Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Thing-Osis Resurfaced

Today I was trimming down a picture to fit into a frame. It was approximately one quarter of an inch wide. It had nothing of significance on it because I, like most sane people, made sure the people in the picture were not cut off. I then picked the scraps up to throw in the garbage.

And my daughter's thing-osis reared its ugly head. She wanted to keep it. She could see no reason why it should go in the garbage can. When asked why, she said that "she hated to see anything go in the garbage".

My usual compassionate self told her it was too bad. She wasn't keeping it, so she may as well kiss it goodbye (well....I didn't exactly say it that harshly, but I certainly thought it).

At supper I told her comrade about it. Again, rare compassion surfaced when he asked his beloved why she wanted to keep it. She again relayed that "she didn't like to see anything put in the garbage", to which he kindly told her that "because this thing didn't have feelings, it would have to go in the garbage, but that we would be happy to let her cut some trim any time she desired to use it for some art work".

Hmm. I admit that I never thought of that. In my defense, I am compassionate in about 80 percent of the situations (to his 20 percent), but because of my particular hatred of STUFF, I am somewhat lacking in this area.

So, comrade, beloved and barracuda were all content.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas and Other Stuff

Here is my son, posing as Pajama Sam (without the cape - I think he'd strangle himself if I actually tied it around his neck, which is why we haven't made him one yet). Daddy made him the mask (which he calls darkness ??), and he had his Batman lunch bag and his flashlight (to scare away darkness) as props. He is totally content.

And here is my girl. She loves helping by regularly sweeping my floors, washing and/or drying my dishes (I have never had a dishwasher), dusts my walls (imagine that? - she actually asks to do this), puts away my groceries, and generally anything that she can find to make my life easier. She has been like this since she was three, and only rarely is too absorbed in something else to help. I absolutely love this about her and hope she never changes.

On to other stuff......We had two very nice days. We spent Christmas Eve with my entire family (I cannot remember the last time we were all together, my dad, his wife, my grandma, my mom, and all of us siblings and families - WOW!) at Lana and Will's. The food was great. There were games, laughter and generally a great day.

Hannah had a blast playing games. She even played foosball and was just as good as some of the adults. She also played crockinole, checkers and Skip-Bo. Seth just basked in plenty of attention from his older, beautiful female cousins and was content.

Today we slept late. Very late. Like 9:00 (ahhhh, for the days when noon was late). It would have been later if I had my way, but Seth decided he couldn't just cuddle me. He had to put his cheeks right on top of mine and lay that way, making it kind of impossible to sleep any longer. Dave and I were of the same mindset that a big breakfast was in order, so invited my mom to come over for brunch.

After the kids had a much needed rest after the late nights, my girl and I played Skip-Bo and Uno in the late afternoon. I am very impressed with her ability to play games. She holds her own and plays just as well as the adults I know (and even better than some). I am looking forward to the day when Seth can play because Dave and I will partner up with our kids and have games nights. Dave and I very much enjoy games as well. While playing these games, Hannah spouted off a few facts (unverified by myself) about the solar system. She woke up this morning with a sudden interest to look at the planets on line and as a result, I discovered that, according to her, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn are the three most dangerous planets to live on. Mars has the most volcanoes, Jupiter has ammonia (although at first she called it pneumonia), and Saturn has storms. Interesting huh? True or not, I really don't know, but I love her inquisitive nature. I was nothing like that when I was six. Which cartoons were on on Saturday morning was about as inquisitive as I got.

After supper, we went for a drive to see the lights and ended up at my grandmas. Christmas day can be very lonely if you're all alone, so we wanted to make sure to have a visit with that grand lady.

And finally, we ended with the usual bedtime routine of a snack, brushing the teeth, and story, which was undertaken by daddy as follows:

With a flashlight under the blanket, to the delight of the kids. Dave is very game when it comes to these kinds of things.

And that ends our wonderful two days. Maybe tomorrow I'll actually get some work done, but this extra rest and time with family has been much needed. Goodnight.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Foster Care System

Today is my last day of driving bus until the new year and I'm finding that I desperately need the break. I am worn out physically, I've been sick off and on for a couple of months (right now my ears have been plugged for EIGHT days and I'm sick of everything sounding muffled), and I'm also worn out emotionally.

As I've said before, I believe I'm where I should be, but it doesn't comes without a cost. I'm emotionally worn out because I've seen so many troubling situations. I suspect that four of the kids I pick up from the same family are in a desperate straits. I know that dad is not in the picture. They miss more school that any of the other kids - on BOTH bus routes. The older two, a boy and a girl in grades six and eight, stayed home this week "to stop the person at the door from getting any money", according to the youngest. As I said, I'm troubled.

