Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Au Revoir Quebec

Our family has returned to Alberta. We have mixed emotions to be done language study and back in Alberta for a few months. This is our "hommage" to Quebec. Thanks for the memories.

Things I never quite figured out:

The bise. This is the french custom of kissing each other on the cheek. The problem is, you don’t always do it with everyone. And how many times? Twice or three times? Well, my rule of thumb became watch for the signs that they were leaning into you when greeting you or saying goodbye. Then I would watch their head to see which cheek they wanted to kiss first, left or right. I followed their cues and kissed back as many times as they kissed my cheek. And is it an air kiss beside the cheek where just your cheeks connect, or do they actually kiss your cheek? There didn’t seem to be a rule that I ever figured out. So I just gave everyone bear hugs.

In the fall I couldn't figure out what they were all setting up these canvas huge tents over their driveways. Were they really that afraid of snow or afraid to shovel their walks? Some streets had 70% of the homes with these little canvas tunnels. It looked really funny and a bit overexaggerated. Then the snow fell. And fell. And fell. When we left, the snow was up to 5 feet in some places. And they don't get the chinooks and melting that Alberta does. It sticks. So now I get it.

Things I loved:

Café Castello. This little coffee shop and beanery was just between my gym and chiropractor, all within walking distance. It smelled heavenly and he had the freshest café au lait I’ve ever tasted.

The Vieux Marché : I blogged about this place before and I will miss the plethora of fresh smells and colors of the stands filled with fresh flowers, fruits, veggies and other products. It turned into a christmas bazaar this November./December. By far the best farmers market style place for food ever!

Old Quebec. I used to live in France for a while, and Old Quebec reminded me so much of there. The architecture and streets were reminiscent of old Europe. The overflowing cafes in summer and people walking arm in arm along the port and through the narrow alleys were always a pleasure for the photographer in me. The heritage and culture is rich and we are blessed to have been able to really enjoy it.

The French language. What can I say? I love it. My undergrad degree has a french major, so I felt like I found an old friend when I moved there. Our friendship was rusty, and I made mistakes getting to know you again, but you were patient. And this time i got to share you with Paul, who got to know you amazingly well in 6 months. Living daily life out in french was a joy. Merci.

We cheered everytime we saw another Albertan license plate. :) Our trusty 4-Runner made the trip to Quebec, including all the way to the Atlantic ocean for a trip, and then all the way back again.

Bennett's favorite thing to watch

Things I disliked:

Budding in line: They do it. More than half a dozen times, I was clearly in line, and someone stepped right in front of me and up to the counter. An old woman, a hurried business man, etc. Maybe my idea of personal space is too much and I’m supposed to hug the butt cheeks of the person in front of me to show that there is no room in the line in front of me. Or maybe I looked too laid back and relaxed and surely they were much busier than me and should go first. Either way, I was shocked, then annoyed, then….well…too polite and said nothing. Really, I did have more time than them, but at least they could have asked.

Saying goodbye. We were only there 6 months, but we really enjoyed our time in Quebec. We especially miss you Nelsons. You know who you are. We love you and in our deepest imagination and wishlist, someday we will live close again. We miss our times with you already. Thank you for taking us in.

Thank you so much to Quebec. To the people, the church, the friends, the language, the sights and the culture. You all enriched our experience and we have a Quebec chapter in our lives that won't soon be forgotten.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

I haven't written in a while since we have been blessed to have family visiting us! My brother Chad, his wife Michelle and their son Travis came to Quebec for a week. We were very happy to have them and we got a chance to show them around "our Quebec". Its the off-season for Quebec, so everywhere we went was pretty empty, which was nice! Wierd thing was that with everything so seasonal, half the things we wanted to see were closed, but for the other half we had them all to ourselves.

We also got our first dump of snow while they were here. I have been seeing the Quebec-ers hunker down, set up their snow garages, etc for months now. Now we see why. The snow is thick and heavy and comes down fast. We already have a foot and its not likely to melt.

