Saturday, January 26, 2013

Whew! Well I'm glad that's done!

Two of my sisters are leaving next week on two different mission trips.  Nancy is leaving Monday for India.  Glenda is leaving Thursday, I think, for Guatemala.  They both had requests for me.  Nancy wanted me to sew her some skirts with pockets, as skirts are the appropriate attire in India and skirts with pockets are so much more practical.  Glenda wanted some bolero jackets, as the mission team she's going with has a dress code that includes wearing sleeves (no sleeveless outfits), and she had three dresses she likes to wear that are all sleeveless.  And.... seeing as I'm not working right now and as I do sew, could I sew for them?

I was actually quite pleased to be asked.  It didn't take that long... once I got past the procrastination stage - which took much longer than what I'd like it to.  Glenda had three dresses; a pink one, a blue denim one, and a brown one.  She suggested a white bolero would do for all three and I went by Fabricland, thinking that I'd just pick up some white eyelet.  Unfortunately, Fabricland didn't have anything like that, so I ended up purchasing three different lengths of fabric, and making three boleros - one of which is reversible.  I also sort of drafted my own pattern, using an existing pattern I had that was for stretch fabric and for long sleeves.  I was quite pleased with the way they turned out, but then had to worry about whether they'd fit.  Glenda says they do, so I'm happy.

Unfortunately my serger isn't working right now (I need to take it in to be serviced), so I got to finish all the seams in other ways.  I guess it's good for me, but I really think I need to get my serger fixed.

Nancy provided the material and patterns for her skirts.  She had four different lengths of fabric; a paisley like print with burgundy and brown in it, a blue sari fabric (really light weight) border print, and two green chiffon-like prints to go together.  Only one of the patterns had pockets, so I adapted the patterns to incorporate pockets and to change the openings omitting the zippers, and having them open in the pocket.  The paisley print went really, really well.  Nice and easy.  I purchased some solid burgundy material for the yoke, making it a contrast yoke and I was really pleased with the way it looked. The green fabrics went together in a skirt that was asymmetrical and curved down.  Also very nice, but because the fabrics were so light, the skirt had to be lined.  I didn't have too much trouble with it until it came time for the hem - and I'm really not happy with the way the hem turned out (sorry, Nancy), but it's done.

Then there was the sari fabric.  I had trouble with the sari fabric.  First of all, because it's a border print, I cut it out carefully so that the skirt wouldn't be hemmed, with the border print at the bottom.  However, because a skirt normally has a curved bottom print, it meant that the skirt had a fishtail hem at the centre back.  It wasn't what I planned, but it seemed ok.  However even though this was the pattern that already had the pockets in it, the skirt didn't work out and I had to rip out the side seams and try again.  This took awhile, and considerable more muttering to myself and procrastination.  Finally last night I took another try at it and sewed it up and I think it's ok but because I had so much grief with it, the whole thing just left a bad taste in my mouth and I'm not sure if it's good or just finished.  Sometimes finished is good.

Because I felt like procrastinating with a purpose, I also sewed some tops for Nancy.  She had planned to line the skirts with the same fabric and I lined them with purchased fabric so I had lots of fabric left over.  First of all I made a batwing type top out of some of the green chiffon fabric.  I had enough lining to line it (which was essential), and I think it turned out pretty good, but it couldn't be worn with the skirt, as the skirt really needs a top that can be tucked in, and the batwing top will have to be worn loose.  However, it is a nice top.

I also purchased some really pretty solid burgundy fabric (from the clearance section of Fabricland, of course), to sew a top to coordinate with the paisley print skirt.  It's a really lightweight fabric and the top will have to be worn with a camisole or something underneath it, but I'm very pleased with the result.  I cut the top out a week ago, and sewed it up last night and finished it this morning.  I think I'm most pleased with this top out of all that I sewed.

I also scraped together enough of the other green chiffon material to make a top.  I had to cut the sleeves off grain to get them out of the remnant of fabric left, but I managed it.  I whipped it up this morning.  Finally, I attempted the sari fabric again, and cut out a blouse and managed to get it sewn up in under half an hour after Ruth and I finished our cooking this morning.  Then we folded everything up really small and tucked it into a padded envelope and Ruth took it to drop off at the bus depot at at about 11 am this morning.

And.... I'm done!  I'm hopeful that Nancy will send me photos because I didn't take photos of any of her skirts or tops.  I'm glad I did it - I wish I didn't have to put everything off until the last minute, but that's the way it goes sometimes.  If I get photos I'll add them to this blog posting.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

In His Hands

Since my term position has ended, I've driven Bram most mornings to a lay-by (a pull-over spot for trucks) just west of Regina, across from the weigh scales.  We have a real routine; we leave the house at 7:10, arrive there about 7:24, and wait until around 7:30, when his car pool arrives.  While we're waiting, I usually read aloud to him from whatever is our latest read aloud book.  Currently we're enjoying Alexander McCall Smith's The Double Comfort Safari Club.  Then Bram transfers to the van for the car pool to Moose Jaw and I leave the lay-by to drive about 100 metres further on to get to where I can cross the meridian and drive back to Regina.  I usually arrive back home about 7:50.