This morning I found out that Chase, the boy I had to expel from the bus for one week, is no longer at that foster home and no longer at my school. It came as a surprise when the other five got on the bus this morning without him, and when I asked if he was coming, they said, nonchalantly, that "Chase moved last night to another foster home and is going to a different school". When I asked where he moved or what school he was going to, NONE of the other kids knew. And again, I was troubled. That Chase could move out without anyone caring is heartwrenching.

I realize that for self-preservation sake, these kids have to disconnect. And that is the biggest problem with the foster care system, in my opinion. The kids are moved around from home to home and have learned to cope the only way they know how, by shutting down emotionally. And this cripples them as adults.

I know there is no simple answer for this. There are far too many kids in need of care and far too few people who care. I believe there are some excellent foster parents, but the vast majority are not doing it for the right reasons.

The woman who hired me to drive bus is a foster parent. She told me her story a couple of months ago, and the two of us sat in her office and cried. She said that she was given charge over an autistic boy (I think he was 9 or 10) who was taken away from his parents because he ate, slept and went to the bathroom in front of the TV in the living room. He only ate junk food and because of this, he was 50 pounds overweight and severely malnourished. The parents had no clue how to deal with this child and the child's health was in danger.

Within one week she had him going to the bathroom IN the bathroom. Within six months, after completely changing his diet and going on daily walks, he had lost ALL of his excess weight. Needless to say, he still lives with her today as a teenager and the parents have never been able to get him back. She took on a second foster child in a similar situation with similar results, and he is living with her as well. She is so successful as a foster parent in helping troubled children, that the province is buying her a duplex, she and her family are living on one side, and the most severely troubled, suicidal kids are living on the other side with round-the-clock supervision. She would be their full-time mentor, friend and help. This is her passion.

I asked her what she thought of the foster care system versus orphanages and she said that in her opinion, if an orphanage was run by someone like herself (and she was speaking modestly), she believed that kids would be better off than in the present foster care system. And I must say that I agree.

We all know that the best doctors, teachers, etc., are passionate and compassionate. They have a "calling" to do what they do. So should the same be for foster parents. Nothing less than this should be good enough for those kids. Think about this: If the foster parents were as passionate as my boss, how many would need to get moved from home to home? Never truly connecting with people? Causing enormous problems in society as adults?

I know this is all idealistic and I don't have all the answers. But, I would much rather have several smaller "orphanage-style" homes run by men and women "called" to be a foster parent than have the system that is in place today.

By the way, I found out that those three children (my adorable kindergartners) that I just posted about are, in fact, in a foster home and that *Marion is their foster-mom.

And that is why I am so burdened. I really have much to pray about.

Friday, December 12, 2008

These Three Children

A couple of weeks ago, three new kindergarten children registered to ride the bus. When I saw the address of these children, I realized that they were three full blocks from my closest bus stop. It was also assumed by the office (and relayed to me) that this must be a daycare, because all three of these kids were the same age and had different last names. It turned out that that was a BIG mistake.

When I called who turned out to be the mother - ??? - must be some step-parenting or something going on here (as well, her last name is different from all three of the kids), I was stupid. I actually asked her if this was a daycare. She was incensed and quite huffily told me NO. She was the MOTHER.

I was off to a bad start.

I then asked her if she realized that my closest stop was three blocks from her house, to which she again angrily replied that, "they told me at the school that you could change that!" The conversation was heading from bad to worse.

I explained to her that it wasn't impossible to change a bus route, but that it would have to go through the proper channels. This took some time to get through her head. I was not saying it couldn't be done, I was saying that I would try my best to make the necessary arrangements and get back to her. The conversation did not end on a high note. It ended up with her cutting me off because "she had to go now" mid sentence.

I talked to my employer and I talked to the principal of the school. The principal told me that "the mom was sinking fast" and needed help getting these kids to school. So, for the sake of these children (and realizing that I could be headed for a tough situation dealing with this mother), we changed the route.

For some history, this school dismisses at 3:00, I usually leave by 3:10, drop off the kids and make it to my second school by 3:20 (because they are not too far apart). The second school actually dismisses at 3:10, but has kindly agreed to let me drop off the kids from my first school and wait the extra ten minutes for me to arrive before they get on the bus. I find that set-up preferable actually, because when I pull up the kids are waiting for me rather than the reverse.

However, now that I have changed the route, I am very late getting to the second school. In fact, today I didn't arrive at the second school until 3:30. Twenty minutes is a long time to expect children to wait for the bus after school and consequently, I've put in a request to review the route of the first school and perhaps drop some other stops altogether.

All for the sake of THESE THREE CHILDREN. Because these three children have totally captured my heart.

I had to call Marion*, the mother, the night before I started picking up these three children to let her know the stop times, to explain bus safety rules, and to stress the necessity of someone meeting these children at all times at the stop. I also told her that because the route was changed, the schedule was very tight and therefore it was very important for her not to be late at the bus stop.

