Thursday, January 27, 2011

Coincidences? I Think Not.

Today God reminded me who's in control and that everything happens for a reason.  I had plans to have coffee with Leonie, but instead He brought someone to my house to have coffee with me (since as it turned out Leonie had to cancel our coffee time due to a man's passing in the community).  It's actually quite interesting how everything happened.  Had so many things been different this morning I would not have met Jeannie.  I was supposed to be gone but (as usual) I was running late.  Jeannie came to see Brian at work to drop something off but he wasn't in the office so she came to my door looking for him.  It was really cold and she was on foot so I asked her if she wanted to come in for coffee and we started chatting and sharing stories.  She mentioned she had a son going to school in Ottawa in a special program for Inuit students.  I was really excited to tell her about the article in January's edition of Reader's Digest (Titled "Northern Elite") about this school (Nunavut Sivuniksavut) and how the article highlights a young man from Coral Harbour.  Well would you believe that the young man in the article is Jeannie's son?  She had no idea about the article.  Can you imagine how excited she was to see her son's name, his story and his picture in READER'S DIGEST?  It made her day, probably her week, maybe even more.  Jeannie was encouraged today and I think she really needed it.  We had just been talking about how God only gives us what we can handle and nothing more.  I am humbled how God really does work things out for the good of those who love him.  I know this truth in my head but sometimes I need to be reminded.  Also, please note that my mother-in-law Donna was also part of The Plan today since she's the one who noticed the article in the first place and sent us a copy of the magazine...   Amazing.

Romans 8:28
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love himwho have been called according to his purpose.


The blessings didn't stop there.  I was able to go to my exercise class, I ran into a woman I had met only a few times and we talked about getting together to pray and tonight I received a letter from a woman back home.  This was a very pleasant surprise considering I didn't get to know this lady very well while I was in Selkirk.  I realize now through her writings that we have a few things in common.  The floodgates were opened today in many ways I never expected.  It's truly humbling.

P.S.  Brian is now famous.  He is indirectly mentioned in the article as it states a "two man RCMP detachment".  I hope it doesn't get to his head.

More Ramdom Pictures


These are my boys and the girls enjoying the maple tire that my dad had sent up.


Isaac bundled up on one of the first really cold days here.


Nathan having lots of fun on a snow plowed snow mountain on a "warmer" day.


This is Benjamin taking a second to pose while playing on the same snow mountain.  This esclalading is Benjamin's favourite activity outside.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Vanity is out the door

Well let's just put it this way.  If Meghan my wonderful hairdresser at Burns & Black, a salon in downtown  Winnipeg was here, my hair would get chopped ALL off.  Think of Jessica Stroup's newer haircut.  What's the point of having anything more than a pixie around here?  I wash my hair, blowdry it, style it a little and then stuff my head under a belaclava, a hat AND a hood, daily.  By the time I get back home from picking Benjamin up from school, it was a waste of time.  There is no pouf, no oumf, no pizzazz.  Makeup is out of the question too.  Why wear any when it would all rub off onto my gear and whatever left would freeze on my face (I'm sure THAT would be good for the skin).  Even a bit of mascara would be an exercise in futility since the cold makes my eyes tear up like a teenager whose boyfriend just broke up with her.  Now for clothes, who wants to wear a nice pair of crispy jeans underneath a thick and bulky pair of snowpants? The easiest and most comfortable to wear under snowpants is a pair of tight leggings (poor Brian, it's not the most flattering outfit I own).  In order to be warm, I need to be comfortable.  So cute tops under my jacket simply don't cut it.
My point in pointing all this out is, when we first moved here I promised myself that I wouldn't let myself go.  I'm not the kind of person who spends hours on her looks - I'm actually rather plain compared to some.    I was going to however, keep on wearing my regular clothes (nothing fancy but nothing too frumpy either), do my hair and wear a bit of makeup.  I'm a mom of three boys living in the Canadian Arctic for Pete's sake I want to feel good and girly.  Well I'm not sure what the answer is to all of this but this is where I'm at  (at least until it warms up to maybe - 20s degrees instead of - 40s...  

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

You're All Invited To a Pity Party

The following is an excerpt from an Facebook message I received yesterday from one of my dear high school friends


Darling Tan,
I am so proud of you, I read your blog every day when I turn my computer on, and I tell my friends all about your adventures. My best friend and sister in law Gill is passioante about native studies and they are interested in moving up north one day, so she finds things particularly fascinating!
I just keep feeling so humbled by your posts. I read them and think, I could never do that. I would be so resentful, and it would affect everyone around me. But you do it with such grace, and share your stories and your struggles with us, and it's an amazing living testimony. It challenges me every day to appreciate what I have, and to share more each day with those who go without. My Matt is always reminding me of that. :) I adore my husband. I never thought God would have such a perfect, generous, selfless mate for me. I make him sound perfect, and he's not, but he's perfect for me! He is very excited about the baby. I hardly think about it! Most of the time I forget until someone reminds me. I've been totally fine, no sickness, (sorry!) and feel no different really at all. I guess taht's what makes it all feel so surreal. Claire is 6 wks ahead of us, we're due July 4, she's May 15. She emails me each week where we;re at, what size teh baby is, I woulnd't know otherwise! I keep getting embarassed when someone asks me and I always say 4 mths. haha.. I'm mostly worried about how my life will change. Having a baby at 33 is different! I'm so independent, do my own thing, and I keep reminding myself that having a bab will help me to learn about the selfless and loving sacrifical nature of Christ. That's the only thing I'm really excited about - learning that lesson. Oh boy! Big lesson..
So that's where we're at. Life is good, we are so rich even though we don't have a lot of money, or a house yet. We have great friends, family, fab job, and a super relaitonship with God. What else do we need?
Please keep updating us my dear, God will use you mightily out there it seems. We pray for you, please post more pics of you, Brian and the boys, and the house of course. I love reading about it all.
Love em xxxx

Alright so this isn't an excerpt, it's actually the whole thing.  I didn't include this message to toot my own horn or to divulge all of Em's life circumstances.  I included it for a few reasons.


