Posts Tagged ‘Canada’

Today’s Divine Appointment

March 23, 2016

I love it when that happens!

Early in the morning at 9:00, (for a homeschool mom anyway!) I was sitting in my van outside the house where Nora has a class for an hour. My computer was open and I was proofreading a PowerPoint for a seminar I give on choosing homeschool curriculum. I came to a slide where I have photos of different unit studies for comparison. One photo was the sole example I could find online of the contents of a unit study on Obedience by my all time favorite curriculum, Konos. The photo was blurry and pathetic, however I justified it by noting how many different colored blurry indistinguishable items there were… showing volume…. not detail… AT ALL. I recalled scouring the web for a better picture to no avail. Small size it is almost clear, but blown up on a big screen, it’s horrid. That’s the gospel truth. Here it is:

M4034S-4211

When Nora was done, we drove downtown and visited my friend, Ana, who is the kind soul who processes all the homeschool affidavits for Maricopa County. (Can I just say that the view from her 12th story office facing north was FANTASTIC including a community garden, three beautiful brick Catholic schools and Camelback Mountain! WOW!) As we were chatting I noticed a brochure on her desk for the Covenant Homeschool Resource Center, which I knew was also downtown. Mentioning that I had never been there (not mentioning that this is my 15th year homeschooling) she drew me a map and insisted that I go, as it was only three blocks away. Perfect!

Nora and I found the little hole-in-a-wall resource center and ventured inside. To say that it is crammed to capacity of curriculum and books and resources is the understatement of the century. Fuller than a centipede’s sock drawer.

Right away we found Nora’s science books for next year and then I started chatting with my friend, Janet, who runs the place. (She’s probably the one who crams all the books on those sagging shelves!) I inquired about her married daughter and come to find out, her and her new husband are living in Lynden, WA. Being very familiar with Lynden as we used to live right across the border in Canada, I remarked about how beautiful it is there. But that’s not all, Janet’s son-in-law is working at Trinity Western University… where Rick and I met and went to college. What a small world. (Sing with me, “It’s a small world after all… It’s a small world after all…)

Oh, it even gets better. As we were commenting about the coincidence of that, over her shoulder I spied the curriculum box for Obedience… the one in my blurry photo from earlier that morning! I promise you, I heard angels singing. She let me take it down and set it all up pretty and she even took the photo with her camera and emailed it to me. Here it is:

konos box2

I love it when that happens! Thank you, God, for answering a prayer that was a desire of my heart, that I didn’t even pray. Amen and amen.

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Happy 18 Years!

January 27, 2015

As of this past week, we have lived in the USA for 18 long years. Here’s the update on the past 216 months.

We came from Canada with two kids, ages four months and three years. Now we have four kids ages: 21, 18, 16 and 11.

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We have lived in five places since arriving: one month at my parent’s house, 16 months in an apartment, 6 years in our first house, 6 months in a rental house and now almost 10 years in our current house.

Our eldest went to a charter school for kindergarten and grade one. We are in the middle of our 14th year of homeschooling. Now our eldest is a junior in college.

Rick has worked in credit card processing, flying for FedEx, had a janitorial business, a bug business and has been flying for the State of AZ for 14 years now.

We went to our first church for 18 months and then helped start a sister church where we attended for 11 years. We have been at our current church for five years five months.

I have been heading up to Prescott for scrapbooking retreats for 17 years.… but now they are just relaxing retreats.

We have been serving on the board of Arizona Families for Home Education for 4 1/2 years.

We love Arizona, but we do try to be gone for 3-6 weeks every summer. :o)

Am I Turning into Scrooge???

December 1, 2013

Sorry, but I am not excited about gift giving this year.  Yes, I love to bless those around me, but I’m starting to realize that maybe my spiritual gift is not gifts.  I would rather spend time doing some family/bonding/memory/making activity that will last in my children’s minds forever!  Seriously, what did we buy them last year that they are still using? The question is semi-unfair as we went to our homeland, Canada, last year for Christmas.  Being in the desert in the Southwest, we had to buy warm clothes, long pants and shoes for the kids and we kept telling them the vacation to another country WAS their gift.  :o)

christmas 2012 1

See?!  What a great memory!

