Thursday, August 26, 2010


We made it to our new home by noon on Wednesday! The movers did a great job and we were actually able to walk around because they had stacked the boxes so well. This did make it a little difficult to find certain boxes though - such as the ones with pillows and bedding! The kids had fun checking out our place and I am so thankful for a backyard with green grass for them to run on!  I just kept tackling box and after box and I am slowly making a dent. Daniel got Nathan's bed built (the movers didn't do that one!) and the playhouse built for the kids in the backyard. We have just spent two hours this afternoon at the public library which is a 4 block walk away and has free library membership! Until Monday it is also our only access to the Internet! The kids have picked out a bunch of books and a few movies (not that we have our TV set up yet :)

It's great to hear from everyone that writes comments! More later - my time expires in 3 minutes!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Day 6 - London, ON, Canada

We made it back to Canada - back to expensive restaurants and hotels, slower speed limits, higher gas prices and Treehouse! The kids had fun watching Treehouse tonight and I didn't need to worry about what they were watching :) It is comforting to be back in Canada though - kilometres not miles, Celsius not Fahrenheit, Canadian money, our healthcare system (it's strange to see billboards advertising hospitals!)

Nathan and Noelle decided yesterday that they were glad we didn't fly - this was way better! By driving, they got to stay in a hotel and swim 5 out of 6 days, eat out at a restaurant every night and get special goodies every morning (I had bags labeled "Day 1", "Day 2", etc). Thank you to both of our families who added to my bags (and even gave some surprise goodies for Daniel and I!). It has been a good holiday for us as a family.

We had a late start this morning. After sleeping in until 9 am we didn't leave our hotel until almost 11 am (we still haven't adjusted to the Eastern Time change)! Breakfast was served until 10 though and it was another hot breakfast!

We enjoyed our hour and a half finding books at the new & used Christian bookstore in Grand Rapids, called "Baker Book House". We all found some books and Daniel now has most of his books for school. After finding a grocery store close by we ate our lunch as we drove and arrived in London, ON around 6 pm. Daniel has done a great job driving - it is wonderful to have a husband that enjoys driving since I'd much rather be the passenger. Having the GPS (which we bought when at my parents) means that most of the time the navigating isn't up to me! I am just another set of eyes!

The border crossing went well and it turns out that even though you can't bring meat, dairy, fruit or vegetables into the States, you can take them out with you! I guess that's because we import most of them anyways :)

View Larger Map

We went for supper at Tony Roma's - the last night on the road and then went swimming. All three kids are like little fish and their swimming is getting better all the time. Noelle asked if as soon as we got to our house tomorrow we could go swimming! I think the end of the holiday will be a shock to all of us :)

It is "only" 167 km to our address in Toronto so we plan to be there by noon and start tackling the boxes. Daniel signed up for a phone tonight so we should have a working phone by Monday (which means no Internet at home until Monday so I think we will be finding the nearest library quite quickly!) I'll be posting sporadically now but will continue to share our adventures in Toronto as well as share scrapbook pages and ideas of mine!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Day 5 - Grandville, MI

Today started out as the hardest day yet. Everyone was tired and a little cranky waking up. We did have an amazing continental breakfast at the Best Western (eggs, sausages, hashbrowns, waffles) but once driving the crankiness started again. We entered a toll road in Wisconsin and missed paying the first toll. However, after stopping at an "oasis" rest stop and checking in the with toll road customer service, getting a map getting a Starbucks Frappuccino and eating some gummies we all did much better.

It was interesting paying to drive on a toll road - a first for us! We ended up paying five different times today and will have some toll roads tomorrow as well. Most of them were $0.80 or a $1.00 but one in Chicago was $3.00!

It was interesting today to drive through 4 states - Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan! I showed Nathan on the map so he could get a sense of where we were driving.

If you click the "-" button and zoom out on this map, you'll be able to see where we drove today! (Thanks for the idea Allison!)

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Driving through Chicago was somewhat hairy. We went through just after noon so the traffic wasn't too bad - meaning there was lots of it but it kept moving! Daniel wondered if rush hour would almost be better - at least then we wouldn't be going so fast and we'd have more time to figure out which exit we'd want and which lane we should be in! The kids enjoyed looking out the window though because there was lots to see.

