Sunday, November 7, 2010

Seeing Winnipeg....

We were "in town" this past weekend.  "In town" means Whitehorse.  I've taken quite a generous amount of ribbing because I tend to say I'm going to "the city" when I'm heading into our territory's capital.  They snicker at me!  Intially I was a bit baffled as technically it is a city but eventually was set straight and was informed that going to "the city" around here means Vancouver or Edmonton.  Who knew?!

Going to Whitehorse isn't a big deal, only an hour and a half away and the road between us is in great condition.  A very scenic drive as I've mentioned in the past and even the kids don't mind it if we can catch "The Debaters" on CBC (as long as the topic is appropriate) or they can "plug in" into a DVD player.  The kids enjoy watching T.V. at the grandparents while we are there (we haven't got cable or satelite in the Junction by choice), playing with their cat and three dogs, going to the Canada Games Centre with the aunties and cousins for a swim and/or a skate.  Ken enjoys going to the music store and the high he gets from the smell of new musical instruments and all the paraphenilia that goes with it and I, well, I do the practical icky stuff like groceryshopping/clothesshopping/dogfoodshopping/blah,blah,blahshopping.  I do however reward myself with a ventisugarfreevanillalatte at Starbucks.  Mmmmmm.

And this time while dragging myself up to the jail like doors of Superzoo (aka Superstore) that promises to punish me with it's too narrow aisles and too wide carts and line ups that stretch into eternity and florescent lights that shine into my very soul and whisper "you'll never get out of here, you'll never be done, and the thing you most need you will forget to pick up... until the moment you've paid your bill!", well this time I saw someone who looked remarkably like someone I know in Winnipeg.  And as I continued through my shopping over and over I saw people who reminded me of folks in Winnipeg.  I don't know if it's that all Superstores are basically the same and so it evoked all this crazy familiarity but I must admit that by the time I left I was seeing Winnipeg everywhere and I was homesick!  No, not homesick, peoplesick.  I was missing faces that I've loved and appreciated for many years, I was missing the sweetness of community I experienced in Winnipeg.  It was truly bittersweet.  Bitter because I'm not there and sweet because I have such wonderful memories of the 'Peg.

Fast forward to this morning.  We're back in the Junction and getting up (after a lovely extra hour of sleep) to head over to the school for our version of "church".  This morning we're in the home ec room to make up two huge pots of soup for a fundraiser we're having for Haiti (don't get me started on the sorrow I feel for that nation!) this week at school.  Two of my dear friends here in the Junction are with us with their boys as well as a couple of other good friends of the kids.  We talk about Haiti for a bit altogether and then the work starts.  Some of the kids are having a hoot with the "slap chop" dicing up celery, some are crying as they peel onions, one is slicing his finger as he opens up tin cans, others are peeling garlic clove after garlic clove.  The moms are bustling here and there administering first aid, doing dishes, and generally trying to keep track of the mayhem.  And then we hit a lull where the jobs are done for the kids, and we stop, pray together for Haiti and for the soup to turn out PLEASE and then Ken takes the kids out to play while the moms finish up.  We chat and laugh and just enjoy each others company.

And then I'm reminded of my previous day in Whitehorse and the feelings swirling around in me.  And I'm grateful.  Grateful because as I looked around at the kids as we were discussing Haiti, I could see that we already have community here.  People we can play, work and pray together with.  And as we women had time together to finish up the soup and visit, I marvelled at these families who love my children and love us and feel like "family" already. 

And I am oh so thankful.   


Although I so appreciate and need the community you have provided - ultimately the community I crave is communion with you. Thank you that in you I am never alone.  I love you.

'til next time, 

Monday, October 18, 2010

Waiting, waiting, waiting...

For those of you still checking to see if I've finally posted... ta da!  Pathetic I know, but I'm finally here none the less. 

And here.  In Haines Junction.  Still.  And if you look at the title of the blog it's changed slightly from "the one year northern adventure of the Symanski family" to "the ongoing northern adventure of the Symanski family".  Long story but to make it a short one, we're here because by last spring it became plain that we were supposed to stay and make the Junction "home".

That's the short version.  Maybe sometime I'll want to spend some time giving you a peek in on the long version but not today.  It's a great tale, full of angst (should we? shouldn't we?), horror (leave our people in Winnipeg? NOOOoooo....), pathos (oh, the agony of goodbyes), comedy (we ARE the Symanskis and so comedy is inevitable), adrenaline (wow, we're really doing this!) and honest to goodness heartbreak (words fail me...).

But also peace.  The deep knowing in the pit of our very flawed selves that this was what we were meant for.  That it was and is a God thing.  And that both Ken and I felt that deep sense of "yes" together with the same intensity not only confirmed that we were heading in the right direction but also held us together in the days this past summer when we were packing up our life in Winnipeg and saying goodbye to some of THE GREATEST PEOPLE ON EARTH.  Thanks be to God that He carried us through it all...

And now we're are here.  No longer one year visitors but residents.  And life is good.  And God is good.  But I am still the same person here that I was in Winnipeg which means all my character flaws came with me.  I tried to leave them behind.  I tip toed away from them when they weren't looking.  But they are tenacious little turds and the first time my kids and husband started to annoy me on our drive back to the Yukon from Manitoba they were right there, egging me on and I started to holler.  Of course they didn't have far to go, I think they found me around Portage la Prairie...