Then at about 5 pm I need to drive back out there to pick Bram up.  He usually arrives some time between 5:10 and 5:20, and we drive back home together.

It sounds very routine - nothing much to it.  However, I have to say that it's the worst part of my day, everyday.  To start with, this is an extremely busy stretch of highway.  Lots and lots of traffic; many, many people commute down that road - and most of the commuters travel that stretch between 7 and 8 in the morning and between 5 and 6 in the evening.  In addition, because it's midwinter, it's always very dark out, and all that can be seen is the lights of traffic coming and going.  The sun currently rises between 8:30 and 9 and sets between 5:30 and 6.  In order to get to the meridian to cross to the east bound portion of the number 1 highway, I have to cross three lanes of traffic - all of it attempting to speed up to 110 kmh, while I'm trying to see the little sign showing do not enter and slow down to nearly a stop so that I can enter it.  Then on the other side of the road, there is no merging lane, so I wait until there is no traffic coming to cross two lanes of traffic and drive back to Regina.  I've missed the spot in the dark twice and have had to be pulled out (that really added to my pleasure in the morning).

This morning was worse than usual.  They warned before I left the house that there was blowing snow, but the driver for Bram's car pool had texted him saying that they were going as usual.  Two minutes after Bram transferred to their vehicle and had left for Moose Jaw, the radio announced that it was travel not recommended in all the areas around Regina, and they specifically mentioned Highway No. 1 between Regina and Moose Jaw.  It was a little late by then, but I still had to make it back to Regina.  Visibility was nearly nil and I didn't drive above 50 kmh the whole way back.  I was very thankful to have Bram text me to tell me that he had arrived in Moose Jaw, and I texted him back that unless the weather improves, he needs to plan to spend the night there.  (Thanks to the Buchanans, who are his storm-stay location.)

I have gotten so that I really dread this drive every morning and evening.  I have tried to find some other location that I could drop Bram off or pick him up - but he doesn't live anywhere near any of the car poolers and it's dependent upon their convenience.  Sometimes I can pick him up elsewhere, but it really depends on what vehicle some of the others drive to the drop off location.  If they drive a smaller vehicle (and they take turns, so it really varies), then there's no room for him.  There is no other option that I've found for the drop off.  The other option is for him to take the STC SIAST bus instead - however that costs $50 a month more, and I'm currently unemployed, so that's $50 out of an extremely limited budget.

Today I came to the realization that I'm as much in His hands as when I was commuting to Moose Jaw everyday all fall (which wasn't nearly as scary).  I need to turn this burden over to Him and let Him carry the load for me.  I think that's the best I can do at this time.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Schooling Choices

OK, this posting is for my cousin, Janelle, who blogs here.  Sunday I was visiting with my niece about schooling options.  Her oldest child will be turning four in a little while, while she's also got a girl who's about 18 months old, and one on the way.  She's considering all the options, and homeschooling is one of those options.  Her husband was homeschooled for a large part of his schooling, but his mom's a teacher.  She was expressing her feelings of inadequacy, and wondering what the best options would be.

During the discussion, we agreed that there is no one right answer for all kids.  Some kids thrive in a public school setting; other kids really shouldn't be there but their parents don't have another option for them.  The same thing could be said for private schools and for homeschooling.  For most kids, it doesn't make a whole lot of difference - they'll muddle along, regardless of what you choose.  For some kids, it makes a huge difference.  However, no decision is set in stone - you can change your mind at pretty much any time along the journey.

We also agreed, that most kids who are home schooled end up with a bit of a hole in one area or another - where the parent doing the homeschooling disliked, or skipped, or didn't feel the importance, or for whatever reason.  (It's entirely possible that kids in the school system end up with holes as well.)

I have a bit of a unique perspective.  I am a teacher - have taught all ages and grades from preschool through  to adult education; including all the grades between.  I have taught in public, Catholic and private schools, and I home schooled my son for a year.

Having said all that, Janelle homeschools her three boys, and I really enjoy reading her blog and her reflections on that journey with them.  She has talked several times about "the evil math" - the area of schooling where she feels most inadequate.  I have a son, however, who is wired for math and science - and has always been!  Before he was of school age he could already count in base 2 on his fingers.  He's always experimented with different math concepts, he finished Math 30 (grade 12 math) in Grade 10, did Calculus 30 as an independent study in Grade 11, and is now taking Electrical Engineering Technology at SIAST, because that's the engineering technology that requires the most math.

