Shannon Falls, August 2012

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Not a Scrapbooker

I am not a scrapbooker (much to my husband's dismay). I stole an idea from a friend who is also not a scrapbooker: rather than try to make folders or big books of all the fabulous artwork and events and vacations she and her children participated in, she used boxes. I grabbed empty totes that I had (nothing too huge) and stored Hayden's important milestone papers, artwork, items to reminiscence over (when my baby boy is HUGE! and gone; tear...), etc. I've done this for two years now: one for his birth through first year of "school" and the second one for his second year of school (ages 2/3). I love it because I can go back through the boxes that I've marked and ooh! and ahh! over each piece, and I did my best to date his artwork. I do not print pictures and put them in books like my grandparents did (again, not my thing and we have this awesome thing called technology, so I usually only print the pictures I really want to display or else I whip out my handy smartphone and just show him off that way!).

Now that we're in Canada and I'm getting to be a stay-at-home mom for a bit, I find myself missing picking him up from school and all his fabulous creations. And thanks to Pinterest, I have found some great ideas, while others have left me feeling like a mother who is not involved enough (sigh). I know there's no way to do everything I find, and when we either have or adopt another baby, I want to be able to do similar things to remember these sweet, sweet "baby" years. There are definitely pictures, art projects, memories, etc. I wish we'd done with Hayden. But I'm trying to not let it be too late for other ideas. For Christmas 2011, we made gifts for everyone from Hayden. I've already found the project I want to do this year. In fact, we'll probably get started soon. I just love being able to give gifts that may not be able to be used but are given for their sentimental value. Hopefully, it shows we've put more thought and time into our gifts than "Oh, look! It's another tie." or whatever habits we fall into with gift giving. (And no, I'm not sharing what we're doing this year as many family members tend to read this. If you're not family and you're curious, let me know!)

I'm definitely trying to mark the holidays or other important days with projects Hayden and I create. I remember holidays as times where my sister and I spent hours with our mom in the kitchen making way too many sweets and Chex Mix and yummy goodness. Hayden loves art projects and he helped me make quite a few last year--you can see our footprint turkeys on Facebook if you're really interested. I want him to remember growing up as a time where mom sat down with him and made stuff (even if my OCD nature craves perfection and his toddler/little boy personality does not!); I can't always take him where I want to (ie., Disney now). But we can make memories like I have planned for next week--a morning at the sprinkler park four blocks away with a picnic lunch; movie dates at home with mom with dad is at football practice; a photo scavenger hunt of various shapes.

So now, if you've read this far, you might be scratching your head wondering how my not being a scrapbooker ties into all the mumbo jumbo you just deciphered. Well, here's our big project #1: a handprint/footprint ABC book. This will be something he can look back at when he's older and I'll have to cherish always. Once we finish the alphabet, I plan to venture into the months, seasons, holidays (as they come up) and numbers. Google some of this stuff and see what you find. It's overwhelming!
See what I mean?! Some of this I stumbled across accidentally. I'm creating a binder with sections for all of our handprint/footprint art. I can't wait to see how all of this turns out. Happy creating, everyone!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Know us by our fruits

If I was honest with myself (and the humble few that read my ramblings), I have felt more like myself in the last week-two than I have since we got here. Now I do understand that anyone would probably feel "off" moving to a new country. Yes, my new country is just north of my old country and many of the things here are quite similar to America, but it still feels different. I'm finally learning my way around, I know street names!, and I can drive comfortably to just about anywhere.

Maybe having Pia (our exchange student who lived with us for five months 18 months ago) with us is helping. It feels as though she never left! We have done quite a few touristy/sight-seeing things with her here, so maybe getting out of the apartment more has had an impact. Maybe it's having the First Baptist Biloxi mission trip team here, so it feels like "home" has come to Vancouver. It was awesome to see so many recognizable, smiling faces on Monday afternoon!!

The gray skies have a big impact on my attitude. I just want to sleep! I'm a little worried about the winter due to all the rain and dreariness, so I'm trying to enjoy our "dry" season right now. Our community pool is heated, so even on cool 60/70 degree temp days, Hayden and I can still venture to the clubhouse/pool and meet families. We have some other avenues we're exploring for us to meet moms/families. David has stepped up searching out volunteer and plug-in opportunities. He's also coaching middle school-age football. We're trying to get ourselves out into the community and learn where people are. As those who journey here find out, the majority are not interested in God or religion. Many, many families/individuals have more money than they know what to do with, so they feel they don't need anything, least of all a God they can't see.

Matthew 7:15-20 says,    15“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16“You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? 17“So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18“A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19“Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20“So then, you will know them by their fruits."

