Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Thursdays on the Bench

Well, It's exam week for the older one. He had one on Wednesday morning and three on Thursday. He could have changed one of the exams on Thursday, however, he decided to get them all over with. I can understand his reasoning, but I am worried about 'brain drain!'. So, did I insist that he change one of his exams? No, (surprise, surprise), I decided that he could decide for himself and I 'let it go.' (He had better do well!) Knowing the older one, he will and there will be no opportunity for me to say, "I told you so!"
(Sunshine) I can be so hard as they grow and are able to make their own decisions. I look sometimes and wonder what happened to my little baby girl. Well she is becoming a woman right in front of my eyes and believe me she has so many ideas and Strong opinions that it sometimes makes my head spin. Her spunk and love for life are a part of her that although scary, I really admire. Letting go is hard because they may fall flat on their faces, but its better then holding on too tight. Miss Teen Sunshine also has exams this week, 2 down and 1 more to go. (Carolin) We are also in exams for the teenager. She had one on Monday and another today then done! Not bad really cause she has the rest of the time off school. Yesterday when the little one and I got home the teenager and her friend Cassy were down in the basement playing Wii.

The younger one has an interesting project he has started. His class has been divided into small groups of three and they have $20.00 each and they need to start their own business. They have to put together a business proposal and present it to their teacher. If approved they have the rest of this term to build their business and get it running. At the end of the term all of the businesses will get to rent space in the school gym and they will sell their wares! It seems to be a new part to the curriculum for grade 8 geography, an economics section. It sounds like a lot of fun! That is so cool and interesting. Little Miss Sunshine is working on her very first speech. She chose the signs of the zodiac as her topic. I am anxious to see what she will come up with. I really use to enjoy working on speeches at school and so does Miss Teen Sunshine, we will have to see if Little Miss Sunshine will enjoy it too.
We too, have been slowly working with the little one on memorizing a chunk of scripture. She was given a choice of a poem or Scripture and she chose the later this year. Next year is when she will have to write her own speech. We have had to do this memorizing thing since grade one and let me tell you it is a pain in the b*&&! What makes it so hard is trying to get a child to remember all these words when she has severe short term memory loss.

Mr Sunshine is away this week all week until Saturday night so things are pretty quiet around here. I find that I do a lot a soul searching when he is away. I wonder why that is? I am off this week so I have been doing a lot of laundry and cleaning and its been fun to hang out with Miss Teen Sunshine. We have had a lot of appointments this week and I have a few things set up for the next 2 days, so it has been pretty busy around here. You're off! why didn't you tell me? I could of had you with me at work for the lunch rush. The teenage volunteers are very unpredictable and sometimes not worth the trouble. You could of come and worked for an hour or so and I would have given you a sandwich (maybe). Now that I think about I can see why you kept it a secret I probably wouldn't want to bother either.

My days have been pretty full so far. Thursday I am going out with a friend during the day and Friday I promised Little Miss Sunshine that I would take her out for lunch while Teen Sunshine is planning to go over a friends house after her last exam with some other friends for an I don't know Hurray that exams are over? . Sorry Caroline but we have had orthodontist appointments and hair dresser appointments and other errands to run. I have not been home during lunch hour all week. I use to have so much time to get all of these little things done but now that that time is occupied with work, those 5 free hours during the day fill up really fast. Mr Sunshine asked how my relaxing week was going and I had to explain to him how I have not had a moment to relax yet.

Not to worry I am just bugging you. A couple of Friday's ago when I went to pick up the little one from school at the end of the day, the VP asked me how I liked my afternoon off? I looked at her and smiled and said it was lovely, but in my head thought what world is this women living in. I left the school at 9:30 am drove half an hour to the wholesale grocery store, shopped, then to Costco, shopped. Next on the list is home to put everything away, do the books for the week and then head to the banking. Stop by the library pay my fine cause I can't get there anymore like I used to and pick up new movies and a book ( which will sit in my car cause I don't really have time to read fiction anymore). Rush back to the school to pick up the little one then hurry home get dinner ready and house tidied before 7 adults and their 9 kids arrive to mess it up again. Yes it was a lovely relaxing afternoon and I am so lucky that I can do this every Friday.

Some of my favourite show have started, The Bachelor and American Idol (I should blog about them). This makes for some interesting TV watching a few nights a week. I am now being hailed by Little Miss Sunshine, so I will talk to you all later. Survivor is starting soon and I am looking forward to that and I hope Amazing Race will be on soon but I haven't checked the Internet to see when it starts. I am not sure if we will watch Survivor this time around. Although, I just remembered it a a special one with past competitors on it. I would like to watch, Amazing Race but I work Sunday nights. We'll see.

Have a good week all,

Monday, January 25, 2010

Bench Talk: Wacky Kid Stories

We all have those funny raising kid stories...... I remember a time....

At work, last Saturday morning we started discussing how the kids are growing up. It was great when they were smaller and we had more control over the 'whole' of them. I mentioned that I was surprised last summer when I noticed that my older son had underarm hair! When did that grow in? How did I not see it before! PST... Cathy your boys are more Men than boys and just so you know and are not totally shocked they have hair on all different parts of their body! Well, just when was the last time that I bathed him. Yes, he's a teenager so it's been quite a long, long time. Still, it was a wake-up call that they are growing up (thank God!) and I need to catch up. (Sunshine) Cathy sometimes you make me laugh so hard!

Somehow the conversation changed over to potty training. Everyone has potty training stories! My boys were both in the summer of their third year when they accomplished this feat. I remember the hours we sat and read, "The Potty Book," while they sat and sat and sat and sat. (Wasn't it just easier to keep them in diapers?, hmmmm) Well, when the younger son was in the midst of learning, one night when I said, "ok, time to go sit and try," the older son (by two years) said he would teach him. He took his brother by the hand and up to the bathroom they went with me tip-toeing behind them. The older one said, "all you do is push down your pants and aim and there you go. (I edited the terms he used). Just like that.....potty training done!

