Friday, January 28, 2011

Then it was Friday... the last one in January 2011!

I don't know about you but I keep writing 2010 not 2011! Maybe because I am no longer in the day to day work world and I don't have to indoctrinate it into my psychy as quickly or maybe because 2010 was just such a big year for me! A quick recap of 2010:

January 2010: Learn I would NEVER own a house on Vancouver Island AND I lose my job
February 2010: Go to the Olympics with my best twinnies and my teen daughter
March 2010: My first trip ever to Atlantic Canada - looking for a new home
April 2010: Sale completion - I am once again a home owner
May 2010: Start garage sales galore - sell almost everything I own
June 2010: A month of saying good bye, farewell and See You Next Week!
July 2010: The trip across Canada - 3 weeks to the day and a lifetime of memories, most will be insane!
August 2010: A month to try to unpack, what we can, settle in and start to get the kids meeting people.
September 2010: School starts and work finally begins on the bedrooms
October 2010: Finally have all our firewood in and work basically ends on the bedrooms - for now
November 2010: Many anniversaries to remember, good and bad and to celebrate the girls birthdays and lives
December 2010: The year is already or finally, over! Our first quiet Christmas alone and thankful that we survived a hell of a year!

Now it is January again and it is almost over. A couple of more days. Rachel has finished her first semester at Canterbury High and Jess is settled into Grade 4 - with not TOO many calls from the teacher. We are all well and ready to move forward. Len and I have lots of great ideas on how to use our talents to earn money. I am in the midst of HOPEFULLY starting a new web design business with government support and things are looking positive with that. 

A week ago there was a raging Atlantic storm and a foot and a half of snow dumped on us. This past week we were in the -30c temperatures and wondering what we had done. This Friday, we sit in a cozy house and the temperature sits at a balmy 9c! Wow what a change! I can hear snow melting and dumping off my roof. Watch out for that falling icicle! It will impale you if you are not careful! I have been perusing the organic seed catalogue and look forward to tilling the ground in the spring! (I have decided since we can't plant until June that I shall start seedlings! Maybe in a greenhouse? We shall see!)

Now, I must run! I have posted Part 8 of our fictional princesses life on the OTHER blog which you will find a link at the right of this blog, to lead you too! Tomorrow I will post the whole story start to finish for those of you who don't like to read in pieces. I am about to put on a big pot of chili starring my home baked beans in the pot with it! To go with that I am going to make a new bread. Just a little something I found in the book "The Best of Bread" by Patricia Jacobs circa 1975! Fun, eh? Au revoir!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

What is a Fireball Hot Chocolate?

Inquiring minds want to know, what IS a fireball hot chocolate? It's very good is what it is! You get Fireball Whiskey - it is kind of a cinnamon flavoured whiskey and SO good even if you don't like whiskey. Make yourself a hot chocolate and put an ounce of Fireball in it, ooh la la! That'll warm up the old insides let me tell you! 

Just to clarify, I don't drink much (not enough actually), I don't have a drinking problem (unless being an hour away from the liquor store is a problem) and as much as I am tempted to buy cheap American booze (much less than 1/2 the price across the border) I am just not willing to lose my Nexus card and be declined entrance to the USA to smuggle in a little wine. (I say cheap American booze since the beer is less than 1/2 the price but it is also 1/2 the alcohol too and doesn't taste great - give me my Alexander Keith from Halifax any day!) The wine however is the same stuff I buy here. A nice 750ml bottle of Australian Yellowtail wine is 17.50 a bottle in Canada and 7.97 in the good old US of A. I have to wonder what they pay in Australia... $4?

Anything wrong with this picture? Is the purpose to simply prevent us Canadians from having drinking problems and getting fat or to make money for the government coffers? I am thinking for the government coffers and I will tell you why! One day I called the Canadian Customs office to find out how much I would pay when I came back to Canada after being in the US for an hour to shop, if I purchased alcohol. The general gist was the beer was going to be almost double to buy and the wine would be about $10 more and spirits, well I didn't even ask. 

Len and I had his son, Ken coming to visit and we thought let's just buy American beer. Although the charges were fairly high it was still closer to our house (20 minutes away) and would ultimately work out to be about the same price. We bought an 18 pack beer, 12 pack beer and a litre of wine. It came to $37 in the US. We came to the border and declared it, since I thought we would only be paying about another $20 on it based on the quote I had earlier that day. The border guard looked at us and said ok come on in to pay the duty. Well, here's the rub! 1) you pay more to exchange the money to US in the first place 2) then you come to Canada and pay the duty, Oh and the tax, OH and apparently New Brunswick felt it was not getting enough of a kick back so the province added another 18% to the total. 

