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Entries from December 2006

Things that Made me Happy this Week.

Off and On this fall I have felt in a funk (there are many reasons for it) but I just don't like feeling down. However this week has been a very good week (I haven't always been in a good mood) but looking back there were so many gems of beauty and fun, they all just sort of hit me this morning as I woke up.

Things that made me happy this week:

1. Watching Aay and Zee play a new game (not Dominos, Monopoly Jr or Dora Candy Land which they all got for Christmas) but Garbanzo Guessing Game, a game they made up a dinner time last Saturday. I had made Tandoori Chicken for Chris and I (another of our missionary meals) and I had given the girls chickpeas to go with their wild rice. The girls love chick-peas, they are one our all-around best snacks, good hot or cold, easily portable and nutritious. After a little while Aay got up and started doing her usual mid-dinner jog. Zee got down to join her. Aay needs to do this every once in a while, it doesn't mean she is done eating her dinner, only that she is done sitting. She kept running to the front room and back, loading up on chickpeas every return trip to the table, and of course Zee started imitating her. Before long whenever they would pass each other they would as each other (Guess how many Chick-peas I have in my mouth?). After a little while they started coming to us to guess. Some of you might be recoiling in horror (running while eating, gasp! what a chocking hazard!, Talking with their mouth full, gasp! =P). It was a surreal and incredible fun 10 minutes, plus they ate an incredible amount of chick-peas in the process.

2. I got a new suitcase for Christmas. It is a nice size, with lot of compartments and it isn't black.

3. The Coutzee's  over for Christmas Dinner. They are a wonderful family, smart and funny. They were great pseudo-family.

4.Snow on Boxing day. We only got about half and inch  that first snow this week. But it was good enough for snow angels.

5. Snow the following day. We got about a foot of snow on Thursday. I dug out our house, and while I did it I listened to a CBC podcast of "Words at Large for Dec.27th" called Shakespeare: Classics Revisited where they interviewed Prof. Stephen Greenblatt about his new book "Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare." It was incredibly interesting interview to me. Sort of getting to go back and sit in my old English 346 class. I am going to have to add it to my Library hold list.

7. Inter-library Loans. Thank God for the Library. I went by the Library to pick up the 5th volume of Jeff Smith's excellent series, Bone. Whenever I get a volume, I always plan on savoring it, reading only one issue at a time, but I always end up reading the whole thing in one chunk. Without or without coloring, it is just one of the best all-ages comic series I have ever read. I know I will getting these collections later to read to the girls when they get just a little older.

6. Hor-Frost yesterday morning. When I talked to my sister on Christmas eve one of the first things she asked me was whether we had a Hor-frost yet. Sadly we hadn't yet. Yesterday morning however, all the trees where awesomely arrayed. It made me so happy, maybe because it can cause a slight bit of disorientation when you first see it. Immediately after waking up I found myself walking by the Kitchen window and looking out at the Pine trees in our neighbor's yard. For a moment you just sort of marvel at how beautiful it is, and then you question yourself, "was that there before and I just didn't see it?" and then you realize that no, that is new. It is just simply magical to drive out under a canopy of frost covered trees as the little dusting of snow rains down. By afternoon it is all gone, but you still have the memory.

7. A pleasant and peaceful drive to MH. The girls were incredibly well behaved. We had to cancel our last trip midway because of misbehavior. We had a lots of fun.

8. Iced Cran-Grape with Vodka and Much Music's Top 50 Guilty Pleasures countdown. Chris found this on TV the other night and we spent a enjoyable half-hour watching some of delightfully fun videos.

9.  The excellent extra-features on our Pirates of the Caribbean 1 and 2 DVD's.  These were Chris's Plan-B Christmas Presents. His actual Christmas present got held up at Customs till yesterday (a excellent replica Baltimore Black Sox Jersey) so I had to quickly buy a back-up present so Chris would still have something to open on Christmas Eve. Our first ever DVD's purchases were the Lord of the Ring extended DVD editions. The hours and hours of extra-features completely spoiled us for DVD  featurettes. Since then we have had to lower our expectations in order to enjoy the extra features on other DVD sets like Buffy and Angel (Firefly, had a great extra-features package). In our experience most featurettes are at worst PR fluff, that in effect try to sell you the movie you already purchased and at best somewhat informative and amusing (The Pixar Bonuses features are crowd pleaser at our house) but they very rarely painfully honest about the conflicts and struggles involved in movie making. Pirates 1 features started off well, and got better, with the Diary of Pirate and Diary of Ship being really outstanding. Pirates 2's features started out with a bang, with Charting the Course, which detailed the start of the production process once they chose to do sequels to the original Pirates. Script problems, casting problems, weather, budget, all honest discussed and filmed. Several times Chris and I found ourselves marveling at how raw the documentary got, not glossing over the conflicts.  The first Dvd's extra features made you want to be in movies and appreciate the importance of studios, the second, made you appreciate that "other" people where out there making movies on location, while I got to enjoy them from the comfort of my own home.