I can't remember much of the toilet training period with the teenager. But I do remember being in Calgary with the Sunshine family and the little one was in the midst of being trained. I remember thinking before we even left it would be easier if stayed in diapers for a few more weeks but she decided she was ready. So what felt like every 30 km or so of our sight seeing we had to pull over because she said she had to pee. I think she left her mark as far north as Edmonton and as far south as Watertown. By the way, if you ever get a chance to go to Watertown, it is worth the trip. It was the neatest thing to stroll down downtown Watertown and window shop with the locals. Just so you know the locals happen to be Elk! On our first visit to Banff (about 14 years ago), the elk were everywhere. We were having dinner on an outdoor patio and the elk would be poking their heads through the planters. I remember how we would comment on how polite and smart they were. The joke was that they would stop at red lights and only cross on a green light. It was quite the sight. The next time that we visited maybe 5 years ago or so, there were no elk to be found in the town. You could only catch a glimpse of them in the wild.

About potty training. I really don't remember when my girls were actually trained. I may have it written down somewhere. I do remember being pressured by others who would comment on their age and on how they should be fully trained by such and such an age. I never really worried about it all that much. I really let them go on their own schedule. When they were ready, they started to pee in the big girl toilets. There were many, many accidents along the way (one even occurred on the seat of an airplane). The constant accidents were very frustrating for us as parents and for the child. In the end slowly but surely they both learned to use the facilities and the bonus is that now that they are older they can also clean the facilities (yay).

It's interesting how you talk about being pressured to train the kids by a certain age. I remember a friend once telling me proudly how her niece was trained at 18 months! I said that I didn't think that the child was trained, but rather everyone else around her was! I don't know why some people worry about it. It's a natural process, what I mean is you don't see many 7 year olds still in diapers. (I know there are exceptions, there are always exceptions), however, the majority of children learn, at a time when they are ready. Why do some people stress over it?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

My Anger while reading Stones into Schools

Wow two post in one day, I must not have enough to do.

So I almost finished my latest book and I am so frustrated that I start taking it out on the teenager. Asking her why, Why, WHY, WHY!!!! She looks at me then quickly takes off to her bedroom. What has got me so worked up you ask? Well, even if you haven't I am going to tell you cause I need to take my frustration out somehow and I won't know if you tune me out and switch to a different blog.

I am just about finished 'Stones into Schools' by Greg Mortenson http://www.stonesintoschools.com/. Two summers ago I read his first book 'Three cups of Tea' http://www.threecupsoftea.com/ and thoroughly enjoyed it. I found it eye and heart opening. Since then I have followed Mr. Mortenson's (not stalkerish but in a polite curious way) career and hoped someday he would be speaking in my area so I could tell him just how proud of him I am. But by the time I find out he is in the Southern Ontario area the events are already sold out! Good for him but to bad for me. Anyway, I digress.

So his latest book picks up where the first one finished not much after the war started. This man has taken the time to really get to know the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan and his passion to educate girls is amazing. I commend him and all the people who also support him.

But my frustration and maybe he has explained it but I am just too dense to get it is.... Why do the Taliban so fear educating women? Why such a hate on for girls? What are they so afraid of, that we might do what???? I am so frustrated cause I just don't get it!

And my frustration doesn't end with only the Taliban it extends to all these men who won't educate the females in their family because???? What are you so afraid of??

I am finding the older I get the less patience I have and especially with ignorant men. I am finding I no longer will bite my tongue and let them just spew stupidity. I have had enough and am calling them on it. Now my poor husband has had to listen to my rants about Afghanistan and the Taliban for over 13 year now. I first read about their treatment of women way back when Sally Armstrong http://nsb.com/speakers/view/sally-armstrongwrote articles for Homemakers magazine about what she was witnessing in Afghanistan. I can remember my husband coming home from work and me being angry and slamming pots around, he had no idea what the problem was. I would toss the magazine at him and yell at him that men were stupid and this needs to be fixed. Now all these years later and I am even more angry (he is hiding in the basement) and I don't know if it is practical for me to go to Afghanistan and I would probably get myself killed. But I can't just keep getting frustrated, something needs to be done!

But what, WHAT, WHAT, WHAT???????


P.S. If there is any ex-Taliban out there please explain to me why the 'hate on' for women. You know what, you don't have to be an ex-Taliban, just intelligently explain to me why you hate women so much, but don't kill me cause I still need to finish raising my children (girls) and educate them so they in turn can kick your ass with their intellect!

Sunday Catch Up with Carolin

It is just after 9:00 AM Sunday morning, the teenager is still sleeping, the little one is up and watching TV. The husband is reading yesterdays paper and eating toast with peanut butter. I have been up since 7:30 AM have put dinner in the crock pot, read the paper, ate a bowl of cereal and am now dressed for church (not that we dress anything special for church, jeans and a shirt) Remember the days of wearing 'Your Sunday Best'.

I know I haven't blogged in what feels like forever. Cathy has been sending frantic emails to the three of us trying to work out a time for us to be together on a regular basis to blog. But between you and me I am having a hard time fitting in all that needs to be done without adding another commitment.

Work wise things are moving along. I am still in the old kitchen and if I believe the rumours the new kitchen being equipped has been put on hold because of a lack of funds. I have submitted my year end status report. Which the principal presented to the board. Now he would like me to put together another one page report breaking down the financials. Seems some board members are under the misconception that I am just rolling in the dough! (you like that pun) The husband's schedule has aloud him to come at lunch time and help me with the lunch rush. Which has been great but he is back on the day shift for the next two weeks and I am now relying on student volunteers. So we will see how it goes. I truly feel I am losing business because I can't get the orders out fast enough. We now have two lunch rushes, one at 12:00 (HS & JH) and then another at 12:30 (elementary). I have just enough to catch my breath and do a quick wipe down before I serve the younger kids. I have also started a regular Tuesday special. Every Tuesday we serve a pasta dish. We have made chicken catattori, Penna with sausage, and fettuccine Alfredo so far. This week will be pasta with a traditional ground beef sauce. I sell between 17 to 22 plates each Tuesday as well as sandwiches. We also have our hot dish special on Wednesday as well. Last week it was pizza subs, the week before was pulled pork on a bun. I planning on serving Mexican chicken served over rice this Wednesday. We are having it for dinner tonight so I will see how it taste. I am a fan of the Kraft's Whats Cooking web site
http://www.kraftcanada.com/EN/Pages/home.aspx. I find the recipes are simple and so far have always tasted good.