The next morning they were waiting and I met the children. Tyler*, Tara* and Jaylynn*. I helped them on and explained how important it was for them to stay seated on the bus. And I met Marion*. Marion* explained to me that Tyler* liked to wander and she didn't think he would stay seated. She then stood on the bottom step and yelled at her children:


Not a real good first (or should I say second) impression. I determined with everything inside of me that those kids WOULD NOT get kicked off the bus. I would work with them endlessly before that would happen.

And for the last week and a half, I have become smitten with them. Tyler* especially, who has a twinkle in his eye, a huge grin and a wonderful curiousity. All three chat my ears off, tell me about themselves, and ask questions about me and my children. And all three of them follow the bus rules bee-u-tee-full-y. Even Tyler*. In fact, some days if I don't tell Tyler* how fantastic he's done on the bus fast enough, the little imp says to me, "I done good today sitting, didn't I?" with a big grin. How can you not love a kid like that?

But I was struggling with Marion*. And that bothered me because I didn't want to feel that way. After she yelled at them on the bus, I knew I was really going to have to pray about this woman, for both of our sakes.

Things were going perfectly until Wednesday. No one was there to pick them up at their stop. They live in a duplex just two houses from the corner, but I couldn't see their door from my stop. Because it would have made me even later to drop them back off at the school (and I was scared they would get into trouble if I did), I made the decision to back the school bus around the corner to the spot where I could see their door so that I could let them out and watch them go to the door. Fortunately someone came to the door and they got in safely. However, technically I am not supposed to back a school bus up without an adult spotter (because I can't see behind me) and only did it because I backed it around a bend and could see around the bend first. But I knew I could not do that again.

So, I knew I would have to call Marion* that night and was not looking forward to it. I made the call and very kindly asked her why nobody was at stop. She told me she left it to her older kids because she wasn't home, and that she even called them once to remind them. She sounded a little bit contrite and I was hopeful. I explained to her that in the future I would have no choice but to return them to the school and that she would then have to go and pick them up.

I then told her that I adored her children and I found them delightful. I told her that they were very good at obeying the rules and, in fact, were some of my best behaved kids. I ended by telling her was that it was a real pleasure having them ride on my bus.

I don't know if I can find adequate words to express this, but after I said this, Marion*, the very hard, angry woman who mothered these three adorable children, used a tone I'll never forget when she said, "Really?". Not of shock, but more of wonder. And not at all the hard tone she had been using with me.

And suddenly I realized that it wasn't so hard to like Marion*. That Marion* is likely the product of a difficult childhood (because that's usually the case), and abusive relationships and hasn't yet figured out how to get out of the "pit".

And I also realize, again, how much I've come to love this new place I've come to in my life. It's unexpected. It's heartwrenching. And I believe it's the perfect will of God. I am content.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

My Son, The Delight

Although my son manages to push my buttons every day - yes, every day (if there are any perfect mothers out there - you know, the ones who can manage to go several days between the knickers-in-a-knot stage, please identify yourself because I would like your autograph), he also makes me laugh and smile several times a day. So you see, it balances itself out.

Today, while saying goodbye to grandma, he turns to me (and I wasn't even the one going anywhere), strokes my cheek and says, "Mom, you sure are lovely."

Yup. My son, the Charmer.

Tonight after church, while changing into his jammies, he was having trouble getting his shirt off.

"Mom, I need your help getting my shirt off," he asks. Daddy, who was standing right there, told him that he could help him and proceeds to do just that. A delighted Seth then turns back to me and says,

"Mom, dad sure is a good man!"

Yup. My son, the Irresistible.

After getting ready for bed, the kids were constantly trying to scare each other. I told them to quit because I'd had enough of the scaring. Seth informs me, with furrowed eyebrows and all, that he has to "scare people away from all of his friend girls!". (Not girlfriends).

Yup. My son, the Knight.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Missing The Point

Oh how I love my girl. She is so sincere and earnest, and she takes things so literal. I have NO idea where she gets this from.

While listening to Odyssey on the road today, the story was about Nick, who defended Nathanial from the bully Rodney Rathbone. Nathanial was in such admiration of Nick for rescuing him the he started to emulate Nick, imitating everything he was doing. Unfortunately, he caught Nick smoking and decided to try that as well, hurting himself in the process (much to Nick's chagrin).

As parents often do, I thought I would use this story to enforce a principle that I strongly believe in. Hannah is very bright and, although only six, doesn't usually "miss the point". I said:

"Now do you understand, Hannah, why it's so important for parents to monitor their children's friends? It's because some children are willing to do anything to keep a friend, like Nathanial did."

Oh how wise I was! Teaching strong principles. Guiding my child so eloquently. Enjoying my soapbox while my daughter sat in rapt attention.

