Elisabeth Steel Reurink

Elisabeth's Story

Elisabeth Steel Reurink

November 15, 1991 - March 5, 2009

The following is a project she completed for school. It is about herself; her life, her hopes and her future. It was called the "Me Project."

In The Beginning God Created Me
Chapter One

It was cold and crisp on March 5, 1991 at 11:00 a.m. when my mom first realized that she was pregnant. She immediately called my father, who was unfortunately away on a business trip in Geralton. The doctors confirmed the news and said that I should be expected on November 7, 1991. But, being the procrastinator that I am, I was not actually born until Friday, November 15, 1991.

It was after seeing her obstetrician and returning home that she went into labor, which lasted for a total of thirty hours, with a one hour delivery - it would be no exaggeration to say that I was not speedy! But at 9:01 a.m. I was finally out. Weighing in at 10 lbs 7oz, and being 21 inches in length I was no tiny baby. My eyes were blue (they eventually turned to brown) and my hair was brown with a reddish tinge. According to my mom my most distinguishing features were my cheeks, along with my large feet and hands. My mom's first reactions were tears of happiness and exclaiming "Oh my God, she looks like my mother!" Sadly, my mom suffered from a broken tailbone courtesy of my delivery, but it was not too serious. My parents brought me home, and my maternal grandparents stayed for the first week to help taking care of me because I was their first grandchild.

As with all children, my beginning years were filled with many firsts. On my second night I slept through the entire night, astounding both my parents who had heard horrible tales of babies who never went to sleep and spent the whole night crying. On December 11, 1991 I smiled for the first time to my mom, and on February 17, 1992 I laughed for the first time to my dad. To celebrate Christmas, December 25, 1992, I walked for the first time all over the living room. Similar to most children my first word was "dadada", which I correctly pronounced on May 13, 1992, but to please my mom I said "mama" on August 11, 1992. After an enormous amount of coaching from my grandma I said my first sentence, "The balloon in the sky", on July 24, 1993, and to this day I have no idea why she would have thought that it was important for me to say or know this at two years of age. My mom performed my first haircut on July 13, 1992 to snip off the straggly pieces on top, and I was not very cooperative because I kept trying to grab the scissors. On October 10, 1993 I clearly said "Elisabeth", but my mom is convinced that I said it with an Italian accent (one of the countries of my family descent). I met all the milestones for a baby, and as was anticipated for me, I was extremely happy.

By the time I had learned how to speak and communicate I was saying many funny, and rather odd, things. For the longest time I referred to my grandparents as "Bunkie". A name I chose for some unknown reason because their first names are in no way similar. Anyway, my grandma made it her duty to correct my mistake. Continually, whenever we came to visit, she would set time aside to help me pronounce their names properly. We would go through the regular drill: "Elisabeth, say grand-ma." I would repeat, "Grand-ma." She would continue, "Elisabeth, say grand-pa." Again I answered, "Grand-pa." Finally she would ask, "Elisabeth, say Grand-ma and grand-pa." And in triumph I would exclaim, "Bunkie and Bunkie." Apparently her lessons were not as successful as she had planned, but I eventually did outgrow using the nickname.

As I was growing up, one of my favorite movies was the Disney classic "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs". But whenever I requested to watch it, instead of referring to it by the traditional name, I called it "Snow White and the Seven Doors". It was a slight misunderstanding on my part, and my parents quickly adapted to my new title for the movie. For some reason I also had a problem with pronouncing "J's" because when I was thirsty I would ask for a "bottle of buice", instead of the correct term "juice". On top of this I did not stop calling myself "the girl" until I was about two and a half years old. As time has passed I have improved and corrected the mispronunciations of my toddler past.

I must have inherited my dry and sometimes not understandable humor from my grandpa. As a small child I would constantly make up my own knock-knock jokes that had absolutely no punch line, and yet I found them hilarious. My parents were very supportive, though, and most of the time they laughed right along with me. Another fun joke for me was swatting "bugs" on our old dog Casey. He was extremely patient, and bore every minute of it, until I discontinued the practice when I was two and a half years old. These jokes brought laughter into my life, and my parents and family cherished every adorable moment of it.

My parents also helped me through the stage when I was having bad dreams at night or nap time. I have been told that I was always afraid of wolves attacking me in my room. Both my parents would do the routine check under the bed and in the closet for me, and then the daily assurance that there were indeed no wolves anywhere near me or my bedroom. This helped me calm down and go to sleep. There was also the reoccurring dream that plagued my sleep. The dream (not quite a nightmare) was always set in our spare bedroom, across the hall from my bedroom. I would open the door of the spare bedroom and a dimly-lit, old wooden room would appear, with a staircase of yellowing wood that was weak, unstable, and falling apart. I would imagine that there was a ferocious monster down there that would hurt and eat me if I went in there and was caught. The monster never caught me in any of my dreams, but for many years I was very cautious when walking past the closed door of the spare bedroom. If I had to guess these dreams were probably caused by feelings of curiosity about what was behind the door and why it was always closed in my sub-conscience mind.

