Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas 2011

Christmas.  I know that the celebration is because of Christ.  Christ is the reason I have a family.  He demonstrates for us how to love.  I am  so blessed.  This Christmas was another reminder of how much He loves me.  Our family exchanged gifts and those were well received and accepted.

However, this was a great Christmas for other reasons.  Christmas morning, Greg and Reanne sent their Christmas gift via video.  It was in that video that we saw a bun in the oven with a pregnancy tester read "positive"!  Yup, their having a baby in August 2012, God willing.  That'll make two new babies in 2012.  Jocelyn & Mark are due in May!  Our third addition to our family will be when Kerby marries Jeremy.  Next Christmas will be busier again!

Boxing day was my biggest surprise though.  I had ordered some Tupperware through a friend of Greg.  Greg then said that someone from his church was flying in to Toronto to visit his son.  He said this man would be willing to bring my large tupperware order.  However, this meant that I'd need to be at the airport Boxing Day morning at 7:30am.  I knew I had company coming at noon, but I also knew I'd be back in time.  So off I went at 6:30 am with Jocelyn and Stacey.  The man said he'd be wearing a brown sports jacket, blue shirt and blue tie.  He'd be standing outside between pillars 12 - 14.  As we approached pillar 12, I slowed down to a crawl looking for the described man.  Stacey noticed another man wearing a grey pea-coat waving.  She said that he was waving at us.  I didn't know why, but I started to back up to see if it was the tupperware delivery man.  I was almost there when he removed his scarf from his face.  Stacey said that he looked like Greg!  IT WAS GREG!   The car went into park and right there in the middle of the roadway, I ran and cried and hugged him so hard.  I was shocked to say the least.  Thank you Reanne for giving me another Christmas gift!!!

My great-niece, Laura-lea, had a baby on Feb.6, 2011.  Because of Laura-lea's health, she is unable to care for him.  Fortunately for all of us, he went through a kin-adoption.  Heather has adopted him and is willing to keep his extended family connected to him.  I had made arrangements with her to have him visit our house for the first time on Boxing Day.  Unknown to me, my niece, Karen, was making arrangements for my other great-nieces and great-nephews to visit.  Soon, our home was filled!  It was wonderful!

My great-great nephew, Kyle, played for a long time with different toys that his mommy brought as well as some that I had here.  He is so smart and such a happy baby!  He has a really big smile too!  He has a lot of similarities to Jeramie Gallichan.  Those features of big brown eyes and a little button nose are so adorable!  Then my great niece, Becky, came with her husband Naz.  Such a cute couple.  They are also very sweet - always so positive!

Soon, my great nephew, Jeramie, brought his little boy, my great great nephew, Parker, to visit!  He likes to stroll around the house.  He also has those some big brown eyes and little button nose.  Strong family Gallichan trait for sure!  My sister, Sandra, would be so proud of her grandchildren and they way they are bringing up their little babies.  She'd love Parker and Kyle so much.  They'd be spoiled rotten for sure!

All this while, my nephew, Kirk, and my niece, Karen, and her daughter, my great niece, Haylee visited.  It was absolutely wonderful.  It's so great to be able to celebrate a season of hope with those that we hope for the most.  We hope they have good health.  We hope that they are loved.  We hope.  Christmas 2011 is another memory that will be hard to top.  Merry Christmas!

Today, is my son's birthday.  Campbell was and is a blessing to our family is well.  Happy birthday, Campbell!  Your family loves you forever and always!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Family Fitness Challenge Series - Marilyn Denis Show

Fake workout photo!

Submission Photo
On September 9, 2011, I read on the Marilyn Denis website that they were willing to assist a family get back into shape by providing them with a nutrition team as well as a fitness team.  I thought to myself, "Let's try!"  Stacey, Jocelyn and Jennifer were over at the house that afternoon and I asked them to consider submitting our family... well, actually, just the four of us.  Campbell, Vince & Kerby don't need to lose any weight.  Greg does, but he lives in Moncton so he probably wouldn't be able to be part of it.  So we started to brainstorm ideas on a picture to submit as per the website's application.  It also asked to send in your story.  I had no idea what to write for a story.  "Dear Marilyn Denis, We're fat.  Help!"  What story does she want?  We took some duct tape and wrote the word "HELP" on our backs and then took a couple of nice shots of us together as well as a playful shot of us doing a "workout".  I did write a little blurb about our family and our desire to look the best we can for Kerby's wedding and a little history of ourselves.

On September 30th, I received an email thanking us for our submission and a request to continue on the application process and provide them with a short video of our family and why we should be chosen for this series.  After a bit of shock, even to be considered for a national television show, I called the girls and told them about the latest request.  Giggling we decided to ask Kerby for help.  Until that point, she had no idea that we had even submitted anything and her part of our story.  She got very excited that we wanted to be healthier and also lose some weight.  If you don't know Kerby, she is a bit of a fitness nut.  She had all kinds of ideas for a video and music to put it to.  I had no idea and was really out of my element.  Kerby had us video tape ourselves separately and tell a 30 second blurb of why we wanted to lose weight.  That's harder than it seemed.  We also took some video footage of us at the school's gym doing some exercises and stretching poses.  She also asked us to video tape how close we lived to each other by having us drive from our house to Jenn's to Jocelyn's and back home again.

Kerby gave all that footage to Jeremy, her fiance, and he edited it.  As it turned out, Jocelyn had requested tickets to go to the Marilyn Denis Show in August and had received confirmation of tickets for October 3rd.  I emailed the producer and asked him if he wanted us to send our video in by email, or if we could drop it off on the Thursday when we went to the show.  He emailed back and said that if we had it ready to drop off that would be great.  A second email followed shortly after that and another request came to meet us at the show! Jocelyn and I were so excited!  We met with another producer that day and she inquired about our eating habits, fitness regime, likes and dislikes and availability.  We left that show hopeful that we'd hear back from them.

Two weeks went by and we hadn't heard anything.  I sent them another little picture of us at a Colon Cancer run that we had participated in that was published in the Hamilton Spectator.  Just a reminder that we were still waiting.  I know I thought we should be chosen, but really, it's a canadian wide hunt for a family.  We really aren't that special and there are a ton (pardon the pun) of overweight families.  I kind of gave up hope and stopped talking about it with the girls.  Well, lo and behold, over a month later on October 9th, I got an email saying that they hadn't forgotten about us and that they were in the process of finalizing which family they will be choosing.  Hope flickered again.  I called the girls to tell them.  They all had a bit of stunned silence and then a nervous giggle shortly followed.

You can only pretend to know the shock I had on Tuesday, November 22nd, when I opened my email and read this:  "Congratulations!  You guys are going to be the family we feature on the show for the family weight loss series!  We will launch this in January and it will run until June. However, we will probably start filming some of the stories with you sometime in December.  I just want to make sure all of your schedules are flexible and what days/hours work best for you so I can begin organizing a shooting schedule.  We’re very excited about this and I hope you are too!"

Yup - shocked  I tell you.  I called the girls and, oh, my word.... we couldn't believe it.  In fact... couldn't believe it.  So excited about the opportunity to have people walk along side of me and my girls, that I love so much.  I want them to have a better life than I have had being overweight and all the emotional crap it puts you through.  I want to be a great looking family for Kerby's wedding.  I want to live a healthier life and hopefully because of that, a longer life.  I know it's going to be hard work.  I know it's going to be challenging.  I know it's going to mean a lifestyle change...but

WE'RE READY!!!!

As things are confirmed and updated, I'll be posting here.  Pray for us!!!!

Time Flies When You're Having Fun!

WOW!!!  I can't believe two weeks has passed since I've posted last.  PHEW!  I have to try and keep up with my life!  There have been some really nice things going on.  One of which is last Friday, Kerby had all of her bridesmaids, with the exception of one that is studying in Germany, come to Cambridge to go bridesmaid dress shopping.  We hosted them all for supper that night too.  We tried to make a hectic nice very and elegant for them.  They did pick out a dress too at the end of the night!  Tick one more thing off the things to do list.