This left us with paying $39 Canadian on our $37 American booze that was watery and had less alcohol. Good deal? I should say NOT! Did we ever do it again? Nope! However, the three standard questions you are asked as you cross the border are: Did you purchase any alcohol? Tobacco? Or firearms today? So the border guard who served us and took our money that day, now looks at us and when we answer no, he always says "Guess you learned your lesson, eh?" Yup! Although I guess it depends on what the lesson was.... Don't buy American alcohol? Or don't claim it? 

Better go now, that Fireball is calling my name!

Monday, January 24, 2011

-40? What?

Well it is not actually -40 but close! It was -32 this morning and with the windchill factor OVER -40. Damn! That IS cold! Oh well, we are faring fine. Just keep the woodstove topped up and on high and keep those electric stoves plugged in, wear big socks and slippers and a long sleeved shirt! Drink lots of hot green tea and every now and then throw in a Fireball Hot Chocolate! MMM! 

The weather tells me I must get those blinds sewn to keep the heat IN my house. As I look at the six foot snow drifts outside my bedroom window I REALLY wish there had been room in the trailer for all of our down comforters! Oh well, I guess it is reassuring to know the crazies across the street are benefiting from them. 

We had a big storm on Friday that netted us a new 18" of snow... light and powdery so easy to shovel and apparently another nor'easter is on its way! Yay? Apparently it is too cold for the kids to even play outside. I remember at Brechin School in Nanaimo, when it was around 0c and we parents thought it was too cold for the kids to go out. The school has not actually had an in day yet and Jess was out playing in -18 (before wind chill factor) on Friday so that MIGHT be why she was home sick today. 

Not much to say at the moment. I have been concentrating on my story "If Happily Ever After... Wasn't" on the other blog! Check it out and I shall update this site with more of our adventures... soon! Take care! I have to go now, my toesies are cold and my nose is frosty so I guess it is time for that Fireball Hot Chocolate!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Now what Sarah? ...

I have decided to post my stories and poetry on a separate blog. You can access this blog at the site listed in this posting. I decided that my story of our life and journey does not mix well with poetry and short stories. Please join me on the new blog or don't! It is for you to decide!

However if you wish to read Part 2 of "If happily ever after... wasn't" then I suggest you click on:

This is Sarah Sherman, from SNOWY Fosterville, NB signing off for the night!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

If Happily Ever After.... Wasn't.... Part 1 of a fictional tale

Over the next few days, I am going to post a story I wrote approximately five years ago. It is quite long, 4,000 words and is not finished yet.... I am looking for feedback on whether I should continue the story or not. Let me know what you think. I know that I am able to write fact, but how about fiction? Read for a couple of days and then tell me whether you want to know what happens? ... Does the story hold your interest? .... Or? 

Please note: All characters in the story ARE fictional and my children's names have been used to integrate them into the story. No live or real Princes or Princesses were hurt or damaged in the writing of this tale. 

Have a GREAT day and tune in tomorrow for Part 2!

            Have you ever wondered what happened to the princess after she met her prince? What exactly did “happily ever after mean?” Well, this is a story of “happily ever after” and it might not be what you expect!
            This is the tale of a beautiful princess and how her life changed after she met the handsome prince. Of course, they were very happy for a long time. She lived in the castle, which was a dream come true! She had every need or wish met and all   the servants waited on her day and night. She did find it odd to go from having so little, to having so much so quickly! The prince assured her that she would become used to it and learn to love their life together.
            The wedding of course had been a splendid affair with kings, queens, presidents, prime ministers and leaders from every country in attendance. Her dress had been made designed especially for her and was bejeweled with every imaginable ornament without being garish. Her friends attended her as bridesmaids and flower girls and she was thrilled to have them all be a part of such a glorious event! She was only sad that her parents were not alive to spend this time with her and see how truly happy she really was. The princess was so kind, that she had no hard feelings towards her evil stepmother or stepsisters and included them as much as possible in her new life.
            Of course after the wedding, all of the guests returned to their homelands and she and the prince went on their honeymoon. They traveled to every corner of the earth and she was sure to send postcards home from each city to let her friends know about her travels. She picked up trinkets and fabrics she knew they would enjoy when she returned home to see them again. She was so excited that she kept a journal where she wrote all that occurred, so she would not forget to tell her friends a thing! She and the prince traveled for a whole year and went to every civilized part of the world. Often they would pass small towns or villages where the people were poor and struggling but the prince always said there was no time to stop and help, as they had to be on their way. He assured her he would send a man back with food and gifts for the villagers so that this would ease their burden a bit.
            As princesses do, who are newly married, she was enthralled by everything the prince said and did and had no reason to doubt his word. She was certain that he would never harm a person or an animal and that he surely must send gifts to all the poor they passed. The princess was on her honeymoon after all she was living in a perfect world!
            After a year of travel, they made their way home. Many of the villagers came out to greet them and welcome the prince and princess back to their kingdom. Children waved and threw flowers to them, families smiled and wished them well with their future family and everywhere the princess looked she saw people.  Nowhere did she see her dear friends that she had sent postcards to.  She  wanted to visit with them and share her gifts and travels with them. Where could they be? She didn’t know, but she was rushed along to the castle with much to do and did not have long to think about it. She knew she would have time later to come and look for them.
            Upon arriving at the castle, the king and queen looked her over closely attempting to see any sign of future grandchildren, but they saw nothing that made them believe she might be with child. The king and queen immediately organized a welcome home celebration for the next day and urged the prince and princess to rest, as they must be weary from all of their travels. The princess was grateful to be at home at long last. 