Last night was The Party.  We had around 35 kids, and Bram was a group leader for one small group as usual.  When they were at the story centre (the Bible story was about the centurion who had great faith) and the kids were doing a word find, he started doodling - math.  He came out and tried to borrow a pen or pencil from me, because he was trying to remember the proof for how the derivative of e to the x (sorry, can't figure out how to do superscript) is e to the x.  About the time it was time to come home, he had an aha moment as he figured it out.  When he came home, he wanted to explain it to me, but had to do homework first (work before play) - and then he he had to teach me a whole bunch of background calculus first.

Now you have to realize, that among other things, I teach math (or have taught math).  I prefer to teach remedial math; math for the kids (or adults) who embrace the concept of "the evil math" - and Bram's surpassed my math abilities some time ago.  However, he was able to explain it to me, and I was (momentarily?) enlightened.  I you also wish to be enlightened - here's the explanation below.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Saturday Cooking and Cleaning

It's our normal Saturday cooking day.  Ruth and I started out by cleaning out part of the fridge, starting the dishwasher and making a grocery list.  We had to go to three different grocery stores and still didn't get everything I needed, but the remainder of stuff is not essential.  When we got home from grocery shopping, we finished cleaning out the fridge, washed down the shelves, and put all the newly empty containers through the dishwasher.

Joe and Kristie had given me a cookbook for Christmas, and after Christmas I found some Company's Coming cookbooks on half price and had purchased two new ones.  (I'll admit it, I'm a sucker for cookbooks).  Ruth and I had been looking through the various cookbooks and thinking that it would be nice to try this or that recipe, so when we made up our grocery list, we planned to try some of the new recipes.

Joe and Kristie gave me the cookbook called The Big Cook - which is for planning to make a number of meals in advance and freezing them.  Well Ruth and I like to make meals in advance, however right now I don't have room to freeze anything much - the freezer is full!  However, we've been trying some of the recipes.  Earlier this week I made a Mexican Casserole from that cookbook and it was very good.  We're also planning for several of the meals for this week to be from that cookbook.

The two cookbooks I purchased are Adding Vegetables to Everyday Meals and Anytime Casseroles.  From the adding vegetables cookbook we tried the Sesame Cabbage Loaf (very pretty but I think I'd prefer it as a yeast bread to a soda bread, so I may tweak the recipe a bit).  We also made Shrimp Veggie Salad Rolls.  I had a recipe I had clipped from The Leader Post for a barley and wild rice salad, which we also tried.  Ruth also made up one of our old favourites, the Broccoli Salad while I made a Greek Salad.

Because we had been cleaning out the fridge and freeing all the prisoners from their Tupperware tombs (actually we use glass), we also started a pot of soup.  The fridge looks very nice now; we've got our usual three salads made, as well as a new type of bread, and all the meals planned for the week with the groceries purchased.  I also got two loads of laundry done and three loads in the dishwasher and all the larger bowls that don't fit in the dishwasher done.  So we've got a lot accomplished.
 Here's the barley and wild rice salad.

 This is the Sesame Cabbage Loaf - the first picture is before it went in the oven and the second one is after it was baked.

And here are the Shrimp Veggie Salad rolls.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Storm Stayed

The weather has been the main topic of discussion since the end of the Christmas break.  Bram flew back from Yellowknife on New Year's day (actually in the evening) and started back to school the next day, Wednesday.  However he caught whatever bug I had earlier and by Thursday was too sick to go to school.  Nicole (my boarder) didn't start school until the next Monday and was pretty bored, so Thursday I took her and one of her friends to the public library and got them library cards.  They discovered the manga collection at the library and really liked that.

We had planned to drive Bram to school on Friday and do a number of things in Moose Jaw.  Bram's always done at noon on Fridays, so he could do some of the activities with us in the afternoon and we'd give him a ride home again.  However, Bram was still sick on the Friday, so we didn't have to leave quite as early in the morning.  I had traded vehicles with Ruth because Walter had my van and I was driving his Toyota, which didn't have winter tires.

We had a really nice time in Moose Jaw.  To start with, we went to the Western Development Museum.  We were there until nearly noon, by the time we looked at all the exhibits.  Then we stopped at the library, because one of the Manga series that Nicole was reading was available in Moose Jaw and wasn't in Regina. Then we ate at one of the Chinese restaurants in Moose Jaw.  Nicole especially liked the wanton soup - she said it reminded her of home.  After lunch, we did the Passage to Fortune tunnel tour and then went to the spa.  It was nearly 3:30 before we drove back home again.  I was very sleepy for the drive home and both girls fell asleep in the back seat.  I think it was because of the bathing in the hot pool.

