Thursday, September 29, 2011

Treaty 4

I've always thought of Canada as being so young compared with the rest of the world. When I got to go to France and see old castles or even to Texas and drive through old towns, Canada seemed so young. I remember as a kid going to Saskatoon's 100 year anniversary.

Now that I live where Treaty 4 was signed between the crown and First Nation's people, I have a different perspective. There are people living here whose people have lived here many, many generations. The land seems older somehow and even non First Nations people who grew up here seem to come back and stay.

There is a lot of heartache and pain in this area as well as a lot of beauty and rediscovery.

This year is already so different for us than last year. People have seen us around and we are slowly starting to make connections- beyond our cousins.

I'm so thankful the cousins were here though as they have helped us meet people and as we already had an easy friendship with them. I'm not sure we would have survived the winter without them, but as we look to the future and our lives here, we know that there are other people that are or will become our "people", our fellow travelers on this journey of life.

Dominique dislocated her finger the other night and I got to have my first visit to the hospital here. In the ER, I recognized two women who have children our kid's age. The nurse practitioner who relocated Dominique's finger has a daughter in her class and was talking about play dates. It was nice that not everyone was a complete stranger. We are starting to have our own little history and connections here.

Monday, September 26, 2011

a little canoeing

Some time ago we got to take the family out for a little canoeing.

It was mostly fun. Brian and I are still not very good at steering, so that was the not fun part. But it was beautiful.

Now just a few weeks later, everything already looks so very different. Fall has arrived and the hills are covered in ribbons of color. Janet and I took our youngest ones who are not in school to the town beach today to play and gaze at the colors.

I think we're going to try to hike up a little hill Wednesday that I haven't been to yet and I'm sure it will be a great picture op!

When we were canoeing, we got to explore this house a bit. It's in very bad shape, but right on the lake and so intriguing! Makes you wonder who lived there and how their lives went.

We've been doing a lot of reflection lately. A year ago, we were just starting to settle here- getting the house renovated and Ivan off to school. Now here we are with two off, the house more or less done, we have work and some acquaintances/friends. We still have a ways to feel like we really belong here, but this winter will be a far cry from last year when we felt so unsettled still. So that is nice to look forward to as the weather changes. Also, we may get to go to Texas at Christmas and so we are thinking of that "long ago" place in our lives. It seems like ages ago with all the change we've been through.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

a bit of countryside

My cousin lives on a road that has a section now closed due to flood damage. Part of the road has fallen away and apparently it would be way, way too costly to repair it, so it is closed to vehicles, but is now the totally perfect walking/biking road. I've driven up to their house (our first temporary residence here) and borrowed one of their bikes a couple of times for a little cruise/ artist date.

The sights are always a feast for the eyes.

I get up to a hill that overlooks the area.

This time, some dark clouds were building and I got back in my van, just as it started to rain, then into my house right before it started to hail.

That was a couple of weeks ago and the way the weather was going, you would have thought winter was around the corner, but now we are in shorts and tank tops again in a surprise heat wave- only now the leaves are vibrant yellows and reds, oranges, browns and greens. So fun. I am learning to love this time of year in all it's colors- also a reminder of the season when we officially started our lives here, with school, house and so forth.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Growing up so fast

My kids seem to be on an accelerated growing program. I guess all kids are and that is why everyone says that they grow up so fast! Emora has lots of cute expressions that I find even more humorous coming from a 2 year old. Sometimes she tells me that "naps are HORRIBLE!", she likes to ask for "milk, a little bit, a little bit hot" (she never says warm, it used to be "nice"- like she wanted the water "nice", not hot or cold, but for her milk warm it's "a little bit, a little bit"). And our newest favorite "Mommy, the kitty cat is drinking my blanket". Apparently our kitten was weaned too early, which may be why she is a bit fixated on nursing. She sounds like she is drinking and leaves disgusting wet spots on Emora's blankets. Apparently Star has decided that Emora is in deed grown up and that she is the new baby of the house. At least she was easier litter trained than the human babies of the house. Her other bad habit is to be up on the table and counters and to steal food. She's even jumped onto the table and snagged food from under our noses WHILE WE WERE ALL AT THE TABLE EATING! She's fast I tell you. But recently the kids left a water gun out and Brian asked how it was working on the cat, which I had not used yet. So today, she started squirt gun training to get her off the table and counters. I'm not sure if it's keeping her off yet, but it's quite fun for me ;)

Dominique thinks she's all grown up too and in some ways she is. She is reading everyday (level 1 books). She loves school and is very picky about her wardrobe (I did NOT teach her that!) I wouldn't be surprised in fact if she becomes picky about my wardrobe too once she is a true fashionista (ie. teenager). She likes to ride her bike and wants to ride further and further without me at her side. She also requested that I not stay at the birthday party with her this weekend. "Just drop me off" she said. Oh, yeah, you think it's so easy huh Dominique!