Return for Part 2 ... tomorrow

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Reflecting today...

I have to keep reminding myself that I am grateful for and appreciate what I have. Sometimes things just seem to enormous to cope with . Or I start to feel sorry for myself for making so many decisions that just don't materialize the results I am expecting. Most often I keep telling myself how lucky I am.

I like to read in bed at night before I sleep. First, I crawl into bed, I have my pj's and long sleeved t-shirt on. Two pillows behind my back, two flannel sheets on top of me and a thick 'mink' blanket. I lay back, take a deep sigh, think about my day, feel my back relax and my legs stretch out. I wonder if tonight will be the night I see the mysterious ghost who wanders the floor. Rachel and Len have both seen her as she shifted from room to room, but not me.

I look around my beautiful home. It is my castle. Yes, we are all still camping out downstairs and the idea of bedrooms seems so far down the road now we barely discuss it. I love the walls, windows, sounds, creaking noises, snow melting off the roof and remember how happy I am to be here. It is my castle, my refuge, my home. I know how lucky I have it. So thank you, thank you, thank you!

I shall keep reminding myself of this as I go to work and clean floors and bake cookies. I shall remind myself of this as I wait anxiously for approval of my business plan to move forward. I shall remind myself of this if my plan is denied and I have to proceed without support. I shall remind myself of this as I listen to a teen move from love to hate in a five minute span, as I listen to my youngest express longing for those left behind. I feel sad that my parents may never come here but glad that I can talk to them so easily with email and phone.

I love my house. I love my land. I love my new neighbourhood. I see my future. I hope I'm not alone for too much of the time that lies ahead of me, but what will be will be. I do look forward to my children having a home to return to visit. Their rooms left for them as they wanted so that they will always feel they can come back to me. That was something I missed and so desperately wanted to give them. We have moved a lot in the last six years but finally I can offer them a haven. I await (far into the future) my grandchildren coming to visit and seeing where their mommies lived. I shall regale them with tales of their mother's youth. I will teach them to bake and fill their little tummies with rich goodies.

Thank you house for giving me my crystal ball. I know I can't see through it all, however, I see the day my chickens run free, the goats scrounge around the house and my garden grows. I see my children's children picking flowers, fruit and vegetables from my garden. I see them hunting down eggs and sorrow when a little chick doesn't make it. This is all so beautiful to me. As I walked through the snow today and admired the frozen lake, I felt at peace. House, you are beautiful and I love you! Land, thank you for your richness! Thank you New Brunswick for reaching out to me and guiding me here.

Golden Unicorn Farm
My house is large
The rooms are empty
The walls are old
The memories a plenty

The floors are marked
The windows solid
The roof strong and sloped
This is my home

The last I will ever know
My life is here now
My heart must know
That as much as I love my past

My future is here
My children will visit me
My friends may not, I fear
I may be alone in this old home

When my children are gone
And my husband goes home
I will be strong
I will adjust

The house is old
It’s full of dust
The love that will
Fill my heart

Will strengthen these walls
When my grief does impart
I know I have loved,
I know I have lost

But this old house
My soul will entrust

Thursday, January 13, 2011


When I was growing up we did not have the conveniences of today. We couldn't communicate by computer, we had no digital cameras and phone calls were expensive. So I didn't see my Grandma Giesbrecht often but she was indelibly in my heart and soul. In many ways I think that my personality is a lot like hers. I wrote a poem about my grandma that popped into my head one night. I am not a poet but for some reason lately words have just run through my head late at night until I make myself write them down. I thought before I share the poem I would tell you a little bit about her.