1)  This message brought tears to my eyes when I read it.  
2)  I was happy to hear all about Emily's life, her husband, her great news and her wonderful and peaceful outlook on life.  She is content and we can all learn from that.
2)  I was encouraged by Emily's message.  It turns out that after reading this message yesterday, I ended up having a bit of a meltdown (NOT because of the message NO NO NO, because of what happened yesterday).  I ended up having my very own pity party.  Then, I couldn't help but feel like a fraud.  People have sent messages, written cards and have told me verbal compliments similar to those Emily wrote in her message.  And here I am writing all about all kind of stuff when really, sometimes, I neglect to write about how I really feel or of who I really am sometimes.  I am far from being a saint.  I am resentful sometimes.  I lose my patience with my kids.  I feel sorry for myself.  Yesterday I didn't feel quite right.  Emotionally.  I was shaky and anxious and on edge.  I tried to keep a low profile but things didn't go "my way" (BTW, as of last night I am determined to be disciplined in taking my Vitamin D and I purchased a therapeutic light today on sale from the Sears catalogue).  All I really wanted to do yesterday was to prepare a nice meal for my family in advance so that I could go to my exercise class and then to the craft store to buy fur.  Well guess what?  I got a call from Brian telling me that I couldn't go to my class because he was waiting for a call at work (therefore he couldn't be home with the kids).  They had been sitting there for 3 hours WAITING for this call.  This is not a busy detachment. but lately if feels as though when things come up, it's often me who has to sacrifice.  I wasn't impressed.  It's a daily exercise class but I hadn't been since last Monday due to school cancellations and Brian's work.  Brian's response to my being a little snippy was less than empathetic (feeling of I-can't-do-anything-about-it-so-deal-with-it).  I bawled.  I sat there and cried while my boys ran crazy around me.  In my stubborness I packed the boys, at suppertime, and we walked to Leonie's store in -50 degree weather (younger 2 in the stroller but Ben had to walk) because there was no way I was going to cancel this.  Well there's nothing like hauling 100 lbs in freezing weather to cool a temper.  And I thank Jesus for that since when we got home, Brian was home having a snack before returning to work.  So the boys and I ate my nice supper and I got them ready for bed.  When Brian got home I didn't know how to act.  I couldn't take it out on him because he was right.  It wasn't his fault.  This was MY problem, MY attitude, MY party (everybody sing it with me "it's my party and I'll cry if I want to...).  Yet I was mad.  I couldn't help it.  Brian and I didn't exchange many words.  He dove into the dishes and washed every single last one of them (and there were many).  It took him all night- his only true free time of the day.  He may not have been very understanding earlier in the day but without saying a word, by his actions, I knew he understood.  This was him saying "I know you've had a long day, here's a break".  Today I had to miss my exercise class AGAIN for the same reason.  Brian and his partner came over for my nice dinner and rushed off back to work (they are still there and it's 9pm).  Today was different however.  Today my expectations were lower and today, Brian called me 2 or 3 times to give me updates.  A number of things have been going through my mind all day.  The first being the following verses from Ephesians chapter 5


Instructions for Christian Households
21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

 22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing[b] her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”[c] 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.



While I hope you read the whole passage to get the big picture I highlighted the main points that keep reeling in my head.  While I'm no stranger to these verses and while Brian and I have always tried to model our marriage after these verses, today I realized an important truth regarding them.  While Brian would never be a tyrant and make me be submissive to him personally, I do however, need to learn to be more submissive to his job.  Unpredictability is the nature of his job and I need to try not to make him feel bad when things come up because it really isn't his fault.  We are a team and I need to support him and respect him (and his job).  We both have a job to do, but it just so happens that the pay for mine is terrible at times...  And yet at other times, I get all the perks...   


The last thing I will leave you with is an adapted quote from Emily's message that I loved and it sings truth for Brian and I as well:  Brian isn't perfect, but he's perfect for me!  All is well in Coral Harbour.


Now to do the dishes.  Yuck.  On the other hand, nah.  Maybe I'll go exercise instead... 

Daylight

As I was walking home this morning from having dropped off the boys, and while I was willing my eyes/eyelids not to freeze (the only exposed part of my body), I noticed how bright it was outside!  Of course this is relative.  The sun had not risen yet of course, but there was daylight.  It looked like dawn.  You will remember with me that when we first moved here, it was pitch black when I dropped off the kids in the morning.  The other day I noticed the same thing in the afternoon.  That it was much brighter much later.  I'm figuring that within one month of being here, we've acquired an extra 1.5 hours of daylight at least.  This all of a sudden scares me.  My boys sleep until on average 7:30 everyday.  I am scared to see what all the daylight will do to them ESPECIALLY Isaac.  I realized today that we have to crack down on his sleep habits (he still wakes up once or twice a night and wants maman...) before it gets too bright.  Can you imagine trying to "sleep train" a child to go back to sleep at 4am when it bright as day out?  OK so we have a bit of time, but still, in a month it will be brighter much earlier and so on and so forth at a much faster rate than it does down south.  I'm not ever sure it gets TOTALLY dark here.  The blinds in the house  are made for the extra daylight (with side blinders) but it's not total darkness.  The light still creeps in.  I guess good 'ol aluminum foil will have to save the day.  AGAIN.  Alright, I'm getting ahead of myself.  I'll cross that bridge when I get there.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Random Pictures

Well I'm feeling quite sick right now (stomach thing going around the family) so I may as well keep adding pictures while I am forced to sit down.


This is the Coral Harbour Airport.  Yes you can laugh.  The Winnipeg airport is what you call small.  This?  I have no idea what to call this.  Obviously passengers have to walk onto the tarmac and go up the airplane stairs to get on.  The airport is about 15-20 minutes away from the Hamlet.


These are my precious boys: Benjamin (5.5), Nathan (3.5) and Isaac (19mo).  What makes this picture funny is that they came downstairs looking like this all on their own (I'm sure someone helped Isaac get his on).



This is me standing in our new home in front of some of the boxes that were left to unpack.  I am thrilled to say that as of today, I am down to 4 boxes and 3 bins to organize and/or unpack.  I really can't wait to be settled in.



Movie afternoon at the Ward household.  There was no room to play (or do anything for that matter) because of all the boxes so I put on a movie and the kids had lots of fun (both young and older ;-).  The boys don't have many friends their age yet so it's been really nice to have these older kids come over.  It's a different kind of playdate compared to the ones I'm used to but my boys are loving it and so am I.

Inuksuit

Here's a bit of "FYI".


The following was taken from http://www.theinukshukstore.com/kiln%20inukshuks.htm

Inukshuk

pronounced (in-ook-shook), is a stone monument erected in the image of humans. One of their purposes was to serve as direction markers in the harsh and desolate Arctic. They were a tool of survival and a symbol of unselfish acts of the Inuit people. The Inukshuk symbolizes co-operation, balance and unselfishness; the idea that teaching and group effort is greater than individual effort. Each stone is a separate entity, yet each supports, and is supported by the one above and the one below it. No one piece is any more or any less important than the other. It’s strength lies in it’s unity. Its significance comes from its meaning as a whole.  The Inukshuk reminds us of our interdependent responsibilities to invest our efforts today, to direct a better way for all of us tomorrow.