And her response?

"But mom, none of my friends smoke!"

And they don't. I am comforted.

From the mouths of babes.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Francine The Bully

Seth chose an Arthur story tonight for bedtime. I like Arthur. I like the Brain. I like DW. I like Muffy. I like Sue Ellen. I like Buster and even Binky Barnes.

But I cannot stand Francine.

Have any of you parents of young children (or used-to-be young children that remember the Arthur stories) ever noticed how nasty Francine is? She is usually so nasty that I find myself shocked when she is actually nice about something.

Tonight's story was no exception. It was Francine who had to stand up in class and SHOW OFF because her tooth fell out. It was Francine who mocked Arthur because he hadn't lost any teeth yet. It was Francine who invented a game ONLY FOR KIDS WHO LOST A TOOTH, leaving Arthur out. And, it was Francine who spent all of her money from the tooth fairy, while at least Muffy saved it to earn interest.

Francine is one kid who is very difficult to like and whom you have to work very hard at finding something good about.

As we were reading the story tonight, after every Francine incident, it became a catch phrase for me to turn to Seth and say, "Don't ever marry someone like Francine". Hannah caught on and joined me, so I turned to her and said, "Don't ever, EVER be someone like Francine". I challenged Hannah to find all of her Arthur books and see for herself how mean-spirited Francine was.

Now, I realize this seems like a simple post, but the character of Francine always strikes a chord in me. Francine represents everything nasty that a girl can be. Girls can be catty. Girls can be mean-spirited. Girls tell "tall tales" better than anyone. And girls NEVER FORGET.

Although boys can be all of these things, I would bet the farm that if you put a nasty boy and a nasty girl in the same room, the nasty girl would win every time (not speaking physically).

I will continue to use the Arthur books to teach lessons to Hannah of how NOT to act. And even though I was joking tonight when I told Seth not to ever marry someone like Francine, believe me, when he's older it is something I will not joke about. I do not want him strapped for life with some loud-mouthed, nasty, mean-spirited, show-off for a wife.

Now a woman with a strong opinion.............that's another matter entirely :).

Monday, December 1, 2008

Fabulous and Funny

I very much admire FANTASTIC singing. Therefore, I cannot help but post this clip that I found on someone else's blog (last year at Christmas time) because I think it's one of the best acapella vocals I've ever heard. This is the comedic version of The Twelve Days of Christmas by Straight No Chaser, a men's group from the University of Indiana. If you've never heard it before, enjoy.

Friday, November 28, 2008

My Knight

We have one McDonald's in this city that has a play centre. ONE. And it's on the other side of the city. Most of the Burger King's have play centres, but not our McDonald's.

Consequently, when we happen to be on the other end of the city for other reasons, that's where I take the kids because they love that play centre. They love it so much that they ask quite frequently if they can go to "the McDonald's with the play centre".

It was a zoo. Every child in the city must pester their parents to take them to that McDonald's. On a Friday night. The screaming was most enjoyable to say the least.

I was surprised, therefore, that Seth seemed to be quite whiny. Not that he hasn't been that way at home, but that he was that way at the play centre. He knows that he risks having to sit with me if he has issues of any sort, and tonight he was risking it. He came crying to me after about five minutes of play because Hannah hit his fingers accidentally, while sliding down the slide. I told him that he could just sit with me if he felt his fingers required surgical intervention of any sort, so magically, his fingers didn't hurt so bad after all.

The Informer then informed me that Seth was "bossing kids and telling them what to do". Having witnessed this somewhat myself, I caught Seth the next time he came down the slide to strongly recommend that he quit bossing.

It was only a matter of minutes after that that he again came running to me crying that he "bumped his head". Just as I was explaining once more, very patiently, that this critical condition required serious rest on his mother's knee, he turned around, saw someone, and yelled:


The adults in the room laughed out loud. I turned red. No joke.

He contentedly played with his girlfriend for a while longer. When it was time to go, I told him to go find his sister, tell her it was time to go, and then come down with her.


On the way home, I asked the Informer what her brother was being bossy about. The brother answered instead.

"I was telling those boys to quit scaring the girls!"

Hmm. Perhaps I was a bit hasty in telling him to quit bossing. After all, what girl does not appreciate having a protector?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Milliscent and Mortimer

This morning was much better than yesterday.

The bus rides were also much better.

My daughter was an angel for most of the day.

My son WAS NOT.

I'm certain to either turn more grey or have my hair fall out if this keeps up. I think this phase has been long enough, thank you very much.

The part where my daughter was not quite an angel happened during school. Math. She was learning to count by sevens and eights. I was trying to help her do this and this began her meltdown mode. Before it reached its height, I got smart (contrary to yesterday) and suggested that she go into her room and find eight objects, anything she wished. So, she excitedly learned to count by eights using her elastics of different colors. Cool huh? Just because I would have been content to use my fingers doesn't mean my daughter has to be.