My baptism occurred in Sudbury, Ontario at St. Patrick's Catholic Church. The christening happened on the 27th of September, 1992. I was baptized by Deacon Raymond Lamarche at a beautiful and formal ceremony. My godparents are my Aunt Leslie (Steel), who purchased my christening gown, and John Fiorino. After my baptism at the church, a reception was held at my grandparents' home to celebrate the event. The party lasted from 1:30pm to 4:30pm, and many people came to congratulate me for entering into the family of God. My grandma and grandpa gave me a sterling silver cup and cutlery and my oma and opa gave me a gold chain and cross, which I wore to the church for the baptism. I received many special and sentimental gifts that I still cherish to this day.

My first few years of life were very eventful and special. They formed the basis for the person I have become today. Without these early childhood memories I wouldn't have a strong foundation of love and assurance built mostly by my parents and family, but also by friends, that has supported me, and will continue to support me, for the rest of my life.

School Daze
Chapter Two

From the first year I started school through to my current year in grade nine I have developed a love for learning. This has been encouraged, supported, and fueled by all my teachers and my family. They have guided me through many new experiences and watched as I added a successful conclusion to one chapter of my life: elementary school.

I attended CCH from the well-respected St. Jude Catholic School. I had been there for my entire elementary learning career, and it was a sad good-bye. I have many memories of the trials and tribulations of growing up and finding my role in the school community. But all this stemmed from a single day; the day I walked into a classroom for the very first time.

My kindergarten class was in the morning, and my eyes were like saucers as I walked into the coatroom and absorbed all the new colours, toys, and children. I remember that I cried when I came to the realization that my mom would not be staying with me, I missed her and could not understand why she was abandoning me. Eventually I overcame my sorrow, and decided that crying was of no use (I think the overwhelming amount of toys might have contributed as well). I went and joined the other playmates in my class, and spent the rest of the morning playing with my new friends. But when my mom came to pick me up, I was thrilled to see that she had returned for me. I went home and explained all the fun incidents of my first day of school vividly to her.

School is like a tower. Every grade is a block, and as you complete a grade another block is added to your tower. The more grades you successfully complete the taller your tower becomes. When you eventually finish your tower, in other words stop going to school, it needs to be structurally strong and reliable, therefore it is a usable and functional tool for your future. If your tower is only half built, it has only served half its purpose, thus the person has only become a fraction of what they were meant to be. If you finish your entire education, your personal tower will be tall enough, sturdy enough, and offer enough support for you to fill your full potential, given to you by God when you were born.
When I was in the primary grades of school, teachers were still using the old curriculum, where students were taught to learn at their own pace and enjoy learning. This was extremely beneficial for me because without a love of learning there is no force pushing you for more information, and giving you a thirst for understanding. This tool aided me in using my own skills to discover the answers and wanting to learn as much as I possibly could; in other words it helped me to help myself become my best.

In Grade five I had an amazing teacher: Mr. Polci. He made the difference in my education best he helped me realize my talents. He was gifted with the ability of being able to bring out the best in people. It was in his class that I achieved my first straight A report card and award: "Living Faith", and since then there has been no looking back. Every year, I have worked my hardest to continue to receive straight A's or above 80% and be awarded an honour at the end of the school year at the closing assembly. In Grade six my teacher, Mr. Quenneville, encouraged my academic performance and challenged me to extend myself. He taught me to not just accept what I am given, but to go beyond; to work above what I was expected to do. He rewarded my efforts by choosing me to be the recipient for the "Cathy Ann Hutchinson" award, a special award given out only in Grade six in honour of a previous student who had died. While I was focusing on my academics, I also participated in public speaking coached at the school by my mom. During Grade five I won first place for my speech entitled "Double Trouble" about my twin sisters for the city of London, and in Grade six I delivered an excellent speech about media violence, but did not win the competition. It was at this time that a new principal came to our school, Ms. DeCaluwe. She has been a friend and a helping hand for me. She looked for opportunities for me to be able to further develop my talents to reach my full potential. She was kind and caring, she gave me guidance and made school and enjoyable place to be every day.

The intermediate grades were basically times to gather information and practice my skills. I developed my writing, reading, and mathematical understanding and analytical abilities. Mrs. Clifford was the perfect teacher for me throughout these two grades. She challenged me, and did not allow me to be content with "all I needed to do to get an A". She made me work for my marks and forced me to work at a level that was above where I was comfortable. She taught me to reach for the stars. In both Grade seven and Grade eight I achieved the "Honour roll", and in Grade seven I was chosen for the "Academic Proficiency" award. In Grade eight I was chosen by all the teachers at the school as the best candidate for the Board wide "Spirit is Alive" award, an award given to a student portraying all the values of the Catholic Church and an overall well-rounded pupil. At the Graduation ceremony I was awarded the "French" award and the "Female Academic Proficiency" award. The comments from both of the teachers were touching and meaningful, and proved to me that all my hard work had not gone unnoticed. Another big event occurred in Grade eight: the year end trip to Ottawa. It was a fun and memorable experience. Being able to spend three days away from school with just your friends was the ultimate reward for nine years well-spent at our elementary school. It was hard to have to say good-bye and leave such a great and important childhood memory behind as we journeyed ahead into the future.

