Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Canadian Memories

For many reasons this trip to Canada was much more memorable than those in the past. First of all was the history of the area and the rich Ukrainian heritage we learned about. Until this trip I knew nothing of the struggles of the first Slavic settlers here. These people pulled themselves out of the depths of despair to leave a strong, proud Ukrainian legacy.

The main thing that touched me this time was the people I met-the Canadian women. Mrs. Marion at the Olha Store who took the time to give us a tour of the Ukrainian church, gave the girls bags of candy and printed out a history of Olha and the surrounding district so that I could get a better understanding of what happened there. Lois at the Co-op who first invited my girls over to play with her daughter, provided them with ice skates and always had time to visit with me when I stopped in. Carla who could not do enough for us. She had us over for dinner and invited lots of friends and neighbors so we could get to know everyone. She took off a day from work to take us shopping in Saskatchewan. She loaned us a car and toys and sent the girls off with candy and souvenirs. She was just so bubbly and welcoming. Then there was Cheryl. She tries to come across as rough and gruff when actually she has the biggest, warmest heart. She came and visited us at the farm house, cooked a huge delicious meal and invited us over, asked my girls to go to school and took me site seeing around the area.

These women know the true meaning of hospitality. They welcomed strangers in with open arms. They left a mark on my memory and my heart that will be there forever.

Pysanky-Ukrainian Easter Eggs

These are a traditional craft in Ukraine, with a history of thousands of years. The method is similar to batik - patterns are drawn on the egg with wax, which then protects the covered areas from the dye that is applied. By repeating this process with different colors of dye, a multi-colored pattern is built up. Finally, the wax is removed to reveal the colors that were covered up at each stage. The symbols and colors used are rich in meaning; many pre-date the arrival of Christianity, and have had Christian interpretations layered on afterward.
The ones above belong to my Canadian friend, Cheryl. Some are real eggs, some wooden. She painted some as a child while others were passed down from her mother. I was able to purchase my own hand painted pysanky while in Shoal Lake, MB.

Back to the Basics

The little farm house we rent while in Canada is kind of, well, primitive. No microwave, dishwasher, washer or dryer, limited TV and one bathroom (with 4 girls!). That's okay. Every once in a while it's nice to see what it might have been like years ago on the prairie. Granted we still had it a lot better than those first settlers. Mary and Grace chose to do the laundry one day instead of wash dishes. They were freezing by the time it was all hung out. LOL! They appreciate our washer and dryer a whole lot more now.

School Days

We homeschool. We've always homeschooled. We visit Canada and our children attended a public school???!!!! That's exactly what happened. A family we be-friended who also has 2 girls invited our girls to "go" to school for the day. The girls spent the whole day there and had a wonderful time! Grace even took a spelling test and came out with homework! LOL! They learned new games, the Canadian anthem and made new friends. Overall it was a very positive experience. We're thankful for our new friends inviting them and the teachers and principal of Shoal Lake School being so hospitable.

Saskatchewan and the Potash "Mountain"

One of our day trips in Canada was to Saskatchewan. As we drove we could see a huge pink "mountain" in the distance. We were very surprised to find out that it was potash. Here's some info for those of you who may be like me and not know much about potash. I found this on the Potash, Corp website.

Potassium Is a Naturally Occurring Plant Food Element

Potassium helps cotton to grow long, strong fibers. Fertilizer K is often referred to as "potash". Early American settlers coined that name. They produced potassium carbonate needed for making soap by evaporating water filtered through wood ashes. The ash-like residue remaining in the large iron pots was called "pot ash". This process is registered as the first US patent.Commercial production of potash in the US began when supplies from Germany were stopped due to military conflicts. Carlsbad, New Mexico, became the hub of US production. Other production from brines was developed in Utah and California. Then, in the early 1960s potash from vast, high quality Canadian reserves became available. As a result, Canada now supplies about three-fourths of the potash used in US crop production.

Nearly every aspect of plant growth is dependent upon an adequate supply of K. Along with nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P), it is one of the three primary nutrients needed in large amounts. Potassium is a team player and helps to improve a plant’s disease resistance, tolerance to water stress, winter hardiness, tolerance to crop pests, efficient use of N and other nutrients, yield, and quality.

Here's a great site for kid's to learn more about K, N, and P: http://www.potashcorp.com/learn_about_fertilizer/kidsweb/index.zsp

Monday, October 29, 2007

St. Lazare

Everyone knows that the girls and I love anything French. We were excited to find a French village near where we were staying in Canada. It's just a small place, but full of beauty and character. We had lunch at a cafe & boulangerie and visited with one of the local ladies who told us a bit about the area.

Canadian Views

Our front yard

Bear's den right off the road

Blanket of frost


Ice Skating

We don't get much ice in the south, so we jumped on the opportunity to go ice skating while in Shoal Lake. Mary and Grace looked like they had been skating all their lives. Emma did great too-with no help! Me, well let's just say I won't be trying out for the Olympic Team! We all had a fabulous time.