Our then 9-year-old daughter was DYING to get this set/book where she could draw outfits for dolls.  She LOVED it to death… I think it took about 21 days.  I haven’t seen it in almost a year.  We also got her a fat, purple and pink sparkly piggy bank that she spied in Walmart.  She was DYING to have a place to put her money…. AND would accentuate her pretty bedroom. I’m fairly certain the pig has been vacationing with the naked dolls that still need dresses since late February.  If the Popsicle man ever comes by in July/August and my wallet is empty, I need to remember to look for that pig.

My then 16-year-old son was DYING to have this totally overpriced black with lime green stripe cooler-than-cool jacket.  It is a close fitting, non-waterproof, zip-up, and being in Arizona I’m giving him a bit more grace than his little sister for not using it A LOT.  I did see the lime green coolness trying to peek out from a pile of clothes on the floor in his room.  I’m not sure if he wore it or if it fell off the hanger?  Then Dec. 16th, we crossed over the Sierra Nevadas in a snow storm…  pulled into the first ROSS we found and bought him a more suitable winter jacket.  Jacket #2 has been in the winter clothing box in the garage since January 2nd.

My then 14-year-son, who was DYING for concert tickets or iTunes gift-cards, got a mountain bike.  My husband bought it hoping for father-son bonding times, which did happen a few times last January and February.  Now, said son HAS used the bike and he does take care of the bike, but he rides his longboard 9 out of 10 days of the week.  Recently I asked him what we got him for Christmas last year… long pause… “Concert tickets or something?”  Um, no, but we probably should have.

My then 19-year-old got the most useful, but not necessarily fun gift…. an orange suitcase of her very own.  She was leaving for college in January and it turned into a necessity as I realized if I didn’t buy her one, she would be taking one of mine.  All that said, she LOVES orange and LOVED it…. AND she took one of mine anyway.  She also opened a brand new shiny pair of Nike tennis shoes, as some sort of athletic course at school was in her near future.  I’m positive that the Nikes won the “Most Used” Christmas gift of 2012.

Rick and I got a nice shiny red van for Christmas… that I crashed three months later.  Boooo Hissssss.  At least I remember what we received!!!

Do you remember what you bought everyone last year?  Do you remember what you received?

My Heart is STILL in Colombia!

November 24, 2012

It’s true.  We have been home from Cali, Colombia for 23 months with our little Colombian princess.  The adoption journey has had bumps and twists that we didn’t expect, but it has been so wonderful and rewarding.

Tomorrow is GOTCHA DAY number two!

TWO YEARS!!!  Hard to believe it has gone by so fast.  Sometimes our month in Colombia seems like forever ago… and sometimes it seems like last week.  I miss the lush greenness of Cali, the vast array of mystery fruits that were scrumptiously yummy, the glimpses of the Andes when the fog lifted, the bamboo forest we drove by to our villa, the coconut ice cream bars, the afternoon rain showers, the neighborhood boys who would come and ask,  “Is Austin Rick’s son?”, the sweet smell of the flowers, arepas filled white cheese, the stickiness of the night air and the pee-po pee-po LOUD evening serenade of the coqui frogs.

People often ask “Why Colombia?”  Quite a few factors lead us to the beautiful and tropical South American country.

1.) My husband, Rick, went to Valledupar, Colombia for a summer to build a church when he was 17-years-old.  He grew to love the warm-hearted people and the countryside teeming with unknown vegetation, never imagining that he would return to meet his daughter twenty-something years later.

2.) We have three bio kids who do not look like Rick AT ALL.  Ok, one does a little, but I was expecting little chubby, black-haired Indian babies when I married a Cree Indian.  Didn’t happen.  The Irish and Finnish genes dominated and we got two blonde-haired, blue-eyed kids and another slightly darker. So, when we had chosen an adoption agency, I looked through the pages for the countries they worked in….   I held up the two pages and announced to Rick, “El Salvador and Colombia are where the kids look like you.”  “Colombia,” he replied.  And it was a done deal.

