Tuesday, 27 December 2011

So Sick

Not sure what is wrong with us today. Jill has been throwing up every few hours. I haven't, but I feel like if only I could things would be okay. Jill is really funny. She is happy and bouncy, and every few hours she stops that and throws up.

There always has to be someone sick in our family during the holidays, it seems!

Monday, 26 December 2011

Boxing Day

Mom wanted us to go to dinner today to a place she had been invited. Brad's wife, Jill's, sister had invited her. I felt kind of weird about going, but mom wanted us to go, so we decided we would. I figured we could endure it.

I have to say, I had to most fun at a party where I didn't know anyone. There were probably about 30 people there for dinner. Mom and Uncle Clifford and Brad and Jill were there - so we knew some people at least.

Turned out we had a few connections! Jill's sister's name is Mikenzie. She is really outgoing and fun and easy to be around. She was sitting and talking to mom and I suddenly it clicked who she was. She was talking about sewing and shopping and sewing machines....and it clicked. Patti Hawryluk always talked about her friend Mikenzie who she'd go shopping with and who likes to sew. So I asked her if she'd ever lived in Calgary and if she knew Patti, and sure enough!

We also found out that her son lives in our ward. Funny thing was his little girl was singing happy birthday in French to Jill. While she was singing I said to myself that I should go talk to this little girl - but I didn't. Then when we found out that Mikenzie's son lives in our ward (he's less active and someone the Bishopric has been trying to visit) Allen visited with him some and we found out that their daughter goes to Peirce's school. We had a really nice visit with them.

Such a small world!

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Peirce's Letter to Santa

I'm not a scrapbooker, but I do like to keep a record here. If I were a scrapbooker I would put a page in my book with Peirce's letter and the reply from Santa with cute stickers. I could even scan it or take a picture and post it here - but he typed it up, so it's not like the printing is that endearing or anything. Anyway, here is his letter:

Dear St. Nick,

I would like to thank you from last year and this year in advance. you are so cool. I hope you have set up your Christmas tree. This year my favorite toy is an i-pot and some Harry Potter lego. I hope your elves can make two more presents. I was just wondering if you could speka another language other than English. I speak French. I think it is fun knowing that you can speak French and English. I hope you have a nice trip.


P.S. When I said my favorite toys are, that is what I would like for Christmas.

I love the letter because it is so Peirce....exactly how he talks. :)

He is always sure to show me the letter. I'm pretty sure he's on to the Santa thing. He's smart enough to know though that he should still play along. :) That's okay with me.

He got a letter back too! It said:

Hello Peirce!

I was so happy to receive your letter. I'm always over the moon to hear from boys and girls who love the magic of Christmas.

Yesterday, Mrs. Claus suggested that we take a break and go for a walk in the lollypop forest. The elves strapped on waffles to the bottom of their boot to keep them from slipping. We walked, laughed, and picked some lollypops - grape,butterscotch, berry explosion and my favorite - maple swirl. Mrs. Claus took pictures to put in the workshop.

Well, I must go now. It's snack time and I promised Rudolph that we would try out the new cookie machine.

Thanks again for your wonderful letter. Please remember to write me next year.

Your friend,

P.S. My, you write a wonderful letter. I speak French too! I can't wait for Christmas - can you? Meilleurs voeux pour un Joyeux Noel!

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!!

I think Sundays are my new favorite kind of Christmas day.

Today was a great day. I woke up at my usual 5:30 am and waited for everyone else to wake up. It didn't take too long as the kids woke up at 6:00 and we were quickly downstairs opening gifts. It was a lot of fun. I'm so proud of my kids for their reasonable Christmas lists. They each made Christmas lists and we were able to get almost everything on their lists - and they noticed that. They were really pleased with their presents.

One funny moment was Peirce with his gyroscope. He plays with one of those every year when we go to the Hudsons for carol singing. He has asked for one a number of times and one day while we were in Chapters we noticed they had some in their old fashioned toys section! I bought one for him. Allen also ran into them one day so he bought one too. We gave one to Jill and one to Peirce. The funny moment was Christmas morning when Jill had opened hers. Peirce actually had his in his hand. He sat their open mouthed not knowing what to say when he saw that Jill got one. We laughed and laughed and told him to go ahead and open the one in his hand. Pretty good timing! :)

After gift opening we had a few hours before church. I really don't remember any other Christmases where we went to church. We probably didn't! Today we did. The program was all music - and it was so amazing! The primary children sang. I was touched by how many little children knew the words so well. Then the young men sang. My heart was about to burst! I was so happy to see them up there singing. It wasn't anything fancy - but I think that it was beautiful to see them do it. I'm sure singing does something good to their hearts. Something that boys need! I hope they're still singing when Peirce is in young men's. There were various other musical numbers by the choir, a Spanish group, a quartet, and some instrumental pieces. My heart was burning all through it all. It was beautiful!