Then, on the bus, she excitedly asked me to "take away" 9 from 14. I told her it was 5. Then she even more excitedly said to me,

"Mom, let's say you had 14 kids on this bus, and 7 got off. How many would there be left on the bus?"

"Seven," I answered, wondering if this was a trick question.

"Well," she said, "that's how many chapters I have left in my book!"

Huh? I think she is getting more abstract in her thinking by the week (like a certain wonderful aunty, the one married to my brother - I'm very sure she would understand this thinking process entirely. I'll have to remember that I can always go to her for interpretation).

Now for my boy. I will not go into how grumpy he's been. I just hope that he isn't getting sick again. In the last week or so he's called me a poop-head - yup; said, "Mom, I told you that I have to make faces to be mad!" when making a face in church after getting into trouble; insists on being first in everything; and the list goes on.

The only bright spot was tonight before bed (to which he again got his bedtime story taken away because of his sassy mouth). Surprisingly, he handled it well (which likely means that this form of discipline is becoming ineffective), because he skipped to bed singing,

Clang, clang, rattle bing bang
Gonna make my noise all day
Clang, clang, rattle bing bang
Gonna make my noise all day

We recently resurrected Mortimer by Robert Munsch last week for the first time in over a year. We have to switch our books around because we have too many and no space, so some are put into storage and eventually switched. The switch came last week (you'd have thought it was their birthdays or Christmas!). He heard that book, once, last week. I asked Hannah if she read it to him again and she said that she didn't. The little turkey remembered every word and the correct tune (as sung by Robert Munsch himself).

Fortunately, he did not sing it in bed and I did NOT have to bring in the police! And he went to sleep happy! Perhaps it's a sign that tomorrow will be better. One can only hope and pray.

By the way, in case you wonder where Milliscent came from, she's the character in another Robert Munsch book. And sometimes my girl reminds me of her. Just a little.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Not the Greatest of Days

It's been one of those days. From the moment my eyeballs opened.

It started with me waking up on the wrong side of the bed - I know, very surprising. I need much more sleep than I've been getting and, even though I got more sleep last night, it wasn't much more. So I was a full-fledged crank.

I then had an incident with my son. I dared to help him by returning something to my room from his room (because it belonged to me), and he threw a fit. Like mother, like son, I guess. He was so ticked off by this he decided he could not possibly finish his morning chore of making his bed. And I was determined he would. The result: A battle of wills to which I came out victorious. However, I can't say that I was happy about it because the method of which I won my battle did not make me proud. No, I did not half-maim my son. However, I was VERY angry, and that is NEVER a good thing.

Needless to say, I did not win any mommy of the year awards this morning.

Then, I had a two hour safety meeting before my afternoon run. The kids stayed with grandma for the afternoon while I attended the meeting, a meeting that turned out to be battleground number two. The meeting was about driving school bus in adverse weather conditions. The battle was on how much leeway the drivers should have when it came to refusing to drive the bus in certain weather conditions. I did not fight in this battle, but I came away with the beginning of a headache.

Then on to my afternoon bus run. Thankfully my kids were not with me.

During the morning run, as the last half dozen kids were getting off, someone near the back pushed, causing the front kids to go flying. This is absolutely forbidden on the bus and can actually cause suspension of bus riding privileges. When trying to pinpoint who the pusher was, I had two kids tell me it was Chase, and one kid (Chase's buddy) tell me it was Austin. Both denied being the perpetrator. For a little history, Chase is in foster care and the kid who has caused the most trouble on my bus (he was the one who socked River in the nose, as mentioned in a previous post). He has also never admitted to anything, even things I've witnessed myself. Austin, on the other hand, has always listened when I've corrected him (apologizing to me as well) and NEVER denied when he's been caught in the past. As well, Austin was quite a bit behind Chase and I really couldn't see how he could have pushed Chase. To me, this was a no-brainer. So, correctly or incorrectly, I made a judgement call, and told Chase he had to sit on the front seat for the ride home.

After school, I ensure that Chase was sitting on the front seat, but he thinks his best buddy, Brennan, should be able to sit with him. I quickly kibosh that idea, causing Chase to go into a full-fledged rage. And stupid me - I actually tried to reason with him. To the point that I found myself arguing with a 12-year-old. For about one minute, when I realized that I had been ensnared and that I was supposed to be the adult. I wasn't yelling. But I was arguing.


Well, he didn't actually swear, but he used a word as substitute that I think is VERY close to the worst word, and therefore, unprintable.

I told him if he didn't stop yelling that I would give him a one day suspension.