10. My girls.Family_172 Last night before bathtime the girls joined me in some streches. I taught them how to do Downward facing dog and Sun Salutaions, and before long they were making up their own "yoga" exercises, and calling them such things as "Hello Sun, goodbye Moon". Then later in night after our TV watching we went upstairs to check on the girls and get ready for bed. We found Zee, curled up asleep at the edge of room wearing at least 5 pairs of pajamas. This morning she was so incredibly proud of it. She is walking around the house right now looking incredibly well padded and ready to wrestle any sumo wrestler that challenges her.  I just love my kids!


Photo Session

We had our pictures taken by Fred Rekman a church friend of Marianne (Chris's mom) while were visiting her back on November. These are the results. We have to decide which ones we would like to order. So if you have an opinion make sure to make it known. I thought they were fun and well done. It was a shame it was such a cool day and we had trouble convincing Zee to ditch her jacket but at least the light and setting was beautiful.

Full Family:

#1-Fence                                                                                       #2-Bench

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  Option#3-Ground

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Mini-Groups:

Family_005 Family_004_1Family_006Family_009

  I like lots of  these and probably what I should do is just go ahead and buy a big mosaic picture frame so I can showcase them together.

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Family_017_1 Family_015_1 Family_019 Family_018 Family_020                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Nice aren't they.                                    


Soduku

One of the fun things to do at Opa and Oma Fluit's house is to get a hold of Ralph's crossword clipboard. They get the Globe and Mail delivered daily and before heading out to work as he enjoy his morning tea or coffee, he starts working on the crossword. Before the day is done Ann has taken a crack at it, and if we are visiting we pull out of its usual resting place under the living room coffee table.

I love reading and looking at crossword puzzles, but with my sometime sketchy spelling skills I hardly ever managed to finish one that wasn't printed in the back of the TV Guide. I don't do them in a regular basis but I can get at least 2 dozen answers, and if I am lucky I can add a couple of words to Ralph's daily cross-word when I am on visiting.

For the last two years I have been hearing a lot about Soduku, seeing the rest of the world get addicted. Yet because I know I have poor endurance with puzzles, I have blithely ignored the phenomenon, even as I listen to NPR: Sunday Puzzle podcast on a weekly basis, where every winner is often awarded with one of the co-host Will Shortz's Soduku books. But on the last days of our stay at the Fluit's in Toronto, I found myself flipping thru the Globe and Mail and lazily looking at the Soduku puzzle. I read the instructions and half-started and then stopped. But not quickly enough, for Ann has spotted me and ran off to the master bedroom to fetch a small paperback collection of Soduku puzzles presented Will Shortz's, called Pocket Sudoku Volume 4: 150 Fast, Fun Puzzles. Ann encouraged me to take the book, on previous plane trip she had worked thru about the first dozen, but it hadn't really hooked her. She thought that I might enjoy it for our Calgary return flight the next day.

It took me about 2 hours to work thru my first "easy" puzzle on the plane, but as I did I developed a system, of how I would break down the puzzle, and I found myself really enjoying the whole experience. Unlike crosswords that can be easy early when you can poach all the easy words and you find yourself abandoning later, the soduku problem solving sort of crest midway which is they key as Will Shortz says in the New York Magazine article I liked too above,

What precisely is the allure? Shortz argues that Sudoku has a secret psychological hook. While solving them, you tend to get bogged down midway—then suddenly break through, fill in the last bunch of empty boxes in a row, bang bang bang. “It gives you a satisfying feeling to be rushing at those squares,” Shortz says. “And immediately you want to do another one. That’s the key to why they are so addictive.”

So I know find myself sitting with my Sudoku book, a loose-leaf sheet of paper, my trusty Lion Eraser
and my mechanical pencil, scribbling and erasing as Chris watches a hockey/football/baseball game, and get a little rush not only from filling in the boxes but from Aay's comments as I do it: How many numbers did you fill in? Any new ones? wow...look at all numbers... heh.


Doing something right

As a wife of pastor I can tell you I have lots and lots of opportunities to do things wrong. Say too much, not do enough, say the wrong thing, get cranky at the wrong time. Chris will tell you that I am very loving and supportive wife, but I have to say that it just feels nice when you suddenly realize what you can do to make you spouse's life easier.

    Just 2 days ago I told my mom that we were very likely coming to Florida and Puerto Rico in Feb. Chris and I have been playing with the Feb date since Sept/October. Prior to my quick Florida trip. I know I mentioned Feb in Fl and PR to not only my mom, but pretty much anyone else that it mattered to, like my dad, brother and random other people I know.  So oops, change of plans, it looks like April is better instead.

Aay has the same amount of school days off immediately after Easter as she has coming up in Feb. Chris has a lot of his plate right now, has been hoping to work up some momentum on a particular project and just this week I realized that unintentionally our Feb trip date might be coming up to soon.