While they were here we geocached, hiked around historic sights, played lots of games, hung out with the kids and had our own Christmas. Here are some pictures of some of the things we did. Thanks again C&M for coming. It was a major encouragement to us!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

A 2 year old gets his passport photos...

So we are in the process of applying for new passports for the whole family. We need new ones that wont expire while we live in Africa, so even though some are still valid, its new ones for all!

Well, Arielle sat well and didnt move and didnt crack a smile, which was of course perfect for the passport photo police. Bennett, who is 2 1/2, was another story completely. Here is roughly what the photo session went like:

Finally, after threatening no supper, no blankie, no milk and no soother, this is what we got. Perfect. Personally, I prefer all the other pictures who show who he really is, but at least the passport police are happy now.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Shots around Quebec

So you might be wondering what we have been up to lately. Truth is, the answer isnt all that exciting. Paul has been spending most of his time in school and homework. His main job here is to learn french and he is doing a great job! I have been spending most of my time with the kids, and my own homework. But everyone needs a break and a hobby right? So here is some of my newest work in my hobby :) All of the photos we taken by me in the last few months. Even the one that looks like an antique postcard. Enjoy. (Just a reminder, you can click on the photos to see them full screen)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

So we had really great news to report. Paul got his bike back. You read a few weeks ago that we had been robbed twice and both our good bikes were stolen. Well we got a call, and one thing led to another and ended with us going to a pawnshop where our bike was bring held and getting it back. It's a long story (the guy got caught stealing another bike - he admitted to stealing 30 or so - he was dumb and went to pawnshops where you have to show ID and have your picture taken - he made it easy for cops to track which ones he had sold to pawnshops - he sold it to the pawnshop for $150 when it is worth $3000!)

As you can tell by the picture, Paul is really really really happy. We had been praying for encouragment with all that was going on here. Even so bold as to ask to get even one of our bikes back! Well we are so thankful and blessed feeling by this gift. Paul says he cant really claim its his bike anymore. The first time he worked hard for it, desired it, saved for it and went out and bought it. Then it was stolen out from under him and he went through a time of learning a valuable lesson. We cant withhold things when we really give to God. We are all or nothing, Passion and Determination and Sacrifice dont have little hidden treasures that they refuse to give up. So he trusted God had a plan through all of this, that he was learning and would be strengthened by it, and that God had something even better in store for him. And He did. Now Paul can't say it's his bike anymore, because all that he had done on his own was taken away, and then God gave it back to him for free because he is loved.

You know, I dont know why some people are afraid or feel unworthy to pray for the desires of their heart. God wants to meet those! He wants to bless us and encourage us and give us such amazing joy and fullfillment. All he wants in return is our heart. I'm still praying my bike will come back too. That would be so great. But maybe God knows something more, something relational or healing, is more the desire of my heart than that? I just pray and know he knows me and will meet my needs.

Be blessed and pray boldy. Ask and it shall be given. Knock and the door will be answered. He hears!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Parc Jacques Cartier & Parc Chauveau

This Saturday we went to Jacques Cartier Park, which is about 30 mins north of Quebec City. We figured it would do us good to get out into nature and relax and enjoy the fall colors. We phoned the Nelson family fab 5 and met them en route.

We brought everything to have a picnic (hotdogs,chips,juice,fruit,etc) and went to try to find a day camp place that allowed you to have fires. Well that was easier said than done. But eventually we found one.

Parc Chauveau is inside quebec city, right close to our friends house. Bennett loved to go there because there is a small creek, and he loves throwing rocks in the water. Arielle loves exploring and I love the peace and quiet and gorgeous colors, so we all win! I brought Bennett's rain boots so he was so happy to sit on a rock with his feet in the water and play in the water. Of course he got pretty wet elsewhere still, but was so happy.

Arielle kept sneaking over the snack bag when i wasnt looking and I caught her several times with her "hand in the cookie jar" . Shes my little snack hound.

