Hint #1: Distance

This hint is inspired by one of our latest obsessions – The Master Theorem. Every Wednesday at midnight a new puzzle is released and we spend the week working on it together and feel great satisfaction when we solve it. The puzzle I have given you will not be as hard as those you will find on The Master Theorem site but you may find this page helpful if you’re stuck.

Distance can be measured in many ways. If the distance is small you can measure it in inches, millimeters, or picas.  If you’re measuring something medium-sized you could use a metre, foot, or yard. If you’re sailing you might use a nautical mile, league, or fathom. Or maybe you’re just thinking of the trusty kilometre (or mile for those of you still stuck in imperial).

Whatever you use to measure distance it always tells you something. How far one point is away from another is useful information, whether you’re hanging pictures, talking about going for a walk, or flying to a distant land.

The answer to the puzzle below will give you a numerical distance; however, you will not know what unit it is in. Keep this number in mind along with future hints so that you will be able to figure out our news (referred to in one of our recent posts)!  Here’s the puzzle:

When you think you’ve come up with the answer, e-mail us, send one of us a FB message, or DM @timthegeologist on Twitter and we’ll tell you if you’re right. Please do not guess or give the answer in the comments section.  I have left comments open just in case you’re completely stuck and need a clue.  Remember to hold onto this information, because it will become a part of the greater puzzle. We’ll publish the answer (the number, that is – we’ll withhold the units until further notice) at the beginning of the next hint.

Good Luck and Happy Puzzling!

Coincidence or Providence?

I don’t usually like to share private details from our lives, but times have been pretty tight for Kathryn and I over the last few months.  All of our needs have been met, but we’ve been gradually easing our way into more debt each month, in spite of the fact that we have quite a frugal lifestyle.  Around the end of March 2011, we realized that we had been falling behind in our giving at church – probably a foreign concept to some of you reading this – so we backtracked through the banking history and paid a lump sum tithe to catch up.  However, following that we went another long time… like 4 months, without giving virtually anything to the church.

It’s probably hard for some people to believe, but tithing is a pretty standard practice amongst Christians.  We give 10% of what we earn to the church, to support the salaries of the leaders, upkeep of the building, local and international ministries, etc.  It’s quite a challenge sometimes, but without it there wouldn’t be much of a church!

In the book of Malachi, the final book of the Old Testament, the prophet said the following after rebuking Israel for stinginess:

‘”Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.  I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the LORD Almighty. “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the LORD Almighty.’

It’s one of the few places in which God actually exhorts people to put him to the test.  So after 4 months of failing to tithe due to concern over finances, I decided to take God for his word and put him to the test.  For the sake of privacy I won’t share the exact numbers, but I hope the story is just as effective without them; suffice it to say we’re not talking about a small amount here (think 10% of over 10 paycheques, so more than a full two weeks income).  We were quite a ways behind, so I resolved to give a certain amount of money per week until we were caught up.  This was during a time in which we were technically not even “getting by”, since we’d been dipping into credit more and more each week, but I just steeled myself for the consequences.

After 3 weeks of giving the chosen amount, I figured we must be getting close to caught up.  I did some calculations from our banking history, and using a handy dandy Open Office spreadsheet I determined that we still had a ways to go, but I breathed a sigh and decided I had to follow through – we’d already come so far!  With some hesitation, I logged into our online banking to see what our balance was, certain we were going to be well into overdraft.  After all, we had already been in bad enough shape just handling our everyday costs.

I clicked on the link to view the chequing account details, scrolled to the bottom, and laughed when I saw the balance: exactly the amount I had calculated that was left to give, to the dollar.

I guess some people would call this coincidence, but I’d rather take it as encouragement from God: “hey, you can do this – test me in this, see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven”.  The floodgates may not quite be bursting yet, but I think this gave me enough peace about the whole situation to proceed with confidence.

I hope this encourages someone else who may be struggling with generosity or trusting God.  He’s put the offer out there to test him on tithing, so why not take him at his word?

Update and Exciting News Part 1

So we haven’t been very consistent with this blog lately. Surprising eh? It’s not because there haven’t been things happening in our lives, or changes on the horizon, it’s mostly because we’ve had (or chosen) to keep them a secret for a while.  Sometimes when exciting things happen it’s good to savor them with your spouse before sharing them with the world.

Isn’t life just full of surprises? We often miss them, the day to day happenings. Like when Eden learns news words, and we don’t even realise that she’s communicating something very clearly to us. She knows lots of words now, like: nose, eye, ear, banana, mama, dada, bath, no… to name a few. It’s funny though, because most people wouldn’t know that she’s clearly saying those words, they think she’s just babbling.  She’s very clear and very determined if you pay attention. She also knows a lot of signs. We’ve been teaching her simple words in sign language and it’s amazing to see her use them properly.

A response to "Where's Mommy's nose?"

She loves to give hugs lately and I love it. What a way to show affection! She’s very good at cruising furniture and just needs a little more confidence to venture away from anything solid. I love seeing her cousin Lila walk, how cute are toddling babies?

Back at the end of July we spent a long weekend at the tri-annual Nickerson Family Reunion. What fun we had! It was great to connect with all of my relatives again, cousins, Aunts, Uncles, and of course Grampy. My Grampy is awesome, he loves family, he loves babies, and he loves to sing! I wish I could spend more time with him. He’s spending his time writing these days, writing volumes of family history, genealogy, and the like. I got the chance to read some when we were together, oh how I would have loved to peruse the pages of his books, to examine all of the old photos he has taped to the pages, and to hear from his mouth what life was like for him. He has revealed a rich history in ink that I hope I will get to spend some time with one day.

