Friday, July 31, 2009

Top Stories...

I was thinking about ideas for blogging today, and I thought it might be fun to see which posts have been the 10 most popular based on the number of comments they have received. See if you can remember what I wrote about when you read the blog title, then click on the link to see if you were right!

Welcome to Second Street! - May 27, 2006 - 10 comments

O Canada! - February 26, 2009 - 10 comments

completely UNinspired - November 28, 2008 - 9 comments

What is it like? - October 28, 2008 - 8 comments

O for Grace to Trust Him More... - December 11, 2008 - 8 comments

Random Thoughts From Second Street - February 10, 2009 - 8 comments

Been Busy (with pictures to prove it) - July July 6, 2009 - 8 comments

A Retreat - September 25, 2008 - 7 comments

Update on...everything... - October 2, 2008 - 7 comments

Healed. - May 29, 2009 - 7 comments

Which was your favorite? Do you remember a specific post that isn't included on this list?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

My Day

Getting out of bed...tough.



Science class in July...challenging yet rewarding.

Lunch...healthy...wanted to reward myself for healthy choices with cookies and a chocolate bar.

Shopping for VBS craft supplies with Karis...good times.

Picking up Prison Break Season 3 from the library...exciting.

Driving through rain...peaceful.

Combing Lennox...un-lengthy. (as in it didn't last long before he was walking away)

Smelling supper as it cooks... so hungry.

Hearing the rain outside and seeing the sunshine...running to see the rainbow!

Not there...disappointed.

Gotta love holidays! I have been so enjoying these last few weeks of having nowhere to go in the morning and nothing to do all day...if only we could be getting paid for all this sitting around. Well, we are being paid if lbs count. No? Ok. Only 17 more days of this though. And then it's a whole new life for us! Wow. That's coming quick.

p.s- how do you like my new glasses? $8. Or were these $12? I got two new frames and my old ones are still in working order. I'm really enjoying having three frames to switch things up a bit. Excuse my hair in the pictures...I had just run out in the rain to look for a rainbow.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

I had quite the morning at church.

Being at church seems like the wrong thing to call the experience I had this morning.

It was more like hanging out with a church.

What makes a church? Is it the people or the place?

Should "church" be rehearsed like a performance or casual and flexible like a family gathering?

I came away from our gathering this morning refreshed. I came away challenged. I came away with a smile on my face and a bounce in my step. I had fun with the church today.

What was it that made my experience this morning SO good?

It may have been an old acquaintance leading hymns by request and giving a short speech about singing "in color" by using harmony when the first verse was sung quite unenthusiastically and flat.

It may have been the little girl behind me who was singing out, not afraid of who heard, and sounding quite good because she sings out confidently every Sunday...(and all we sang today were hymns)

It may have been the people sharing about Mennonite World Conference in Paraguay.

It may have been the people sharing about their coming year that has been dedicated, as a family, to inner city mission work...the sharing that kept going and going and going...the passion that they spoke with...

It may have been that the pastor felt free to put his sermon aside after all the sharing that had been happening through music and missions and simply shared a story about his week of speaking at camp.

It could have been the amazing time I had last night with God before I went to bed and that I woke up ready to worship.

It could have been alot of things. But I know that hanging out with the church today was amazing and has me challenged to look for more (and be more) in whatever church body I find myself in next. WE are the church. Let's enjoy getting together. If the sermon is getting in the way, put it aside. If the singing isn't quite up to par, share your passion for music and help others catch it.

What is getting together for but to encourage, challenge, strengthen, teach, learn from, and love each other?

What was church like for you this week?

Why did you go?

Who did you see?

What was your favorite part of worship?

Do you have fun hanging out with the church?

Friday, July 24, 2009


I feel like I'm very much in an in-between place right now. And I am continually glad that we took these 6 weeks to be in-between.