Jocelyn and I attended a baby shower for someone who used to be our neighbour for a few years.  It was in St.Catherines so we thought that we'd head over across the border to purchase our family turkey as well as a couple of turkeys for the youth group's church christmas dinner.  Turkeys were a great price at .48 a pound!  That's about a quarter of the price usually sold here.  We thought the church dinner would require two, our family would require one and then Jocelyn would need one for the Kitzman's christmas dinner.  Wow!  It took us a long time to buy enough groceries, $25 worth, with all the discounts that were offered at the grocery store in order to purchase the turkeys at the sale price.  So, my first order of groceries was just over $114 and with the discount card, all those groceries including a twenty five pound turkey came to about $39!!  Can you believe it?  We had to go through the check out three more times in order to get the other turkeys with additional groceries.  Two hours had passed by and we headed back to the border.

The customs officer stuck her head out and asked us the usual questions... "How long was your stay? Do you have any tobacco or alcohol to declare?  What was the purpose of your visit?"  It was at that point we said that we were just there to get some groceries and turkeys.  She asked us "How many turkeys did you purchase?"  That was where it all went down hill!  I proudly piped up and said, "Four!" as proud as could be. WRONG!  Her eyes got huge and her tone of voice became loud and authoritative and said, "You can't bring four across the border.  Didn't you know that you can only bring one turkey each?"  I am thinking in my head, "If I knew that, I wouldn't have bought two." but knew enough not to say that out loud.  Then she said, "You can buy turkeys in Canada you know."  At which point I'm thinking to myself, "All these groceries we can buy in Canada." but, again, I knew better than to say anything.  Then, she leans out the window, sticks her thumb up and raises her arm above her head, and says, "Taxes on the second turkey are through the roof!"  Big gesture there.  "Still I'm thinking to myself, "Lady, do you want the stinking turkeys?"  I resisted the comment.

With that she gives us back our passports as we sat there waiting for her to give us a slip to go and pay those taxes that would be "through the roof".  She looks at us like we are stupid or something, and says, "Have you brought back turkeys before?"  At which point, I'm thinking if I had I'd be too scared to say so!  We respond that we hadn't brought any back before, and then she tells us not to do that again.  "Thank you.", we replied and drove away without having to pay any additional border crossing fees.  WOW!!!  I hope the youth enjoy those turkeys!

Well, this weekend there was Black Friday shopping.  Jocelyn and I have gone for quite a few years now, and this year made our annual Thursday to Friday journey.  Get this!  When we got to the border Friday, I claim my purchases, Jocelyn claims her purchases and then the customs officer asks us if we have any tobacco or alcohol to declare.  We say no.  Then she says, "Any turkeys?"   What the heck???  I've crossed the border a gazillion times over the years, and not ONCE did they ever ask me if I have any turkeys to declare!  I think Jocelyn and I have been flagged as "Turkey Snatchers!"  Funny thing is, we did stop to see if the turkeys were on sale and were going to buy two more for families that need one in our community.  Good thing the sale wasn't on though for our sake.

I wonder what would have happened!!!  :)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Week's Gone By

This week has been a week that went by really fast.  Last weekend I got some sort of virus that attacked my voice and then it just sort of lingered throughout the rest of the week with a nagging cough.  I left work early on Monday to come home because I just couldn't stop coughing.  I stayed home Tuesday and Wednesday as well.

Wednesday we had a birthday party for Stacey.  All year long I was convinced she was turning twenty years old.  Well, lo and behold, she was actually turning twenty one!  Where did I lose a year?  In fact where have the last twenty one years gone by?  I remember the week prior to Stacey being born very vividly.  I had a Health and Safety training session at Colson Casters the day before her due date.  Her due date was November 8th.  The Sales Manager had two tickets to a Toronto Maple Leafs game at the old Maple Leaf Gardens arena.  He gave them to me as proud as can be.  I couldn't say no, but at the same time realized it wasn't too bright to go so far away from home with your fifth pregnancy on your due date.  I took the tickets and thought I could give them away.  I called Vince at home and told him about the tickets.  He was so excited.  He had always wanted to go to a Maple Leaf game.  (Why?  I am not so sure.)  When I said that I couldn't go, it was hard for him to hide his disappointment.  He understood why we couldn't go and said that there would be another time.  A few minutes later I suggested that he still go and that he take his brother Brian.  He paused for a bit and then asked me if I was sure, and then he said he would get back to me.

About two hours later, Vince came to the office and brought me a single red rose.  He was so grateful that he could go to the game.  He then began to be a little concerned about it being my due date and all.  I told him that if the baby was going to arrive before he got back, I would understand and he could meet the baby then. He hesitated a bit but gave me a kiss and almost ran out the door before he could change his mind.  I finished my Health and Safety training and I could feel some real tightening begin to happen in my abdomen.  I got home, fixed supper for the kids and began to watch the hockey game after the kids were in bed.  During the evening, I had several small contractions.  I was secretly relieved when the game ended and I knew that Vince would be on his way home.

Vince got in shortly after midnight and he was very animated about the events of the night and his first professional hockey game.  We went to bed and he still was talking about the night when I fell asleep.  A few hours later, I was awaken by such strong contractions.  I woke Vince up and we timed them and they were come fast and strong.  We called the doctors office as instructed and were told to head out to the hospital.  We had my things already packed, called a neighbour to watch the kids and out we went.  My neighbours, Colin and Anita Vanderploeg, must have heard the commotion outside our door as we gave last minute instructions for the kids' morning routines to the neighbour.  The Vanderploegs slid open their bedroom window screen and stuck their heads out and waved goodbye and good luck.  We arrived at the hospital shortly after 4:00 am and our little pink bundle was born just over an hour and a half later.

We hadn't decided on a name.  I decided that her middle name would be Rose after the red rose Vince had given me the night before.  Good thing he didn't give me carnations or a chrysanthemum, eh?  So our little bundle was known as Baby Rose for about four days.  We couldn't decide on a name.  We finally agreed on Stacey and registered her birth as Stacey Rose Stahlbaum.  Twenty one years later.... where did the time go?

Our family celebrated Mark's birthday on Thursday this week as well.  He's so much fun to give a gift to.  Everything seems like a big deal to him.  He is so easy to please.  He wanted a couple of new sweaters so that's what he got with a dress shirt and a movie.  Mark did a little fashion show for us as is customary to those that receive clothes as gifts in our house.  Stacey, however, didn't ask for clothes this birthday.  Well, she did ask for gloves or ear muffs, but she wanted a filing cabinet.  Jocelyn and I laughed hard at this when we saw her birthday list.  What child do you know asks for a filing cabinet?  Yeah, didn't think you would know of any!  I did find a really nice credenza style two drawer filing cabinet.  She was so thrilled with that gift.  It even locks.  She was fun to watch set that up in her room too.   She did warn Kerby, however, that she wasn't allowed to put anything in it.  I bet it will stay locked until Kerby moves out next summer after her wedding.  Those two are funny to watch.

This weekend was low key.  It was fun to reflect on the week.  So much happened and yet it doesn't seem like it was really.  We were busy at the warehouse setting up and getting ready for the input of information to begin.  I wonder what the next twenty one years will hold, God willing.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Stories

This was a super busy couple of days!  Thursday we picked up office furniture for Swaziland.  Friday I met with a friend for breakfast and then went to the warehouse to move furniture around.  We had our first committee meeting to plan out this year's approach for the Library.  Saturday I went to a training session for our church to discover our strengths and how we can use them.

Today, the I.Can Foundation held a Fashion Show and I was invited to be the guest speaker and then I had been asked to go to the Life Church in Stratford to share how they helped us with building libraries in Swaziland.    Now you might think this blog is about Swaziland, but it's not really.

I woke up on Saturday morning with laryngitis!  Do you know how hard it is to be a guest speaker and not be able to speak?  I was supposed to give an announcement about our commitment to Swaziland for this year, and I squeaked it out.  I went to the Fashion Show today and shared how the whole Library Project got started and squeaked that out too.  Several ladies came up to me throughout the rest of the day and asked many questions and indicated that they wanted to support in different ways.  But, as I was walking out of the building with Stacey, a young lady said, "Thanks for telling us that story.  It was really well done."  I smiled that smile that I give when I really want to say something, and then said, "Thank you."  I turned to Stacey and said, "It wasn't a story.  It was a reality."  I was incensed.  In fact, I think I was insulted a little bit.  I'm sure she didn't mean it that way, but that's how I felt when she said that.