My parents have a great photo of us with Grampy at the reunion...but this will fill in in the mean time

Thanks to my parents we got to take the Digby-St. John ferry both ways of the trip cutting out hours of driving (like 7), it was wonderful to be on the water, to see some harbour porpoises swimming and to continue visiting with family who took the ferry with us. Thanks Mom and Dad for giving us that financial gift that we couldn’t have been able to afford on our own.

It seems as though August had flown by, we had Charlotte over for a sleepover so her parents could celebrate and have a break for a night. What a joy it was to spend some quality time with that little angel. It was tiring though, she was a doll, listened to what we said and everything but just the constant busyness of a 3 year old is tiring. They don’t stop! I don’t know how Pamela does it every day, she’s a superstar in my books!

Sweet girl

Charlotte turned 3 on the 15th and Lila 1 on the 21st. It’s been such a treat living close to these girls over the past (almost) 2 years. I love having my big sis, my confidant, my friend so close and accessible. What a treasure this time has been.

So this brings me to my first bit of news. A few months ago I called Pamela up and asked her if I could come over, I had something to tell her. She was at the park with some friends and their kids so I waited a few hours and then dropped by her house. Tim had taken the day off work so he took Eden for a drive while I went in.

She had no idea what was up, but she know that it must have been important for me to want to see her so urgently.  That morning, before Tim went to work, we found out that we were…EXPECTING! Yup, that’s right! Baby number 2 will be arriving sometime late February. My due date is the 28th but you never really know, do you?  To be honest it happened a little sooner than WE were planning. But, as we found out with Eden, God’s plan is perfect and he knows what he’s doing. I love reflecting on that afternoon with my big sis, there were tears yes, there were prayers, there were hugs (and Charlotte watched the whole thing unfold and had no idea what was happening). I’m so glad she was the first to know apart from Tim, I needed her support because I didn’t think I could do the whole “2 babies close together thing”, and she delivered. Thank-you Pamela for being there for me, I love you.

VERY pregnant

I made her keep it a secret for almost 3 months, cruel I know. The only other person I told our news to was my dear friend Kim. Oh how I wish I could hop on a plane to Calgary for a visit and drink tea with her. She celebrated this new life with us and I cherish our conversations we have often bi-weekly over the phone.

We decided to wait as long as possible before telling anyone. We wanted to savor that time, the time that we didn’t get with Eden. We had time to talk about it, to process it, to fall in love with the new life that was beginning. What a treasure that time was! We told my family at the reunion and Tim’s family after that but we asked them to keep it a secret for a bit longer. I wanted to wait until I was 12 weeks before announcing it to the world…well Tim couldn’t wait that long and so at the 11 week mark we told our church family. My plan was to then make an official blog announcement but I guess I didn’t communicate that to Tim and he posted it on facebook the next day. I wasn’t too impressed because I know that people who really care about us read our blog regularly and I wanted to honour those people (some don’t have facebook) rather then tell all of the acquaintances on facebook.  Anyway, no big deal, pretty much everyone knows now, except for you beautiful people who don’t have facebook, you’re just finding out NOW!

Anyway, we’re very excited about this new life. We are leaning toward not finding out the sex of the baby this time, why not enjoy the surprise? Hopefully I wont be too curious when the ultrasound comes around!

So that’s our big news, at least part 1 of it. I know, cruel eh? I can’t share with your part 2 yet, and it wont be in the next blog post either. You’ll have to wait a bit for it. I may start giving hints though so stay tuned. Who knows if there will be a part 3? Only God who is full of surprises!

sandy and loving it!

So I encourage you to notice those little things, those unexpected things that happen almost daily, that make you smile. That bring joy to your life, or the lives of others around you. Stop and think about good things that have happened lately and your life will be better for it. Right now I’m cherishing a quiet evening, a baby asleep by 8 and time to blog. I don’t know whether she’s going to sleep well tonight, I can’t really expect that she will considering she’s been up for hours at a time the past few nights, but I will cherish this quiet time now. I could have done SO many things that maybe I SHOULD have done, but I chose to reflect and I feel better for it.

Thank-you Lord for quiet evenings, for peaceful music, and for new life. You are GOOD, your will is PERFECT, and I praise YOU because you are wonderfully knitting life together in my womb, a new life that will fit perfectly into our FAMILY.

A Poll: Blogging Preferences

I’ve been thinking lately about the direction that our blog should go in (this is Tim, by the way).  As it stands now, we tend to post every one to two weeks, and the posts consist of a pretty eclectic mix of topics and lengths.  The blog stats seem to indicate that no matter what we post we’ll get somewhere around 100 hits, but certain posts are clearly more popular than others.

The reasons behind the variance in numbers (over 250 on one new-post day versus less than 80 on others) could be related to a number of factors, including how/when we “advertise” new posts, who’s subscribed (we’ve got a few subscribers, but most hits are direct visits), the nature of the topics, etc.  So this morning I thought, “Why not take a poll to see what kind of topics our readers enjoy most?”  Maybe we’ve been putting too much time and effort into each blog and you guys would like it better if we just shared our everyday thoughts and activities on a more frequent basis.  Maybe you like it just the way it is.  Anyway, here’s your chance to give us some feedback, so feel free to answer the poll honestly and add any comments that come to mind.

Cheers!

Coming to terms…

There are only about 3 weeks left until the med school curriculum begins at Dalhousie… which means time is running out for me to get called off the waitlist.  It’s tough, coming so close and then missing out on the opportunity, especially after all the time and money invested in the preparation/application process, but it’s really what I should have expected.  According to the 2010 CaRMS report on Canadians Studying Abroad, it takes an average of 2.59 applications to get into a Canadian med school, so even if I get in after 2 years I’ll be better-than-average… still, it’s hard not to get your hopes up.  I don’t know if I’m going to apply again this year, since I just don’t have the money to gamble, but I’m torn.  Why does med school have to be made for the already rich?