And so it goes, living life in this fascinating little village, trying to find out what I'm to put my hand to. What will I contribute to this community?  There are so many things I could do, so many opportunities.  But I have this fairly clean plate/slate before me and I want to be mindful of what I put on it.  Ken and the kids and managing our home already has a big chunk of it, I want to be careful not to crowd them out.  I know what it feels like to live a crowded life.  I don't do well with it.  I holler.  I get cranky.  I withdraw. I eat food I don't need and spend money I don't have.  So whatever I add to my plate/slate I want to do it thoughtfully and resist the urge to impulsively add all the good things I see around me (this committee, that project, this idea, that activity) to my schedule.  I want to be mindful and deliberate rather than rash and over zealous. (there's those sneaky character flaws again... I guess if I can't run away from them I'll have to contend with them.)

I'll try to keep you posted about what's going on as we live life in our new home.  Like I said, life is good and God is good so I'll try to share the goodness with you more frequently...

I am grateful.  I'm so deeply aware of my "messiness" inside and out.  And yet you don't hold it against me and you pour out your goodness all over my family and I.  It's quite delicious and yummy and sustaining.  I love you.

'til next time,


Sunday, May 30, 2010

To The Extraordinary, Astonishing Ken Symanski

Apparently I have no discretion, but that's another post altogether.

We celebrated 20 years married last week (WOW!) and I wrote the following for Ken.  Thought you might enjoy it!


You wrote the song that you sang when I walked down the aisle on our wedding day.  I was so happy to be marrying you!

You make me laugh everyday.  Some days it's a snicker but often it's a belly laugh.

I love that you work hard but you play harder.

You were willing to go on an adventure to the Yukon for a year and fall in love with it.

You love my family, every crazy one of us.

You are affectionate, loving and passionate.

I love your green eyes and the smiling lines around them!

You are faithful and true.  You cultivate an atmosphere of relational safety in our lives.

You dance. 

You care more about people than things.

You are generous.  You rub my feet with lotion even though I know you hate it.

You speak a blessing over our children every night.

You sing to and with our children.  You wrote a song for them when they were born.

You are rarely grumpy.

You are great at accents.  My favourites are Jimmy Stewart and Jim from Taxi.  Your Robert DeNiro is good too!

You'll go toe to toe with me even when I'm being dogmatic and pigheaded.

You are humble.  You can admit when you're wrong and you stop everything with a heartfelt apology.

You don't rub it in when you are right.

You are utterly unique.  You have orange feet and a Star Trek Insignia and hands that move simultaneously.

You love God and you love people.  You inspire me.

I do not deserve you but I greedily accept and love you!


Thank you for the man I married.  He's one of a kind!

'til next time,


Monday, May 17, 2010

4:30 a.m.

4:30 a.m. and I'm awake.  Sun is starting to light the sky already. I haven't written in oh-so-long which by now you know means I'm too busy, slightly overwhelmed or avoiding something.  I admit I'm not too busy (a little busy but not too busy) but the slightly overwhelmed/avoiding something is right up my alley. 

All is good here and by the end of this week I'll try to sort out my thoughts enough to get it down in the blog.  But for know can I just say that I have an amazing God, family and friends (all over the place)!  I am hugely grateful and humbled and and a wee bit nervous...

That's all.  Stay posted...


I'm tucking into you right now. You are are warm and strong and wonderfully present.  I love you.

'til next time,


Friday, April 23, 2010

Beach Day?

So I'm on day 57 of this nasty cold (OK, so not 57, but I'm sure it's at least 27... that's how it feels) and I have a few questions...

- Did I ever have a voice that wasn't so deep and sexy? 

- Why can't I get $ for the amount of snot I produce?  I think we should develop a vehicle that runs on snot.  I'll supply the fuel, if you supply the research. 

- Why does my sneeze scare small children (and Ken) and send them running for cover?  I used to be able to suppress my sneeze into a nice lady like squeak.  Now I sound like Shrek.  Is it an over 40 thing?  And why didn't someone warn me?

I think that's all for now.  I am getting better little by little.  The loud whining you hear from a northerly direction will subside soon I'm sure.

Onto brighter topics, last weekend we went on an adventure (I was sick of being inside with my you-know-what) out to Kluane Lake.  It is farther along the Alaska Highway from the Junction (about 40 min.) and the views once again were stunning. There is no end to the beautiful sights around here. Brenna was off snowmobiling in the mountains for the day with her buddies Travis and Michael and Travis' dad so she wasn't along with us.

I have to say part of the beauty and fun of the day was going with friends we've made here in the Junction.  We have felt overwhelmed at their kindness since the first week we arrived here!  Dave and Cindi and their children have been here three years now (from Tofino, B.C.) and are warm and generous folk who are downright fascinating.  They have both spent many years as wilderness guides and on the spectrum of outdoorsy -  we couldn't be farther away from each other!  But they graciously put up with how "citified" we are and have already taught us so much.  And not in that condescending way that makes you keenly aware of all you don't know but rather in the arm in arm kinda way that makes you feel like an equal (although I'm really as dumb as a sack of hammers when it comes to the outdoors!).

