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Monday, November 29, 2010

Building Project

In attempt to combat the caged animal feelings of the past two weeks I had the bright idea of making a gingerbread house.
It was an experience.
It looks okay - like a novice assembled it (if you look inside, there's a butter knife holding up part of the roof) and a 3 yr old decorated it.
It was fun and passed the time and I've learned a few things for next year - if I dare try one of these again!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Old Man Winter

"Maybe winter has been canceled this year," said Trevor hopefully during one extremely balmy November day. Most of September aside, we've had a gorgeous fall.
Monday, (November15!) it was sunny, and reasonably warm. Sierra and I played outside in the afternoon - jumping on the trampoline, building sand castles in her sandbox, and kicking a ball. Snow was in the forecast for the next day.
Bah - I didn't believe it.
They were lying.
They must be.

Sadly, they were correct. The next morning Trevor phones me and orders me not to take the kids anywhere. The roads were a skating rink due to all the snow. Winter had indeed arrived. Not like it just drove slowly up the driveway, stretched and gradually unfolded itself out of the car. It crashed right into the house and hollered, "Here I am!!!" with determined fury.
I went out once last week and decided that any sane mother wouldn't do that again unless absolutely necessary or driving a snow plow. By Friday the roads were passable without white-knuckling the steering wheel so I managed to escape and accomplish a few errands.
Then the temperatures plunged into the basements of all basements for this last week. Two days ago Calgary (2hrs North) was reportedly the second coldest place on Earth at -33C (-27F), after the Antarctica! Believe it or not, come January and February it could get even colder. Traveling hasn't been too dangerous but bundling up two little kids against highs of -25C (-13F) hasn't exactly been tops on my practicality list, especially since there hasn't been anything absolutely necessary that I had to do.

You know cabin fever has set in and must not be good when Trevor - on his own initiative - arranges to have my mom babysit yesterday evening so he could take me out for a break from our house and kids.

Today the Chinook is arriving so we've got gale force winds, blowing snow, but a mild -7C (19F). Warmer but not much better for getting out.
I could complain more. Would you like me to?
I'm fine.

By the way, Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends!

She lasted all of five minutes!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Being Mennonite - Historical Overview

Although the Christian Church truly began with the birth of Christ, the Mennonite way of the faith goes back to the 16th century with the Protestant Reformation. The Protestant Reformation essentially was the movement where Roman Catholics began to disagree with and then attempt to reform major aspects integral to the faith. Unsuccessful in their reformation, people ended up separating from the Roman Catholic Church. There ended up being many church branches stemming from the Reformation, Mennonites included.

The first Mennonites came mainly from Swiss and German roots, with many of the important martyrs of the early church coming from the area around Zurich. Mennonites took their name from Menno Simons, a Dutch Roman Catholic priest. Upon studying the Scriptures Menno Simons determined that infant baptism was not in the Bible. He came to believe that baptism should be a conscious adult decision. Those with this belief are called Anabaptists. It was the distinguishing feature to Menno Simons' movement because every infant born in Western Europe was baptized into the Roman Catholic Church. He converted to the Anabaptist faith and helped lead it to prominence in Holland by the mid-16th century. Due to the dominance of the Roman Catholic Church and the nature of his reason for leaving the Roman Catholic Church, he and his 'followers' were the victims of much persecution.

To escape this persecution, many Mennonites fled western Europe for the more accommodating religious climate of the Americas or Catherine the Great's Russia (1770ish), giving these two groups distinctly different cultural heritages. The Russian Mennonites were eventually forced out of Russia in the last half of the 19th Century and the early 20th Century, and many migrated to the western states and provinces, where today there is a large Mennonite population. (My grandparents were in this category)

Swiss German Mennonites migrated to North America in the 18th and 19th centuries, settling first in Pennsylvania, then eventually across the Midwestern states. Today large Mennonite populations can be found in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Kansas, although Mennonites live in all parts of the United States and the world. Many people in the older generation of this group continue to speak a low German dialect called "Plautdietsch" and eat traditional foods.

The Amish, who separated from the Mennonites in the late 1600's, are widely known for their plain dress and rejection of modern technology and conveniences.Unlike the Mennonites, they form an exclusive and tight-knit community, with the church dictating much of what may or may not be done: for example, each local church district would dictate rules regarding the use of telephones, if indeed they are permitted at all.

While certain conservative branches of the Mennonite church still dress simply and require women to wear head coverings, Mennonites generally are not culturally separatist, choosing to embrace the larger communities outside of their church rather than forming a separate community around the church. Where the Amish believe in keeping themselves spiritually focused by limiting their interaction with modern society, Mennonites believe in practicing Jesus' teaching of service to others in a broader context.

* My intent is not to judge or criticize the Roman Catholic faith but to explain the history behind Mennonite Christian faith. I have great respect for Catholics and their faith even if it is not my personal belief.


