Monthly Archives: December 2003

Shopping Crazy!

Our kids, Eric and wife Michelle, decided to stay out at the farm with her mom last night.  The reason – so they could all get up early and go to the sale at Future Shop at 6 am.  Now in my opinion that is pure craziness!  There is almost nothing that I would go shopping for at that hour of the day!  They said the line-up stretched all the way from Future Shop to McDonalds.  There sure are a lot of crazy people out there.  They got one really good deal and then pretty much gave up.  Came over here for breakfast and we were barely up.

I had been up early in the morning myself and it just happens that the boys were up too – CK at our computer playing a game and PK down stairs reading.  I joined them for some reading but got sleepy again and went back to bed.

Tonight friends are coming over.  We will eat some more good things and have a good time visiting.  I love having the holidays to do some of the entertaining that our busy normal schedules makes diffficult.  As long as my guests aren’t too particular about my housecleaning, they are welcome.  I do not like to waste good holiday time doing that – or at least I refuse to stress out over it and will do the minimum needed to make the house presentable.

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Merry Christmas

On this Christmas morning I wish for you the blessings that only Christ himself can bring to your homes.  If he is there, you will then have a very good Christmas whether it is particularly merry or not. 

Following our Scandinavian traditions (my mother was of Swedish descent), we held our gift opening last evening.  First, we had a much too large supper, turkey, ham, potato sausage, tourtière, rice pudding, etc.(I guess you can tell we are not vegetarians!)  Then we had one gift that needed to be opened before heading off to church – Christian was given his Njembe a little early since we wanted him to play it at the Christmas Eve service.  Then we all headed over to the church for the candlelight service. 

Returning from the service, we settled in the living room to hear Leo read the familiar passage from Luke 2 – the true Christmas story.    Then we began giving and receiving gifts. 

Sometimes the gifts we give are purely a store bought item that is nice to get but is not terribly significant.  Other gifts are priceless and with them comes so much love and thoughtfullness that they are almost too much to receive.  I will let you in on my most treasured gift from this year.     Painted by my daughter-in-law Annette with a poem written by my son, David.  This is my grandson, Kieran, and it is his first Christmas.  This is what my son wrote:

Grandparents

 

With love like no others

You touch my life everyday

Always there to lend a hand

Making time for me to play

 

You’ll be there while I grow up

Teaching, guiding, always loving

Even when I get it wrong

You both are so caring

You’ve been there all along

 

From time to time, every nerve I’ll test

Your frown, yell or scornful voice

Will let me know I’ve been a pest

But you will still love me

 

Grandparents greater there never was

I see in you what I want to be

And I will love you both for eternity

 

By David Lanoie

This was not the only gift from my children that made me sit back and take a deep breath.  I thank God for each one of them – he has really blessed me.  (And I am saying that in honesty even if you might wonder about my sanity if you are a regular reader of my blog!)

 

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Feeling good

I am just about finished the second batch of rice pudding for tonight.  We picked up the rice pudding tradition while living in the Congo.  Seems logical – rice – which we had lots of, but actually it seems the tradition comes from my Scandinavian heritage.  It’s just that there were a lot more Scandinavians around in the Congo among the missionaries than there ever had been around me as I was growing up.  My mom made rice pudding but it had never been part of our Christmas tradition.  We tended to incorporate the traditional Christmas pudding into our festivities – after all my dad is English.

I promised my family that they could have rice pudding for breakfast so it must get done!  And I am sure making a rice pudding for breakfast wasn’t part of the deal in the Congo.  My family is coercing me to break tradition!

Leo and I sat and had a few glasses of wine together this evening.  We have a son home who agreed to do the usual child driving for us.  That is maybe one of our nicest gifts!  So we sat, read and drank wine and talked about the spiritual journey I seen to be embarked upon.  I am always amazed at how God can move to make our paths converge as a couple even though we are so different in our personalities.  Sometimes I wonder if Leo will understand at all  before we get into a discussion only to find out that he already has a lot of what I am going through figured out already.  I really shouldn’t be so surprised since this isn’t the first time God has worked this way.