They have two boys, one in grade one with Jay and one in grade three with Will. Terrific boys (I adore them) and great pals to our boys.   Brenna loves Cindi and has ditched me on occasion to spend time with her.  I'm glad.  Brenna is well loved by her surrogate aunties in Winnipeg and has missed their attention.  Cindi fills that gap in a wonderful way.  Cindi and I have wonderful chats together and I am often inspired by her commitment to making this world a better place.  Dave and I love to give each other a hard time and we too have great conversations.  He is a committed environmentalist who lives a lifestyle that I find challenges me to be a better steward of our earth.  Oh I could go on...

But back to last weekend and some pics of our day.  These pics are from our time on the beach at Kluane Lake.  There's still ice on the lake but the sand was mostly clear and made for lots of fun.  We had a fire, roasted bison smokies for lunch (yum) and enjoyed the amazing vistas!  Cindi helped the boys fly a stunt kite...

The boys enjoyed beach combing and building!

Our good friends and one of their Bernese
Mountain dogs (what wonderful dogs!)

... and then time to head home after a full day of sunshine, fresh air and good company.

Can you believe the views?  I was in awe the whole time I was there.  What a gift of a day.


I think you must smile when you see my reaction to your creation.  You knock my socks off.  And I really love you.

'til next time,


(There's another family here that we've also connected with that I'll brag about another time.  Another neat family that we feel richer for having met.)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

I've got a cowd...

It's true... I've got one of those nasty cowds.  "Cowd" because I can't pronounce my "l's".  I thought of writing (cough, cough) an entire post with no "l's" and with inserted sound effects (sniff, sniff).  But I won't (hoooonk).  It's just too gross.

The kids and Ken are fantastic.  They've all pitched in so that I can rest and get better. I usually drive them back to school after they walk home at lunch but today they all marched off willingly so that I wouldn't have to.  Ten minutes later however, they were back.

Jay got sucked into a muddy spot (I'm sure it jumped out at him and attacked him.)  Oh, the power of mud!  Brenna had to go in to rescue him (as you can see by the pink laced shoes in the pic).  We'll laugh about it someday soon but today Jay was bawling, Brenna was fit to be tied and Will, well he just look relieved to be a spectator for this one!

The snow is melting in earnest and the ditches are full and running.  Ken is looking forward to floating some boats down them with the kids this evening.  I'll try to get pics!  Living here has Ken getting in touch with his childhood growing up in Cook's Creek, MB.  He's loving doing some things with our kids that he did growing up in the country.  I'm very thankful for our time here.

I've slept most of the day but had a chance to try a little craft I've been wanting to.  Started with a few old records I had picked up at the Sally Ann (where else). 

Then I followed the instructions on and made these.

I'm not sure yet what I'll use them for (planters or chip and dip bowls) and if I'll paint them or not, but what an easy way to reuse old albums!  I'd like to try making more but this time outside on a barbeque as I'm not crazy about the fumes it gives off. 

'nuff said.  I feel the need to (sniff, sniff) go drink some hot lemon and honey (honk, honk).  If I was in Winnipeg right now, our dear neighbour, Mr. Miner, would be at my door with a hot toddy for me to drink to knock this cold on it's ass!  Oh, I do miss Mr. Miner!


Thank you for the fun of spring and puddles and the comfort of memories and hot toddys.  I love you.

'til next time,


Tuesday, April 13, 2010


So you and I both know that my kids are amazing.  Amazingly wonderful and sometimes even amazingly horrible.  But all in all the tally works in their favour and they get the privilege of living another day with the crazy, off beat lady they call "Mom".

Many times they pull themselves back from the edge of doom with a stunning act of redemption that leaves them not fearing the edge for at least a while.  My Will has done just that today.  Of all my kids, Will fears the edge the least, tightrope walks along it, and bungee jumps off it once in a while.  He is outstanding in his defiance but spectacular in his redemptive qualities.

Today he walks in at lunch time with a sweet grin on his face, eager to show me what he's done.  His teacher has given him a new scribbler.  He loves getting a new notebook.  The fresh, clean page lays before him with endless possibilities.  And this is the poem he wrote... (remember, this kid is eight years old)

And if you can't make it out... here it is...

It all starts with the increasing of friendship, the patterns
of love, and the care people have for
each other.


W. Symanski

Am I the only one impressed?  I don't think so!  I must admit that I read the "REMEMBER THIS" a couple ways.  First, I think it means that we're supposed to remember the truth of what he's written.  Absolutely.  But then I think it may just be a message to me to remember this little poem and what a wonderful writer he is when I am threatening to wring his scrawny little neck!  Either way I think it's just brilliant.

And then there is our Jay.  Remember the one who refused to go over the alphabet with me last summer as we were trying to prepare him for Grade One?  I just received my first love note from him.  Delicious!

So both boys obviously know how to work their Momma. 

And Brenna is right in there, being amazing and wonderful.  Last night she made me a wonderful cup of hot lemon and honey to sooth my sore throat (I have a cold). She is a wonderful mix of sweet and funny.  She loves to play a good practical joke and so April Fool's Day was right up her alley!  And it lasted for three days! For example

  •  - corn syrup in the shampoo bottle

  •  - taping the kitchen sprayer down so that when I turned the faucet on I got soaked (she got both Ken and I with that one!)

  •  - swapped out the sugar in the sugar bowl for salt so when Jay put a teaspoon of it on his rice krispies he got a big surprise!

I know I've forgotten some but the best one of all is one some of you male readers might not want to read so feel free to skip the part between the asterisks!


