Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sunday Evening

It's been a very long and stressful weekend. School starts again tomorrow. In addition to the quiz tournament - which took up all of my time from 6:30 pm Friday through 9:30 this morning, there was also the big society meeting at Western.

So this post will be about the quiz tournament. I need to reflect a little more about the upcoming changes at Western before I can write about them.

I ended up on billeting nine for the quiz tournament. However, I had requested two couples and up to six teenage boys and ended up with nine teenage boys. It all worked out just fine though. They were very well behaved; and aside from only having one bathroom, (and therefore only one shower), things went very well with them. Apparently the last one had a cold shower this morning. Oh well, nothing I can do about that.

Friday night Western's team had two matches, we had a third match Saturday morning. We won some, came in second on others - and by the time the stats had been calculated, we were in 14th place - at the bottom of the A division. However it meant that we weren't bumped down to the A consolation side. During the eliminations, we won our first match, and then lost the next two matches, so we ended up in 12th place. Bram was 7th overall for points in the A division, so ended up in the top ten, which was very good.

Friday night, quizzing and other activities ran until 10 pm; then I had to meet my billets and get them home. Because I had nine billets and two of Western's quizzers, plus myself to get home with only an eight-seater van, this was also a bit of a challenge. Leslie and Loopie were also billeting two boys, and they took two others, and another coach took two boys and then I had enough. Because I needed to drop off one quizzer at her house, this meant that we were home before 11 pm. The boys were wired, however, and I'm not sure when they finally all went to sleep. I can tell you that the living room looks a lot smaller with that many boys in it. Every couch was taken, including the little love seat; and I think only one ended up sleeping on the floor.

One interesting side story was that Radio Canada (CBC TV in French) interviewed Bram on Saturday afternoon. They said the interview would be on the website, but I haven't been able to find it there yet.

Saturday night we only had eight billets as one left after the quizzing ended. However things ran later, so we weren't home until around 11:30. I got up this morning at 7 (after laying in bed awake for a couple of hours). The boys weren't as quick to get up, so finally at 8 (when I had breakfast all ready), I started frying bacon, and in less than ten minutes, they were all up. Saturday morning I fed them cold cereal with toast, milk and oranges. Sunday they got sausages, eggs, toast, orange juice, oranges, and a little bit of bacon. The bacon was primarily to get everyone out of bed.

This may be my last year to coach quizzing (wait for my post later about Western for the reasons for this). I will miss it when it's over; I have really enjoyed it and cannot stress how good it's been for the kids involved in it.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

New Semester

Today was the last day of exams at school. I had supervised exams all day yesterday but spent today marking, signing books back in, telling students to look one more time in their locker for books, etc. Got all my marking done and the marks entered. This makes me very happy. Tomorrow is a teacher work day. For me that means double checking what texts haven't been returned yet, putting all the texts that have been returned back in the back room and signing out texts for the next semester, as well as making up a list of what's still outstanding and who should be billed for missing books. I'm glad to have a full day to do all that.

I'm still unsure what I'll be teaching next semester; I know I'm team-teaching math with Mark H. three days a week (he's teaching two different math programs at the same time; same grade - actually four programs because we'll have one girl repeating last semester's math and one doing remedial math) and the other two days a week I'll be teaching Life Transitions (which is a type of team-teaching with Monica O. - because she only teaches three days a week.) However, that's only one period a day, so aside from the two periods a day I'm dedicated to the library, I don't know what I'm doing for the rest of the day yet. I'd like to know in advance, but oh well, I figure I'll find out sooner or later. Seeing as the new semester starts Monday, I guess it'll be pretty soon, even though it's later.

There's a quiz tournament this weekend; starts tomorrow night and runs all day Saturday. In addition to coaching Western's team, I'll be billeting some others. I've said I could take up to 6 boys and two couples. That will fill my spare room (one couple), my living room on the hide-a-bed (second couple) and the family room (six boys). So Bram and I went out this afternoon after school to get supplies. I only have to feed them breakfast for two days, but I know that six teenage boys can eat a lot. I'm planning for them to eat cold cereal for Saturday breakfast and having sausages, bacon, eggs, toast, etc. for Sunday breakfast. Snack food for the evenings is also really important for teenage boys (or so Bram informs me). We're having super nachos and popcorn for snack, plus Bram told me that even though it goes against our moral code to do such a thing, he's never been billeted where they didn't offer pop as well, so we bought four two-litre bottles. I guess if we have leftovers we can serve it for Sunday potluck.

