Sunday, March 30, 2008

Watermelon Soup

As inspired by Amanda at SouleMama who talked last week about How We Make Dinner, whom I immediately thought of when Helayna was up to this yesterday in the kitchen.

You've got to really work those pieces!

Perhaps a little kneading is necessary here!

I just love all the smiles and laughs this little Watermelon Soup activity got! She loves to imitate whatever Mommy and Daddy doing these days and she's right into the imaginative play. I love seeing her think, hearing her talk and watching all the development that's taking place inside that cute little body. We bought some spoons yesterday and she was saying "Cooking, cooking" over and over at the store.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

South American Highlights #3

I promise we'll move on to other spots soon but first I have to share one last set of pictures from this gem of a place on the border between Argentina and Brazil.

At Foz du Iguazu, we stayed in this gorgeous resort hotel. Marge, one of our tour guides, said it didn't get any better than this - and she was right! It was very nice to stay in luxury for a few days.

There were gardens full of tropical flowers

and at the back was this huge beautiful pool area.

The kids water play park - but I never did see any kids using it.

As the sun was setting. I could have stayed in this beautiful place for a few more nights!

On our last morning at Iguazu, we went to the Argentine National Park.

There were 2 trains that took us closer to the falls from the park entrance. It felt kind of like the train at Storyland Valley Zoo!

After the train ride, we hiked a mile along this catwalk to get to the falls. There were fish, alligators and turtles in various places along the river as we walked. It's time to meet some of our wonderful tour friends - that's Bill and Louise in front with Don and Joan waving behind them.

Three years ago this walkway was washed away in the flooding.

The river - so tranquil and shallow - as it meanders along before plunging over the cliffs.

Meet Ed, Neil and Brian, all from Ontario, posing with Bob. They were quite the crew - card playing, fun loving, such good people!

Friday, March 28, 2008

South American Highlights #2

I found a few more images of our first hike at Iguazu Falls. They were on the memory stick, which I had forgotten about but I found them yesterday when I spent a big chunk of my day downloading, filing and saving pictures to the external hard drive. I just have to share more images of this amazing place. These are taken at the Brazilean portion of the falls.

The river is just flowing gently along -

and then suddenly it rushes over the rock face like this!

In June during peak water time, this area would be one big waterfall and be spraying all over those people.

A friend said to us today "I can't believe you guys came home from such a beautiful place!" We definitely could have stayed in this place for a while longer!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Bet You Didn't Know -

Susan at Penless Thoughts had this meme on her blog yesterday and I thought it looked like fun. Blogger doesn't want to upload photos tonight so instead of South America goodness, here are some random facts that I know you have been wondering about for a long time :))

Let's see...rules first.

1. The rules of the game get posted at the beginning.
2. Each player answers the questions about themselves.
3. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves a comment, letting them know they've been tagged and asking them to read your blog.

What I was doing 10 years ago:

I was teaching grade 3 at Calmar School and looking forward to a week long spring break. I had 2 girls in senior high school and 2 kids at university. We were milking cows and Bob was busy with Alberta Milk Producers work.

Five things on my to-do list today:

1. read the Holy Week story from the book of Mark
2. download the rest of the vacation pictures and save them to the external hard drive
3. wash more clothes, including a Cabbage Patch Doll for our granddaughters to play with
4. find the bag containing battery chargers and phone cords - I've misplaced it somewhere!
5. phone Compassion International to set up sponsorship

Snacks I enjoy:
1. nachos and cheese
2. chocolate chip cookies
3. cheese and crackers
4. fresh fruit
5. mixed nuts

Things I would do if I were a billionaire:
1. make a major donation to Women for Women to help women in war ravaged countries (Afghanistan being my 1st choice)
2. help our kids pay off their students loans and purchase their own homes
3. take 2 major trips a year - I can dream, right?!!
4. renovate/update our home
5. set up investment portfolios to sustain some causes I believe in (Canadian Lutheran World Relief, libraries, education in developing countries, Compassion International, outdoor camping ministries, etc.)