We desire for those we meet to know us by our fruits. As odd as this may sound to some, we don't walk around the streets 24/7 toting our Bibles or stand on street corners preaching. We are meeting people where they are. We are loving on our neighbors (or neighbours) one at a time. Sometimes I feel like those reading my FB statuses may see that Hayden and I are at the park or pool or doing something else and think we're not making any impact. We are, I assure you! This is not the Bible-believing, everyone-goes-to-church-regardless-of-what-I-say-Monday-to-Friday-and-do-on-Saturday-night South. We've had to find our way in this city and understand where we can best fit in. It is a little difficult to explain. We have to SHOW people that they need Him; that's difficult when they have EVERYTHING else they could possibly need or want.

Our neighbors know we're here. And not just because of the noise we make! They've seen our interns in action, they know we're church planters/missionaries. When our downstairs neighbor that we met at the pool asked if we were missionaries, she knew exactly why we were here. And yes, she's a Christian but she was receptive and open to establishing a relationship with us.

I'll close with this: I told David one night that the biggest change for me was adjusting to the fact that everywhere we've been, we've met our friends through church. Here, we are the church. We're having to meet fellow Christians without the aid of Sunday School or morning worship services. And it's been possible. However, we are meeting lots of unbelievers and we must form relationships with them. And sometimes that means not making the first thing I say to them, "Are you a Christian?!" I have to say, "Hi, I'm Jamie and this is Hayden. Would you like to arrange a play date or get together for dessert/coffee sometime?" We have to be open and be ourselves and our fruits will tell them why we're here.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

One Month In

Whew! We’ve now been in Canada for over a month. How can that be!? Pia is here from Germany for two weeks and she and Shannon have gotten along well. Hayden is definitely enjoying have two beautiful ladies in the house to entertain. Starting very soon, I’m going to begin a pretty strict routine for Hayden and me. We both need it. 

We have met some pretty great people here. The funny thing is, they’ve all been Christians! In such a dark city, everyone we’ve met thus far and formed relationships with knows Jesus. That has helped this Momma’s heart. Daddy is coaching middle school football and his other assistant coach is a Christian. Nathan and his wife, Cassandra, have 3 children and another due this month. They had us over for a cook-out last Sunday. Hayden and their 2 ½ year old Jeremy got along fantastically. They played with water guns until they dropped.! I see their family being fast and good friends. I took a banana pudding (and secretly, they admitted they wished we had brought sweet tea, too!) that they scarfed down. I'm serious. Recipe has already been shared! 

Yesterday we went to Whistler, sight of the 2010 Winter Olympics and Olympic Village. Hayden pronounced it “Whist-a-ler” every time. Pia, Shannon, and David saw one bear and got a picture, but Hayden and I didn't make it in time. We have some other sightseeing activities planned before I post my thousands of pictures. 

I’ve had to start jotting down things Hayden says or does so I’ll remember to record them in his journal Whenever we go to Wal-Mart, there’s a mountain fairly close. And every time he remarks, “That’s the biggest mountain ever I seen!” It’s just so comical the order of his words!

Last week Hayden hid David's computer cord. After an hour of searching and him being in time out until he could remember where it was, I noticed one of his tool boxes that he never closes was closed. Sure enough, there it was! As soon as we showed Hayden we had found it, he shrugged his shoulders, put a dimpled smile on his face, and said something adorable to the tune of, “See? It was there for a reason.” Off he trotted to your room, happy-go-lucky, while David and I couldn’t decide whether to stay mad or just laugh.

“Stupid” is a bad word in our home. But Hayden's way of saying it without thinking there will be repercussions is to just spout off, “I didn’t say ‘stupid!’” And then we all look at him because no one accused him of saying it but he wants to say it so badly he finds ways to incorporate it.

We also met two of our 3rd floor neighbors directly beneath us: Justice and his mother, Erin. We had a nice time at the pool and I repeatedly apologized for the noise we’ve made. We have a rotating door most days with 3 interns, and Hayden's still not quite used to apartment living. However, if I say we’re going “home” when we’re out somewhere, he'll quip back, “No! We’re going to the apartment!”

Oh, here are a few local things I’ve observed that I want to remember to share when people ask what it’s like living here:

-Common phrases: “No worries.” “Cheers” “Eh?” (of course) “For sure.” “Ya.”

-You have to pay to use shopping carts at most places. It’s usually a quarter or a dollar. You do get it back, but we have a hard time remembering to take change with us!

-There are no refills on pop at many locations. And for those that do offer “bottomless pop,” drinks are usually $3, instead of a typical $1.89 in MS. When we do eat out, which is rare, it’s water for us!

-Walking to most places, including the grocery store and mall! So different! And taking cloth bags with us; many grocery stores charge $.5/bag. That can really add up, especially when you’re paying recycling fees as well.

-No AC in our home. Right now, we’re in our hottest months, which are still a breath of fresh air compared to MS summers, but the apartment gets still at times. Since we’re on the corner, we get quite a bit of sunshine and that heats the apartment up, even with our standing fans, by the time we head to bed.

