Saturday, July 10, 2010

Hitting the Road with the Dueck 6

While the plan is to relax and take it easy here at home this summer, we actually started off the summer with a great road trip vacation, discovering once again that we love to travel together in our van seeing the sights and just doing life as a family. Lois and the kids drove from Emo all the way to my sister Sonia's place in Port Perry (about 1 hr from Toronto) over the course of 5 days, while I flew in to TO (right in the middle of the G20 summit!)and met them there. I am thankful for a wife who thinks the idea of camping with 4 kids by herself is fun, and that she doesn't mind driving almost 2000 km while doing it!

One interesting addition to the usual roadtrip vacation came about because of the fact Lois and the kids camped their first night on the shores of Lake Superior, near Duluth, MN. After putting their feet in the water there, they camped the next night near the Mackinac Bridge, next to Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. Because they were heading towards the last two great Lakes in Southern Ontario, they made it their goal to put their feet in all 5 of them - and they did! Quite an impressive feat in my books, especially because they didn't set out with that goal originally.

Lake Superior

Lake Michigan

Lake Huron

Lake Ontario - on the way to Niagara from Sarnia

Lake Erie - we took a 20 minute detour from the 401 on our way to Chicago and found this great spot.

It was nice to be able to get in on at least one of the five, and actually get a shot of Lois in the water as well!

Besides seeing the lakes, the kids and Lois enjoyed the slower pace of camping (or maybe it was slower because I wasn't around wanting to do a million things - hmm!), seeing some beautiful parts of the country, and making some new friends at campgrounds. Lois was also blessed to be able to connect in Sarnia with Diane, the Ontario coordinator for the Mom's In Touch prayer ministry that she is involved in. It has been a blessing to see how God has answered the prayers of Lois and the other moms who meet to pray every second Thursday during the school year.

Niagara Falls was beautiful by day and by night, and everyone liked to see all the bright lights and sights. God blessed Lorianne with the opportunity to see "BODIES" a traveling exhibit of the human body, which was something just recently she dreamed about seeing (and never thought she actually would!). From the falls it was a nice drive on the 407 toll Hwy to connect up as a family.

As a family we hadn't been at my sister Sonia's house for four years, and in the mean time they had bought a nice new pad that we wanted to check out. The Dueck 4 had a blast playing with the Hiebert 4 and it was great to just connect as adults over games and lots and lots of food! It was a treat for us country folks to go to a "real" movie theater (that is in our own country - normally we go into Minnesota to the theater) to watch Toy Story 3 in 3D and we also attended church together. And probably the highlight of the weekend was a trip to Canada's Wonderland, where we did rides, waterslides and a show together.

When we left for Chicago on the Tuesday morning, the sun was shining and it was a great day for driving. For part of the trip Lorianne read us I want to go Home! by Gordon Korman (great book), while at other times we were all listening intently to the various Lamplighter Theater audio book productions we had purchased. These 3 hour stories adapted from historical novels written in the 1800's are not only highly entertaining, but they teach excellent Christian truths. We highly recommend you buy them and then share them with others you know, and if you can, buy the books as well. All our kids love it when we read these classics as a family together, and the oldest three kids have read over 10 of them already!

Since we now live "in the bush," and are surrounded daily by the birds singing, trees and hiking paths, and lots of deer, going to the city for a vacation is fun for us, and Chicago definitely has lots of options for fun. From shopping to walking and from listening to a Beatles tribute band perform at lunch to checking out what is happening in the Rain Forest Cafe right across from our hotel, there was never a shortage of things to see and do. Here are some of the highlights:

Shopping and seeing the sites on the Magnificent Mile!
Stephen found a special friend!

The Hershey Store!

Millennium Park - lots of great art to see, including a 2 story giant mirrored jelly bean!

Downtown Chicago from Navy Pier

The Field Museum (we spent 5 hours here, which wasn't enough for Lorianne!)

Giordanno's Famous Deep Dish Chicago Style Pizza - Caleb's highlight of the trip!

As you can hopefully tell by the photos, we had a blast! We will definitely be going back for more. Our "travel agent" Mark Mast has given us a whole two pages of options for us to do each time we go.

The trip home Friday and Saturday was relaxing, and God provided a great hotel for us, with a quiet spot for me to work on my sermon, and a paved walking trail near by for us to go for walks. Truly we are blessed as a family for many reasons (health, resources to travel, time to get away, etc.) and we thank God that above all of these, we just really enjoy being together.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Milestones and Memories

Two months have gone by since I posted last, and that means that a tremendous amount has happened in the life of the Dueck 6. For starters, we now have an official granite welcome sign, made as a Mother's Day present for Lois. Of course you wouldn't know it is granite because of the paint(!), but it is still special, with each of us having painted one of the rocks, and Lois adding the lettering, all in hopes of welcoming those who come by to our place.

The beginning of June saw us as a family heading to Baudette, MN for my second Willy Walleye 5km race. It was fun to be cheered on by the family, and it must of helped, as I ran my fastest time of 23:53, good enough for 2nd place in the 30-39 year old men category. One of the fun parts of the day was racing with the Flying Friesens, a family from church. Ian, the young guy in the picture was first of the 89 runners in the race, Heidi won her age category, and my friend Wes was tops in the Old Guy (50+) category! I have tried to convince some of my kids to come run, but I don't know if it will happen, and doubt we will be as fast as our friends.