A story is fake.  Stories are what I read every day to our primary students at school when they come into the Library at school.  I didn't tell a story today, I told an event that took place between October, 2009 to today.  Anyway, I stewed over that for a little bit and then decided that it wasn't worth getting my knickers in a twist about.  I just wanted to be make sure she knew that what I said was real.  What I said really happened.  What I said was true.  Then I thought back to the training session on personal strengths.  I should have known why I took that so personally, but in reflection now, that's my personality.  My first dominant strength is "Responsibility".  So, what's that?  The definition given in the StrengthFinders assessment is this psychological ownership for things I commit to; we feel emotionally bound to follow our commitment through to completion.  Our reputation is important.  People with this strength feel that honesty and truth are very important characteristics that they measure things by.  So that made sense then why I felt so insulted.  She probably didn't mean "story" the way that I took the definition and it's probably why I really wanted her to know that I was telling the truth.

At Stratford's Life Church, guess what... same sort of thing.  After I shared, a member from their church prayed for me but before she did she said something that made me cry.  I'm glad that people get why I do what I do.  She said, "Thank you for bringing those books.  Your family sent so many books, and you sent the one most important book.  The book that gives life to each one that reads it."  I sat and wept as she prayed over this next phase of the Library Project.  A man came up to me and asked me how did we ever co-ordinate so many things at one time in such a short period of time with no experience.  Ya... I know... I wonder that all the time.  My only answer was "God asked us to do it and He had to provide the way."    He said, "You must have had to make changes as you go and you said you worked with a bunch of people.  You must have had to be flexible.  All I could do was say, I didn't have answers to most questions we had at the time, so we had to try different things.  He then expressed that he'd have given up.

On my drive home I reflected on the night.  What that man said to me was my second strength - "Arranger".   These people enjoy managing all of the variables, aligning and realigning them until we are sure we have arranged them in the most productive configuration possible.  Ok, honestly?  enjoy manging all of the variables?  Well, I do get a little satisfaction in finding solutions.   And then it happened - my third strength - Communication.  I really don't like talking in front of anyone. Especially when I squeak like a mouse because of laryngitis!   I love talking to people I know, but not to groups of people that I don't know.  And I don't really understand why I have to do it.  Doesn't God know how hard that is for me?  Doesn't He know that I like to do things, but in the background, not out in front.  As I was packing up the display, another lady came over to me and said that I shared our story really well.  She said that I was a gifted storyteller.  She said she could have listened for hours.  The definition of "Communication" as a strength is an ability to make an event come to life to a listener.  We can take a dry idea and enliven it with images and examples and metaphors.  We use dramatic words and powerful word combinations.  Our words pique their interest, sharpen their world and inspire them to act.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Phew!

This is going to be one of those crazy months where there is lots going on and the excitement sort of drains you.  My church's District Youth Council voted last night to support a youth GO Team for Swaziland in August 2012. This is so exciting to be helping a team be part of building libraries in Swaziland.  When I think of Swaziland, I cannot explain the sense of belonging that I have.  It's totally an unexplainable thing.  I've never been a fan of traveling or never felt the need to be part of different cultures.

I just feel an inward sense of commitment and family there.  Having said that, I want to tell you that this commitment is going to be keeping me busy for the next ten months!  This week alone, we are busy sorting through the mounds of books that have been collected.  Some of the books that we've received to date will not be appropriate for an elementary school library.  We're busy recycling those books in different ways.  Books that are damaged are being recycled in our Paper Recycler bin.  We receive a whole whopping $7/ton.  Although, we have a lot of neighbours around our church that are putting their own fine paper recycling in that bin and on the average of about every three weeks, that gets dumped.  The Paper Recycler then sends in a cheque for the tonnage.  Easy money and it goes toward Swaziland container fees.

Tonight we are going to the TD Canada Trust in Kitchener and are picking up furniture that is being replaced. I understand that we'll be getting several desks, credenzas, filing cabinets, chairs and office chairs.  Each of these items will be shipped at the end to Swaziland.  We'll be receiving three desktop computers this week as well and getting our internet hooked up.

Saturday, we'll set up a small display and information booth at a training day for church leaders in Oakville.    Sunday we are featured at the I.Can Foundation's annual Fashion Show Fundraiser.  Some of the proceeds there will be going to this project as well.  That wraps up at 4:00 pm and then we'll be driving to Stratford to present to a church there.  The Life Church in Stratford did a book drive for us the last time and they wanted to hear about an update.

November 14th, I'll be presenting to a Baptist Church in Kitchener.  They had read about us in the newspaper in March, 2011, and wanted to have more information.  I am not sure where this will lead but we'll find out.  Maybe they'll partner with us, or maybe this will encourage someone there to start a library in a country of their choice.  Who knows?  God will lead this project and others as He determines.

There are several more meetings and things going on this month.  I'll keep you updated as they progress.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Human Geography

Campbell has been working on an assignment for school this weekend and is supposed to hand it in tomorrow.  This assignment asks students to identify traditions and current cultural aspects of their family's and community's lifestyle.  At first I thought this was a rather lame topic for a seventeen year old to be working on.

As he was reading his work to me yesterday, I changed I my mind.  It was also interesting to hear Campbell's thoughts on his family and community - how his family was either fitting in to the current "expected" culture or how it was not.  One of the questions that caught me off guard was to describe a personal habit or custom that he follows that generally isn't popular culture.  Do you know what he wrote?  He wrote that he goes to church three times a week as his personal habit.

I know that a lot of teens don't go to church but I was surprised that he used that.  Maybe I was more surprised that he was telling people he goes to church three times a week.  I mean, if I was 17, would I say that was my personal habit?  I thought that maybe he would have used sports, like rugby or cross-country running, as his personal habit.  If you listen to the reports, a lot of teens don't do sports anymore, so sports wouldn't be a popular culture.  It's one thing to follow football or hockey stats but it's another thing to actually play the game.  He shared how he goes to explore his personal faith and his youth group activities.

The next part of the question was customs in the house that aren't popular culture.  Do you know what her wrote this time?  He wrote that his family eats together every night even if they have to adjust the time so they can be there together.  I take that for granted.  I asked him about it and he said most of his friends don't sit around a dining room table and talk as they eat.  They either eat at different times and make whatever there is to warm up in the fridge or their families sit around the tv as they eat.  I asked Campbell why he would choose that as a custom.  He said that he wants to continue that with his family when he's older, therefore, it's a custom that his family has passed down to him.

He went on to say how his siblings are important to each other.  Even when one brother lives in Moncton, that there isn't a day goes by when the other siblings comment on his brother, wife and their daughter.  They stay connected through Facebook, Twitter and skype.  Now, I look at that and think that that is pop culture.  But I guess that's what it is, but for Campbell, this is how he sees how his family can keep a custom alive.  He told me that even when Abby turned two this summer, we participated in the birthday party via skype.

He wrote about the traditions in his family like hotdogs on birthdays, parades on Thanksgiving, Santa Bag on Christmas Eve, singing to mom and dad Christmas morning to wake them up and board games together.  He wrote about how much he loved being part of a big family because he felt like he was important to all of his family and how each of the family members were so important to him.

It's interesting how much I learned about what's important to my youngest son by a Human Geography class.  I think he learned a lot about himself as well.  We all need to look at our life, our community and see what personal habits or customs we hold up as a priority.  Is it what really matters?  Is it what makes you a better person?  Is it what makes your family better?  Is it what makes your community better?  Tonight's a good night for pondering those thoughts, I'd say.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Caramel Apples

Caramel apples are something I enjoy at fairs and halloween.  I've made them for our youth group for as long as I've done youth ministry.  I used to make them each year for Campbell's hockey team too.  Every kid and youth liked getting one of these sticky staples.  This year, our youth group was meeting the Brantford youth group from the Church of the Nazarene at the Hanes Corn Maze in Dundas to conquer the 12 acres of 10 feet tall stalks.