Mary & Grace

Me & Emma

Emma's first hunt

(me and Emma in the blind)

I know I didn't mention it before, but the whole reason we go to Canada is for Mark to hunt. He really enjoys hunting waterfowl and we enjoy eating them. Two years ago we tried to take Emma (then almost 2) along on a hunt. Some ducks started coming in and Mark started blowing the duck call. Immediatly Emma shouted, "Ducks! Quack! Quack!" Needless to say, it wasn't a very productive hunt. LOL!

(Emma, me and Levi after the hunt)

This year was much better for Emma. She layed in the blind with me and was as quiet as could be. As soon as she heard Mark shoot she stuck her head out to see. She couldn't wait to hold the ducks. She's collecting feathers to make her kitty, Twilla, a bed. I think she's hooked on hunting.



Monday, October 22, 2007

Ukrainian History

This is our 7th year coming to Manitoba. I never knew until this year how rich the Ukrainian history is. In 1899 the first Slavic settlers came to this site. During the first pioneer decade, families lived here in "Buddas" while their homesteads were being identified. The Buddas on this site were reconstructed in 1978 based on the recollections of Michael Swistun.

the girls in front of the buddas

the inside of the budda

The mass grave site cairn is in memory of the first slavic settlers who were devasted by the loss of 42 children and 3 adults to scarlet fever in May 1899.

St. Michaels Ukrainian Catholic Church in Olha, Manitoba was built in 1904 by John & Peter Koltuski. It was the first to serve the huge Ukrainian settlement.

Last is the Marconni School built in 1922 and restored in 1991.

Friday, October 19, 2007

O Canada!

The girls and I met Mark in Manitoba, Canada on Oct 14. Since then our days have been filled. Here are some picture postcards from Canada. Enjoy!

I know, there's not a lot there in these pictures. That's the beauty of it and what I love about this part of Manitoba. You see miles and miles of cut barley, wheat and canola. When the sun hits just right on the fields, they shine like gold. It's gorgeous! The ducks and geese are flying everywhere-I love the goose honk. Some of the mallard drakes are still shabby, while others have already had their heads turn bright green. The air is crisp and cold and the sky seems to go forever. Where ever you look you see God's hand. Time seems to stand still here. Now if I could just get the clock to stop so that I would have more days to soak up the natural beauty of Canada.

Dining with friends

My dear friend Sandy's birthday was last week. What did I do for her? I went to her house, for her to cook dinner and have cake for me and my girls! LOL! That's exactly what happened. Sandy is the type person who would give you anything she has, but hates to be in the spotlight. She and Morgan had missed Grace's birthday (we didn't have a party this year) and wanted to do something for her. They made a delicious dinner and a fabulous chocolate cake. They even had the girls spend the night. It seems like we received the gift for Sandy's birthday instead of her!

More sewing

Here's what I've been making lately-more gifts. I would like to note that these 2 bags and all the other bags I've made lately have been sewn from fabric that was given to me by a local shop. The shop makes custom baby bedding, drapes, etc. They offer their "scraps" free to anyone who'll come pick them up. What a great way to recycle.

Sandy's Nature Journaling bag

Autumn's baby bag

Harvest Creation

Our local library had an afternoon of pumpkin decorating. I was so proud of what Mary came up with. She has such great ideas when it comes to her artistic projects.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Second Annual Road Trip

The girls and I have decided to make our road trips an annual event. The four of us have so much fun together-staying in hotels, going out to "fancy" resturants, etc.

This time we went to Atlanta for a belated birthday gift for Grace. The new American Girl Boutique and Bistro just opened in August. We ended up spending 4 hours in there! It was so much fun. Even I was in awe in at all the beautiful dolls, clothes, beds and accessories. Then there was the wall of books-I just love books. Grace had saved all her birthday money and her money from baking brownies. She knew exactly what she wanted-Nikki, doll of the year for 2007. I ended up getting Mary an early birthday gift- Julie, the historical doll from 1974. Emma got an outfit for her Bitty Baby. After shopping we went into the Bistro for lunch. It was so cute-pink everywhere. They had little chairs for the dolls to sit at the table and tiny menus for them too. Grace said that this was "a dream come true!"

It was hard to tear ourselves away, but we had looked at and touched everything! LOL! Plus we were broke! Next we were off to the Atlanta History Center. They have a traveling exhibit on Benjamin Franklin. Last year the girls read Poor Richard and just loved it. As soon as we walked into the center, they started recognizing things from the stories they'd read. It was really a nice exhibit. They even had a replica of the Bonhomme Richard. That was Emma's favorite.

The last leg of the trip was from Atlanta to Tupelo, MS to see the girls' great grandmother. We spent all day Sunday visiting with her. Monday morning we were on the road by 8:30am. 5 hours and once again we were home. Now, where do we go next year...