Meanwhile, Ivan wants me to hold his hand or take him home and not venture out beyond what is familiar. So I'm having to suck it up a bit with Dominique that she doesn't "need" me so much, but with the oldest, I'm having to push him away a bit.

I don't know how well it's working, and yet, he thinks he's all grown up too. He is such a little bragger, saying he is the best at everything and knows everything, but irony or ironies, he has very little real self confidence. When approached with anything new, from an activity to a place, to a new author for a chapter book (I'm not joking), he balks a bit. Of course that trait plays to his advantage too. He rarely had skinned knees, and Dominique does all the time. His room is very nice and tidy, he is mister organized and Dominique who loves adventure is a bit more chaotic. So we are trying to help Ivan be less prideful and more humble, less fearful and more assured and confident.

I'm not complaining, as parents that is our goal to raise compassionate capable children and they seem more or less on that path, but it really does happen so very fast!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Darling Emora

I had imagined that I would have all this time with Emora this year with the big kids in school. Well, it's just not what I had imagined. First of all, Dominique is only gone half the time, then there is the school schedule that cuts up the day and then regular life, like errands and we want a social life too- add that all up with super long afternoon naps and we don't get near as many moments alone as I had thought!

I guess that makes the moments we do have that much more precious.

I love it when she tells me "I love you too" and gives me the greatest bear hug ever.

I love how she snuggles up and gives me loads of kisses when I put her down for her nap.

I love her super huge words and expressions. One of the cutest: "naps are horrible!" Yeah, some days she doesn't want one, but she still needs them.

She wants to be all grown up and do everything the big kids do, but just can't all the time.

I think it does get easier with the 3rd though. The big kids help mother Emora too and she's in such a hurry to be big like them, that she seems to become independent earlier. Yes, some times she is terrible, but 2 is a really amazing age- still so loving, learning so much, fascinated and amazingly cute!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

apple harvesting

It's hard to believe that it was only last week when we picked apples. Hard to believe because of all the work it took to harvest, then freeze them in all their various forms. I've now got applesauce, apple puree and apple crisp in the freezer and a big bucket of apples yet in a fridge for eating and impromptu apple muffins or apple crisp. I figured out some short cuts for those last minute sweetness cravings.

Also hard to believe because it was so hot and this was just last week and this morning I had to scrape frost off the windows because I didn't think to park in the garage. We thought of it for tonight. Who wants to be scraping windows at 6:30am?

Then there has been all the fun to be had. Treaty 4 celebrations are now underway in the Fort and I took the girls Tues. Ivan went with his class today and the girls and I will go again tomorrow. It was awesome. There are a dozen or more teepees set up and in them are facilitators telling stories, doing activities, explaining and sharing the First Nation culture. We enjoyed it a lot and got to cook bannock over a fire, eat fried bannock, have wild mint tea, wild cranberry juice and a mixture of elk pemmican, lard, berries and sugar with wild herbs- all harvested in the area. Although we'd been to a pow wow before, we were mostly clueless because we didn't know all the background meanings of things, but this time, the announcer explained the history of the dances, what they were telling in the dance and information regarding the costumes, traditions...

It was also especially fun to hear some of the older audience beside me singing the songs the drummers sang along with them. Not knowing the language, I had no idea what they were saying, but apparently the songs change with time and the announcer kept saying that these drummers were singing the old songs.

The kids are going to have their first round of after school art/music lessons, so we'll see how that goes. We are looking forward to it. Emora and I are LOVING our time together. So far we haven't done a lot of anything special- like quality time. It seems like once we run an errand and have lunch it's already time for her nap and running back up to the school. But I feel like we are still in recovery/transition mode.

Are there signs of fall where you live?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

your time is running short

It's still hot enough here, but I'm not sure how long it will last. The mornings and evenings are cool enough for a light jacket and pants, but the day gets real hot. Today I was in a t-shirt instead of a tank top and was so hot walking down the street. I went to the town beach and the water has gone down quite a bit. The grass has dried out and there is a little bit of beach after the retaining wall now. Several parents were out with their young kids and I got to watch canadian geese diving into the water for food. I've gotten the geese mixed up some with the pelicans, as they fly overhead but I think I'm realizing the differences now that someone said the geese have black wings and fly faster. You have to learn to look for these things when you're just a city girl!

