Saturday, January 28, 2012

Picture smorgasborg

After our trip to Texas, I got to drive to mom and dad's to get Saba. I got to see mom and dad briefly as well as Jenn and her kids who came out to make me a fabulous French lunch. Her host family from France who she is still very much friends with, had sent a package from France for Christmas and I got there in time to get some crepes Jenn cooked up! There is nothing like the crepes in France. I've got recipes, but they actually use different kinds of flours for the different crepes. They have restaurants with all crepe menus called creperies and they are so amazing. The make salty supper ones (my favorite was ham and cheese) and they make desert ones (I liked hazelnut) and they even made flambe ones (ones made with liquor that they set on fire and YES- they were my absolute favorite!) Isaac was being so cute and growing up so fast. I'm glad we get to see each other more often than we did in Texas, but the visits are so fast and short that it seems like we actually have less time. And we've been terrible about skyping. We used to do that regular, but the kids get so unruly on it, it's not very enjoyable!! I've figured out that short skype visits can be sweet, but I have to remember when I've scheduled them! Anyways, Jenn and I haven't gotten on a schedule for them yet!

Victoria and her boyfriend Tyler got to visit with us some one evening and Emora was quite taken by them.

I love love our kid's school. I am slowly learning some of the reasons it is so special. For one thing it is a community school, not a public school, which means that they have a special emphasis on the community. This includes many, many activities in the year to involve the whole family. We get lots and lots of parties, festivals and family activities to share with the school community. When you live in a small town, this affects most of town! So when we go, we get to connect with a lot of people we have met, which is part of what is helping us feel like we have our place here. This was a Hawaiian party at school. We were invited to dress Hawaiian and bring a picnic lunch to share with our child(ren). I got there with my trio and look who all found us! They had a cute hut where Hawaiian looking ladies made pretenda coladas (coconut slushies- that were so yummy).

Another fun thing they have been doing is wacky snacks- letting kids and staff try things like pomegranite or humus on sweet potatoe sticks. We recently went to a world literacy night at the school. They had a table representing a place in the world with kid books based on that area, decor, flag and snacks: fortune cookies, sushi, pineapple, humus and flat bread, chips, salsa & sour cream ... They had games where we matched flags and country names and countries with words of greetings and pages of literacy activities to do at home, a map with stars on the countries we were exploring through food and reading. Then when we left, every kid got to take home a free book! So amazing.

We went to a program today at the library celebrating Robert Munsch stories and literacy and the kids each got another book! I was calculating how many books the kids have gotten this year from programs and I'm sure we're at 20 or more!

Yesterday we got to go to another special program- Brian presented his music and the chapman stick to the grade 1s and 2s. It was fabulous. He did so good!

The music teacher was laughing at herself a bit. She told us that Ivan has been saying that his dad plays a Stick for a couple of years now, but that she had never heard of it and didn't realize it was an actual instrument. When he told her he has a cd, she didn't know he really did play and have a cd and that it's a real instrument. Brian had Sheena come over and play some on the guitar so that he could explain the differences and how Emmett Chapman came up with the Stick. Another teacher heard the sounds and popped in, requesting for him to do a presentation for her grade 7&8s. He is also teaching bass now in town. He's been on the roster for a year, but suddenly he has 3 students. So he is really enjoying getting more into music since he has been here.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Emora's 3rd birthday and a lot of other birthdays

I have 2 cousins (brother and sister) who live here in the Fort with us. They each have families of 5, plus us, family of five, add their sister and parents- an hour's drive from here and there are pretty much birthdays every month through the year. Sheena has a great party house, with lots of room, teenage facilitator and instruments, plus she doesn't mind hosting. So about once a month or every few months, we have a birthday bash. I always wanted to have family parties. There is not so much involved for several reasons... a lot of times, everyone pitches in with parts of it- food or cake or game or pinata in this case and secondly, if we are too lazy to organize, it doesn't matter- the kids all love to see each other and play together anyways.

