We are busily packing boxes and cleaning every surface in our home. What a mess. What a huge amount of stuff we’ve managed to collect! Why do we do that?!

Our official move date is Tuesday. Tomorrow we will be away all day, so all the final things will have to be done on Monday and Tuesday. We are moving into the basement at Dennis’ parents’ place. They have generously offered it to us and have put a lot of work into it this spring getting it ready for us. Thank you, Dad and Mom E! We are excited to be able to spend the next few months with you. The girls are especially tickled to have so much time at Grandpa and Gramma’s house.

I wanted to show you a few things we’ve found in the mission barrel recently. We found this little bike for Button. Squeak already has one, so this bike will help Button keep up with her. Squeaky is getting pretty good at riding hers- Button has a ways to go. 🙂

Dennis found this shirt in the mission barrel last week. He couldn’t believe his eyes and there was several moments of collective jubilation after he got home and showed it to me. 🙂 We will miss that old mission barrel (which is really two rooms and more like a freebie store than a barrel, in case you were wondering).

The first year class has been working hard on their Jungle Camp homes for the past two weeks. We’ve had fun keeping an eye on their progress and remembering what we were doing a year ago. Last night we took one last stroll up there. The homes look good and I thought more than once that I could easily live in one of those for a month again.

This year they are keeping some live chickens. The girls had fun looking at them.

After Tuesday we will be on dial-up. I’m hoping to arrange some way to go to a wireless place every once in a while so I can blog with pictures and not have it take 20 minutes. Until then, I’ll probably be posting shorter updates with only one or two pictures (sorry, family).


Ladies Hike

Now I can finally finish up! We are back from our two week visit with Dennis’ parents. An apology to those who have been checking here in vain…

Remember about three months ago when I blogged about Dennis’ hike up near Tobermory? During the last week of Jungle Camp we ladies went on a hike of our own on the same trail. While the men’s hike was over 40 kms and included packing all of their stuff, we had it a little easier. We went 22.5 kms and carried only light day packs.

But this wasn’t a walk through the park, folks. We’re talking tree roots and rocks everywhere- climbing and running up rock faces and always looking for a safe spot to put your feet.

I was told before we started that a vehicle would meet up with us at a couple of different spots along the trail and that we could skip parts if it was too much for us. I am so happy to say that I did the whole thing! It was probably one of the most challenging things I’ve done physically, (second only to having babies!) and I had such a sense of accomplishment when I was done- I was literally jumping around in excitement.
Here are some pictures- the scenery would have been breathtaking if I hadn’t already lost my breath.
Here is what they call “The Grotto”.

The trail runs right along the coastline, following cliffs up and down- sometimes taking us right along the beach.
Here is some of the wildlife- a snake was lying right in our path. When our fearless leader guy poked it with my walking stick the snake coiled up and tried to rattle a rattle-less tail at us.
Notice the lack of sand. Each beach was covered in rounded rocks that were quite difficult to walk on.
Here was a blue heron.
The water was a delightful bluish-green and so clear that we used it to drink with a hand-held filter.

I probably don’t have to tell you how good it felt to put my feet in.

Yay- we all did it!!!!
Double yippie-yay- I did it!!!!

Jungle Camp Report #4

Whoops, I said last time that the next blog would be about the hike. You’ll have to remain on the edges of your seats for that one since I have to mention the Jungle Camp Open House!
As I mentioned on the blog before we went out to Jungle Camp, the Open House was on the weekend of July 5-6. That Saturday morning I woke up at 8am to a quiet knocking on the door. I went out, and through the cloudy plastic of our door I could see a lady. I thought maybe it was someone coming to remind us of something for open house. As I got closer my jaw dropped- it was my mom, all the way from Nebraska to surprise us! I was so shocked and excited. She wouldn’t tell us how she had gotten here, but a few hours later my Uncle Helmut and Aunt Jean from Winnepeg showed up and the story got told. Mom had ridden a bus all day from Omaha, Nebraska to Winnepeg, and then the three of them drove over to Ontario. What a drive and sacrifice to surprise us! Very, very cool. 🙂
We had lots of other surprises that weekend- Jim and Gerri and Ruth and Rudy drove over together from Pt., Brad and Tanya and their little girl came from Bft., Chris and Dawn R. stopped by, Bill and Laura McK drove up on their motorcycle, Uncle Bob and Aunt Joyce dropped in and Dennis’ cousin Annette came on Sunday. We were also tickled to see the guests we knew were coming: Dad and Mom E., Brenda, and Ron and Sabrina and their kids! What a great time!