When I tell someone I am going to do something, I try my utmost to do it and do it well.  So, when I told myself that I was going to make caramel apples for the two youth groups for last night, I wanted to keep my word.  I had mentioned to their youth leader that I was going to bring a treat for each of the youth, but she didn't know what it was.  I could have brought bags of chips and she'd have not known anything different.  But I knew.

I had a package of the cooked caramel covering but knew I'd need a couple more packages to do enough apples for both youth groups.  Stacey & I searched for the stuff you cooked on the stove with milk but I couldn't find any.  We ended up settling for this other stuff that you heated in the oven and just wrapped around an apple.  It was the same brand as the cooked stuff, just a different form so I figured it would be good.  When we were checking through the grocery store, the clerk looked at it and said how good caramel apples were.  Then she made a comment that kind of surprised me.  She said that using the wrap kind of caramel was "cheating"!  Hey lady, I couldn't find the cooked stuff and your store only carried the cheating kind.  She annoyed me.  So I took my cheater wraps home with my three bags of apples.  Did I mention that each package of the cheater wraps is $2.99 and only has five wraps in it?  Mhm... that's right.  Did I also mention that I needed at least 32 caramel apples for the two youth groups?  Well, I did.  Do the math... that's over $21 in just "cheater" caramel wraps.  The cooked stuff was easy 1/3 that price, but I had to keep my word. (To myself, that is.)

This statement proved to be false!
When I got home, Vince found one microwave one that someone had given us and I used it.  It was a chocolate caramel.  Easy-peasy.  Just microwave for two minutes and swirl the apple in it and set it on a greased piece of wax or parchment paper.  It made seven covered apples.  I read the directions on the "cheater" wraps - soften the wrap at 200 degrees and wrap.  The first five wraps went well - sort of.  The directions said to stretch the caramel over the apple.  I missed that part of the directions.  I just placed the wrap on the apple but it only covered half the apple!  I reread the instructions and saw my faux pas.  I did better on the next four apples.  And that's where it all went wrong.  There's a reason why they only package five wraps.  The sixth wrap was softened and peeled off the paper just fine but that's where the ease of making these "cheater" caramel wraps ended.  The caramel stuck to my fingers like it was crazy glue!  I ended up rolling the flat wrap into a ball and putting it back in the oven to reshape with my rolling pin.  And that's what I did for the next twenty six caramel apples.  Heat, peel, try to apply and roll back in a ball to reheat.  Repeat.

One mud puddle too many!
Two and a half hours later, the thirty two wraps were ready to serve!  We did the challenge in the maze with the Brantford youth.  However, there were a few minor mishaps.  Several of the youth slipped in the mud along the way as they raced to find the clues that were in the challenge map.  My group of youth seemed to find the part of the maze that went in circles.  Out of the seventeen clues, we only found nine.  At one point one girl from my group said, "We keep going in circles."  We acknowledged that problem as her sister piped up and said, "One bad circle and we're traumatized."  We just laughed and tried to find our way in the flashlight lit path.  After two hours or so, circling the twelve acre field, we headed back to the vans for the yummy treats.  Squeals of childhood excitement were heard as each youth filed past to pick up their caramel apple.  It was worth the struggle of the cheater wraps in the end, but next year, I'm going to look earlier for the cooked stuff!  Oh, wait!  I still need to make some for those six trick or treaters that might come to my door on Halloween!!!  :)  After all, I told myself I was going to do it.

Friday, October 28, 2011

T.G.I.F.

I co-ordinate a Breakfast Club for my school four days a week and I love it when my day off coincides with Fridays.  It's the one day I don't have to get up at 5:45 to get ready to prepare breakfast for the students at my school!  Don't get me wrong, I love Breakfast Club and all that it means to our students, staff and volunteers.  What a great way to start the day with kids and food and some of the most amazing volunteers on the planet.

However, today, is my day off and it's also Friday!  I don't have to get up at the required 5:45.  Instead I get to sleep in until 6:00ish.  :)  It's the working day of the week that I get to make breakfast for my kids.   I know deep down inside that they like it when I am there to make them breakfast... at least I hope they do ;)  Last night I told Stacey that I'd make cheese scones for part of our breakfast.  They're super good.

Although, do you ever wake up in the morning and things just seem to be weird?  Not that they go wrong, but not that they go as planned.  That's today.  I woke up, knocked my glasses on the floor and then spent about five minutes in the dark (because at 5:55 am there isn't any sunlight streaming through my windows) waving my hand across the floor trying to find my glasses.  So of course I know you are thinking, "Turn on the light, Marg."  Such an obvious statement.  I stood up to walk the three steps to the light switch only to stand on the arm of my glasses!  Yup... a little twist to the left arm, thank you very much.  With that, I headed out the door with my glasses sitting slightly askew on my face and stepped right on the jagged chewy bone thing we bought for Zaley.  Not wanting to yell, I just groaned and continued to the bathroom.

Still in the dark, I left the bathroom and headed toward the kitchen.  I've been awake now at least seven minutes.  You'd think my eyes would have seen a little light.  As I approached the kitchen I felt for the light switch on the wall.  Turned on the lights and it was like someone was doing laser surgery on my eyes!  Man was that light bright.  I didn't let that deter me though.  I squinted until my eyes adjusted and turned the oven on to preheat for the precious morning scones.  Measruing cups?  Check.  Bowl?  Check. Ingredients?  Double check.  As I grated the cheese, I was hoping that they'd taste as good as the last time.  I took the fork and mixed the floor and cheese and other ingredients together to form that slightly sticky ball.  I floured the counter and began to roll out the biscuit mix.  As I cut out the first biscuits I thought I should get a pot of coffee ready for Vince when he gets home from work.  I slid the biscuits onto the heated baking sheet, set the timer, and prepared to get the coffee started.

Filter?  Check.  Coffee?  Check.  Water?  ugh.... just as the timer went off on the oven the lid flipped down on the coffee pot and water sprayed all over the place.  Ok, cleaned that up.  Turned to the oven and went to take the scones out and one of them slid off the sheet and onto the element of the oven.  Ok, I'll take the others off the sheet onto the wire rack to cool and get that wayward scone after.  Those scones are combustible!  In seconds that scone was lighting up my oven in a blaze.  :(   6:20 am and not all is well in the Stahlbaum kitchen.  (No comments here for those that want to say something.)  I used my cat-like reflexes and stuck my hand in to retrieve the ball of fire only to realize that my skin burns too.  After several attempts using different utensils, I got it out.  Surprisingly, the smoke detector did not go off.

After all of that, I made some scrambled eggs for Kerby, Stacey & I and we enjoyed our scones.  I thought maybe I could have just cut off the parts of the burned scone in order not to waste it, but when I flipped it over, I realized it wasn't going to happen.  It's was landfill bound.  When my grandkids arrived for their regular Friday morning breakfast of pancakes, my Friday morning routine was complete.  Now, off to drop those grandkids off to school and see the Blue Day Kindergarten class.  They're celebrating Halloween today for that class.  I'm looking forward to seeing how many superman and princess impersonators are there today!  I love Fridays.  Thank you God for Fridays.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Fall is a time for reflection

I love the fall.  It always makes me reminisce.  I am not sure why, but I reflect on the past.  Not the past like last week or last month - not even last year.  I think about people from my past.  I wonder if it is because of the leaves.  They have that beautiful antique look with deep colours and that smell they have.  Maybe that's it!  Smell... haven't researchers shown some kind of link between our memory and smell?  I mean don't babies even know their mother because of smell?