After church we had a big of a social with squares and snacky food. It was a perfect way to end the meetings and it was really lovely to visit with everyone.

We made a quick get away though and came home to get ready to go to Lethbridge. Once again the kids surprised me and we were ready in record time. By the time Allen got home from doing tithing we had everything by the door. We had hoped to leave at 2:00 and we were in the car at 1:45. That never happens!

Dinner at my mom's was fantastic. We opened more gifts there, visited and had a great time. We missed Dad. Taylor is also gone this year. She went to Germany! But those of us who were there had a great time. By the end of it all I was really pooped though.

It has been a wonderful Christmas day! Merry Christmas everyone!

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Christmas Eve

We had a wonderful Christmas Eve this year. We started the day off by insuring and registering Allen's new car. YEA!! It took much longer than I anticipated - but everything worked out. Actually, one thing I'm quite pleased about this year is the relaxed feeling I have around Christmas. When school was finished I started in on incorporating FlyLady routines into my day and it seemed like I was comfortably caught up on housework in no time. Phew! I did pretty much all my Christmas shopping this past week (risky, I know!). It seems like Christmas preparations fit into how much time you give them - and that's okay.

This afternoon I broke one of my Christmas resolutions and went to a mall. I was pleasantly surprised though. It wasn't that bad! It was like an average busy Saturday. I didn't even have to drive around the parking lot for 30 minutes trying to find somewhere to park. A Christmas miracle!

We had planned to have the kids go tobaganning today - but it seems we are not having a white Christmas and there definitely wasn't sufficient snow for tobaganning. Nathan and Becky and their kids came over for dinner. It was a great dinner, and great company. After dinner we had planned to sing carols and share favorite Christmas stories - but that didn't end up happening either....and that was okay! Another Christmas miracle: our kids decided to go to bed early so Christmas morning could come quicker. Allen and I spent an hour or so wrapping the last few gifts to be wrapped, filling stockings, and getting breakfast ready for the morning. Christmas morning here we come!

So long Aziz!

We have had students from other countries stay with us on and off for the past 13 years. One of my regrets is that I haven't kept a record of these interesting people!

This month we said good bye to Aziz. He stayed with us for about a year. A year?! wow. Time flies!

Aziz is from Saudi Arabia. He has a large family - it seems to me he said there are 17 children, and he is the youngest. His father died when he was a child. He was raised by his mother and his 'aunt'. His dad had two wives and they have continued to live in the same house after his father died. I think the 17 children are from both women.

Aziz had to be the best student we had at trying to get to know Canadian culture, learn the language, and be a part of our family. He also tried to infuse some of his culture into our home. He didn't think we were celebratory enough when someone returned home and would always rush to the door when anyone returned home to pronounce a hearty, "Welcome! Welcome! Welcome!" (on my off days this sometimes prompted me to quietly enter through the front door where he wouldn't hear me LOL). A lot of students who have stayed with us have been serious students, but he was probably the most earnest learner of English that I have met. It was amazing how much he learned in a year.

Aziz really loved our children. Sometimes his care made them uncomfortable though. He developed a habit of grilling Jill about where she had been and Allen talked with him and told him we do not treat daughters like that in our culture. We trust Jill and don't expect her to ask for anyone's permission to do things, except her parents. He lightened up on that. I think he was just trying to play the role of protective older brother, but his approach made Jill and us uncomfortable. It was too close to that Moslem control girls issue. He also got on a kick where he was trying to arrange a marriage for Jill with one of his nephews. He said she would always be looked after and that his family would give us lots of money (like a million dollars!) the entire discussion made Jill uncomfortable and often angry. He gave that one up to. Then he would talk about how he would love to take Peirce to meet his family. Peirce was curious, but I think a little afraid Aziz really would take him there and not bring him back. He was probably a little afraid because even though he thought it sounded like an interesting adventure I would always say no to the idea I wouldn't even joke that it might be okay. After Peirce's complaints Aziz finally gave that one up too.