Tammy came over today and cleaned for me. I hadn't had her come over since before Christmas because I've been short of funds, but it's so wonderful to come home to a clean house! I love it. I'm so grateful to her. It makes me wonder how I thought I couldn't afford it. Now I'm truly ready to have ten more people over for a couple of days.

Things I'm thankful for:
1. Tammy and my wonderful clean house.
2. Marking's completely done and marks entered.
3. Everything prepared and ready for the weekend.
4. Tammy and my wonderful clean house. (This does bear repeating.)
5. Not having to plan meals for Saturday. (Because I'm coaching for the quiz tournament, I will eat with the kids. It'll likely be taco in a bag or pizza or something, because it's a real challenge to feed around 450 extra bodies, but I'm fine with that.)

Clean Sheet Day

Saturday was clean sheet day. I got the boys to strip their beds, and I did the guest beds and my bed. Unfortunately - the boys aren't nearly as good at remaking their bed (they don't have a problem with leaving it and sleeping on the mattress cover) so I got to remake the beds as well. There's something about clean sheet day, sleeping on fresh linen, getting the blankets readjusted so they're at just the right height, I love it.

Now before you can strip the bed, you have to remove all the books from the bed, as well as all the other detritus that has accumulated. This is also a good thing. Now I know the commercials all tell how fresh the sheets smell after washing. However I use unscented laundry soap and don't use fabric softeners of any kind (I've kids with allergies to scents), so my sheets don't smell at all. I'm ok with that.

I also did up the menu for next week. I find when I've got two teenage boys in the house, if I don't do up a menu for both lunch and supper, they've got nothing for lunch because it's all been inhaled for supper. So I have to make up both a lunch menu and a supper menu for the week. The boys are on their own for breakfasts (I'm on the hook to ensure that there's enough milk and cereals.) Ruth and Walter were away for an Elder’s workshop in the States so I didn’t have to cook with her; had a lazy morning. Cut out a quilt.

I tried to post the menu too, but this program doesn't like the table, which is why I didn't post this on Saturday when I wrote it.

Sat. Supper Chicken Noodle Soup
Sun. Lunch Eat Out
Supper Ham biscuits with white gravy
Mon. Lunch Chicken soup and biscuits
Supper Fish Chowder in Slow Cooker
Tues. Lunch Stir Fry
Supper Spaghetti squash with sausages
Wed. Lunch Quiche?
Supper Chili
Thurs. Lunch Chili
Supper Chicken and Rice
Fri. Lunch Chicken and Rice
Supper Homemade pizza

Now it's Thursday night - and I can tell you that I ate at Jamdon's at noon Monday, Monday's supper wasn't chowder (Leo made supper, sausages, something with tomatoes and eggs and rice). Tuesday at noon I was running errands and ate at Taco Time (5 tacos for $5); Wed. the boys ate at Jamdon's and I had chicken soup but we did have chili for supper. I had chili for lunch today but Leo made lunch (same as Monday's supper) and I pulled a frozen premade supper out of the freezer for supper (Lentils and mushrooms with cheese - very good actually). I'm probably not making pizza for supper tomorrow anyway, but we'll see.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Update on The Party

This year has had many changes for The Party. We moved from Wascana School to the Rainbow Youth Centre. We changed from Tuesdays to Mondays. We totally split the teens (Grades 6 and up) from the younger kids. The teens meet at a different location - Zeike's Place. We changed the format somewhat, and we have different helpers and different group leaders. However, we are still able to see the Lord at work each week.

This year we have unstructured games (run the kids ragged so they'll be able to sit and listen a bit) from 6 to 6:30. Then the teens get driven over to Zeike's place. At about 6:40 we have circle time until about 7. Then we have three groups or centres that we rotate through: story time, snack time and activity time. Last week I did the circle time. The kids were amazingly well behaved. When I said it was circle time, they all came and sat down - participated in the singing, and listened.

This week was a little more normal. It took a little more coercion to get everyone to participate, and it was a little more hairy at the various centres. We had 33 kids in our group and about 15 or so in the teens group.

Last year I was the snack lady, and I did attendance. This year I still do attendance, but I'm also doing the circle time more often (I don't have the male carrying voice - so I'm fine if someone else does it), as well as more of the crowd control, making sure the groups rotate on time, etc. However one of the blessings of The Party is that there are so many people who work together to ensure that it happens.