Grade nine has been a year of changes. It has meant becoming accustomed to a new form of teaching, a new schedule, new friends, and many new challenges, both socially and academically. The whole experience is too new and short to be able to accurately quantify and evaluate, yet.

Throughout school there has not only been the stress of finishing your schoolwork, but there were also many different sports teams and activities to fill up your extra time. I participated in many of these offered teams and activities. From Grade three through to Grade nine I have been a member of the Cross-Country team, running in many different races. It was an eye-opener for me, shifting from the elementary practices to the high school practices, but I survived. In Grade eight I finally made the Intermediate Basketball team. I was proud of myself for accomplishing a goal I had been working at for many consecutive years. In Grades five (triathlon), six (shot put), and eight (high jump) I was on the Track and Field team, I could not participate in Grade seven because I unfortunately broke my ankle in two spots and was in a cast for the whole season. From grade five through to Grade eight I have made the cut for the Gymnastics team, and have been placed in different teams of four each year to develop and perform an original routine to be judged and ranked at a competition. This year I decided to try something new, and joined the Wrestling team. It has been enjoyable and fun so far. The calmer side of my extracurricular events is the activities I incorporate into my lifestyle on a regular basis. In Grade seven (class representative) and eight (prime minister) I ran for and was elected onto the Student Parliament, a stressful and burdensome, but memorable and joyful job. From Grade one to Grade six I was in the Choir, both Christmas and Spring, lead by the music teacher at our school. A tradition at the school, from Grade one right through to Grade eight was participation in the annual Dance Fest at Carling Heights. We hired an instructor to come into the school and teach all the classes dances during gym class. Other jobs I performed around the school to help out the teachers were: lunch monitoring in Grade six for my sisters' Grade two class, office helping while I was in Grade five to Grade seven, and being a PA announcer for my two intermediate years.

The one person who is always there for me through thick and thin, and the person who is the most influential and gives me the absolute best encouragement is my mom. She is my guiding light. Through her example I have flourished and been able to achieve unattainable heights. I owe all my success to my mom because she was the one who made sure that all my successes were possible. She gave me everything and taught me not only to fly…but to soar!

Things I Love To Do
Chapter Three

Life is never slow. There is always something to do or somewhere to be. I enjoy having a somewhat busy schedule; it keeps me from becoming lazy. I feel in tune and, if nothing, else it gives me something to complain about to my friends. But, in keeping busy I have very definite ideas about what I find enjoyable.

My hobbies are wide and diverse. They change with the weather and shift with my moods. In the winter I enjoy writing fantasy stories and reading. During the cold months it seems more relaxing to be inside, comfortably curled on the sofa, with a good book in your hands, and the snow falling gently outside the window. Travel is also limited by the snow, therefore books allow me to travel anywhere without leaving the comfort of my home. Books expand your mind and pose perplexing thoughts and views that are nice to mull over in the dreary and cold winter atmosphere. Writing is a source of ventilation. All the thoughts and actions that have built up inside of you because the snow is keeping you cooped up inside can be released and addressed through writing. It is an expression of my inner soul and moods at the time.
In the summer we go out to our cottage up north, therefore the hobbies I enjoy change from the ones I like in London because the landscape and set-up is different. When I am bored I go to our swing. It gives me something to do because I am focusing on getting as high up as possible or helps me relax because I can think and imagine as I sit swinging. The north has a rocky landscape, even the lakes are filled with huge pieces of rock. Along our shore there is a path of rocks that lead to a small island, I walk across these rocks to escape from the work my parents would request that I do. This challenges my balance and agility because if I fall into the water my clothes would be completely soaked, and when I reach the island it gives me time to reflect and be alone. I also enjoy reading in the summer, but I usually don't read as much comparatively to the winter because in the summer I have time to do my other hobbies that I could not do in London.

Some of my hobbies are neutral and do not change with the weather and the landscape. All year round I enjoy listening to music. Every night I play a CD as I fall asleep because I am inspired by the singer's message. It gives a calming and relaxing end to the day, and makes some of my stresses and worries fade away as I drift into sleep. The music creates a time when I can be at peace and just reflect on the meaning of the words. The artists I commonly listen to are Greenday, Kelly Clarkson, Avril Lavigne, Alexz Johnson, and Enya. As a form of entertainment, I love going to the theatre to see live acting. Watching the actors is fascinating and intriguing; I enjoy being drawn into the story and feeling all the scenes along with the characters. A play also seems much more real because you can see the people in front of you verses a video where it is mostly digitally altered and created and the actors are behind a camera. Another hobby I find amusing is shopping. I find shopping fun, whether it is for me or a gift for a member of my family or friend. I like to think of all the cool things I could buy with my money, and enjoy looking at all the new items they have out. Although I enjoy it, my shopping is limited because throughout school there is not a lot of spare time to spend shopping all the time and I want to do all my hobbies not just this one.