Totally belligerent. So, I started writing up his one-day suspension notice, all the while Brennan was beaking off about how it was Austin who pushed. Brennan, by the way, insulted Austin a couple of weeks prior by saying nasty things about his grandma, whom he lives with. Austin, in defence, pushed Brennan and almost started crying. As you can see, Brennan and Chase are not a good combination.

As I started to say something to Chase, he put up his hand (you know, the old "talk to the hand" sign) and said,


Now, this was going much too far for me. So I extended his suspension to one week. He informed me that, "I'M GONNA TEAR UP THAT NOTICE ANYWAY!"

I told him that was fine, I'd be giving his caregiver a call anyway.

Then I finished my bus run. There you have it. I booted my first kid off the bus. Not for one day. But for one week. And it was a kid who I have really, really, really tried hard to work with, and in fact, because of his terrible circumstances, have in the past let things go too long. But I realized that I really had no choice. I could not let the rest of the kids on the bus think that talking to me, totally disrespecting me, yelling at me in that manner was EVER acceptable.

I then had to talk to the vice-principal. You know, the guy can be quite arrogant and condescending, and really, I could have slapped him. Sorry, but it's true. He did not disagree with my discipline, but he said things like:

"Do you think that Chase could have, perhaps, been, uh, trying to push your buttons?" (Really, now why didn't I think of that? Hmm....are you telling me that just because I am aware of that possibility that my buttons could NEVER GET PUSHED?)

"Do you realize that they live in a foster care because their home situation was less than desirable?" (Really, I didn't know that? In fact, I am SO MUCH aware of that that I have posted about this and my heart has been TORN IN TWO. Does he realize that I PRAY FOR THESE KIDS EVERY SINGLE NIGHT? Because I am TORN IN TWO?)

Does he realize that even now I am very, very sad about this? And yes, regretful, although the only thing I could have done differently is not argue. Period.

At least when I called his caregiver, she was very supportive and very reasonable. She understands consequences and, told me that Chase pushed people around all the time and she didn't doubt for one minute that he had instigated it. I just really, really hope that she hugs him a lot. And yes, I even told her that I argued with him. Because, after all, I'm guilty and confession is good for the soul.

Then I came home and took four ibuprofen. Yep. Four.

Tonight, my son was again very cranky. I guess he was just finishing off a day that was begun that way by his mother. Thankfully, I was not that way with him. I had recovered from this morning. I hugged him and kissed him and snacked him and brushed his teeth and put him to bed without a story. Because he was out of control. But at least I loved him to bed.

And I told him that both he and I were going to start tomorrow differently. And that means I have to get to bed, like right now, and get more sleep. Good night.

Monday, November 17, 2008

"Mom! This Is Your Son!"

In the last few days, Seth has taken a very sudden, strong interest in drawing and coloring. So much so that he'll drop whatever else he's doing to draw a quick picture, or color something.

Today, he was in his bedroom drawing, when he ran out excitedly, yelling:


I had to laugh at the way he said it. I was also very surprised and impressed by the picture. I mean, this is not a regular stick man typical for most four-year-olds. I can actually make out the attempt at his hair, ears, eyes, and body.

Yesterday he spent about 45 minutes coloring the picture below. This is the same boy who just months ago lost interest in coloring after 5 minutes and requested help. Suddenly, he's coloring and very particular about it.

Not only did he pick out the right colors (new for him, usually the trees are purple and the grass is blue......), but he very carefully tried to color within the lines. I really don't think his big sister could color like this at his age.

I'll be very interested in the next while to see if this is just a passing phase, or if perhaps he has a natural talent for this. It will definitely be something we'll want to help cultivate, if it is.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Lest We Forget

I attended the city-wide Remembrance Day service today. I attended it for the first time two years ago, mainly to see my nieces, who are in cadets, march. I am very much ashamed of that now. I wish I could say that I attended it for all the right reasons, but I didn't. But I am glad now to say that I "have seen the light".

We went as a family. It was Dave's first time going, and the first time that I've taken my kids. As much as it is possible, I intend to take them yearly. I do not want them to grow up ignorant like I have been.

The kids were very enthralled with the marching: The veterans, cadets, RCMP, police officers, among others marched. They were so impressed by this that they came home and practiced, as evidenced by the above picture. They marched and saluted and called out orders.

The things that touched me the most about the service were, of course, the entrance of the veterans, the laying of wreaths by mothers who recently lost their sons in Afghanistan, and the newest veterans of all - those who have already completed a duty in Afghanistan and have returned. As the parade marched by these recent returnees, I couldn't help but let the tears fall. Most of us will never know the price that has been paid by these men and women. And this year I have endeavored, more than ever, to NEVER FORGET. And I plan to teach my kids this as well.