3.) Not that I was anywhere near proficient, but I thoroughly enjoyed taking Spanish… back in the day.  Larisa also had Spanish courses and was mastering her second language quite nicely.  So a country in South America seemed familiar… somehow.  (Not distant in my mind, like, say, Kazakhstan… or China.) I related to Ellie from the movie UP…. her dream was to visit South America.  She tore pictures right out of a library book of the fascinating country.

I am as American as you could get.  I LOVE my country… the anthem brings me to tears.  Studying and teaching the history of our great land is a deep passion of mine.  But I have to say that my heart beats in thirds… a third for the USA, a third for Canada, where I spent my college years and the first 10 years of marriage, and now a third for Colombia where I fell in love with my daughter’s people and homeland.  My heart is still in Colombia. <3

Black Friday 2012

November 23, 2012

Slept til 8:48 a.m.  Read in bed for 45 minutes.  Got up.  Got dressed.  Ate breakfast.  Cleaned my toilet and washed the bathroom floor. Washed all the bathmats.  Helped Nora try on ALL of her clothes to see what is too small and if we need warm clothes for Canada next month.  We don’t,YAY!

That is all.  So far.

Truly I don’t understand the desire to push through crowds at the wee hours of the day to save a couple bucks.  Yes, I do understand that there are some good deals to be had, but truly, do we NEED all this stuff we already have?  I have come to the conclusion …. in my house we don’t. Not everybody in my house agrees, but he is gone at work most days…… heh heh heh.

Recently I was lead blindfolded with hands tied behind my back to a facebook group with 2400 local members where you can buy and sell the junk in your house.  It’s earth friendly.  It’s convenient.  In one hour online and one trip to the Walmart parking lot, I collected $45 and got rid of four items in the garage sale pile.  Another lady came to my house and purchased a boxed set of books for $12… that we had TWO of.  Selling on this site rakes in far more cashola than a garage sale would bring for these same items.  It’s better than eBay because there are no fees and I don’t have to ship the junk.  I love it.  I am addicted… well, when I have a pile of unwanted treasures to sell.

The remainder of Black Friday 2012 will be consumed with having dinner with college friends that we haven’t seen in 25 years, and a homeschool board meeting.  Then I get to sleep in again tomorrow!  I realize those of you who know me well, think I sleep in every day, but that is not true…. very much.  I have even been arising when the number 7 is on the clock!  Astonishing, I know.  And I’m showering before leaving my room….. AND I’m making my bed every morning.  It only took 45 years to get into these amazing habits.  Just goes to show you that the old dog, new trick idea isn’t true.

Enjoy your weekend!

Oh Canada!

November 2, 2012

There will be several more episodes to Kings Canyon Camping, but at the moment, there will be a halt in the story telling.  I fly out in the morning to my second homeland, Canada.  Yes, I’m a dual citizen, not because I married a Canadian, but because my mother is Canadian.  Voila!  Dual rights, baby.

As much as I would love to sit here and type out the camping shower fiasco, or the back-of-the-bus barfing game, or the roadkill bingo, I am in the midst of packing and planning.  If I have had the pleasure of speaking when you are in the audience, you know, as well as I do, that a good time was had by all.  To say that I love speaking is an understatement… it is what gives me purpose and life and liberty and justice for all. Amen.

However, (enter somewhat sinister music playing in the background) I have been challenged lately by our good Lord about many excesses and life’s circumstances in the cushy ol’ US of A.  It has broken down some barriers in my heart.  I used to half-proudly say that mercy and grace don’t show up on my “gifts” list.  But I have had glimpses of both in the last two years.  Orphans break my heart.  Hence, our quest to open our home to one darling Colombian.  Widows and widowers are starting to find a soft place in my heart.  Homeless people… displaced people… people simply having a rough go of it… and refugees.. and children who live on the streets.  There are so many needs surrounding us that it could be quite overwhelming.  But God gives us all the same amount of time…. 24 hours a day… to reach out to those in our circle of influence… and those who live just outside our comfortable circle.