Three weeks ago we moved away from the only home that Nathan and I have ever really known together. We packed up our (still unsold) house and drove away with everything we own. The packing was exciting. The purging was exciting. The cleaning was exciting. The loading was exciting. And the driving away was exciting...until I turned the first corner, not even a block from our house. And then I burst into tears! I cried, alone in our car, for a good 15 to 20 minutes...noticing the last time I would drive away from our house (it being our house), the last time I would leave our town (it being our town), the last time we would drive by our church (it being our church)...I guess I get emotional. Who knew? : ) There was suddenly so much that I was leaving behind.

This in-between time has been so good to continue to process what we have left behind. The first few days were full of lonliness for the people and life that we left. I felt completely unsettled and displaced, and there were many more tears over the next couple days. But, these last three weeks haven't been completely depressing and horrible. Far from! There has also been intense joy in these last three weeks. We have settled in our in-between place and are enjoying life without work. Life without a schedule. We've never had this much time off together and it makes me SO excited for retirement! haha...yeah, I know. It's been SO nice to have Nathan's parents' house to ourselves so we don't feel like we're visiting for 6 weeks but that we have a neutral place to process everything. I feel like being in-between has given me room to (physically and emotionally) leave behind our last home and (physically and emotionally) prepare for our next one. I feel just exhausted some days, but I know that this processing needs to happen. I don't want to just skim over this move without learning everything I can about where we came from (from the outside now) and how it shaped us in our four years there. I want to take the moving process slowly and draw every little piece of wisdom out of our experiences. Some days I just want to sleep and forget everything for a while, because it takes SO much energy to remember, but I also don't want to waste this time and forget where we've come from.

Three weeks from tomorrow, we will get in our car once again and begin our 30+ hour drive to our new home. When we first moved away from our last home, I could hardly think about what was next because there was so much to think about regarding the move. But now that I find myself at the halfway point between the old and the new, I am starting to get very excited about what's to come! We have found out that we are in apartment "J" (why does this make it feel more real?). We can actually see the "drive date" on the calendar now. Our VISA and health insurance and car insurance is all in the process of being ready for us to leave. IT IS STARTING TO FEEL REAL, PEOPLE!

This "reality" thing that I'm experiencing is exciting and scary at the same time. It is exciting for the obvious reasons. We are going to meet alot of new people. We are going to live in a new place. We are going to live in an on-campus setting again. We are going to drastically change our pace of life. What's not to be excited about? Well...I did mention that it's also scary. In so many changes come so many, many questions. The biggest question being "How will we pay for everything?" It's not cheap to quit your jobs, move to another country, and become a full time student. My way of dealing with not having an answer? I have not been able to look at the details of our financial "stuff" since we left our old town. This is SO unlike me! I am usually a budgeter...a financial planner. But when I know that there is money coming in each month to cover our expenses, it is a whole different ball game. There is something different about seeing what we have in our account and knowing what school will cost and noticing a large gap. What is there to look at when those numbers don't match up? And the gap between the two just grows larger each month as each mortgage payment comes out. Ack!

Last night I was praying, in desperation over our current finances and future financial well-being, and I felt like I was a child in swimming lessons again. I was being asked to put my face in the water and not try to understand how I was going to float (this just doesn't make sense to alot of kids!) but to just have faith that I would. In my prayer, I felt like I was floundering a little. Okay, I was floundering alot! Last night, I was the annoying kid to teach who would flail and splash and insist that it is impossible for a person to lay on top of clear, invisible water. I was pouring out my worries to God and I felt as helpless as a child who's being taught to swim with the lifeguard just standing by, making sure I'm not going to drown, but also not helping a whole lot. And I got the sense that God is teaching us (particularly me) faith. I guess I just need to lay back and relax and go with the flow if I expect to be able to live on nothing. But the lifeguard (God) IS there to keep us from drowning. Sure, he sometimes will help us by holding us up and then slowly letting go again, but you can't learn to swim if someone is always holding you. Sometimes you just have to flail and flounder and get the hang of it yourself. So I feel like I'm floundering in this whole faith thing. But I'm sure, after two years, I'll start getting the hang of it...

