Monthly Archives: September 2007

The Fair


On Friday we spent the day at a country fair, about twenty minutes out of town. We have P12 and H10 staying with us for the weekend so they were able to come along too. Andrew had taken the children to the demolition derby the night before, which B6 thoroughly enjoyed. We arrived late morning and spent a couple of hours wandering around the exhibition halls and in and out of barns. Several cows were having their hair blow-dried, trimmed and gelled as we walked by. During lunch we sat in the grandstand and watched some of the children’s horse events, trying to pick the winners without having any real knowledge of what the judges were looking for.

Once 1:00pm rolled around we headed to the Midway to get the full value from the unlimited ride bracelets we had bought. Just look at the photo above. Our kids know how to behave on the rides, they’re the ones with big smiles and hair flying out to the side. Look at the kids just in front of them! Now look below, one of them is getting the idea. B6 and P12 rode this Dragon Wagon many times.


My childhood memories of fairs, which in Australia were “Agricultural Shows” do not include hours of rides. In fact I can remember all the rides I have ever been on and my kids passed my total within a few minutes yesterday. A favourite of mine was the dodgem/bumper cars, and B6 enjoyed them too.


The most hair-raising and stomach churning rides were difficult for me to photograph so I don’t have any pictures of L13 and A11 going backwards on the Polar Express or of all the girls swinging on 1001 Nachts! They saved the biggest for last and went up in the ferris wheel. Unfortunately I didn’t think to give them the camera and no-one was prepared to go up again for the sake of capturing the view.


Past, present, future

Our church is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year and there have already been a variety of events marking the milestone. This weekend was the anniversary weekend and it included a banquet last night and a special service this morning. The guest speaker at the banquet commended us for having a party, for celebrating and rejoicing in fifty great years. He also told us to meditate on the blessings of those years. So I have been.

When we arrived in Canada we went church shopping, visiting a handful of churches in the area where we were buying our house. Alta Vista was one of those churches. I remember the first time we came, we were welcomed at the door by two women involved in the Sunday School program. Our girls were invited to participate in the appropriate classes which ran before the service. Those two women are still involved in Christian Ed. at our church and have led or taught our children over the years.

After Sunday school finished we sat in the service behind the new pastor’s family. Chatting to his wife we discovered they had just arrived in town, and were waiting to move into their new house as we were. Seeing that I was eight months pregnant she could also relate to moving with a brand new baby. Our younger daughters, we noticed, were close in age and although the friendship may not have started that day, start it did. From that first meeting has grown a strong friendship between our two daughters and between our two families.

Following church that first Sunday we were invited home for lunch by a couple who, again, are still involved in our church and have become friends of ours. I was telling them last night how much that invitation meant to us, how much we appreciated their hospitality and how their kindness impacted our decision to come back to the church again.

After our son was born we visited the church again and people remembered us and were delighted to meet B. There were two women in particular who were happy to take him off our hands at the potluck luncheon so that we could eat and help the girls. Their help did not stop at holding our baby, later that day they arrived at our door with a rocking chair, as I had told them I had nowhere to sit and feed B. Our friendships with these two couples and several others in our congregation have also become special. It is these couples who sit where grandparents would sit at our girls’ violin recitals. Not once, but over and over, they have come and encouraged the girls and always ask when they will have the next opportunity to do so.

Not only have couples older than us come along side and encouraged and supported us here. We have developed some wonderful friendships with young couples who have come to our home and enjoyed family life with us before they had families of their own. They have loved and invested in our children so much so that our children are as delighted to hear they are coming over as they would be with their peers. Just as they baby sat our children over the years L and A are more than willing to baby sit theirs in the future.

Around our dining room table over the years we have formed some lasting and significant friendships. Not only as we shared meals but also as we studied God’s word. For several years we were part of a small group made up of a couple with grandchildren, a couple with grown children, ourselves with young ones and a couple with no children. People came in and out of the group but the breakdown of ages remained the same. I loved to sit in the group and hear the perspectives, struggles and victories of each different member. We all had something to share and something to learn. These people cared for our family in many ways, from staying to babysit and pray when we took a child to hospital in the night to faithfully praying for years for members of our families who they had never met.

Having left all our family on the other side of the world we are not able to join them for special celebrations. I would love to welcome our parents, brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews into our home for birthday parties and Christmas dinners. Our church family know that and know we miss them. As I thought last night about the Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving dinners we have enjoyed with friends from our church I was overwhelmed by the way families have shared their families with us. We have sat around fires, sung songs, taken sleigh rides, exchanged gifts, hunted for eggs and of course eaten a great amount of wonderful food in homes of people who we are privileged to call friends.

As I think and write about these blessings I realise that there is more to our church than great friends. It is for us a place of learning and growth, a place where each one of us is encouraged and enabled to use their gifts and talents and a place where we are challenged to become more like Christ. Maybe I’ll expand on those thoughts another day. Today I want to thank God for the people he placed in our church over the years, knowing that He would greatly bless our family through them.

An apple a day


As summer slips away we are enjoying cooler nights, crisper mornings but warm sunny days. This pleases me as I am in no hurry for summer to end. I had to get jeans and a sweatshirt out last weekend, but I wasn’t happy about it. Signs of the season change are all around us: leaves changing colour and falling, pumpkins in the fields and road side stands and of course Halloween madness in the stores. It is also apple picking time.

img_3514crop.jpgLast year we picked apples with my parents at an orchard a fair way out of town. It was a pleasant drive and we came home with bags of Lobos. This year we chose an orchard closer to town so the group of four could all pick together. Macintosh and Empire were available . Everyone took a quarter bushel basket but I soon realised that I didn’t actually want that many apples!