June 13 was a special day for Caleb as he got baptized in the Rainy River!!!! It was okay weather, not raining, a little cool. It was a special time for Caleb and two other youths who also got baptized, and it was a blessing for me to be able to go over scriptures with him in classes at church and be the one baptizing him. We celebrated with Grandma Hiebert, Auntie Elaine, Julie (MCC exchange from Russia), and two friends from Caleb's school. We invited their families to join us, one did. We had a watermelon and rollkuchen party with dessert too at the picnic shelter in Emo. We presented Caleb with a very manly cross chain that God gave us at a great deal while celebrating our anniversary in Bemidji. Continue to pray for Caleb as he strives to follow God in everyday life. He truly loves Jesus, and wants to follow him.

Caleb has also started a lawn-cutting business. He cuts three lawns already other than doing his turn on ours:the church's and two neighbours from the parsonage in town. He bought his own lawn mower with electric start from the local Husqvarna dealer (who attends our church), and it was very excited to see him work out a payment plan for it, which included mowing part of the dealerships lawn! We are proud of his hard working attitude and that he plans to have the mower paid off by fall. (We are also thankful that we don't have to start the mower for him anymore!)

A major milestone for Lorianne happened on June 17 as she graduated from Grade 8 (for our Manitoba friends, let me inform you that here in Ontario schools go from K - Gr 8, and then then High School is from 9 - 12). It was a special day for Lorianne as she celebrated with her friends from Donald Young School. She was chosen as one of the Valedictorian speakers, and really enjoyed writing her speech and did a great job of presenting it.

Lorianne enjoys school, and giving leadership and encouragement in the classroom. God has blessed her with a lot of skills, as well as solid Christian character, and for that we are very thankful. Her efforts at school were rewarded as she was presented with the highest academic award for a female, and she also received the Ontario Principal's Award together with Derek (who was also her co-valedictorian).

Joseph enjoyed playing soccer again this year, as did Stephen and Lorianne (Caleb begged us not to make him play, offering to bike the 2 miles to and from the field instead, which he often did). It was a bit tougher for Joe, as he was in the Gr 3-5 age group, and didn't get a lot of shots on goal. It did however give him a chance to get rid of energy, which he has lots of! He easily keeps up with Lois on their 8 mile bike ride which they often do (by the way, that is the distance around our block!).

Stephen continues to be our creative one. He suggested cutting crosses into the Rollkuchen for Caleb's baptism: it worked great - we had hot cross rollkuchen for the party! He loves playing LEGO, spending hours upstairs in our rec room during the day. He liked being on a soccer team with a friend from school, and enjoyed having me as his coach (Lois said he tried harder with me giving encouragement from the sidelines). He battled his way through the school year, having to daily choose to make right choices and be different than those around him. We pray for him lots, as he struggles to live as a Christian. He often shares at night about how he gets thoughts and words in his head from school that he has to fight against, and that he wonders if he is good enough for Jesus. As parents (and even some of the older kids) we try to just remind him of the Gospel - that we aren't good enough, but Jesus is, and his work on the cross is our only hope for acceptance before God. Now that it is summer, we are praying that Stephen can just have fun being a kid, and not have to worry so much about what others think of him, or how he needs to behave to fit in.

Lois is leading the preschool program at the local VBS, serving together with ladies from the Christian Reformed church that is hosting the VBS. She is excited to work together with 3-4 youth (including Lorianne) and train them up to tell Bible Stories, help lead a small group and be part of a ministry team. God is giving her much wisdom on this adventure. VBS is July 19-23rd, and she would appreciate your prayers.

Lois is thrilled that our garden is all planted and made sure we even planted an apple tree in honor of our anniversary and our first summer living at 583 George Rd. She spends a lot of time going for walks with different ladies from church and is thankful for the quiet life that is possible living in the country. She is truly an amazing woman, and does a great job of making sure our household runs smoothly. She also was really wanted to go camping this June, and so headed out for some camping and a trip to Niagara Falls with our children before meeting up with me at my sister's place in Port Perry, north of Toronto (I flew in while she drove the 20+ hours over 5 days). More on that trip later.

I had a chance to go fishing four times in June, which means that life is definitely slowing down. The boys and I went fishing off the Emo dock and Caleb was the fisherman of the evening. The next time was with a pastor friend from Thunder Bay who is mentoring me. We met to pray, talk, and fish together 1/2 way between Emo and Thunder Bay. Then my dad came up for our annual Father's day fishing trip. We actually turned it into two trips. One was a leisurely Sunday evening paddle in the canoe we have had since our Tadoule Lake days, and then we spent all Tuesday with a friend from church who took us up to the beautiful and famous Pipestone Lake. Dad out fished me on Sunday, but I caught the most walleye on Tuesday!

Another fun part of the spring has been working at cutting logs up for firewood. I enjoy the productive feeling that comes from cutting up a tree, and the kids do a great job of stacking up the wood. It is amazing what 6 people can accomplish when they work together!

We are now entering our third summer in NW Ontario, and with God's help it will be our most enjoyable one yet. With our first summer spent moving, our second summer spent restocking our life and designing and building a house, this year should be very different, as we are settled, have what we need in terms of stuff, are have as a main agenda to just enjoy what we God has blessed us with (ie: have fun!). Lois is very thankful for blueberries growing on our hill, the kids are happy to be done school, and I am looking forward to having a pastoral intern that I can work together with at CBC for the next couple of months. God is good, he is faithful in keeping his promises, and for that we are grateful.