So much has been up in the air for it, where will my dad be?, where will my mom be? Where should we go?  etc... So yesterday after lunch I mentioned it to Chris, asked him if it would be easier or better for us to move that trip back, that I had noticed that we could do it later without taking Aay out of school for more days. And you know what? It was. We went over to his office, looked at his preaching calender, and it sure looked doable.

So yeah, here is the new plan. Spring vacation is now in April, immediately after Easter, so either the 9 or the 10th till the 23 or 24th. See you then.


Lost in my thoughts.

I don't know why, really. But Chris and I have been lost in our thoughts since we came home. Last night we sat and talked about it. About how we felt, not depressed, that is too strong of a word, but certainly not with it.

I know I have had a lot of distracted conversations since I have been back, and I finding routine again has been very tough. Maybe it is a side-effect of skipping November, but we have done that before and come back ready to go. I don't know, I have no answers yet to why we feel this way, but we are sure trying to focus and get back to our lives here.

In the last two weeks, we have gone to music classes, Sunday School program rehearsals,hospital visits, shopping trips, birthday parties, dentists appointments, Parent-teacher interviews, Consistory meetings and Kindergarten baking field trips. Still ahead are more Music lessons, Ministerial meetings, more Baking field trips, music recitals, Sunday School programs and skating parties before the crush of special Christmas services even begins.

But it really isn't that grim. Chris and I have had very little trouble getting our relational routines established. After a few late nights of meetings for Chris, we have gotten chance to catch up on our shared TV shows and gotten to discuss and discuss in depth what we like and didn't. Right now two piles, 5 Weeks's worth of comics sits on our bedroom dresser and as we both read, we steal moments of our day to chat about reactions, as we prepare lunch, or meet in the stairs on the up from the laundry room.

Essentially our family live has been solid. That is one huge benefit at least for us from having moved so far away from our family and old friends. Chris and I have had to become each-other's best friend, and while we been loved and adopted by precious friends here, our distance from our family has meant that our nuclear family unit really had to solidify. It really makes you appreciate your friends, those who keep in touch despite the distance, your new friends who appreciate you even if you drop by unannounced.

As for the girls. They are finally adjusting to the mountain time zone. Their bedtimes has finally stabilized as has their waking times. Zee is in a weird place too. I think I have actually seen her grow bigger before my very eyes recently. I am sure she has shot up at least half-an-inch since we came home. She has also been needing naps in the middle of the day, without necessarily delaying her bedtime.

Yesterday at rehearsal she fell asleep apparently between the first and second song, and slept on the front step of the sanctuary and the rest of the kids went on to rehearse for another hour and half, yet she didn't stay up more than 40 minutes than Aay and her calling from the bedroom wasn't excessive.

Her latest stall tactic is rather cute. It is a variation of her previous ones, because it is starts with the familiarly slurred "I have to tell you something, that I....". She used to end the phrase, "I love you" which has now morphed into  " I love you because...." "I give you hugs and kisses" or "I give you hugs and kisses later..." leaving it open for another call to collect those previously mentioned hugs and kisses. It she has dragged this one out during bedtime, I frequently stop it by simply handing out the kisses and hugs on the spot, and reminding her that it is time to sleep now.  Could be worse things.

So we will be in Church in about an hour, probably watch some football in the afternoon over Chris's shoulder, try to call my Dad and brother and catch up, and hopefully finish up my prep-work on the DC solicitations that will be unveiled at the Captain Comics message board after the embargo lifts on Monday afternoon, that and get lunch and dinner on the table.

Keep  us in your prayers, and we wade thru the emotional fog and get back into rhythm.


Post-vacation lag

We have been home in the Mountain Time Zone for 3 days already but we really haven't adjusted. The girls are getting up between 5:45 and 6:15 am and Chris has been up before 7 for the last three days. And we are all achingly tired by 10:00 pm. And we all have had a ton of things to catch up on. Chris had to pound out two sermons, and deal with a pile of administrative paperwork and I had to get the house in reasonable order, get groceries, and wade thru my own pile of paper in addition to helping Aay get ready for her first Friday at Kindergarten. Our December schedule already looks incredibly crowded with Sunday School Program rehearsals, dentists appointments and meetings. I am so glad that gymnastics's is one hiatus till January.

Just after lunch today we did take some time to start decorating the house for Christmas. My wreaths are out, and the tree's will be coming up later this afternoon. Aay asked us yesterday to set aside our the early part of our evening for tree decorating.

I am going to try to add our vacation pictures to the photo albums this afternoon. And maybe have some select some of the best for a post this weekend. 

Thank you all of you who hosted us: Mami, Papi Jean and Juan,  Oma and Opa Fluit, Grandma Fluit and the Koning's. We were blessed by  your love for us.  There never seems to be enough time, no  matter how we try to arrange our schedule, but thank you for all the listening you  did to us, letting us decompress and recharge.