Five of my bad habits:
1. not exercising regularly
2. procrastinating about accounting tasks
3. piling stuff up in the basement
4. letting weeds grow in the garden
5. not volunteering for community or church work

Five places I have lived:
1. on my parents farm near Millet, AB
2. in dorm at Camrose Lutheran College
3. in an apartment on Whyte Avenue while attending the University of Alberta
4. in a little 2 room house on the farm
5. in the home we built on the farm
(Good thing they didn't ask for 6 because I've only lived in 5 places!)

Five jobs I've had:
1. babysitter
2. kitchen helper at college
3. clerk/cashier at Woolworth's
4. summer program staff for 4-H Alberta
5. cashier at Canada Safeway

Five people I want to know more about (a nice way of saying TAG!):
1. Linds at Rocking Chair Reflections
2. Chris at Frazzled Farm Wife
3. Lisa at The Clark Crew
4. Heather at Running the Race
5. Carmen at La Dolce Vita
(Sorry I can't link to them tonight. It's Blogger's night off, I guess.)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

South American Highlights #1

I want to share some photos of our trip to South America and I've decided to do it in no particular order. But I will start with one of my absolute favourite parts! Iguazu Falls are found on the border between Brazil and Argentine and they are an absolute must see if you ever travel to SA! Darrin was excited when he heard we were going here and he was right - they are spectacular.

To give you some background, Wikipedia says:
"The waterfall system consists of 275 falls along 2.7 kilometres (1.67 miles) of the Iguazu River. Position is at Latitude (DMS): 25° 40' 60 S ,Longitude (DMS): 54° 25' 60 W . Some of the individual falls are up to 82 metres (269 ft) in height, though the majority are about 64 metres (210 ft). The Garganta del Diablo (Devil's Throat in English; Garganta do Diabo in Portuguese), a U-shaped 150-metre-wide and 700-metre-long (490 by 2300 feet) cliff, is the most impressive of all, and marks the border between Argentina and Brazil. Two thirds of the falls are within Argentine territory. [1] About 900 metres of the 2.7-kilometre length does not have water flowing over it. The edge of the basalt cap recedes only 3 mm per year.

Upon seeing Iguaçu, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt reportedly exclaimed "Poor Niagara!"[1] Vastly larger than North America's Niagara Falls, Iguaçu is rivalled only by Southern Africa's Victoria Falls which separates Zambia and Zimbabwe (this is excluding extremely large rapid-like falls such as the Boyoma Falls). Whilst Iguazu is wider because it is split into about 270 discrete falls and large islands, Victoria is the largest curtain of water in the world, at over a 1600 m wide and over 100 m (350 ft) in height (in low flow Victoria is split into five by islands; in high flow it can be uninterrupted).

The water falling over Iguazu in peak flow has a surface area of about 40 ha (1.3 million ft²) whilst Victoria in peak flow has a surface area of over 55 ha (1.8 million ft²).[4] By comparison, Niagara has a surface area of under 18.3 ha (600,000 ft²).[5] Victoria's annual peak flow is also greater than Iguazu's annual peak—9 100 m³/s versus 6 500—though in times of extreme flood the two have recorded very similar maximum water discharge (well in excess of 12 000 m³/s). Niagara's annual peak flow is about 2 800 m³/s, although an all-time peak of 6 800 has been recorded.[5] Iguazu and Victoria fluctuate more greatly in their flow rate."

I'm not going to say much more - just enjoy these glimpses taken from the National Park on the Brazilian side. I took 150 photos on this morning and I'll share some more tomorrow (if you don't mind!).

This was our very first glimpse and it took my breath away. With every turn of the path, there was another gorgeous picture to capture.

This was our first view of the Brazilian portion of the falls. It reminded us more of Niagara Falls with the volume of water and the mist/spray.

It was quite simply, a most amazing visit to an incredibly beautiful and majestic place!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Thanksliving Because He Lives!