We have regular drivers, who pick up the kids (15 passenger van load at a time) - thank you Dennis, Kirk and Lisa. We have our regular snack providers - Margaret made soup and bannock this week; which was excellent. Marina and Melissa made cookies last week. We have the regular teen helpers from Western and QCC. Thank you, Caleb, Daryl, Camden, Bram, Leo, Thomas, Naomi, Joanne, Vivian and Jane. (We missed three of the girls tonight, but they are regular helpers). Thanks to the many people from Northwest congregation who also help regularly: Rene, Marina, Debbie, Ruth, Melissa, and the other Daryl.

I think the changes have been good changes. We have more space for the kids and we're reaching more kids and their families. I can see how we're making a difference in lives. It feels good.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Jesus Priceless Treasure

Words by Jo­hann Crüger (1653) Jesu, meine Freude - translated by Catherine Winkworth, 1863. Music by J.S. Bach, 1723.

Jesus, priceless Treasure,
Source of purest pleasure,
Truest Friend to me.
Ah, how long in anguish
Shall my spirit languish,
Yearning, Lord, for Thee?
Thou art mine, O Lamb divine!
I will suffer naught to hide Thee,
Naught I ask beside Thee.

It's actually Ruth's fault. We were singing together in the van last night as we were driving back from Minot and she started this one - and neither of us could remember all the words. It wasn't in either of the hymn books I had in the van, so it's been an ear worm all day today. Lovely harmonies though; if you have to have an ear worm, choose one with lovely harmonies.

Had a lovely service today; appointed elders for Northwest congregation. In order of height, they're Dennis Belliveau, Dwight Muller, Leslie Williams, Walter Pradzynski.
Then had a crowd over for lunch (which was a bit of a surprise to me - was only planning on Walt and Ruth, my parents, Leo and myself - but had around 20 or so.)

Have been visiting with Rose on skype for most of the evening. It's nice that even though she's living so far away, we can still talk daily.

Bram arrives home tomorrow from the quiz tournament he's been at in Minneapolis. He phoned me Thursday and Friday nights and gave me updates but haven't heard from him for the past two nights so I don't know how they did in the end.

It's late. Need to go to bed.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Sleep Blessings

I had to get up a little after 5 this morning, so I could take Bram and myself over to help Al and Nancy clean Old Navy. We finished by 9:30, which meant that we were only a minute or two late for the start of services, which start at 9:45 but are across town.

This was an important morning as we're attempting to install elders at Northwest congregation. Unfortunately, when I got up at 5, it wasn't the first time I had woken up during the night and I ended up dozing off during service. I really don't like doing that, but some days are harder than others to stay awake.

I actually enjoy the cleaning (seeing as it's only once a month) - wouldn't like to do it full-time.

I managed to get two more wetsuits finished yesterday evening. Sorry, didn't manage to get pictures taken of them before I sent them off to Saskatoon. Hopefully they'll fit the kids I made them for. I told Nancy that if I'm making them for her granddaughters now, she definitely has too many granddaughters. However, I'm now out of contrast fabric (still have the main fabric), so if anyone wants me to make another one for their kid, they'll have to find me some contrast fabric. I've used up all that I had in my stash. I wonder how old that particular fabric was? I think I sewed the last set of wetsuits for my kids when they were preschoolers. Rose is now 20 and Bram will turn 18 Feb 2 - so it's been awhile. I'm glad I was able to use it up.

I titled this sleep blessings but really haven't written much about sleep. I had a beautiful afternoon nap after we got home from lunch. Bram said it must be because I didn't sleep long enough in church. Fair enough.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Little things

I've been getting lots of little things done today. Ruth came over and we got our grocery shopping done and planned what meals we were going to make. We had great plans, but just as soon as we got back from getting groceries, Emmet and Jane arrived and we also started babysitting, which severely limited the cooking as it took pretty much one person full time to keep them happy. Bram played with Emmet the first while, which was helpful, and I wore Jane in a sling, until she crashed. However that didn't last long as Emmet demonstrated that, "See? If I talk to her, she wakes up again." Thank you Emmet. However we did manage to make a marinated vegetable salad, a Moroccan chickpea and tomato salad, three pans of (vegetarian) lasagna (but don't tell, because if you don't tell people they won't know), two freezer bags of squash soup, and a cheese-topped mushroom and lentil casserole. We had planned to make at least two more casseroles, another salad and another soup, but oh well, we did get lots done.

