Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Big News

Today's big news in Coral Harbour is that the bridge on the road leading to the airport has been washed out.  So as of right now there is no way to get to the airport (many are put-out since they were supposed to leave today!).  What would happen if someone really needed to be "medivaced" (not sure how to spell this common-around-here word), I have no idea!  Someone said this morning something about using a boat.  You know when you don't really know a person and have no idea if they are kidding?  Yeah, well I had no idea if she was serious, but apparently she was since that's what they had to do 2 or 4 years ago when this happened.

UPDATE:  Brian just got home from being at the scene (man he gets to have all the fun!) and it's not the bridge but the road that has been washed out.  The swelling waters pushed part of the dirt road right over!  The town diggers are working overtime to fix it but someone was explaining to Brian that it's only going to get worse since the waters are rising because the snow is melting and running down the mountains (yes apparently the island has mountains further North) to pour into the Bay.  It's like going through flooding season in Manitoba!  Kinda feels like home... :o)

Longest Day

Happy first day of summer everyone!  This morning the sun rose this morning at 2am and will set tonight at 11:07pm.  The daylight has been playing with our brain.  Brian and I cannot seem to get to bed much earlier than 11:30pm these days.  We stay up chatting and watching TV together.  There seems to be something mental about "seeing" the sunset that says to my brain "ok, it's time to go to bed now".  Last night, I decided I wanted to go out and try to take pictures of the geese and ducks in our backyard "river".  Nine thirty seemed like a great time to go out.  The sun was shinning, the birds were chirping and it was quite mild since the wind had died down.  I didn't get in too late, but my problem (as is most nights) is that instead of going straight to bed when I got home, I decided to sit down with Brian.  Well an HOUR later we went to bed...  The only good thing is that Brian did such a good job covering the boys' windows that they usually sleep until after 7am.  Still, I feel chronically tired these days :o)  One night Isaac woke us up and we had NO idea what time it was.  The sun was shinning so brightly that Brian was going to get him out of bed but when I looked at the time it was 3:30am!!!!!  Thank goodness I checked.  If I get up in the night I have trouble going back to sleep afterwards.  Once again the sun plays with my brain.  We've covered most windows upstairs but not all of them and seeing sun rays is like a psychedelic light show for my neurons.

In many ways we "Southerners" seem to go against the grain here.  Of of these ways is where sleep patterns are concerned.  People laugh out loud at us when we tell them our sleep schedule.  Right now most kids are staying up until the wee hours of the morning.  Some have bragged staying up until 4,5 or 6 am and they sleep all morning.  But it's not just the kids, the parents are pretty much doing the same thing.  It's funny because I've invited some kids over to play in the mornings since Isaac naps in the afternoon and I reserve that time to work with Benjamin and Nathan, to make supper and workout.  Well as of yet, the kids haven't come because they are all sleeping!  Oh well, that's not my problem.  And when they show up in the afternoon I have to reiterate my reasoning.

Sadly, after tonight it's all downhill from here.  The days only get shorter and shorter.  Of course this is the same as for the rest of you but it seems more dramatic to me since I've moved here.  The differences in the days are more dramatic from summer to winter.  On December 21st 2012 the sunrise will be at 10:27am and the sunset at 2:34pm...  Yuck.  Thank goodness the change is gradual!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Big Day for Big Ben

Monday, June 6th was Awards Day at Sakku school here in Coral Harbour.  This is the day were at least five awards are given in each grade (there may have been a sixth one, but I was a little distracted since I was sitting at the back with 2 little boys crawling all over my lap :o).  Anyways, the awards that I noticed were the Inuktitut Award, English Award, Artistic Award, the Student Citizenship Award and the Excellent Attendance Excellence Award.

Benjamin came home with 2 awards today, the English and the Excellent Attendance awards for his kindergarten class.  My understanding of the Inuktituk and the English awards is how well the student learned what was to learn in that language.  And since they are learning both languages at the same time, it's appropriate that there be two awards.  I'm so proud, so so proud of Benjamin for winning these awards, but I have to admit, I was a little surprised.  Not because I don't think he deserves them, he totally does.  He's a sharp little cookie and he has parents that MAKE him go to school everyday :o).  I am surprised because Benjamin was only in his kindergarten class here in Coral Harbour for 4 months this year!  January, February, March and April since we left May 3rd for the last month of the school year*.   I am grateful on the one hand that Benjamin's accomplishments were recognized and that there is an understanding by the teacher of the RCMP life.  But on the other hand, should a local child whose been there all year have won instead?  This is yet another example how blessed we are to be in a place that accepts RCMP and their families.

I have to hand it to the organizers (school teachers, school board leaders?) because they really do recognize good effort, hard work and academic accomplishment.  At this assembly, not only were the students recognized but the parents were too.  The parent(s) of every child having received an award received a beautiful box of quality chocolates from the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory (approx. $20 value!)  as a way to thank them for encouraging children to go to school.  Because let's face it, unless a child is encouraged and guided by a parent, they will not show up at school on their own.  The three students in the older grades (grades 4, 5, 6) not only received a beautiful plaque, but also a brand new bicycle as a prize for the Attendance Excellence Award!!!  How awesome is that?

Passing a grade and awards are big here (at least for the kids).  Different kids keep asking me if Benjamin passed his grade or if he won awards and they are all impressed when I tell them that he has!  The BIG questions is "Did you pass?"  How sad is that?  Not many make it to High School and far less graduate.  As quoted in the Reader's Digest article from January 2011 titled Northern Elite, "seven our of ten Nunavut teens don't finish high school, giving the territory the lowest graduation rate in the country".  The saddest part is that it's very difficult to know how to help these youngsters.  Us, "Southerners", try to show them and teach them a better way but it's very much an uphill-grease-slicked battle.  I lift my hat to all the teachers here.  They are some of my heros.  Speaking of recognition, they (as most teachers, but especially here) do not get the recognition they deserve for all their efforts and time spent for the kids here.

Having said all of this I am struggling with what to do with Benjamin next year (grade 1).  I realize that although he learns very quickly, he is already mildly behind his southern counterparts (especially those in Ontario where they've been going to school since the age of 4) even though we were working with him at home.  Obviously I need more direction and guidelines to follow to keep him up to speed and need to talk with my teacher friends and sister-in-law more often.  Right now Plan #1 is to keep him in school full time in grade 1(and catch up on weekends, vacations and summer), Plan #2 is to send him to school in the am and homeschool in the afternoon and there is a pie-in-the-sky Plan #3 that I will keep you posted on as it develops...  We'll see.  For now I am working with Benjamin daily on his reading skills, arithmetic and fine motor skills.  Not always an easy task.

* On a side note school here ends at the beginning of June but starts again Mid-August.  Benjamin missed his kindergarten graduation by a number of hours since we flew back home that day - I had been told previously that it was going to be May 31st, otherwise we would have come back one day sooner!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Who doesn't like a hug?

Today something really sweet and unexpected happened to me.  While on our "on the town" walk with the boys one of the local girls (not one of the young ones, but one of my peers) that I've been getting to know a little bit came quickly over to me and gave me a huge heartfelt hug.  My very first uninitiated hug.  Words cannot describe how I felt.  Well I can start by saying that I am foolish for saying to many people during my vacation that Inuk women are more reserved (and many are), but maybe it simply just takes time.  I was really happy to see her and invited her over for dinner tomorrow night (I had planned to call her tonight to ask her but saw her in person instead!).  I am sad that she may not be able to make it since she might be leaving with her family to go camping.  I got the impression that they would be gone for a while.  They are waiting for their big tent to arrive in the mail.  Is it bad that I hope it doesn't come tomorrow? :o)  

"Look At Me From The Side, Do I Look Different To You?" Part 3

Just when I think I'm done, I think of more.

