture of me in my awesome volunteer shirt which I was so ready to hand back at the end of the week.

All in all, we had a fun week and we're already looking forward to next year!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Traversing Canada Tuesdays: Newfoundland And Labrador

image from here
highlighting added by me

Last week I started a new series on my blog called "Traversing Canada Tuesdays" which is an up close and personal look at Canada. This is as much for me as it is for anyone else! We started with Saskatchewan, and now we're headed all the way east to Newfoundland and Labrador. I've been to Newfoundland twice and absolutely LOVED IT both times. It is such a unique and beautiful place.

Although technically this province is named Newfoundland and Labrador, most people forget about the "and Labrador" part. This must drive the people who live in Labrador a little insane. Newfoundland is the darker orange area of the map and it is an island. Labrador is the lighter orange area of the map and it is connected to mainland Canada, just east of Quebec.
I think this is on the walk to Signal Hill
Vikings came from Greenland to live in Newfoundland at L'Anse Aux Meadows about 1000 years ago. However their settlement was only discovered in the 1960s. Aboriginal and Inuit peoples in this province have been traced back 7,500 years, and the first European to land in Newfoundland was John Cabot in 1497. Fishing vessels started to come over from Europe every summer to fish the cod.

Mostly English and Irish settlers came to Newfoundland, and by 1855 Newfoundland was a self-governing British colony. When Canada formed in 1867, Newfoundland resisted joining because they felt closer to Britain. But as with many places, the Great Depression had a lasting effect on Newfoundland. Britain took direct control again and by 1948 there was a lot of pressure to join Canada. There were a couple of referendums, and although the vote was close, in 1949 Newfoundland became Canada's newest province.
me at Cape Spear

Cape Spear is North America's most easterly point and St. John's is the oldest English-found city in North America. Just a little north of St. John's you can watch humpback whales and icebergs drifting down from Greenland.

As you can see from the pictures, Newfoundland is very rocky. People who live there call it "The Rock." Newfoundland also has rolling hills and trees which can grow in its cool, wet climate. Because of its unique placement among ocean currents, Newfoundland ends up with a lot of fog. The interior of Labrador has a subarctic climate with short summers and long, cold winters. However, coastal Labrador has a climate more like Newfoundland.
a house on the water near St. John's
This province is mostly made up of small towns and villages. Some towns are only fly-in communities and have no roads. And some of the outports (coastal fishing communities) have more boats than cars! St. John's is the biggest city at 100,000 people.

Newfoundland used to be known for its cod industry, but as the fish declined, the government of Canada shut down the cod fishery. This left many people out of work. Some people fished for other things such as halibut, crab, lobster, and salmon. Many people left Newfoundland to find work. A significant amount of the workers in Alberta's oil industry come from Newfoundland. However, Newfoundland has its own source of oil too. The Hibernia Oil Field is a large oil field 80 metres beneath the ocean, about 320 kilometres from St. John's and millions of barrels of oil are extracted from it each year.
I think this is on the western coast of Newfoundland at Port Aux Basques.

Some (potentially) interesting Newfoundland facts:

People from Newfoundland not only have their own accent, but they also have their own English dialect. When I was in Newfoundland, I had to ask people to repeat themselves more than once. Since I "came from away" I don't think they were surprised.

Six moose were brought to Newfoundland in 1878 and 1904. It was hoped that they would multiply to provide a source of meat for the province. Today there are more than 120,000 moose on the island. The only moose I have ever seen were while driving down a deserted road in Newfoundland at night. Two moose were trotting on the road ahead of me for about a mile (longest five minutes of my life) while I followed at a safe distance.

The Newfoundland dog and the Labrador dog can be traced back to this province.
I love this row of colourful houses in St. John's 

Since Newfoundland is the closest North American point to Europe, it boasts some of the world's firsts. In 1901, the world's first transatlantic wireless message was sent from England to Signal Hill in St. John's. In 1919, the world's first non-stop transatlantic flight took place between St. John's and Clifden, Ireland. It took 16 hours.