So that's our in-between spot. Halfway between here and there. It takes so much energy to think about (and therefore write about) anything related to moving, so I have been posting about crocheting and decorating and Lennox and anything other than what's going on. But I want to be real and I want to share, so that's where we are now. Our In-Between.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Our poor puppy dog.

Many people have been asking us what we are planning to do with Lennox when we move. After months of prayer and searching, Nathan's mom made a connection for us. Lennox is going to be spending the greater part of two years with a wonderful couple from near here. They are self-proclaimed "crazy dog people" and are willing to give it a shot (whoo-hoo!).

We thought it would be smart to let the dogs meet a couple times before the official "hand-off" in August, so a couple weeks ago, we took Lennox over to their place. Well, it was a less than ideal first meeting between the two. If you'd like a mental picture. Lennox is...well, Lennox. Black. 60 lbs. Timid at first, but loves to play with other dogs. Their dog is... Black. 60+ lbs. Trained for guarding. Quite...dominant and protective (so it seemed). Together? One mass of black fur, top dog growling and bottom dog trying frantically to get away and screaming on the top of his lungs.

Bottom dog was Lennox. : )

Now, I fully believe the gracious owners of other dog when they say that their dog isn't a mean dog. I completely understand that the first instinct would be to guard his yard and protect his owners. And that is GOOD. And I also believe that if Lennox would just "man-up" (at least as much as he can after what we did to him a couple years ago) and bare some teeth, perhaps growl and bark once or twice, that things would be absolutely lovely with other dog. But Lennox preferred to sit under my chair and hide for the remainder of the "meeting."


Lennox has since met a couple other dogs, one new one and Nathan's parents' dog, who he knows. He has gotten along with these dogs just fine! He's a bit more timid than normal and is more often on the submissive side than he used to be while playing with them. I don't like that, but I figured that, with time, he would go back to his normal, playful, sometimes-dominant-sometimes submissive self. Not so. The more time he's had with Sheila (Nathan's parents' dog), the more he's taken the submissive role, and Sheila has noticed. We've noticed that she can control him with a growl and some bared teeth. At any sign of agression, Lennox goes running. It's frustrating, because he could beat Sheila so easily! SHE is not a dominant dog! And if he could understand that he's not the wimpy dog that he thinks he is right now, and put Sheila back in her place, perhaps he could put other dog (the one he's going to be with for two years) in it's place too.

Well, last night, we thought it would be fun for Lennox to meet a new dog (my friends', Ben and Marsha's, dog, Jakson). We were driving to PA anyway for a LONG overdue visit so we took Lennox along for some puppy play time. Well, at first Lennox wouldn't go anywhere near Jakson and was just hiding behind Nathan's and my legs. We kept moving so he would have to be social at least a little bit. But Lennox soon got tired of Jakson's "puppy energy" and learned that Sheila's trick of baring teeth and growling worked for him too. And not only that, if Jakson wouldn't back up immediately, Lennox would actually snap at him! I've NEVER seen this mean side of Lennox and I'm not sure what to think of it! At first, when there was just growling and baring teeth (showing dominance) I approved and encouraged it, hoping that this might transfer to the other, two year dog. But when he started snapping, and learned that it worked, I started to tell him "no." It's one thing to give the dog a little growl as's another thing to start actually using that agression! I don't want to have the dog that doesn't get along with every dog he meets!

What happened to my sweet, innocent puppy who would play with anyone?! I'm hoping that this strange behavior is due mostly to so much change in his life recently (moving, new dogs, new places, etc) and that he'll slip back to his old, easy-going self when he develops more of a routine this fall. If not, we'll have some training to do...when it is and is not appropriate to show agression. Part of me IS hoping that he will show some of this newfound agression to the other dog so that they can co-exist peacefully (each knowing their own, healthy boundaries with each other). But I DO NOT want this to become his default for whenever he meets things that he's uncomfortable with (like hopefully our babies one day - right now he's PERFECT with kids...or at least he was a couple weeks ago). I'm just not sure what to do! Oh, the fun of having a dog. Some days it's almost as mind-boggling as parenting...