The following was taken from Wiktionary

Noun 

inukshuk (plural inuksuit)
  1. In the likeness of a human being.

Alternative forms

[edit]Etymology

From Inuktitut ᐃᓄᒃᓱᒃ (inuksuk, in the likeness of a human).

[edit]Noun

inukshuk (plural inukshuks or inukshuit or inuksuit)
  1. structure of piled stones, designed to resemble a humanoid figure and traditionally constructed by the Inuit.
    The symbol of the Vancouver 2010 Olympics is an inukshuk






These pictures were taken down by the two Inuksuit (plural for Inukshuk) situated behind our house.  It was a gorgeous sunset at around 3:30 in the afternoon.  In the first picture you can see Benjamin and Isaac (Nathan didn't want to be photographed so he was hiding behind) but also Tamika (far left), Lilian (middle) and Haley (far right).  Tamika took the second picture of the boys and I (Nathan still hiding).




I can see this sign way off in the distance looking out our back windows.  This sign greets all those coming from the airport.  In the background you can see buildings on the outskirts of the Hamlet.  One of those is our duplex. 



Mush Mush

Well if there wasn't enough for the locals to laugh at me already (I don't really know how to sew, I'm a wimp when it comes to the cold - I always look like the abominable snowman, I've never driven a snow machine - I will though as soon as it warms up, and of course the obvious of not knowing the language and culture).  Well I've added an extra reason.  I am the leader dog of a sled.  Actually I'm the only dog of the sled.

Weeks after we moved from Ottawa to Selkirk I made Brian (yes I made him ;o) go to a bike store in Winnipeg to buy me a Chariot double stroller (it converts to a bike trailer).  Nathan was only 7 or 8 weeks old but I needed it to get out of the house and go places (and bring my two darling boys with me) since we only had one vehicle at the time.  While in Selkirk, this stroller took us to the park, to Shopper's Drug Mart, the Marketplace (the only two stores in Selkirk that had doors wide enough for the monstrosity to fit through), to preschool, around the block etc.

I LOVE my chariot.  It was expensive but my sanity is worth that much.  Before we moved, Jenna went to the bike store and picked up the Chariot ski set for me.  It was expensive (my sanity is still worth lots!) and this time I didn't tell Brian how much it was :-)  Well almost four years after buying my beloved stroller, my Chariot is still getting me out of the house with the added bonus of keeping my youngest boys warm (or at least sheltering them from the wind).  My stroller is now on skis, has two poles stretching out from either side of it and at the end of the poles is a belt that I attach around my waist.  Mush, mush here we go.  I pull my kids to and from school, daycare, the store etc.  It sure beats pulling them on a sled.  It's a workout though let me tell you!  The only problem is that poor Benjamin has to walk everywhere and he was initially quite jealous.  I think he is getting used to the idea since he gets to hold my hand while we walk.

I have yet to get Brian to take a picture of us but I did try to take one myself...  Taken on a very cold day this past week.



People stop and stare when they see me coming and the kids mob the stroller every time we pick Benjamin up from school.  The picture below is of one such mob.  Can you find the stroller?


While I hope the novelty wears off, the attention my children get is darling.  We keep trying to explain to them that we have so much compared to those who live here and, therefore, we need to be very good at sharing.  I'm not sure how much they understand since they (nor myself actually) haven't stepped foot inside an Inuit home.  It's difficult to imagine how little they have.  Not being selfish and sharing what we have...  What an important lesson to learn.  I hope we learn it well and take it with us wherever we go.

Friday, January 21, 2011







Sunny Day in Coral Harbour.  I just noticed that I haven't taken pictures of our house yet...  When the temperature, becomes reasonable again I will go out and do so.  It is presently -38 but feels like -54.  Thankfully, Brian was able to drop off and pick up the kids today so I wouldn't have to walk with them. This afternoon, school was cancelled (they send the kids home at -50).  Despite the cold, five of our young Inuit friends made it tonight.  I MADE them put on their fur-rimmed hoods to walk back home.  I felt so bad, some of them not even wearing any winter pants (some is poverty, some is pre-teen "I want to be cool").  We had lots of fun tonight playing monkey in the middle and colouring.  I also made a filling and nutritious snack (spinach extraordinary cheese dip with crackers) as well as a treat (Jello).  I was happy to hear that on Wednesday nights there is a girls club at the school for girls in grades 4 to 9.  These kinds of programs are a necessity to give this generation a fighting chance.  I hope there is one for boys as well.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Rire Jaune

There is a French expression "rire jaune" that directly translates to laughing yellow.  I've tried many times to explain this expression to many friends over the years (most recently to my friend Jenna in Selkirk *wink*) and the closest that I've come is to describe it as laughing sarcastically or that nervous laugh when you know you shouldn't be laughing.  Your laughing, but it's not funny.  Anyway I was laughing yellow the other day when I opened a box that contained gardening tools and gloves and the Christmas tree water reservoir.  This is quite "funny" since a) we never wanted these things here in Coral in the first place b) there is no way we could EVER use these items here (no summers = no gardens or trees) and c) we are noticing that we are missing things.  The last one is the biggy.

Here are the missing items (the ones we've noticed so far - there's probably more)
1.  Thunder's 6 month supply of special diet cat food
2.  Brian's work binders, summer boots and other work related things
3.  Bunk bed pieces

While Brian's stuff can probably be replaced and we don't need the bunk beds right now (this house has 3 single beds), we are however, quickly running out of food for Thunder.  I don't know if they even sell cat food here at the stores and if they do, it could make his urinary tract problem worse.  Thankfully Brian is scheduled to go back to Selkirk for a couple days at the beginning of February for work, but will we make it to then?  What if his flight is cancelled thus cancelling his trip as well.  I know something will work out, but it's "funny" that we've received all the litter containers on which the food was resting on!  There are so many things we could have lived without but our cat needs this kind of food to live...  