Newfoundland has it's own time zone, Newfoundland Time Zone. (Seriously click on that link and read the Wikipedia article -- it is really interesting! And a little bizarre!) Instead of being an hour different from its nearest neighbour, it is only half an hour different. Our national station used to advertise for TV shows and they would say "Watch for insert show name here on Thursdays at 8pm local time, 8:30 in Newfoundland." So the time difference between Ontario and Newfoundland is an hour and a half. And you may remember that Newfoundland is not the only province to do whatever they want with time :)

Just 25 kilometres, sixteen miles, off the southern coast of Newfoundland are the islands of St-Pierre and Miquelon. They are French and the people living there have French citizenship. I have never been there, although I would love to visit sometimes. I'll just have to remember to bring some Euros with me!

Capital: St. John's
Population: 512,000
Provincial flower: Purple Pitcher Plant
Provincial bird: Atlantic Puffin

Reference book: Newfoundland and Labrador by Rachel Eagen,  "Canada Close Up" series printed by Scholastic Canada

Monday, July 28, 2014

Project 364: Days 200 Through 207

Since we were away for the weekend, I didn't get my Project 364 done, or posted, yesterday. Here it is today with an extra day added just for fun.

July 20, 2014 -- We got home this night and I said to Dave, "I didn't take any pictures all day." And then he reminded me that I'd taken this one of Sam drinking hot chocolate and shared it on Instagram. Whew!
July 21, 2014 -- Every day at VBS, we volunteers got a little treat to keep us going. This was our treat the first day.
July 22, 2014 -- Sam and Rachel enjoyed standing on some wood from our tree before it got loaded into the truck. See this post for more details, if you haven't already.
July 23, 2014 -- What with volunteering at VBS, watching my friends' son, and everything else going on, I forgot to take out food to thaw for supper, so we ended up at Harvey's.
July 24, 2014 -- It was finally warm enough to try out our ice chalk. The kids had a lot of fun with it!
July 25, 2014 -- One of the group leaders made these cute cookies for some of the volunteers at VBS.
July 26, 2014 -- After a rough night of sleep (WHY was Rachel wide awake at 4am???), I really needed some coffee-hot chocolate to get me through the day.
July 27, 2014 -- We discovered we have a Katniss in the making. She's gonna be awesome. See that look of fierce concentration?

Friday, July 25, 2014

Because There Wasn't Enough Going On Already

tree, October 2013
I returned home from VBS on Monday with Sam, Rachel, and my friends' son, and discovered that the tree people had come that day to take down our tree in the backyard. Oh yeah, and they hadn't called a week ahead of time to say they were coming like they told me they would. So my plans of playing outside all afternoon went down the drain and, because of the placement of the tree, the workers didn't want us in the playroom either, so I was flying by the seat of my pants. (Which I do incredibly well as you can probably imagine. Ha ha ha!!!)

Anyways, I shouldn't have worried. Between the entertainment of the tree guys climbing the tree, sawing off branches, running the wood chipper, and us being able to watch this all from various windows upstairs, we only had an hour and a half of video watching time all afternoon.
tree, 12:36pm Monday
about 1:30pm and about 4pm
our backyard, 5:30pm Monday
I can't imagine what this would do if it landed on your foot. Ow!
The bottom of the stump where the ants were eating it.

On Tuesday afternoon they came back to clear away the rest of the tree. This time it involved a crane (a small one on the back of the truck) which was also highly exciting.
 Not much left, Tuesday 1:30pm
We have no driveway, Tuesday 2:40pm
Watching this was the height of entertainment for Sam and Rachel. We hung out in the (stifling hot) garage. After awhile I got bored and got the whole garage swept out. Yay?
Our treeless backyard, including the new hole made when the trunk fell on the logs and pushed them into the earth. The tree cutters offered to come and fill it with soil and grass seed. Until then it will make a good long jump pit for Sam and Rachel. Seriously, that's what they use it for!

And now our tree, which was being eaten from below by ants, thus affecting its stability, is gone. Thankfully we already have plans (and a gift certificate!) to buy a new one.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


About a month ago, April from Musings Of A Childless Mama, nominated me for a Leibster Award. Thank you April! April is also a Canadian blogger and since I know of so few of us, we need to stick together! Ha!