-Football is an afterthought sport; not the be-all/end-all for many Southern/SEC families.

-Sunshine in the summer until almost 10 PM; winter is going to be very dark, however.

-The landscape is so different. I can stare at the mountains every day. And driving just a few feet or miles changes the view of the same peak.

It’s amazing how so many things are similar to “home” (stores, restaurants, places to go, etc.), but it’s still somehow so different. I’m glad Hayden is exposed to this and seems to be loving it.
**Additional things of note to the Canadian lifestyle:

-There are very, very few to NO left turn lanes. This means traffic comes to a complete stop for someone to turn.

-If you ever need to kill time, drive through just about any neighborhood and court how many houses don't bother to take their Christmas lights down. The number is insane. -Leggings/yoga-workout pants seem to be capable of being worn with any type shirt. And I mean ANY.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Who'd have thunk?!

Who'd have thunk (yes, done on purpose) that I'd be living in metro Vancouver from small-town Mississippi waiting at Sea-Tac for our German exchange student? Just seems so odd. We have lots of visitors coming over the next few months. After that, I'll probably be in a dry spell--maybe even a tad depressed. We're starting to make some good connections in Coquitlam. Pray we find good friends soon--you know, the ones you can call at the drop of a hat. It would definitely help Canada feel like home more.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Canada Day

Ever seen "Canada Day" (July 1) on your calendar in the US and wondered what it is? I did and never bothered to look it up. It's the United States' neighbor-to-the-north's Independence Day. Fitting. Every city/community seems to put on its on own celebration. Coquitlam's reminded me of Ocean Springs' Peter Anderson Festival--except here everything but food was free. There were sections to the celebration, too. Oh, and fireworks that were supposed to be done at 10 PM; we didn't go because our little family was exhausted (my face got sunburned even with my hat and complete cloud cover--and yes, I know you can get sunburned with clouds. I'm just noting what happened.) The fireworks didn't happen here because some individuals got into the blocked-off section and couldn't be found, so the city didn't take the chance shooting the fireworks.

As for the sections of the celebration, it was odd. For example, we had a jump house (Wall-E) located in the ARTS section (random). So while everyone around us was creating pottery or paintings, kids were jumping and sliding for us. We also had a sno-cone/popcorn booth over near the skatepark. All of our proceeds from our food sales is going to a hope recovery home that helps homeless individuals prepare to re-enter society as contributing members. Wilson and Christopher (our 2 male summer missionaries) were going to man the sno-cones/popcorn because they have formed relationships with quite a few of the regulars at the skatepark. Shannon and I helped at Wall-E. When we had a break, we grabbed some lunch and ate while we walked to check on the guys. They were swamped. I mean, not just a line, but quite the crowd. So we jumped in and got a system rocking and rolling. I texted Conrad that we were helping the guys and probably weren't going to make it back to Wall-E. Our line never really stopped. That's good for the hope recovery home, and we met lots of super folks, but my back hurt so badly last night. Six hours of sno-cone/popcorn-making is a long time. It was worth it, though.

Unfortunately, it meant I didn't get to walk around and take ANY pictures to share. Let's just say there had to be a couple hundred thousand people come through (there were skating competitions, bike riding  competitions, and volleyball tournaments going on around just us; that doesn't include the Arts, Community Conservation, etc. sections that were busy as well). We estimate that Wall-E had over a thousand kids jump.

I'm not sure what you've heard about Canadians and if they're rude or what-have-you, but I would say that 95% of the people we've met are extremely friendly. And I've NEVER met so many polite children (and I'm not even just talking Asian kids). One of the things Conrad shared when we visited in December and we were driving around, is that people are hungry for community. The ironic thing is that  even though people are dying to connect with others, they surround their homes with high walls or hedges that block everyone. Yet, they want community.

I went to a ladies only BBQ Friday night and met some very unique, awesome ladies. You never know what accent you'll hear and from whom. Shannon and I met two Asian women who came to Vancouver via London and South Africa. I could've listened to them all night! We have also been going to a Coffee Connection in the clubhouse each Saturday. It's pretty much the same people, but this most recent Saturday I met the clubhouse caretaker's wife--she's from Romania and came to Vancouver via Italy. They left Italy because their young son was treated as trash because they weren't Italian. Such interesting stories!

Hayden says he enjoys living here; I'll be happy for our dry months to arrive so we don't all feel so blah. My allergies are really acting up. I still want to get out and do things at 9 PM because it looks like 6:30/7 PM in Mississippi! This morning because I was stuffy, I discovered that the sun rises about 4:45!

My visa should be sorted out this coming week or so for work, and our exchange student arrives next Saturday! We can't wait to see Pia. Wilson has visitors coming for a few days and they'll be here this Wednesday. It'll be good to see friends from church.

I'm sure I'm forgetting something, but I can always write again. Stay cool, everyone! It seems everyone but us is in an extreme heat wave. Love you!