Though I am tired all the time, and my evening and weekends are spent doing work stuff I am enjoying what I am doing and look forward to the time when I am in a fully equipped kitchen and serve the students and staff properly. I try not to get to worked up about the negotiations with the board and truly believe that they have more to lose if we can't come to an agreement then I. I have given the stress and worry over to God and trying very hard not to take it back as I have in the past.

I really enjoy the interactions with the kids. I have also been finding that more and more elementary parents are coming in at the end of the day and ordering for their kids for the next day. Many parents come to see me and thank me for making their lives easier now that they don't have to worry about lunch's. I do remember when the teenager was younger there where days when I didn't have anything for her lunch and we would stop at a sub shop or Tim Horten's on the way to school to buy her lunch for the day. So I totally relate these parents.

Well it is now time to head of to church I will try to get on the blog again soon.


http://obnoxiousgreendoor.blogspot.com/ Robin what happened to your blog? I went on this morning to get my Robin fix and you are gone! Hope you come back soon.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Thursday's on the Bench

Hi all, I just heard on the news that after 8 days an 5 year old boy was pulled alive from the rubble. Unfortunately, his parents did not make it. We sit and watch and listen in comfort and thank God that it isn't us. We give money, pray and wonder what more we can do? There are many times during the day when I actually forget about Haiti, until I am reminded again by the radio. I don't forget really, I think I just push it aside so I can get on with what I need to do daily. How much do we show our kids? The media have spared nothing. The images being shown are horrific and I really do not want to see any more. Talk about putting my head in the sand! Our boys have not seen the images on the news. They are old enough, it's just that they are in bed when Hubby and I sit down to watch the news. Do they need to see it, or is hearing about it and talking about it over dinner and at school and at other times enough? I wonder, sometimes I think seeing the devastation makes it more real for them. I guess we will discuss it over dinner. It will take Haiti years to rebuild after this earthquake

(Sunshine) I have heard of all of the devastation and I have donated what seems like such an insignificantly small amount of money to the Haiti fund when I was shopping at Wal-Mart and the cashier asked if I wanted to donate. Today, when I arrived home my sister had e-mailed me an e-mail sent to her by a co-worker who had friends who are Christian Missionaries in Haiti. They are in the midst of all of the devastation. I am going to share this with you because it really moved me and helped me to understand better the struggles that the people of Haiti are facing each and every day. May God help them.

( I have edited the names to only reflect the initials of the persons names as I do not know these people and I don't want to show their full names as there are also names of children in the e-mail)>

