Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Traversing Canada Tuesdays: Saskatchewan

image from here
highlighting added by me
The first province I am going to talk about is Saskatchewan because it is the best province I grew up there. Saskatchewan is one of the three Prairie provinces and most people, many Canadians at least, think it is a flat, wheat filled, wasteland but there is so much more to Saskatchewan than that.
I find a field of canola in bloom against a grey Saskatchewan sky a beautiful sight.

Saskatchewan officially became a part of Canada in 1905, however its history started well before that. In 1690, Henry Kelsey became the first European to reach what is now called Saskatchewan. At that time it was known as Rupert's Land and was controlled by the Hudson's Bay Company. Before Kelsey reached Saskatchewan though, First Nations people had lived there for thousands of years. There was a huge fur trade with beaver pelts being most in demand. The Hudson's Bay Company facilitated getting the beaver pelts from the traders back to Europe.

By the way, the Hudson's Bay Company is still in existence (as a chain of department stores) and is the oldest commercial corporation in North America, and one of the oldest in the world. I thought this fact was really interesting until I checked out the link to the oldest companies and found that Japan and Europe have been doing business a lot longer than we in North America have!) Until 2008, when it was bought by an American firm, it was Canadian owned. (information from Wikipedia)

In 1869, Canada (which had only become a country two years before) gained control of this territory and it was a part of the Northwest Territories. The First Nations people did not want to become a part of Canada and there was a huge rebellion. I grew up about 45 minutes from one of the major sites of this rebellions (Batoche) and we would go on school trips to learn the history and see 100 year old bullet holes, which at the time, was really neat! By the 1880s most of the First Nations people were living on reserves and settlers from Eastern Canada and Europe were invited to Saskatchewan to settle down and farm.

In the 1930s The Great Depression hit Saskatchewan, as well as most of the rest of the western world. In Saskatchewan a prominent feature of this era was a huge drought, as well as dust storms, and so the 30s are known as "The Dirty Thirties." The effects of the 1930s lasted well beyond that decade, and for decades afterward many people were still too poor to see a doctor. In 1962, Saskatchewan became the first province to set up publicly funded medical care, paid for by provincial tax dollars. Within ten years this program had gone national.
A statue of Prairie lilies. 

Saskatchewan, in a good year (not too dry, not too wet), produces more than half of Canada's wheat, as well as most of Canada's wild rice. It is also the world's largest exporter of seeds for making mustard. Not only does Saskatchewan produce things from above ground, but from underground too. Mines produce more uranium than anywhere else in the world, and it is Canada's second largest producer of oil. There is also a lot of potash which is used in making soap and fertilizer. Gold and diamonds have also been found there.
Saskatchewan does have long winters and almost every small town has a ice rink for hockey and curling. It is the centre of town life. We only have one professional sports team, however, and everyone cheers for our Canadian Football League's Saskatchewan Roughriders!!! You may have heard me mention them a time (or twenty!) before :) You can read about a trip we made to watch a Riders' practice here.
The Northwest Mounted Police (NWMP) were formed in 1874 in Saskatchewan as a result of a rampage in which American whisky traders, who were drunk, killed twenty Assiniboine people in their camp. When news of the massacre reached the Canadian government, they formed the NWMP to bring order to the west and force the Americans out. In 1920 the NWMP became the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, a national police force with a presence in every province and territory. They enforce laws and guard important members of the government, including the Prime Minister. And their training centre is in Regina, Saskatchewan's capital. I have some family members who served with the RCMP. You can read about our visit to the RCMP training centre here.
To end I will leave you with a few random facts about Saskatchewan:

Little Manitou Lake is so full of mineral salts, people float instead of sink, just like the Dead Sea. It is about half the salinity of the Dead Sea. Ironically, I have been to the Dead Sea but never Little Manitou Lake, although Little Manitou Lake is about a forty-five minute drive from where I grew up.

Saskatchewan is the only province in Canada which does not observe Daylight Savings Time. I never ever changed my clock until I moved to Ontario when I was 18 and I thought this "playing with time concept -- add an hour, lose an hour" was the most bizarre thing ever.