Keep in mind, these are my memories, other cousins and relatives may have different memories, although I think that each of us will agree on a few of my thoughts. Today if you are reading and not part of my family you may decide to move on with your day and miss this blog. That is OK! Of course, it may also bring to mind your grandma or a loved one who has passed on and give you a few moments to reflect on them.

I don't ever remember my grandma getting angry with me, not once. I don't ever remember her being mean, harsh or scared around her. I do always remember her gentle smile and soft laugh. I remember hugs and a kiss on the top of my head or cheek, but always with love. She never forced herself on us, she was just there. We didn't get to see Grandma a lot since we lived on Vancouver Island, BC and they either lived in Alberta or Saskatchewan... They moved a few times. I do know that they lived close by when I was a baby but of course I don't remember that.

Grandma had 8 children and my dad was the oldest and a boy. I know life was hard for him, they were poor, lived on the prairies and he was born at the beginning of the war. They lived in a Mennonite community and there were strict rules and expectations. It was not an idyllic lifestyle and Grandma was a typical Mennonite woman. She was quiet, subservient and obeyed the church laws and her father, then her husband's demands. That is what women did. Women were not given much education if any and married young. 

My Grandma had all her babies at home I believe and my dad tells me that for some of them he was sent off to get someone to assist with the birth. She gave birth to 5 boys and 3 girls. Being the oldest dad had to leave school in Grade 7 to help on the farm and I think he left home by about age 16 as did most of his siblings. Boys were able to leave home for work and the only way girls could leave was marriage. Ah, life was different then! We, her grandchildren are so fortunate to have been born in a time where we can finish school, there are more laws to help women and children and we can choose how we want to live our lives.

As a mother now of a 16 year old girl, I can't imagine what it was like for Grandma to see her children leave, so young, one by one. I suppose in some ways it was a relief, one less mouth to feed, in other ways it was sad because it was possible she would never see them again. Mailing letters was expensive and they did not always have a phone. I know she always wanted better for them than she had, nevertheless, she gave them the best that she could and although Grandma was a quiet woman of few words, you could see the love in her eyes.

Fast forward to my life... We saw Grandma and Grandpa at least every two years. When I was about 10 years old, Grandpa was stricken with cancer in his early 60's. He passed away when I was 11 and we kids were not taken to the funeral so we didn't see Grandma then. I know that she loved Grandpa, even though life was hard and she didn't get to have much fun. Grandma buried two husbands and 3 children and suffered a lot of grief in her life. I do know that Grandma figured out how to have fun later in life though!

When she was on her own, life became simpler. She did not have to care for anyone, she had a small pension and lived in seniors housing. She had friends, got to go visiting, attend church (no longer an active Mennonite), go to bingo and even take bus trips to Reno of all places! Grandma was always on the go after that! She did remarry at one point however, that only lasted a few years as he passed away. Then she picked right up where she left off! 

Nothing stopped my Grandma until she was about 88 and during the winter she sadly suffered from several strokes. She was not expected to come through it, she did! My Grandma wasn't done yet! Although she never regained her full mobility she did recover. She was a miracle! We were all so happy and amazed to see that by the next fall she was busy and moving around again. She no longer took the bus trips or lived on her own, but she simulated well into an assisted living complex and had her own "apartment/room". We would visit her there and she was so proud to show us off, her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

In 2007, Grandma was to turn 90 years old. As a family we decided to have a reunion in the summer, a few months shy of her birthday and celebrate her 90 years early. It was wonderful! So many people came and stayed and we got together at the community centre over three days to share meals. On the Saturday, we had a party. We had a big feast and decorated the hall. Cousin to cousin, sibling to sibling, everyone who could was there. Grandma looked so beautiful and so happy. We took pictures of her with her remaining sisters and pictures with Grandma and her surviving children. I was told this was her first ever birthday party!

I guess we knew in our hearts it was probably the last time we would all be together with her. I kept saying, "Nah! Grandma, I am going to be here for your 95th!", she just smiled and laughed quietly and called me Sally. (That was my old family name and no one EXCEPT Grandma had called me that since I was 10, but she was allowed.) 

In January, 2008, just 2 months after she turned 90, Grandma took her last breath. I know that she died at peace, I felt it in her. In the last few years she made an effort to call her grandchildren and chat with us. Grandma never tried to make us feel guilty if we were busy, couldn't chat long or didn't get to see her enough even when it was possible. She was so thoughtful that way, she appreciated the moment she was in and did not dwell on the negative, at least not that I could see. When I suffered in my life, she was there for me. 

My youngest and my Grandma share the same birthday, November 20th, only it is 85 years apart. At least two other grandchildren have been named after her. I know my Grandma loved me, it was in her smiles, her hugs, her food and her beautiful eyes. I hope that my future grandchildren will have memories of me, like I have of her. This month it will be three years since she died and I just wanted to honour her, remember her.... Love Sarah XOXOXO

Rest in Peace, You have ALWAYS been my Grandma Giesbrecht.