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Coral Harbour Boot Camp

On Monday I went to my first exercise class.  One of the teachers invited me to join the group of other women to do a program called Slim in 6 (6 weeks).  Essentially, we get together in the library at 4pm, turn on the DVD and burn those calories!  It's awesome! It's motivating!  It's FREE!  The best part is that this program is Monday to Friday (instead of the once a week I thought it was originally!) so I'll get to exercise daily, get out of the house daily without the kids AND get to know a handful of women (some whites some Inuit) over the course of 6 weeks.  I just hope my chronic injuries hold up because this opportunity changes so much for me in terms of having a social life.  Not to mention the fact that some of the friendliest people I've met so far all happen to be in this class!  Coincidence?  I think not.

I had to smile a bit (not in a mean way of course) at the Inuit women in the class.  I don't think they really "do" working out.  They all showed up wearing jeans and inappropriate footwear (one did the exercises barefoot!).  I think that working out might be a foreign concept here.  Women here don't go out much (unless they work).  It's a bit like it was (or my understanding of it) when my grandmother and mother were raising kids.  They stayed home and raised the kids.  They didn't do much for themselves.  No playdates, no trips to the spa, no membership to the gym, not much of anything.  I've never felt this way in the South but here I feel like the mothers (and father's too probably) in our modern societies are far more selfish then they were in the past.  I'm not passing judgement on any generation, it's just my observation.  Anyway I am so glad a few Inuit women have decided to join the group.  I am really looking forward to getting to know them.

Yesterday the class was cancelled because the school had no heat and today I had already made plans with Epiksout.   I am really looking forward to going tomorrow - the break was good however since my muscles are still sore from Monday!

Leonies Place and Craft Store

Yesterday I was invited to go to Leonie's Place for coffee with none other than Leonie herself.  This was my first invitation from an Inuit person and I was very excited to go.  Leonie's Place is Coral Harbour's Hotel.  It's more like a Bed and Breakfast but I guess when there is no competition you can call yourself whatever you want.  When you walk it's very warm and inviting.  Nothing fancy but feels like home.  You take your boots off and walk down the hallways where the small rooms with single beds pass you by (I didn't think to count how many but there are more than 4 for sure).  The end of the hallway opens up to a dinning room with 4 tables each having 4 chairs and around the corner is a nice size kitchen.  On the walls Leonie has a wall of fame of sorts filled with pictures of her family, certificates and diplomas etc.  Going up 4-5 stairs from the dinning room takes you to the big furnished living room where guests can kick back relax and watch TV (because really, what else is there to do?).  We sat down in the dinning room, had coffee and chatted.  There is so much to talk about.  Our cultures so different, our ages so different (I figure she's about 60), our life experiences, again, so different.  So we started on the path which people start really getting to know one another.  When certain pieces of the big puzzle start falling into place as we share milestones and smaller memories...  I was late picking up the boys at daycare and Benjamin at school.  Can you blame me?  I could have stayed all day.

Today, I met Epiksout at Leonie's craft store.  This store, for such a small place, is very well stocked.  Lots of material and all the accessories (as well as other random items such as pots, tea pots, boxed fish batter etc).  Today, Epiksout was helping me buy material for parkas that she is going to make for myself, Benjamin and Nathan (at dinnertime Brian pipped up asking if he was going to get one too - almost as though he was feeling a little left out!).  I'm not sure about Isaac yet since he will grow out of it so soon and really, if it's too cold outside, I can arrange for the poor thing to be sheltered.  I may ask Epiksout to put some fur around his hood to cut down on the wind. We'll see.  Benjamin's will be blue, Nathan's will be red and mine will be brown.  I will be ordering fur for the hoods from Bill Word Furs (billworbfurs.com) a store in Winnipeg (seems to be the place to buy fur!  I never knew it existed).  An extra large racoon for the boys and a fox for me.  I am meeting Epiksout tomorrow morning at 10am to start the process.  She is very excited and so am I!  

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Artist Friends

We've been here 4 weeks and we've already purchased 6 pieces of Inuit art.  They aren't big pieces, nor were they very expensive.  They are not necessarily perfect.  You will not find these at the Museum of Civilization in Gatineau and probably not at any other gift shop.  Yet they at masterpieces and I love them all.  They are crafted by local men and we will never be able to find other pieces like them.

Gino, father of 2 preteens, makes decorative ulus (women's kitchen knife with a semi-circular blade) and panas (men's hunting knife).  The blades are made of baleen (see below) and the handles are carved Caribou antlers.  I am the proud owner of one of each and they are showcased in my kitchen.  

Henry, an older looking man, makes beautiful carvings out of anything he can get his hands on.  Polar bears out of limestone, beluga whales out of soapstone, flowers out of baleen, and birds out of caribou antlers are some examples.

Joey's dad, whom I haven't met, also is a carver using much of the same materials as Henry.  Some people here send their children (in this case Joey is a teenager/young adult) to go from door to door to sell their work.  The other day two young kids came to our door to sell a pair of sealskin mittens.  They were gorgeous and I bet soooo warm!  I would have purchased them if the cuff at the wrist had been longer (they were too short and small - the wind would have crept in thus freezing my hands).  Benjamin remarked that they smelled.  Well I guess to put it plainly, they smelled like you would expect a dead seal to smell like.  Ha!

We are the newcomers and so it's to be expected that all the local artists will try to sell us their work. Who else can they sell it too?  Most people here can either carve for themselves, can't spare the money and/or already have all they want or need.  This is all to say that we've had someone come to our door nearly everyday.  You can't blame them for trying!  While it's difficult to say "sorry not today", it's been a great way to get to know a few of the local people.  Henry, the other day, was telling us where he finds his materials (limestone on a island not far away, soapstone up the shore somewhere, baleen from the bowhead whale the community caught 4 years ago etc).  He was also telling us stories about the whale hunts and how the community is trying to organize another bowhead whale hunt for this summer.  I hope we are here to witness this event.  Apparently what an event it would be!  Henry was describing all the parts of the whale they eat, how they prepare it and how they have huge community feasts.

If anyone is ever interested in Inuit art let me know.  I'm sure the locals would love your business!


Baleen or whalebone is a filtering structure in the mouth of most whales, which they use to feed by sieving small animals from large mouthfuls of seawater. Instead of teeth, these whales have rows ofbaleen plates in the upper jaw–flat, flexible plates with frayed edges, arranged in two parallel rows, looking like combs with thick hair at the end of each comb tooth. Baleen is not in fact composed ofbone, but of the protein keratin, the same substance as hairhornscalesclaws and nails. Baleen whales use these combs for filter feeding.  From Wikipedia

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Difficulties

Today 5 kids came to the door:  Haley, Daisy, Riley, Lukacy Jr. (I call him Jr.) and Jeremiah, all grade 6 students (word gets around).  At first I was apprehensive, especially since I've noticed that older boys here in general are very rough and they fight a lot.  I decided to focus on the kids and spend time with them to make sure nothing got out of hand (instead of getting dinner ready).  To my surprise they were very well behaved.  The boys played really well together - no fighting and great sharing.  The girls, Isaac and I coloured in colouring books (a favourite childhood pass-time) and we were joined by Riley and later, Jeremiah.  They are sweet. They are looking for something to do.  If the kids grow in number and my home gets too small, I might approach the church about starting an after school program there.  I probably couldn't do it every day but maybe 2-3 times per week.  We'll see.  Right now it's quite manageable and it's fun.