After school Brenna called frantically from the bathroom for me.  When I entered she looked stricken and showed me her underwear.  There were the tell-tale signs of a girl's first period. I didn't believe her of course, it being April Fool's and all.  But she was REALLY convincing.  REALLY.  I was totally on the fence and had to do what I least wanted to do.  I asked for her underwear to examine more closely and thankfully figured out quite quickly that it was ketchup!  Oh my!  The best part is when she did it to Ken later on that evening.  Poor Ken.  He kept calling me to deal with it.  Rather panicked I must say.  She could have kept him going for a while but I am obviously not as good an actor!  The gig was up and a good laugh was had by all!


There.  Stories done.  Hope you all had a grin.


How clever you make each one of us.  So unique and fresh and complex.  You are a wonder.

'til next time,


Friday, April 9, 2010


Things that make me smile in the morning...

Ken - "Bye, I'm going!" (He's walking to work a bit earlier)

Kids - "Wait, Daddy, wait!" (kids run to smother him with hugs and kisses)

Mom - "Okay, guys, it's not like you're not going to see him soon - you all go to the same school!" (ever the pragmatic one)

Brenna (the oldest child, and even more pragmatic than me, responds dryly) - "yah, but he might get trampled by a moose."

Will and Jay - "Yah!"

Hmmm. Too funny. Life in Haines Junction, Yukon.

Like the time a friend and I were stepping out for a few minutes, leaving the kids on their own, and she looks at them and asks them what they need to remember while we're gone.  I know the answer of course and quickly remind them not to open the door to strangers.  My girlfriend looks at me quizzically and snickers.  "No, don't run with food in your mouth."  Me, city girl, afraid of strangers - her, town girl, knows everyone around here and is more afraid of them choking!

On another tangent... I finished another piece of art.  I like the flowers and pot but am undecided about the background.  It looks more mosiac than I was going for.  I'm happiest with the pot.  It's made out of a page from out of an old hymn book I picked up at the, you guessed it, Sally Ann.  It's the hymn "In the Garden" and if you look closely enough you can see the words of the chorus are arranged in a way that you can still read it.

Most of my ideas and my freedom to try to do art come from a wonderful friend named Karla.  The tree in the last post was inspired by her, as well as this piece.  Her use of collage and mod podge made me want to try my hand at it.  She's also a great encourager!  Someday she'll have a blog of her own and you'll just LOVE it.  In lots of ways although I'm a Jesus "wannabe", I'm also a Karla "wannabe". 


Thank you for the gift of playing with paper, mod podge, and fanciful ideas and thank you for people who inspire others by their gift of playing with paper, mod podge, and fanciful ideas.  I love you.

'til next time,


Thursday, April 8, 2010

gasp... must blog... can't go any further... gasp...

ahhhh.... much better. That was a close one!

Okay, enough drama. On with the show/post.

Easter has come and gone. They have a four day weekend here as the school gets Easter Monday off too.  This followed two weeks of school after a two week spring break so we are seriously relaxed people!

We had the privilege of hosting Easter Dinner here for the fam' which turned out fine as everyone pitched in.  It's a real treat to be with my sisters and their families for holidays (my parents are away on vacation for a month).  I did panic, however, the days before they arrived as the walls of our home were bare, white and BORING!  I always have art ideas that I never get to, but this gave me the motivation!

Here's what I came up with... keep in mind I didn't want to spend any money so I used whatever I had on hand here.

First I spray painted black an old frame that I had from the Sally Ann.  Then I messed about with some Mod Podge, newspaper, magazines and pipe cleaners and came up with a tree...

The little tag says "HOME".  I like how it fills the wall and has dimension. I've had some nice comments on it so I'm encouraged (I'm a little insecure about my atrt ability). But then there's my other wall...

I get such a kick out of this piece!  I love the way it looks and it makes me smile when I think of how easy it was and what it is made out of.  Any guesses?  Toilet paper rolls.  Really! Flattened and cut toilet paper rolls, glued together (held with paper clips until the glue dried) and then put up on the wall just a few hours later.  Cost - $0.00! Impact - priceless! (not a original idea - I got it from a blog called "homemade mamas")

So now I'm motivated to do some more stuff.  I'll post whatever I come up with as they get done. 

On a different note... the hours of daylight here now are crazy! I feel like a different person.  It's so energizing when you wake up and it's light and you go to bed and it's still light.  I checked today to see how many hours of daylight we were getting compared to Winnipeg and we are ahead by 1hr and 5min. minutes.  So although I know we'll get about another three to four weeks of winter than Winnipeg, all the glorious light makes up for it.  By the last day of school (June 11) we'll have 24 hours daylight!  We're going to have to put up something on the kids windows if I'm ever going to get them to sleep.


You are a poem.  I love you even when I don't understand you all the time.

'til next time,


Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Smelly Me

Great quote...