My Grandma

Grandma was beautiful
In her own way
I knew she was sad
She had grief in her heart
I never knew why
But I know that she loved me
Up ‘til the day she died

Grandma was beautiful
In her own way
She raised eight children
She was brave and strong
No electricity or perks
Farm life was tough
She survived it for so long

My grandma was beautiful
In her own way
I knew that she loved me
Even though we didn’t say
The words I love you
Never came from her lips
But the joy in her eyes
Was enough of a gift

My grandma was beautiful
In her own way
The food that she cooked us
Tasted beyond compare
Mennonite sausage, Perogies homemade
Handcrafted noodles
Hung from the rafters all day
The smells were delightful
All the family would say

My grandma was beautiful
In her own way
That’s why it’s so special
My baby shared her birthday
She reached out to me
When my life fell apart
That’s when I knew
I was always in her heart

My grandma was beautiful
In her own way
Thank you Grandma
You always reached out to us
Your delight was so clear
You seemed so elated
To have us all near
For your 90th birthday
It was such an event

My grandma was beautiful
In her own way
We thank her for blessing us
With the light in her eyes
She will always be missed
In this family she was
The matriarch, the strength
A woman of substance

Sunday, January 9, 2011

“Enthusiasm is excitement with inspiration, motivation, and a pinch of creativity.” Bo Bennett

Definition of Motivation:
1. the act or an instance of motivating
2. desire to do; interest or drive
3. incentive or inducement
4. (Psychology) Psychol the process that arouses, sustains and regulates human and animal behaviour
(I liked this part, made me think PSYCHO which seemed apropos!)

Ok, so I thought I was simply lacking motivation but according to Bo Bennett I am also lacking enthusiasm. I have lots to do and space to do it, nevertheless I lack the desire. I thought I should look up the definition of motivation to encourage myself to focus. I am here though, blogging, instead of doing what needs to be done. I suspect this will stimulate me since I know you shall all await with baited breath to see if I do overcome my lack of motivation?

I suppose the upside of typing and blogging is the decreased likeliness of developing alzheimer's or dementia from lack of using my brain. I do believe that my brain is well exercised. I write daily, I read daily, I stay up to date on news as well as I can without a TV. The downside is that my body will deteriorate and atrophy and I will have to be pushed around the house in my rolling office chair still wearing my house pants and trying not to spill my coffee.

What are house pants you say? My! You are not up to date then! See this is why you are here! Back in the 60's and 70's my mom and friends wore house dresses to get their daily work done. The dress was generally white and getting close to threadbare. I don't suppose it started out white, but the wringer washer, bleach and sun drying certainly did a number on the original fabric. They had curlers on the top of their head and pin curls to the side of their face. This was topped off with a nice big rayon scarf. They wore no makeup (except perhaps some bright red lipstick) and had no compunction about standing at the fence, coffee in hand, jabbering with the neighbours.

This brings me back to house pants. It is now the year 2010, it is almost 45 years later and house dresses are passe! Today I wear my pink plaid flannel waist tied pajama bottoms. They are ever so comfy, allow me room to breathe as I clean, bake, type, eat, drink cuddle and catch up with the neighbour over the phone or Facebook. I imagine the bottoms are starting to wear and if I bent over too far prodding wood into the stove I may hear a split at some point. Today they are fine! Recently I reminded my husband that these were NOT pajama's! In fact, how dare he even imply they were? They ARE pajama's when topped with a nightie or pj top and NO bra. Should I remove the pj top, put on my bra and a shirt or sweater, I am now actually dressed. What about this is difficult to understand? (Being of an older generation he disagrees.)

I must say that it was an incredibly busy summer. I presume you are up to date with the hauling and stacking wood, canning, picking fruit, swimming, walking, etc. Now it is winter. I choose to be more sedentary. Yes there are days I could be out walking and not slip or fall. There are days when the snow drifts are not above my knee and the road has been plowed and I could stroll along. I just don't feel motivated! There we are! Back to that word! Without the desire, excitement and motivation I can't seem to haul my fat ass up the hill, or over to the free exercise classes at the community centre, or even out to do much sledding, which I do find fun. I do not ever exercise because it is fun or for that great endorphin feeling afterward. I only exercise to reduce the number of chins I may be wearing that week. Currently I am down to two chins which I am ok with. Three or more chins and my ass wobbles it way out there, but not happily!
I presume with anticipation that when spring starts to arrive and we have to till the garden, plant seed, hoe each row, weed, start wood piles for next year, build a chicken coop and chase chickens  that I will start to shed my winter weight. I am a mama bear and I am ready for the season of contentment and winter warmth. A little blubber keeps animals and whales warm, why not me?