I can't help but feel for those living in this community.  They live in an impoverished community and yet they are well aware of what's out there and in other ways they don't have a clue.  The girls often hear me talk about different foods and their nutritional value as well as other healthy lifestyle tips since when they come over often while I'm making dinner.  The other day they ate red pepper and tasted lemon for the first time.  They sell them at the Co-op store yet at 11 years of age they had never tried them.  Haley asked me "why is it that when my dad gets money he only ever buys junk food?"  What do I say to that?  There is lots I COULD say but I really need to be careful so I ask her "well, have you ever asked him to buy fruits and vegetables?  Maybe he doesn't know that you want to eat those foods".  There is a misconception that people here only WANT to eat junk.  Not entirely true.  They are uneducated and poor.  Tamika tells me that when she gets a bit of money she buys a kiwi at the Co-op.  They cost 1$.  They are her favourite.  Tonight the kids polished a bowl of baby-cut carrots.

Tonight I also chatted with the kids about school and mentioned how important it was to go to school and learn.  To give a bit of background, attendance is an issue here.  The first Friday of every month the teachers give away Attendance Awards as incentive.  Tonight, Haley asked me why school was important.  Wow.  Some people here make it.  They get an education and find a job and do well.  I don't know what the different factors are between the ones that make it and the ones that don't.

People are bored here.  Brian and I (Brian more than me) have met people that have plainly said "when I'm bored I get into trouble" "or I have nothing to do so I smoke pot".  I know this is EVERYWHERE.  The difference here is that there really isn't anything to do!  No jobs, it's cold, dark, no nothing.  Thank goodness I have my kids because I'd take up smoking pot too!  I've met a few men that have a "past" with the law and they are trying so hard to be good.  I kept myself up thinking last night about what people (or these guys) could do and 2 things came to mind
1) Brian could start a Bible study with them and teach them about the hope we have in Jesus and
2) Sometimes we need to take the focus off ourselves.  Maybe these guys could have purpose in helping others...  It won't pay much but it might take care of the boredom part.  Now there's something to pray about.

For me personally the desire to help others is deeply intense right now.  My Selkirk family did so much for us in the past four year, and especially in preparation for this big move.  Three weeks worth of meals,  free childcare (did I mention somewhere that I have 3 boys?!?), errands, gifts, prayers, hugs...  So my want to pay-it-forward is bursting at the seams.  Today I dropped off some soup and biscuits at Leonie's place for her to give to a man suffering with cancer.  I had told Leonie I loved to cook and bake and that by making extra and giving to those in need is one of the few things I CAN do right now.  Giving to and helping others makes us take the focus off ourselves and our not-so-perfect circumstances.   It's a happy pill up there with exercise and vitamin D.  If you are feeling bitter these days, jealous, sad or selfish give of yourself and you won't regret it.  It felt so good today to do something for someone else instead of feeling like a "helpsucker" to those around me (it was hard for me to take take take from people before we moved).  

Nicknames

I have been named after a tree for no reason other than the fact that Tamika has a sister who's english name is Tania (or Tanya?) and her Inuk name is Napaqtuk.  So I guess  I am named after Tamika's sister (I hope to meet her someday!).  Brian also has a nickname:  Judy.  You did read correctly.  Judy.  I howl when they call him this.  You see the first day Brian met them he teased them by pretending to forget their names and he called one of them "Judy".  Well, then I told the girls that they had to find a way to tease Brian back.  So they came up with calling him "Judy" except that the name has stuck and now that's all they call him...  Serves him right!

Did I mention...

that I saw a real live dog sled?  I saw it while looking out my back windows one day.  The sled was being pulled by 6 dogs and the master was cracking  the whip.  I'm sure Tamika thought I was crazy when she saw how excited I was.  I felt I had to explain that these are things we don't see in the "South".

Unpacking Woes

We are in the throngs of unpacking.  If we didn't have 3 young boys and little living space, unpacking might actually be kinda fun (ok maybe not...).  It's fun to finally get my stuff.  Here is a list of the few things that I was so happy to see again

1.  My body pillow (I never did wean myself from it after my pregnancies)
2.  All my kitchen stuff, but especially my slow cookers (I brought both my small and large slow cookers - yes I do use them both quite often thank you very much!)
3.  Scented candles
4.  My Epicure Spices (I used both the spices AND the slow cooker the first day I unpacked them!)
5.  My cookbooks.

I'll be honest:  I packed way too much stuff.  Well, I should say that I set aside way too much stuff for the packers to pack.  I'm telling you the truth though that it was DARN HARD trying to picture living without certain things for 4 years.  That's a long time - even if you use things once or twice a year that's still 4-8 uses!  Brian has been very good to me in the sense that he dare not say anything about how much stuff came up North (he better not since I had to do 99.9% of the sorting ;o).

Packers are funny.  They over pack some things while under packing others.  I found a box stuffed with packing paper that contained, get this, toilet paper rolls, and then I found my sewing machine unwrapped, on it's side, at the bottom of a big box (I need to check to see if it works).  While unpacking Isaac's box of clothing I noticed that something was really fowl smelling.  Well you can imagine my surprise when I found a very dirty diaper neatly wrapped in packing paper at the bottom of the box.  So I wonder if the packer laughed inside when he packed it?  Seriously as if one wouldn't notice a dirty smelly diaper!

So far we've found only 2 broken items (and by the state of some of the boxes it's a miracle there haven't been more casualties).  As one would imagine my yucky cheap glasses or dishes didn't suffer any (too bad), no, it's my nice pottery!  Mike and Renee (Brian's cousin and his wife) gave us a nice piece of pottery for Christmas one year.   You know, the one-of-a-kind type that you'll never be able to replace.  Yup that's the one that got smashed.  Not the Epicure baking dish that I can replace (it was right next to it!), nope, one of my favourite pieces.  The other piece was one of the mugs that people from Selkirk Community Church bought for us (me ;o) as a goodbye gift - I hadn't even had the chance to use them yet!  Hopefully Jenna can find a replacement for me - so that one's not too bad.