Monday, July 20, 2009

In the homemaking department...

I always thought that I really liked to cook. I even wrote a post about cooking not too long ago. And then I read my friend Erica's latest post. It's about cooking too. And that's when I realized that I don't have a passion for cooking.

I don't mind cooking. I actually often enjoy it. (except for recently, due to not having my own kitchen to work in among other reasons) But even at the best of times, I don't feel that joyous passion when it comes to putting ingredients together to make a dish.

I do, however, find myself having more and more of a passion for putting rooms together. Paint, fabric, furniture, accessories...LOVE IT! I thoroughly enjoyed decorating and redecorating and rearranging our old house. I was rearranging right up until a couple days before we moved. And soon I get a whole new apartment to have fun with! I think that I would even prefer an entire day of cleaning (with accessorizing) over cooking. Cooking happens so that I have something to eat; decorating happens because I love it.

When I was younger, still living at home, my family moved to a new house when I was 11 and I got my own room. I probably switched it around every couple months and tried odd things in the name of decorating. The thing about my creativity back then was that most things didn't look very good. I remember one decorating attempt in particular...I was trying to cover up the water filter that took up valuable real estate in my already small bedroom so I took my curtains off my window and fastened them across the corner of my room, conveniently hiding the tank. I was pretty proud of myself until someone came in and asked if I really thought it looked good. I suddenly became very self conscious about my decorating taste and still find it tough to express my decorating opinions. It usually takes me a couple days to know if I really like something that I've tried with our house. But that's the great thing about decorating...nothing is entirely permanent!

So as we head down south in a matter of weeks, I am looking around me, trying to decide what to take along so that I have something to work with in our apartment. We will have a very small decorating budget (if any) so I'm trying to think of inexpensive things to make our apartment feel like home and look "finished." All I've come up with so far are large pieces of fabric (solid colored inexpensive flat sheets?) and enlarged prints of photos we've taken (affordable thanks to Costco) in solid black frames. I think I'll need to get down there and play around a bit to know better what is needed. But the way it looks now, I'll have plenty of time to be creative and have fun with the look of our place.

So what do you prefer? Cooking? Baking? Decorating? Yardwork? Something else? What's your passion?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Granny Skills

I learned to crochet when I was five years old. I remember my mom teaching my sister and I the basic chain stitch while we were sitting on her bed, each with our own hook and ball of yarn. She would get us started and we would make chains as long as our hand. Then, chains as long as our arms. Then, chains that were as tall as we were. And at one point, I remember racing one or both of my siblings to see who could make a chain as long as our entire house first. We would frantically crochet, then measure, then crochet, then measure again, then crochet some more. (I just can't imagine any 6 year olds that I know today having a crocheting race...)

Once chaining wasn't exciting enough, I would start to choose patterns from my mom's crochet magazines and we would sit together, me with the hook and yarn, and my mom with the book, reading the instructions to me so that I wouldn't lose my place. I don't remember the things that I was making at this stage, but I definitely remember needing my mom to read the instructions to me. In this way, with my mom at my side, I learned a few more basic stitches too.

When I got a little older, probably around 10 or 11, I figured out how to read the instructions to myself and follow them without losing my place. At this stage, I started my first afghan (which is quite misshapen due to missed and added stitches) and made other things like doilies and hats. I found crocheting such fun and never thought twice about how "granny-ish" I must have looked all those evenings with the hook in one hand and yarn in the other.

As time progressed, I started to understand more and more how to put stitches together to make different shapes and patterns. I remember looking at some dolls that my great-grandma (Oma), my mom's mom's mom, had made from scratch. I thought it looked fairly simple, so, since we had the plastic faces that were meant for these types of dolls, I fashioned a doll for myself, complete with dress and bonnet. This was one of my first tastes of crocheting from my imagination. I liked it. I would also make stuffed animals (I specifically remember two white rabbits I made, one with a yellow dress and undies, and the other with brown overalls).