I don't now how to start this e-mail.Maybe with an "We are sorry" for the lack of communication.Maybe with a thank you to my daughter T for communicating with so many of you for us.I don't know. I am exhausted, emotionally drained and in control at the same time. It is time to tell our story.We are all OK. Our house still stands. That is a blessing. If that were not the case, we would not have been able to help so many after the quake hit. I was in the kitchen, my son B was in his room. P was in the house but close to the door. We think one of the twins was in her bedroom and one was on the porch. T and L were on the porch. It started as a low hum and shake, then it grew....My mind thought, "that is strange", then my mind thought, "what is that?". In a matter of seconds the house came alive and I was at the end of my kitchen table. The shaking was incredible. I remember seeing the concrete walls moving violently in a wave like at a wave pool. One to my right, one to my left and then one in front of me moving in a different direction. I also remember the ceiling was moving in a wave above me. The floor beneath my feet did not feel attached to me. G ran to me screaming. Hysterical screams and I clung him tight to me and instinctively semi crouched. All of this may have only taken a few seconds..i don't know. The next thing I remember was L running in the house yelling "get out, get out, get out...RUN" As he grabbed my arm, I went into full action. Still clinging to G, I ran to the door grabbing as many of my children as I could. Yelling myself, "RUN, RUN, RUN, GO, GO". We reached the steps to the garden and I remember how difficult it was to run down them as the concrete steps were moving. I remember running through the front drive with the land still moving. L was still yelling to run further to get away from the building. The dog followed us all. When I got to the end of the driveway, I looked around and counted kids, I could not see B. I turned back to the building and screamed "B, B, B" as I thought he was still on the upper level at our neighbours. Then there he was in front of me. He had been holding my hand the whole time.Somewhere between the driveway and the road, the movement stopped. For a moment..... then it started again, smaller but almost as big as the first and long as well. I gathered the kids and instructed them to sit and we huddled until it stopped. Then it started again.......Finally the earth rested for a while. Then I stood up and turned around......From our rural hill not far from Port au Prince, we have a view of the whole city. As I looked out towards the city and the ocean, that is when I realized what had just happened. The entire city went up in dust. One huge, even dust cloud arose from the entire massive city. It was like a bomb had gone off and it was the smoke rising. I looked to the right and saw a similar smaller cloud over our local village Source Matlas. I looked to the left and saw a large cloud of dust and smoke from the flour factory. I was speechless regarding what all this may have meant.That may have been enough to deal with except that we realized that we had a team of 53 Canadian's visiting on a short term mission trip. We went into leader mode. L went to check on a few things and I gathered the team. G went to get the ambulance and I gathered the visiting nurses and doc. We jumped into the ambulance and headed down to the clinic. G took the team in and I rushed to the front gate of our mission. By the time I got there, the injured started arriving. They came in tap tap (pick up truck taxi) after tap tap. Children, woman and men. Their arms and legs were crushed, their bones sticking out of their bodies, their heads gashed open. Some crying in pain, some barely alive. 5, 6, 7, people per truck. After a few minutes I left the gate and security took over letting them all in and I rushed back to the hospital. For the next 33 hours straight we worked on the traumatic cases that lie before us. It looked like war. We did not know the integrity of the clinic yet so we could not go inside. The aftershocks started to come and were frequent but less in intensity. We had to get supplies in side but ran back out every aftershock we got. The injured were lying all over our outside walk way. G, our visiting nurses and myself worked on triaging the worst patients. We are not a full service hospital, we are just a clinic.....we started to get reports that the biggest hospital in PAP, General hospital had crashed down, Doctors without Borders had crashed (the only 2 main ER's in the entire city!). We got further reports that other hospitals were down. We started to realize, that we were all there was for miles and miles and miles. At the 20th hour, we told the gate we could not accept anymore patients as we still had to get through many many more. We sent our nurses (except for a few) and our helpers to work in shifts and G and I worked on. We reduced (tractioned bones back in place) open compound fractures.......putting tibia bones, back into people's legs that were sticking out. We reduced and set many many femur fractures, lower leg fractures, arm fractures. We sutured arms, legs, heads. We put scalps back together and we cleaned concrete out of wounds for hours. We stabilized pelvic fractures and we helped babies with head trauma breath on oxygen. We had 3 die. 1 baby, 1 two year old and 1 ten year old. We had 4 others on the brink of death. We saved a lot. Because we had no other choice (as there was no where to send them), at the end of 33 hours, we had discharged all but 5 to follow up. The last few we attempted to take to hospitals. 3 refused and wanted to go home to die. The other 2 G and L tried to find somewhere that would take them in Port Au Prince. It was true, most hospital's were not functioning and those that were, were full of bodies, inside and out. Everywhere, some alive and some dead. Bodies were piled up in the parking lots as there was no where to put them. Most of the doctors that used to work at the hospital's were dead or not heard of. Families had no where to take their loved one's bodies because their houses were crashed down, they still were missing family members or the funeral homes were destroyed....so they left them.We went home and slept 6 hours. Then opened the clinic again. We worked another 10 hours, seeing the same things. Finally it stopped. There were no more tap tap's running as there was no more diesel for their vehicles. That same night, our president of Mission of Hope arrived. We started into disaster relief planing with some partner organizations. By this time reports of what the damage in the country looked like were becoming clear. We had US and CAN doctors start to come in through the Dominican to help. We have had doctors coming now since Sat. We have been coordinating a grand scale disaster relief plan for the 100's of thousands of people that have not yet got into the hospital and for food distribution. It is to say the least, no small task.We have hardly slept, we have not been able to communicate with you. Tonight it was time.The capital is devastated. The national palace is on the ground (white house), the ministry of transportation is on the ground, the huge justice palace (the whole judicial system) is on the ground, the ministry of health is on the ground, the ministry of finance is not down but destroyed, the entire downtown core has almost every building down to rubble, the insurance bureau is on the ground, every national bank headquarters are crashed to the ground except one that stands severely damaged, the head police headquarters is in rubble, the hospital that L was in after his accident (the best in the country) is severely damaged and non functional, the building that has all the adoption papers in the country is destroyed, the only grocery store that all the missionaries shop at (that I almost was at that day) is rubble on the ground killing and trapping everyone inside, the Montana hotel where we had lunch not so long ago is completely rubble killing everyone inside, many collages and schools and crashed down, Digicel world headquarters (cell phone) and the tallest building in PAP is to the ground (hence we have no cell communications and on.....and on.....and on.We have 160 staff on our mission and we already know of one that has died and we still have not heard from about 100 staff. Everyday that someone shows up is joyous to see that they are alive. Most everyone has a family member that has died. One security guard has 4 children that died. Many of our Haitian staff suffer severe post traumatic stress after what they have been through or seen. One of our friends was trapped in his school next to 50 of his classmates that were crushed by the building. He heard them screaming but could not save them. He watched them die, as he was trapped inside for 3 hours with a dead man on his chest. He was pulled out eventually. Every time a plane passes over, or a car drives up, we all brace ourselves and jump until we realize that it is not another quake. Aftershocks are stressful. We often have a false sense that the ground is moving. People have a fear to go in buildings. Our building is structurally OK but I do not like to be in my bedroom for long....it is too far from the door. L sleeps on the couch. A protective move I know to be closer to the kids for evacuation. We sleep with the front door open for quick escape...baby steps. It is better than the tents we slept in at first to make sure the building was safe. This earthquake was like no other. Mainly because it hit a country with such poor infrastructure. It was completely unexpected. It is like kicking a baby down before it knows how to stand. But we are moving on. We are alive and our house is fine. Mission of Hope is an oasis compared to the city. The kids are good. They are resilient and they started back to school today. D has been amazing and the Canadian team was amazing being there for them too. We have a great team on staff at Mission of Hope. Despite the destruction, we are seeing hope, we know that God will use this to show his light. We know many people that have come to Christ already because of this event and now is the body of Christ's time to shine. So many things destroyed....yet most of the Christian missions survived. God has big things planned for this country. God has used us in mighty ways this past week. He has used us for the Haitian people, He has used us in the media, He has used us to bond with each other and He will continue to use us mightily.I have learned more in one week than most in a lifetime. I now know how to reduce compound open wound fractures, I know how to cast, I know how to suture and have become proficient enough that I sutured the flap of some one's nose back on (quite good too I might add :) ), I know how to handle cases when there is no other option, I know how to stab an attempt at coordinating disaster relief and to run functional field clinics. I have been on TV and am part of meetings at the UN logistic base with the World Health Organization, UN, military and other NGO's. I am one of the few North American doc's on the ground right now that lived in Haiti and I am visiting and coordinating inside many field and broken down hospital set ups. It is strange. It is surreal. R (missionary here) and I were just saying today that if someone had told us that this is what we would have had to do this week prior to this event, we would have "quit". We would have said no way God! I can't do all of that. We would have underestimated our abilities based on what we were comfortable with. We have learned that God knows more than we do, that He knows what we can handle and He has more faith in us than we have in ourselves. We thank you for your prayers this past week. This is not over, it is a long road ahead. Please pray for the Haitian people. Every person was affected by this. Please pray for supply chains to open up, pray for the port to be fixed, pray for timely food and water distributions, pray for organization of relief organizations and military. Pray that now eyes will be opened to the need we had prior to this earthquake...our clinic and hospital, and that funding will be provided.

(Carolin) Wow, Sunshine that is one powerful email. We to have been saddened by what is happening in Haiti. We have not sheltered the kids from watching the news and the little one with her soft heart is determined to help. She wrote a proposal for a school wide Toonnie (or more) dress down this Friday with the money raised to go to World Vision Haiti relief. She gave the proposal to her division head (VP for elementary) and then heard nothing. Yesterday over the morning announcements the Principal informed all students and staff that there will be a special dress down day (they don't have to wear there uniforms) on Friday with all money raised going to World Vision! The little one came at lunch time to see me in the kitchen and I explained what he said. She was thrilled as I have told her that what ever money is raised the Canadian Government will match it. So if we raise $1000.00, $2000.00 will go to help Haiti! She said she wanted to give $20.00 that she got for a Christmas gift.