5.  The Inuk people here also look different since we saw them one month ago.  Their faces are all darker.  They are all tanned!  It may still be chilly here but let me tell you when the sun shines, it is SHINY!  The sun is very warm, very bright and ever present!  I smiled as I noticed today many people, mostly the men, had racoon eyes due to their sunglasses.  Some even had white foreheads, I assume because of their hats.  It is spring fever here.  People are going on the land camping right, left and centre.  Camping is huge here much to my surprise (I guess I simply didn't know this was a favourite pastime of theirs).  People, Inuk and Southerners alike, go hunting and fishing and enjoy the great outdoors.  As an FYI, Coral Harbour has the longest road in Nunavut. The trail is under construction and currently measures 150km starting in Coral Harbour and heads North toward Duke of York Bay*.  I think the goal is to reach this apparently beautiful spot.  So people here can drive for a while and set up camp a couple of hours away.  I look forward to taking the kids and driving this road as far as Brian's radio will allow us...  Unfortunately for us we won't be able to do many of the things that locals do because Brian always has to be "within ear shot" since he is on call 24/7.  So that means we may be able to go for a day trip to someone's nearby cabin but we will probably not be able to go camping.
6.  The noises are different.  I've already mentioned the rain pitter patter but there is also sound of the roaming quads around town.  The machines sounds quite different when compared to their winter cousins, the snow machines.  I'm not going to try to describe the difference, but just know that it's different.  We crazily decided to take the boys for a walk around town.  There is much less snow in town then there is in on the land.  I'd say the snow is almost all gone.  What remains are big puddles, mud and gravel.  The boys were soaked as you can imagine.  It was neat to see all the travellers on their quads around town.  We have access to 2 quads but I haven't tried driving them yet (today was the first nice day since we got back home).   Another new noise is all the bird talk.  I may not always see them but I certainly can hear them squawking off in the distance.

It's amazing how much a place can change in one month.  Well, one could say that about many places going through the metamorphosis into spring.  I guess it's just so striking to me since I've never seen Coral Harbour in the "summer".  It looked the same for our first 5 months here...  These changes are big not only to me but to everyone who lives here.  You can see it in their faces, their attitudes, their being.  Everybody is excited.  It is spring.

*While I've never been there, I've read online that Duke of York Bay, North on Southampton Island, is a really beautiful spot with wonderful scenery, steep cliffs and lots of animals (good for hunting).  

Saturday, June 4, 2011

"Look At Me From The Side, Do I Look Different To You?" Part 2

Coral Harbour is not the same as when we left it on May 3rd.  I guess a lot can change in a month.  Time again for a list:

1. For one, the snow has considerably melted and when I look out my back windows into the wilderness, I can see about 1/3 brown land.  Since I've only ever seen Coral Harbour covered in snow, I still do a double take every time I look outside and notice the big brown patches.  Brian commented on how it was prettier when it was pristinely covered in snow. Yup, now our winter wonderland is looking quite dirty and it's only going to get worse as the remainder of the snow melts.  
2.  The days leading to our departure to go south the temperatures where still close to -30 degrees and now the temperatures are hovering above zero.  Actually it's been mostly raining since we got back.  The first time I heard the pitter patter of the rain on our tin roof, I stopped and once again, did a double take.  Rain.  A new sound.  When I look out my front windows, I see mud, gravel and HUGE puddles.  Little boys' paradise.  Mommies' worst nightmare.  While getting the boys dressed for extreme cold was a challenge, at least they always came in dry and clean.  I am trying to prepare myself mentally for the dirt onslaught that will result every time my boys come in from outside.  I purchased rain pants for the boys at MEC, now I wish I had bought them rubber body suits.  I don't know how long things take here to dry up, but even when it does, there is no grass or pavement here.  It's all dirt and gravel in town.  This should be interesting.
3.  Coral Harbour has new residents.  I noticed them immediately while driving home from the airport.  I was really happy to see the snow geese, canada geese, sea gulls and other non-black-ugly-birds.  I couldn't get a good look at the smaller song (?) birds so I have no idea what they are called (but I will ask around you can be sure of that!).  I am happy to see these birds because I am a bit of a bird person.  I loved filling my bird feeders and watching the bluejays and chickadees fill their bellies while I was doing the dishes back in Selkirk.  I enjoy learning the local different species.  Well, the only birds here in Coral Harbour in the wintertime are crows (or ravens).  That's it.  I tried to find beauty in them but it was hard.  Today the boys and I used binoculars to check out our new neighbours and they actually seemed a little excited themselves.
4.  The first thing we did after we had dinner on Thursday night (the night we arrived home) was to re-apply tinfoil all over Isaac's bedroom window (the previous application was insufficient!).  We are pretty much into 24 hrs of daylight and we needed to kill every speck of light that tried to peek through lest we wanted to have a 3am wake up call.  The first thing we did after the boys were in bed was to put the new room darkening curtains up in our 3 bedroom windows.  Best money I every spent.  It's a crazy feeling to wake up at different times in the night and STILL see daylight.  At bedtime, we have to close the bathroom door and block the windows in our barge room (the 4th bedroom upstairs used for storing food and supplies) because it's too bright and it tricks our brains into thinking it's time to get up.  It's been so cloudy since we got back that I still don't know at what time the sun sets (if it does.  I think the sun does set, but I think that it hovers  below the horizon until it rises again).  Actually for my own interest I just looked it up. The sun sets tonight at 10:42pm and rises at 2:16am.  Yihaa!  Well, not only is it the sun's bedtime, it is also mine.  Time to put my sleep mask on!

Friday, June 3, 2011

"Look At Me From The Side, Do I Look Different To You?" Part 1

"Look At Me From The Side, Do I Look Different To You?", is my favourite quote from Disney's movie "Aladdin" when the genie essentially asks Aladdin if he's changed at all in the many years that he was stuck in the lamp.  I used to watch this movie over and over again when I was a teenager and knew the movie pretty much by heart.  My sister and I bring up this quote about 3-4x per year, STILL, if not more.  ANYway, this quote is very fitting since both Coral Habour and I have changed in the last month.

Let's start with me shall we?  Well for starters, I got my hair cut and feels sooo good and fresh.  I'm already dreading the next number of months when I will be going through that awkward growing out phase again.  I will have to seriously think about whether or not I should cut it again in the fall or let it grow out for simplicity sake.  Secondly, I am tanned.  Not as tanned as I was upon my return from Mexico on May 21st but still more glowing then when I left (not hard to beat since someone called me snow white...).  Thirdly, just like the genie, I believe my side profile may have enlarged slightly  ;o)  It was so difficult not to indulge in all my cravings while on vacation.  I WANTED and felt ENTITLED to all those lattes.  I get to enjoy food twice a year so, guess what?  I enjoyed it guilt free.  We met some friends for lunch one day at Boston Pizza and I simply couldn't decide between the BBQ chicken pizza and the chipotle chicken salad (This is Sandra's fault. If she had not ordered that salad for herself, I would have been FINE with my pizza).  The punch line is that I ordered both and ate some of both (ok most of both).  I will not step foot in a restaurant for another 6 months therefore in my mind, I deserved it.  So while I didn't beat myself up while I was on vacation, I am not ready to get on the scale.  I'm giving myself a grace period to adjust to back to normal eating, water drinking and exercising before I see what the real damage is.   Funny thing, we were just talking about the weight gain factor while on vacation with another RCMP member tonight.  When he came back to work, his belt didn't fit him.  So there is something to be proud of, at least my pants still fit me! :-)

Welcome Home

After flying on 10 planes, visiting 3 different countries (Canada, US and Mexico), and spending time in 4 different provinces (Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, and Nova Scotia) I am back.  I am exhausted.  I need a vacation from my vacation. BUT it was so worth it.  I had a blast and would do it all again.

We came home yesterday and I am happy to be back.  Despite how much I already miss my family and friends, how different life is in Coral Harbour and how little time we've lived here, this is home.  Even though my bed technically isn't my bed, it is home.  Within minutes of arriving home, one of "my"girls showed up at our door to say "HI!!!!!!" and "I MISS YOU!!!!!!!!".  A couple of minutes after she left, 3 more girls came by and talked my ear off for 20 minutes (I missed about half of what they were talking about because they were talking so fast and cutting each other off supplementing one another's story).  During our "conversation", one of the girl's presented me with a friendship ring (a cute jewelled lady bug!) since they were all wearing one.  I am greatly honoured and humbled.  It's good to be back.  I originally thought of not having them over tonight (for the usual Friday night visit from 6pm to 7:30pm) since we are so tired and up to our eyeballs in laundry and unpacking, but how could I say no?  They were so excited and kept repeating how much they missed us and frankly, I missed them too.  So we sat, ate the decorated cupcakes that I made today, coloured in my many colouring books, chatted, looked at my pictures, played the Wii and did some much needed catching up.    