And I really had about one glass of wine more than I normally have.  Hope this second rice pudding bears some resemblance to the first!

I know that tomorrow is going to be full from morning to night so I doubt I will blog. I think my day will be blessed.  I wish the same for yours. Merry Christmas to all of you!

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A bad end to a perfect day

Last night we had one of those really awful parenting nights.  We got home from our party at the park – with the girls and all their friends.  And we were set to babysit Kieran but the girls had plans to have friends over.  We knew we would need them to be entertaining their friends in different parts of our domain so Grace and co. went up to the loft of the garage while Sara and co. went up to the loft of the house.  TV watching going on in the house and just “hanging out” in the garage. 

At about 10:30 I was driving Kieran back home when I noticed my garage door opener on the hood of my car – sliding towards me.  Needless to say it did not stay on the hood for long!  It fell on to the street and smashed into a few pieces.  I was able to stop and retrieve them – all but one piece which I didn’t even realize was missing at that moment.  Amazingly it still works.

I got home, stepped out of my car and heard loud and clearly, coming from the open garage attic window, loud and frequently repeated f— words along with comments about the cigars that were being smoked by a couple of male voices.  I was somehow uninformed that there were going to be guys present for this after party party.  This on top of my garage door opener smashing – well I sent a few people home in short order!

To complete the evening, Grace was not really welcome in her wonderful mood at her sisters party which was going on up in the house loft.  So she went down to the basement to go on MSN.  Patrick, being home, wished to go to sleep(in the basement) since it was now around midnight.  In fact I had gone to bed and the other friends were all in the process of leaving when all hell broke loose downstairs!  The tired brother had an encounter with the angry and grumpy sister!!!

I had about had enough by this time and what with the words passing rapidly between the two kids – and they were some of the most foul words I have ever had to hear – I also exploded! 

The worst part of all this – I am supposed to be an adult and a loving one at that!  I din’t act the part very well.  I have the angry out of control version down pat. Reason at that moment excaped me and I ended up doing things I would rather not do.

I had a lot of appologizing to do this afternoon.  In fact we both shed a few tears and had to do some forgiving of each other.  Appologizing and being forgiven sure feels a lot better than anger.

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Éowyn's Valor

Jeremy Olson has a great blog on the words of Éowyn from LOTR – The Two Towers.

Éowyn states that what she fears most is being caged in so that her life would be lived without valor.

 

I have just finished seeing the final movie The Return of the King.  I love these stories by Tolkien and have read them to my kids as they were growing up.  The movies capture the story of these books so well that even the pictures developed in my imagination as I read them are not altered a lot. 

 

I think what we see in LOTR is a common mission – to strike at evil no matter if it costs everything and no matter if the battle is won or lost.  Everyone has their own part they have to play and the success of the mission depends on everyone accomplishing their part in the big story – it is all interlinked.  So you see the people going into battles that would be considered hopeless because they have to try and defeat evil or die in the process.  Dieing is a better fate than becoming evil.  And the ultimate quest of Frodo to destroy the ring is not his alone but belongs to everyone that is fighting evil.  He could not do it without everyone else doing their part.

 

The integration of stories is maybe seen best in the role of the elves.  The triumph of good with the destruction of the ring will end their existence in Middle Earth.  But it will also allow the life in the Shire to go on in its own good way.

 

I think we all have our places where God wants us to go.  We could choose to stay in our cages, whatever they are for us, or listen to him and follow him wherever.  I think we, too, are in a long story (to which we know the ending) where we all have our individual parts to play that must be played in order to accomplish what God wants for this world. 

 

We can be caged in by a lot of things.  Our church institutions can do this to us if we listen to the leaders of them more than to God.  Our human leaders have their own expectations that are not necessarily in sync with God’s plan for our world.  This is a big challenge to those of us who are involved in church leadership.