On arriving home I filled the fruit bowl and made some apple sauce for supper but we hardly made a dent in the load. Apple crumble, apple pies and more apple sauce are all in the plan for the next week and of course morning, afternoon and bedtime snacks are covered also. I have never dried apples but I might look into how to go about it.


Bikes and violins

This weekend, like last weekend has involved hours of violin for the girls. I have just returned home from the performance group rehearsal but they have gone off with another family to play at a fundraising gala. Yesterday they both completed their auditions for the Ottawa Youth Orchestra Academy. The Academy has many ensembles, the two largest being the Ottawa Youth Orchestra and the Ottawa Junior Youth Orchestra.

B6’s weekend so far seems to have been spent on his bike. Across the road is a boy his age, next to him a couple more boys a bit older and down the road another boy. Just lately all five of them (plus A11, when she can) have been riding their bikes together. I’m not sure why it hadn’t happened earlier, but the result is a pretty worn out boy at the end of the day. When he is called in for meals he proudly tells us the latest tricks and feats he has mastered.

Oh, and by the way, you probably gathered we didn’t win our softball semi-final. To quote one of our players, “We played a very lacklustre game.” So that’s it for this year.

Weekend update

After an early start on Friday to get to Upper Canada Village, we had an even earlier start on Saturday to get ourselves out the door just after 7:30. L13 and A11 had to be at their performance group retreat by 9:00, Andrew and I had to be at our softball team’s first play off game by 8:30 and they were in opposite directions. The girls were dropped at a friends’ with tent, sleeping bags, clothes, violins, food, music stand, life jackets and pillows. We arrived in time for our first game.

We play softball in the high tech league, tier B. It is a mixed league and every team has to have at least two women but three is preferable. Our team had three but is now down to two. Yesterday I was the only one available so someone had called in a friend. We barely won our first game, I actually hit the winning hit, which made my day and thrilled the team. Our second game went much better; another win, but after that the other woman left and it was just me. We still played but had an automatic out every eighth batter. Even though we didn’t win that one we have advanced to the semi-final on Monday night. While Andrew and I were playing B6 was wearing himself out on the adjacent skateboard park. He does not have a skateboard (yet) but was very happy on his Razor. When he wasn’t careening around himself he was watching everyone else’s moves. Needless to say he was a tired boy by bedtime.


While at the playoffs the convener dropped in with the trophies from the June tournament so I took the opportunity to get a photo of our team with the A2 trophy we won. Formidable looking bunch aren’t we?

Meanwhile out the other side of town, L & A were rehearsing with Stellae Boreales, the performance group they belong to. Generously, the parents of a group member agreed to host the retreat at their home. Everyone was made very welcome, copious amounts of delicious food was provided, the pool was heated to 85° and by all accounts everyone had a great time. Most of the kids slept in tents in the backyard, but somehow A11 managed to get a room and bed inside. Perhaps it was because the poor girl was the only one to end up in the river while kayaking!

I turned up this morning with chili for lunch and was able to listen to their last rehearsal. Although the group has shrunk since they last met in June they are sounding very promising. Both the coaches were impressed with their commitment and playing.

Eight violins

A11 systematically played her way through eight full size violins this afternoon. It is time she moved up from her ¾. We went through the same process with L13 a few years ago and faced the difficult decision of choosing one from a range of new and old violins.

Our method today involved asking no questions about the violins which were laid out for us. All eight were within the price range that we had specified. A11 played a scale, a fast piece in the higher register and a slower piece in the lower register on each violin in turn. L13 also played them so A could listen.  One by one we eliminated them until there were three left. At this stage we learnt that one was a hundred year old French violin, the other two were new, one Bulgarian and one German. We narrowed it down to the two new ones which surprised me a little, as I like the more mellow sound the older ones often have.

With the German and the Bulgarian in hand we headed off to have our teacher look at them. She was strongly in favour of the German so I returned the Bulgarian one. We now have the German one on trial for a few weeks, so the decision is delayed until the seller is back in town next month.

Camping pictures

I know I promised these pictures days ago, but things have got busy around here. School has started.

Our tent site was surrounded by maples, giving us shade, privacy and drips, the night after the storm. We tended to sit around the fire to eat rather than at the table. Food always tastes different when eaten outside, especially by a campfire. Most of our meals came out of cans and they were so good! Sometimes after I have been camping I buy the same canned meals again and have them for lunch at home. It’s never the same.


On our first two days it was warm enough to swim, which four of us did. We also did a cliff hike, enjoying both the view and the three turkey vultures that were circling above the cliff.


After the thunder storm the weather cleared, but the temperature dropped. It was perfect for a four hour hike through different types of forest and by the shore of a lake only accessible by the trail. B6 was a bit overwhelmed during the first hour but after that he took it all in his stride and set the pace on the return.


To just sit and do nothing but stare into the fire or off into the trees was very pleasant. Thoughts of the unfinished tasks at home did flit through my mind at times but I banished them. Watching the three children create their own entertainment was both satisfying and amusing. One night we sang around the camp fire and realised that half of the campfire songs we were singing had exactly the same tune. Another night the children played charades. One of the funniest times of the trip happened as we sat in the tent by candle light while it rained outside. Unfortunately Andrew missed the nonsense as he was already asleep. We had played cards but it became too dark so I pretended I had a radio show and interviewed each child in turn. Then A11 and B6 each hosted their own show. L13 did not host, as she realised it was more fun to be interviewed and do most of the talking! I guess you had to be there but it was a laugh.

img_3413crop.jpgHow nice to be just the five of us for a few days before all the lessons, rehearsals, schedules and commitments pull us to and fro once again. We were happy to get back to our big comfy beds but I could have easily sat by the fire for a few nights more. It was good to see friends again but to have days where I could relax in the exclusive company of my family was sweet.