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Brady Bunch

Last night I had a "friend" over for dinner for the first time.  I write "friend" because we don't really know each other well but we keep running into one another.  We were in the same sewing class together, I ran into her twice at the rink and one Sunday morning she was at church!  She is a very shy girl and always seemed either embarrassed or something whenever I would invite her over for a playdate.  She has 3 girls pretty much the exact same age as my boys.  The only difference is that our middle children are 6 months apart and her daughter will be starting kindergarten one year earlier than Nathan.  Even though she's so shy, she could not refuse my invitation to come over for dinner.  So there we were with all the kids, all 6 of them, 3 boys and 3 girls and it was fun.  At first it was the girls on one side of the room with the boys ignoring them on the other, but by the end of the night they were all vigorously playing together in the bouncy castle (actually the babies played together outside the mayhem).  The girls kept up with the boys and the boys toned down the bathroom talk and rude "humour" (It's soooo not funny to me! I am having issues with my boys' fascination with body parts and bodily functions!) which was so nice!  I really enjoyed getting to know the mom a little.  At some point during the dinner she said "this is my first time having dinner with white people" and my response was "I hope we didn't disappoint!" to which she just quietly smiled.  Ha!  I'm not sure what she was thinking but smiling quietly is something she does often.  She has brothers here in town but says she rarely get together with their families.  This surprised me since I thought most Inuit families were very tightly knit.  She said something that gave me the impression that she either doesn't get together with friends very much or simply doesn't really have many (this would explain her reservations when I asked her to come over.  I've noticed here that the women don't really get together for playdates, it seems that it's just not something they are used to.  I think she really enjoyed coming over.  She gave me her phone number and asked me to call her.  She also asked if she could come with me when I go out for a walk (I was explaining that I was looking forward to warmer weather to be able to take the boys out for a walk to the many parts of town that I haven't seen yet.  Essentially I've seen Coral Harbour's downtown core walking to the school, the stores and the arena at the farthest.).  I think that the chatty, seemingly outgoing and eager girl is growing on her...  

Where Oh Where Can She Be?

Since it's been so long since I've posted on my blog, I've decided to write about the most recent happenings and go backwards.  But first let me explain.  You may be wondering what has kept me from my beloved writtings.  Well, there were a few things actually.  In the last few weeks of my class (which ended on March 30th) I had to prepare, not one (as was the understanding) but two classes per week.  The ladies that had started coming wanted to make up for lost time (all those times nobody showed up!) and wanted to come Wednesday nights and Saturday afternoons.  Then Brian hurt his back trying to prevent a snowmobile from tipping over (Benjamin and Nathan were on it).  It did not tip and the boys were fine but it set Brian back (ha ha pun intended).  However, I didn't think it's was so funny having to do all the dishes (the chore that Brian usually helps with) all the time along with all the other things that he could not longer do.  THEN came our last foodmail order and our 20 lbs of meat came mostly thawed.  So I went on a cooking bonanza and made all kinds of meals as not to let the meat spoil (not to mention doing all the dishes accompanying all the cooking).  And as you can imagine after spending 4 days in the kitchen, it took me over a week to catch up on life (laundry, other cleaning, preparing for Benjamin's birthday coming up etc), not to mention that I've started teaching Sunday school for the kids in our church (that's for another blog post...), I'm planning our "vacation" in May including my sister's bridal shower, we are still having the young girls over once a week and I try to exercise daily.  So I would like to shoot all those people who said to me that I was going to have "all this time" before I moved to Coral Harbour.  Let me tell you there is NEVER a dull moment in my life.  I love it here but I don't have "all this time".  :o)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Time Runs Away and Blowdryers Blow Up

We recently had a Coral Harbour mystery explained to us.  When we first moved here, we noticed (and wondered why) that the clocks were all ahead, about 15 minutes.  A couple of weeks later, I was SURE that the clocks were at least 20 minutes ahead (no we had not changed the clocks yet ;o).  Finally we decided to change the clocks to the proper time, only to notice that, slowly over time, the clocks get further and further ahead...

Since we moved here, I managed to "burn" three hairdryers.  Ok fine, the first one was old (I had brought a new one thinking the old one was going to die at some point) but the other two were brand new.  I would plug it in, dry my hair a little and boom! dead.  Not fun when it's minus 50 outside!

Anyway, we recently had someone in to do some maintenance work on the house and he explained to me that the generators in Coral Harbour (this is where my electrical knowledge and terminology goes out the window so, once again, bear with me) emit power surges and these are the culprit for the clocks getting faster and faster.  While the man didn't think there was anything really wrong with the outlets (even though there were voltage drops), and he didn't have an explanation for my hair dryers, he did admit it was strange.  He suggested we buy a really good (and really expensive) power bar to protect our important electronics (TV, laptop etc.) from these surges.  I told him that he better go to the office to personally tell Brian that we should buy this expensive power bar... ;o)

Time Stood Still

Alright, time did not stand still but it didn't change either (I'm sure scientists would have issues with that statement but bear with me for a minute).  Last weekend, while most people were complaining about losing an hour of sleep, I was unaware that it was time to change the time.  The reason being, Coral Harbour does not do the Daylight Savings thing.  We are the only place in Nunavut that doesn't change the time.  I have no idea why but I do know that it wouldn't make a difference where daylight is concerned.  We are already getting a lot of daylight and it's getting scary as to how much more we are going to get (still 3 months to go for the summer solstice).  It's nice and bright well before 7am and there was still light in the sky at 7:45 last night.  My boys routinely wake up before 7am now (they used to sleep in until 7:30am) but it's so nice being able to walk Benjamin to school and feel the warm sun on my back.  It's nice to be back in the Manitoban time zone (central time zone, I believe).  In a strange way I feel "closer to home".  Now when I call my friends in Selkirk I don't need to wonder "what time is it there?", "is it suppertime or bedtime?".  The hour difference with Ontario is also great since my mom works late and she usually sleeps in so by the time things are settled with the kids it's usually a good time to call her (instead of waking her up half the time - sorry mom!).  The only negative with the whole "no time change" thing is the fact that I am back to Loserville when it comes to television.  Now, the few shows I enjoy watching are all at 7pm, right at bedtime!  No, we don't have a PVR (not sure how that would work here but I bet they'd be a FORTUNE) and my VHS is so ancient it doesn't tape channels higher than 12...  I will also miss only having one hour difference with my in-laws.  Two hours, although we make it work, is more difficult to stay in touch.  Especially with Heather and Sara my sisters-in-law because, by the time the boys are in bed, it's around 10pm - too late to call.  I can't have it all!  Half the year will be great for my mom and Manitoban friends and the other half, great for TV and my in-laws...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

"Bou-bous, Nunuks, and Mobiles"

Isaac is already a product of the North.  Some of his favourite things are "bou-bous", "nanuks", and "mobiles" - his baby talk for caribous, polar bears (nanuk is the Inuktitut word), and snowmobiles.  It's funny because right before we moved, I purchased some Schleich animals (German made plastic animals that look more real - unlike the Fisher Price ones for example) for Isaac for Christmas.  I bought the mama and baby polar bears, a walrus, and an antler animal that we call a caribou (it's probably a reindeer of some sort).  Anyway I had no idea whether or not Isaac would play with them.  Well he loves them and one day he insisted on taking mama nanuk to bed with him for his nap.   Isaac also LOVES going outside to play no matter how cold it is or how many times he falls down (he's not very agile on the snow yet).  The Inuit find him irresistible, picking him up all the time and getting right into his personal space (he rather dislikes the latter and screams at the kids who try.  It's interesting that often they don't get the message and I HAVE to tell them "oh Isaac doesn't really like it when you're THAT close to his face so could you please take a step back?").

On the "bou-bou" topic, I was thrilled to be given a nice piece of caribou meat yesterday and couldn't decide whether to turn it into stew or leave it as a roast.  I had decided on a roast (less work ha!!) when I turned the hunk of meat over and noticed a larva (a biggish white worm with rings).  I have a pretty strong stomach but I HATE larvae, maggots and dislike worms (I wear gloves to garden at ALL times) so my stomach turned, my legs went weak and I sat down on the couch.  When I came back to my senses I called Brian's workmate to ask him what to do.  He told me that he always "boils the heck" out of caribou meat and then fries it or prepares it with sauces etc, but even he was unsure whether or not he would eat this meat (it's funny because we were going to invite him over for dinner to share the caribou).  So he and Brian were going to ask "conservation Jimmy" about the meat.  I'm almost certain the locals would have no trouble eating the meat (I doubt it was the only larva in the entire caribou), but I'm just not sure and, well, I've lost my appetite!  Interestingly, a couple of weeks ago other "conservation" people came to Coral Harbour, and along with Jimmy, tested a good number of hunted caribou.  I'm looking forward to hearing about the results (now with a vested interest).  I looked online and read a little (as much my stomach could handle) about warble fly and nasal bot fly.  Both of which nearly are making me never want to eat caribou again...   As for supper tonight, we'll be having frozen pizzas.