So, all that to say, my speaking this coming Monday night in the Great White North will not be the fat-n-happy laughing times of old.  It has me a bit nervous.  I’m used to being liked.  This may go down … um… not pretty.  Pray for the women’s hearts to be opened to God’s will for their lives.  And pray, please, that I will say exactly what I’m supposed to say to bring awareness to some cushy lives, to make the cozy nests prickly, to awaken some dreams of good will, to stir some hearts toward the hurting, and quite possibly to open a mother’s eyes to her child who is on the other side of the world waiting for a mama.

It’s been at least five years since I’ve been in Zellers, The Real Canadian Superstore, Tim Horton’s or a Canadian Tire.  :o)  Should be a rockin’ good time, eh!

Here we are …

April 9, 2012

Here we are on Easter Sunday … three generations of shining faces.  That’s my mom and my two daughters with me, in case you are new to MSJ.  We are an international crew.  Grandma and Larisa born in Canada. I was born in the USA and Nora in Colombia.  And we’re okay with all that.  Free trade and all that. “All that” really does include a lot of passports/fees/paperwork/fingerprinting…. and it’s all good.

Family dinners are a joy to behold.  Lots of laughter.  Lots of thankful hearts.  Not only for the resurrection of our Lord, but for the family with whom He has surrounded us. 

Favorite quotes from this year’s Easter dinner:

Seven-year-old nephew, when asked what he wanted to drink, “I’ll have rootbeer.  But if there’s no root, I’ll just take the beer.” (We are not a drinking family, so it was quite amusing!)

Eight-year-old daughter, after her father said, “There are E G G S around the R O O M.  We will H U N T after C H U R C H.”  “Hey, I think you guys spelling so I don’t know what you’re talking about!”

My pound-dropping husband, “This is the leanest and greenest Easter dinner I’ve ever eaten!”

He is risen indeed!

Math the Colombian Way

March 19, 2012

(This picture has nothing to do with this post…. but it’s cold outside, so I picked a snow picture!)

Math is different around the world.  I’m convinced of that.  My husband was taught math in Canada and he DOES NOT do multiplication the way I was taught here in the good ol’ US of A.  And he’s not converting from metric either; he simple learned a funky, three-step process to do the facts, and I merely memorized them.  On occasion, I do use my fingers for the nine’s times tables, but that’s only really late at night. [You know… hold up your ten fingers.  Bend down the number you are multiplying by nine.  Read the tens and ones with the remaining fingers.  I.e.  9×4  Hold up your ten fingers.  Bend down the fourth finger from the left.  There are three fingers standing on the left (tens = 30) and six fingers still standing on the right (ones = 6)  Hence, 36.]  But my dear husband’s process has you subtracting and adding numbers up and down from the number you started with.  And you’re supposed to remember all these numbers as you go.  Too many steps for my little brain.

Today, at the kitchen table while teaching math to the little Colombian princess, I was assuming that Colombians learned addition differently than I did.  Here are the equations and her answers:

15.   5 + 4 =  24

16.   3 + 8 = 27

Get it?  I didn’t.  For a LONG time.  Finally I explained that it was a pre-test and I didn’t expect her to know how to do those problems yet.  THEN I SAW the DOTS.  She draws little dots and counts them.  For the first problem, she drew 15 dots, 5 dots and 4 dots.  She counted them all and wrote the correct answer!  SHE WAS INCLUDING THE NUMBER OF THE PROBLEM!  Hahahaha!  And she DID know how to add them ALL!  So after we got it all ironed out, it was smooth sailing.  Colombian math is just like USA math, but probably not like Canadian math! (If I can help it!)

I’m the one on the OUTSIDE???