I have been nominated for a Leibster Award before (see this post) but I thought I would answer April's questions because it makes for a fun blog post. And also this week is our VBS week where I am volunteering and then I am watching my friends' son in the afternoons so who has time to think of blog posts?!?!

1.  What movie have you watched 3 or more times?
The Princess Bride, When Harry Met Sally, and Notting Hill. These are movies I absolutely LOVE and could watch about a million times. As you can tell I LOVE romantic comedies. However I have also seen the original three Star Wars movies more times than I can count so I guess you could say I'm well rounded. Ha!

2. What was the first blog (if you can remember) that you read?
Some of the first blogs I read were blogs of friends. They all linked to each other. Jen, Donny, Dave -- why don't you blog anymore?! :( Then I read my friend's friend's blog, who I vaguely knew. Then I discovered her sister (who I knew better) had a blog and that blog had a blogroll. By then I was hooked. Sadly, I think all these blogs no longer exist. Or they aren't updated anymore. Boo :(
3. Do you listen to the radio? If so, which station?
I listen to a local radio station (Kool FM for anyone who is local.) They play a mix of pop rock and retro music which I like. But I only listen to it in the car, usually when I'm by myself.
4. What is your favourite Summer time activity?
DOING NOTHING!!! Actually, probably it's gardening. Although I also really like doing nothing :)
5. What/who was your first concert you went to?
By myself/with friends? It was The Northern Pikes, a band from Saskatchewan who was playing in Ontario. It's the only time I've used fake ID because they were playing at a bar and I was only eighteen. I had totally forgotten about that so thanks for asking this question April. (Also I don't think Dave knew about this so this will probably be a big surprise to him when he reads this! Ha!)
If you're talking the first concert with my family it was either Sharon, Lois, and Bram (a Canadian kids' group) or The Nylons!
6. Do you camp? If so, do you tent, trailer, cabin, RV?
My family was big into tent camping when I was growing up. However Dave didn't grow up camping and I could go either way. My parents bought a cabin after I left home so I didn't grow up with that either. However, they did still own it when Dave and I lived in Alberta and we had a good weekend there fishing when Sam was five months old. This summer we have rented a house at the beach with some friends and that is much more my speed.

I have thought that we should borrow our friends' tent and sleep in our backyard with Sam and Rachel this summer though, but again, since Dave is only reading about it now (Hi Honey!), this may or may not happen :)
7. Where are you in your family (oldest, middle, youngest, only)?
I am the oldest of four but since I don't really have a relationship with any of my siblings (they don't really have a relationship with my parents either), I often feel like an only child. That is not the worst thing in the world :)
8. What is your favourite flavour of ice cream?
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. Or President's Choice Loads Of Cherries And Chocolate Chunks. Either way, I'm good!
9. Do you have the entire CD collection of one particular singer?
Ummm... I don't think so. I'm not a huge music person. We do have most of the Kindermusik CDs though. Does that count? Ha!
10. Do (or did) you have pets?
My dad was not a pet person and he passed that on to me. We had goldfish while I was growing up but I don't even know if Sam and Rachel will even get that privilege. (If Janice is reading this, I know she is shaking her head right now. However, her love of animals will influence Sam and Rachel so they will be well rounded!)
11. Pie or cake?
Cheesecake. Always and forever!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Traversing Canada Tuesdays: Saskatchewan

image from here
highlighting added by me
The first province I am going to talk about is Saskatchewan because it is the best province I grew up there. Saskatchewan is one of the three Prairie provinces and most people, many Canadians at least, think it is a flat, wheat filled, wasteland but there is so much more to Saskatchewan than that.
I find a field of canola in bloom against a grey Saskatchewan sky a beautiful sight.