I would enjoy being able to do all my favourite activities for the whole year, but some of them require certain weather circumstances to be feasible. In the summer and spring I swim. When you are swimming you can be graceful and relaxed, but at the same time you are building endurance and strength. It is also fun to push people into the water off the floating raft; it is a chance to prove who is stronger and faster. Out at our cottage, where there is no hydro, we have to wash by having a sauna. This means we shampoo and soap up in the warm sauna, and after that we have to jump into the lake to wash it all off - this can be a not so pleasant experience if you are having an unusually cold summer. Swimming lessons in the spring help to develop proper form, and help me become a stronger and faster swimmer. Another sport I enjoy in the water during the summer is waterskiing. It was not until this past summer that I tried waterskiing and got up. It is a lot of fun to be zooming around behind the boat; it creates a feeling of exhilaration and thrill. When I am not in the water, I am on the water. My sisters and I go canoeing almost daily in the summer months. It allows you a time to be together, see the scenery, use your energy, and imagine by yourself. The canoe is easy to maneuver into tight, shallow spots and therefore we use it to inspect the shores on either sides of the two bays that surround our cottage on the peninsula. Every year we go in the canoe and collect deserted beaver sticks to later use as marshmallow roasting sticks or in our tree fort, and we visit all the larger uninhabited islands to inspect them again and collect blueberries. Since my sisters and I cannot use the big motored boats because we don't have our licenses yet, we treat the canoe as our own sort of boat. It is the means of getting across the water and doing tasks on the water. With all the wilderness surrounding our cottage I am constantly hiking and exploring new areas of the forest. It is fun to test my abilities for sense of direction, and find new secluded and untouched areas. It makes me feel at peace with the natural world.

In the winter, we come up to our cottage again for the March Break, but the water is completely frozen. Some years the ice has been almost three feet thick, and we were able to drive out onto the ice, and park our truck right in front of the cottage. It was a little nerve wracking, but the truck did not fall through the ice. While we are there my sisters and I, with some help from our dad, clear a smooth strip of ice to use as a skating rink. This is how my sisters learned how to skate. Their skating abilities have improved and we are now able to play games of tag and octopus on our skating rink. We spend hours daily on the skating rink, and it is a bucket of laughs to see some of the tumbles that occur on the ice.

In the fall, winter, and spring I dance. I study classical ballet at Swan Studios, and I have been doing so for about the last ten to eleven years. Dance is relaxing and a way of expressing your inner feelings through movement. It is hard work because you have to engage and use all your muscles accurately, and it is hard to be thinking about everything all at once. This is why we have to practice really hard and thoroughly because to become good at ballet moving your body in the correct way has to become a habit. Our teacher always tells us: "Practice makes permanent". Ballet is about understanding how your body functions, and applying that to your dance because ballet is organic in nature. It was created to draw attention to the appealing movements of the body.

I have verbal intelligence and physical intelligence, two talents that are portrayed through my hobbies and favourite activities. Dance is the perfect physical activity to exercise my physical intelligence. It requires an understanding of the body, an ability to make the body do what I want it to do, and being able to express myself through movement. The other activities I participate in reinforce my physical intelligence; they require an ability to manipulate the movements of the body to achieve the desired affect. In swimming, canoeing, waterskiing, hiking, and skating I have to incorporate the use of endurance, strength, poise, co-ordination, and grace. I also follow this intelligence by wanting to be active and constantly doing and trying new activities to challenge my physical self.

Most of my hobbies are based on my verbal intelligence. My joy of writing, reading, and public speaking (mentioned in chapter two) help me to learn. I develop my understanding and analysis by partaking in hobbies that require a comprehension of words and writing devices. I enjoy interesting discussions, well-written books, and using my writing skills; common characteristics of a person with verbal intelligence. As a person with verbal intelligence I learn more information by studying language arts. Therefore I can apply what I remember from experiences in books, writing, and speaking to my daily life.

I try to fill my time with things that I love to do. The activities that I enjoy are based on my lifestyle and the time available to do all the activities. My hobbies and activities allow me breaks to exercise my mental and physical body, and help to develop all my areas of learning. They give me time to relax, imagine, pretend, evaluate, think, develop, mature, and become who I am meant to be.

The Happiest Day of My Life
Chapter Four

The most joyous day of my life is celebrated every year, but the spirit of the holiday is in my heart for over a month. At Christmas time, I feel a sense of love, welcoming, and immense happiness that is not present at any other time of the year. It is a time for family, singing, being together, giving, and celebrating my faith.

My parents have always made Christmas a special and wonderful time. From decorating the whole house to continuously playing Christmas carols, our family shares many traditions. Without these traditions, Christmas would not be the same memorable occasion for me.