July 11, 2011

Growing up in the 60s and 70s, I was a fortunate kid who had both sets of grandparents until my teens.  Most of our family vacations (in the station wagon with the 8-track tape of the singing Statesmen) were spent driving to and from one of my grandparents’ homes.  My maternal grandparents lived in White Rock, B.C. a block from the beach and they had a trampoline in the back yard and wild blackberry vines that grew down the hill from their home.  All of those were important items on my list as a kid.  They lived in a four-story yellow house that stood out like Big Bird when we were on the beach looking toward land.  The reason they lived in a four-story, gargantuan home was because my Grandmother took care of 10 women who had special needs, all who lived in the top floors of the canary-colored house. Grandma and Grandpa lived in the lower floor in two cramped bedrooms, a kitchen and livingroom.  I can’t remember where we slept when we stayed there, but I have fond memories of that house.

The Ladies ate at a large diningroom table in a window-laden room facing the ocean on the second floor.  It was a ways from the kitchen, where my grandmother cooked for all 17 of us inhabitants.  We ate at a squishy kitchen table that was at the back of the house in a nook with windows across the far wall.  Our view was the driveway and the neighbor’s fence. The table was formica with a gray and white pattern of triangles, and there were secured benches all the way around the table.  No chairs.  There was no room for chairs.  I felt like a sardine lined up with my siblings and sometimes my cousins. And I loved it.

The day we arrived, Grandma gave each of us a see-through pill bottle with a white snap-on lid with our name written on it in a rainbow-shaped curve. It was for vacation allowance.  Each and every day she handed out a quarter to me and my brother and sister.  The coins fit perfectly in the little bottles. I have always relished things that fit perfectly.  True to form, my brother would save his coins all week so on the last day he could carefully purchase a yo-yo, or a rubber coin purse that squeezed open or a candy bar.  I lavishly spent my quarter every day.  On junk candy.  And I was okay with that. Because the next morning, for at least 20 minutes, there would be another shiny quarter that would fit perfectly into the bottom of my pill bottle that said L-I-N-D-A in the rainbow-shaped curve.

There were “other” cousins that also came to Grandma’s yellow beach house on Buena Vista Drive.  Three girls, close to the same ages as us, but we weren’t “real” cousins.  We spent a Christmas or two together when we were very young, eating at Grandma’s, but we never swapped gifts.  I never gave it much thought but somehow felt sorry for them because they weren’t Grandma’s “real” grandchildren.  I considered them on the outside.

In my 16th year of life, I came to the realization that the Grandmother that I loved, was married to my Grandfather…. after my maternal Grandmother passed away years previously.  She was my STEP-Grandmother.  But how could that be?  She was not like Cinderella’s Step-anything!  She loved us and fed us and gave us vacation allowance.  THEN I realized that I was not a “real” grandchild…. I was on the outside!  The three girls were on the INSIDE! That shocked me for days.  It was my first real-life experience knowing unconditional non-blood related love.  We were family and that was all that mattered. And I loved it.

More tomorrow, on my beloved Grandmother.

And BAM! 17 Years Flew By

May 21, 2011

Tonight we spent the evening visiting with fine Canadian friends that we lived life with up in Northern Alberta in the early 90s.  I haven’t written much about our Northern escapades in a while.  Quite a few memories were reborn in my mind tonight…. quality fodder for blogging.  Good times!  I love love love reconnecting with friends where it seems like NO time has gone by…. except for our husband’s higher foreheads and a few more smiling lines for us girls.  We chatted and laughed and got caught up on 17 years of information in seven hours. 

When we lived together in Fort Vermilion, Alberta our first children were born within four months of each other.  We shared many meals and phone calls in those early parenting years.  Hard to believe we both have four kids now.  And my 17-year-old daughter LOVED being introduced to a “stranger” and told that she had changed her diapers.  :o)  Keepin’ ’em humble.  That’s my job as the mom.

We’ve matured over the years, but one constant remained… God is good.  All the time.  Hard times come and go.  But God is good.  All the time.  Amen.