Thursday, August 30, 2007

Le Vieux Marché (The Old Market)

One of my favorite places to go each week is to the Vieux Marché. I buy all of our fruit and veggies there and some bread too. It is similar to our farmers market, and it is open all week long and all year long. There is stall after stall of people selling their fresh products. For veggies you can get zucchini the size of small baseball bats for $2. You get a huge basket of Tomatoes for $2.50. Huge bags of fresh basil or others like dill or chives for $1.50 Mounds of strawberries or blueberries for great deals, and fresh batches of baquettes, cheese bread, chocolate bread, fudge or pie at one end of the market. These are by far the best vegetables I have ever eaten. I am really going to miss the huge assortment and fresh tastes when we get to Niger.
There are also a few other small stalls selling spices, fish, pastries or other assorted wares. The kids love to wander around with a dixie cup of fresh berries and take in all the smells. There are also several flower stalls where bennett picks me out a new bouquet every few weeks.

Monday, August 20, 2007

How children learn

Today I was reminded of a powerful lesson. My children's world is shaped by what they see in us as parents and the window that we provide to the world.

I had a very bad headache this morning which grew into a fullblown migraine by lunchtime. I got the kids down for their nap (Dad was at school all day) and dragged myself into bed with a few tylenol. I was sensitive to light and noise and nauseous. I layed there in the dark willing the pain to go away when after 45 minutes I heard Bennett crying out to me. Inside I was begging him to go back to sleep since that was way too short for a nap, but I got up and went in to him, tucked him in, and got another 10 minutes of lying down in before he was crying again. So I got him out of bed, explained Mommy was really sick, and asked if he wanted to lay down with me. He came into our room, pulled himself onto the bed next to me, and proceeded to bring me to tears with his love. He stroked my face with his hand and kept asking if mommy was ok, if I was sick, if i was going to throw up on my pillow (His little sister has taught him about vomit). he stayed there for a long while, giving me sweet kisses, touching my face and asking if I was ok. I cried in pain for a while and he was so concerned and full of love that my heart was swelling with love for my little man. I set him up with the Nemo movie in the living room and drifted in and out of rest while i layed there and watched him sit and play the quietest I have ever seen from him. He knew I was sick. He covered me up with his precious white crocheted blanket that he loves so much. When I finally did have to run to the bathroom to throw up, he was so concerned and sat next to me on the floor and kept asking if I was ok. Thankfully his little sister kept sleeping through all of this with her regular long naps. The whole afternoon his little face shone with love and concern for me as he was the man of the house. I was amazed that he knew how to love and care for a person so much at only 2 and a half, but that is where i saw the lesson. He learned from us. He sees us pick them up and hug them, caress their faces when they are sad, and ask if they are ok. He loved and cared for me exactly the way he sees us love him and his sister.

Sons and daughters are shaped and molded, their perspectives on life engrained by how they see their parents treat each other and them, by their practice of their faith, their attitude toward others, and their generosity, patience and love. They also can learn to emmulate anger, hurt, yelling or other behaviours just as easily.

I am moved again by something else Bennett has learned by mimicing us. Each night at the meal we hold hands, and Bennett bows his head quickly and says in the softest voice "Thank you Jesus for this food" Then he looks up with a big grin and says "OK Your turn!" to someone else who finishes thanking the Lord for our meal and days. He has learned to say You are Welcome after someone says Thank you to him even though we never once vocally taught him this. He loves to follow Dad around and help him with chores like dishes, building things, carrying suitcases or whatever he can. My little boy loves to act so grown up with the things he has learned by watching us.

Its in the Ten commandments that children are to honor their mother and father. Paul adds specific instructions for dads. He writes, “And, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” I take this to heart as a mother too. It is an awesome gift to have a child, but comes with the awesome responsability of raising them, teaching them, and helping them grow into loving, responsible adults.

Paul has a favorite song. It brought him to tears when driving and he heard it one day, and it still holds a special meaning to him.
The song is called “Watching You” and it was written and sung by Rodney Atkins. He based it on his real-life experience as a father to his young son, Elijah. The song shares the story that perhaps more than a few us can connect with from one angle or another- that of a father and his young son. The refrain of the song pierces the father’s heart, “I’ve been watching you, dad, ain’t that cool. I’m your buckaroo, I wanna be like you…And eat all my food and grow as tall as you are…I wanna do everything you do, So I’ve been watching you.”