Bram was still sick enough to miss school Monday but really felt that he couldn't miss any more school Tuesday, so decided to go even though he wasn't anywhere near well yet.  I decided to drive him there because I was concerned that he was still sick enough that he wouldn't make a full day.  However, Walt was still not back with my van, and I didn't think to switch vehicles with Ruth again.

It was a fairly tedious day at SIAST.  I spent it in the library, working on some work that I had agreed to do for Ruth and reading a book.  Bram did make the whole day but asked if we could stop at the grocery store on the way out of town and pick up some groceries.  On our way out of town, Ruth phoned to say that the word was that the highways were pretty bad.  I turned on the radio, which said that the road had drifting and blowing snow, but it wasn't travel not recommended so decided to keep on going.  (It was perfectly clear in Moose Jaw).

Just past Belle Plaine, we came up to an accident, very suddenly and I skidded into the ditch.  Within a very few minutes, our car in the ditch was surrounded by other vehicles which had also skidded into the ditch - we could see nine vehicles just on our side of the road, and six on the other side - and we couldn't even see the original accident.  We hit the ditch around 4:30 pm, and were there until we were towed out at about 8:30 pm.  By that time, the highway was closed to Regina, so we backtracked to Belle Plaine and spent the night at the Maw's.  We're very thankful for their hospitality.
 Here's what it looked like out our windshield when we stopped.  Note that there's at least three cars in the ditch in front of us, and a long line of cars stopped on the road.  There were another six cars behind us in the ditch, and the lineup of cars on the road stretched for several kilometres.
 As we're being towed out - notice how close we were to the car on the left.  Another car cartwheeled over it (tumbled end over end and ended up back on its tires) to stop in front of us, shortly after we ended up in the ditch.  Also notice how deep the snow was.

The next morning, I dropped Bram off at SIAST and drove home.  Walter was finally home and I was very thankful to get my van back.  Thursday I drove Bram to meet his car pool at the regular spot.  The forecast was for heavy snowfall and high winds by the afternoon though, so I warned him that he might be storm stayed for the evening.  So when his instructor who managed the car pool phoned me at 1:30 pm, saying that they were leaving Moose Jaw, I wasn't surprised that they had decided to leave early due to the weather.  Apparently Bram's classes were cancelled for the afternoon because of the impending weather.  However the main reason his instructor had phoned was because Bram wasn't with him - he had gone to emergency at the hospital because he had a severe nose bleed that the nurse at school hadn't been able to stop.  Bram had been having several nosebleeds each day since he'd been sick, so I wasn't too surprised and told him to go ahead without Bram because I had arranged for him to have a place to stay if he was storm stayed.  However, I was wondering how Bram was doing (mothers do like to know these things perhaps), so I phoned the Buchanan's and left a message.  Darrel phoned me back; he had tried to check up on him in the afternoon but he had already been discharged from the hospital. However, Bram hadn't brought his cell phone with him (or his wallet with his health card, bank card, cash, etc.), so I had to just trust in the Lord that I would have heard if things were any worse.

Bram eventually phoned me from the Buchanan's, where he was spending the night.    He was fine and he didn't have anything else to tell me.  This morning the highway was still closed, so I was wondering how Bram would get home - his classes end at noon on Fridays and I knew his car pool wouldn't have made it to Moose Jaw because the highway was closed.  However around 11:30, just when I was shovelling the driveway out, he arrived back home.  Classes had been cancelled in the morning because only about 9 out of 25 students made it to school, and only one instructor.  He caught a ride home with one of his classmates who had a 4 wheel drive. (Apparently the classmate had driven to Moose Jaw from Regina, even though the highway was closed; and gave five of them a ride back to Regina once they found out classes were cancelled.) I was glad to see him.

Bit by bit throughout the morning, I was able to get a bit more of the story out of Bram.  The school nurse sent him to the hospital because she was having a great deal of difficulty stopping his nose bleed.  She gave him a taxi voucher to get there and one to get back.  While waiting in Emergency, he saw one of the other school nurses and was visiting with her when he fainted.  She got him more immediate attention; they gave him some medication (tranexamic acid), put him on an IV drip, and fed him lunch (all three very constructive things).  When he got back to school, he found that his car pool had already left, so eventually contacted the Buchanan's, who picked him up, fed him supper and gave him a bed for the night.

All in all, it's been an interesting week.  Although I haven't been as sick as Bram, I've still been fighting a bad cold and have spent most of my days in bed with a box of tissues by my side.  I think I'm nearly over it now, although Bram is several days behind me.  I think from now on, I'm going to double check that Bram has his wallet and cell phone before he leaves in the morning.  I know he was perfectly fine, and he felt he had no difficulty because he can always borrow a classmate's if he needs to phone - but when mothers hear that their son has been sent to emergency - they'd like to know right then that things are ok, not six or seven hours later.  The same way, mothers want to know how he's coming home when she knows he's not using the usual car pool.