I fear in a few more weeks the wind will have taken all the bright colored leaves off the trees and the maples will be naked. I'll miss the bright mix of reds and oranges. Until then, I intend to go out lots and enjoy them, which suits the kids just fine!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Have you seen these bikes?

So a few of you heard that about a month ago Pauls Rocky Mountain ETSX-50 was stolen from Laval University while he was in classes. It was locked up with a thick cable in plain view. And yet someone walked up with big tools and took off with it. That was a hard blow for us, especially Paul. If you know Paul, you know his bike was important to him and mountain biking is his favorite thing to do in his free time.

So we decided to fly my good bike (Trek Fuel 90) out to Quebec from the safety of my parents basement so that he could still go on good rides. He bought a $200 bike to ride to and from classes and mine would always be at our apartment or under our butts. Never locked up or left in public.

Then yesterday happened. In the middle of the night, someone scaled the brick wall up to our third floor balcony (no stairs or access point) and stole my bike too. We have no idea how they managed to get up there. Scary thing is that we were sleeping only a few metres away and there is no lock on that patio door. They could have just walked into our bedrooms too. So now I dont even feel safe in my own home.

Add this to the fact our mailbox was broken into and everything ripped apart and a cheque went missing, and you will begin to feel the welcome here hasn't been so "warm".

I wont lie, this is brutally hard. A few things that we didnt give away when we moved, and were important to us and our lifestyle, have been ripped away. I can't comprehend the reason that this happened. Twice! And we certainly dont have the $8000 to replace them both now. Im afraid to leave anything of any value alone, am not safe in my own apartment, and feel discouraged and hurt. I know we left everything for a reason and are moving forward in trust and faith...but my faith doesn't feel so strong in times like this. Why do you get kicked when you are already down and live far away from anyone to pick you up? Such is the way of my thoughts. Paul is really angry too.

We thank you for your prayers and support. We know we made the committment to give it all up, to put it on the altar and trust...but those are not always easy.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Retreat in Niagara

This past weekend I had the wonderful retreat. My very good friend Jen F surprised me a few days earlier with a weekend getaway to the Niagara region. She grew up there and her parents and family still live there in a plot of land just outside of Saint Catharines.

What a blessing to have a weekend getaway to be surrounded by peace and beautiful scenery and a great friend who knows me well.

On Saturday (which was my 31st Birthday!) We headed to Niagara Falls. I had never seen them before.

The power of the falls is amazing. The river rushing down to it is much rougher and faster than I thought it would have been. And the power and sound of that much water falling is impressive. We walked the paths along the falls and edge of the canyon and then walked the tourist streets.

After the falls we went down the road a few kilometres to the Whirlpool. We hiked down this rough steep trail to the bottom to get a geocache and take in the scenery. We got a bit muddy since my coordinates for the cache were a bit off and we scrambled up dirty rough mud to a rock where nothing was hidden :) But we found it eventually.

Then we headed to the beautiful little town of Niagara on the Lake. We stopped at a vineyard and walked around first, then walked around downtown. Jen used to work at a wine tasting store, so we went there and saw some of her old coworkers and tasted some testers of the new best wines.

Then we continued to walk around town and hit lots of little stores. Guess what store this was :) We had such a great time. After this we spent a wonderful evening with some of her friends before going home late and talking more.

Sunday saw us up bright and early to go to the church Jen and her family attended.
It was an awesome, inspirational service and I left feeling really refreshed in spirit. You can check out the webpage of the church at:

You can also access links under the sunday section to listen to music and messages to inspire you as well.

After church Jen went to spend some time with her family while I sat outside and did some reading. Jen's family has a little vineyard out back and after I was done reading, I took the time to wander through the vines, enjoying the taste of a few grapes, the sounds and peace and quiet. What a wonderful time of refreshing that I am so grateful for.

Sunday night we went for supper and stayed up late talking. That was the best thing about the weekend - a trusted old friend who loves me and encourages me so much. I am so blessed. Thank you so much Jen.