I have favourite memories of the fall.  About five years ago, my friend had a dog that was so homely she was cute.  She brought her over to play with my dog Jasmine.  Jasmine was afraid of other dogs so when the dog, Penny, came over, Jasmine would run like the wind to get away.  As she ran around like a maniac, I was raking leaves.  We have a big yard so the pile of leaves could have easily filled an 8x8 room floor to ceiling.  As Jasmine was running she was getting tired but Penny kept chasing.  Jasmine finally flopped into the leaves.  Oddly enough, Penny stopped running and just stood there looking at Jasmine.  Jasmine soon figured it out that if she was in the pile of leaves, Penny wouldn't chase her.  When Penny turned to go do something else, Jasmine would gingerly walk out of the leaves so Penny wouldn't notice her.  But to not avail.  Penny was eagle-eyed and she saw Jasmine.  Jasmine would run like crazy and then the thought must have occurred to her that the leaves were her sanctuary.  There she stood for the remainder of the afternoon while Penny visited.  When she finally came in the house, she had that "leafy" smell.  :)  That was a great memory of my dog.

Another memory that I repeat year after year was my mom's birthday when she turned 75.  My mom often talked about the "olden days".  How special they were; how simple they were - and she remembered the clip clop of horses hooves.  Mom's birthday was in October so I thought I'd surprise her with a horse and buggy ride.  I had arranged for her sister from Sarnia to travel down to surprise her for her birthday too.  My Aunt Olive was fun.  She had such an infectious laugh.  I popped over to mom's and she was sharing what a surprise it was for Olive to be there and what a special day it was for her.  I nodded.  After a good cup of tea and some maple cream filled cookies, I suggested that we go for a drive to see the fall leaves.  My mom loved that.  I told her that would be my gift to her.  She readily agreed as she hurried to grab her coat.  I had put some blankets, hats, mitts and scarves in the trunk of my car because I knew what was in store.  My aunt looked a little suspicious as she was layering up to get into the car for the "drive" but my mom didn't even seem to notice.  As we drove down Fountain Street toward Blair, the smell and leaves were beautiful.  Very regal indeed.  We turned onto Highway #7, and then I turned left as per the directions I had been told.  We were about 45 minutes early for our booked ride so I drove around the countryside.

My mom was saying how much she missed the old days and the horse-drawn rides into town.  As I looked into the rear view mirror, my Aunt's eyes were just sparkling with anticipation.  She was smiling from eye to eye.  My mom must have thought her story was really good because she didn't seem to notice that nobody else was talking.  It was then that I pointed out a beautiful white carriage hooked up to a team of horses on the top of a hill.  My mom was almost beside her self as I made my way up the hill to take a closer look.  As I got to the driveway, I said, "Hey mom, let's see if he'll take us for a ride." and I turned the car into the driveway.  My mom was mortified.  A total stranger - and she wasn't dressed up - she begged me to back out of the driveway.  As I pulled up my mom looked like she was trying to shrink to the size of a pea in the backseat.  The carriage driver came over and opened the car door and said, "Which one of you ladies is Audrey?"  My poor mom... she couldn't even say anything.  He helped my aunt and my mom into the carriage, tucked them up with beautiful blankets and the black Belgian horses were decorated with beautiful white bows in their manes and the bridle and reigns were glistening silver and black.  Soon, all you could here was my mom repeating stories of her childhood as the horses clipped clopped down the road.  Both mom and my aunt were transported to seventy years prior at that moment in that carriage.

It's good to reflect.  It's good to have cherished memories.  It's good that fall brings those special memories.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Toss up between Grrrrreat and just Grrrrrrr

Do you ever have one of those days where life is going along and you seem to be enjoying the ride and then something flips out of nowhere and hits you in the face?  Sort of like a rake that's been laying in the leaves and you don't see it.  You're just admiring the beautiful fall colours until you step on the tines of the rake and the handle comes up out of that beautiful pile of leaves and hits you right square in the face?  Ya?  Well, that's the sort of day I've had.

I woke up this morning, made yummy pancakes and prepared to go to the Swaziland warehouse as planned with Stacey.  Drove over there and Stacey and I decided to work on separate projects hoping to get things done a bit faster.  My job was to do a window display with some decorative shelving and put up the sign in the window as an indicator for those looking for us.  The sign always seemed so big before.  It is pretty small in the window, but nevertheless, it's up!  The shelving... well... the shelving...

You know it's harder to put something together that you haven't seen before.  Who am I kidding?  I wouldn't have remembered really what it was like before anyway!  Instructions wouldn't have helped since that isn't something I usually do either.  They never seem to make sense to me.  I noticed that some of the shelves had these little holes in the back of them, so I went looking for small metal rods in the back room where it was stored.  Nothing.  No rods.  Ugh.  I thought, well, it's only decorative and I'm only putting a dozen books on or so, so I thought that would be ok.  I couldn't put the third shelf in because it just wouldn't snap in.  I called Stacey for help.  She said I'd need to put the back part of the shelf in.  What was she talking about?  She pointed out those little holes that I thought a rod went into were meant for the back support. Oooooh!  I get it now.  I thought those extra pieces of wood were the leaves for a table to extend it longer.  I should have realized that they weren't for that since we didn't have a dining table there.  Lesson learned.  Don't assume things.  In the end, the shelf looked pretty good.

Stacey worked like a beaver getting the shelving up.  We took out about twenty feet of shelving floor to ceiling from a school that was being renovated.  When Vince & Campbell were disassembling it, they had the foresight to label the sections so we'd know how to put them together.  Stacey did a great job of getting the first large piece of shelving up by herself.  Andrew did come in for the last fifteen minutes to help her slide on the wooden shelves.

Pattern available!

During the morning a parent and daughter from my school dropped in with some books.  This is the same person who made the bags I blogged about in the Swaziland section.  This time she brought in some pillowcase dresses she made!  Her daughter modeled one for us!  They were great!  She picked up a couple of the pillowcases at the  Dollar Store too.  She is a very talented lady.  Debbie made these little decorative covers for those individual kleenex packages.  What a cool idea!  She thought we could use them as a fundraiser, so we will!  She had some really good ideas and is willing to help with this part of the project too.  That's what it's all about.  If people did things that they were gifted in and excited about doing it, then each of the jobs would be done with just plain old joy!
As Debbie and her daughter left, Stacey & I finished up and we felt like we accomplished what we set out for the day.  I had to step out for about fifteen minutes to drive Campbell to work.  He said that Vince had gotten home from his appointment.  I looked forward to spending some time with Vince when I got home.  He has had a lot of meetings the past two days, and it would be nice to just to chat.  When I got home, Vince was in our bedroom with the vacuum cleaner and some screwdrivers.  And his face wasn't happy.  That's when the day turned from Grrrrrreat to just plain Grrrrrrrr.

Last night, when my son-in-love, Ron, was over visiting with Vince, they heard the sound of smashing glass.  They even thought it was one of our windows on the pool side of the house.  They came through the house running but the sliding glass doors were fine.  Even though it was dark, they stepped out the back door and looked around.  Nothing seemed out of the ordinary.  They inspected the other windows on the other walls of the house, and everything seemed fine.  But, today, Vince noticed that our bedroom was exceptionally cool.  Then he noticed the shards of glass along the wall where the window was.  He opened the curtain and thankfully the blinds had held most of the glass pieces left behind caused by the empty bottle of rye that had been recklessly been thrown through the window.  Vince vacuumed up the glass and boarded up the window until we can get it repaired and called the police to report the damage.

Honestly.... why do people do such mindless acts of vandalism?  Since the news has been in the newspaper about our house possibly being torn down for a drugstore, many neighbourhood people have expressed how sad they are that we are losing our home.  Really?  We lost our home about 7 years ago when the people that bought the motel next door don't care about the clientele they rent to.  We haven't been able to use our backyard during the day because of people rolling joints, alcohol abuse and vulgar language whenever I want to be outside with my grandkids.  At night, we have to shut the windows because of the language and antics that happen until the wee hours of the morning.   Honestly, this isn't home right now, it's just where we live.

Home for us is wherever we go.  Home is where we are.  Maybe tonight we'll be at home at Swiss Chalet for supper!  :)  Hopefully, one day, we'll have another house that will become our home.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Domain or no domain... that's the question

Over the last year, since we've started this project, several people have asked me if we have a website for the Swaziland Library Project.  "Uh... nope"... is the answer.  For two reasons 1.  I'm no technical wizard and 2. Why would you need one for a short term project?