Emora and Neve are 2 years apart. I realized when I took this picture that with each year, the age gap won't be so noticeable. Maybe they will be close buddies. Then again, Lanelle is only a year older, so Emora likes to play with her too.

All the January birthdays: I noticed they were all parent and daughter.

Jenn asked me what kind of birthday I was doing for Emora and I realized ackk- I should at least make a cake!! I usually do 2 box cakes, but I was missing a super easy chocolate cake recipe that we've made before. It is the most delicious cake, so half of it was that. It's always fun to me to think of a design and decorate it.

Emora was given a card last year that she just loved. It was part card, part puppet, part story. She has been getting me to read it and make the dog talk all year long. I didn't want to just get rid of it, but at the same time, she was about to be 3, so I decided to sew him a body and make him into a real puppet.
I told Emora she could name him and she wanted to name him "Emora". So creative! I convinced her to give him a slightly different name- so on his collar, on his button medalion it reads: "Emory"- our newest puppet.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Trip tales part 12

The final chapter of our trip. OK, so I may have slightly ulterior motives in this. If you are from Abilene and thinking of making the long drive up, this is some of what you get to see (ok, not Brian in the van).

It's long, yes, but it's also flat, straight and dotted with breathtaking beauty. I love, love the light as you get North. I never knew what it was that made me relax (unconciously) the further North we came every time we drove, until one time, at a pit stop, Brian said that the light was weird. Then it hit me- the light felt "right" for that season and time of day, it was a different angle from the sun and it was what I was used to. Culture shock is not just a result of language and customs being different, but so often it's all the little things that add up.

I grew up where there are seasons, extreme seasons. It's part of the joys and the journey to anticipate and glory in each season. Abilene didn't really have seasons and it was one of the first big things I really missed having lived in Canada.

Smells, light, air, tastes, sounds vary depending on so many factors that we can not even calculate, but when you travel you realize- this is different, how exotic and exciting that life could have such a different feel to it in this place.

I like flying for the speed of it, but Brian has always preferred to drive. With a family of five and none of the kids being small enough for a free ticket, I think driving will definitely be our mode of locomotion back and forth. But it's not all bad. Brian likes to drive and I like to read and sleep (in between helping kids with stuff). The kids thought they were in hog heaven watching a billion movies all day long- blah.

Sometimes I made them shut it off and look out the windows. Look at the beauty I'd say! Tell me something gorgeous you see. They'd appease me a few moments, maybe pull out something from their backpack and quickly return to their long drive singsong "Can we watch another movie now!"

I was thinking how times have changed. We used to see animal farms as we drove the countryside and now the kids see wind farms. I found them mesmerizingly beautiful- like art in the sky, but my kids will not find them unique, just a part of life, like dvds and wiis and smart computers in class. I just hope they will remember to look up and breathe deep, find open spaces and drink in the gorgeous of nature, the treasure of friends, the deep benefits of family, the joys of travel and new experiences and memories created on a 2 day drive through open country.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Trip tales part 11

Nearly finished up with our trip tales. It's about time huh? OK, so confession time, I still haven't uploaded pictures off the camera since we got back. I need to though. They are so fun to see on the big screen and then I can share them with you too!

We started our stay and ended our stay in Abilene at the restaurant we loved the most there. SzeChuan. We used to go before it got all fancy, when it was a little hole in the wall restaurant with the best food in town and amazing chefs who cooked behind a glass viewing area. Paula (in red striped shirt) is the person who first took me there.

So, our first night in Abilene we ate there and our last night in Abilene we so happened to get to eat there again! We had never been in the fancy round room, so that was a special treat. The kids loved the round spinning center. I was thinking I need one for the cupboards, but definitely not for my table as the kids kept spinning it and driving me batty.

We got to enjoy several family traditions. Staying at Wynetta's was amazing and she shared her tradition of making cinnamon rolls for breakfast that she used to do with her grandson when he was little. She wanted to pass on the memory to my littles and they sure did love it.

