Monthly Archives: April 2007

Making comparisons

This week at Group of Four we introduced each other to our sponsor children. Between us we have children in Mexico, Honduras, Bolivia and Nepal. Each family had begun a poster showing information about their child and his/her country. After we had shared these facts we broke up into groups to graph some of the statistics about these four countries and make comparisons with four wealthier countries.

We chose Canada, Australia, Germany and Italy because of the connections our families have with those countries. Graphs were made to display population density, life expectancy, percentage of population living below the poverty line, GDP per capita and infant mortality rates. The last two catergories were graphed together to show the inverse relationship of GDP to infant mortality.

Coming back together with our graphs each group explained what they had discovered while discussing and drawing their graphs and we talked about the impact these facts had on the countries’ need for aid. Even though we were looking at the big picture the children began to see how very privileged they are to live in a country where few die young, backyards are common, and the economy is healthy.

Anzac Biscuits

I was going to post this recipe on Anzac Day but after making then sharing the biscuits at Group of Four this week I received several requests for the recipe straight away. Anzacs are rolled oat biscuits which were renamed Anzacs some time after World War I. Since our family moved to this part of the world we have learned to say “cookies” not “biscuits” but this must never be done in the case of Anzacs. As explained in Wikipedia:

The term ANZAC is protected under Australian law [1] and therefore the word should not be used without permission from the RSL, and its misuse can be legally enforced, particularly for commercial purposes. There is a general exemption granted for Anzac biscuits, as long as they remain basically true to the original recipe and are sold and referred to as Anzac biscuits and never as cookies.

img_2350crop.jpg Anzac Biscuits
4oz butter
1 tbs golden syrup
1 cup coconut
¼ tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1 cup rolled oats
1½ tsp baking soda
2 tbs boiling water

Combine rolled oats, sifted flour, sugar and coconut. Combine butter and golden syrup, stir over gentle heat until melted. Mix soda with boiling water, add to melted butter mixture, stir into dry ingredients. Use dessert spoon to spoon dollops of mixture onto greased oven trays; allow room for spreading. Bake in slow oven (300°F) 20 minutes. Cool on trays.

Happy Birthday, Dad

As it is my father’s birthday I have been reminiscing about things we have done together over the years. Of course there are too many to record here so I will just list a few.


  • going with him when he did services at Aldersgate
  • swimming in the ocean before breakfast
  • catching waves on the surf mats
  • playing cards and doing jigsaws in the caravan
  • reading the newspaper at breakfast in silence
  • jogging on frosty Canberra mornings
  • watching McCloud and Columbo
  • going to “The Empire Strikes Back
  • stamp collecting
  • tennis
  • driving lessons!
  • watching Hill Street Blues
  • walking me down the aisle
  • conducting Andrew’s and my wedding
  • choosing a Christmas tree
  • swimming in their pool
  • decreeing “driving out of the driveway time”
  • whale watching
  • making chutney
  • discussing Alexander McCall Smith’s Expresso Tales over breakfast

img_1724crop.jpgYes, there are many more memories but those are just a few which have popped into my mind today. One of my happiest recent memories of Dad is seeing him with each of our children last year, talking, reading, playing and getting to know each one better. We all wish you a very Happy Birthday, Dad, and send lots of love from all of us.

By the way, the beautiful picture in my header was taken my Dad while holidaying recently in Tasmania.


Seeing the sights

As we have my friend A from Australia visiting for two weeks we have been out and about a bit more than usual. Yesterday we visited Perth, a historic town an hour out of Ottawa. I think the antique shop below was the pick of the day as far as keeping everyone interested was concerned. As you can see there is something for everyone.
We wandered up and down the main street, entering the shops that appealed to us and stopping for coffee when we needed a rest.

img_2346crop.jpgToday the weather was perfect for looking around downtown so we headed to the Peace Tower first. The 360° view was excellent. We visited the Memorial Chamber where all the Books of Remembrance are kept containing the names of Canadians who have died in military service in past and present conflicts. Next stop was the Byward Market where we stocked up on maple sugar candy, cheeses and postcards as well as eating an excellent lunch. Having heard that a miniatures shop existed in the market we set out to find it only to be told that it had closed. Remembering that A was interested in visiting my favourite clothing store we headed to Bank St for a little more strolling before going home.

Beyond all measure

How vast beyond all measure,
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure.
How great the pain of searing loss –
The Father turns His face away,
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory.

Behold the man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders;
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers.
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished;
His dying breath has brought me life –
I know that it is finished.

I will not boast in anything,
No gifts, no power, no wisdom;
But I will boast in Jesus Christ,
His death and resurrection.
Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer;
But this I know with all my heart –
His wounds have paid my ransom.

Stuart Townend.
Copyright © 1995 Thankyou Music


After reading Jennifer’s recommendation I decided to reserve this one at the library. I collected it today and read it in an hour before turning it over to my ten-year-old. It is about a fifth grade boy who is not afraid to push the limits; he is not out to cause trouble, he just wants to see what will happen. Always ready with a clever question just before the homework assignment is given out, Arnold finds his delay tactic backfires when his teacher asks him to research the answer to his own question. His research gets him thinking about words, how they came to be and why.

When we were studying Romeo and Juliet with the Group of Four, we looked at Juliet’s speculation that “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”. The activity that followed was very amusing as the children created small skits where familiar words were replaced by other words. One group replaced the names for things found in an average Sunday morning church service. The strawberries were welcomed and the dish soap led in prayer. I guess you had to be there but it was quite funny.