That being said, Jill and Peirce loved to watch TV with Aziz, they loved how he always had treats for them. They loved helping him with his homework (it is always flattering to be a kid expert). And they had a lot of fun teaching him about Canadian things like tobogganing, skating, not wearing flip flops in snow, and things like that.

I appreciated the things Aziz taught me about Saudi culture and his religion. He prayed many times a day at specific times. He loved his family and spoke with them often. He had a favorite sister and whenever we mentioned her name (even when not talking about her specifically) he would clutch at his heart and say, "Oh my Sarah. I love my sister Sarah. she is my favorite." There are many things in his culture about women that I hate: they cannot drive, their work opportunities are limited, they must get permission from their husband or father (or whoever has been assigned to stand in in those roles), and they must cover themselves. Whenever I would ask him about these things he had answers that almost swayed me to think the customs were rooted in care and respect. Almost.

One thing Aziz and I discussed a couple times - and after a couple very dynamic discussions wouldn't discuss it with him anymore - was the Israeli Arab conflicts. We could not come to an agreement. He could see no other way than the belief that his brothers there have been wronged and the wars and killing are justified....even celebrated. Now and then he would drop comments that made me think he even admired Hitler. I could barely tolerate this, and Aziz knew it. We both greased very lightly on that sensitive topic.

We often had religious discussions and discussed many similarities between Muslims and Mormons. He said his family worried he would convert to Mormonism because he often told them how much he admired our religious ways. We invited him to come to church but he never did come on a Sunday. He came to a couple parties, and that was all. He was amazed at our grand church house and wanted to be able to visit the temple here when it is finished. He was always amazed when I knew Old Testament stories of Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Sarah, etc. I don't know if he ever really understood that I got that knowledge from The Bible. He would always be aghast and say, "You know Abraham?! I cannot believe it."

One thing about Aziz that was odd was that he never really adjusted to our schedule. He would go to sleep after school, then wake up at a certain time for his prayers, and then stay up until 3 or 4 am talking on Skype, studying, and praying. He would often sleep until noon or later when he didn't have classes. Sometimes he stayed at the University all night studying in the library, and after a couple days of that he would come home and sleep for 12 hours or so straight.

Aziz was generous. He would always ask me if I needed anything if he was going out. He paid us full rent but very rarely ate here (that is part of the deal). He would often bring home treats for the kids and always offer food to us. He had a big heart and truly tried to be part of our family.

I have always found that when someone stays for more than six months I get a little tired of hosting. Aziz could sense that and I felt bad about that. He left at the beginning of December to move to Halifax and go to school there. He will be doing a masters degree in geomatics (I think). He already has an undergrad degree from a Saudi University.

I admired how Aziz loved his country, was grateful for his king's generosity, and how he was generous in praise towards our family. I am grateful that we got to know him.

I never could figure out what the watering can in the bathroom was for though.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Ethnic Christmas Party

Tonight we had another ward Christmas party. This one got started when some people in the ward decided they wanted to get together and share food and sings from their culture. It ballooned until it ended up being a ward party. The food was terrific! Allen said he could have done without the singing - but I thought it was nice to be able to have people share those things that are important to them. We had some Iranian singing by Sister Nachsbondi, some Romanian songs by the Badaras, a Japanese carol by a collection of Japanese members, families and return missionaries, a Spanish song by a group of Spanish speakers, and the kids and I (and Peirce's friend, Anthony) sang Quand La Pere Noel (much to their chagrin). We were going to bring poutine to continue with our French theme but we ran out of time so we bought some chicken fingers to warm up, a black forest cake, cookies and punch. Canadian food, I guess.

What I loved about this party was that it rose up out of an idea from members rather than leaders planning an activity because we are supposed to have an activity. That is how it should be more often!

After it was all finished we met a man who came to the building for his 'test' with the missionaries. He has been taught by the Mandarin missionaries and is getting baptized on Christmas Day! I love that! A real white Christmas!

Play Dates With Anthony

Today Peirce got to have his friend, Anthony, over. I am pretty terrible at arranging playmates. When he asked today and I agreed to it he was over the moon excited. They had a terrific time too. We really should do it more often! They played on the computer, played with their DS' together, and had a great time together at our ward party tonight. Anthony said it was the most fun he has ever had at a church. :)

Thursday, 22 December 2011

The End

Today is the end of part 1 of my vacation. This week I was off but my darling children were still in school. Oh the things I can accomplish when I am home without them! I have never been as unprepared for Christmas as I was this year. I worried about it but just planned that I would get everything done this week. I worried a little that something would come along to thwart my plan - like sickness....but phew! I have stayed healthy. In the past when school was finished I usually had to spend the first 3 days sleeping. I couldn't do that this time - and luckily didn't need to. Phew!