Now, please don't think I am down on myself. I am at peace. Of course thin is great! I have been there, but frankly counting every morsel I put in my mouth, calculating the amount of fat in a saltine and determining that I must walk an extra 20 minutes tonight at a rapid pace to wear that extra half cup of milk off, is not fun! Plus, I was always cold! SORRY! I accept that I am a warm and cuddly mom. So long as I can breathe comfortably, do an appropriate amount of work and talk without gasping for breath, I am good! (I do applaud you who do all those things! Just not into that anymore.) ... I do like walking out here, just not so much in the winter.

Motivation, desire, enthusiasm ... not happening for me. However the part about inspiration and creativity is rocking off the map right now! I wake up at night with poetry streaming through my brain, I get up in the morning and have thoughts I need to get out... I shall change my house pants soon, (I have to go clean house tomorrow), I will stop with the coffee by my side, (on my last Keurig tablet for the machine) and I shall begin to work on my business plan, yet again (I present it on Tuesday!) 
Meanwhile, I look at the fabric and sewing machine for my new blinds in my house and expect that I will sew them starting next weekend. I consider the scrap booking supplies and boxes of loose photos and know that I will sort them soon. If any of you recall my wedding, I made my wedding dress the morning of the wedding, so ... I DO accomplish my tasks... eventually!

What WOULD I like to do? Get in the truck, fill it with diesel, pull out an empty ready to go credit card and maybe drive to Moncton, fill up on supplies, head on over to Oxford, NS and visit Janice and the family, visit for a day or two and then make our way back. What WILL I do? Go through the laundry in the machine, brush my teeth, kick my teen out of bed, put some flour in the breadmaker and pull something out to thaw for dinner... Oh ya! AND start on my business plan ... again!
Credit to LIFE magazine
and love to all the mom's in the 60's and 70's 
especially MY MOMMY!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The world wide web makes the world much smaller!

Just a quick posting! On the Blog you will see Statistics/Counter listed. When I review this I see that almost 900 people have hit this blog, whether for a few moments or long enough to read it. The map attached shows: Canada, US, Japan, France, UK, Slovenia, Germany, Denmark, Croatia, Russia, China and United Arab Emirates…. Kind of exciting! Could you imagine if I actually wrote something worthwhile? How fun it would be to see who has been there. Just a fun note! Have a great day and keep on reading! (Funny, to my family in Australia, you are not listed here? Is that an oversight?)

Are we THERE yet!

It is Saturday, January 7, 2010 and the children have been out of school for 15 and a half days! Yes, I AM counting. Weather permitting they will return to school on January 11, 2010... Looks like a storm may hit on Monday though in which case we are talking January 12th. Let's hope we all survive that long!

I love them, but it is time to get some structure back in their lives. I love our bus driver, she is wonderful, however, she has not come to my aid as per my directive. I don't know why she did not arrive when I messaged her "Hi MaryEllen! Sorry break is over, please start the bus and come get my kids! Thanks!" I do believe I shall be writing a letter in despair to the school board over this.

I remember when my babies were little and I worked full time, I couldn't understand why my co-workers were relieved when their kids went back to school at the end of the summer. Of course things were different then, my girls were babies, I was infallible to them and with working had little enough time to enjoy them. Now they are older and things are so different! I apologize to you mom's out there that I thought were selfish or heartless for wanting your kids back in school. I get it now!

Daughter #1 - is in her teens, we have a love/hate relationship, depending on what minute of what day; and why can't I just let her have a life and leave her alone? Daughter #2 - is 9 and sees me as a play mate. I apparently NEVER play with her, give her any attention and why did I have kids anyway? (NOTE: #1 and #2 is not preference it is birth order. As I tell my girls, I love them BOTH the best, just don't tell the other one, ok?)

Christmas was looking bleak this year, however, thanks to Jessica and her letter's Santa did find our house. He brought them both lovely things - fashion related for daughter #1 and fun activity related for daughter #2. Of course the excitement of these items lasted for about 3 days after which if I did not play with her she could not use them. Hmmm? Mom? Did I do this? I couldn't possibly have been like this... could I?

Well, Rachel got some hopping cute clothes and money from family so we did take a trip to Fredericton to shop. Of course the day we planned to go the roads were covered in snow and I was advised by a professional driver to stay home.  Advice that I heeded. This of course in teen lingo equals "You don't want me to have a life!" OK, did I miss something here? The whole point of us staying home in bad weather was to KEEP your life? Love hormones! Fun! (Again, I apologize mom for the years between 13 and 21 before I realized you were NOT actually stupid and hating me.)