On the weekend closest to December 1st, we begin our decorating by going to a coniferous tree orchard. At the orchard we search for the biggest, fattest, and fullest tree we can find. Once the tree is decided upon, my father cuts it down, and we bring it back to our house. The Christmas tree is a signal to commence the decorating of the house.

To start decorating, my dad and I transport about fifteen boxes full of Christmas decorations from the basement to our family room. From there, my mom removes all the decorations and places them on any unoccupied surfaces. With that the two-day long process begins.

By the time we are finished, and able to stand back and admire our work we have a charming, well lit, and festive room. Along all four walls my dad has strung flashing Christmas lights. From the lights, my sisters and I have strategically hung most of our dangling decorations, both homemade and bought. We have quite a collection of ornaments by now because every year we increase the amount by making more; whether they are bulbs, wooden, porcelain, or completely self designed. Along the mantles my mom has expertly coordinated an arrangement of beads and cedar garland. All the tables are rearranged to boast glittery and festive decorations. The decorations add a personal touch to the overall effect of the room.

In the corner stands the monumental Christmas tree decorated to perfection with an assortment of beads, lights, hanging decorations, and the finishing touch: the star. The hanging decorations consist of golden fruit; green, red, and gold bulbs; glass icicles; mini Santas; glass bulbs; and sentimental ornaments. Strung all around the tree are beads and lights (we can't use popcorn because the cat and dog would try to eat it). Underneath it all is the plain red tree skirt.

The living room is decorated similarly to the family room, minus the tree. In the hall my mom has weaved a garland between the banisters of the stair rail. And it would not be complete without the Rudolph basket on the table to hold the mail.

After all the commotion of decorating downstairs, I retreat to my bedroom. I remove my small box of Christmas decorations from my closet, and begin to transform my room. I use red and green chains and Christmas figures to create a festive mood in my space.

My favourite part leading up to Christmas are the Christmas carols played on the radio. They add to the Christmas atmosphere by speaking about the true message and meaning of Christmas: the birth of Jesus and giving to and caring for others.

At Christmas time people's moods seem to change. They are more relaxed and ready for a break, so the month of December is like a time to wind down to welcome the coming of Christ. People are in a better and more festive state during this month because the aspect of giving, and also receiving, is fun and generates much anticipation. Christmas is a time for family, a time to spend together, and a time to cherish the special moments celebrated by a family. Christmas is a time of celebration!

Almost every Christmas my grandparents come down to London from Sudbury to join us in our Christmas celebrations. Some years my Aunt Leslie (also my godmother) comes down, as well, with her husband, Uncle Dan, my cousin, Victoria, and my new born cousin, Kieran. The house is full to the rafters with people, but I believe in the more the merrier. Victoria, who is a year younger than me, stays in my bedroom on an air mattress and we spend many hours when we are supposed to be sleeping in lively discussions. I enjoy having her here with me to celebrate Christmas time and to be together. My baby cousin celebrated his first Christmas this year, and he was a delight. He is so adorable and really brought more happiness to the Christmas season. He is at the stage where he is beginning to make words, so if you make a weird noise he will repeat it back to you - this is how he communicates so far. He is also just starting to stand and sit up, so I spent countless hours watching over him as he rolled all over the floor. He was able to bring a little more laughter to everyone.

My grandparents are very special to me, especially at Christmas. Christmas just wouldn't be Christmas without them. My grandma always bakes hundreds of Italian treats for us to enjoy for a snack, such as biscotti, pizzella, and tradelliscullilli. My grandpa brings the jokes and laughter. He always has some funny and witty comment to add to what someone has said to make his grandchildren laugh. Both of them have been with us for every single Christmas since we were born, and I would wish it no other way. My family is very important to me, and my grandparents add flavour and merriment to the holidays.

Many years ago my mom found a site, NORAD, that tracked the travels of Santa Claus across the world. When you enter the website you can click on certain marked areas to see footage of Santa and the reindeer as they make their journey past certain national landmarks, like the pyramids in Egypt, the leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy, and the Taj Mahal in India. This has become a family tradition, to check Santa's progress. Another new tradition inspired by the Internet, is going to a site that has Santa ratings. You type in your name, and the site will tell you how Santa has marked you on his "Naughty and Nice List" and his comments. We type in the name of everyone in our family, including the pets, to see how well-behaved they have been this year, even when they thought that no one was watching. Near Christmas Eve we show everyone, and we all laugh about the different and unique remarks made about each person.

On Christmas Eve, right before we are going to bed, my sisters and I lay out a plate of homemade cookies (I make chocolate chip and oatmeal cookies every year at Christmas), carrots, and a glass of scotch because we figure that Santa has had enough milk for one night. Some years we also make reindeer food, a mixture of sparkly, fake snow, sugar, oats, and nuts or berries. On Christmas Eve we sprinkle the reindeer food on the front lawn for the reindeer to snack on while they wait for Santa to deliver the presents.