At suppertime the rest of our boxes came in and as I look behind me there's a box with upside down writing on it "Fragile.  This Side Up.  Dish Barrel".  Need I say more...    

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Home Is Where Your Stuff Is.

It was pretty quick and almost painless.  The phone rang around 3am informing us that the "unpackers" were coming from the airport and at 4am we were crawling back into bed.  The boys never woke up.  A small miracle no doubt.  Our main level was completely jammed with boxes piled nearly to the ceiling with only a path to the kitchen and enough room to squeeze around the table for meals.  The boys (yes all three) had so much fun climbing and crawling over all the boxes with only a few bumps and bruises as a result.  Yes today, Brian and I win the award for being the worst parents.  We let them do everything short of running with scissors and drink Javex.  They watched plenty of TV, stayed in their jammies, ate cereal out of the box (making a huge mess), had candy and, as mentioned before, went on some serious escapades, all in the name of being able to unpack as many boxes as possible.  The boys were very excited and did help out in the little ways that they could (ie carrying stuff upstairs to their rooms).  Even Isaac got down to business by crumpling the packing paper down to the bottom of the box that Brian had stuffed him in.  It was an exhausting day.  The only "glitch" to all this (and really it's more of a blessing) is that they bumped 700lbs of our stuff off the place last night, therefore the rest of it should come next week.  This is good since it gives us a chance to hopefully unpack most of the stuff we have here right now.  

Friday, January 7, 2011

It's All Perspective

I can have a good attitude about most things if I have the right expectations or if somehow I can benefit from it.  Last night Brian and I were quite annoyed at Isaac because he was awake at 1am and was having trouble going back to sleep.  As per usual I looked outside and saw them again - the Lights.  They were even more spectacular then the first time I saw them so I told Brian to come see them.   Well all of a sudden there we were running to get the cameras (video and digital) and setting up makeshift tripods with pillows and clothes to be able to take nighttime pictures.  All of a sudden our annoyance turned into sheer awe and thankfulness.  Thankful that we were awake to be able to witness such beauty.  This morning, the walk to school was equally rewarding.  Usually I'm thinking that I'd rather be in bed instead of coaching along 2 boys to walk faster and pulling the third in the sled, but this morning I saw the first glorious glimpse of the sunrise.  A thin blood-orange strip hugged the horizon and contrasted with the dark blue sky more beautifully than black on white.  This morning, I was glad to be up and relished in God's wonderful works.  I was thankful that I took the time to enjoy them.  Hey, it's dark and cold and still quite strange to me here so I've got to hang on to the wonders where I can.

At suppertime the Northern lights were out again and this time we took the kids in the truck to see them.
They were awesome - spanning as far as the eye can see from horizon to horizon. Bright green ribbons dancing and the stars!!!  Wow, I've never seen so many stars.  It was weird being in complete darkness, stillness and without a sound (Brian had taken us about 10 minutes out of town on the airport road). We were all contained in the box of the truck and it was eerie when Brian turned on his flashlight to make sure there wasn't a polar bear lurking around...  When I asked Benjamin if he liked seeing the lights he said "it was cold".  Well there you have it.  Someday he will appreciate this, I think, especially since he'll be the one to remember this adventure the most.  We took some really nice pictures but they will be way better (less blurry) once we get our tripod...  I hope to post them soon on my blog but we are waiting for the camera cable to come with our stuff.


Speaking of our stuff, I am just about to go to bed and nobody knows for sure whether our stuff is flying in tonight or not.  So we MAY get a knock on the door in the middle of the night or we MAY not...  Oh well, such is the life in the North.  You can't bank on anything.  Once expectations are lowered and perspectives are well, put into perspective, it's actually not that bad...

Little Women

We have made a few friends here but not quite the kind I was expecting.  Three 11 year old girls have taken a liking to us (and we, a liking to them ;o).  Tamika, Haley and Lilian are their English names (I have yet to keep track of their Inuktitut names).  They are sweet, eager, helpful, respectful young girls.  I met them one night on my way to the grocery store (along with 2 boys).  Within seconds I had one linking with each of my arms and the other linking with her friend.  They followed me all the way to the store, helped me shop, and pulled the sled home with all my groceries.  I invited them in that night into my entryway so that Brian could meet them.  They were so shy yet very excited to be in our house.  They polished an entire tub of gummy Christmas wreaths before I had my boots off.

Tamika was the first to come to our house.  There she was just staring at us through the window.  She caught me off guard but I was happy to see her.  I invited her in.  I was reluctant to do so and asked her many times what her mother would say and the answer was always "she doesn't mind" or "she doesn't care" (which Brian reassures me that it's true - parents don't care, they are happy when the kids are out of their hair).  That afternoon we coloured with the kids and had hot chocolate.  I wondered why she never answered my questions and always made a funny face and then I remembered!!!!!  She was lifting her eyebrows in a surprised kinda look every time she was saying "yes".  Eureka!  She didn't seem so awkward once I figured that out!

The next day there was Tamika and Haley.  And the next, Tamika, Haley, and Lilian.  Today, Tamika, Haley and Lilian.  I look forward to their visit after school.  I've had to set a few rules however.  Departure time is 4:30pm (they would stay all night if they could) and no playing upstairs.  They are very curious and I don't blame them (RCMP housing is the nicest in Coral Harbour and we have "stuff"- toys, iPad, food etc), but now that they've seen the upstairs really there's nothing for them to do there.  I am also hoping to limit the visits to weekdays and not on weekends as to keep our family and down time sacred.

You might be thinking that I've opened up a big can of worms by inviting them in my house and I wonder if I have but I can't help it.  Even if tomorrow 10 kids show up would it really be that bad for an hour?   Brian talks about how his home growing up had a revolving door of people coming and going and I know that we've always wanted our home to be open and welcoming.  I feel that we've been given so much (and have so much compared to those living here) that it would be so selfish not to share our "wealth" even if it means letting them take turns using the iPad, eating half of my cake, letting them paint their nails...  This verse keeps coming to my mind and I simply can't ignore it.

Luke 12:48 says "For everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked"

I am trying hard not to cross boundaries and so today I asked the girls if they could ask their moms if they would like to come over and meet me and possibly avoid misunderstandings (should there be any).  Tamika said that her mom doesn't like whites...  Yikes.  I don't feel bad though because Tamika also spends time with her white teacher Robin.  I'm looking forward to finding out what the answers will be.