We finally stopped for lunch at 2 pm at a Bass Pro Shop at Portage, Indiana. It's funny - we haven't had a chance to check out the Bass Pro Shop near Calgary but visit one on our way to Toronto! The kids enjoyed seeing all the animals and it gave us a chance to stretch our legs and Daniel to unwind. We ended up eating while we drove again and made it to Grandville by 5 pm - which was actually 6 pm because of the time change. Just when we thought we'd get in earlier it's still late! We went for a swim right away and then had supper at 8pm, but it only felt like 7 pm :) We solved the TV problem with the kids watching Curious George videos on the laptop! They finally fell asleep at 11 pm EST  - Noelle and Jeremy had napped the last hour of driving which made for happy kids but not ones that wanted to go to bed. Sigh, oh well, only one more night!

Granville, Jenison, and Grand Rapids are where Daniel's brother-in-law Russ has family that we know but since we've really only been planning a day ahead we haven't contacted them! Next time we'll have to plan before we leave and not spend time each night planning. At least, we shouldn't be moving at the same time!

Tomorrow, we are going to stop in Grand Rapids at two different bookstores recommended to me by Juanita that will have theology books for Daniel for school. They will also have other books, including used so the kids are excited about being able to pick out some books for themselves. I am hoping for a quiet hour or two after we leave the bookstores! We are heading to London after that, about 5 hours so we only have a 2 hour drive on Wednesday to our new home. It will be good to get there and start the unpacking process. It still seems a little unreal though to think that will be our "home".

Monday, August 23, 2010

Day 4 - Madison, WI

We've crossed into another state and are now in Wisconsin! We attended church at Bethlehem Baptist this morning and really enjoyed it. It was different going to a large church - I dropped Jeremy off at nursery at the beginning of the service (an usher told me that I should check him in right away because sometimes it fills up and there is no room left!) I received a computerized sticker matching his number and a pager in case he needed me. Jeremy went right in and had a great time. I know this set-up is common now in big churches but it is amazing to me with only small town church experiences! The sermon was on idols of our hearts and how anyone or anything that is more important or more of a priority than God is an idol and how really that is the baseline of fighting the good fight. It is our default nature to focus our time and energy on things of this world. Definitely a challenge I need to continually apply to my life. I was thinking how easily things like education, sports, scrapbooking, work etc can become idols. If you are interested, the message will be posted here.

After church, we found a Co-op (pronounced "cub" - it took as awhile to figure out what store they were referring to when we asked for a suggestion at church!) grocery store nearby and bought groceries for lunch to eat in a nearby park. My sister Janine and friend Susan would have loved this grocery store! It was organic to the core, i.e. they sold nothing but organic and most of it was local. The turkey breast sandwich meat we had was "organic, free range, hormone free, antibotics free and nitrate free! Now this is probably what I grew up eating and never gave it another thought :) The other thing that blew me away there was the "junk food". They had a bulk section and I thought maybe I'd buy some smarties for us to share. Nope - only one kind of dark chocolate candy and that was it! Oh and carob chips (carob is like chocolate but better for us I guess.) All the chocolate bars they sold were organic as well so between cost and the high probability that my kids probably wouldn't eat it anyways I didn't get any chocolate. I guess we're eating healthier already! :)

Nathan said the playground we ate lunch at was the best he has ever been to! It was just a playground across from an apartment building but it had quite unique structures for the kids. I'll try to upload a picture or two of it tomorrow night!

We drove another 4 1/2 hours stopping for supper at a town along the way and then arrived in Madison around 8:30 pm. All of us, except for Daniel had a good long nap which made for a mostly quiet trip! After we checked in it was off to the pool right away (which works really well - they always have excess energy to burn and running and yelling in the hotel room is very annoying) and then to bed.

I haven't mentioned the weather yet. It has been really nice weather. Not a hint of rain and sun all day. In fact, it has been quite hot! We've had the air conditioner going non-stop. We haven't actually seen a thermometer but we're estimating 30C and up the last three days. When we were at the park today the kids were running but I found it hot, hot, hot!