We have also created many traditions for Christmas Eve. My Uncle Greg and his family always join us on Christmas Eve to celebrate the joyous time. We have spaghetti with meatballs for dinner because of my grandpa. When my grandma and grandpa just married, they spent Christmas Eve dinner at Nana's (my great grandma), and the Italian tradition was to have no meat on Christmas Eve. Therefore she made pasta with an anchovy and squid sauce, after a few years of choking it down my grandpa eventually confessed that he could not stand the stuff. Nana was very understanding, and made him his own special spaghetti with tomato sauce and little meatballs. When my grandparents had kids, they insisted upon eating what their dad eating, instead of the seafood sauce. My grandma realized that it was pointless to try and force this tradition upon them; therefore, ever since on Christmas Eve we have spaghetti with a tomato sauce and meatballs. After dinner, we open the gifts from Uncle Greg and his children open the gifts from my aunt, my grandparents, and us because we do not usually see each other on Christmas day. Once my uncle's family has returned home, grandma gives us our Christmas Eve presents, nightgowns, to wear that night. It has become a tradition that our Christmas Eve gift is new nightgowns. To get our stockings ready we find some clementines to put at the toe of the stocking for shape. When we are satisfied with all the preparations we get ready for bed and the next day to follow.
For the last couple of years my sisters and I have started the tradition of making some of our presents, instead of buying gifts or to add to gifts. This year I wrote a story for my family, and created a treasure hunt for my sisters to find it hidden somewhere in the house. Other years I have made beautiful, personalized cards, and one year I even started about two months beforehand making each member of my family, including the pets, gifts, such as puppets, decorations, a song book, and toys. To wrap the gifts I even made my own Christmas bags - I was very busy that year.

Giving the gifts is very special and sacred at our house. Each gift was given a lot of thought about what each person would like and enjoy. To honour this event my parents insist that my sisters and I always wait till they are downstairs and ready. This way, gift opening is a family event, and not just about getting gifts. For gifts, my mom really prefers that we don't get money or gift certificates because she would rather have someone buy us a gift that we will remember and value for the rest of our lives, instead of a gift that we could waste away on something frivolous that we will no longer be using in a year's time. For gifts my family doesn't really get into the whole Christmas list idea. My mom, instead, pays careful attention to what we comment on, the items we are looking at in stores, and what our interests are. Based on this information she chooses gifts to match the individual personality of me and both my sisters.

Christmas is not just an event in our family; it is a month for being together and rejoicing in the coming of the Lord. It is a time to think about others and the importance of being kind and compassionate. Christmas is a time when you can relax, and just look forward to celebrating the season with those you love. It is a time to realize that there is more to life than work and pressure. Christmas unites people, it brings back memories of childhood, and it praises the goodness of love.

I Wonder What I'll Do
Chapter Five

I have already planned my course selections for the rest of high school based on what I want t do in the future. I have chosen certain courses instead of others based on my interests and based on what the courses offer my future. I have chosen mostly academic courses, but I do have the odd fun course to meet the graduation expectations.

I have chosen to enter into the International Baccalaureate (Pre-IB in Grades nine and ten) to improve my chances of being accepted at any university of my choice - anywhere around the world. By being in this prestigious program many different doors are open to me when I graduate. I can chose to stay near home or go to any country in the world if my marks are high enough. This program will also teach me valuable learning skills for the rest of my life. It will teach me to think, instead of being spoon fed the answers and only having to memorize. I will be given the tools and then forced to find the answers myself, a skill that will aid me in all my future endeavors.

My mom and our vet are good friends, and she told my mom that in Grade ten, if I was interested, I could work for her at Western Animal Clinic. She pays above minimal wage, and her hours are user friendly for a student in high school. I will be able to take most of the summer off because we are normally not in London, and around exam time she allows time off to study for tests. She is understanding and wants it to be a positive experience. She also told my mom that she could write a letter of recommendation to Guelph University when I was applying, and that only one person she ever had as an employee decided not to continue on to Guelph. It sounds like the perfect opportunity for me.

Once I graduate from high school I will apply for Western University. If I am accepted, the university is in a good location because I live close enough that I will not have to take up a residence, and I will not have to drive a long way to get to school. The university is also one of the best in the country, so I am guaranteed a good education.

Once I have obtained my degree from Western, I will apply for Guelph University. I am told by my mom that it is harder to get into veterinary college than teachers college or medical school, due to the fact that it is the only veterinary college in the province of Ontario. At Guelph I will chose courses that will allow me to become a vet for domestic animals, such as dogs, cats, hamsters, and birds. It will be difficult because unlike a doctor that only has to understand the human body at all stages, a vet has to understand many different species at all stages of development. Therefore there is more information that is required in order to be successful. I plan to work extremely hard there to get my degree. With this degree I will be able to practice animal medicine.

Once I have successfully graduated from Guelph with my veterinary degree I plan on setting up my own practice in Sudbury, Ontario. It is the city that my mom was born and raised in, and I feel more at home there than I do in London. I also prefer the northern landscape and scenery to the urban view in London. Sudbury is also different from London because it is not as big. Thus I hope to begin a business that will flourish because there are very few of the same type of business in the city, and I think a veterinary clinic would fit this description.