The girls love the boys.  All of them, including Brian!  Ha!  They get all shy and giddy when he comes home from work and it's so cute to see them.  Of course Brian teases them in his usual manner and they love the attention.  They especially love Isaac.  They want to hold him, love him and take care of him and of course he isn't always receptive to it, but by the time they are leaving he is usually begging them to read stories or to play tickle peek-a-boo.

Two days ago the French Canadian and Inuit Cultures collided.  Ok, I'm being a little dramatic but the girls did get a taste of one of my family's traditions growing up.  For New Years my dad had sent a tub of "tire', pure maple syrup that has been boiled down to a very sticky and thick consistency.  Every spring, at "Sugar Shacks" (Cabanes a sucre), people line up with popsicle sticks by big tubs of clean snow where the boiling hot "tire" is poured over in patches.  The fun part is picking the biggest patch and rolling the congealed tire around your stick to make a "popsicle".  If one can handle it, you can try to roll TWO patches of tire, but then you run the risk of making a big sticky mess (as a kid, WHO CARED!).  Anyway when I asked the girls to go outside and fill a cookie sheet full of snow, clean snow   because we'd be eating some of it, they looked at me with big eyes and ran out as fast as they could!  We'll to get to the punch line they loved it!  We all sat around the table, including the boys, and dove in with our spoons, twirled, licked and sucked.  It was so good and we were completely sticky.  I took the opportunity to explain the sap and maple syrup process.  They actually seemed interested.  They asked for more.  I guess I'll be asking my dad for a special favour...

The girls are very mature in some ways.  They love to care for young children, they play with them but they also help them get dressed and carry them around - like little mothers-in-training.  They are also very good about cleaning up after themselves.  They offer to do the dishes, pick up toys and even replace  the garbage bag when it needs to be replaced.  Did I mention that they are eager?  ;o)  The sad part about all this is that the mentality here for many is similar to that in third world countries where girls get married and have children very young.  Also, few get an education.  Last year only 2 teenagers graduated high school...  I noticed that the girls have trouble reading out loud and they are in grade 6.  I am hoping to pick a novel (Anne of Green Gables or Alice in Wonderland for example) and go through it with them reading it out loud to one another.  

The girls are trying to find an Inuktitut name for me.  They pondered "flower", and something else I can remember right now but I think they've settled on "Napaqtuq" meaning "tree".  I have to ask them again why "Napaqtuq".  I think I like it - we'll let's put it this way, I've been called worse!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Our backyard

Finally Brian and I are able to upload pictures.  Hooray!  Up until a couple of days ago we were using our neighbours WiFi internet connection and couldn't upload or download anything as to not take up too much of their internet "amount".  You see here we pay for a certain bandwidth (certain "amount" of internet per month) and once you use it up you either have to buy more or go to the incredibly slow dialup.  Skype, unloads, downloads and YouTube for example will eat up the bandwidth...  So I will pick the best pictures to send add to this blog.


This is our back yard.  This is what I see every time I look outside my back windows.  The two sculptures are Inukshuks.  So far no one knows who built them.  In the summer there is water from the Hudson Bay but I'm not sure how much at this point (it's difficult to distinguish the ice from the land).  The boys and I routinely walk down to the sculptures and explore.  I look forward to seeing the vegetation that will grow here in the summer since presently there are plants that peek through the snow.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Our Stuff and Our Second Christmas

Our stuff isn't coming tonight.  I called Atlas Van Lines Moving company and it was always arranged for Friday night (which is what I originally thought).  They will be flying our stuff in from Thompson MB and will be delivering and unloading it in the middle of the night (is it too much to ask that my boys sleep through everything?).  I have requested that NOTHING gets unpacked.  Normally, being an RCMP move, they would unpack as much as we want but since it's in the middle of the night and it's a real pain to have all breakables on the floor where 3 little boys have a raceway, I decided that I wanted to unpack things myself as my own pace.
Hey do you want to know where your tax money is going?  I can tell you!  It going to pay for the charter plane that is carrying all of our stuff and ONLY our stuff.  This is the closest we'll ever be to having our own plane!  Since our stuff was supposed to arrive before Christmas our "manager" at the moving company is fitting for us to get our stuff soon and in one shipment (as opposed to a few boxes here and a few boxes there on the regular Calm Air plane).

Tonight was up there with Christmas morning.  Brian came home tonight with 13 boxes of blessed food.  We were the giddiest family as far as the eye could see.  We opened each box with great joy and anticipation.  "MINI WHEATS!!, CUCUMBERS!!, MILK!!, GARLIC!!,"  It was so much fun and it felt so good.  You guys reading this will never really have any idea.  I feel normal for the first time since we've moved!  There is something so comforting see the food we normally eat every day.  The Ward family would go through an english cucumber per day (it was Nathan and Isaac's favourite) and you should have seen us clapping and jumping when Brian unpacked the water-packed vegetables from the boxes.  Needless to say we cracked one open!  For supper I had a banana, an orange, cucumber, grapes and a yogourt.  I can't wait to have 100% all natural peanut butter tomorrow morning instead of the hydrogenated junk we've had to endure.  Brian enjoyed his tall glass of milk.  I was a proud mother tonight.  To see my kids so excited to have and eat fresh vegetables and fruit was awesome.  It's up there with a mother's top dream for her kids.  I cried one day talking to my friend Jenna because at the time I thought that my boys might lose their taste for the vast variety of healthy foods that they were accustomed to eat.  I feel so much better now.

If after reading this you think that I am a few sandwiches short of a picnic, well maybe the arctic air is getting to me, maybe it's cabin fever, whatever it is, it's amazing what a little "taste of home" (puns intended) can do!

Benjamin's First Day of School

Getting up when the alarm rang at 7am was really hard.  I loved Christmas vacation for the fact that we actually got to relax and sleep.  We were catching up and enjoying sleeping in a bit.  The boys never woke up before 7:30am and on a few occasions it was well past 8:30am (when having small children, this is a miracle!).  The extra darkness certainly helps to sleep, but this morning it made things harder.  We set out to walk Benjamin to school at 8:35am and it was still completely dark.  Yuck.  Nobody should be up and running when it's that dark, it's just not healthy (it motivated me to take my dose of vitamin D when I got home).  Anyway, Benjamin's teacher's name is Emma.  Yup, that's it, Emma.  No Mrs. Emma, just Emma (she is Inuit, very quiet but apparently good with the children).  His class has one other white child and it's Railey from next door.  I think the fact that Railey was there helped Benjamin be less timid.  He went in like a brave little soldier.  He also was comforted by the fact that here in Coral the kindergarteners go to school for only half days, but every day (Benjamin found the days very long at his previous school where he had to go all day every second day).  He said he liked it.  He mentioned that instead of having a snack and going outside for recess, they spent some time on the computers.  Huh, I guess they can do that here!  