Like these morning glories... I will miss them when they stop greeting me in the mornings, they have made me a glorious welcome as I drive up in the wee hours of the day. I think they come back, but do I cut them down to the ground? I think so. And what about the rest of the plants? I hope to bring the herbs in and keep them alive through the winter, not sure if that's possible, but I'll give it a try.

Our first week of school was a blur of activity. Running the kids back and forth, waking Emora up from naps, figuring out where to pick up the kids, not having near as much of the day as I thought I would, and the most exciting part: APPLE HARVEST!!

Dominique's kindergarten teacher has a farm and 3 apple trees that she invited Janet and I to harvest. We took our kids out there Wednesday and picked a ton of apples. So since then, I've been making applesauce, apple crisp, apple puree and even a little apple juice. I also kept some for eating and gave a ton away. It was fun, but I'm also glad that I'm done with them and that I have such wonderful food to pull out during the long winters here. I decided that I would love to have this as a yearly ritual, but I'm also glad we don't depend on it. Mrs MacPherson's mom came out to be our hostess, helping with the kids and giving us all snacks and a good visit after the picking was done. She was telling us about making 900 preserves one year. I would not have liked that!

So it's all well that ends well. Here I had been so sad that we didn't get a garden this year, but I have been the recipient of lots of garden produce from my parents, my neighbor, cousin and most likely my uncle will be bringing more our way. Then I was sad about not planting an apple tree, and yet here I was elbow deep in apples all week. It was really fun too because the kids and I have read lots of books about harvesting apples and this was the first time we got to really feel a part of it.

I'm really loving how lots of people garden here and how lots of people share garden stuff. So yummy and fun!!

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

1st day of school pics

Tomorrow is Dominique's first full day of school. She went for a half day on Tuesday (they call it a staggered start and invite half the class to come for half a day so that they can have a first day in smaller groups). She was so exhausted after that first half day, so I'm wondering what a full day will do to her. We are trying to get them to bed earlier, but it's still hard getting up in the morning- especially for the beauty sleep queen Emora who unfortunately now has to be woken up in the morning and from naps due to the school schedule.

The way the angle came out in this pic makes Dominique look gigantic compared to Emora, doesn't it? Kind of funny and maybe a bit symbolic, if I wanted to get deep and philosophical, which I don't.

Ivan had so many materials to bring, they didn't all fit in his huge backpack.

Dominique requested a princess backpack for her birthday in the summer. I thought that was a win/win since she needed a backpack for school anyways and I could tick something off that school supply list in July!

Ivan thinks he's all grown up now that he's in grade 2. He wants to walk home from school by himself (which I'm not letting him do). He doesn't want me to wait for him in the hall anymore. He's changed his favorite color that he loved since birth (from green to blue) and he decided he LOVES writing (I'm hoping that will stick beyond today). I still haven't really had a chance to meet his teacher much, since I'm not waiting for him in the hallway. I keep thinking I need to get in there to at least say "hi, I'm Ivan's mom"- even if that will be SO EMBARRASSING for him!

I asked him if he was now too big to give me a kiss at school and he looked around the playground to make sure no one was there and gave me a quick peck ;) Glad he's not totally grown up yet!

Monday, September 05, 2011

Mr Sandman

Last week we went to the beach for what we thought was a last beach day, but that was before we knew we would have a gorgeous-extra long weekend! We got to go canoeing yesterday and again today and swam a little bit, but the kids didn't get very adventurous today without their cousins at the beach. All they had was mom and dad!

These pics are all from last week's beach adventures.
This is one of our friends with the mermaid a couple of ladies built with the kid's help. I didn't talk much with the ladies, but they must have had some artistic abilities because this was one of the most elaborate sand creations I've seen there this summer- and they had lots of little helpers, which can help or hinder the process!

After the mermaid, the kids decided to bury Arwen, then Ivan in the sand.

He got a bit dirty.

We are LOVING playing at the beach and getting out to the parks to enjoy the amazing weather and nature around us. It was so great getting to see the pelicans so close and fly just 10 feet or so over our heads while we canoed. Emora was pretty terrified of the canoe yesterday and today, but once we are out on the water about 20 minutes, she finally stops crying and settles in for the ride. I'm hoping she will come to love boating, but it may take her some more times out to fully appreciate it! I have to admit, it can get a bit scary since we are not very experienced canoers and when some of those waves come up or a motor boat zips by, I was telling the kids "wee, look at the fun waves" all the while paddling my best and hoping we don't capsize- which we didn't! I wish they rented water equipment here. I would love to try out kayaking and these stand up paddle boards I've seen and see how much fun it would be to know what we may want to invest in.