The Resurrection has led me to consider my blessings this week in the light of my Saviour giving up His life for mine - and for your's.

1. My life - created by God with His plan for me. And His promise to never leave me or forsake me. He is with me in all that happens and willingly welcomes me daily, with love and forgiveness.

2. Our children, their partners and grandchildren - how blessed we are to have gathered with some of them this weekend. Their words, hugs and smiles warm my heart.

3. Electronic communications - via email, Skype, telephone and blogs - we can stay in touch so easily these days. And I can't imagine waiting for 6 months to get a letter from Europe!

4. Sunshine and warmer temperatures - although it has been a bit of a change not to see green trees and grass outside!

(taken in a flowerbed in the town square in Trinidad, Uruguay)

5. A healthy body - I am blessed to be mobile and able to enjoy doing anything I want to.

6. Our cameras - we have such enjoyment recording memories and then even more fun looking back later on. Bob's figured out the video function on the Elph and he had lots of fun with it on the weekend.

7. Signs, newspapers, magazines and books in English - seriously, it is really hard to not be able to read in foreign countries!

8. Good food, in abundance and variety - especially salads, fruits and vegetables. And even more so when it's served with love by family. We had brunch at Naomi and Jerry's on Friday, the cooking challenge with my family on Saturday and dinner with my parents yesterday. Food - such a staple and such a comfort!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Iron Chef Challenge

For the third year, my family gathered today for our Easter event. The last 2 years we've had a blast doing an Amazing Race and this time we had an Iron Chef Challenge. Working in teams of four, we had to create a minimum of 3 dishes using a secret ingredient - TORTILLAS! We were very lucky to use the home ec lab at Jerry's school - the perfect location!

Organizers extraordinaire - my sister, Esther and my niece, Jill. They are a mother and daughter combo - quite the masterminds at dreaming up events!

Every group got an envelope of money (from the entry fee we each paid), with which we purchased our ingredients from the onsite grocery store. Extra things could be bought at the local grocery store uptown.

Elisha created the recipe for our group's Roasted Asparagus and Chicken Pizza with Feta. This one could be published - it was so delicious!

Every team needs a good dishwasher - and my Uncle Gord was ours!

Taste testing by Jen!

Naomi was working on their appetizer, Salmon Filled Cups with Spoons (made out of fried tortilla strips) - the most creatively presented appetizer. They also made a huge Taco Vegetable Salad (with beans, corn, avocados, tomatoes, celery, lettuce and chicken), Quesadillas, and a Vanilla Pie with Chocolate Dipped Strawberries and Pineapple. Her group had my Mom, Ed and Tony in it.

Jerry was part of the all guys team with Bob, Larry and Leo, which was the team with the least experience and could have won a prize for rookie cooks, I think. They made Tomato Cups with Goat Cheese dip and tortilla chips, Shepherd's Pie, Fajitas, and Deep Fried Chocolate Dessert Tortillas, which quite possibly was the best dessert.

This was our youngest little chef-in-training!

Each group presented their creations to the group for judging at the end of 3 hours. This group (Darrin, Pam, Ruth, and my Dad) made a Mexican Dip, Chicken Taco Salad, Enchilada Casserole and Strawberry Tortilla Crepes. Their presentation was awesome!

My group (Elisha, Jen, Gord and me) made Herbed Tortilla Chips with Salsa, Taco Salad, the pizza, and this Strawberry Stack Dessert.

By the time the taste testing was over, we were all stuffed - there seriously was so much good food created today! It's pretty amazing what you can make with tortillas! After judging, the winning team took home some "iron" prizes - a waffle iron, ironman watches, or an iron. And everyone had leftovers to take home too!! It was an awesome way to spend an afternoon making more memories. One of the things I love best about these gatherings is how we can involve the whole group, which ranges in age from about 20 to 75 (not counting Meadow). I am so blessed to spend this time with my family.