"Writing and reading decrease our sense of isolation. They deepen and widen and expand our sense of life: they feed the soul. When writers make us shake our heads with the exactness of their prose and their truths, and even make us laugh about ourselves or life, our buoyancy is restored. We are given a shot at dancing with, or at least clapping along with, the absurdity of life, instead of being squashed by it over and over again. It's like singing on a boat during a terrible storm at sea. You can't stop the raging storm, but singing can change the hearts and spirits of the people who are together on that ship."      Anne Lamott (italics mine)

I wholeheartedly agree.  And as I've been impacted by the honest and earthy writings of folks like Anne Lamott and Donald Miller it has provoked me to not just write but also to live more honestly and authentically than I have in the past.  I certainly haven't arrived and lots of times I'm a chicken shit and like to hide "the me that stinks".  But I feel enough gratitude to these other honest/authentic truth tellers who have made me say, "Whew, I'm not the only one!" that most of the time I want to join them on the limb they've climbed out on.  I want to maybe, in a small way, help other people know they are not alone and restore some buoyancy to the lives they live.

Here's the catch.  That takes a whole lot of courage!  With a capital C!  Because you run the risk of being judged.  Who are we kidding? You will be judged.  We live in a time and place where "success" is often defined by the shiny magazines that show off perfect bodies, perfect houses that are perfectly decorated, perfect vacation spots, even perfect blogs... you get the idea.  Living with authenticity would be easy if my life looked like that but it doesn't!  My life is more like a ratty old magazine that you find in a thrift store.  It's a little out of date, pages are missing and it smells a bit off. 

Most days I'm okay with that. (Great line from the Veggie Tale movie, Jonah, "I am a caterpillar. Well, that's not entirely true. My mother was a caterpillar, my father was a worm, but I'm okay with that now.")  Then there are the "green eyed monster days" where I'm not.  My heart is fearful and petty and small and jealous and downright stinky.  And so I do stupid things like hide.  Hide from others, hide from myself, and from Jesus.

I commit myself to living a quasi-life.  Not really living, just existing.  Ken often says the quote, "If you're not living on the edge, you're taking up too much space." And it's funny, here we are on this glorious adventure that many might say, "Wow, look at them, those wild and crazy Symanskis!", but when you get into the guts of the adventure it's more normal than you ever realized it would be.  The setting is different but the actors haven't changed.  I'm still me, my family is still my family, and our challenge with figuring out our way through family life without losing the plot is still our challenge.

So hooray for adventures of all kinds but today I'm faced with whether I'm willing to live the adventure of living outside of the fears and insecurities of the realities of my less than perfect, somewhat "thrift store", life.  Am I willing to come out of hiding and let myself be known wherever and whoever I am?  Am I willing to let Jesus open up places inside me that need His help? Am I willing to stop hiding from myself and beating myself up with forced isolation?  Hmmm.... deep thoughts....

I love and am inspired by this true little anecdote. 

Never having embraced thrift store shopping as a child, it took me a while to warm up to the idea as I moved into adulthood.  Generally my generation snubbed second hand clothes as "beneath" us.  And personally I hated the smell.  You know, that musty smell of used clothes and furniture that hangs in the air like the stores all had the same brand of aerosol, "Second Hand Smells".  However, in the last ten to fifteen years I've noticed that not only has it become acceptable to shop at "Value Village" and the "Sally Ann", but the items found there are often worn like badges of honour!  And I have been converted.  I have my favourite thrift shops in Winnipeg and rarely does a trip into Whitehorse go by without a stop at the Sally Ann there. 

And Brenna LOVES it.  If I come home with a second hand piece of clothing she is thrilled and the lower the price the better!  Last week while we were in Whitehorse we stopped at the Sally Ann and as we walked in the door she looked up at me with grin on her face and said, "I just love the smell of this place."  I inwardly clicked my heels.

And here's the lesson and inspiration in that for me.  Just as I've been making the effort to living authentically, honestly and out of hiding, can I get to the place that I love the smell of it?  Can I get to the place where I value the scent of my own life with its own "Second Hand Smells" like Brenna does the smell of the thrift store? Can I get to the place where I wear my own life not necessarily as a badge of honour but as an example of a life that like a perfectly fine old pair of jeans rescued from the landfill, is redeemed and worthy of celebrating?  Oh, that sounds just yummy and true and right.  I want that.


Thanks for rescuing me, redeeming me.  I celebrate you and the life you've given me.  You smell good.

'til next time,


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Lotsa Fun!

Yikes!  I can't believe it's already been twelve days since I last posted! I could come up with all kinds of excuses and some of them might even be true but really who wants to hear a bunch of excuses!

Spring Break ROCKED!  Okay, yes, there were pockets of time that I longed for their teachers and wanted to run screaming into sunset where I am sure they keep all the patience I run out of, but all in all I really enjoyed being with Ken and the kids. 


... skiing a second time at Mt. Sima with family and friends
... tobogganning, tobogganning and more tobogganning
... going out 2x on a date with Ken, once to a house concert here in the Junction featuring Bill Bourne (great musician!), and another time out for supper with a gift certificate I won in a raffle
... enjoying the amazing weather with lots of bright blue skies, mild temperatures and beautiful sights

Super Highlight...

... day at Kathleen Lake planned and run by Parks Canada, Junction Arts and Music and Haines Junction Minor Hockey.  What a fantastic day!  We were outside from 10:30 to 4:30 and it was absolutely glorious.
The pictures tell the story better than I can...

The kids played Pond Hockey with an unbelievable backdrop.

No Zamboni but who cares in a setting like this! 

And then front row seats...