Today I was reminded again of this lesson. I was reminded of what I have taught my son, what my daughter is still learning and watching, and both the joy and responsability in that.

Thank You Bennett for loving me so well.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Part 2 of the Gaspe Peninsula

We spent 2 days in Perce, a tiny little place which seems to thrive on Tourism. Even though we pulled in late, all the stores were open and the streets were packed. In the early morning we took a boat on a tour around the famous pierced rock, and then around Bonaventure Island. It's home to a rare colony of birds called "Fous de Bassan" and every summer 100,000 of them come there to mate and hatch one egg. Its one of the only places in the world they come to. I was impressed with the birds, but Paul didnt really care much. The kids loved the 5 km hike through the trees to get across the island once we got off the boat at the Island and went to the cliff to watch the birds.

Multiply this picture times several kilometres of cliffside packed with this many birds.

The famous Pierced Rock

There were many other sights along the ocean roads. We passed and stopped at several active lighthouses, houses were painted bright colors and stood out vividly against the blue sky, inlets full of boats and of course, we geocached some more. We hit 21 of them over this trip. Bennett and Arielle loved the frequent stops that this gave us and they got to get out and run around.

The quote for this picture, and i swear this is what he was actually saying, is "Come on Arielle! Let's go find a geocache!"

Thursday, August 16, 2007

First few days in La Gaspesie!!

So we had 6 days between when Pauls parents left and he starts a new wave of classes. We miss his parents already and cherish the time we had with them. For our little time before classes we decided to go and visit the Gaspe Peninsula of Quebec. We had heard a little bit about it, especially the famous Rock Perce, but were astounded none the less by all we have seen.

Here is a map of the first few days and where we went to situate you with our area.

Quebec - Matane - Perce.

Out first day we went 400km up the coastline to Matane. The scenery along the way was gorgeous!!

Sometimes people ask me why I love to travel, why I love languages and cultures that are so very different than the one that I was born in. My answers seem to change the more and more I experience these differences and the more and more I talk to people and learn to speak a different language. I love watching people who are unaware when they relax and sit back and spend time with their friends and family, how they laugh, how the talk with their hands in huge winding motions like a giant game of charades. I love hand talkers becuase it helps language and culture learners like me know more of what is going on. I love to see how things I take for granted can be so foreign to other people, seeing how my idea of personal space is usually about 5 times more than people from other countries give me. I find this an intricate dance that I watch, fascinated, while I try to learn the steps to integrate seamlessly. Well, i dont usually hope for seamlessly at first, but at least i would like to join their dance without stepping on feet, being hopelessly lost or some other embarassing mistake. I could go on and on, but I have once again, in the little fishing towns and stops along the beautiful coast, remembered why I love language, why I love culture, why I do what I do. Im grateful God has gifted me the way He has.

So the scenery here is amazing. Most of the road runs right along the coast. Then it runs inland into the high hills and thick greenery, only to turn the next corner and start downhill at a 19% downgrade road and leave you gasping not only at the steep ascent with a logging truck riding your butt, but also the ocean sweeps back into view with a tiny perfect little fishing village perched on the corner, complete with a church with a hugh thin spire rising into the sky.

We also went through a windmill farm. It that whats its called? Im not sure. But there were likely 30-40 huge windmills rising on the mountain tops spinning and creating power through harnassing the wind. Bennett was really impressed.

In one little village we stopped by an old covered bridge and had a french meal of baguettes and toppings. An old man from a neighboring house saw us and came over with a baggie full of fresh blueberries that he had just picked. We talked for a while and he gave us a great big toothless grin and went on his way.

Oh, if you are missing a garden gnome...this guy might know where it is. I hear its a tight knit community.

Finally we arrived in Perce after many stops along the ways at parks, playgrounds, geocaches, and boats. Stay tuned for the next installment!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The hardest thing

So the hardest thing about following your dreams and passions and call to a country on the other side of the world is definitley those people who you love that you leave behind. Pauls parents are working in the Arab World for several years at a guest house and feel the same way. They have been back in Canada visiting for the past month and we were lucky enough to have them with us in Quebec this past week. We had lots of time to talk and share and visit some culturally Quebecois sites and smells and of course everything maple related. Here are some pictures from our wonderful time to share.


