Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Bright And Colourful Rewards

So at the beginning of June I set out some goals for myself and asked you all to help keep me accountable. If I managed to reach my goals I was going to get some neat rewards. Well, I did reach some of my goals and my rewards have been well worth it.

My first goal was not snacking after supper for a month. I pretty much aced this goal. And I am happy to report, that almost two months later, I still do not snack after supper. I feel like this was a long-term, unhealthy habit which I have managed to get rid of. (And we won't count all those milkshakes in Saskatchewan -- that's what vacations are about!).

My reward was supposed to be a book in a series I had been reading and enjoying. However, then I started lusting after an Erin Condren Life Planner and, after much convincing, Dave was okay with that being my reward instead. Oh. My. Goodness. I am sooooooo happy with this planner. I ordered the "Favourite Things" one and it's bright. It's colourful. It has enough space for everything I need to write down. I bought ten coloured pens at Target in Saskatoon and my life is now colour-coordinated. Rachel's activities are in orange and Sam's are in dark green. I may not get everything done that I write down but at least I now know what I'm not getting done! If you have thought about getting one of these at all, I would highly recommend them. (And the only "extra" I got was the extra six months so my planner is good until December 2014. Whoo hoo!!!)
My other goal was to get to the gym three times a week, and I managed to do that except for one week when I missed a day. It was the day of Rachel's party and Dave and I both agreed that me getting to the gym was less important than getting everything ready. While I was at Target in Saskatoon with my mom, I bought myself a new exercise shirt. I love the colour and the feel of it. Ironically, I didn't make it to the gym last week AT ALL (VBS really took all my energy last week) and so I haven't actually worked out in it yet. However, getting to the gym is on my list of things to do. Really, it is.

My reward for getting seven hours of sleep a night was to be more rested. That is the goal I did least well on. I am going to keep working on getting to the gym regularly and getting enough sleep. Maybe I'll even report back once in awhile so that you guys can help keep me accountable. But seriously -- thank you for helping me to reach some of my goals! You guys are the best!!!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

A Few Random Things To Share

So I have a few random things to share with you (as the title implies!) and I thought I would take today to do that. I still have a lot of other (non random) stories to share but since some of these randoms include Saskatoon things I wanted to do this today.

First of all, lately both Dave and I absolutely dread putting Rachel in her car seat. "Why?" you ask. The answer is "She is a very strong and wriggly worm when it comes to putting her in it if she doesn't want to be there." Case in point:
Also, you may have noticed I haven't shared a scripture memory verse in awhile. I have given up on this project for now. I have been so stressed about trying to get everything done and this has fallen by the wayside. So I admit defeat. At least, for now.

As you may have guessed, while we were in Saskatoon, Target opened there. We all went on opening day and Dad was hanging out with Sam while Mom, Rachel and I browsed clothing. Then we met up with Dad. Notice who we didn't meet up with??!?!! Yeah, Sam decided he didn't want to spend time with Opa and took off on him. I was freaking out as Dad has circled the whole store three times trying to find him. So I had just alerted store personnel when Sam came dashing out from the cash register line. I yelled at him and cried. Sam thought it was all in good fun so now he is confined to carts at all stores in the near future.

After that little adventure, Mom and I left the kids with Dad and went to Target on our own. I was thrilled to be shopping without kids and we tried on clothes and looked around for two hours. It was awesome. I bought myself a necklace, a couple of shirts, a dress and I also bought clothes for Rachel for the fall, a couple of t-shirts for Runaway Sam and some birthday presents for my mom.
This dress/tunic will look much better with leggings and the long "pearl" necklace I got from my mom. (Oh yeah, besides shopping at Target I also went shopping in my mom's thrift store pile and have a couple of new necklaces, tank tops and a new dress. And my mom has less to take to the thrift store. Yay!)
I love how Rachel is holding all her new clothes in the one picture and yelling at me to not take her picture in one of them! I also love how all the colours at Target were mix and match and I was having fun getting Rachel to model different combinations :)