Ken and the boys (as well as others) jammed with some Whitehorse musicians that had been brought out to do a concert.  Will is playing the ukulele and I mean playing!  He's learned a number of chords already and plays Izzy's version of "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" really well.  In fact during the jam session he was yelling out the chords to the others so they could follow along.  Jay's playing uke too (also really well!) but was playing djembe that day and the musicians had a blast backing him up with his groovy beat!

Jay and his fiddle with his banjo playing bud, Remy...

But for me the best part of the day was when everyone got to go DOG SLEDDING!  A wonderful couple here in the Junction that has sledding dogs was out there to give people rides.  Sean and Heather are "oh-so-nice" and tirelessly took person after person out.

What a blast!  Each of the kids got to go as well as Ken.  I was happy as a clam to watch and to be very honest wasn't going to inflict myself on those dogs!  But Heather (an angel with a hearty laugh and a winsome manner) looked over at me and let me know that I WOULD be going and assured me the dogs would be FINE.  And so I went...

Can you see the stupid grin on my face?!?  And then my favorite photo...

Simply can't tell you how thrilling it was.  So serene, so quiet, so beautiful.  Magical.

And I'm so grateful.  So grateful for Heather who saw my insecurity without me saying a thing and reassured me and gave me the gift of a new and wonderful experience.  A precious gift she has and gave.


I continue to be astounded by the beauty of your creation around me.  In nature and in people.  You are brilliant!

'til next time, 

Friday, March 12, 2010

Newsy Bits and Pics

We're home in the Junction after being in Whitehorse with the fam for four nights.  So grateful for my family.  They are generous, warm and wonderful people.  On the way home we made a bit of a detour so that the kids and Ken could swim at Takhini Hot Springs (my psoriasis is going crazy so chlorine is not my friend).  I have great memories of swimming there in the winter and so it was fun to see the kids and Ken enjoying it so much.  It's always a blast to run into the snow and then jump into the hot water! 

The Hot Springs...

Just For Karla... Ken in all his glory! (Ken thinks he looks like the Red Baron swimming... or a hairy woman from 1923!)

And a good time was had by all...

We spent yesterday hanging around home, the kids learning to finger weave and then making bread with me.  As it is Lent we used some of the dough to make three braided crowns and added toothpicks for the thorns.  Jay (6 years old) asked, "What does this represent again, Mom?"  I reminded him that it was to help us remember the crown of thorns that they made Jesus wear before he was crucified.  Later Jay stuck his on his head and gained a new appreciation for how much that would've hurt!  As each kid does acts of kindness for the rest of Lent they pull out one of the "thorns" for each kind act (an idea I got from the 'net).  They were really excited about it and I so hope that it's another building block in connecting them with the story and person of Jesus...

Later on in the day the kids made some stuff out of salt dough and Will made the cross shown in the next pic.


All in all a day to enjoy my kids.  Maybe they're not so bad after all :)

Some more tidbits...  Brenna has made a great bag out of a mini skirt she found at the thrift store.  She's got all kinds of plans to start a business...

In her left hand is some of her finger weaving that she'll use as the handle for her next bag. 

And then I have to add a pic of her and her bud Travis.  Travie lives across the street and they are thick as thieves. I call them Thing 1 and Thing 2.

They are also Drama King and Queen and keep us quite entertained!

I'll post more pics later of some of the other things that kids have been making.  They've all had quite a burst of creativity since coming here.

Must close.  The sun is shining, the kids are all at friends' places so Ken and I are going to go for a bit of a ski. How cool is that!


Your creativity inspires us and flows through us.  If we let it.  Thanks for helping me dial down enough to let it.

'til next time,


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Spring Break Begins...

Not only did I survive cleaning up my kitchen and laundry room but we have entered that glorious time of year..SPRING BREAK.  And if I hadn't mentioned it before (and I think I have), we get TWO WEEKS!

Two weeks of no pressing schedule...
Two weeks of building memories as a family...
Two weeks of exploring a little bit more of Yukon and Alaska...
Two weeks of uuummm...I don't know but it's TWO WEEKS!

Now before anyone out there sends me hate mail because of my blatant bragging remember this...

Two weeks of squabbling siblings...
Two weeks of potentially hearing, "I'm bored" x3...
Two weeks of very little alone time...

Need I say more?

However, I am looking forward to it.  And we started off by taking the kids downhill skiing!  What a hoot!  They had 90 minutes of lessons and then the entire day to ski.  They were amazing! Due to the ol' girl (my foot) I didn't go (Ken did) but I happily cheered everyone on. There's just something really wonderful about doing something with your kids that you remember enjoying as a kid yourself. 
My sis' Laura and nephew Tyler joined us as well as my niece Abby and her dad Steve (my ex brother in law - a great guy!).  Lolo (my favorite name for my sis) and I chatted through the day and ohhhed and ahhhed over all the kids.  And Ken.  Of course I ohhhed and ahhhed over Ken!

They were happy and exhausted at the end of the day and I felt determined that we definitely need to do that again!  Mt. Sima won't be open that much longer (closes in April sometime) but I'd love to try getting in another day there.

And today we're sitting around the dining room table at my mom's, the kids sewing all kinds of wonderful creations.  Yesterday we were telling the kids about our plans next week to drive up to Haines, Alaska from the Junction, take the Alaska State Ferry to Skagway, Alaska and then back to Whitehorse for a couple days and then home to the Junction.  Everyone was excited except... you guessed it - Will.  But today as we've sat around the table sewing, Will declares, "Now this is what I call fun!  A family sewing together!"  Who knew?!? I have such interesting kids!