Tomorrow is off to drive around Chicago and onto Grandville (close to Grand Rapids). It will be about 5 hours driving but we're going to try to arrive at our hotel earlier and maybe get the kids to bed earlier!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Day 3 - St. Cloud, MN

After two days in the States, I've learned a few things. Washrooms are called restrooms; Highways like our #2 are called Interstates and the speed limit is 120 km/h, not 110 like in Canada; Dairy Queen is in the States too; they don't have a station like Treehouse! This last one has impacted our lives the most. In fact, at 9:30 pm at night we can not find any children's programming on TV (I know, I know, maybe they shouldn't be watching TV at 9:30 pm. In fact, the first night we did watch Treehouse in Moose Jaw, Nathan wondered why they even had it on that late at night because which children would be watching it?!) Anyways, we'll keep checking each State as we go along but last night it was the Food Network and tonight it was baseball!

We made it to Jamestown this morning and enjoyed the National Buffalo Museum. Daniel and I would have enjoyed it even more if we could have taken the time to read more of the exhibits but the kids are always impatient to see the next thing! It was interesting to learn about the albino buffalo - a rare occurrence but there are now three in the Jamestown herd! I think I got one on camera - it was from a distance so I won't know until I can upload it and zoom in! There is also a frontier town beside it and we had the chance to ride in a Stagecoach - by far the bumpiest ride I've ever had! We are even more appreciative of our van now! We also learned Louis L'amour was born in Jamestown and I took a picture of his house for my Dad!

We picked up lunch fixings at the Wal-Mart and ate as we started driving to St. Cloud, MN. It was a good trip but the last hour is always the longest - no matter how many hours we drive! We arrived in St. Cloud around 5:00 pm and stopped at the Crossroads Center Mall. Daniel and I both found new runners but Daniel is still looking for new "woolly socks". I don't know if they are just going out of style or maybe we need to look in more rural towns :)

Supper at the mall, check in to our hotel and then a swim at the pool. The kids were thrilled to see the waterslide and had a great time. The only thing with a  waterslide though I've learned is that there are a lot more people swimming and it is much nosier! Not a "calm them down to sleep" kind of swim at all! Tomorrow night we are booked into a hotel in  Madison with just a pool and a hot continental breakfast buffet (we're looking forward to that :)

We've been able to travel far enough each day to go to church at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis tomorrow (it is John Piper's church - he is a pastor who was written many books including "Desiring God"). John Piper is on holidays but we are looking forward to going to his church anyways. Then it will be onto Madison, 5 hours away!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Day 2 - Carrington, ND, USA

Well, we've been on the road 2 days and we are all starting to get into the swing of things! I've now reorganized our suitcases so we are only bringing one suitcase into the hotel each night (instead of 4!). We had oatmeal packages for breakfast (thanks mom for the plastic bowls and spoons!) We had to heat the water in the coffee maker for the oatmeal because there was no microwave but it worked! The kids did really well traveling and we were able to stop a few times to stretch our legs.

We started the day with a stop at the Western Development Museum - Transportation in Moose Jaw. It was a great museum! We explored the history of  automobiles, airplanes, trains, and steamboats on the prairies. We also got to see two Snowbird airplanes and learn about the history of the Snowbirds demonstration team! Favourites included sitting in a cockpit of an old airplane, watching the model train set go around and around and seeing an airplane in the process of being reconstructed.

No problems crossing the border! We only threw out 1 apple, a handful of peapods and a small chunk of cheese - we managed to eat the rest! There were only a few cars ahead of us and a few questions asked (we were glad that when asked, Nathan responded that he was travelling with "Daddy and Mommy")!

We've decided the sleepiest little town we've ever been in is Bowbells, ND. We needed gas after crossing the border and found Bowbells. There was a really nice park with a playground that the kids saw as we drove down the street to the only gas station in town. We stayed for about half an hour and only saw a handful of vehicles and 2 other people out and about! It felt like we were the only ones in the town.

We arrived in Minot at 5:30 pm but then learned it was 6:30 pm (somewhere we passed a time zone!) We had a delicious supper at the Homesteaders restaurant and then hit the road for another 2 hours to arrive in Carrington, a small town of 2200. Our hotel turns out to have a continental breakfast and the room is very spacious. It took the kids a while to fall asleep (even though it was 10 pm!) but they are all sleeping now and we have a more relaxed day planned for tomorrow - only 5 hours of driving!