Happy Easter to you! May God's love and the gift of grace that He gave us be your celebration this weekend.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Our Little Ones

Seeing these two little girls again has been an absolute delight! I really did miss our family while we were away and it's so nice to have them all close by again this weekend. The hugs, kisses and conversations have been wonderful!

Helayna soaking in the spring sunshine!

Meadow modelling her Easter outfit for us!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

First Day of Spring

We had some changes in our flight plans yesterday as soon as we checked in at MIami International Airport. The girl at the counter said the flight was already delayed and we'd miss the connection in Montreal so she booked us on a flight to Toronto instead. It meant that we had 15 minutes to clear customs and get to the gate (instead of the 2.5 hours we thought we'd have). No time for browsing or duty free shopping but we can do that next time! We had plenty of time to clear Canadian customs in Toronto, recheck our bags, grab a bite of supper and get on the next flight. The only problem with this whole plan was that we didn't have a printed itinerary and in Miami she told us we'd arrive in Edmonton at 22:00. We're on the flight, nicely cruising along, about 7:45 p.m. and Bob says to me "What time do we arrive?" I told him it was another 2 hours - and then the pilot came on and said we were 65 miles from Edmonton and beginning the descent! There's no way that was going to take 2 hours! So we landed at 8 p.m. - and had to make a quick phone call to get our 'taxi' to come earlier. (Thanks so much, Dennis!) I think she'd told us the arrival time in MIami hours instead of mountain daylight time. It was definitely better to get home earlier and a funny ending to a month of traveling.

The big difference we noticed today was that there is no beautiful green colour outdoors! We've gotten very used to lush green trees and colourful flowers so the drabness of late winter here is a big contrast. Please hurry along, Spring!

And in honour of spring starrting, I did a little cleaning!

Naomi had taken all the produce out of the fridge when we went away so today was a good day to give it a complete cleaning, before I reloaded it. Could it really star in a commercial for new fridges?! Feels good to have it done and I think I'm going to tackle a few more projects of this nature next week.

More pictures from South America coming soon, I promise!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Coming Home!

Exactly four weeks ago today we left home and started on this amazing journey south. And today we are packed and ready to head back to the place we love best. We have so many memories (and pictures!) of this time exploring new places, making new friendships and treasuring each experience that God has given us. You will be hearing about them for a long time to come! But now it's the smiles, hugs, kisses and sweet voices of family that I'm looking forward to most.

Please pray that our journey will be a safe one and everything will go as we've planned (only 1 hour, 25 minutes to make the connection in Montreal). It's a great day to be coming home - the first day of spring! Hopefully we are bringing sunshine and warm temperatures with us. Talk to you soon!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Back in North America

After a long day of traveling on Saturday, we arrived in Miami at 7 a.m. on Sunday morning, We'd really just like to be home but with spring break, we aren't able to get a flight out until Wednesday. So meanwhile, we're enjoying some sun, the beach and exploring this city some more. It really is a beautiful place - I can see why people like to come here in the wintertime! I could make this an annual event quite easily, I think!

This is the garden that wraps around the pool at our hotel. I'll share more pictures soon.

It was a gorgeous Sunday in Miami Beach yesterday with brilliant sunshine, a calm ocean and lots of people on the beach. We went for a long walk on the boardwalk and then ploughed through the sand, trying to get to 'where the beach curves', in Bob's words. We walked for an hour and the curve was still ahead somewhere!

When we woke up this morning, the palm trees outside our window were blowing around and there's been a strong, strong wind all day. The waves are much higher with whitecaps and breaking surf pounding the beach today. It was still 80 degrees F but cloudier. These winds made us wonder what it's like when a hurricane is brewing out on the Atlantic.

And after 2 weeks of lugging around a laptop that wouldn't boot up, Bob splurged and bought this baby, right down on Lincoln Road in Miami Beach. He's a very good shopper when it comes to electronics for himself :)) Well, I helped just a little and we are both enjoying it already. Working with iPhoto was a challenge today but I learned alot in a short time!