They also remembered our own tradition of Brian making sausage biscuits. I have to boast a bit about a super duper friend ;) Tighe bought and brought us the makings for sausage biscuits twice! I found that God often brings me best friends who are just like my husband- probably so that I can understand him better. She likes meat or protein for breakfast and that's exactly what she wanted as a treat from Starbucks. When I think treat, I'm thinking sweet and (unfortunately) fattening- definitely not sausage!! But oh, the joy it gave them all was priceless. I'm seriously thinking I will have to bite the bullet and a) find ground sausage here and b) pay some outrageous price for it so that the kids and hubby can relive that pure delight in making their morning food.

One of the last people we got to see was Trish. She had a wii game that was kind of broke. It had a disk stuck in it. Well, you should have been here the night the kids were able to fix it! Oh man, there was screaming and dancing and yelling and prancing. So I'm not sure if I should say thanks or ACK!!! since I have another screen tool to kick them off of all the time, but it was nice in -40 when we really couldn't tell them to go play outside. Not to mention that even when it is warm, it still gets dark here early and there is much of the night when they like to play still.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Trip tales part 10

This is called- way too many pictures in one blog post.

This was the last time I got to see Tighe in person, on this trip ;( They say "parting is such sweet sorrow" but sometimes I think it's just sorrow. Especially knowing how much I would miss her and all our other friends. Before when we left, I didn't know how hard it would be to not have people around that I treasured so much and who had become such a vital part of our lives and support system. During our move, I was thinking about the long drive and u-hauling all our stuff and what might await us in Canada. There was none of that this time to shield me from the hurt of saying "goodbye- until we see each other again".

Thankfully there are phones and the internet, so we are not totally disconnected. Can you imagine what it was like for pioneers (my great grandparents) when they left Europe to cross a huge ocean, face the unknown and leave FOREVER their family and friends, to face harsh cold CANADA with barely anyone living close even, few tools and resources, crazy epidemics, without doctors, childbirth without hospitals, no phones, electricity, internet, plumbing, cars, airplanes, facebook... I am SO GLAD I was born now and here and to the family I was born into!! So I'm not going to complain that I miss my friends. It could have been much worse.

and see technology let me keep all these memories on little clear pictures...

what a lovely day, and what lovely times.

and we are adding to our repertoir of friends here, albeit slowly...

I am so so thankful to the Muirheads and the Koops, who immediately welcomed us in and befriended us- it's good to have cousins in town and my favorite memories here have their faces speckled throughout.

We are discovering the charms of small town and of Fort Qu'Appelle and the joys of school and growing and learning and being where we are meant to be.

It's not always easy, but we can cling to our treasure trove of happy days afar and here and know that we are very very blessed people.

The trip gave me lots of perspective adjustements. I realized that while it is way more expensive in Canada, prices shot up some in the States too.

I remembered again that Fort Qu'Appelle is incredible gorgeous and that we need to get out and let the beauty soak into our beings.

I remembered that we made a "fair trade" of insanely hot for insanely cold- maybe Brian and I are just people of extremes ;)

Abilene had a lot of great things to do for cheap or free, but there are things here too, it just took some time to find them.

I realized that while the miles are long, it's so worth the drive. Abilene has a lot of people who have shaped our lives and touched our hearts like no others can, but there are people here doing that too. Best friends are not made in a day, but in years, events and circumstances that mold us together. I am thankful and grateful for all the "best friends" I've had through the years. My cousin told me that I was not allowed to have so many "best" friends. But everywhere I've lived, I had one person who become a "bosom buddy" as Anne would say. I've come to the realization and acceptance that we don't always continue the journey relationally when distance comes into play- those people are still vital to who we are, but the Lover brings others alongside us for the next part of the trip. Somehow this time, I was able to snag at least one best friend along for the long haul. I'll always be thankful to Texas for giving me Brian!! and also perhaps for giving me some life long journeyers, who we can keep sharing our hearts with, who will not fade away in the tapestry of our memories, but continue to shed light in our journey thanks to connections of the heart and phone and internet and miles traveled to meet up over the years.