At this time I am finding all this a little overwhelming. Between the Wednesday night bible study Living beyond yourself (learning the fruit of the spirit), I am reading World Vision CEO (US) book A whole in our Gospel (he talks about poverty and the needs in Africa and the disparity between the western nations and everyone else) and each night I read a chapter or two of Greg Mortenson latest book Stones for Schools (author of Three cups of tea). He works in Afghanistan and Pakistan building schools for communities that NO ONE else will go to. With the proviso that the female children must attend and be educated. It is a wonderful book and very eye opening especially write now as I am at the part where he talks about the 2005 earthquake that hit Pakistan and the devastation it caused. I feel God is talking to me but I am not sure just what I am supposed to do but write a cheque at this point.

Please pray for the people of Haita and the NGO's that are trying to get help there.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Bench Talk: Games Night

We were all together at Louise's home Saturday night for a games night. It was a lot of fun! There are so many games that you can play with a big group of people. We do have our favourites, for example: Phase 10 and Wizard. We also have a blast playing Pictionary. It's great because the children can now join in with us adults and we can play together. It doesn't matter who wins, (right Sunshine?) it's just great to get together and play.

What are your favourite games and do you and your family plan a games night every week?

When the teenager was little we had a No TV on Sunday rule. Usually on that day we would do stuff as a family and one of the things the three of us liked was to play board games. We tried to continue that family time when the little one got old enough for games. But unfortunately she did not get the 'Game Gene' and does not enjoy playing boardgames. We have tried Candyland and match games when she was around 4 - 5 years old. Not that long ago we tried the game Sorry but that didn't work. Sometimes she will play a card game like War or Old Maid but not in a while now. Last year I bought a jonour game of Charades which all my family played and she seemed to enjoy it for a while then got bored. This year I bought pictionary (which we played last night at Louise's) which she seemed to enjoy for a while but then decided she would rather draw pictures on her own.

When my extended family gets together we usually end up playing ramoli (card game) but I do get a little tired of it. I like most games and would enjoy getting together with others to play more often.

(Sunshine) When we get together with my side of the family we always end up playing something. Usually its cards because that is what my dad enjoys the most. All of the kids know how to play cards and they also like to play board games. Little Miss Sunshine would love to play cards or a board game everyday if she could. Miss Teen Sunshine likes to play when she can be among the adults. It is a fun way to spend a few hours together.

My mom always included us in any games or cards being played when we were kids even though I remember some of the adults being annoyed by having us young kids who really didn't play as well as they did be a part of the games. She would remove herself from the adult game and rally up all of us kids and any other willing adults and we would all play cards. It took time but we really enjoyed ourselves and we all learned how to play. I am happy that my kids also know how to play cards and board games. They really enjoy themselves a lot. After all why should the adults have all the fun?

We started a family talk night on Thursdays a few years ago. After dinner we would usually stay around the table and discuss whatever came to mind and play games. We like card games a lot. We taught the kids how to play euchre and their grandparents have taught us all how to play Texas rummy. The boys love to play board games that involve strategy like Risk and Stratego. I like playing Sorry and Payday.

I don't care if I win or lose, however, the male element in my family are very competitive! When they start getting too intense I tend to lose interest. When I was little we used to play board games on a Sunday. Dad would cook the Sunday dinner and mom, my sister and I would play Payday for hours, sometimes into the wee night! It was loads of fun.

We also enjoy getting together with everyone for a games night. Pictionary is a hoot! We divide into teams and use the kids art easel as it has a white board on it. We can then use a washable marker and the board is big enough for all to see the 'wonderful' drawings!

I'm glad to see that there is still a lot of people who play the 'old fashioned' board games. The computer games are ok in moderation, however, there is a lot to be said for the laughter and personal interaction you get from playing and talking together.

So, go out and buy yourselves a favourite boardgame or a new deck of cards and ENJOY!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Thursday's on the Bench

Happy Thursday all!

I look at the title of this post, "Thursday's on the Bench," and I feel nostalgia for the bench. When we started this blog, I was the only one working, part-time, and the other ladies were looking for work. The idea for the blog was to share our stories and history and also gave us something to do. Now that we are all working, we hardly have any time to get together to blog. Most, if not all of our posts are done at our homes, separately. I miss the simple times when our kids were preschool age and we would meet at around 10am at the park. We each had our beverage of choice, Carolin with her diet pop, Sunshine and Louise with their bottled water and me with my ever present cup of tea. It's like we were of one mind then. My mom used to say we ladies could not do anything without the others knowing about it. If one of us was outside, it was not long before the other three joined in. We spent ages together, talking, sharing and just being. It was one of the best times I can remember. We used to have a 'ladies night' where we would meet at a designated house. It happened once a month and our husbands stayed home to look after the kids. We ladies would bring food and we would sit until the wee hours of the night just talking and laughing. Our husbands used to wonder what we had left to discuss as we had seen each other all day long! I think they were just jealous. We also tried to get them to have a "guys night" but they didn't seem to be able to plan it on their own so it rarely happened! We also started going out for dinner as a group every three months, without the children. We looked forward to those nights when we could actually eat a meal, hot and without interruptions!

Well, fast forward to now. We are all working and just stopping in for tea rarely happens. We are still in touch and this blog has helped a lot as we are committed to posting something at least twice a week. I feel the blog is not as personal as when we started, however, all things evolve. As we ladies adjust to our new roles as working moms we will just have to actually 'plan' to get together more often. Hopefully, at those times we can open a new post and share with you.

I do miss the past, however, it is the past. It's o.k. to reminisce as long as we (I) don't wallow. The future is what we make of it and we ladies have been through so much together, grown up together as we became homeowners, parents, sisters. I love these 3 women and even though we do not see each other as often as we used to, and cannot just zip over next door, they still mean as much to me as they ever did.