On the day we went mini-golfing and cruising on the river, we also stopped at the Mendel Art Gallery and I took pictures of some of the flowers in the conservatory.
And on the way back to Mom and Dad's I told Dad that I wanted to stop and take some pictures of the canola fields, which were in bloom, and the sky. I love it when Saskatchewan looks this way!
And speaking of "Saskatchewan", I've had some requests for a vlog of me pronouncing it. So here you go. And you even get a joke! Ha ha ha!!! And it totally sounds like I'm lisping but I think it's because our old camera, which we used to make this, has really bad sound quality because I don't think I normally lisp.

In other random news I ordered new backpacks for Sam and Rachel for school. I wanted to get Sam a new backpack for starting Junior Kindergarten and I knew that LL Bean made good ones. Janice recommended the "Critter Backpack" to me and, since they are going to be discontinued, I jokingly said to Dave that we should order one for Rachel for when she starts JK in two years. Dave said, "No!!!" Then the next day Janice e-mailed me that the Critter Pack was the deal of the day and it was on for $25. I told Dave and he said, "Get one for Rachel too!" And Janice gets free monogramming from LL Bean and she got us an extra 10% off. So now both of our kids are ready for JK. In terms of having backpacks that is. Sometime this week we are going to get Sam a lunch bag. Probably this one in a guitar pattern. Yes, in Ontario we have two "nutrition breaks" each school day instead of one "lunch period." It's weird. And it means I basically have to pack Sam two big snacks every day. Yerghks :()

And remember way back when (on Canada Day) I encouraged you to ask me questions about Canada??? Well, I haven't forgotten those and am working on a post (coming in the next week or so) which will give you all my answers. Sorry it's been so long since then :()

And I think that's enough randomness for one day. Tune in tomorrow for a more cohesive blog post about just one thing :)

Monday, July 29, 2013

Cruisin' The Saskatchewan River

We're heading back to Saskatchewan for a few last stories so sit back and enjoy! While we had the kids at the splash park on Wednesday (or Tuesday, maybe? Whatever day that was...), The Prairie Lily, which takes people on a cruise of the Saskatchewan River went by. Dad commented that he had never been on it before and would like to do it sometime. So we decided that while Sam, Rachel and I were visiting would be a good time to try it out. I love cruising rivers on boats! (And I may have done it once or twice (or more) before!) So after a few false starts, we finally made it to the one on Saturday afternoon. The Prairie Lily is the provincial flower of Saskatchewan so I thought the boat was aptly named.
One of the things I really enjoyed was that there was commentary and I learned a bunch of neat things. (All the quotes come from the commentary which you can find online here. Sorry if I included too much; I just thought it was really neat.) "The Saskatchewan River basin is the second largest river system in North America (only the Mississippi and Missouri river system is larger)." "[The river] is very shallow in most places (only one or two metres deep (about 3-6 feet)). And yes, the river does freeze over every winter."
Saskatoon is built on both sides of the South Saskatchewan River. There are about eight bridges which cross over the river to allow access from one side to the other. I love the bridges. "We will soon be passing under the Broadway Bridge, which connects the Broadway district on the east bank to the City's downtown. This classic old bridge was built in 1932 as a "make-work" project during the Great Depression. Only men with families were allowed to get a job. They were paid 25 cents per hour and were laid off once they had earned about $35. Only shovels and wheelbarrows were used in the construction, with the goal of getting jobs for as many men as possible. Work proceeded 24 hours every day over 11 months through one of the coldest winters on record in Saskatoon."
Another thing I really like about Saskatoon is all the parks along the river. What I find really cool is that "We are fortunate in Saskatoon that early municipal and community leadership agreed that land along the river should be preserved for public access through the establishment of parks." I didn't know that before. Yay for early leaders.
"We are coming alongside the Bessborough Hotel, truly Saskatoon’s “Castle on the River”. This grand old lady was built by the railroad between 1928 and1932, but was unable to open until 1935 because of financial woes caused by the Great Depression. Design features include 32 unique gargoyle-like statues at front and sides. Of course, grotesques and gargoyles are normally images of mythological creatures but the ones on the hotel are images of Saskatchewan creatures like buffalo, beaver, moose, and deer (and even a giant bumblebee!)"
And now you know more about Saskatoon than you did before! Thanks for joining me on my cruise :)

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Excuses, Excuses...