It has been fun to have the snow. Jessica has loved it. She has generally played out side for about two hours at a time when sliding, building forts and making snow angels. I still do NOT have a snowman but I hear that he hopped off with some bear and they are making snow babies in a cave somewhere. We have made gingerbread houses from scratch, baked cookies, homemade bread, huge elaborate meals, gifted neighbours, had a few dinner "parties", played in the snow, watched movies, long phone calls out West to our loved ones, Rachel has been on sleepovers, parties and gone snow boarding for the first time...OH! and remember, I have not done ANYTHING with my kids OK?

I need to complete a business plan and get some income happening for this family. Of course, my being on the computer means I am "playing" not working. I am pleased with my foresight since there is quite a bit of meat in the freezer, potatoes in the cellar and canning on the shelves. Yes, there is "no food in this house" from a child's perspective but I do see food and apparently it sees me which my waistline can attest too! Of course being a mom the term should be "wasteline" since we need to make sure nothing goes to waste.

I shall finish my rambling now as I get ready to kick my teen out of bed (it is 11am), my starving younger one has been fed "pancakes and bacon" and I begin to really work again for the day. I ask the universe, clouds and sky gods to please be good, these children NEED to go to school Tuesday! Um... bus driver? Hello???? Don't be a wimp, drive! 

In conclusion, Mom, I love you! I am sorry when I sound impatient, uninterested, etc. You have been there for  me when I needed you most. I love you and hope you are around for many years to come. I have added a little Facebook post many of you may have seen and I think it says it all...   By the way, TUESDAY kids are GOING to school!
3yr old: "Mommy, I love you."     - 10 yr old: "Mom, whatever!"    - 16 yr old: "My Mom is so annoying!"    - 18 yr old: "I wanna leave this house!"   - 25 yr old: "Mom, you were right."    - 30 yr old: "I wanna go back to my Mom's house."    - 50 yr old: "I don't wanna lose my Mom."   - 70 yr old: "I would give up EVERYTHING for my Mom to be here with me."      You only have 1 Mom...
Oh and Happy Parenting Everyone! 

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Story of a New Brunswick Transplant

This blog would not be complete if I did not express how much I love New Brunswick. No matter what has gone wrong, which is almost everything, I still know I came to the right place. I believe I will spend my life here, so let me tell you how things have gone since we arrived.

We arrived in Woodstock, New Brunswick and stayed for the night. This was a challenge since it was the one night I think every hotel was busy. We liked the Best Western (best complimentary breakfast in any hotel in Canada!) but they did not have room for us. We ended up in a bit of a divy motel which shall remain nameless. We did NOT eat there since we had been there before for dinner and it was the worst food in Canada! Nevertheless, we had to stay over night since it was after 5pm and all stores in New Brunswick close at 5pm. (They have VERY different laws about stores opening and closing here.) 

We arranged to have the realtor meet us for coffee in the morning to bring us the keys to the house. Our home is about 50 minutes from town, but we took a slower way and it was over an hour with our truck and trailer on the country roads. We were also informed that the retailer who was to have delivered our appliances; fridge, stove, washer and dryer as well as beds for the kids, had not done so. Both the realtor and I called and insisted it be done that day. (They FINALLY arrived at 8:30pm that night!)

The water was not hooked up at the house since no one had lived there for several years. The realtor had the owner meet us at the house in the afternoon to help hook up the water pump. Len and the previous owner spent about two hours in the cellar and at the well trying to get the pump going but it was dead. So, at 5pm, we had a little BBQ outside and pulled water up from the well in a galvanized bucket. I had paper plates and cups and food in the cooler (waiting for our appliances.)

The girls went through the house and were happy with how big it was. They understood the layout and size better than through the photos and our descriptions and determined that yes, it was a good house. Gee thanks! They did see that it probably need a few more renovations than we originally thought. Most of these were cosmetic so I just shrugged them off. We each chose a room downstairs to call our bedroom area. We had to camp out in the family room, living room and den until the bedrooms were ready. The bedrooms should be ready by the time school started in September.  (In retrospect, we arrived July 21, 2010, it is now January 5, 2011 and we are still months away from having bedrooms.)
 We went to bed that night tired, no water running, (which means no bathroom) and were stunned at the complete black in the sky, brilliant starlight coming through the windows and the big dragonflies at night. It was a little scary (talking pee again!) when we had to go out at night to pee because we knew the area was teeming with bears, moose and other wildlife. The girls and I went in groups for the first few nights. I also found out the next night that the dragonflies were not flying at night but the BATS were! ICK! My whole life I had thought bats would fly into my head and tangle into my hear and get stuck as they struggled to escape. TERRIFIED! Except, did you know this isn't true? Bats are good things! They eat the bugs and mosquitoes and apparently the droppings are good for gardens... I don't really care for them living under my roof though, between the old roof and new roof!