What defines a "short term project" anyhow?  This library project has sort of taken a life of its own.  Over these last eighteen months of collecting, sorting, cataloguing, labeling, shelving and packing I was discouraged a gazillion times over.  I could never figure out why the "church", the larger body of Christ, not just my own local church, wasn't running with this ball.  Why was it that it seemed like so many people outside of the church thought it was a good idea but the church hung back and watched.  They encouraged from time to time, but why didn't they jump in?  Why was it that these outside people were running with the ball?  And why were they asking me for a website?

All I ever wanted to do was to help a vision Campbell had from a mission trip to Swaziland become a reality. Pack a few hundred books in a few boxes and call it a day.  Well the story wasn't mine to create.  I believe that Campbell was being directed by a force much stronger than his mother.  He was being directed by his Father.  Several times I wondered what the heck are we doing?  This doesn't even make sense!  Why us?  Does He really know what He's asking us to do?  Are we really doing what He wants us to do?   In writing this blog, I've had a revelation.  Almost two years later.  It isn't about them.  It's about me.  Who was I going to be?  Was I going to be like Noah or like the members of his community?  Was I going to listen to what Campbell was saying and get "building" or was I just going to watch?

This past summer at the Riverview Family Camp, Jim Chapman of Big Chap Ministries was our evangelist.  He said to do whatever God is asking you to do.  Do what you know He is asking you to do.  He said, "Look at Noah!  He was building a boat.  He was building a big boat while others stood around and laughed and watched this seemingly foolish man build something out of wood.  Noah and his neighbours hadn't even seen rain before.  Big Chap asked, "How many of those people were laughing when they were doing the back float during the flood?"  Noah had no idea why he was doing what he did, he just did it because he was asked to do it by his Father.  Noah encouraged others to join him earlier, but they didn't.   Noah completed a job that saved humanity and gave us a second chance.

These libraries were completed by people who followed a young boy's vision.  These libraries have the potential to save the children of Swaziland and give them a second chance.  So what does this all have to do with a website domain or no domain?  I'm not really too sure.  LOL!  I know that I have a free website up and running (well, there are a few glitches because, remember, I'm no technical wizard).  http://www.wix.com/stakra/libraryproject   But a name is important.  If I was going to buy a domain for this library project, it has to be a name that reflects what it is and what it is meant to do.  If you are reading this and are inspired with a domain name, please leave a comment.  Like what about www.rainingbooks.com?  What about www.arklibrary.com?

There's something about a name....  there's something about That name.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

In the mail the other day...

Bills and flyers are pretty much the only thing we get in our mailbox.  We don't even get the free local paper.  It seems like they can't get a carrier in this area to deliver.  However, on Tuesday, I take in the mail to find a white envelope addressed "To Whom it May Concern".  

At first I thought it was one of those "Singles in your area" advertisements!  hahahaaa!  I really wasn't even gonig to open it.  When I was flicking through all of the other flyers that came in the mail, the back of the envelope flopped open.  It hadn't been sealed.

I opened it up to find a hand written note on a small piece of yellow paper.  This is what I read, "Hi:  My name is Merle O******** and I was brought up in this house.  Would love to go through it again.  When I was 6, I lost my baby ring in the basement.  I know exactly where it is, just that it could not be retrieved as you would have to demolish things around it.  My phone number is *** *** ****"  And an arrow to indicate to flip the yellow piece of paper.  It continued, "Excuse writing:  and it would make a gread story, it's been 58 years since I lost it!  I'm from Waterloo.  I would love for you to call me, as I have heard that the place maight be torn down.  My twin siser & I had identical rings, since she has passed away, I would love to get mine back.  B"

58 years later?  We've lived here for 16 years.  We've heard a little about the family that built it.  I wasn't sure I even wanted to call the person back.  I told Vince that I'd like to wait a couple of days before I called - if I called.  

That night at supper the phone rang.  Yup... it was her!  She got my phone number from my neighbour.  She knew all about the strange things that we found on the floor when we lifted the carpets and tiles.  She knew about the fountain in the floor.  She told us things that we already knew about the man that built our house.  She also gave details about her family that we had heard from neighbours that knew of the family.  So, I guess she was legitimate.  :)  She proceeded to tell us that she is a snow bird and was leaving for Florida but would be back.  Would it be all right if she stopped in to see our place - her place - and bring her granddaughter as well.  Of course, it would be all right.  

There's something really special about going back to your home that you grew up in, isn't there?  I know that when the house that I grew up in on Hamilton Street was up for sale a few years ago, I just had to go.  I wanted to see my bedroom.  Things seemed so much bigger then as I walked up the staircase.  I always thought our top landing could have been big enough to land a small aircraft.  Apparently, though, it isn't!  I hope she isn't disappointed when she comes through.

It would make a great story, eh?  58 years later, finding a lost ring in a wall?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Gifts from above and those around us

You know... I just can't believe how generous people are when there is a need.  This Swaziland Library thing has just become such a witness of God's provision.

First of all, when this all started in October, 2009, Campbell & I had no idea what we were doing.  He said, "You know we don't know what we're doing,eh?"  I agreed and then he said, "We'll just have to keep telling people and asking people until someone knows something."  So, that's what we've done.

A former principal and friend is part of the I.Can Foundation.  She has been building little libraries in Brazil for about 6 years now.  So, she was an obvious person to ask.  However, her expertise is at the other end in training and she had never collected and sent a container before.  My church has Nazarene Compassionate Ministries Canada, and they do have experience in that.  They helped us co-ordinate that and guided us through the mounds of paperwork to satisfy Revenue Canada Agency.  We soon recognized that we'd need some sort of manner of cataloguing.  A co-worker researched that and found a great library software package and our District Youth Council purchased it for us.

As the books started to be collected, it wasn't long before a space was needed.  A man, that owned space downtown Cambridge donated 1100 square feet of space heated and lit.  We needed boxes to pack boxes, Staples donated those.  We needed library supplies and I.Can Foundation, Brodart & Carr McLean donated that.  We needed a computer when ours crashed and Hagey Computers came in and worked their technical magic and got us up and running again

We needed volunteers to help sort, catalogue, pack and they just kept on coming!   When we go back to see how much was spent out of our fundraised dollars to do the administrative side of things, we really only had to spend money on the internet connection and some ink refills.

Great cloth bags donated today!
So it's no surprise this next phase of the Library Project has generous givers.  Someone is supporting us through a 1200 foot warehouse space that is being leased for a period of time for us.  This is prime real estate and isn't cheap!  Earlier this week, we had someone with some shelving to donate.  Yesterday, I got a call from Jacquie Rashleigh with an offer of three computers to go to Swaziland after we are done using them.  Today, a supportive parent came in with cloth bags that she'd made and wondered if they'd make good book bags.  They were pretty cool!  I thought we should sell them here to raise funds for the J.A.W.S. books.  If there are any left over, we'll send them.  How thoughtful is that????  I was sitting here tonight when a person from my church is getting new furniture at her place of employment and they are willing to donate desks, credenzas and filing cabinets!

I'm always in awe of the fact that people are so giving.  Most of these people don't even know me personally and are just so willing to help children and teachers so far away.  I wonder if they recognize that God is using them too.  He is using them to respond to a need in our world to care for His children.  I still think it is absolutely crazy that He uses me in this way too.  I am just grateful I can be useful.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Bum Run 2011

It started about 8 weeks ago for Jocelyn and Kerby.  Training for a 5K run to raise awareness for colorectal cancer.  Stacey joined in about 2 weeks in to the training.  Last night, we picked up a new white t-shirt for Madeline since she'd outgrown the one from last year, and I needed one since I hadn't participated last year.  This was Kerby's third 5K run.  She ran the year Pastor Tim Trotman died, 2009.  Last year, Kerby, Stacey, Jocelyn and Madeline participated last year with Pastor Tim's wife and three boys.