Would you believe all this?!?!?! Fresh fruit after a month of not having any was soooo tasty and a bit of a shock to the system! We were so thankful for all the yummy gifts that our friends brought! Some even brought non-edible gifts- we felt so blessed, and the girls blew bubbles to their hearts content.

Ok, next time- the hike.

Jungle Camp Report #3

So sorry about the delay! My mom has been here visiting and our wireless connection has been sketchy for the past week or so. Excuses, excuses, I know…

We were in Jungle Camp on Canada Day, July 1st. Some classmates planned a fun morning of games for everyone, kids and adults, and in the evening we had a yummy potluck, sparklers and a bonfire.

Water balloon game:
Egg race for the kids:

Homemade slip n slide:I think she missed the slip n slide by a few inches…
We really enjoyed the social aspect of Jungle Camp. We got to hang out with our classmates and get to know them better through many circumstances- enjoying meals together, struggling with the cold and rain together, sharing fire-building tips, things like that.

One evening we had a fish fry with another family. We kept the trout in a cage in the stream that ran through camp. It was delicious.

Eating worms and pudding:We enjoyed several potluck dinners with our class:

Some other parts of Jungle Camp:

Dennis and the chicken kill. He found this hard to do as he is not a hunter at heart. It was a good experience for both us, being raised in a culture where the food on our table is quite removed from the process of getting it there.

We had a hair cutting class. I cut Dennis’ hair using only scissors. Usually I use scissors and an electric hair trimmer. I think it turned out ok, despite Dennis’ faces.I also cut Squeaky’s hair- my first time doing anything other than her bangs. Her hair has developed some curl in the last year. It is really cute cut to chin length now.

One of our favorite things each day was getting mail! I think there was only a couple of days when we didn’t receive something. We received many packages and letters. Thank you to all who made our day, you know who you are! 🙂

Next I’m going to post about the women’s hike.

Jungle Camp Report #2

Life in the Bush- Cooking

I’m not really sure if our little woods counts as a “bush”, but that is what we called it. Even though we were 5 minutes from town it really felt as if we were isolated. Only our classmates and two staff couples were with us. On a couple of occasions we had “outsiders” come in, but for the most part it was just us. The isolation never got to a point where it bothered me. We’ve been taught that moving into a new culture can cause culture shock which can include a feeling of isolation. This wasn’t enough of a new culture to make me feel that way.

It was however, a bit different because of the amount of work it took to survive. I think that is what hit me the hardest. Dennis and I brought out a huge pile of books thinking we’d have some downtime in which to read and relax. Ha. They never even got taken out of the tote they arrived in.

Our day basically was consumed by getting the fire started, feeding the kids, getting our water boiling for coffee (a minimum of 40 minutes in the mornings), entertaining the kids, chopping wood and more wood, getting lunch started, putting the kids down for naps, chopping more wood, doing laundry by hand, starting the fire for supper and preparing it. By the time supper was over it was time for the kids to go to bed and we crashed. There were other extra things that we did as well, but those were the basics.

One thing I learned is that if you have a fire going, you put the water on to boil whether you think you’ll need it or not. If you don’t have hot water, you can’t have a hot drink, boil pasta or potatoes (or anything!), have a shower, or do dishes. If you don’t do dishes, you can’t cook. If you don’t cook you don’t eat. So get that fire started and get that water boiling! It takes 45 minutes to get boiling water in the morning when starting with a cold stove. In the evening it takes 5 minutes or less with a stove that has been going for awhile.