When it snows it storms

I'm going to start by saying that I'll believe it when I see it.  Apparently, we are getting not one, but two anticipated shipments tonight.  The first, our foodmail order and second, our stuff.  

Foodmail:  There is a program for those of us living in ridiculously remote areas of Canada where the government subsidizes some of the postal costs to have food sent.  So for Coral Harbour there are a few stores that we can order certain food items from and they will airmail them to us.  The major perk here is fresh food at southern prices.  They will not however send canned goods and the list is quite selective.  Apparently, the produce sometimes arrives frozen and it's a real pain to get reimbursed.  I guess, we'll see! 

So our Safeway order is apparently arriving today.  We have been waiting very patiently for items such as skim milk (we can only get 2% here and let me tell you there's a big difference - Brian has not had a glass of milk since we moved), meat (extra lean ground beef, ground turkey, pork tenderloins - none of which you can get here), cheese, cottage cheese, fruits and vegetables.

Our Stuff:  Some of you may not realize (because I haven't explained it!) that we have been living out of our suitcases since we got here 2.5 weeks ago.  While there were a few items at the house when we got here (and the items that Hali so nicely lent us), essentially we've been living with the few essential things that we brought with us on the plane (clothes, 1 set of bed linens each, a few linens, Christmas presents, few toiletries, few cleaning products, few plastic dishes and sippy cups for the boys, humidifiers, etc).  I am really looking forward to all my bakeware, cookware and all things kitchen.  I love to cook and bake and have been lost without my stuff.   

I guess we'll see what happens tonight!  This is exciting...



  

Windy Day

On Sunday, January 2nd we had a wind storm with the strongest winds I had ever felt.  Visibility was terrible because of all the blowing snow and venturing outside was, well, an adventure.  The winds were so strong that I had trouble opening the truck door.  From the outside I needed to brace myself against the side of the truck with my left hand to then pull the handle with all I had with my right hand (now mind you I am a bit of a weakling but STILL!) and from the inside I had to push the door open with both feet to keep it from whacking me in the face.  Poor Nathan was knocked right over to the ground by the wind - it was actually quite funny to witness (but don't tell him that I laughed out loud at his "misfortune" ;o).  There were only a few in attendance at church (who can blame the snowmobilers and walkers!) and it was nearly cancelled because the lights kept flickering on and off (the same was happening at our house - I thought for sure that our New Year's dinner was going to consist of cold sandwiches but the electricity lines managed to hold up!).  Needless to say I was very thankful to have a warm home, warm clothes and a truck.  Apparently the wind storms can get much worse...  Now that will be something to experience!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Happy New Years!

The week between Christmas and New Years was packed with activities in the evenings.  Every night the young and old met at the Hall to play games and square dance.  They stayed up all night and slept most of the day.  On New Year's Eve there was a church service and like Christmas eve, it was packed!  After the service there were fireworks and a "parade" of all the trucks and snowmobiles (Hali counted 49 machines in a row!) driving around the community.  THEN they all took a little break to go home to have a snack and recharge the batteries so that they could go to the Hall for some square dancing until 5 or 6am ( or later because I heard many snowmobiles going by later than 7am and we just KNOW that they were going home and not getting up for the day).  So was I partying it up?  Nope!  Unfortunately for me, Brian was working and so I had to stay home with the kids.  Most people brought their kids along to all the festivities but I simply couldn't - I still don't know anyone, I would have had to walk to all the places with all 3 boys (and it was quite cold), not to mention that my kids start yawning at 7pm!  No, I spent New Year's Eve on the phone with my sister-in-law Sara and Sandra, a Selkirk RCMP wife friend (whose husband was also working ;o).  Sandra and I did however go outside on my front porch for the fireworks and parts of the "parade".   

 On New Year's day we were hoping to go "in the middle" of Hudson Bay to go crab jigging.  This is  when bait is put inside (?) a sock which is tied to a rope and thrown in the hole in the ice.  The crabs pinch the sock and you reel it in.  Unfortunately, there was no way for us to go.  We hadn't driven the snow machines, we didn't have a sled to pull the kids in and we are not "in the know" yet.  It's really hard to get information about what's going on and, as mentioned before, we still don't really know anyone.  Having 3 small kids also makes living the experiences more difficult.  Hopefully, with time, we will find our way.  I know that I need to give it time - we've only been here 2 weeks.  I simply find it too bad to have missed so many interesting activities.  I guess there is always next Christmas.  

One thing I did get to experience a little bit is last night's game night.  Hali and I went to the school gym and it was packed!  There was a huge circle of women with a few in the centre intently searching for numbers written on tiny little pieces of masking tape stuck on the convex part of a huge bowl.  Essentially 3 sets of dice circulate the women and if you or your partner roll doubles then you run to the centre, grad the bowl and keep searching for the number.  Once you find it you peel it off and stick it on your hand and start looking for the next number and so on and so forth until the next set of doubles when the bowl gets snatched from you.  The winner is the team with the most stickers.  There was also a big draw with pretty good prizes (flights, generator, Nintendo DS, laptop).  The kids just ran around like crazy and had fun.  There were only a few casualties…  We didn't stay late because we were both so tired from the night before, but when we left the men and women were playing a game together in a circle (similar to the first one but using cut up socks in rings. Each time you roll doubles you have to put as many rings on your partners wrists and at the end the team with the most rings wins).  It was great to get out and meet a few people (I'll never remember their names but I have to start somewhere!)

Today we had the Butler family over for our New Year's dinner.  I somehow felt great comfort making and serving dishes from back home in Selkirk.  Colleen's rice/mushroom casserole and Miriam's Hawaiian meatballs (made with ground Caribou from one of Hali and Chad's hunting trips - not THAT'S organic!) were amazing.  Probably one of the best meals we've ever made - thanks girls!  We had a nice visit and the kids had a great time playing.

I hope this post is finding all of you doing really well.  I hope this Christmas season brought for all of you wonderful memories for years to come.  I know for sure that I will never forget this Christmas…

PS this was written on January 2nd 2011 but we had no internet access because of a winter storm so I had to post it at a later date.