This year, Team Tim grew a couple more people - Suzanne, Justin, Zac and Jeremy, Kerby, Stacey, Campbell, Jocelyn, Madeline and I made the 2011 team.   Madeline and I did the children's 1K run/walk and the rest did the 5K.  We had cheerleaders in Andrew and Kassandra.  :)

However, as I ironed the t-shirts from last year and ironed on the transfers on the new shirts, tears welled up.  Nobody wants to hear the word cancer.  And yet, every time you turn around, it impales a family you know and love.  This morning as we got ourselves ready to go at 6:45 am to head to Hamilton, I was overwhelmed once more.  This time, I was so proud of my kids.  Kerby and Campbell were such encouragement for Jocelyn to train and remind her that she could do it.  Stacey was that prodding force and challenger to keep going too.  Jocelyn is 11 weeks pregnant and could have used that as an excuse, but she wanted to prove something to herself and finish a commitment she had made to herself.  I was proud of Suzanne and those amazing boys to stand in the place of their dad and husband.  I was overwhelmed to be a part of it all.  As we left in the morning, the sun was just rising.  It reminded me that just as that light began to shine on our day and spread over it, we have the opportunity each day to be that light in the lives of those we meet.

To end it off, Jocelyn finished her 5K without stopping!  AND, she finished it under an hour!  AND Zac came in third and Jeremy came in fourth in their age category.  An emotional day, with a great ending.

In memory of Pastor Tim Trotman.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Grand View School

I work at an elementary school library, and most days, I thoroughly enjoy the staff that I work with but the kids... they are amazing!  It is a great way to see children express an interest in something and then watch them dig through shelves of books to find something about it.  Grand View was built in 1922 and had its first graduating class in 1923.  2012 will be the final graduating class of the building that it currently is in.  A new building is being constructed on the same site.

I went to Grand View as a child myself.  In fact, the Library was my Grade 4 classroom!  I have many memories sliding down that big hill in the winter.  My brother, Bill, and I would spend a couple of hours rubbing the paste floor wax on the bottom of our wooden toboggans.  When that was dry enough, we'd get my mom's electric floor polisher and make that wood gleam bright and it would be so smooth, too!  Soon, we'd be trying to go from the top of the hill and race down to see who'd get closest to the road.  Sometimes, we actually made it there.

But this year, that hill has become the new site for the new Grand View School.   I have mixed feelings about that really.  I love the old building and the history that it holds.  It just seems so majestic sitting up at the top of the big tobogganing hill.  However, working in the building isn't as grand as my memories.  It's hot almost all the time upstairs where I work.  And if it isn't hot, it's cold.  It is difficult too carrying bins of books up and down those stairs.  Yesterday, a Book Fair was delivered.  That took three men several trips carrying up boxes of books to the Library so a display could be set up.

I am looking forward to a new building, air conditioning and an amazing view from the Library in the new school.  It is supposed to be well planned too.  I have sort of resisted the urge to get excited about the new school because I feel like I'll miss something in the old one.  However, change is necessary, and I'll have to be ready in September.  One good thing... the staff will still be amazing to work with and the kids... well, they don't change too much.  They'll still be digging through even more shelves of books looking for something that is about their favourite thing.  Some things never change.  :)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Thinking ahead to the weekend

Today was my day off work.  This morning was Breakfast Club so when the students left and we were done cleaning up, I spent it at the dog park with Vince, Madeline and Jocelyn for part of the morning.  After that, Vince & I just hung out.  I often think about my life with Vince; he is the even keel part of our relationship.  He remains constant.  You can predict what he'll say, what his action will be, what he thinks even before you ask him the question or ask his opinion.  I, on the other hand, fluctuate between crazy and crazier!   Although there was one time when Vince was straight out of character.  He bought this house that we live in now without me even seeing it.  Sure I saw the outside of the house, but I sat on the steps outside while he viewed the inside.  So that was Vince's "crazy" moment that he has had that I can recall in the forty years that I've known him.  Forty years.... a long time.

Around lunch time I made some turkey soup.  I've never made turkey soup before.  The noodles got HUGE!  What's with that?  I think it should just be called turkey noodle.  No soup.  In over fifty years I've never made turkey soup.  Fifty years... a long time.

This weekend my family is joining the Trotman family in the "bum run".  It is a colon cancer awareness fundraiser.  My pastor, Tim Trotman, died of colon cancer on September 22, 2009.  He was 42.  Forty two... that's not a long time.

I was thinking that I do have a really busy week.  Actually, I was feeling rather stressed over it all.  Wednesday:  Breakfast Club @ 6:30 am, School 9:00 am, my Teacher-Librarian will be in for the morning, work until 3:00pm, pick up grandkids @ 3:10, come home and start supper; Board meeting @ 7:30 until ?  Thursday, mostly the same.  Friday, only working until 2:30...  I don't think I am stressed because I'm too busy.  I think I  am stressed because I have a friend who dearly misses her husband and her three kids miss their dad.  Pastor Tim meant a lot to my family but that pales to what he meant to his family.  I am going to support my family and my adopted sister and boys this weekend as we raise awareness about colon cancer.  I am busy, no doubt, but this is another reminder that some people don't get fifty years before they learn how to make a pot of soup.  Sort of puts things in perspective, doesn't it?  Do what's important to support those that are important to you.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Turkey and Oktoberfest

6:00 am, wake up get the stuffing ready and the old bird in the oven!  It seems like our family runs well by routine and tradition.  Routines don't work out very often, but when you miss a tradition, you'd better be wearing some sort of teflon tough body suit!  It's serious business here.  As the clock turns to 7:00 am, everyone is pretty much ready with an extra sweater, sunglasses, hats, blankets and folding chairs to head on up to the annual Oktoberfest parade.  Once we are on King Street with our chairs and blankets out to save enough spots for at least fourteen people, you make your way over to McDonalds for your breakfast.  Yup... it's a tradition!  This has been going on for at least twenty years now.  We did deviate for a couple of years to head to the Rockton Fair, only to watch the parade on tv, but it wasn't the same.

There are always the same floats and bands.  But since the attacks of 9-11, I am deeply moved by the groups of veterans that start off our parade and the new recruits that always are one of the last groups.  My heart just swells with gratitude when I see those older men and women as they walk by.  I always think of the ones that didn't make it back to ever walk in a parade.  It is with honour and respect we stand and clap as they go by and the police officers doing crowd control stand at attention, saluting.  This year, as the new recruit groups walked passed, I saw a former student from Grand View School marching.  His eyes acknowledged me as I waved frantically at him.  The first time I met his family, they were new to Ontario.  His mom always called me Auntie Marg - not related by blood, but by a deep friendship.  I hope he gets to march in parades for years to come and that God protects him and the other troops when they are out on a mission.

My kids get tired of me repeating the same story each time I see the Preston Scout House Band.  Since this is my blog, I can say it again... for them to read even when there isn't a parade!  :)  When I was a little girl living on Hamilton Street, the Scout House Band would practice marching up Hamilton Street.  You could hear the beat of their drum and expertise of those brass instruments.  That was my cue!  I'd run into the back kitchen and stuff my chubby feet into my rubber white boots - similar to those of the Band members.  Of course their boots weren't rubber like mine and they probably didn't pinch their toes.  I'd wear my black shorts, white rubber boots and run to the garage to get one of the ducks my brother, Jim, had hunted and stuffed.  I'd shove that duck into my armpit and quickly get into step with the official marching band.  I have no idea why I had to carry that duck... but I did.  I was only allowed to march 3 blocks then I had to come back home.  So, today, like every other time I have seen the band, I said to my kids, "When I was a little girl...."  After all, that story is now a tradition!  :)
When we got home, it was a hustle of veggies, turkey, potatoes, dressing, and gravy.  Friends arrived, family came over and we were as stuffed as the turkey itself.  After all, it's tradition.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Thanksgiving Weekend