As an aside, I just looked outside my window and there is a truck with a skinned caribou carcass in the back of the truck...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Feast or Famine

Before tonight I had yet to teach anyone anything.  Not one person had made it to my class.  But tonight, not one, not two, not five, but 12 women showed up to my class!!!?!?!?!!?  I didn't know what to do with myself.  I was so nervous that I was knocking stuff down.  There weren't even enough chairs for everyone!  I don't know what the organizing lady said on the radio today but it worked (I'm going to call her to find out!).

I THINK the class went well (again, I'm going to call the lady for some feedback).  The women were receptive and chuckled even to my weak attempts at making jokes.  While I didn't know any of them from Eve, they were in the age bracket older than "young moms", some into middle-agedhood or older.  Maybe that was the problem - we were targeting the wrong age group...  I had planned to keep the information quite simple, but when I saw their reaction to my notes (I gave them each a copy of my class notes) and when a lady asked me if sugar contributed to weight gain, I decided I needed to scale it back even more.  Tonight's class was about beverages with a focus on pop, coffee, juice (100% and "fake"), milk (chocolate and regular) and water.  When asked "did anybody learn anything new tonight" one lady said she learned that caffeine is a drug (and then they proceeded to poke fun at me regarding Brian letting me drink coffee you know, because it's a drug ;o) and another lady noticed how much sugar is present in the different beverages, especially pop (they don't drink diet because it's almost TWICE the price of regular).  So there, I feel like I did my job.  I taught somebody something new.

Tonight's recipe was Cheddar Biscuits made with oil instead of shortening or lard.  The Inuit people eat a lot of bannock, a biscuit or bread-type staple, they eat with most meals.  Bannock is made with flour, salt, water and shortening or lard.  My goal for the Cheddar Biscuits was to provide a healthier alternative to bannock.  It was fun making it (they had never sifted flour before) and they liked the biscuits for the most part.  The only complaint is that they weren't salty enough (the recipe called for 1tsp salt and cheese).  I guess I'll have to tackle the salt issue another day!

Cheddar Baking Powder Biscuits

2 cups All-purpose flour, sifted
1 tbsp Baking powder
1 tsp Salt
1/2 cup Sharp cheddar cheese, grated (optional)
1/2 cup Canola oil
1 cup Milk

Preheat oven to 425 F
1.  Sift dry ingredients into a bowl.  Add cheese and mix well.
2.  Pour canola oil and milk together in a cup, but do not stir. 
3.  Make a well in flour, and add the canola oil/milk mixture.
4.  Stir with a fork until all flour in dampened.
5.  Drop spoonfuls of dough on greased cookie sheet.
6.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Best served warm.
Makes about 12 big biscuits

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Happy Saturday

At 6am we realized that we had no power.  I have no idea how long it was off but it couldn't have been that long since it wasn't freezing in the house yet (and with temperatures of -52 C the house would get pretty cold pretty fast!).  Thankfully it came on an hour later.  While this turned out to be "no big deal" at the time, it did concern me a little.  Brian had told me that THE electrician was out of town.  Yikes.  I hope they have a backup!  I wondered what we would do and where we would go.  Brian mentioned something about setting up the generator for the detachment so I was picturing myself and the 3 boys in there making the best of it, eating sandwiches.  And then of course I thought of all the people throughout the past number of years (and right now) having to go through devastation, including no electricity, all the while dealing with young children.  My prayers were repeated for everyone in Japan.

Back to my own little world.  I was so excited that Brian had found 10% cream yesterday at the Northern.  This morning I checked the date and it expired today.  Oh well, I thought, I'll get a couple of days out of it at least.  Well, the cream fell in chunks in my coffee.  Not impressed.

Yesterday I received one of my orders from Well.ca and was happy to get my my Greens + bars (healthy bars).  I had never tasted one before so when I took my first bite and it tasted kinda "off" I didn't know if it was normal (Greens+ is a kind of supplement made from all kinds of sprouts and vegetables) or if they were bad.  Well the taste was worse with every bite and it took me a couple more bites to decide that yup, they were completely covered in mold.  VERY NOT IMPRESSED.  I thought I was going to be sick.  The expiry date was fine.  I called the company and they will send a replacement box once they get my receipt in the mail and they will let Well.ca know about it.

Well, the young girls are either courageous, eager, crazy, silly or immune to it (or all of the above) since it was -55 C last night and there they were at my door at 7:30pm sharp.  Last night was movie night.  I had planned for them to come over to watch a "girly" movie once the boys were in bed.  I was quite excited since I was going to make them watch my all-time favourite movie growing up "The Princess Bride".  I watched that movie countless times over the course of many sleepovers over many years.  I realize that I have a desire to spend time with young girls because they are the girls I will never have.  I can do (some of) the things that I've always looked forward to doing with my girls, if I had any.  And now that the verdict is in, I still want to do these things, but I will have to borrow other people's daughters to do them.  They remind me of me when I was their age and at the same time they make me feel old ;o)  There they were pigging out on chips, juice and popcorn, being silly and having laugh attacks all the while I sat there listening intently to every line, eating my disgusting Smart Pop! and controlled portion of baked chips.  We had fun and they want to do this every two weeks.  I don't have enough girly movies to do that but maybe I could pull it off once a month.  I think next month's movie will be Ever After.

Well, it was nice to sit here with my coffee (whitened with Coffee Mate) this morning but I have a class to prepare for (this aft) and some cleaning to do (the never ending job)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Loose Ends

Wow it's been a long time it seems since I last wrote something.  There are so many "little" tidbits that I want to update you on that I will start right away.

My Health class isn't going very well.  So far I've shown up for 4 classes but nobody else has.  I've told all the young moms I know, I've made posters, we've offered a fruit basket prize as well as free food, and it's been advertised on the radio station, but still, no show.  It seems we've done everything short of paying people to come!  I now have a few people that are saying to me that they are interested (they've said that before) and that they'll come but I'll believe it when I see it...  I'm not discouraged or anything.  I feel bad getting paid for seemingly "nothing" (I do put my hours in however doing research on the slow internet, baking, putting together the recipes etc).  I feel disappointed because I would really like to be teaching the young moms of the community.  I'm really excited about this opportunity but haven't been able to reach out to anyone yet.  Who knows, maybe it's because I'm the RCMP's wife.  Every once in a while I become aware that Brian has dealt with some of my acquaintances or their partners (it's a small town and people talk!).  I usually don't find out until long after it's happened but I wonder how they feel when they are around me - they must wonder if I know or maybe what I think of them...  Also, I'm still the new white girl in town.  Maybe they are thinking "Who does she think she is?  She's only been here a couple months...".  I have no idea.  I guess I'll see what happens on Saturday.

My sewing class is coming to an end.  I was so far behind because I had to miss 3 classes in a row (terrible stomach flu and Brian was called out one evening).  I did bring my material home and will finish it this weekend before the last class on Tuesday.  I was told by the elder that I had done a good job for my first time.  I was very pleased to hear this.  Tonight, however I found out that while the outer layer is almost done (sealskin and sheepskin), I still have to make the inner sock liner with fake fur and insulated fabric (the fabric they use to make the inside liners of parkas).  So I will go to Leonie's and buy what I need so that the elder can get me started on Tuesday.

There were three very excited little boys yesterday when a much anticipated parcel came.  It was the bouncy castle Brian had ordered (it was a small ordeal to get it here since it had to shipped to his parents in Florida and they had to ship it to us - it's amazing how many online shopping sites won't ship to Canada!).  Anyway what a great idea (if I do say so myself ;o).  It's HUGE and takes up our entire living room from side to side and top to bottom , but all three boys can jump in it at the same time.  They LOVE it and so far have had so much fun.  I recently read that children need 30 minutes at least of physical activity per day.  While I try to play with them outside everyday, of course weather permitting, sometimes we simply can't stay out that long.  And as I've mentioned before, my boys have lots of wonderful energy.  So between walking home from school, playing outside, the Wii, and this bounceroo, I'm confident now that they are getting the exercise they need.  Not to mention how nice it is to watch them play, laugh and bond together.  I sometimes mind not having a girl but at the same time I LOVE having three boys.  They are best friends.

As mentioned we also now have a Wii.  The movers  packed the Wii we had received from a wonderful spoiling friend of mine as a Christmas gift and put it into storage (or they stole it!).  Well the moving company replaced it (gladly actually!).  The boys (big AND small :o) are having fun learning how to sword fight, bowl, cycle, play ping pong etc.  It's been a fun family activity and a nice alternative to watching TV during Isaac's nap.  I'm so thankful to have these luxuries because it makes our everyday lives a little special.  We don't have McDonald's, play groups, pools or Tim Hortons.  So I'm glad to have these fun options.

Anyway that's all the time I have for now since Brian is hoping (and I am hoping) to book our flights tonight for our trip out in May for my sister's wedding...    