Wikipidia - key words Protestant Reformation and Menno Simons

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Being Mennonite - Intro

When I mention that I am Mennonite many people automatically bring up images of long skirts, little hats, and simple living. Then they look me up and down and notice that my fashion choices are little more modern, the simple fact that I wear pants skews the original perception pretty quick.
Did I leave the Mennonite way? Or am I a black sheep in the faith?
I've always worn relatively stylish clothes (I realize this is open to interpretation and opinion!) and am not a Mennonite rebel or anything.
Then what?
"Mennonite" actually includes a wide spectrum of both culture and faith that swings from Amish-like living to blending in with the society around them. I am more the latter. I'm never offended or hurt or bothered by the old-fashioned type image, it is merely because they don't know. Our culture and faith is so diverse it is hard to know. While that assumption is not exactly wrong it isn't entirely right either.
My blog friend Tammie mentioned that she'd like to know more about my Mennonite-ness so
I'm planning on doing a series of posts about Mennonites. It is not something that can be written about in a few paragraphs because we go way back to the 1500's. I'll do brief history overview, go through the different sects, and also explain the faith as I believe it. I'll do my best to be as accurate as I can but please don't view me an expert. Feel free to ask questions and correct me if I'm incorrect.
Although Trevor and I do not currently attend a Mennonite church we still cling to the main belief system and community, embrace the heritage and are proud to call ourselves Mennonite.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Lest We Forget

November 11.
Remembrance Day.
The day in 1918 that officially ended World War I.
A day to honour those that fought - and still fight - for our countries.
A day I have trouble with every year.

You see, I was raised in the Mennonite Christian faith and Mennonites are pacifists. We believe this because Jesus himself was all about peace.
I also live in a country where war and military are noticeably scarce compared to our American neighbours.
Therefore, we never observe Remembrance Day with particular reverence. My family also has chosen not to wear the commemorative red poppy that is handed out every year.November 11 is mostly just an extra day off.


Today I am feeling a bit contemplative on the issue and not as hard-nosed as I have been.
I am thinking:
- where would my life be had those wars not taken place? Hitler would have still been Hitler and done his Hitler things. The same goes for Osama Bin Laden and many others.
- would we be living the life of freedom we currently live? Or would those evil dictators have taken over?
- there are men and women who truly believe(d) in the their country and in fighting for it, am I dishonouring them as people with my refusal to observe this day?
- is this day about more than just war?
- could/is there have been another more peaceful way?

I will likely never be pro-war but I realize that there is more to this day than just fighting.
I don't need to honour the war but I can honour the people who have/do/will sacrifice themselves for what they believe in.

Sunday, November 7, 2010


Whoever thought that rearranging our times by one hour twice a year was a good idea did not have little kids.
I HATE time change.
My daughter is currently sobbing in her bedroom from exhaustion because she's been up since 6:25. I attempted to gradually adjust her these last few days by being okay with no nap, keeping her physically active, and having later bedtimes. Her little body refused to sleep longer in the mornings.
So today she' s basket case and we are pulling our hair out.

Saturday, November 6, 2010


It's just after 9:00A.M. and the sun has just made it's very bright appearance through my very filthy windows
Maybe I should wash them.
That likely won't happen.

Trevor went to Calgary today to a Franchise Expo. His mind is constantly whirling with various business ideas so he figured this was a great opportunity to explore the options already out there. A few years ago we were this close to buying into and opening up a Marble Slab in our little city, but as with most ventures scrounging up the start up investment deterred us. Less than a year later someone else had the same idea, were able to follow through on the idea and the business flourished so much that they opened a second location a year later!

If only....

As you know, teaching appears to be a closed door to Trevor. We even briefly considered moving but too many factors closed those doors too. While Trevor enjoys his current job he is too motivated and money driven to think of it as long term - he hates the idea that he is making money for other people! He works for a family owned business where certain members get a cut for doing absolutely nothing (great gig for them!) and if we could buy in that would be a whole different story but the possibility of that isn't too high.

So we explore and think and dream and hope.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

My Little Strawberry

I'm not one of those people who is talented, or innovative or motivated enough to whip up a spectacular Halloween costume from random articles such as old T-shirt and a cardboard box. Just when I was thinking I'd have to dredge the back of my brain and root through old clothes to attempt to fashion something for Sierra I found this adorable little strawberry outfit at Children's Place for $15.
I bribed her into keeping the hat on but other than that she loved the outfit. She absolutely refused any makeup and since I hated face makeup myself as a kid I didn't fight her on it. Whatever, she looked cute as is.
I, must say, I was appalled at all the kids that came to my door that had obviously merely threw on some ratty old clothes and a hat, or drew on a mustache and figured they were 'dressed up'. I know it's all about the candy but seriously, put a little bit of effort in people!

Carving the pumpkin in the afternoon.

The costume.

The candy. (she will be sick!)