Once my vet clinic has been established, and I have enough of my own money I want to buy some farmland that does not have a building on it. I will design my own house and hire a contractor to build it. It will be a big house, but do not know what the layout is going to be, yet. I do plan on having two large rooms to be the nurseries and then bedrooms. They will need to each have a large window and be close to my bedroom. There will be a special room built that will be designated for the pets, mainly the dogs. They will be filled with toys and have their crates. It will be their little sanctuary and I can put them there when I am hosting a large party. I plan on having a wrap-around porch that will be perfect for children to play and run around on. My house will also need to have lots of windows, and they will have to be a decent size. I will request that a barn is also constructed to be a shelter for any farm animals that I purchase.

I plan on having horses, hence the reason I decided to buy farmland. They will have lots of room for recreation and running around. They will also make good family pets because my children will be able to ride them when they are old enough. I want to have a cat, but I am not sure what breed. I like tabbies, Persians, and cats with bright blue Siamese eyes. I also want to have two, good family dogs, either a Golden Retriever or a Labrador Retriever. I want a dog that enjoys and is gentle with kids, that is good outdoors, that is smart, and that is trainable and obedient. All the pets will have to be good with people, especially children, because they are intended to be family pets.

I want to have two children. I would like to have one girl, but gender does not really matter to me. I would hope that they are healthy, strong, not premature, and blessed with many different talents. I would try to give them the best childhood I could, and they would grow-up with animals constantly in their presence.

To help finance all my goals I would take up writing on the side. I love reading, and it has helped me a lot to become a skilled writer. If I became a best selling author than I would be able to help pay for the expensive life I want to live. With the extra money I could also donate to charities and help the community a bit.

My parents currently own a cottage on Lake Penage. When they get older they will probably let my sisters and I inherit the cottage, the same way my grandparents did. Since neither of my sisters are considering living in the northern regions, most of the responsibility for caring for the cottage will probably fall to me. I look forward to this because I love being out at the cottage. It will be a pleasure.

In order to have a life out at the cottage I will need a way of getting there because it is only water accessible. I plan on buying a large (about 200 horsepower) boat, a smaller (about 70 horsepower) boat, and a fishing boat (about 20 horsepower). All three of these boats would be stored in a newly repaired boat house. I would also buy a canoe with a flatter bottom with a ridge along it underwater to make it easier for children to steer and balance. I would also want to get a paddleboat because they offer a source of exercise and are a lot of fun to put around in. In the winter when the ice is frozen, I will have a snowmobile to drive across the ice. I will also buy a toboggan to attach to the back of the snowmobile to help me transport my luggage to the cottage. Lastly, to drive around my vehicle of choice is a Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV). Currently we have a white one with a grey interior, and I would want the same set-up but with a different exterior colour like silver or gold.

There was a family farm that we had when my grandpa's mom was still living, but she became older and we were forced to sell the farm for enough money for her to get a new home and proper healthcare. To this day, my whole family has regretted the decision. It was a gorgeous farm. The location was picturesque with a river running down one side with a bridge and land as fields as far as the eye could see. It was enchanting. My sister and I have discussed possibly trying to buy back the farm when we are older. We agreed that she would live there, but I would be welcome to visit. It would be expensive, but it would make my mom happy to know that it was in our possession again because the farm was always her favourite place in the whole world.

There are still some blank spots in my plan for the future, and areas that I have left undecided. Some choices I have decided it would be best to wait and see how my life plays out. I do not know if I will accomplish all my dreams, but right now all I know is that I am aiming and working towards them.

I'd Like To Change The World
Chapter Six

Society and the world are always in need of change or fixing because as soon as we fix one problem another one arises. Problems will never end, they are a part of life, but we do affect the amount of problems in the world. Some of our problems were easily avoidable and still easy to fix, if everyone is willing to change for the better, such as war. Some problems were impossible to stop and we are stilling trying to deal with the results, such as natural disasters. With every problem people have the ability and the capacity to be compassionate and reach out to help their neighbour, even if their neighbour is half-way around the world.

In our world today we are not limited to only problems with other humans; there are many problems caused by people to our most basic, yet crucial, need: earth. Despite the efforts of many naturalists, humans continue to pollute, destroy, and harm Mother Earth. I have major concerns about global warming, clean water, waste of non-reusable resources, and the air. Most of these problems are interwoven; therefore if we resolve the problem at the base of the situation we will actually fix most of our problems. Three of my worries could be improved if humans stopped polluting: our air and water would be cleaner and healthier causing global warming to stop. Global warming is caused because of the rising average temperature of the earth because we are destroying our atmosphere and ozone layer that shield us from most of the harmful rays from the sun. The destruction of the ozone layer is a result of reckless pollution and years of disregard for what we were pumping into our air. This frightens me because I don't know how we can adapt if our air and water become so polluted that we cannot breath or drink them. What other sources do we have that humans can live successfully off of? So far the answer is nothing - we need air and water to survive. God created humans and animals to be dependent upon the natural world he also created for us, and anticipated that we would not abuse such a precious gift. But a large majority of humans have become selfish. We have begun to think of cars, factories, and electricity as basic needs, when in reality they are not; we have simply developed an attachment to them. Our ancestors survived for thousands of years without these possessions, and they were still happy and content. Some scientists are working hard to create new machines that are naturally friendly, but because of our economy that are not being accepted by the general community. So humans have made the deliberate decision to ignore all attempts at becoming a more nature conscience world. This causes great stress for me as a generation of the future because if parents who adapted to this new technology cannot abandon it, then how are children who have been exposed to it for their whole life supposed to make the transition to a healthier world?