Saturday, March 5, 2011

I H8 Online Shopping

Beggars can't be choosers.  Should I complain about online shopping when it's all I have?  I don't know, but I'm going to anyway.  I would like to clarify that I am beyond thankful to be able to buy almost anything at a premium and have it shipped up to me, but doing so is not exactly as fun as one might think.
Here is a little list of drawbacks from personal experience:

1.  My cheese grater broke the other day.  I want one NOW (I grate cheese nearly everyday!), but I will have to wait for it to arrive in the mail.  So until then I'll have to pay the highway robbery price of shredded cheese here at the store.
2.  I've run out of hair conditioner.  It was the first thing I ordered from Well.ca (amongst many other items) and so far, I've received the other, less pressing items, but not my conditioner.  I'm so happy that both my sister and friend Jenna kept giving me the little free shampoo and conditioner samples from hotels...
3.  It's not worth the shipping and duty fees to return items.  I recently purchased some items from L.L. Bean and, had I been close to the store, I probably would have purchased the smaller bathing suit, I would have made sure the sweater and T-shirt had the same shade of white, I would have returned the bedspread and exchanged it for a different coloured coverlet (I somehow purchased the wrong thing - even though I checked my order many times!).
4.  I was misinformed on the website (pictures were not available) and purchased two "Asterix et Obelix" movies that, instead of being the cartoons that I used to watch when I was a kid, they are real movies with real actors...  My boys are not impressed!
5.  Free shipping doesn't always mean FREE shipping (ask my sister-in-law Sara).  It always depends on the item (if it's heavy) or where it's coming from (my order from L.L. Bean had free shipping but I had to pay duty fees).
6.  I've lost many partial or full orders because our internet connection decided to cut or be slow at that moment.  I've wasted so much time trying to put orders through and/or trying to call the customer service people.
7.  The customer service people are often not very nice or knowledgeable.  One didn't know where Nunavut was (he kept asking me if I lived in the NWT.  I educated him that day).  Another was rudely brushing me off when I was trying to explain that I had just lost a big order of free publications and pamphlets from Health Canada (for my class) and was trying to avoid using the internet...

Maybe living in the North will help me be less picky or will teach me to be an efficient shopper.  Some of you know that shopping with me isn't fun (Bless Jenna and my mother-in-law for their patience in coming with me on separate occasions to shop for jeans in the fall - I'm surprised either of them are still talking to me).  I NEVER buy the first thing I see.  No siree.  I hold, touch, try on, ponder, wonder, smell, pace and sometimes even break out in cold sweat...  I'm very indecisive.  If I buy something (anything - even clothes for the kids), I always made sure I ccould return it (and I often did).  So not being completely satisfied with my online shopping orders have nearly sent me over the edge.

I guess I'm just going to have to shop twice a year when we come out of the North or suck it up and deal with whatever CalmAir delivers.  There's hope that I'll get better at it.

P.S.  My favourite site for online shopping right now is www.well.ca   They sell ALL kinds of health, personal, and beauty supplies and so much more.  I've only explored the tip of the ice berg so far, but I've been very pleased with FREE shipping anywhere in Canada.  Still waiting for my hair conditioner though.    


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Nathan's Big Day

For most of my children's lives, we have lived far far away from family.  Some years, we've been fortunate to have my dad and sister Melissa, my mom, my cousin Valerie, or Grammy and Grampy over visiting during a birthday, but usually, we are alone to celebrate.  And for this reason, I've tried to make birthdays (and special occasions for that matter) as special, exciting and memorable as I can.  I try to come up with my own traditions (some stick, many don't!) to carry from year to year.  One such tradition that I love to hold on to is special breakfasts (mostly because breakfast is my favourite meal of the day! :o).  Last year Nathan's birthday breakfast was toast with Nutella and sprinkles.  This year it was chocolate chip pancakes and strawberries which Nathan was pleased to help me make.  I also try to make their favourite meal for supper and I let them choose a cake from a cake decorating book that I make for their little party with friends.  Yes, many of my traditions revolve around food.  This is partly due to me being French Canadian but also because it's what I've been ABLE to do (especially here).

Another tradition that I started is to make the entire day a celebration starting of course with the special breakfast in the morning followed by opening a gift and a phone call to say thank you.  Then the birthday boy gets to pick what's for lunch and then he opens another gift (followed usually with another phone call).  I really enjoy doing this since it spreads the fun out and it decreases the mad rush to celebrate, open, assemble and play with all the new presents right before bedtime.

I've learned the hard way not to count on Brian always being home for special occasions.  Sometimes he is and sometimes he's not.  When we lived in Selkirk, he sometimes had to work late and here, in Coral Harbour, sometimes he gets called out (like last night right at dinnertime).  I've learned that the show must go on, but thankfully, Brian didn't miss much of the festivities last night.  

I think Nathan had a wonderful day.  He is a very gracious little boy and was very good at sharing his "Life Saver" (ha! Light Saber) and other new toys with his brothers.  He was so eager and "helped" me make the pancakes and prepare the hamburger meat for his anticipated birthday Cheeseburgers.  He was very understanding when we told him we were going to have frozen pizzas instead since Brian and I thought the hamburger meat smelled kinda "off".  He was thrilled to have birthday ice cream instead of cake.  And he wasn't upset when we had to postponed his birthday party to next weekend because we were so sick.  Yes, he's very easy going (stubborn as I'll get out, but happy-go-lucky) and he's our little chatter-box (I'm sure he makes up for 3 girls!).  At one point during the day he asked me if he was four yet and I told him that yes, he was four years old now and he answered "but I don't see myself taller!?!?" Too funny.  I didn't tell him that his mommy was a little sad because to her, he DID seem a little bit taller...

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Teacher Tania

My first class was supposed to be last Wednesday but I had to cancel it due to my catching the worst stomach bug I've ever had.  I had to finish preparing for my class on Saturday afternoon totally sleep deprived (from having been up all night with sick boys) and weak (from not having eaten in 4 days).   Preparing for this class was actually a little comical and quite rudimentary.  It has taken me back to my high school days or earlier.  No Power Point or fancy gimmicks, nope, I had to pull out my leftover packing paper and markers to make graphs and other illustrations (the Northern Store didn't have bristol board).  I packed all my things (bakeware, ingredients, presentation copies, muffins etc.) in boxes, put them on an orange children's sled and walked over to the venue.  I walked in, got everything ready and waited... for 45 minutes.  It was at that point I decided to go back home because nobody could be THAT late.
Part of the problem is that everything is lackadaisical here, last minute really.  I asked the lady how many were going to be in attendance and she said she didn't know because she was going to announce it on the radio Saturday morning.  Anyway the lady felt bad (I didn't, I was relieved since I didn't quite feel myself yet), and told me she was going to bribe people with the possibility of winning a prize at my next class.  So here's hoping that a few people will show up on Wednesday.

Plumbing Issues

We've been living in Coral Harbour for 2 months now and I found out a couple weeks ago that many "southerners" here boil their water.  Apparently their was a parasite "contamination" about a year ago.  Nobody seemed to know the details of the story except for the fact that some people were sick.  Someone actually said that the water isn't treated here...  Is that possible?  I have no idea!  It seems strange because the water is clear and tastes so good (the water in Selkirk was terrible!!!!) but I guess anything is possible here.
I'm not sure if I've explained this before, but we have a Water Truck and a Sewage Truck that come by everyday to do the obvious:  fill up the water tanks and empty the sewage tank.  The reason being there is no underground plumbing here since we live in the permafrost.  Anyway I guess the water tank is supposed to be washed once a year but parasites might still live in the tanks despite the cold.  Apparently one could see little red worms coming through the tap during the "contamination".  When I  heard this my stomach felt sick.  Some of you know how much I have a aversion to worms (especially small ones or maggots - I always garden with gloves on!).   So here we've been drinking water from the tap for nearly 2 months...  Why didn't anybody tell us this?  Seriously I need to write a "Things to Know When You're New to Coral Harbour" book.  Now, as you can imagine, I boil water.  All our drinking water is boiled.  It's yet another pain in the neck thing to do but I'm not willing to take that chance with our young boys.  Apparently, one of the male teachers was once deathly sick from parasite contaminated water in another Northern community.  Yikes.      