Over the years (almost 20 now since I started crocheting), I have made countless afghans, and my fair share of toques, mittens, scarves, belts, doilies, stuffed animals, dolls, and many other things. I really enjoy the smooth rhythm of the hook going in and out while I am forced to be still and at rest. I have come to the point where I have more toques than I ever wear, I have more afghans than I know what to do with (but they match different rooms in different seasons) and I feel no need to decorate my home with doilies (at least in this stage of life). But every once in a while I find a project that keeps my fingers moving and my mind challenged with something new...because you never know when having granny skills could come in handy...

Monday, July 13, 2009

Trip to the Homeland

(I've been trying to upload pictures for two days so that I could post this! Sorry about the delay. Macs and blogger just don't mix...hopefully I figure something out before I don't have any access to a PC - I can't believe I just said that)

Nathan and I just got back from visiting my parents in the land of...well, not my birth...the land of my growing up years, though. I love going back to Hudson Bay. It's weird that I haven't lived there for 6 years, but it still feels like home. : ) We had a fairly eventful couple days. BUT, there was plenty of time to relax too. What would a vacation be without a good mix of memory-making and relaxation?


Pocket Rocket

My brother bought a pocket rocket a couple years ago and keeps it at my parents' place. I had been wanting to ride it since he bought it and with Nathan's recent spike in his love for motorbikes, he had to try it too. So we got it going and my dad, my mom, Nathan and I each took turns riding it.

Nathan's favorite was going to the top of the hill in front of my parents' house and seeing how fast he could get going on the way down. I remember doing that on pedal bikes and homemade go-karts with my brother and sister back when we were kids. : )



Nathan has also been wanting to go fishing all spring already. With this weekend being free fishing weekend, it was a no-brainer. We HAD to go fishing. So, my dad dusted off the fishing rods and tackle boxes and off we went.
It was absolutely beautiful at the river. I'm so glad I took the camera. We also got pretty close to some skunks, which made the fishing trek that much more exciting. My dad was walking down the bank, looking for the fishing hole that alot of people use and he came back having seen a skunk right ahead of him on the trail. Nathan and I were a bit leery of following a trail with a skunk on it, but Dad didn't seem concerned to we went on our way. Shortly after, we were standing on the bank of the river and I looked beside me and noticed a black, fuzzy tail sticking out of the grass. There was a skunk, about six feet to my right. I slowly moved away from it, whispering to Nathan that the skunk was right beside us. It must have heard us because it scooted into the tall grass. Dad wanted to see the skunk so I could get a picture so he tried to go around and scare it out. We ended up following it down the trail for quite a while, discussing how mom wouldn't let us into the house if we got sprayed and how Nathan and I were both wearing our favorite clothes and would have to throw them out if we got sprayed. I did eventually get a picture, but it just looks like a black dot in the grass. (Can you see it?)

But I know what it is and it makes a fun memory of skunk chasing with Dad. There were actually two skunks, which made it even more fun.

But back to fishing (which was the original point of this story)...after 3 hours of casting, 3 or 4 lures lost on the bottom of the river, and 1 broken fishing rod we were still fish-less.

This is why I don't really enjoy fishing...I've never caught anything or been with anyone who has caught anything. If I'm going to sit in a boat or on a riverbank for hours on end, I may as well just have the camera in hand instead of a fishing rod. It's less disappointing. At least it's up to me if I catch a great shot or not. : )



It turned out that we were out visiting my parents over just the right weekend. My younger brother, Andrew, was getting baptised that Sunday and we happened to be there for it. It was fun and exciting to hear his testimony (playdoh addiction and all) and to see him take this step in his walk with the Lord. So fun. It reminded me of my baptism (has it been 8 years already???). It was at the same spot on the river and a few of the same people were there. What a great step to take. If you haven't been baptised, I definitely encourage you to think about it and look into it. Why not? Seriously, it's so good.


So now we're back at Nathan's parents' place, doing laundry, making supper and gearing up for an evening of Lego Batman. Good times...