The next morning, day two on the homestead, we had visitors one after the other. Men kept coming to help Len with the water system. This was a very crucial part of our living and had to be resolved quickly. Unlike in the city where we are all so busy, have to run to do something and work, etc. people out here, if they are home are not in a rush. Life is more laid back, loving that! So when the men came to help they stayed for hours to help. Some offered to go to the hardware store for parts (the closest is a half hour away) and they kept bringing in more guys to help get us up and running. We were amazed! We had cold beer on hand to share but even then, they only had one to cool down and moved on. Wonderful people!
Len and I went through lots of beer as part of keeping cool while we worked. We had flats and flats of bottled water until we could get our well pump going which was about 5 days. It was another week after that before we had any hot water, so I did a lot of boiling water on the stove. Before we arrived a neighbour had mowed our lawn aka field but it had grown again so another neighbour did it for us. We were ecstatic to learn that Sandy Beach was public access right down the road from us. We took all of our biodegradable hair products and headed for a bath! Apparently there was a fellow who was big, bald, tattooed, intimidating and who owned a pit bull so no one went there. Hey, we're from BC, everyone looks like that! We headed right in and felt like we had our own piece of the lake all summer! Jessica learned to swim and we bathed regularly!

I found out that up the street at the community centre about a mile away, there was a "Fun Park" for kids age 4-12 from 9am to noon each day. This was a god send! Jessica was quickly wanting activity, someone to play with and to be entertained. It took a few days to get her comfortable with the group but she grew to love it. She was able to spend the rest of the summer at Fun Park which was a drop in group. She met almost everyone who would be on her bus, made friends and met the school bus driver. All of this helped her transition much better into school. Rachel had met a few people on Facebook prior to our move and was getting to know the kids better too. She discovered she loved four wheeling, aka quadding. She thinks we should buy one which would be tons of fun but not a priority ... yet! She was also happy on day three when I set up the internet so she could communicate with the "real world".

Len and I were working, day and night. Getting things working. Rachel helped me with cleaning, unpacking the kitchen and both girls helped a bit with stacking wood. There was a lot of wood! We ordered 9 cords of wood split and had to stack it all. We hope to get more of our own wood this year off the property for our heat and keep expenses down next year. We do have 50 acres, but don't want to cut many living trees. We will thin out some areas and pick up dead fall and work with that to start. 
 A wonderful couple up the street brought us a table and chairs set and vacuum to use until we got furniture. Another woman gave us an overstuffed chair which sits in the kitchen, next to the fridge, in front of the fire. The girls fight over who gets the "comfy" chair! (It is January and due to more breakdowns and vehicle repairs - we still have no furniture. It too shall come!) We have had many offers to give us a couch, TV and more... I however, am holding out until I have bedrooms, move the beds out of my living room, buy a NEW couch and NEW flat screen TV! Two dreams ... it will happen! Eventually...

So many people have welcomed us. Helped us, offered support, kindness and friendship. I must say the Maritimes hosts amazingly kind people ... I was told this and it is true! Of course life keeps setting us back, the diesel truck got water in it from a bad gas station, which by the time all was said and done was six weeks of anxiety and $2,000 in repairs. My EI which was to run for another six weeks, we thought, based on the reporting system and information was cut off a week before Christmas without any notice... 

The rooms and house are a nightmare to repair, being 100 years or so old, it is not a straight building, the studs are hard to find in the walls and every time we get going we have to stop. I have taken on a part time cleaning/baking job a half hour away, not my plan but helps buy food! I have had to throw out the open a store/coffee shop due to inane rules that would put us out of business before we started. I am now working on a website development company and hope to get my proposal in for approved funding in the next week or so. Wish me luck!

I have learned (again) how to preserve and can food; dry plants to make tea; make home made pure apple juice; I am planning my garden; getting my organic chickens; working towards living differently day by day. This has been an adjustment, particularly for a mall rat teenager... Jessica was in her first parade at North Lake Field Days which was very exciting! AND! Jessica has learned to ride a bike, compliments of a gift from the neighbour.

Still I am very grateful for what we have, what we are developing and even though it is all taking longer than planned and we might not fully build the farm we wanted, we are here, alive, together. I love my friends and family in the West! I am building new friendships in the East. My children are safe, well and have all they need. (Yes they do disagree about this from time to time, but expectations are slowly changing and we are all settling in!)