Sunday, February 20, 2011


The French "word" jobinne (job-in) has always been used by my dad.  He uses it to refer to a small job or short contract (my dad is a drywaller and often does these little jobs on weekends).  Well anyway, I have a jobinne.  In other words, I have a small job, a short contract.  I wasn't looking for a job but it found me.  I got a call on Friday from a lady I've never me from the Health Centre asking me if I would like to teach a class about healthy eating and exercise.  I still have no idea where she heard about me (or WHAT she heard about me) but after thinking about it, talking to Brian about it, getting more information, and setting my stipulations, I've decided to accept.  Here's the rundown.  I will be teaching two classes a week, each lasting two hours.  They will be held on Wednesdays, one in the morning and one in the evening (to be able to reach as many people as possible) and I'll be teaching the same material for both classes.  My first class is on Wednesday!!!  Yup, in 3 days.  I've decided to break the class down into four major parts:  1) Health Topic 2) Making a recipe together 3) Exercise education component 4) Eating.  I figure the chances are better of people actually coming in if there's food involved!  My lesson plan is pretty much done.  I have decided to start by focusing on beverages (people here drink sooooo much pop despite how expensive it is) and the plain and simple exercise of walking (people here aren't used to exercising in the way we do in the South like I've mentioned in a previous entry).

I am really really excited about this opportunity.  Especially it being so soon after we've moved since this opens the doors to meeting new people but also maybe to be a resource person for a while.   I am excited because health and nutrition for the Inuit people has been on my heart since I moved here.  Even on Friday night, I was telling the girls that they were going to get sick of me giving them healthy foods to eat and one of them replied "it's ok Tania.  My mom only buys junk every two weeks when she gets her money.  So we eat healthy food here."  How heart breaking.  How exciting that maybe some moms will be in my class!  On paper I'm not necessarily qualified to do this (I'm not a nutritionist) but I know the basics, and people here NEED the BASICS.  I have to keep it simple.  Nothing too complicated.  I can do that.  I try to provide my family with a basic healthy lifestyle everyday:  no pop, water and milk to drink, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, lean meats, dairy, outside play and indoor running around...  And so from one mom to another, from an adult to another I do actually feel qualified to do this.  Of course this is now, I wonder how I'll feel Tuesday night - Ha!  Actually I'm treating this like a University presentation (too bad they don't have power point!  Ha!  My physio friends are smiling now!) because that's all I know and I ALMOST always did really well on those (now my physio friends are really smiling because they remember the one my group bombed in first year...).   

I have still lots to learn regarding cultural differences but I'm thrilled that the Canadian Government has a Food Guide especially targeted for Inuit, Metis and First Nations.  I will of course have to tailor everything to what is offered on the Island (no tofu recipes here!) but that will help me understand and get to know the culture better.    

I have so much to say about this and how I feel God, knowing my heart, has opened a door for me without me even asking for it, but it's way past my bedtime.  However I will leave you with these verses from 1 Corinthians: 2:9-12

 “No eye has seen, no ear has heard,
      and no mind has imagined
   what God has prepared
      for those who love him.”

 10 But[e] it was to us that God revealed these things by his Spirit. For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets. 11 No one can know a person’s thoughts except that person’s own spirit, and no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit. 12 And we have received God’s Spirit (not the world’s spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us.

Now while (my understanding of) this passage speaks of the revelation of God's plan for humanity in sending Jesus to be a sacrifice that we may be saved.  I can't help but think that in some way, it applies to my life right now (well at least these are the verses that have been popping in my mind all weekend).  I could never have imagined this opportunity.  I've never dreamed of being a teacher and I don't know much about teaching, but God has taken my budding interest and concern for the health of those around me and turned it into something tangible...  Something I simply couldn't turn down.



Coral Kiss FM

Ok so I'm not in the know.  I showed up at my sewing class on Thursday night only to see that it was dark inside with no one there.  Hmmmmm.  I'm the only one who showed up.  How come everybody else knew that it was cancelled but me?  Friday morning I packed up the kids and pulled them to them to Daycare for my much anticipated "morning off" (to clean, blog, exercise, and fold) only to find out that it was closed.  Grrrr (now instead of having a morning to myself I had 2 cranky boys to contend with...).  Last night I walked to my sewing class again to find it cancelled...  I was a little annoyed but walked over to my friends house to have a little visit.  Well on my way back the lights were on at the Daycare building (where the classes are held) so I walked in.  Of course I asked all the questions you are thinking about and the answer was "we heard it on the radio".  What?  When?  In English or just in Inuktitut?  Well anyway I guess I'm going to have to start listening to the local radio station on the days I have something planned.  Since many people here don't have a telephone, they use the radio as a message board.  "Hey I'm looking for so-and-so, could you please tell him to come to my house" or "I have extra food if anyone wants some supper" (as one young girl's mother does) or again "sewing class is cancelled tonight" or "sewing class has been changed from 6pm to 7pm" (as was the case last night!).  I'm going to have ask for more info like when are these such announcements?  It's not much fun listening to, what to me, is gibberish all day long in the hopes of catching something in English that MIGHT be related to me.   I think one of the ladies said that the announcements are from 12pm to 1pm and then again around 5pm to 6pm, but she wasn't sure.  I will also try getting more key phone numbers but often people aren't home.  I'm just really glad that I took the time to go to my friends house instead of going straight home...

Food Issues

The very high food prices in Arctic Bay are getting national attention these days.  Arctic Bay is one of the most northern communities in Nunavut after Grise Fjord, Resolute Bay, Nanisivik and Pond Inlet.  While our food prices here in Coral Harbour aren't quite as high (Cheez Whiz in Arctic Bay is $30 while here the price is $20) people here still suffer high prices.  The other day I spared Brian a heart attack and took the kids after school to buy ice cream at the Northern for Nathan's birthday (it's what Nathan WANTS for his birthday!).  Poor Brian would have had a cardiac event had he witnessed me pay $20 for a 1.66L tub of Breyers Heavenly Hash (the only chocolatey kind).  Of course all of you know I'm only PARTIALLY kidding!  Of course Brian is fine with me buying ice cream for a special occasion, but had it been up to him, I'm sure he would have found a way to make make frozen milk taste good.  Anyway below is a link to an article that was sent to me by my friend Jen in Ottawa about these high food prices.(my friend Karen sent me a link to learn how to hyperlink in my blog but I haven't checked it out yet but I will!)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Polar Bears, Polar Bears and Polar Bears Oh My!

1.  Tonight we met the young adult who was kinda attacked by a polar bear while stranded on an ice floe a little over a year ago near Coral Harbour.  He and his friend came to our door to see if we wanted to buy a ring made of Caribou antler.  I could have asked him questions all night about his "adventure", but I felt bad focusing all my attention on him while the other was "chopped liver" next to him.  He did tell us that he had fallen asleep when he felt something pawing him (almost as if the bear was curious and being cautious), well he somehow had enough time to turn over and shoot the bear dead.  It's no surprise that he was very scared of freezing to death while he drifted on the ice floe.  If you are interested in seeing pictures and reading about the rescue, go to the links below (they each have different details of the story)


2.  There is a Wildlife Conservation Officer here in town and we were recently invited to dinner with him and his fiance.  If I never get to see a polar bear, it will be because of his good work.  He's the person who gets the calls in the wee hours of the morning about polar bears lurking close to town.  He's the person who goes out to try to scare them away and if that doesn't work, he's the one to destroy them.  Once again, I could have asked him questions all night (I think all things polar bear fascinate and frighten me) but you can imagine how easy it was to have a conversation with 3 little boys around!  According to him, polar bears come close to town in the fall when they are hungry and are waiting for the ice to freeze in order to be able to hunt for seal.  Apparently, there were approximately 6 that came close.  One of them, a mother with her cub(s) (not sure if the cubs were counted in the 6) were close to the the airport, which is on our side of the town.  Usually the bears come from the land on the other side of town where the dump is.  I asked how we would know if there was a polar bear close to town and he said he would call us.  I'm happy with that!

3.  We've been getting to know a young single mom of 2 girls and one night she was over for dinner and we were talking about polar bears.  I was trying to ask her how scared and careful we need to be.  For example, can I send the older boys outside to play?  What about those dark cold winter mornings when I walk Benjamin to school?  Well anyway at one point she was saying not to send the kids outside at all and I was really surprised.  Not at all?  Ever?  I mean we go outside everyday!  We play on the snow mountains and drifts...  Well anyway the lines of communication got crossed at some point with the language barrier because she thought I wanted to send my kids outside when a polar bear was in town.  She was strongly suggesting that we don't leave the house and so I was confused!  And she was confused that I wanted to feed my kids to the bears!  Ha!  Well did we ever laugh when we figured that we were talking about very different situations!  In the wintertime, polar bears are rarely seen on the land because they are all on the ice hunting.  I will have to ask the same questions come summertime and fall...  But for now it's generally safe to be outside.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Booggery Noses

The other day I witnessed something pretty gross.  Actually it made my stomach turn and I have a pretty strong stomach.  Essentially I saw a mother grab the face of her 10 month old sick daughter, cover the baby's nose and the area above the lip with her mouth and proceed to suck all the snot clean off the baby's face.  My stomach is turning just thinking about it.  Apparently this is common practice here.  If they are outside then the mothers will spit the snot out but we were indoors and so my guess is that she swallowed it...  Thank goodness she didn't notice the horrified look on my face.  I've been practicing my poker face for the next time I encounter this practice.  Seriously though, I would use my sleeves, mittens, my pant leg, my apron, even my HAIR before I would suck the green monsters out of my boys' noses!  Enough said.  