Today I got to go to an assembly at Peirce's school. It was so fun to see him there. They did a little salsa dance first....every kid in the school was in it! It was great. Then the after school program did a little play, and Kambul Bloxham cut off his hair! He grew it out for cancer patients and today he got it cut off in front of the whole school. He asked kids to come up and cut chunks off - and Peirce even got to be one of them. Quite a lot of fun. They used this as a way to present the virtues for January: caring. It was really great. At the end of the assembly there was a flash mob by the teachers. So fun!! I was so happy to be able to be there. My first assembly at Peirce's new school (this is one of the hazards of going back to work full time). Made me think now and then I should take a personal day to go to their assemblies. Something to seriously consider!

And now our kids are finished school and our Christmas can officially begin. Allen is out trying to find a car today. Here's hoping we can find something in our price range that will allow us to get to Lethbridge for Christmas!

Grace by Richard Paul Evans

I have been listening to this story on CD. I might have to resolve never to get book CDs out of the library though. The last CD was damaged so I couldn't get the last two chapters of the book. So frustrating!! The afterward though was good and filled me in, and I put the book on hold at the library.

The beginning of this book was a little frustrating to me. It is about a girl who runs away and hides with the help of a boy from school. She hides in his tree house in his yard. His parents never figure it out. Her parents never find her. That part kind of drove me crazy. I can't imagine having my kids hide someone and not figure it out.

Apparently the story is based on the author's experience. You can read about that on his website. When he explains this at the end it about broke my heart. It's about abuse, caring, and protecting children. I won't give it away, but just say that you seriously have to read this book!

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Morning Date

This morning Allen's office had a Christmas Breakfast. It was so fun to have a date on a Wednesday morning! We had a great time visiting with friends from the office. Wonderful day!

Monday, 19 December 2011

Digging Out From the Mess

Today has been a day filled with housework. So much to do! I feel like I've neglected my house for so long - and it shows. Today I worked like crazy getting caught up on laundry and doing some housework. The interesting thing is it doesn't take that much before I start to love my house again. It makes me wonder why I don't just work a little harder to keep up.

Oh ya. Time. Our life seems to run in high speed. Seriously, I do the best I can. I'm so glad to be able to catch up this week! Now I can have people over without feeling like dying. :)

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Look Ma! No Nap!

1. Today was the first Sunday for me to not be in primary. I have to say as I heard them from the Sunday School room as they were singing the opening song it really touched my heart. I missed them!! I am grateful for the music in primary. I always said the music leader is like the gospel doctrine teacher of primary. I still stand by that.

2. Today was a glorious Sunday. I enjoyed Sunday School immensely. We discussed the Christmas story and read Luke 2. It was absolutely wonderful and I left feeling spiritually nourished. Relief Society was the same. I loved it. Most interestingly of all, when it was all over I didn't feel like I needed a 3 hour nap! That's been my Sundays for the past couple of years. I found after church I was positively exhausted. I guess it wasn't just that I'm getting old. I wonder how the new primary presidency felt today? I will have to check in with them some time.


3. Today I feel especially grateful for Christmas. I am off now and have a lot to do this week. So glad that I have the time and resources to do it!

4. I am so very grateful for my job. I almost don't like to be away. I really miss it. But I am grateful for the break. I feel truly blessed to have the job I have.

5. My family. I found out Neil isn't coming out for Christmas - but he is going to come out in January. Luckily he picked a weekend that we don't have something going on. I'm really grateful for that. I'm excited to see my family at Christmas. Can't wait!

6. I'm grateful for the wonderful people I got to work with in primary. It was strange being in RS today with Karyn. I wished Deanna was there. And I wondered where Colleen was. I love those ladies!

7. I'm grateful for life! I am grateful for the good man I'm married to. I'm grateful that my kids are healthy and happy. I love to be with them all. Life is good. :)

In Training

Sometimes it is harder to teach kids to help, than to just do it yourself. However, the pain of knowing my kids can't shovel a sidewalk, or look after their own house, or do dishes pushes me on through the pain of getting them to learn how to do stuff.

Last night it snowed so after I took Allen to the church for ward council (we are still a one car family right now) Peirce and I went out to do some shoveling. Man, who knew shoveling was such a complex subject! Peirce was whining and complaining....so each time he continued to complain I'd tell him, "Well, I guess we have to do another driveway. You need to learn to do this without complaining." By the time he stopped we had shoveled our driveway plus 3 others, plus all the sidewalk on our street. Eeesh!