Capital: Regina
Population: 1.1 million
Provincial flower: Western Red Lily

Reference book: Saskatchewan by Jennifer D.B. Lackey, "Canada Close Up" series printed by Scholastic Canada

Monday, July 21, 2014

Crazy Week And Some Blog Housekeeping

As I mentioned in my post on Friday, this week is our church's VBS. We have over 200 kids registered and I am leading science and snack for the JK/SK kids (Junior and Senior Kindergarten). I will lead four sessions every morning for about 12 kids each session. It should be fun times. In the afternoons I will be watching my friends' son so I expect to be rather exhausted this week. Therefore, I have pre-written some posts and may not be checking in much. Or I may need a break from the insanity of my life and check in every hour! Ha!
The kids were twinsies in their matching Portugal shirts 
from Oma and Opa at the library program on Friday!

Last week, my blog friend, Erika and I had a very meandering e-mail conversation one morning. It ended up with me admitting that I felt like I didn't know much about Canadian history so Erika shouldn't feel bad about her lack of Canadian knowledge. I do feel like we studied a lot of US history (and it was reinforced in books I read), whereas Canadian history got short shrift.

I am fortunate in that I have had the chance to visit every province in Canada and one territory. I've also gotten to live in five Canadian provinces for a significant amount of time. I do worry, that with Canada being so incredibly vast and widespread, that Sam and Rachel will also have this lack of Canadian knowledge and so we bought them a set of book through their school book order. It's called "Canada Close Up" and every province and territory has its own book.
Hallowe'en stuff is out already?!?!
I get annoyed enough that flyers are already advertising 
"Back To School" sales and we've only been on summer break for three weeks.

Starting tomorrow, I am starting a series on my blog called "Traversing Canada Tuesday" and I am going to introduce you to one province or territory a week. Most of my post information will come from this book series, with local colour thrown in from my own experience and perspective. I will start with Saskatchewan and then move from east to west and then head up north. Saskatchewan gets to go first because it's my home province. Even though I live in Ontario now.

After I finished university, I bought a textbook on Canadian history, and although I gave it away years ago, I've been thinking I need to find another one. So depending on my interest, time, and commitment, I may continue this series after I've done all the provinces/territories with general Canadian knowledge.

I don't know if you'll be bored, entertained, enlightened, or skip reading my blog completely on Tuesdays. It's up to you!
Rachel enjoyed licking an extra large beater
at Donny and Marika's on Saturday! 

And let's talk about commenting again. Every blogger handles it differently. I tend to let comments pile up for awhile (I don't intend to do this, but let's be honest about reality here), and then I'll respond to them all at once. If I have your e-mail address, or it's linked to your profile, I respond by e-mail. Otherwise I respond directly to the comment on the post itself. So if you care, you can go back and read them. Or maybe you don't care. I wish there was consistent blog etiquette about blog commenting and how to respond. I know the first rule of commenting etiquette is "Don't wait a month to respond to your blog comments" which is a rule I break All. The. Time. And now I'm done rambling about commenting.
Dave set up our printer with a different computer and, 
when he ran a test page, this is what came out. 
The kids said that they had been "putting money in the bank."

Okay, enjoy your weeks and I look forward to checking in with you when I can!

PS. The random pictures are from the past few days and, although they don't relate at all to this post, I thought they'd make a text-filled post a little more interesting!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Project 364: Days 193 Through 199