My word Cathy, you appear to be feeling a little emotional. Yes that was a nice time in our lives but so is this part of our lives, it is not the same but change is good. So what is new at this end of our fair city (my house) The teenager woke up Monday with her face swollen, her dad took her to the dental surgeon who had taken her wisdom teeth out back on the 29th of Dec. Looks like on of the sockets has an infection. So she is on antibiotics and will go back today to have it checked hopefully it is cleared up if not they will have to do another surgery to get the infection out. Please pray that another surgery is not needed, as she is a musician and her music teacher has already moved her exam date back.

She also sent of her university applications and heard from two confirming her application (not an acceptance yet). Also she has to go for a tour and orientation to one on the 7th of February. This university is her first choice.

A little bit on the teenager. SHE broke up with the boyfriend last week (Yeah!!!!). He has not been taking it too well which has caused some stress but in time this will work out and it is for the best.

Work is coming along, I finished my year end status report and emailed it to Mr. Sunshine for his feedback but he must be busy as I haven't heard from him. I have to email it to the principal this weekend as he is away this week but will need to go over it on the weekend. The big board meeting is next Tuesday.

We are going over to Louise this coming Saturday night to play some cards or games. I am looking forward to that and perhaps we can get a blog in since we will be all together!

(Sunshine) I will remind Mr. Sunshine for you (Caroline) he has been really busy and is presently out of town. I did ask him about it earlier in the week and he said that he would review it on the plane. I will follow up. Yes Cathy, those times in our old neighbourhood were a special time. I don't know that we really understood it at the time. We no longer live on the same street, or even within walking distance of each other anymore. Life changes and evolves. We have shared so much of our lives together and we are lucky to have so many fond memories of the past. We will just have to make some knew ones for the future. Things are pretty much the same around here. Kids, work and housework. I think that I am starting to feel the January blues. I can't even believe that we are actually in the year 2010. Where has all of this time gone?

We have a very busy weekend coming up. Music lessons, soccer practice and soccer game, game night with everyone and my father in laws birthday lunch and then at our house for cake on Sunday. That is one packed weekend. I don't know about everyone else but we are already in mid January, Time is flying right by.

Have a great weekend!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Bench Talk: 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics

In a few weeks the world will turn their attention to Canada, Vancouver and surrounding mountains to be exact, to watch the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. Will you be watching? What is your favourite sport? Do you and your family have any traditions surrounding the watching of the games?

(Sunshine) Members of my family are getting ready for the Olympics in television and food service related aspects. There is a lot of hype and a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes to produce what we see on TV. We do watch the Olympics. The skiing, figure skating and so many other events are watched in our home. It is great to see Canada involved, and when we do well it is even better. When the Olympics are taking place in a Canadian location, then it is even more fun to watch and be supportive. What an incredible setting Vancouver will be. I look forward to enjoying the views and it will give us all a chance to feel the pride of being Canadian. Go Canada!!!!

We enjoy watching the Olympics as well. It's great to pick a sport and try to follow through to the medal presentation. It's always interesting to see which sport the boys choose to follow. I, of course, hope that Canada does well, but I hope we don't hype it so much that we create too high a peak to reach. I wonder, are the Olympics still just for amateur sport participants? How do they, year after year, allow professional players, ie: hockey, to participate? There must be a 'let' somewhere.

(Carolin) My family watches some of the Olympics but to be honest I am not all that interested. It is nice when a Canadian wins but then I feel sorry for the others. Why is it so important to be the BEST? Why cant we just support each other and have fun with sports. When my Brother and sister in law were here for Christmas they where talking about the Olympics. As they live in the heart of where it is taking place. So though it is the Vancouver Olympics very little is in Vancouver the skiing and snowboarding are outside of Vancouver. They live in Pemberton and they were talking about how they are going to have to get security clearance to just get around in there own town. They are not looking forward to the craziness and will be happy when it is over.

I am happy for Canada to be on the international stage but even happier that it is in BC and not here in Ontario.

Good Luck, Canada!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Globe and Mail article on new guide to Canadian Citizenship

•Auditor-General sounds alarm on immigration policy

From Tuesday's Globe and Mail
Published on Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2009 3:09PM EST

Last updated on Friday, Dec. 04, 2009 6:33PM EST

The Conservative government will redefine what it means to be Canadian this week by introducing a new guide to citizenship, a rare and significant attempt to reshape the national image.

The new document, which will be the citizenship study guide for the 250,000 immigrants who arrive in Canada each year, instantly becomes one of the country's most widely read and potentially influential pieces of writing. It will replace a document created by the Liberals in 1997 that the Conservatives criticized for its anemic presentation of Canadian history and identity.

No longer will new Canadians be told that Canada is strictly a nation of peacekeepers, for example. The new guide places a much greater emphasis on Canada's military history, from the Great War to the present day. It also tackles other issues of historical significance, from Confederation to Quebec's separatist movement, that were barely mentioned by its predecessor .

“I think there's a growing sense that we need to have a deeper, thicker sense of our common citizenship and where we come from as Canadians,” Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said.

“If all you knew about Canada was from the current guide it would be possible to become a citizen never having heard of Vimy Ridge, Dieppe or Juno Beach and not knowing what the poppy represents, which I think is scandalous.”

The new guide was produced in consultation with a panel of experts that included former governor-general Adrienne Clarkson, historian Jack Granatstein, retired general John de Chastelain and historian Margaret MacMillan. Mr. Kenney said its goal is to foster a sense of cohesion, of a common past, shared values and obligations.

“We've been pretty successful in our approach to diversity, but as we maintain the developed world's highest relative levels of immigration we can't be cavalier about social cohesion. We need to be very deliberate about integration now and in the future, that in part means having a common basis of knowledge about Canadian symbols, values and institutions,” he said.

“We want to ensure that newcomers appreciate that citizenship is not just obtaining legal status, that it confers certain privileges and rights. It's joining the Canadian community and it's joining Canadian history.”

Rudyard Griffiths, co-founder of the Historica-Dominion Institute and a member of the advisory panel, said he expects the new guide to generate debate when it's released on Thursday.