I was able to make all kinds of things on our little clay stove. It was amazing really. Bread, rolls, muffins, pizza, casseroles, stove top dinners, baked potatoes… it was great. I also found out that if we used bad wood we got bad meals. Gross.
One day when he didn’t have a lot of time Dennis scavenged out some wood that was laying around. He thought, “This dead wood will be great.” He hauled it all back to our house and cut it up.

I decided to make some Kraft Dinner (Mac and Cheese for you USA friends) for lunch. Pretty simple- boil water, cook some pasta and throw in the cheese powder. Well, it took about an hour to get the pasta soft because the fire wouldn’t get hot. I mixed the KD up and set the table. The girls were all excited to get noodles, their favorite. Wow. I don’t think I’ve ever had more disgusting noodles in my life. They tasted like they had been soaked overnight in cold water- soggy on the edges and crunchy in the middle. Totally gross. I couldn’t eat it. I asked the girls if they liked it and they said um hmmm! between bites. So I guess it wasn’t a total waste.

That night we were still using the lame-o wood. Dennis got the fire going around 4:30 or 5. I asked some people if they could come for supper but they had other plans. I’m really glad they did, because it was a disaster. I decided that we would have pancakes with chocolate chips. I mean, how hot of a fire do you need for pancakes! Surely they wouldn’t be a problem. Well, two hours later I was very frustrated and we had gooey, goopy, gloppy, gummy pancakes. They looked like piles of tempra paint. I glopped them onto the girls plates. “Here you go, hope you don’t die from eating raw eggs…”

The next day we still had that bad wood. I tried to do soup. Soup must be the easiest thing of all, I thought. All you have to do is get it warm enough that it is palatable, you don’t even have to cook it. Two hours later and the soup was still cold. How can you have a fire that won’t even warm soup? I don’t know, but we did. Finally I humbled myself and took the pan over to our neighbor’s place. She had a toasty fire going, and I warmed the soup.

There is a big difference between dead wood and rotten wood.

Jungle Camp Report, episode #1

Stage One: Getting Settled

Everything was such a mess for the first few days of Jungle Camp. Our house wasn’t quite complete, so we worked on improving it for a full week after arriving. I found it difficult to keep positive with the very cold temperatures and rain. Button developed a nasty bronchitis-like cough and double ear infection that pulled her and I out of Jungle Camp the very first day. We visited the emergency room (it was a Sunday) where she was prescribed an antibiotic.

On the upside, while I was away two of our friends came over and offered their help, taking a hiatus from organizing their own home! They completed our pantry shelf and some shelving underneath the counters, as well as covering our benches. Having those shelves helped immensely in getting the house squared away. Remember, if Momma ain’t happy, ain’t no one happy. And this Momma needs a clean kitchen.

Our friends also let us cook on their stove that evening so we had a yummy supper even though it was dark and stormy.

This little Jungle Camper wasn’t the happiest person around during the first few days due to her ear infections. Here she is finding herself the unwilling participant in a photo shoot.

Breakfast the first morning was cold cereal on a table-tote for the girls. Our benches and table were not finished yet.

Winnie’s little bare feet were in the dirt!

Towards the end of the first week things were improving. We had nice clean carpet (brand new) in the whole house and our table was in. The girls enjoyed their play time at the table and eating the treats we brought out for them.

Stay tuned for more Jungle Camp tales.

And Just Like That, We’re Back

Hi everybody! We’re back from our Jungle Camp experience! This morning as we laid on our air mattress and gazed through our plastic roof for the last time we discussed what an amazing opportunity we had this summer. Not everybody gets to make a little house out in the woods and live there for a month.

I’m excited to share some of our pictures with you and some of the stories! Tonight we are too tired, and I can’t find my original camera card in the pile of stuff we brought home. These pictures were taken during the last two weeks of Jungle Camp. One picture was taken on Canada Day, July 1 of our attempt at painting maple leaves on the girls’ faces. The next was taken in front of our home on Open House weekend, and the last picture was taken this morning of our lot where our little house stood only hours before.