Must go, we're going to go skating and maybe head out to the Takhini Hot Springs for a couple hours (20 minutes outside of Whitehorse).  


Thank you all the different personalities in our family!  I love you.

'til next time,


Friday, March 5, 2010

Report Cards...

So I'm out of the blogging dog house for now.  I want to try and keep it that way...

I chatted with the kids' teachers this week at parent/teacher conferences.  All is well.  Jay, who refused to learn the alphabet last summer, is now reading like a mad man and is asked to read one on one with some of the other students that are lagging a bit.  What?!?  Brenna is socially responsible and empathetic and gave up the chance to be the Prime Minister of her group last week because the voters had told her opponent that they would be voting for Brenna because they didn't like the opponent.  That's a big move for a girl who generally likes to lead!  ... And Will.  Well his writing continues to entertain and amaze his teacher (and us!).  He definitely has already found his "voice" and often addresses his readers in his writing.  "So, I bet you can't guess what I'm going to write about today!  Well if you said wolves you are wrong. But if you guessed coyotes you are right!".  Apparently some his fellow students are inspired to write just like him and it sounds like his teacher is having a hoot with this grade 2/3 class full of motivated writers. So educationally they're holding it together... whew. 

Ken got a report card too! He received his copy of his evaluation and I must say I'm proud of the ol' boy!  In the face of a very challenging first semester in a school that has lost a much beloved teacher, he has handled himself with aplomb! (aplomb - great coolness and composure under strain.  That's one of the words used to describe him.  I had to look it up!)  He is LOVING this job as each day he gets to go to work and teach kids music through the medium of rock.  How cool is that!

Thank God I didn't get a report card!  I know we're all our own worst critics but really I would fear the results might look a little like this...

aplomb in parenting (gotta use my new word!)     D
raising of the voice                                                   B+
patience                                                                    D-
avoiding the mundane tasks of running a home   B
correspondance with friends and family                D
laughing at family members when they get hurt    A+

You get the gist...  How would you grade yourself?  It's a good thing that if I was receiving a report card from my Maker I think it would be lot kinder.  He's like that.

I'm gonna keep this post short.  But I did want to post some pics to give you an idea of some of our fun out here in the Junction! 

Cross Crountry Skiing with the fam. What a beautiful day, what amazing scenery.

Our hockey players.

Our boys and their crazy matching teeth!
The new ones keep growing in before the baby teeth want to leave!

Brenna with two of her best buds at this fall's Barn Dance. Great kids and tons of fun!

Must go.  A bomb has gone off in my kitchen and laundry room and they require some attention if there is ever going to be any semblance of order.  Call for reinforcements if you don't hear from me in a couple days...


Thank you for your report card for me.  Redeemed - A+, Work in Progress - A+, Lovable - A+.  You get A+ for kindness, mercy giving and awe inspiring.  I love you.

'til next time,


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

For Brock and Lucretia... with love

So let's get this first part over with... I haven't blogged in like... forever. I know. Blogging fell off my plate and just like the meatball in "On Top Of Spaghetti" it rolled off the table, out the door and under a bush where it was on the verge of becoming mush until...

Brock and Lucretia. They, in effect, have gone out, picked up the damn meatball and have put it back on my plate and Lucretia has basically threatened to force feed me if I don't start working on it! Brock nags me through his mom, my sister Dawn. Whenever I see her she reminds me that Brock is waiting for me to write. And not complying with a request from my eldest nephew is like kicking a really, really sweet and endearing puppy. I may be a hard hearted bag from time to time, but come on, a puppy!?!

And Lucretia? Well she's a dear friend of my sister Janette who I totally love. She's beautiful, inside and out, pee your pants funny and well, frankly, I'm scared of her. So when she likes reading my blog and lets me know in no uncertain terms to get my ass in gear I feel a little like a mob boss is leaning forward and in a low menacing voice is saying, "I like your blog, if you know what I mean..." My life hangs in the balance folks!

So here I am. And kidding aside, glad to be here. I do enjoy the process of writing and it is a great way to keep ya'll updated.

After I last wrote in ummm... December... we packed up house and moved into a place just a few streets over from where we were. The teacher's housing came open and we just couldn't pass it up. Fenced yard for Wags (our dog), big basement the kids can play soccer in and potentially cheaper to heat (don't get me started on how much it costs to stay warm up here if you're not using wood!). And yes this move happened over Christmas! Overall it worked out and we're happily settled in. One of Brenna's good buddies lives across the street and so that's been a nice bonus.

Hockey has kept the kids busy. It's hard to believe that the boys only started skating when we came here. They are doing sooo well. We were in Whitehorse this weekend and spent some time at the Canada Games Centre with my sister Laura, my nephew Tyler and my niece Abby. Laura and I sipped good coffee and watched the kids on the leisure ice, what fun to watch them! Will's been inspired by the Olympics and so as he went speeding around the corners trying for his best time he would put his hand down on the inside curve just like the speed skaters do. Jay of course spent most of his time entertaining us with his crazy antics and Brenna was doing some pretty amazing spins and dance choreography. So we decided that Will may end up in the Olympics speed skating, Brenna doing ice dancing and Jay, well, he may be Elmo in the Ice Capades!