Baby Kamiks

Well the good ol' paradigm "nothing in life is free" is kinda false here.  Many things here are free.  The government pays for it.  I recently inquired about a sewing class that I was interested in and when I asked what the price was she looked at me strangely and asked "what?  you want to pay for this?".  My reply was "where I come from, nothing is free".  She laughed and added me to the list of participants.  So last night was my first class.  We are making sealskin kamiks for a child (boots).  In some ways I think the government is trying.  These programs are set up to teach young moms the traditional skills and crafts that are slowly dying.  They are meant to teach moms of children under six to make things like sealskin mittens, boots or knitted hats.  The programs are set up to bring the young and the elders together since the classes are taught by an elder.  The sealskin is provided for us as well as a healthy snack (it HAS to be healthy).
So once again I will say it, the government is trying.  It's a good setup.

So there I was last night shy and nervous.  I didn't know how well I would be received.  I made sure it was ok with the organizing lady, but I was still afraid some would think that I was taking a local woman's place (the spots are limited).  I was relieved to actually know two of the moms!  One was the quiet birthday party girl's mother, but the other was a cheery girl from Arctic Bay.  I was so glad to have her since it was all in Inuktitut and she was able to translate the important stuff.  It was also nice to have someone to laugh with at how awkward I was at all of it!  I was also well received by the elder - thankfully.  She spoke Inuktitut 99% of the time but switched to English when she had something to tell me personally.  She was patient, graceful and kind to me.  I feel so blessed.  She made the pattern out of paper by wrapping it around Isaac's leg and then cut it.  I had to trace it on the sealskin, then cut the 2 pieces out.  I asked her if I should use scissors and all she said was "ulu" (woman's knife).  Well I don't have an ulu (other than the decorative one I bought) and I certainly had never used one!  She showed me how and gave me her ulu to use.  It's a small miracle that I came home last night with all my digits intact.  Goodness the ulu was sharp!!!!  I wish someone had taken a picture of me bent over on the floor (oh yes, BTW we work sitting on the floor and not at a table) painstakingly cutting my pelt.  One lady suggested I sit upright and steady the skin with my leg but I didn't have enough control I felt so I went back down.

The room stank of dead seal. Yup you read right.  The skins stink like that really stinky fishy smell we all hate.  As I was cutting my skin with my face about 6 inches away from it, I remember thinking that I better not faint otherwise the upward tip of the ulu would slice my jugular...  So I managed to cut my pieces and start sewing the two sides together of one of them.  We use sinew thread.  It's very tough to sew because the skin in tough and the sinew is thick.  Not to mention that I have a crappy PLASTIC thimble and sweaty hands.  This could take me forever...

Interesting fact:  at the end of the night we had to bag the skins and put them in the freezer so that they don't dry out.  I was very surprised at this and apparently some of the women put their own kamiks in the freezer too (or they leave them outside in the cold - but run the risk of having them stolen).  Speaking of the skins, I noticed the bullet holes that had been sewn up, one on either side of the skin.  I imagine that the bullet goes right through them when they are shot.  Yes it's a little morbid but this is life here.  On a side note, today on the way home from picking up the boys there was a caribou carcass hanging over the garbage cans in front of a house...  People here life off the land and the sea.  Not as much as they used to but it's still a big part of their lives.

Anyway, I had fun at my class despite the language barrier and I was glad as usual to meet other moms in the community as well as an elder.  I'm looking forward to Thursday night's class.  I'm going to try to find a metal thimble and a rubber band to help me pull the needle out of the skin after every stitch.  

Friday, February 11, 2011

Birthday Party

Yesterday Benjamin came home from school with an invitation to a birthday party.  The invite read:

Who:   Girl's name
When:  Feb 10th
Time:    5:00pm
Where:  my house

First of all I noticed the date.  Woah!  That's today!  Ok, I can miss my exercise class (talk about short notice).  Second of all I realized that we didn't have a gift for this little girl.  I didn't even know how birthday parties went here.  I didn't know how much to spend.  I didn't want to be cheap but I also didn't want to seem pompous and flashy by getting something more expensive than the other gifts (we are trying to fit in remember?).  Third of all (and I wonder why it wasn't the first) I realized that I had NO CLUE who this little girl was, who her parents were, nor did I have any idea where she lived!!?!?!?  No telephone number or address on the envelope.  At this point I'm laughing out loud as to how funny this invite was...  People are so laid back here, compared to me anyway.  I'd want to know numbers, the invites would have gone out a few weeks before and I would have included a MAP.  Yes I know I'm a little neurotic when it comes to details...  Anyway so Brian and I go off searching for this info; Brian at work asking around and myself calling the few people I know.  It gets funnier.  I called a friend and by chance she actually knew the person and told me the house number and a description of where it was.   You see there are no street names here, only house numbers.  Well I guess there's the old system of numbers and the new system of numbers.  All documentation and maps have the new system but the locals still use the old...  Brian drove around and could not find the house.

So we got ready, I ran into the Northern to buy a hopefully appropriate gift and we guessed which house it was based of the description.  Thankfully we were right but I figured that even if we had been wrong the people would have been able to direct us.  Everybody knows everybody here.  Finding a gift was frustrating.  It was all really overpriced junk (not to mention the limited options) and not having ever seen this girl, I had no idea what she liked.  Anyway I found something with Disney Princesses and figured I couldn't go wrong with that (turns out I think she got two of the same).  Next time we go home I will be buying a few boy and girl gifts in Benjamin and Nathan's age brackets.

The actual party went well.  Very simple in the way parties used to be.  No over-priced venues, no pool, no gymnastics, no reptiles or bouncy castles, just kids, hotdogs, jello, cake, a game with prizes and presents.  Oh yes, and party hats - can't forget the party hats.  Benjamin and I were both shy (I'm glad we had each other ;o) but we had fun.  Benjamin was happy to play with a few of his friends from class and I got to meet a few mothers.  One was very nice and we chatted, another friendly but reserved and the third basically wanted nothing to do with me.  She wasn't mean but when I introduced myself she just kinda grunted something like a hello - she didn't tell me her name.  Oh well.  It didn't phase me any.   Some of the women must feel like I'm intruding sometimes, but Benjamin WAS invited.  His name was on the envelope.

The homes here are small.  They are all up on "stilts" because of the frozen ground (not sure if we are in the perma-frost or not - I'll have to find that out).  So to get into every home, you must go up some stairs and then it's a small bungalow.  Usually open concept with a kitchen, dinning area and living room, and then down a hall you have some bedrooms and a bathroom.  Of course, no basement.  The decor is often similar to what homes looked like 20 -30 years ago (actually this home reminded me a lot of my grand-maman Tourangeau's house back in Alfred, ON).  On the refrigerator there was a big picture of some men all around an obviously dead polar bear (it had been shot several times).  It was taken 5 years ago the mom explained, and it was her father and brother who shot it.  On the wall there was another framed picture (8x10 I would say) of a young boy holding two riffles...  Fascinating.

I'm very glad to have been invited to this party because birthday season is upon me for my boys (Nathan's being the first on Feb 28th - turning 4!) and now I can have little parties for them.  They will be so excited!

I Swear I'm Not Guilty (ok maybe a little!)