We went to a few different places around Quebec while they were here. In this pictures we are in upper old quebec, within the walls, walking around all the streets and enjoying homemade ice cream.

We also hunted down a few geocaches, and mom found her first one! She enjoyed this new "sport" and was already checking out the caches hidden in her part of the world! Good job mom!

We also went to our regular market to get all our fresh veggies and fruit and other stuff. Ill have to make a post about this place one day. But suffice to say its pretty cool. Here in Grandma and Bennett in front of sunflowers. We were thinking of you Amy!

Finally, we visited the Plains of Abraham and the Citadel. It gave a nice vantage over the City and we saw some history. We didnt spend too much time there since it was way past naps time, but I'll have to go back there.

Hugs and love
One of the big highlights Im sure for them was seeing their two grandchildren. They are the only two they have so far, and this is the first time they met our newest addition Arielle. How wonderful to see them play and bond and really enjoy all the smiles and laughter they could squeeze into a week.

Meeting Arielle. Have you seen the movie Monsters Inc? If you have, you will smile and know why we call her "Boo" . She looks so much like her!

We took Bennett's milk crates our to the park and went bowling with Grandpa. He was teaching him how to roll the ball between his legs and make it go straighter to hit the cartons. I think Bennett still got a bigger "kick" out of running over and kicking them all over with his foot!

Fun with clothespins. It was great to see the kids playing together and laughing at each other.

Cabane a Sucre (Sugar Shack)

Who could visit Quebec without celebrating its roots and rich history in maple syrup! We drove out to a maple grove and traditional sugar shack where the tap the trees, evaporate and store the syrup and have events. We joined a big group of italiens and spaniards to see lumberjacks at work and tour the area. The one man made chainsaw art as a demonstration and it turned out to be a little chair just the right size for our kids, and it now sits proudly in our living room. Arielle sat in it and the tourists from Europe all oo'ed at her and crowded around to take her picture on this little chair. Then we went inside a huge log cabin for a traditional trappers meal, which was fantastic with big bottles of maple syrup, homemade bread, soup, stew etc. We ate a lot and listened to a live band. Overall a perfect day with only 5 minutes of chaos (you dont really need to hear stories about drinks spilling all over, projectile vomit from A, etc do you?)

Check out this huge bottle of maple syrup for us!

We may not get a lot of time with the people we love now, but we are thankful that the quality is of the highest measure.

"Dont grieve for those things and people that you lose, but rejoice that you have them to love in the first place."

Monday, August 06, 2007

Is French from Mars?

Quebec expressions

So I had a fat morning today. I tried to get the kids to work well together but it will happen when chicken have teeth. I was golden hearted and tried to not throw oil on the fire, but sometimes all this transition is a hard pill to swallow. I know, maybe I am just cutting my hair in four. One day I hope to reach the heights and dot all the I’s. Oh well. I better run. After all, I’ve got other cats to whip.

French expressions: (literal translation = meaning)

Have a fat morning = wake up late
When chicken have teeth = it will likely never happen
Throw oil on the fire = further incite a problem
Hard pill to swallow = difficult to manage
Cutting your hair in four = making it complicated / is complicated
Reach the heights = reach your goal
Dot all the I’s = finish everything perfectly
To have other cats to whip (my all time favorite!) = Have other things to accomplish.

Les Fetes de la Nouvelle France

Our regular Saturday excursions took us to Old Quebec once again. We hit the giant farmers market for all our fresh veggies for the week (I will miss this place!) and then Old Quebec once again. It seems to be a big draw for us. However, it was us and thousands of other people this day. It was the "Fetes de la Nouvelle France"

Many of the local people dress up in period costume from the days of Quebec being settled and there were shacks set up with demonstrations of boats, knot making, maple syrup, tradition linens and clothing, wine tasting, food tasting, etc. It was fun to wander around and see such a mix of tourists and costumes. The streets were packed with people.

The pirate show was a big draw for the kids. Bennett loved the dancing singing pirate show and climbing the "mast"