I thought it was fitting on this Remembrance Day, the 90th Anniversary of the 1918 Armistice, to include a copy of an article written by Kevin Myers of The Sunday Telegraph in London, England. Today, I am very proud to be a Canadian, and am so grateful to live in a democratic country.

Salute To A Brave And Modest Nation - Kevin Myers, 'The Sunday Telegraph' LONDON:

Until the deaths of Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan , probably almost no one outside their home country had been aware that Canadian troops are deployed in the region.

And as always, Canada will bury its dead, just as the rest of the world, as always will forget its sacrifice, just as it always forgets nearly everything Canada ever does. It seems that Canada's historic mission is to come to the selfless aid both of its friends and of complete strangers, and then, once the crisis is over, to be well and truly ignored.

Canada is the perpetual wallflower that stands on the edge of the hall, waiting for someone to come and ask her for a dance. A fire breaks out, she risks life and limb to rescue her fellow dance-goers, and suffers serious injuries. But when the hall is repaired and the dancing resumes, there is Canada, the wallflower still, while those she once helped Glamorously cavort across the floor, blithely neglecting her yet again.

That is the price Canada pays for sharing the North American continent with the United States, and for being a selfless friend of Britain in two global conflicts.

For much of the 20th century, Canada was torn in two different directions: It seemed to be a part of the old world, yet had an address in the new one, and that divided identity ensured that it never fully got the gratitude it deserved.

Yet it's purely voluntary contribution to the cause of freedom in two world wars was perhaps the greatest of any democracy. Almost 10% of Canada 's entire population of seven million people served in the armed forces during the First World War, and nearly 60,000 died. The great Allied victories of 1918 were spearheaded by Canadian troops, perhaps the most capable soldiers in the entire British order of battle.

Canada was repaid for its enormous sacrifice by downright neglect, it's unique contribution to victory being absorbed into the popular Memory as somehow or other the work of the 'British.'

The Second World War provided a re-run. The Canadian navy began the war with a half dozen vessels, and ended up policing nearly half of the Atlantic against U-boat attack. More than 120 Canadian warships participated in the Normandy landings, during which 15,000 Canadian soldiers went ashore on D-Day alone.

Canada finished the war with the third-largest navy and the fourth largest air force in the world. The world thanked Canada with the same sublime indifference as it had the previous time.

Canadian participation in the war was acknowledged in film only if it was necessary to give an American actor a part in a campaign in which the United States had clearly not participated - a touching scrupulousness which, of course, Hollywood has since abandoned, as it has any notion of a separate Canadian identity.

So it is a general rule that actors and filmmakers arriving in Hollywood keep their nationality - unless, that is, they are Canadian. Thus Mary Pickford, Walter Huston, Donald Sutherland, Michael J. Fox, William Shatner, Norman Jewison, David Cronenberg, Alex Trebek, Art Linkletter and Dan Aykroyd have in the popular perception become American, and Christopher Plummer, British.

It is as if, in the very act of becoming famous, a Canadian ceases to be Canadian, unless she is Margaret Atwood, who is as unshakably Canadian as a moose, or Celine Dion, for whom Canada has proved quite unable to find any takers.

Moreover, Canada is every bit as querulously alert to the achievements of its sons and daughters as the rest of the world is completely unaware of them. The Canadians proudly say of themselves - and are unheard by anyone else - that 1% of the world's population has provided 10% of the world's peacekeeping forces.

Canadian soldiers in the past half century have been the greatest peacekeepers on Earth - in 39 missions on UN mandates, and six on non-UN peacekeeping duties, from Vietnam to East Timor, from Sinai to Bosnia.

Yet the only foreign engagement that has entered the popular non-Canadian imagination was the sorry affair in Somalia, in which out-of-control paratroopers murdered two Somali infiltrators. Their regiment was then disbanded in disgrace - a uniquely Canadian act of self-abasement for which, naturally, the Canadians received no international credit.

So who today in the United States knows about the stoic and selfless friendship its northern neighbour has given it in Afghanistan?

Rather like Cyrano de Bergerac, Canada repeatedly does honourable things for honourable motives, but instead of being thanked for it, it remains something of a figure of fun. It is the Canadian way, for which Canadians should be proud, yet such honour comes at a high cost. This past year more grieving Canadian families knew that cost all too tragically well.

Lest we forget.

Mission Impossible?

I have been trying to vitaminize (pardon me, folks, but I just can't help using my own words. Please bear with me until this phase passes) my kidlets ever since Seth has been over-antibiotic'd. One of the things I've been giving them is a probiotic that helps restore their good bacteria. I've even been giving Hannah some, too, because I think she needs it and it's healthy.

Since it comes in a powder form, it must be stirred into their juice or yogurt. Hannah had some orange juice with this powder stirred in for the first time a couple of days ago and, with her nose up quite high in the air, informed me that "she would not appreciate having this stuff again!"