July 13, 2014 -- My blog friend, Kelly, reminded me of the book Owls In The Family by Farley Mowat. It is about a boy growing up in Saskatoon (where I grew up) in the 1940s or so, and the two owls he adopts. Sam really enjoyed having me read this out loud to him.
July 14, 2014 -- Rachel and Sam were horsing around outside and it ended up with Rachel falling into the side of the house. I present to you the biggest goose egg either of our kids has ever had. By the way, our kids ABSOLUTELY hate ice so Rachel's screams during the ice application were way worse than the ones produced by her getting hurt in the first place.
July 15, 2014 -- It's the first CSA flowers of the season!!! I love me some zinnias!
July 16, 2014 -- We had a play date today and I caught this photo of the kids and their friend enjoying some tea!
July 17, 2014 -- We've done a lot a Pinterest projects this summer and this pin for erupting sidewalk chalk provided literally hours of entertainment this afternoon. Three hours to be exact!
July 18, 2014 -- We got an impromptu supper invite today. These grilled skewers were AMAZING! And so was the visit with our friends.
July 19, 2014 -- We went to Donny and Marika's to celebrate Donny's birthday. Sam and Donny played chess. I didn't know Sam knew how to play but I guess one of his school friends taught him. Surprises abound!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Pinterest Projects And Continuing Cycles

This week is our only completely free week of the summer. We didn't have swimming and tennis lessons, we weren't on vacation, we didn't have VBS, and I wasn't babysitting any other kids, so we were preparing for a quiet week. I completely rested and relaxed on Sunday, and then Sunday night I made this list:
At the point I took the picture on Monday morning, I'd already cleaned the kids' rooms, our room, and the bathroom which is why there's an empty space. Oh, and I'd done one "reading time" with the kids. We read to our kids at night but I wanted to incorporate more reading into our days so I've been trying to sit down with them after lunch and read a book or two. Usually, Sam reads one to Rachel and me during this time as well.

It's been a week. And yes, our entire house was in desperate need of cleaning :) The only thing left is the basement which has been a continuing cycle of it not getting clean. Basically, Dave cleans up the kids' mess the night before, I intend to vacuum it in the morning, something more interesting comes up, and by the time I want to vacuum, the kids have already been down there and it's a disaster zone. I'm going to work on that today. I promise :)

I've also accomplished a fair number of things not on the list like reading a chapter book out loud to Sam every night (we just started our third one last night), cooking supper every night, getting a massage, having a couple of play dates, watching too much Gilmore Girls (are you surprised?!?!), and generally catching up on life. I also made the following chore chart (from Pinterest, of course!) for Sam, which has been a big hit. Mostly.
He is great about doing four out of the five chores. I have to admit though, it's been super-hard to not "re-make" his bed behind him! However, the "clean up 5 toys" has been a challenge and he usually just flips it up to "done" at some point during the day without actually doing it. At which point, I open it up again. At which point he'll flip it up again, and the cycle continues. We'll get there.

I made a list for our summer called, "Sam and Rachel's Summer of Fun 2014" (not a bucket list! Ha!) and I used different fonts and printed it off all official like. Some of the ideas were mine from Pinterest and some were Sam's ideas. One of the pins I wanted to try was frozen ice chalk. It is a two step process so on Wednesday night we mixed up the chalk to freeze. Dave took pictures and I told him he could not take a video because there was quite a bit of yelling involved. Two excited kids, small containers, and food colouring does not make for a calm experience. Sigh.
We didn't have an empty ice cube tray so I just froze it in small Tupperware containers.Sadly it wasn't quite warm enough yesterday to want to use this so I'm hoping we'll get to try it out in the next day or two.
And that's been our "free" week. This weekend is a mix of some busyness and some freer time so I'm hoping I'll be nice and relaxed heading into VBS next week. It will be the first VBS in three years where I'm not getting back from vacation on Sunday sometime and being thrown into VBS the next morning. I'm hoping that will help with my sense of calm and my energy levels next week. Of course, I'm also watching my friends' son in the afternoons and heading off for a weekend of Family Camp right after VBS ends so my sense of calm will likely be put to the test :) Wish me luck...

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Mission Accomplished!

Here's a random thought before this post actually starts. It's sort of a prologue, if you will. Except it doesn't relate to the rest of this post so it's not a proper prologue. Anyway...

Blogger used to auto-fill in the title line if you had used a title before or if you started one with the same words. It doesn't do that anymore and, after over 1300 posts, a) I don't remember if I've used a title before and b) I don't have the time to go through all my past titles to see if I'm repeating them. All that to say I feel like I've used "Mission Accomplished!" as a post title before, but I don't have an easy way to see if that's true. And now on with the actual point of this post...