The hours driving have been spent reading (individually and out loud - I am reading "Stuart Little" to the kids), listening to books on tape ("Frances" yesterday and today we listened to an hour of Robert Munsch -thanks Kathryn and Allison!). listening to music, and looking out the window. The kids also have activity books, a few toys and their imagination. Other than a few moments here and there of complaining and boredom they have traveled really well! Although Jeremy isn't enjoying Stuart Little quite like the others - I usually have to distract him with something else so he doesn't talk the whole time I am trying to read :)

Tomorrow - Jamestown Buffalo Museum and spending the night in St. Cloud.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Day 1 - Moose Jaw, SK

We made it to Moose Jaw! We didn't arrive until 6:45 pm but overall it was a good day. We left Daniel's parents in Olds by 9 am and stopped for lunch at Brooks. We were able to meet my parents and my sister Janine and her daughter Kaytrianna for a picnic lunch  at the Visitor Info Centre (which turns out to have quite a neat little museum). It then took the rest of the afternoon to get to Moose Jaw with just a stop in Swift Current at the Husky! Overall, the kids were pretty good although they were a little restless at times! Thank you to both of our families for the little gifts/goodies they gave us to dole out to the kids (and Daniel and I) day by day to make the trip exciting and help keep them busy each day!

When we arrived in Moose Jaw we headed for supper at the Bonanza Restaurant. I haven't been to Bonanza in years! There used to be one in Lethbridge that we always went to. I love the salad bar there and the kids liked getting icecream from the icecream machine. After checking in we went swimming - the kids were basically vibrating with energy but I think they burned a lot of it off swimming! I don't think they've ever gone swimming at 8:30 pm before! We must be on holidays :)

Tomorrow is off to the Transportation Museum in Moose Jaw in the morning before heading to the border crossing and into the States!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

RCMP Dog Show

The RCMP Dog Show in Innisfail is free and a great opportunity to see police dogs in action! The 1 hour show runs every Wednesday from 2-3 pm all summer and we went today with Daniel's family. It was really interesting to learn how they train police dogs and to see how a dog takes down "the bad guy". The kids enjoyed seeing the puppies at the end. They were so cute!

We are heading out tomorrow for our 6 day trip to Toronto! Tomorrow night we are in Moose Jaw, SK and then we cross the border. We thought we'd spend Friday night in Minot, ND but just found out when we went to book a hotel that the "Outlaw Racing Tournament" is on this weekend and there are no hotel rooms to be found! Out come the maps again!

Calaway Park

We spent Saturday, August 14 at Calaway Park and the kids loved it! We went with my parents and my sister and her family. Nathan rode the roller coaster and as many fast and spinning rides as he was allowed to go on. Daniel had a great time riding with him and his stomach felt tight only a few times! Noelle, Jeremy and I rode the tamer rides but they loved it. Icecream and a music show topped off the day.

Birds of Prey Center

We visited the Birds of Prey Center in Coaldale, AB last Wednesday, August 11 with my parents and throughly enjoyed our visit! We stayed for three hours and watched the Harris hawk flying demonstration twice. Some of us even got to hold a Great Horned Owl and a Burrowing Owl. We learned that all birds of prey are basically lazy and only fly when they want to eat, cool off or migrate! They spend 85% of their life perched. I highly recommend checking it out if you are near Coaldale.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Close to Home

Welcome to my blog! We are in the process of moving to Toronto and I thought I would start a blog to help stay in touch with my family and friends in Western Canada. The name "Close to Home" was suggested by a dear friend and I identified with it because even though we are moving, we are always connected through family, friends and memories to our many homes. My homes now include my childhood home on my parent's farm in Vauxhall, Daniel's parent's farm in Olds, our (past) home in Edson, our church home of Edson Baptist Church, our new home in Toronto and above all, my heavenly home that I am looking forward to.

My goal with this blog is to share some of our adventures in the big city as well posting some of the scrapbook pages and projects which I hope will inspire you. I would love for you to post comments so I can stay connected with our friends and family back "home"!

We are heading to Calaway Park on Saturday and then to Daniel's parent's farm for a week. We are leaving for our road trip to Toronto next Thursday. Let the adventure begin!