So I haven't blogged in a while and it's been driving me nuts! Unfortunately I've been busy with a lot of things and just haven't had the time. I say "unfortunately" because it's things I would like to remember... Like volunteering at my church's VBS last week and the rest of our time in Saskatchewan and having a great family day yesterday. And if I don't blog about them soon I will forget the stories.

However... my plan for today is to blog. And do dishes. And give the kids baths. And take care of my sick husband. And make a grocery list. And clean up the yard. And empty the car. And... and... and... Soooooo... hopefully (at some point today) I will have to time to write a proper blog post (or two!?!?!) and tell some of these untold stories. Until then, I'm going to eat some lunch and make sure Sam is okay in the bath.

I know, I know, this is the lamest excuse for a blog post ever but I wanted to let you all know that I'm still alive. Especially my mom :) It's been so crazy around here I haven't even really had time to call them and that is practically unheard of.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Funniest Game Of Mini Golf Ever!!!

This week I am volunteering with my church's VBS. I am leading Science experiments for around 60 4 & 5 year olds in four sessions. It is E-X-H-A-U-S-T-I-N-G. Seriously. I will write more about it eventually but for now I will share a few more Saskatchewan stories.

On Saturday we decided to escape to the city, where the mosquitoes were less awful, and play some mini golf, since Sam had been looking forward to it for months. I have never laughed so hard at a game of golf in my life. I could barely take pictures. Sam and Dad played, as did Rachel (for free, thankfully!), and the 18-hole game took about 20 minutes as there was no one else playing. It was so fast! Rachel would hit the ball once (maybe), then pick it up, drop it in the hole, shout "Yay!" and march off to the next hole. Sam wanted to be the goalie and would try to hit my dad's ball away from the hole with his club. Dad, I think, was attempting to play semi-seriously. It was so funny! At the end of the game Sam said, "I am a good golfer but this was a hard course!" Dad won a free round on the last hole so we ended up going back after lunch so Sam could play again. I played with him this time, as did Rachel. Since the course was really crowded the second game took about an hour.

I also included a few pictures of the amazing landscaping because some of the colours of flowers and plants they mixed were amazing, and I wanted to remember them. I might attempt to re-create some of them next summer in Our. Very. Own. Yard!!!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Lily's Bat Mitzvah

The weekend before last (July 12-13th), we headed off to Cloyne to celebrate our niece Lily's bat mitzvah. Some of you might be wondering "What's a bat mitzvah?" Others of you might be asking yourselves "Where's Cloyne?" Still others might be wondering how this event slipped through the blogging cracks. Read on, and all your questions will be answered...

First, a bit of religious context. I am going to explain most things as I go along, but I'm also sticking a few explanations at the end, to try and keep the sentences from getting too choppy. A bat mitzvah* is a Jewish coming-of-age ceremony, where a teenager (typically 12 or 13 years old) is welcomed as an adult member of the Jewish community. Now, this welcome is more symbolic than practical, since other "adult" pursuits like driving, voting, working, etc., are still a few years away. However, it is an important milestone, and an opportunity for the extended family and religious community to get together and celebrate. The bat mitzvah is also the first time that the person is called to read from the Torah**. This is a significant honour and, because the Torah is a) in Hebrew, b) written without vowels, and c) typically sung rather than simply read, also a significant challenge! Finally, the person usually gives a short reflection after the reading, and there is often some kind of party afterwards.