Saskatchewan officially became a part of Canada in 1905, however its history started well before that. In 1690, Henry Kelsey became the first European to reach what is now called Saskatchewan. At that time it was known as Rupert's Land and was controlled by the Hudson's Bay Company. Before Kelsey reached Saskatchewan though, First Nations people had lived there for thousands of years. There was a huge fur trade with beaver pelts being most in demand. The Hudson's Bay Company facilitated getting the beaver pelts from the traders back to Europe.

By the way, the Hudson's Bay Company is still in existence (as a chain of department stores) and is the oldest commercial corporation in North America, and one of the oldest in the world. I thought this fact was really interesting until I checked out the link to the oldest companies and found that Japan and Europe have been doing business a lot longer than we in North America have!) Until 2008, when it was bought by an American firm, it was Canadian owned. (information from Wikipedia)

In 1869, Canada (which had only become a country two years before) gained control of this territory and it was a part of the Northwest Territories. The First Nations people did not want to become a part of Canada and there was a huge rebellion. I grew up about 45 minutes from one of the major sites of this rebellions (Batoche) and we would go on school trips to learn the history and see 100 year old bullet holes, which at the time, was really neat! By the 1880s most of the First Nations people were living on reserves and settlers from Eastern Canada and Europe were invited to Saskatchewan to settle down and farm.

In the 1930s The Great Depression hit Saskatchewan, as well as most of the rest of the western world. In Saskatchewan a prominent feature of this era was a huge drought, as well as dust storms, and so the 30s are known as "The Dirty Thirties." The effects of the 1930s lasted well beyond that decade, and for decades afterward many people were still too poor to see a doctor. In 1962, Saskatchewan became the first province to set up publicly funded medical care, paid for by provincial tax dollars. Within ten years this program had gone national.
A statue of Prairie lilies. 

Saskatchewan, in a good year (not too dry, not too wet), produces more than half of Canada's wheat, as well as most of Canada's wild rice. It is also the world's largest exporter of seeds for making mustard. Not only does Saskatchewan produce things from above ground, but from underground too. Mines produce more uranium than anywhere else in the world, and it is Canada's second largest producer of oil. There is also a lot of potash which is used in making soap and fertilizer. Gold and diamonds have also been found there.
Saskatchewan does have long winters and almost every small town has a ice rink for hockey and curling. It is the centre of town life. We only have one professional sports team, however, and everyone cheers for our Canadian Football League's Saskatchewan Roughriders!!! You may have heard me mention them a time (or twenty!) before :) You can read about a trip we made to watch a Riders' practice here.
The Northwest Mounted Police (NWMP) were formed in 1874 in Saskatchewan as a result of a rampage in which American whisky traders, who were drunk, killed twenty Assiniboine people in their camp. When news of the massacre reached the Canadian government, they formed the NWMP to bring order to the west and force the Americans out. In 1920 the NWMP became the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, a national police force with a presence in every province and territory. They enforce laws and guard important members of the government, including the Prime Minister. And their training centre is in Regina, Saskatchewan's capital. I have some family members who served with the RCMP. You can read about our visit to the RCMP training centre here.
To end I will leave you with a few random facts about Saskatchewan:

Little Manitou Lake is so full of mineral salts, people float instead of sink, just like the Dead Sea. It is about half the salinity of the Dead Sea. Ironically, I have been to the Dead Sea but never Little Manitou Lake, although Little Manitou Lake is about a forty-five minute drive from where I grew up.

Saskatchewan is the only province in Canada which does not observe Daylight Savings Time. I never ever changed my clock until I moved to Ontario when I was 18 and I thought this "playing with time concept -- add an hour, lose an hour" was the most bizarre thing ever.

Capital: Regina
Population: 1.1 million
Provincial flower: Western Red Lily

Reference book: Saskatchewan by Jennifer D.B. Lackey, "Canada Close Up" series printed by Scholastic Canada

Monday, July 21, 2014

Crazy Week And Some Blog Housekeeping

As I mentioned in my post on Friday, this week is our church's VBS. We have over 200 kids registered and I am leading science and snack for the JK/SK kids (Junior and Senior Kindergarten). I will lead four sessions every morning for about 12 kids each session. It should be fun times. In the afternoons I will be watching my friends' son so I expect to be rather exhausted this week. Therefore, I have pre-written some posts and may not be checking in much. Or I may need a break from the insanity of my life and check in every hour! Ha!
The kids were twinsies in their matching Portugal shirts 
from Oma and Opa at the library program on Friday!