What a busy weekend!  Friday was a day of excitement because we got the keys to the warehouse and then worked our buns off until late at night loading the warehouse with the donated books.  Hit the bed snoring!
Saturday we had a missionary, John Scott, from Malawi for brunch at the church as he brought information of the work being done in Malawi.
John Scott, Missionary to Malawi & me
We had been asked by our Mission Council at the church to host John overnight before he left for a church in Toronto.  What a neat man.  During his presentation he referenced Swaziland many times.  I felt like I knew exactly what he was describing so many times.  He mentioned people that meant a lot to him and his ministry in Malawi, and many of those people we had met in either Johannesburg or Manzini as well.  Again, what a connection!  After the presentation, we brought him back to our house and then he wanted to see our warehouse.  My friend, Ngaire, Campbell and I took him to see it and then we headed out to Fifties for a light lunch.  I recommend that restaurant to anyone who visits Cambridge!  John chatted away so much of the evening about his adventures in Romania, Malawi, Mozambique and other places.  Vince made a great steak dinner and server pierogies on the side too.  John had never ate a pierogi before but found out that he really liked them.  Didn't seem like lots of activity, however, when I got to bed finally at 11:30, Vince gave me a shook and said I should roll over because I was snoring.  I was so shocked!  I hadn't even realized my head was on the pillow!  How could I already be snoring!!?  hahahaha!
Zaley at the dog park.
Sunday was church, lunch, dog park, shopping for Breakfast Club, supper and then some relaxation.  I still have to make a banana cream pie for tomorrow (Campbell's favourite).  Jennifer makes desserts for Thanksgiving at our house.  She has made lemon meringue, pumpkin and apple.  YUMMY!
And of course, Monday morning has its own tradition.  The Oktoberfest Parade in Kitchener.  Of course, we can't miss that!  :)

Thanksgiving.... give thanks... where do I start to list the things that I'm thankful for.  1.  A faith that is real,  2. A husband who loves me,  3.  My children and grandchildren,  4.  My job,  5, everything I mentioned above and all the people that touch my life daily and those that are no longer here that helped shape me to become who I am today - my mom, dad, sister, Sandra, brother, Bill, Pastor Tim, and my childhood Sunday School teacher, Luella Bogle.  Thank you!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Moving Day!

 

Yesterday, at 2:55, Jocelyn took me to the realty office to pick up the key to our Swaziland Library Drive warehouse!  Our warehouse is located on the busiest road in Cambridge, and the plaza has a Timmies, my dentist office, a greek restaurant, pizza store and a nail salon - and now - A Library Warehouse for Swaziland!
Jocelyn and I had to pick up my grandkids and then she dropped me back off at home.  Soon, Stacey, Campbell and I packed up my car with cleaning supplies and boxes of books, the old desk top computer and headed off to the new warehouse.
It was pretty cool to finally be able to start to see this next phase of opportunity for those Swazi kids.  Campbell moved some items into a closet that were left behind by the previous tenants.  Stacey vacuumed and I cleaned the bathroom and front windows.  We emptied my car and headed home.
A half hour supper break and I went to exchange cars with Jennifer; her van holds much more then my car.  At the church we moved the 2200 books that a young girl in Cambridge had collected at her school in June.  She collected all of those books in just 10 school days!  Thanks so much!!!!
Jocelyn met us with two fellows from our youth group to help.  I am so thankful that we have a warehouse space on street level!  Coming up that flight of stairs at the church with those boxes reminded me of the aches and pains we felt having to carry up boxes and boxes up two flights of stairs at the last warehouse.  We stopped back in at my house to pick up another 10 boxes that we didn't have room for on our first trip and now for our second load to be unloaded.
Now, back to Jocelyn's to attempt to move the 3/4 full garage of books.  That took us actually another four trips of a truck and a van packed to absolute capacity!  Thankfully one of our other young adults from the church showed up with another youth and he was able to transport people in his car as Jocelyn and I drove the vehicles.
Around the second trip from Jocelyn's, I noticed a police officer had driven passed and then parked in the lot behind the warehouse.  As we drove off, I mentioned it to them when we got back to Jocelyn's.  The guys thought maybe the officer was checking out the underlights of the car that the young adult was driving.  However, when we got back with the third load, the officer drove around the building once more and stopped us to see what we were doing.  The conversation went something like this:  Officer:  "Excuse me, who are you?"  Me:  "Oh, we are the Church of the Nazarene & the I.Can Foundation.  We are setting up a warehouse for books for Africa."  Officer:  *puzzled look*, sighs, "What are you doing?" Me:  "We are unloading shelving at the moment because we are setting up a warehouse for Swaziland, Africa."  Officer: "What about the truck at the back?"  Me:  "Oh, we have the shelving, they have the books."  Officer:  "They have been unloading for a while, eh?"  Me:  "Sure have!  We still have 1/2 a garage to bring yet."  Officer:  "Oh, yeah?  Ok.  Thanks so much, we'll see you around."  Me:  "Yes, we will!"  As I thought to myself, maybe you will be back to see what exactly we are doing.
Finally, we gave the door a final lock at 11:07pm, drove over to Jenn's to exchange vehicles once again and then put this aching body back to bed.  11 trips full!
As I was laying down on my soft bed, I reflected on the day.  This is the Thanksgiving weekend.  I am so thankful for so much and yet, how often do I really express that to those that have impacted my life in order for me to be thankful.  I need to do that more.  Then I thought of the people in Swaziland.  I heard over and over in my head their gratitude whenever we would show up somewhere with a box of books or even just a physical presence to help with the HIV/AIDS task force, Gigi's Kitchen or the Ntondozi Child Development Centre.  God has guided me and my family along this Swaziland journey.  He has crossed cultural paths in order for me to recognize what I do have to be thankful for and then to see how others who have a whole lot less than I do express their thankfulness so much more openly and graciously.  The smiles of the Swazi people are felt from deep within their being - while our smiles are often fleeting.  This truly is a Thanksgiving weekend.  Thank you, Lord, for... can't write at the moment... tears are streaming down my face.  I can't even begin to say all that I am thankful for.  But I am.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Marilyn Denis Show Stahlbaum Audition Tape


Marilyn Denis Show

Today, my daughter, Jocelyn and I went to the Marilyn Denis Show in Toronto. We were up early to leave for 6:15 to catch the GO Train in Milton. It was a great trip in with the least amount of stress in regards to traffic. :)

Once after a couple of stops the Train was full with people standing in our train car. Once we arrived at Union Station, we went to McDonalds to get a breakfast sandwich and a coffee. The coffee was disappointing since it was a small size instead of a large. But if that's all that disappoints me today, that'd be ok with me.

We left Union Station on the Front Street side of the building and went down to York, walked up to Queen and then down to John. It was a great day... sunny and warm. When we arrived at the Marilyn Denis Show, we realized that I didn't have any identification with me. Jocelyn texted home to have Mark take a picture of my passport and send it to Jocelyn's phone.

When we went in we had to announce our names to the person at the registration desk. Right away the lady there knew us because I had submitted our family to the Marily Denis Show for the "Family Fit" contest. What is that you ask? It's an opportunity for your family to meet their fitness and nutrition experts to help your family get back on track... and some of us in my family can't even see the track... or maybe it's our feet we can't see. But, whatever it is, we need help! Last week Kerby used her iPhone to video tape Jennifer, Jocelyn, Stacey & me and we had Greg send a separate video for himself. Jeremy edited the footage and produced a really cool video that we posted on YouTube. We sent in the url to the video and then today we dropped off our own memory stick with the video on it.

Sharon, a producer for the show, came down to meet Jocelyn and I before the show. She asked us about our eating habits, exercise habits and other facts about our family. Before she left, she asked us what our schedules were like for availability to tape. What does that mean? hmmmm... time will tell.

We had a great trip back via GO Bus and then stopped and stuffed ourselves at Swiss Chalet in Milton. Our server was Dawn. She seemed like she was having a loooong day. We prayed for Greg & Reanne and decisions that they have to make and we prayed for Dawn and our meal. On our return home, we decided to go and watch Campbell's cross-country run in Bechtel Park, Waterloo. He did very well. :)

Got home and my dog... love my dog soooo much, and my dog was not feeling well. I wonder if she ate something bad outside? I hope not. Vince made a great supper (again) and I just thought... I need to start a blog. This might be tough, but I'm going to try and post often. There's always strange things happening in our family. This will be our effort to keep you informed on what's happening!