 

More than institutions, we cage ourselves when we place ourselves and not God at the centre of our lives.  So we tend to listen to what is good and safe for us and stay in the cages we make.  Like Éowyn we should fear living caged lives with no valor. 

 

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Sunday, Busy Sunday

Sundays can be busy days.  For myself the busyness is usually centered around participation in worship, family and church events.  I suspect that for a layperson like myself the busyness is a sort of welcome change of pace created because of things we choose to do.  It’s not work but some days it is hardly classified as quiet and restful. 

Today started out like most of my Sundays – worship practice, then coffee some time to sit in the sanctuary and pray and then the worship service.  Today we had our annual Carol service where we hear the stories behind the writing of the different carols that we sing.  Grace and Johanna sang “Mary Did You Know” – a beautiful song and they did a good job.  I wish we had them sing more often but it is hard to get them to do this without twisting arms.  Today they actually were the ones to suggest it so it got done. 

I seemed to make more than my usual number of mistakes today.  Christmas music is beautiful but not always the easiest to play.  I am always surprised that it is on the days when I perform the most poorly, in my opinion, that someone will come up after and remark how they enjoyed the music.  I am glad that we don’t have to be perfect to be useful to God.

It was a bit of a rush after church to get home, eat and then get out to the Little Red River Park for our church Christmas party.  Especially since Leo invited David and Kieran home for lunch promising them some tourtière.  So, since the one that had been cooked last night was gone, we had to wait a bit while dinner cooked.  And there were many phone calls as the girls had to call the friends they had invited to the party and make all sorts of arrangements for rides out to the park. 

By 2:30 we were out at the Cosmo Lodge which is right below the ski shack at the park.  We sort of took over a good part of the lodge and had a lot of fun for the rest of the afternoon.  The kids with pliable osseus structures and some crazy adults went tobogganing and sliding, some went sking or snowboarding and the rest of us walked or sat around inside and played games. 

I got out my snowshoes and took a hike up the hill north of the lodge.  There actually wasn’t a lot of snow because the weather has been so mild.  My snowshoes have these wonderful steel teeth (crampons) that make it quite simple to climb hills.  I need to do this more often!  I sat down and reflected when I got to the top of the hill – on how out of shape I am!!

Tonight, we are babysitting again.  Tonight is Annette’s staff party and we promised to look after our wonderful grandson – who incidentally does a lot of screaming when he is mad or upset.  And since he just woke up – Grandma is going to sign off this blog!

 

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Tourtière

A good part of my day has been involed in the making of the tourtière.  And tonight I just had my first piece – have to test these things you know!  It has turned out quite well I think. 

My husbands family, being good French Canadians, introduced me to this delicacy.  Tourtère is a pork pie that is traditionally eaten only at Christmas time.  In fact the first one was not to be eaten until after returning from midnight mass on Christams Eve.  Some parts of the tradition have not been kept.  You can even buy it in Superstore now all year round. 

My version of the tourtière is an adaptation of an old recipie found in the Canadian Cookbook – the ancient ugly brown version which I used in high school home-ec many years ago.  I took this recipe book with me to the Congo and unfortunately that is where it still is.  (One does not evacuate carrying a heavy cookbook!  And how could one choose which of many books are invaluable enough to carry out.)  My recipe was modified while we lived in the Congo due to the fact that it is really hard to grind pork meat in a hand meat grinder – unless you have the refrigeration facilities to keep it real cold.  So I would cook the pork roast till very tender and then put it through the food processer.  It gave it a better texture too and was less greasy than the ground pork version. 

My recipe is sort of like this:
Lean pork roast
One or two onions chopped up
Water to cover
Salt and pepper to taste
About a teaspoon of nutmeg -depending on the quantity of meat

Cook slowly (a slow cooker is great) till the meat is so well done that it pulls apart easily.
Let it cool and skim off the fat.
Process in a food processor till the meat is about the consistency of ground beef.
Fill the pie shells adding about 1/2 cup of liquid over the meat in each pie.
Bake at 350 till the crust is golden brown.

Serve with a spicey tomato sauce or ketchup. 

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