“The Bloc Quebecois will have their own reaction and take on this, which I'm sure is not going to be favourable,” Mr. Griffiths said. “They will not probably like the amount of military history that's in this guide. I think that some of the focus on the institution of the monarchy and the Crown in Canada will probably rankle the BQ and sovereigntists, but I think these are the touchstones of a common Canadian identity. It's okay if that identity is contested but we have to have a common starting place.”

He said it's very rare for a national government to take a comprehensive look at the messages that are being transmitted to its citizens about the country. This new guide, called “Discover Canada: The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship,” is a model for what students should be learning in Grade 10 and 11 history and civics classes, he said.

Antonia Maioni, director of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada, said the new guide fits with a Conservative strategy to redefine itself with regard to immigration, an issue that historically has been closely linked with the Liberal Party.

Mr. Kenney emphasizes that Discover Canada is not a rose-coloured view of the country's history. There are sections on Canada's dark periods, including the Chinese head tax and Exclusion Act, the internment of Japanese and Eastern European immigrants in the world wars, as well as aboriginal residential schools.

It also highlights Canadian sporting heroes, from Terry Fox to Wayne Gretzky, Mark Tewksbury to Chantal Petitclerc, and includes a sidebar explaining Canadian football.

The guide forms part of the minister's broader citizen action plan, which will continue to look at ways to review and update aspects of the citizenship process.

It's expected that new immigrants will begin receiving the new document over the next several months.

Latest Comments

mayincalgar​y 11/13/2009 4:36:53 PM
Two things:

While it is admirable to teach immmigrants about our sports history, what does that have to being a good Canadian? There are many people out there who are not sports fans.
Second, I wonder how much of what immigrants learn from the new handbook is known by 'ordinary' Canadians? Might be an interesting topic for an on-the-street poll... Or better yet, put the questions on your website and let' s see how many correct answers ordinary Canadians get. 2 0 Report Abuse

Canadiana 11/13/2009 10:43:01 AM
Alot of Canadians say, It's time to take a deep breath, step back and give the immigration Dept. a much needed break. A quarter of a million more liabilities per year for the taxpayers is "abit" much, Jason Kenny, are you listening? Make immigrants wait 20 years before given the citizenship responsibilities. Fair is fair! 1 4Report Abuse

CFML 11/12/2009 11:02:40 PM
High time this happened...only one problem. Aboriginals were the FIRST peoples of this country - not just one of the 3 "founders" 11 5Report Abuse

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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Thursday's on the Bench

(Sunshine) How is everyone doing? It has been a very long first week for this year in our home. Everyone is working hard at school and at work and some of us are on the road to recovering from a very nasty stomach flu. Things are otherwise good. A lot of kids at the school that I work at are off sick and some are still on vacation. I must say that it is nice to see their smiling faces once again. Most of the kids are very talkative and appear to be very happy but some have faces void of any smile and I have to wonder what lies behind the sad look in some of their eyes. It makes me think about what some of their lives are like.

Winter is definitely here! The temperature is cold and there is snow on the ground and on the trees and thankfully the sun has been shining. Is anyone going on vacation in the next few months? I keep talking to people who are going away or who just came back. A vacation this time of year is a great thing. I am happy for anyone who can get away and relax with their family or friends.

(Cathy) Hi all, I really like winter now that we participate in winter sports. We ski. We started skiing again when the kids took lessons in grade 4. Hubby and I decided we could watch them from the chalet or join them. I am not a great skier, however. I love it when we are outside and it's a thrill to ski down the hill (hills in Ontario, mountains in the west) and not wipe out! I feel so full of energy after a day outdoors and we now look forward to the winter season. Try it!

I just finished making dinner. Another thing I like about winter is stews and soups. I received a new 9 litre stock pot for Christmas and we enjoyed turkey noodle soup this week. Do you know that you can buy two turkey wings for $3.00 and they are the size of a small chicken! That's good value! The soup was great! Full of fresh veggies and I made cornbread to eat alongside. Tonight I have made a spanish chorizo and shrimp tomato stew with brown rice and steamed green beans, yum! I made lots so I hope there are leftovers! We love leftovers! I know some people who will not eat leftovers for whatever reason. I love the fact that you can go in your fridge and see good, homemade food and can just heat it up and enjoy! Pure pleasure!

I have to go and bug the boys now. They are home and have chores to do. "Chores" is such a bad word. What else could we call it? Responsibilities? Very 90's! I call it vacuuming and it needs doing before dinner or it will just get lost in the after 'dinnerness' of the night! I always feel that when the table is set and we are sitting down for dinner, my work for the day is done. I like to relax after dinner. Chores after dinner seem like homework that didn't get done in school.

Have a great night all and if anyone read my post on the Olympics and the anthem, I am still looking for the post from the Globe and Mail about the politician and his proposed changes to our immigration system. Oh, and finally..... Happy Birthday to a sweet little 3 year old!

Holly exclamation mark (!) Cathy, take a pill and calm down. I was exhausted just reading (and counting the !) your chatter. Our house as well is getting back into routine. All except the husband who is on a layoff for another week or so. The good thing is he comes in and helps me during the lunch rush. This week at work the $$ numbers are a little down. I made chicken Cacciatore for Wednesday's special and sold 15 plates, that is very good. So I have decided to have a pasta day every Tuesday. Next week will be pasta in tomato sauce with Italian sausage. Next Wednesday will be pulled pork on a bun (we are calling it BBQ pork on a bun cause I don't think the kids will know what pulled pork is).

The teenager sent her university applications off (Internet) on Monday. She has applied to Ryerson, U of T and Guelph/Humber all under journalism/media studies. I am not sure why that, because her English teacher had recommended that she major in English as it has a brooder scoop for the future. Oh well not really my problem anymore.

I have been very tired this week, to the point that I fell asleep after dinner last night and was not able to go to my bible study but crawled into bed and stayed there till 6:30 this morning when the teenager woke me up all worried cause I had slept in. We have our small group tomorrow night and I need to do that reading so I will sign off for now and head up to bed to read for awhile before I crash for the night.