We also managed to get the living room cleaned up again after playing with Emmet and all the toys, and the dining room cleaned up, after doing all the cutting up and chopping there, and the kitchen (partly) cleaned up after doing the cooking. I'd like to do some sewing this evening, but we'll have to see if I catch my second wind first.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

All good things come to an end

And holidays are over, as of this morning. It's time to go back to work. I'm actually ready to go to work - I've enjoyed the break, but for the past several days have been thinking about what to do with my classes.

Yesterday afternoon, Ruth and I drove to Moose Jaw and went to the spa. Very nice. We left Regina at around 3:30 and arrived back here around 7 pm. I can't stay there for even an hour (we were in the water about 50 minutes); but it was a nice way to end the holidays. We also had a good visit on the trip to and from Moose Jaw.

I had set a few goals for myself of things I wanted to do over the holidays. I wanted to get Abby's wetsuit sewn. I wanted to sew a dress for Gloria (Joyce requested it) - which I did yesterday. Finally, I wanted to find a lawyer in the NWT that would accept a family law case so I could get a settlement from Lloyd. Got those last two things done yesterday as well. I'm feeling proud of myself.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


One of the curious things that I notice when I go to Canadian Tire, is that a large percentage of what they sell is containers. Rubbermaid tubs, wicker baskets, tool chests, plastic drawer sets, shelving units, etc. We have so much stuff in our lives that stores can do very well selling us things to help us organize our stuff.

When I moved to New Guinea (1980), I had a carry-on and the largest suitcase you could bring on the plane. When I moved home two years later, I had gained an additional suitcase. When I moved to Yellowknife (1988), I carried all of my possessions in the back of a quarter ton pick-up. When I moved south from Yellowknife three and a half years ago, I pulled the smallest U-Haul I could rent behind my van. (Mind you, I left lots and lots of stuff behind - and I had to purchase furniture once I got here.)

When I moved from my apartment to my house, it took about six men and four vehicles several hours and many loads to help me move in. How did I accumulate so much stuff in such a short time? I now own: four couches and a futon, a piano, two piano benches, two cedar chests, three arm chairs, four stacking stools, one queen-sized bed, two twin beds and a queen-sized Murphy bed, two dining tables (one's taken apart in storage) and a kitchen table (also in storage), twelve dining chairs (two sets of 6), three Christmas trees, five sewing machines, two sergers, the list goes on. A lot of the furniture has been purchased either in garage sales or on Kijiji, but I still realize that I have more than what I need.

I think I need to simplify my life a little. Be more concerned with people than stuff. Use the stuff in creating relationships with people - I think that's called hospitality.

French Onion Soup

This is also an easy recipe - although it's much easier if you get someone else to cut up the onions (they make me cry).

4 yellow onions - diced
brown in 1/4 cup butter
6 cups beef broth (I like to cook a roast in the slow cooker in several inches of water and use that for the starter for the broth. I supplement it with water and liquid bouillon.)

Serve with toasted French bread, covered with mozza cheese melted on top.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Ruth's Borscht Recipe

Ruth got this recipe from a Ukrainian restaurant where she was eating with Walt. They liked the borscht there so much, she asked them for the recipe. Here it is:

Beet Borscht
3 medium beets - grated in a food processor
3 medium carrots - cut into small chunks or pennies
2-3 medium potatoes - cut into small chunks (because I'm allergic to potatoes we don't put them in when we're making borscht at my house)
1 cup dill pickle juice
About 4-6" of garlic sausage, cut into small chunks
1 can pork and beans (in tomato sauce)
1 medium onion, diced

Serve with sour cream

Because everything is cut fairly small, it doesn't take very long to cook this. You can start it in the morning in a slow cooker and have it ready for lunch; or start it after work (mind you, I get off work at 4 pm) and have it ready for supper.

"I have everything I need"

When I first moved to Regina from Yellowknife, I had many adjustments to make. The culture was different here; I was doing a very different type of teaching and for the first time in nearly 20 years I was alone, without either spouse or children. All of these were big changes. Another change that I had to adapt to was that for the first time since I was in university, I was living on a very tight budget. I had one income rather than two, and I had many more expenses than I was used to.