My suggestions for changing these natural problems are to reduce pollution, reduce waste, and accept the changes that we are trying to perform to make our world cleaner. Every person can do this by being responsible for their share of work. The changes we need to make do not need to be drastic; we can start off by taking small steps. Following the "reduce, reuse, and recycle" model is an easy change. When you are at the grocery store buy plastic containers for lunches instead of plastic bags, when you are buying an item buy the one with the least amount of packaging, or when you walk out of a room turn the light off so you are not wasting electricity on an empty space.

I think the world would be a better place if countries discontinued going to war. War, fought for any reason, has only one intent: to kill. Maybe land and resources can be conquered, maybe money can awarded, maybe a god could be honoured, but every war only succeeds in one area in the big scheme of things: ending the lives of other human beings. God does not support war; God does not support anything that weakens love between humans. War destroys love. War is a desperate attempt to accomplish a task that becomes meaningless when you look at the amount of lives that were shattered. War is a cowardly act of impatience that occurs when a leader had abandoned any hopes of mutual agreement and peace. War is a step in the wrong direction if we are striving for a just society. Being just means doing what is right, legally and in the eyes of God. If we are being just than war would never happen because war destroys balance, and justice strives for an equilibrium. War is wrong in the eyes of God because it disobeys the fifth commandment and it disagrees with the second greatest commandment given to us by Jesus: Love your neighbour as I have loved you. There is one simple solution to ending war; stop. All leaders have to do is make a decision not to enter into a war with any other leader or country, instead they can settle their arguments justly by talking, being fair and sensible, and doing the most loving thing.

Poverty is also a rising problem in our world. The amount of people that have to do with nothing because richer people want more than they need is unjust. It is not fair that people who have enough money that they could donate it to people with less instead chose to waste it on frivolous things or hoard it, leaving those that are poor with less than what they simply need to survive. It is disgusting to know that our economy is more concerned with making big businesses richer than making sure that the poor have enough to survive. Our world has succumbed to survival of the richest. If you have endless amounts of money then you will be fine, but if you are unfortunate enough to not have enough money you will be dumped by the wayside and forgotten about. It is heart breaking to be aware of poverty in your own city, where people are being denied healthcare when they are clearly dying and not allowed to have jobs because they were unable to get a diploma because of their life circumstances. This is horrible! The only thing that separates us from their situation is money. Our families were lucky enough to be blessed with great jobs and ways of paying the bills. We are all human beings and we all have the same type of genetic make-up, the same type of feelings, the same intelligence levels, the only thing that separates us is paper with ink printed in a specific pattern on it. To solve the problem of poverty I suggest that people who are well-off donate cash to charities that help support those who are poor, speak out to the community about the importance of "opening your hand to the poor and needy neighbour in your land" (Deuteronomy 15.11), and being aware that the world is not fair to every person and that if you can wake up in the morning and your only stress is what will I wear to school than you are very fortunate.

Living in a just society means creating balance in the world. It requires a knowledge of the fact that what you do at any moment of the day affects the equilibrium of the world. If we are being just we will protect the balance created by God, and follow all the laws God has wisely given to us. To become just we must replace our prejudice with compassion and engage in the process of conversion. From our discomfort we develop our ability to be just and the promise of eternal happiness from God gives us the power and strength to become more just. To obtain justice and peace in our society we must satisfy the basic needs of every person.

One person can change the world by giving themselves freely to the call of God. When they decide that God's plan is more important and wiser than their own, they have made a pledge to change the world. Their act does not matter as long as they are acting out of love for everyone and everything because every act, no matter how big or small, influences and affects the whole world. On a larger scale a person can change the world by uniting a group of people who believe in doing as God commands: love your neighbour. When love is present the act cannot be evil, selfish, or unjust. A person can begin to change the world by changing themselves. When they find it inside themselves to ignore prejudice and become compassionate they are forming a just and fair attitude.

God asks us to see the things that all human beings have in common. He intends for us to love unconditionally and with no borders or boundaries. He wants us to do what is morally correct and be people of fairness and compassion. He wants us to follow his example and strive to fulfill the destiny he planned for us when he first created man. God wants us to love Him, our neighbours, and ourselves.

A quote that I first heard in elementary school is:

Joy is found in putting:
Jesus first
Others second
Yourself last.


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