Now, on to the next question: "Where is Cloyne?" Now, some American readers might figure that, if only they had grown up in Canada, they would probably know where Cloyne was, and that Cloyne is probably the capital of Ontario or something. Well, it ain't. Cloyne is a tiny town about three hours north-east of Toronto, about an hour off Highway 401 (the major highway that goes from Toronto to Montreal). So, the natural follow-up question for you inquisitive blog-readers is "Why Cloyne?" It so happens that Cloyne is the town nearest to Camp Gesher, a Jewish summer camp that Lily has attended for the past few summers, and that her mom, Sarah (my sister) attended when she was a kid***. The camp emphasizes social justice values and a Zionist perspective, with a hearty dose of general camp chaos thrown into the mix. Most importantly, the camp is a place which has helped shape Lily's Jewish identity over the past few years and so, for a variety of reasons, this is where the bat mitzvah was held.

The reason this event slipped through the cracks is that Natasha took the camera with all the pictures with her to Saskatoon and I had a few other things to do.

And finally, oh ever-patient blog reader, you are probably asking yourself "Okay, okay, but what about the pictures!?!???" Never fear, there are pictures!
We arrived at our accommodations, Marble Lake Lodge, on Friday evening in time for supper. We were happy to reconnect with many of my far-flung aunts, uncles, grandpa and a cousin. We were also excited to introduce Rachel to them and reacquaint them with Sam, as many of them hadn't seen him since he was three months old.
The lake was just as picturesque in the morning as it has been the previous evening. After some frantic preparations, it was time to head off to Camp Gesher...
 The sign welcoming you to Camp Gesher
 An archway over the road leading to the camp
My dad with all of his siblings (and one of my cousins on the far left), who came from Los Angeles, Washington, DC and Ottawa.

After the family, guests and campers assembled at the beit tarbut (literally "house of culture", used for dances, plays, etc.), everyone processed down to the waterfront for the ceremony.
There was a small pool behind the tent where the bat mitzvah was held, and of course Sam and Rachel were fascinated by it. Fortunately, neither kid actually fell in...
 ... although Rachel certainly gave it a good shot!
 A picture showing the tent where the bat mitzvah was held.
My dad, mom, Lily, Grandpa, and Sarah

Following the bat mitzvah there was a lunch in the dining hall, and then we headed over to
Bon Echo provincial park for a boat tour in the afternoon.
 Bon Echo Park is on Mazinaw Lake, which is famous for its native pictographs...
 .. and also for its kayak-riding dogs (!).
 Rachel kept trying to get a closer look at the cliffs... or maybe trying to dive into the lake...?
 Some of the pictographs, showing various animals and spirits
Another view of the cliffs, which apparently were a popular subject for the Group of Seven, a group of famous Canadian painters.
Friends and family gathered for a dinner back at Marble Lake Lodge in the evening

Following dinner, there was a brief havdalah (end of the Sabbath) service at the camp, followed by a dance for the campers and guests. We chose to stay behind at the lodge, visiting with my aunts and uncles, chasing Sam and Rachel around, and packing to head out the next morning.

Finally, Sunday morning rolled around, we stumbled out of our beds bright and early, and managed (after a quick stop to say goodbye to my grandpa) to get on the road by 8:30. And so, after a surprisingly smooth trip down various Ontario highways, we made it to the Hamilton airport in plenty of time to get Natasha and the kids on a plane to Saskatoon.

* Literally "daughter of the commandment"; for a boy, the ceremony is a bar (son of) mitzvah
** The first five books of the Bible (Genesis to Exodus), hand-written in Hebrew on a long scroll. Here's a picture from Wikipedia, in case my attempt at explaining it isn't going too well...
*** In the interest of full disclosure, it should be noted that I also attended this camp for a summer when I was nine. Although both Lily and Sarah loved it there, I did not have a particularly good time, and so did not return for any additional summers.