Last weekend was the Briercrest graduation! Many of the Briercrest Seminary students live here on campus in Caronport, but because of the modular system, many live elsewhere and travel here for classes. Ross Amy is a student who traveled in from Alberta to take classes for his MA in Old Testament. What fun it was to host him, his wife, and 5 of their 6 kids for graduation weekend. Ross and Marianne worked for many years under Wycliffe with the Cree in northern Alberta. Now they work and raise their family in a rural area a couple hours from Edmonton. Here are a couple photos:
Ross and Marianne at the seminary graduation banquet
Eric and Ross
Eric and Erin
Congratulations to Ross and all the other college and seminary graduates!
We lived quite close to an amazing natural area in Edinburgh called Holyrood Park. It's a huge park in the middle of Edinburgh, and when you're in the middle of it, you'd think you were in the Scottish Highlands, not a bustling city! Eric loved to climb to the top of Arthur's Seat, the highest point in Holyrood Park. There's a scene in Chariots of Fire which was filmed by the Salisbury Crags.
Eric with Kate in a front pack, with a view over Salisbury Crags to the Edinburgh city centre
Mommy and Kate with Salisbury Crags in the background
Arthur's Seat in winter, taken from a window in the building where we lived
St. Margaret's Loch, with St. Anthony's Chapel in the distance
Here's a book I'd recommend if you want to understand more about how children are affected by divorce. Elizabeth Marquardt draws on her research and her own life experience to illuminate the inner lives of children of divorce.
As Lauren Winner, herself a child of divorce, says in this review:
"The point of Between Two Worlds is neither to heap guilt upon divorced people nor to insist that no one should ever get divorced….Rather, Marquardt says that we need to stop fooling ourselves about the toll divorce takes on kids. …If Marquardt’s book is unlikely to single-handedly stem the tide of divorce, it will at least force us to be honest about the effects of divorce on kids—and knowing more about what children are living through, perhaps we can do more to help."— The Christian Century, February 7, 2006
Elizabeth Marquardt also has a website with articles, reviews, and more information about the book.
We just got notification today that the Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program has nominated us for Canadian permanent residency! Yea!
It's a bit stressful though, because we now have 6 months in which to secure all our police checks. We'll need criminal checks from the FBI as well as every state we've lived in for at least 6 months since age 18. So that's a lot of fingerprints and forms and money orders, but I'm not worried about it--I figure it will be straightforward. If there's a question, it's easy enough to call the US.
I'm not too worried about getting a police check from the UK either. I recently emailed a police department in Edinburgh, and got sent a link to their process--again, we have to send a money order, forms, certified passport copies. But it also seems straightforward.
The one that really worried me was Kenya. But fortunately, I went to the Kenya High Commission website here in Canada, and they have a process outlined to obtain a "Certificate of Good Conduct." They also require a copy of the passport I had when I was there (fortunately I still have this--it was 14 years ago!). And they'd like a letter from the school where I studied--I am still in touch over email with people from the school, so hopefully someone can write something to me and perhaps fax it? It's a bit nervewracking, but I was originally thinking all I could do was write to the police headquarters in Nairobi via snail mail and hope for the best. To be able to work through email and apply to an embassy in North America is much better!
All this, plus our application and photos, will get sent to the Canadian consulate in Buffalo, New York. And then if all looks good, they will direct us to get medical exams. We have to go to a doctor in Regina who is trained to do these for permanent residency applicants.
I know it will all get done--but I will be glad when we have our permanent residency cards in hand!
So, fellow gardeners, what will you be planting this year? I'm going to do most of what I did last year: potatoes, cherry tomatoes, carrots, green beans, zucchini, and lots of different herbs. I don't think I'll do spaghetti squash again--it takes up a lot of room and I don't really like it that much. And I hesitate to do bell peppers again as they didn't really ripen enough for me before it started freezing. We have quite a short growing season in Saskatchewan, but then, I could try to start some seeds inside.
I'm thinking of trying some new things as well: lettuce, spinach, cucumbers, a couple rows of corn, plum tomatoes, peas, green onions, maybe some regular onions? Anything else you can think of I might want to try? Kate is excited because she's going to have her own little garden section this year!
I took a drive with the kids up to Buffalo Pound last week, just to get out of the house. It's a wonderful provincial park in the Qu'Appelle Valley, about 20 minutes north of Moose Jaw. As the name suggests, it used to be a hunting ground for buffalo. Today, it's known as a great place for camping, fishing, swimming, and enjoying the marsh walk in the Nicolle Flats Nature Area.
Our week of eating vegetarian went quite well. I was a bit limited by Kate's chicken pox and Eric's modular, as both kept me from getting to the store mid-week. I was planning on doing Swiss cheese and vegetable omelets, but we ran out of eggs. Good thing we had two pizzas in the freezer--one cheese, and one vegetarian. Here are some other things we had:
Basmati Rice Salad and Black Bean Soup
Vegetarian Lasagna. The recipe called for a soy version of ground beef. I thought it tasted kind of weird, and in the future, would probably just add some more vegetables instead.
Eric made two curries--a lentil curry and this chickpea curry
We don't really find it difficult to eat vegetarian. I would find it harder to give up dairy products or bread. I do think our week was a bit heavy on the bean-based meals, and I hope to have greater variety as we continue to eat less meat.