Have a good one all and good night!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

2010 Olympic Winter Games and Translation of the Canadian National Anthem

It seems to be happening again. It's probably because the 2010 Olympic winter games are due to start in Vancouver in a few weeks. There is an e-mail circulating regarding the desire of a few to translate the Canadian National anthem to a language other than english or french during the games. Naturally, Canadians are up in arms regarding this issue. Once again there are cries for changes to the immigration system; calls for more of a 'melting pot' system as used by the United States of America. Calls for immigrants to learn our language and our ways. I will provide a link to snopes.com which follows the different generations of evolution this particular e-mail has followed. I am finding there are more and more people (Canadians) who are becoming more nationalistic and are trying to preserve our ways.

Just what are our ways? What does it mean to be Canadian?

http://www.snopes.com/politics/immigration/canadaanthem.asp (see post below for link)

(copied with permission by author)
At risk of being tagged as a red neck I feel the opinion regarding Bruce Allen and our national anthem being translated for the Olympics has some merit.

Like many people of immigrant families born in this country we were brought up to be tolerant and embrace peoples and cultures and that would enrich our lives, and for the some part it has.
The ugly side to this is when our tolerance and generosity is taken advantage of. One such atrocity is the butchering of our national anthem to suit people that cannot / will not learn the language of this country.

In my humble opinion the mosaic model this country has adopted during the Trudeau years is not working. Perhaps we should have adopted the melting pot route, then we wouldn't be having this problem.
I have experienced in Canada a complete take over of what was a nicely balanced community living in harmony and cooperation to what now represents a community from a different part of the world where little English is spoken, stores cater to the immigrant community and every strip mall signage is of a language I do not understand. And this is only going to get worse. Most immigrants no longer want to blend, they only want to re create their homeland in their own community, to be among their own kind.

Go back and review what Trudeau envisioned the mosaic to be, people from all over the world bringing cultures with them to Canada and learning and living our ways while still having a part of the old country here to enjoy. Not the dense pockets of separate communities we see in our larger cities today. Seems to me what we are seeing is an unwillingness or inability to learn our Canadian ways while bringing all the culture, family and problems from the old country here.

Open your eyes people, this has gone too far. In parallel we need to identify to new Canadians what Canadiana is, just as our parents were taught when they arrived to this country a generation ago. (Take a look at the present governments re address of the statement about Canada in the new immigration policy and it helps identify the old school culture and values of this county)

When passing this message on let's please include our ideas of Canadiana so everyone can understand our national passions and icons. These should be explained to the immigrants in your community so they can understand.

-hockey / skiing and CFL football.
-maple syrup
-learning our history instead of US history
-enjoyment of foods and cultures from all over the world (not just your own native food and culture.
-consideration of others including the people born here
- pride in our flag, our anthem and armed forces
-official languages of the two founding countries of this great nation (English and French) without compromise.
- nature
- enjoyment of all 4 seasons
-great Canadian discoveries and ingenuity (RIM, discovery of oil, baseball, telephone, oil sands etc.) please add more when you pass on this email.

snopes.com: 2010 Olympics Anthem

snopes.com: 2010 Olympics Anthem

Posted using ShareThis

Monday, January 4, 2010

Bench Talk: New Year's Resolutions


Here we sit at the start of a brand new year. Do you start each new year in the same way? Do you make resolutions? Do you make promises to yourself (and try to keep them)?

(Cathy) Hi everyone! Happy January, before we know it it will be summer! Someone at work yesterday pointed out that time flies by quickly while the kids are at home, however, she said that time slowed down again when the kids moved out! Hmmmmmmmm! As for New Year's I do not make resolutions as I will just disappoint myself and break them. I do make lists of things I would like to get done at the start of the year. I look back at the end of the year and check out how I did. It's usually pretty good. I don't kick myself if the list is not completed, I just carry it on to the next year.

I do have 'repeat' items on my list. For example, I always try to make more time for tending to my indoor plants and also spending more time organizing my indoor plant room. I also try to declutter! I still have boxes of stuff from my childhood that I have not looked at in years. Do I still need to keep it, or should I just take pictures of the 'stuff' for the memories and get rid of the boxes. I always give myself a goal for advancing my learning of the piano and classical guitar. I start planning what I would like to do with the garden outside. I have tons of photographs. They are all in a bin. I have thought about scrapbooking but I know I would never finish and I know I couldn't use them all. So, what do I do with them all??? Any ideas???

Have I mentioned exercise? I remember a blog post a few months back where I promised to exercise for 30 minutes each day. Well, uh..... mmmmm..... ok, ok.... I promise not to make a promise about exercise again! The more I make it a big deal, the more I decide not to! How juvenile of me! Let's just say that I will try to live a healthier lifestyle. So now I have in writing my list for the new year. I move forward with a smile on my face!

(Carolin) Happy New Year All, I too am not a resolution maker. But I have made a small list of areas where I would like to see improvement. One was to get the Teenager (who is 18 as of the 2nd of January!) to make dinner one night a week, including the clean up. We set it for Monday night and she made dinner tonight. It was ready for when we got home. She made pasta (not a big surprise there) and homemade sauce in which she added some left over steak. As we were eating dinner we realized that starting next week she would be back helping the senior band practise there music till 4:45 pm on Mondays. So we talked about moving her dinner night to Fridays. Hmm... I wonder if we should start that this week and get her to cook dinner two nights this week.

Another thing on my list was to be more organized at work so I didn't have to spend every evening prepping for the next day. Well we will see how that goes.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Happy New Year

What a whirl win of a year its been. For me and my family (sisters and dad and close friends) it has been a very trying decade. It really hit me when everyone was saying how they hoped that the next year would be better then this year and my sister chimed in and said that she was so happy that this decade was over because it has been a really crappy decade. So much has happened (too much to even get into) and unfortunately a lot of it has been as bad as things can be. It is hard to even think about all of it because when I do it really makes me feel a little bit dizzy and I immediately start to feel my heart racing. So for me I try very hard to keep those thoughts at bay as much as possible or at least I try not to try and deal with them all in the same time frame. I do find that emotions sneak up on me at times and I just try to ride that wave when it happens.

I am thankful that New Years Eve was spent with family and my closest friends. Everyone at my home that evening holds a very special place in my heart. I love to see everyone and it is a gift to bring in the new year with such love. I hope that our lives will continue to be intertwined and that we can help each other through the tough times and be there to share in the happy moments.

Happy New Year to all of our readers from our home to yours.