When I was talking with Dave about why I wanted to join the pool, one thing I mentioned, is that I'd heard that if kids are taking lessons every day, as opposed to once a week, they become comfortable in the water a lot quicker. While our end goal is that our kids can swim on their own, my main goal for this summer is that they become more comfortable in water. And last Friday, on the last day of lessons for that session, I feel like both kids showed me that they had accomplished that.
Rachel has been doing a Parent and Tot class, which she won't "graduate" from until she can stand on her own in the shallow end, which will be in about twelve years. However, on Friday, she was not only kicking on her front, while I held her, and which she has been able to do for ages, but she was also "scooping ice cream" with her arms and blowing bubbles. Seriously! She was practically doing the front crawl. I was so impressed.
We interrupt this blog post to show a picture of Willem and to praise his amazing Sam-watching skills while I was in the pool with Rachel. Willem was a superstar! (Plus, this picture was too awesome to not use it!)

Sam on the other hand, consented to let his instructor dunk him once so he could get his ice cream for the week. However, after his tennis lesson, he wanted to GET BACK IN THE POOL! Did you read that?!?!?! I told him that I wouldn't go in with him and HE WAS FINE WITH THAT! It was a miracle.
And then, he was playing around on a flutterboard and overbalanced and ended up going under. He stood up, saw me standing there (half laughing at him, I must admit), and he asked if he could get out and sit with me. I assumed this was the end of swimming for the day.
After five minutes, he asked if he could get back on the horse in the pool, and even though I wanted to go home, because it was quite late at this point, of course I said, "Yes!!!"
People, I feel like we have turned a corner. We have made great strides. Anything else our kids accomplish in swimming this year is just gravy, but at the rate they're going, I wouldn't be surprised if they're diving into the deep end* by the end of the summer.

*Okay, really I would faint from the shock if that happened but then I'd be thrilled!!!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


A new park just opened in our city. It's a really amazing park so on Saturday, after mini golf, we decided to visit it before dropping Willem and Tessa off at home. Tim, Janice, Dave, and I had played in it checked it out the night before and decided we definitely needed to visit it with kids.

I love the water feature, all the sand (toys provided), and the way that it doesn't really seem like a "regular playground." I also love the way it just engages people of all ages. On Friday night we all agreed that it reminded us of playgrounds in Europe. It also reminds me a lot of River Landing in Saskatoon which I blogged about here. I especially love the (blurry) picture of Sam and Willem on the digger and the pictures of Tessa swinging with the buildings in the background.
I was reminded of the song in the title this morning and thought it would make a great blog post title. My dear friend Sarah, sent this song to me (on a mixed tape no less!) while I was living in The Netherlands and she was living in England. I'm pretty sure this was before the song caught on in North America. "I get up when I want except on Wednesdays when I get rudely awakened by the dustmen." There are so many great lines it's hard to choose just one. Warning, if you play the song today, prepare to listen to it on repeat because you will be reminded of its awesomeness!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

From Happy Meals To Putting Greens

After we left the zoo we headed to McDonald's for supper. It was quite the experience ordering McDonald's for six when we didn't really know two of the kids' preferences and all the orders were a little complicated. However, we survived and, eventually, everyone got what they wanted! Then we headed to a mini golfing place which was between Brantford and our way home.

Sam and Rachel ended up playing their own game and I think they had a lot of fun. I heard a ton of giggling and happy yells!
Dave, Willem, Tessa, and I played a game where we actually kept score and tried to take it somewhat seriously. It was a lot of fun and it was a close game.
Unfortunately, in the middle of the game we had to take a quick break because Rachel needed a diaper change. Since we were the only ones there we just left all our stuff at the sixth hole and headed to the playground. Tessa allowed me to practice my photography skills and attempt to get pictures of her jumping off the swing. That was lots of fun for both of us!

And you might think between the zoo, supper, and mini golf our day was done but there was still more to come...