Last week, my blog friend, Erika and I had a very meandering e-mail conversation one morning. It ended up with me admitting that I felt like I didn't know much about Canadian history so Erika shouldn't feel bad about her lack of Canadian knowledge. I do feel like we studied a lot of US history (and it was reinforced in books I read), whereas Canadian history got short shrift.

I am fortunate in that I have had the chance to visit every province in Canada and one territory. I've also gotten to live in five Canadian provinces for a significant amount of time. I do worry, that with Canada being so incredibly vast and widespread, that Sam and Rachel will also have this lack of Canadian knowledge and so we bought them a set of book through their school book order. It's called "Canada Close Up" and every province and territory has its own book.
Hallowe'en stuff is out already?!?!
I get annoyed enough that flyers are already advertising 
"Back To School" sales and we've only been on summer break for three weeks.

Starting tomorrow, I am starting a series on my blog called "Traversing Canada Tuesday" and I am going to introduce you to one province or territory a week. Most of my post information will come from this book series, with local colour thrown in from my own experience and perspective. I will start with Saskatchewan and then move from east to west and then head up north. Saskatchewan gets to go first because it's my home province. Even though I live in Ontario now.

After I finished university, I bought a textbook on Canadian history, and although I gave it away years ago, I've been thinking I need to find another one. So depending on my interest, time, and commitment, I may continue this series after I've done all the provinces/territories with general Canadian knowledge.

I don't know if you'll be bored, entertained, enlightened, or skip reading my blog completely on Tuesdays. It's up to you!
Rachel enjoyed licking an extra large beater
at Donny and Marika's on Saturday! 

And let's talk about commenting again. Every blogger handles it differently. I tend to let comments pile up for awhile (I don't intend to do this, but let's be honest about reality here), and then I'll respond to them all at once. If I have your e-mail address, or it's linked to your profile, I respond by e-mail. Otherwise I respond directly to the comment on the post itself. So if you care, you can go back and read them. Or maybe you don't care. I wish there was consistent blog etiquette about blog commenting and how to respond. I know the first rule of commenting etiquette is "Don't wait a month to respond to your blog comments" which is a rule I break All. The. Time. And now I'm done rambling about commenting.
Dave set up our printer with a different computer and, 
when he ran a test page, this is what came out. 
The kids said that they had been "putting money in the bank."

Okay, enjoy your weeks and I look forward to checking in with you when I can!

PS. The random pictures are from the past few days and, although they don't relate at all to this post, I thought they'd make a text-filled post a little more interesting!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Project 364: Days 193 Through 199

July 13, 2014 -- My blog friend, Kelly, reminded me of the book Owls In The Family by Farley Mowat. It is about a boy growing up in Saskatoon (where I grew up) in the 1940s or so, and the two owls he adopts. Sam really enjoyed having me read this out loud to him.
July 14, 2014 -- Rachel and Sam were horsing around outside and it ended up with Rachel falling into the side of the house. I present to you the biggest goose egg either of our kids has ever had. By the way, our kids ABSOLUTELY hate ice so Rachel's screams during the ice application were way worse than the ones produced by her getting hurt in the first place.
July 15, 2014 -- It's the first CSA flowers of the season!!! I love me some zinnias!
July 16, 2014 -- We had a play date today and I caught this photo of the kids and their friend enjoying some tea!
July 17, 2014 -- We've done a lot a Pinterest projects this summer and this pin for erupting sidewalk chalk provided literally hours of entertainment this afternoon. Three hours to be exact!
July 18, 2014 -- We got an impromptu supper invite today. These grilled skewers were AMAZING! And so was the visit with our friends.
July 19, 2014 -- We went to Donny and Marika's to celebrate Donny's birthday. Sam and Donny played chess. I didn't know Sam knew how to play but I guess one of his school friends taught him. Surprises abound!