In Frindle Arnold replaces the word ‘pen’ with the word ‘frindle’, First a few of his friends play along, eventually most of the school is participating and it looks like things might be getting out of hand. A battle ensues with the students up against the teacher and principal. His teacher appears all along to be his staunchest opponent, but in his mother he finds an unexpected ally. The media picks it up and Arnold becomes something of a celebrity.

Frindle is an amusing and thought provoking book, which would be great to read aloud to boys and girls. I enjoyed reading a book where the dictionary takes centre stage, vocabulary is played with and etymology is entertaining. After finishing it A10 also gave it the thumbs up. She liked the fact that there was trouble and a mean teacher. When she mentioned the teacher, I asked,”Did you really think she was mean?”

To which L12 replied,” She is looking at it from the kid’s perspective, while you are seeing it from the teacher’s.” She’s quite right, but either way it is worth reading.

Too many cooks?

Group of Four was more like Group of Two and a half today. One of our families has had been battling sickness for a month and another family has just succumbed. The healthy remainder gathered today to make some meals for the not so healthy. There were not too many cooks; we had just the right number to create soup, lasagne, apple crisp and choc-chip cookies.
Apparently three colours of noodles result in Neopolitan Lasagne.
Coloured eggs the hens provided for Easter

Plumbing at knife point

When L12 asked me what time the plumber said he would come I answered, “Between 2 and 3pm, but you have to understand that doesn’t mean he will be here between 2 and 3 pm.” I have a formula for working out what time he will arrive and I outlined it to L12 yesterday. If they say they will come between 2 and 3 you can then expect a phone call around 3 to tell you that they are still at their previous job and will be there soon. After half an hour goes by you might get another phone call letting you know they are five minutes away. Half an hour after that they will be at your door. I got the phone call today at 3:30 and they were here around 4, just when I was expecting them.

As the plumber got started in the kitchen, I began preparing dinner. I needed a knife so I took one from the knife block then stood there with it in my hand while I answered some of his questions and watched what he was doing. He finally stopped what he was doing and said, ” Did you know you’re standing there with a knife in your hand? It’s making me a little uneasy.” I was a tad embarrassed, this is a bad habit of mine to stand and talk to people while I’m cooking, all the while waving a knife in their direction.

He was almost finished when he said, “You haven’t told me yet how much I look like Adam Sandler .” I knew he looked familiar but I hadn’t been able to put my finger on why. But he was right he looked very much like Adam Sandler and was so used to being told so, that I was an oddity for not mentioning it. We did end up having the same conversation that I seem to have with anyone who comes to work on our house. Whether it is a plumber, an electrician or whoever they always end up saying something along the lines of, ” I’ve never seen anything quite like this, I can’t see why anyone would assemble it this way.” There are tell tale signs of home handy man all over the place.

So a few hours later the faucets and pipes are fixed, I have a plumber who looks like Adam Sandler and there is probably a note next to my name on his copy of the invoice reminding him to never come alone to this address.

The gift of a day

I was intending to end my gift of a day by telling you what I did with it. But I am only getting around to it now, four days later. When I look back on how I had spent my hours alone, there’s nothing out of the ordinary, but it was satisfying all the same. I am very grateful to my thoughtful friend.

To have uninterrupted, open ended time to read my bible and pray was appreciated and valuable. I try to begin every day listening, reading and talking to the Lord but it is a struggle to get going some days and an effort to keep my mind from wandering to the tasks ahead of me that day. It is often the listening to the Lord which I neglect; to read his word and really meditate takes time. My prayers are full of requests, praises and thanks, but I don’t always wait on him to hear his prompting. I was able to take extra time on my gift of a day and was encouraged by this passage from the Message.

Your salvation requires you to turn back to me and stop your silly efforts to save yourselves.
Your strength will come from settling down in complete dependence on me–
The very thing you’ve been unwilling to do.
…But God’s not finished. He’s waiting around to be gracious to you.
He’s gathering strength to show mercy to you.
God takes the time to do everything right– everything.
Those who wait around for him are the lucky ones.

I don’t often read from the Message, I use the ESV, but given the extra time I had, I opened it up. The passage is from Isaiah 30 and the message is clear in either version. I need to have complete dependence on God. He takes the time to do everything right. It was good to focus on and to have that in mind as I prayed for each member of my family.

I spent a little time wandering around the internet, catching up on links and recommendations but then headed out to wander around second hand furniture shops, both the more expensive antique shops and the “that’s more like it” consignment shops. I joined Andrew and his friends for lunch at the chip van and then did a little more gazing at furniture. I was looking for a couple of shelves, one for the music books in the family room, the other for craft supplies in the basement. Of course the one for music needs to be the right colour, fit in the space, look good next to the piano. There were not as many pre-requisites for the craft shelf and so I managed to find it, at a bargain price too.

While strolling down Bank Street I wandered into my favourite clothing store, which I wasn’t planning to do, started looking at spring dresses, which I wasn’t going to do, chose a few to try on, which there was no point in doing, but hey, it was my day wasn’t it?  I found a lovely dress, right size and right colour and it was reversible.  Reversible!  As I said to Andrew later it was two dresses for the price of … ah, two dresses. That’s the problem at this store, I am only willing to spend when things are at least half price, or even better, when they have made their way to a consignment shop.

I finished the afternoon happily pottering at home, Andrew and I ate out and then we picked up the children. As is often the case when they are at my friend’s home we were treated to a choreographed dance/gymnastics number when we arrived. Of course we had to try out the new formula one racing game before we left.

When I woke up on Saturday I was back in the real world.