Good morning everyone.  I'm sitting here with my morning coffee in front of my therapeutic light.  It's brand new out of the box.  I just received it the other day from Sears (it was on sale!).  My goodness is it ever BRIGHT.  I feel silly sitting here in front of it.  I feel as though I'm being interrogated.  Maybe I am in a way.  It feels as though the light can see through me.  The light is seeping through my skin down into my being searching for the reasons for it.  What made me buy it?  Well the obvious answer is the darkness here, but really, at this point, I'm sure we get as much daylight as all of you in the South (and very soon we will get far more!) or at least we are close!  The other reasonable reasons are my once in a while irritability and anxiety.  The one reason I like to hide but I will share with you is my emotional eating.  I hate it and I want to try to deal with it instead of sweeping it under the rug AGAIN.  It seems worse in the wintertime and definitely worse when I'm dealing with emotional stress like a certain big move perhaps or having to make new friends.  Sometimes the triggers are obvious as I just mentioned but sometimes they are not.  Sometimes I simply find myself eating mindlessly and sabotaging by weight loss efforts for reasons I guess I don't take the time to figure out.  My lifelong goal has always been to wear a bikini (wow we are going deep this morning - what is this light doing to me?).  Not that I would ever wear one NOW after having 3 boys and tons of stretch marks, flabby skin and varicose veins to boot, but I would like that to be a decision that I MAKE and not determined by my body.  So here I am.  I'm sitting in front of this light to see if it may help with the emotional stuff enough so that I can learn to deal with dealing with it.  Ha!  I just re-read that sentence and I'm not sure if it makes any sense, but I wouldn't really know how else to put it.  My time is almost up and I need to blog about last night.  Thanks for listening.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Anticipated Pictures vol. 2

Hooray for Brian!  He finally received a work camera and now we can use the cables to upload our pictures onto the computer from our Nikon.  It may not seem like much work, but uploading all the pictures in vol. 1 and 2 has essentially taken me all day.  At one point I was doing the dishes while uploading the pictures.  Today was a "cold day" when school is cancelled because the temperature was below -50 degrees.  I was nice to be able to focus on getting these pictures on - but I had to ignore my boys for a good part of the day (I am mostly kidding, they played really well today so it was a mellow day for all of us.)  Anyway I hope you enjoy them! 

One of the many fishing boats in town.  Notice the polar bear skin hanging from the back pole (no idea what that's called).

Benjamin and Nathan by the Inukshuk behind our house.

This is the community grave.  I can see it off in the distance from my back windows.

Moonset.  Once again, my lack of a zoom lens really takes away from the picture.  The moon was the biggest that I had ever seen.  This is also part of our view from our back windows.

The rectangular blue building on the left hand side is our duplex.  We live on the left side and this is the back of the house.  In the middle is Nathan exploring his new surroundings and there is one of the two Inukshuks on the right.

My boys playing on a mountain of snow in the afternoon.  This was taken not long after we moved here and so it was getting dark quite early.  It was actually quite mild when we moved here so we were able to take the camera outside a few times before the real cold hit...

Anticipated Pictures vol. 1

Sunset during a windstorm.  The fuzzy colour is due to the wind blowing the snow across the land.

Moonset.  The sun had not risen yet but the sky was becoming a brighter blue.  I wish I had my zoom lens (we found it broken days before we moved!) because the moon was huge and pink.  The pink moon set up against the different hues of blue made for a spectacular sight one morning.

Northern Lights.  These were taken the night we all hopped in the truck and drove out of town to see them.  The pictures are fuzzy because we didn't have our tripod and for nighttime pictures the shutter stays open for 20 seconds or more.  Therefore the camera isn't very forgiving even for slight movements like breathing.  But you get the picture...

While this one is extra blurry, I love it because it gives a glimpse as to how grand these lights are compared to the town of Coral Harbour in the background.  The lights engulf the sky from one end to the other.  They are majestic.

Brian took this one and it's our best one so far.   Now that we have our tripod, we hope to get out again when it warms up a bit.

Sunset.  I love looking at the contrast between the sky and the flat land (and they say the prairies are flat!)

This is a terrible picture taken from our window (with Brian's reflection in it!) , but I wanted to share what it looks like to us even from inside.

The Simple Life

I love the simple life.  There aren't many complications here - at least not in my household (I'm not sure what goes on in other households - I have yet to be invited into a local's home).  My friend Jen from Ottawa (we've known each other for what now? almost 20 years?!?!?!? Wow that makes me feel old.) came to visit me in Selkirk about 2 years ago and I remember her commenting on how she thought my life was so simple.  How she nearly envied that aspect of it (not necessarily the part about having 3 small rowdy boys though :o).  Part of it is being a stay-at-home mom, part of it is living in a small town, part of it is a conscious decision not to get over-involved or over-commited.  Part of it is enjoying the simple things in life like getting good meals ready from scratch, reading books to my boys, playing outside in the snow (or once upon a time playing in the garden!).  I remember so many people commenting on how much time I was going to have when I moved here.  I couldn't wait to have ALL this time especially after running around so much in the fall.  I have long standing projects and goals that I want to conquer:  organizing my pictures in albums, learning to sew, being better at keeping in touch with friends and family, teaching my boys French (the never-ending challenge!), getting in better shape (never ending challenge II) etc.  Well let me tell you that having a simplified life does not mean boredom!  Not here anyway.  In some ways I have much less to do.  There are no stores to shop at, the errands are few, not many activities to take the boys to, nowhere to go on weekends really.  We really get to spend lots of time as a family.  We get to be lazy on Saturday mornings.  I've realized however that the things that I DO have to do are more time consuming.  My mornings are spent getting 3 young boys and myself dressed to conquer -40 and colder weather and let me tell you that is no easy feat!  Then we walk Benjamin to school, walk back and take all our stuff off only to have to start all over again a couple of hours later.  Now let's talk about dishes.  I used to love doing dishes.  I find it relaxing.  Now I nearly hate it.  Now, I stare blankly at a boring wall for hours daily washing my dishes.  No dishwasher.  How I miss my dishwasher.  You see I'm the kind of person who put everything, except for my china (or the "not dishwasher safe" items) of course, in the dishwasher.  Now I'M dishwasher extraordinare.  Brian usually helps with the after supper dishes but his fingers were bitten by a drunk man on the weekend - badly enough that it's bandaged and he can't work all week (or do dishes or fold laundry...  as you can imagine it's killing him not being able to do these things!).  I find that once all the dishes are done and the kitchen is cleaned up, there's not a whole lot of time for much else.  Also there is no takeout.  If I don't feel like cooking well, I have to cook - something!  While Brian and I were not big on takeout we used to get those little pre-cooked rotisserie chickens or frozen pizzas once in a while.  How I miss M&Ms and President's Choice frozen meals.  They were usually partially healthy.  Here, the frozen food selection is limited and it's extra pricey.  Not to mention complete junk. My only saving grace are leftovers.  I have to ban Brian from eating them at lunch so we can have them for supper.  I shouldn't complain that my husband loves my cooking (most of the time!) and enjoys it as much the next day...  As long as he stays away from the leftovers until supper!  And if I have guests coming, I can't stop at the bakery in a pinch to buy my favourite imperial cookies (how I miss the delicious goodness of those melt-in-your-mouth-raspberry filled darlings!).  Or stop at the store to buy flowers to say thank you for dinner when we go somewhere.  It's all me baking from scratch.  Don't get me wrong I LOVE cooking and baking, but it takes time.  Even my attempts at keeping in touch are quite time consuming.  Blogging, emailing, telephone calls, reading Facebook updates...  Lets face it, I have friends and family in many parts of Canada (and abroad!) from my many walks of life and I still try to keep in touch with many of you.  I could go on about having to patch the 10 or more pair of pants that Benjamin has put holes in the knees, the socks that need mending (we don't have carpet here and my boys throw themselves onto the floor racing their cars and trucks... I guess it doesn't hurt that much!), doing laundry in tiny washer and dryers (double the loads), online shopping (I really don't like it yet) and all the general stuff.  Life isn't very stressful here but I'm far from bored.  And if I'm going to achieve any of my goals, I'm going to have to TAKE the time just like I'd have to back home.

Social Butterfiles

It's crazy how things can change in 5-6 weeks.  Of course we didn't know anyone when we first moved here, but last week we were very busy with dinners invites, dinner guests, playdates, yoga and exercise classes nearly every night.  It's been great getting to know some of the local moms as well as some of the "southerners" (mostly the teachers) that are here for work.  The downside to all these food related activities is that it's been not so good for my plans to lose a little weight...  Oh well, all the exercise classes kept me at "neutral" - thank goodness!  I've decided to have a girl's night at my house this Saturday night (Feb 12th) for a chocolate fondue.  I've tried to make it a tradition to have these girl's nights no matter where I am so this is my first of many for Coral Harbour I hope.  Thinking about these such nights is making me homesick for my girlfriends in Selkirk.  Sadly, I was unable to plan as many playdates and girls nights as I would have liked in my last number of months there...  I have only invited the "southerners" for this one (as opposed to also include some of my local friends) since I'm not sure how it would turn out.  And since I don't know anyone here very well, I decided to take it slow.  My friend Jenna has called me "the glue" in the past.  Referring to a person that brings people from different groups of friends or from different walks of life together.  I imagine that I will think of something to bridge that gap...  In time, when I get to know everyone better.