One of the things that has helped me adjust to these changes was Psalm 23: The Lord is my shepherd, I have everything I need. I have learned to rest in my Lord's blessings and to trust that He is sufficient for all of my needs.

I have taught myself to view flyers and catalogues as opportunities to thank God for all that I have and all that I don't need. When I moved into my house here, I met the person who did the flyer deliveries and asked to not receive the regular flyers. Not only do I have less garbage or recycling to deal with, but I also haven't had to worry about coveting all that has been advertised.

There have been many times when I've had to decide which bill would be paid first and which bills could wait for a bit. I've never had to do that before, and it has made me more aware of others and the burdens they may be carrying. I haven't enjoyed having to count pennies and to budget, but it has allowed me to grow in faith. And you know? The Lord continues to provide all that I need. And I am thankful.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Time passes

It's interesting to notice how tied I am (we are?) to time. I misplaced my watch the other day. I don't wear a wrist watch, I've worn a watch brooch for over 25 years. For two days I couldn't find it. Now there's no shortage of time pieces in the house. My cell phone tells time. My laptop tells time. The current time is shown on my alarm clock, on the microwave, the clock in the dining room, etc. In addition, when I'm home alone, I usually have CBC radio on, which gives me an update as to the time at least every 30 minutes. However, I've felt that I've been sort of lost without my watch. However, I'm on holidays! Why do I need to know what time it is, this minute?

One of the common aspects of the New Year is to evaluate and plan for the future. How do I want to spend my time? How am I spending my time well; where do I need to spend it better? Perhaps I need to be more aware of the passing of time so I can use it more wisely, but at the same time, I need to be less aware of the passing of the individual minutes.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

More Recipes

I haven't done recipes for some time now (I think not since August or September when I did all the salad ones) but as Ruth and I are now doing lots of soups for winter lunches, I thought I should post some of our soup recipes.

This is one of my personal favourites because it's so fast and simple. It's a nice soup to prepare for unexpected visitors because if you have the ingredients on hand, it's just a matter of heating them up; it doesn't need a long cooking time.
Pizza Soup
1 large can (28 oz or 400 mL) Italian seasoned diced tomatoes
1 can water
1 can sliced olives (drained)
1 small onion diced or 2-3 green onions chopped small
about 1 cup of chopped pepperoni
Anything else you like on pizza such as: green peppers, chopped; chunks of ham, you name it.
Heat everything up. Serve with croutons and grated cheese.

Winter has arrived?

Happy New Year. Happy Birthday, Marge. It's actually -16 out this evening. I noticed it was a fair bit colder when I walked to church. My living room is cool enough at the best of times that it's not comfortable to sit in it without a blanket. However, adding a blanket is way cheaper than doing the mega insulation thing, although I wouldn't mind doing that. I have a big living room with lots of big windows and it makes it cool. However, I've lived in Yellowknife long enough that it's no big deal to me to need a blanket when sitting in any room. That's just a normal thing.

Had the crowd over for Sunday dinner today. It was a smaller crowd, less than 20 I think. We've had so many big meals lately, that we had soup (and leftover ham and scalloped potatoes). Loopie brought dessert and drinks. We made borscht, pizza soup and french onion soup, and I had leftover vegetable soup as well. Lots of choices. I only ate the pizza soup and a bit of ham - but I'll get to eat leftovers of all the rest this week, so that's not a real hardship. It was good to visit with everyone. It was especially nice to have Jeff, Glenda and Sonia come and visit. I don't get to see them as often.

I'm also thankful that because I had people coming over, I had to tidy up my house. I slept in this morning (woke up at 3 am and had trouble getting back to sleep and then before I knew it, it was 9 am! Church starts at 9:45 and it's a 5 minute walk. I got up, showered and dressed, unloaded and reloaded this dishwasher, got the soups started and was at church on time. (I can work really fast when I'm short of time.)
I've got everything cleaned up and put away afterwards except for the borscht, which needed to cook awhile longer. I think the dishwasher has done three full loads of dishes today. I'm very thankful for dishwashers. I also did at least two sinkfuls of pots and pans. However, I was able to serve everyone on real plates and bowls instead of paper plates, which is very nice to do. I'm thankful that I have sufficient to do that. I'm also very thankful for my three-pot slow cooker. (I bought it for myself for Christmas.) It's so nice for a crowd as can have three things on the go. Today I had three soups in it, plus another slow cooker for the borscht and the oven for the ham.