How many planets would we need if everyone in the world lived like you do? Take this interesting quiz to find out. Canadians, if you know how many square feet your house is, and need to convert it to square meters for the quiz, you can do that here. I come out with between 3.5-4 planets for our family, depending on whether we eat meat once a week, or almost every day. Even the lower number is sobering though!
I thought you might find it interesting to compare the immunization schedules in the UK, Canada, and the US.
The UK offers the least vaccinations and the US the most. Canada and the UK give the meningitis shot to babies. The US has a rotavirus shot, and gives Hep A and Hep B shots to all babies.
My understanding is that the UK and Canada have no requirements that children receive certain vaccinations before enrolling in daycare or school. Kate's preschool is part of an elementary school and we were never asked about what immunizations she's had. I think most US states do have such requirements. Please correct me if I'm wrong about any of this!
I don't get a paycheck, paid vacation, or retirement benefits. I'm on duty 24/7. My job can be tiring, frustrating, and even boring at times. But you know, I still think being my children's mother is the best job I could ever have. What other job could give me all the joys of this one?
*I get to spend my days with two of the people I love most in this world. *I'm my own boss and control my schedule for the most part. *I have the joy of watching these little ones grow and develop and discover their world. *There are always new challenges, questions to research, and things to learn. I know this will just continue as they grow up--keeps me on my toes! *I get hugs, kisses, and cuddles all day long! *I know what I'm doing is significant. Hopefully, I was considered a valuable employee at my previous jobs. However, when I left, I was replaced by other competent people. Who could replace me as my children's mother? *I have the satisfaction of teaching my children about the things I love and value: faith, music, books, culture, nature, cooking, etc.! *I get to share this job with Eric! *Being a mother is transformative and refining! *I know this season of intensive parenting is a short one, and that just makes these years all the more precious.
Kate definitely has some pink spots on her neck, chest, and arms. Could this be chicken pox? We are thinking it probably is. Oh boy! It's one thing to delay the shot because I figure we can get it for them later, and anyway, chicken pox isn't a big deal, right? Now I'm looking at a week in the house, the possibility of Will getting it too (would the antibodies in my milk protect him at this point??), and Eric teaching a modular next week. Oh well. If this is what it is, Dr. Robert Sears says in The Vaccine Book that chicken pox is usually harmless, and that having the disease provides a lifelong immunity that the shot can't provide. He also mentions an antiviral medicine some people take for chicken pox--does anyone know about this? I remember taking oatmeal baths as a kid when I had this--do you just buy this at the store?
I don't think Eric and I will ever be strict vegetarians, however, we would like to eat less meat overall. So we're going to start off by eating no meat at all this week. Kate should like this, as she doesn't really like meat anyway.
Here's an interesting question and answer about vegetarianism. I've known for a while that eating vegetarian is healthy, economical, and good for the environment. But it's also good to consider how the high levels of meat-eating in the western world affect world hunger. From the link above:
"Raising animals for food is an extremely inefficient way to feed a growing human population. The U.S. livestock population consumes enough grain and soybeans to feed more than five times the entire U.S. population. One acre of pasture produces an average of 165 pounds of beef; the same acre can produce 20,000 pounds of potatoes. If Americans reduced their meat consumption by only 10 percent, it would free 12 million tons of grain annually for human consumption. That alone would be enough to adequately feed each of the 60 million people who starve to death each year."
I'm a fan of the books in the Sears Parenting Library, so I was excited to find the latest one in the new books section at the library. Dr. Robert Sears has written The Vaccine Book: Making the Right Decision for Your Child. Dr. Sears is obviously very knowledgeable about vaccines, but quite open-minded as well. Even though he thinks vaccines are a good thing, he understands that some parents will choose not to vaccinate or to selectively vaccinate. In light of that, he covers:
*Each disease--how common or rare it is, and how serious it might be should your child contract it *How each vaccine is made and what its ingredients are *Which ingredients are potentially controversial *What each vaccine's side effects might be, and how likely they are to occur. *His personal opinion on each shot, as well as an alternative schedule parents could consider following. *What precautions unvaccinated children should take to stay healthy
A lot of this info is also at his website, along with a discussion forum. You can also view a list of US pediatricians who are willing to take on patients who may have unconventional views on vaccinations, or simply want a physician who will take the time to discuss questions and concerns in an open-minded way.
I've been trying to practice gratitude more often in my daily life. It's amazing how much power that has to lift my spirits!
*I can wake up and think, "Ugh...it's April and it's still a cold day." Or I can choose to say with the Psalmist, "This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." (Psalm 118:24)
*I can feel ho-hum about what seems like an ordinary day with our routine schedule. Or I can be grateful that I am experiencing a day like this as opposed to a day where my child receives a negative medical diagnosis, or my husband dies, or we have a financial crisis.
*I can get stressed out because I can't just get up, get dressed, and sit down to coffee and breakfast in peace and quiet. Instead, I have to deal with Kate complaining that Will is touching her tea set. Kate wanted to chat with me as I was reading the Psalm above. It's hard to load the dishwasher because Will wants to climb up on it. I can choose to give in to the stress of it all, or I can choose to accept that this is what life with young children is like. I can be grateful I even have children, that they act in age-appropriate ways, that I have a husband who is a true partner in parenting, and a God I can pray to for patience!
*I can focus on the negative, or I can focus on the positive! I can choose to rejoice in my child's laughter, the first signs of spring, the roof over our heads, and the things I find so interesting about living in Canada. This can take conscious effort because it seems like our natural tendency can be to take the good things for granted, and focus on what we feel we lack.
"Be joyful always, pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)