Other highlights of the last few months...

Christmas in the Junction
- The Christmas Concert went well which was a big deal for Ken as he had a big role in it. His bands played throughout the evening and was really the first time people heard them. It was a great evening!
- Santa visited! At one point as the holidays approached Will looked at me and asked where we were going to see Santa because, "Mom, they don't have malls here!" The kids were not disappointed. Santa flew in and landed right on the highway in front of Madley's General Store! We had sooo much fun! Apparently last year he arrived on dogsled. How cool is that.

Watson Lake
- Will had a tournament there so we went with his buddy Joah, and his mom (my buddy) for the weekend. It was a HOOT! I finally learned what "off side" and "icing" is and I lost my voice from cheering so much. The kids did really well and brought home bronze which was the first medal they'd had in the Junction for quite awhile. AND WILL SCORED TWO GOALS! Needless to say I'm a little proud...
- And I had some much needed girlfriend time with Linda on the drive to and fro (Haines Junction to Watson Lake is 7 hrs). Of all the things I miss most about Winnipeg it's my girlfriends...

Wednesday in Whitehorse
- every second Wed. I head into "town" to get groceries. I used to say to folks out here that I was running into the "city" but they laughed their asses off at me and taught me the lingo. Whitehorse is going into "town". Going to the "city" means you're heading out to Vancouver or Edmonton. Anyway, I hop in the car, enjoy 1 1/2 hours of driving through beautiful scenery listening to CBC Radio, go to the good ol' Super Zoo, do my banking and then I have lunch with MY MOM AND MY SISTERS! I love that! It's such a treat for me to have that on a consistent basis.

Cross Country Skiing
- is pretty big here. As am I. So when Ken suggested we borrow some skis and go out as a family on some of the great trails around here I didn't say much but thought, "how the hell..." But we did it! All of us. Even me. The kids were off and away like they were born with skis on, Ken pretended to struggle for my sake but is doing really well and me... well I look hilarious I think. I didn't know how "the ol' girl" (my ankle) would do and I HATE falling (try carrying an extra hundred pounds around and then fall down!) so I was a little nervous. I felt like a fat, little hobbit shuffling along (I probably walk faster) and I'm going to make little hairy covers to put over my ski boots to finish the look but I did it and really enjoyed it. I'm looking forward to going more!

Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous
- the annual celebration in Whitehorse of the 1898 Gold Rush. And my sister Janette and her partner Clint from Victoria made it up here to celebrate with us! A fun time was had by all. It's a little different from when I was here as a teen but fun none the less. Dogsled races, flour packing contests, the Sugar Shack (where they pour hot maple syrup in the snow and roll it up on a stick for a sugary maple lolly), Rendezvous Queen competition, ice sculptures, musical entertainment, fireworks, the list goes on. We didn't see it all but we loved what we did.
- We saw Lana Rae! She's a musician that as well as singing Country also does children's music. She's from here and the kids have grown up with her music courtesy of Yukon Grandma. Clever lyrics, catchy tunes! She performed and we got to hear all our favorite tunes! "I've Been Looking at Bums" (written from the perspective of a little one who wanders around at bum level), "Cows Want to be Pretty Too", and "The Trikers Song" (the tricycles version of the Hell's Angels).
- the time spent with Janette and Clint was great. We always laugh lots and drink good wine. Although Janette was hellbent on spilling most of it... Carolans in Mom's car, red wine in Dad's truck. Janette and Clint went dog sledding just out of town while they were here and after seeing some of the video they took we just have to do it! Maybe this spring break... (spring break starts next week and we have TWO weeks).

Enough newsy bits...

On the spiritual, gutsy, deep in the recesses of my contorted soul side of things... I'm doing o.k. I have my days and even weeks that I've come face to face with the big ol' bogey man of winter blues. By the way, he plays dirty. Just when you think you've got a good perspective on yourself and life in general he throws a curve ball that can knock you on your ass if you're not careful. Most of those curve balls for me have to do with parenting and my health. I can let myself get pretty knocked down. I'll spare you the gory details. Let's just say I've been sucking air at the bottom of the HOPE'O'METER.

Three weeks ago I sat down and did some journalling and basically gave myself a good kick in the ass. Basically I reminded myself that if the same power that ROSE Jesus FROM THE DEAD is living in me (and it does) THERE IS ALWAYS HOPE. Even for me. No one is a lost cause. Nothing is too difficult... It's a kick in the ass that I needed and so I've had the strength/motivation to take some positive steps out of the funk that I've been in. One has been getting back into O.A. (Overeaters Anonymous). There is no group here but there are meetings online all the time. Dealing with my addiction to food with God's help has always been better than a diet for me. I feel hopeful and I have more clarity than I've had in a while. Thanks be to God.

As for the parenting... I get glimpses that my kids will survive my parenting. I'm not perfect but I apologize when I need to and genuinely love them and think they're pretty neat. The sibling crap sends me to the funny farm some days but then once in a while they have these sweet moments of togetherness that pulls me (and them) back from the brink of solitary confinement.

All in all life is good and I am an incredibly blessed woman. But enough of my blabbing.

Lucretia, can I stop looking over my shoulder now?


You are at every turn. Thank you that when I feel lost you remind me that you have me tattooed on the palm of your hand. You don't forget about me and I can't forget about you. I love you.

'til next time,