Let's hope we get some more snow. He is in training to learn to be a good shoveler!

Sunday, 11 December 2011


I'm actually writing this on Wednesday - but can't publish the post until Sunday.

Tonight the Bishop came to visit us. He released me from primary! I was kind of mixed about it. I have felt like it is time for a change, but then again, I have also felt like primary is the best place to serve and would be happy to stay forever! I guess, though, everyone needs a chance to get to see how great primary is.

The one tricky thing about it all was that I was planning on a presidency meeting on Thursday night to plan classes for January. Didn't quite seem like a good use of time-  so I cancelled the meeting. Ahhh!! So looking forward to a calling with no more meetings! :)

No new calling yet though! I guess I get a bit of a vacation. That's okay with me!

Friday, 9 December 2011

Charlie Brown Tree

When I got to my classroom this morning this is what was sitting on my desk:

So cute!

There was a card that said:

No matter how big or how small
your role is...
Every effort, every smile,
every carding word
ties into
the success of the students
both today
and tomorrow!!

Thank-you for your hard work and
We appreciate you so much!

Merry Christmas!

FFCA NWE School Council

I am SO grateful to work where I do. I love working with people who all really like each other. I love working with people who are just genuinely good people. I appreciate the generosity and kindness everyone shows. I feel privileged to work there! There seriously cannot be a better place to work! ....and it isn't even about all the presents I am getting :)

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Secret Santa

Recently, at work, they announced they were going to be doing Secret Santas. Call me a grinch if you want. Initially I groaned when I heard we were doing this. I figured I don't need more to do. I don't need gifts. Why a make work project!

Today was the first official day of Secret Santas. It was so fun! One co-worker made a Christmas tree of coke cans because she had someone who loves coke. There were all these emails going around to say thanks for this and thanks for that. Someone sharped another's pencils. I even got something!! A mug with oreos and a candy cane, and a Starbucks card!

I have repented of my grinchy ways. I have to say, after watching all the fun, and even receiving a gift, I have really enjoyed it. I'm excited that we're going to be doing this all week long!

Here's a picture of my gift today. I only thought to take a picture after munching on oreos while correcting spelling. The cup was full of them!

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Blessings We Didn't See At First

This weekend Allen took Jill to Edmonton for a meet. On the way there he started to have car trouble. When he got there his car died. Dead. Not to be revived. It is the transmission (again!) we replaced the transmission once, then had to do a big transmission repair again, and now another transmission issue. Enough. Time to move on. A few weeks ago he was in an accident. That is the blessing we didn't realize was a blessing. The insurance money to pay for the no longer needed repairs will be a great start to a new vehicle. Phew!

While I was sitting in church today I was thinking about my week: about what I learned about planning versus letting go, about not getting upset when bad things happen like car accidents, or car deaths, and about trusting God, when the spirit whispered to me that God always has a plan, a much better and more grand plan than I could ever come up with. Letting go and just stepping off the ledge and trusting that God will be there to catch me is hard for me, but I am learning to trust Him. I am grateful for that little whispering today. I know from the pain in my sciatic nerve that appeared today is because I am worrying. I will try to have more faith. I am trying!

Friday, 2 December 2011

Trickster Learning Curve

This has been an amazing and exhausting and fun and educational week. We had an artist in residence program called Trickster. I was telling my mom about it and she said, "Oh, so they come in and you get the week off?" Well, not exactly. I make a plan for the week, then they come in and change it all, and add 80 or so extra things to to do lists! :) .....but it is all worth it. It is an amazing experience.

I have seen Trickster a few times with our own kids at their school, but this was my first experience as a teacher. It was amazing to watch the Tricksters get our crazy ideas that seemed to spread over a myriad or topics into one story. Our theme was Nights of Character and every class had a character virtue to focus on. Our virtue was integrity. I worried all week that we wouldn't touch on integrity enough in our play. Our Trickster was amazing at letting the whole play totally come from the kids. It was their ideas, their humor, their understanding of integrity....all wrapped up with hunting rabbits, farting in tents, and things like that....and in the end, it was a lot of fun and it all made sense. I did a lot of letting go and did my best to try to learn from the process. I am a planner and don't let the kids lead as much as they got to this week. I really think the strength of this program is that they are masters of letting the kids take the lead.

It was very inspiring!