Monday, July 6, 2009

Been Busy (with pictures to prove it)

So, our storage space and Canadian mailing address while we're in school is Nathan's parents' house in small town, Saskatchewan. (I just can't bring myself to say that we moved in with Nathan's parents!) In preparation for our "visit", Nathan's mom graciously cleaned out their spare bedroom so that we could set up our own bed and furniture and have a little home away from home while we're here.

And guess what? She even said we could paint it!

A couple weeks before we left Manitoba, I was already going through all my decorating magazines for bedroom ideas. I didn't get the idea from there, but it was fun to consider lots of different options! I decided on green and at the last minute added the dark brown for the far wall. I love how it turned out and it really feels like ours now. It's definitely a place where we can relax. The room started out an icky pink color. (I can say "icky" because it was still from the previous owners and not my parents-in-law.) Check out the pics. Any further suggestions???


(excuse the mess...this was the day after we moved)
Nathan freaking out because he thought the paint was the wrong color.
Silly boy.
this is how I paint...tippy toes on a stool.
I made Nathan do the top for all the green, but he made one big splotch of dark brown on the white ceiling and handed the paintbrush back to me
Finished Ikea canvas print HAD to match the room. I guess you could say it was the "inspiration piece"...but not really...

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Like a Salad on a Parachute

I've finally come up with a way to explain how life is feeling for me right now. The picture came to me last night and it describes what I'm feeling perfectly. So picture this:

Big parachute (the kind we all played with in elementary school).

Every aspect of my life is sitting on the parachute.

On the count of three, the parachute goes up.

Every aspect of my life goes flying in all directions.

I manage to hold onto Nathan so we stick together pretty well (very well!) and land before the rest, alone in a strange place.

Slowly, as days go by, a few familiar pieces of our life fall into place around us (our own furniture, our own food, our own books) but many, many pieces are nowhere to be seen (our house, our jobs, our town, our people) and some have landed in different places than they were before and will never be quite the same due to distance (our friendships).

It's a strange thing to feel so displaced. Routine and familiarity ground me. And yet I feel like I deal relatively well with change. For that I am thankful. But it is still such a weird feeling, knowing that the life that I had a week ago (had just started packing up the house) is so vastly different from the one I have now. You'll be happy to hear, though, that I'm the same person in this "new life". haha. I'm more stressed than I've been in years, but I'm the same old Niki. And I'll keep blogging (if people are reading) as I chalk up one adventure after the next.

To those who are reading in my old town, I miss you. I miss seeing you when I go to get groceries or when I walk the dog. I miss seeing you at work or while getting the mail. I miss talking to you on the street. I miss having our lives intersect, as small as those crossings may have seemed. I'm in a new place where no one knows me and I miss you. Thanks for making "A" home for me for the last four years. It definitely became just that: home.

Friday, July 3, 2009


Have you ever felt like there's so much going through your mind that you're just not sure how to put it into words? That's me these days. I've been wanting to share more of what's been happening with the whole move and everything, but the words just don't seem to be coming. I've been overwhelmed, uprooted, stressed, forgetful, excited, nervous, scared, sad, lonely, a little bit of EVERYTHING. I tried to post some pictures the other day so that at least you could see some of those, but even that didn't work (because macs are wonderful for everything except uploading pictures to the blog/facebook). So alas, my blog has been relatively silent for some time now. But I'm sure once my mind has caught up to my emotions, I will post again and let you all in on what's been happening.

Right now I'm off to continue cleaning up some stuff from the move (so that our bedroom will be relaxing, even if nothing else is), and perhaps bake some cookies to get the good smells going. The washing machine is already humming and Nathan is sitting beside me enjoying his xbox 360 online.

If anyone needs/wants our new address/phone number for the next 6 weeks, email me or let me know in the comments and I'll send it.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Made it

So this new chapter of our lives has officially begun. I'll write more soon, but for now...we made it. And we're tired. And we can't wait for our measly (but WONDERFUL-SOUNDING) meal of Kraft Dinner and hotdogs to be ready so we can sit and move no more. What a full couple days...