Her dad and I both tasted her juice, and honestly, you cannot taste any difference with the powder in it. This matters not one whit to her because the problem is that she can see it in her juice.

So, I undertook a mission today to sneak it into that girl, a necessary thing to do at times as parents. I picked up their favourite juice - Fruitopia - at the store. I do not buy this for our house. Ever. This is considered a treat for them. However, since they love strawberry Fruitopia and the powder is strawberry, well - sometimes compromise is necessary.

Just before lunch and while they were otherwise occupied today, I took out the Fruitopia. Carefully glancing over both shoulders, I snuck out the evil powder. I then gave them different cups - ones with lids and straws - and made the concoction. This is not as simple as it sounds because the evil powder takes quite a while to dissolve, requiring constant stirring. So I stirred and glanced over my shoulder, repeating the process for about ten minutes. I put on their magical lids, tasted it and was in awe at my genius. I then called them for lunch.

I really thought that having a different glass would raise Hannah's suspicions. I was pleasantly surprised when she took her cup and drank her favourite-juice-in-the-whole-world down, pronto! It was so tempting to tell her what she really drank, but I overcame that temptation. Obviously now I have a way to sneak it down her and I'm not about to give it up.

Mission accomplished.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Hannah's Thing-osis

I've been involved in a lot of debates the last few days about socialism, abortion, the election (there, I snuck that word in again, hah, hah!). I'm all issued out and will leave those posts to others (for a while anyway - at least until my juices start flowing again) and just write about my kids - my most favoritist (a Darlaism) subject of all.

Yesterday Hannah took it upon herself to clean out her top desk drawer. I had seen how much junk was crammed in there the day before and commented that "it looked like I would have to get in there and clean it out". This is a serious threat to her, so she took it to heart and decided to do the job herself.

I don't understand why God can't give our children the best parts of both of us. Really. I mean, would it really hurt for a least two children to be perfect in this world? It would free up some of God's time while he was perfecting other people's kids, as well.

Instead, she inherited all of my neur-osis and all of her dad's thing-osis. Thing-osis translated means: Unable to throw things away. Packrat. Considered a much worse condition than neur-osis.

If you have ever been around my house for very long, you would understand why thing-osis is really a much more severe condition than neur-osis. Four washing machines and three dryers, three fridges and stoves (although he recently did get rid of one washer/dryer set - bless his heart!), a basement crammed with...things....so that one can just barely sneak into the laundry room, a garage full of things, a dining room full of tools (still from our renovations), the sewing machine set up so that my dear husband can sew all of his socks (because he can't throw the blasted THINGS out!)......these are just a few examples. Seriously.

And my dear Hannah has been blessed with this genetic condition.

Now, as she was cleaning out her drawer, she somberly informed me that she would "throw some things out". I told her that was very good (knowing how very difficult this was for her). I told her to put all the stuff for the garbage in a separate pile, and she agreed. After about fifteen minutes of working, she called me into her room and said,

"Mom, I'm pretty sure that if I'm careful, I can fit all of this stuff back into my drawer. It just has to be arranged differently to fit."

And so the separation anxiety begins.

"Hannah, have you even started any piles that you are going to throw out?" I asked her.

"Yes," she replies.

"Where?" I ask.

"Behind the door," she answers.

I look behind the door and see a tiny little pile and, quite frankly, find it very difficult not to burst out laughing. She was having trouble throwing THAT out?

I look at her seriously and say, "Hannah, I'm quite sure that you are going to find it much easier to throw out your LITTLE pile than to have ME go through your stuff and throw out a much BIGGER pile!"

Heartless mom that I am, I close the door just as she bursts into tears.

Her daddy (who is at that very moment on the sewing machine sewing up his STINKIN' HOLEY SOCKS), in a rare move of compassion, informs me that "he'll handle it".

He spends about fifteen minutes in her room. He comes out and I ask what is going on. He tells me not to worry about it. She will be getting rid of THAT pile. He then get's sarcastic.

"How would you like it if I got rid of your cards?" he asks.

The ONLY thing I save is birthday cards and such and letters from friends. THAT'S IT. I have one box full of stuff I've saved compared to a house, garage, basement full of STUFF from him, and he's complaining about my stuff?

"You're comparing my cards with pieces of paper with little squiggly lines on them?" I ask, because that comprised most of what was in the junk pile.

To make a long story short, she did manage to get rid of a little bit of her stuff. And became comrades with her dad for the afternoon while I was the big, bad, booger.

But I'm okay with that. As long as progress has been made. And it has.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

School Bus Mission Field

Driving a schoolbus has not been like I imagined it to be. That doesn't mean that I don't like it, it just means my expectations were vastly different than the realities.

I guess I thought that the tales I would blog about would be lighthearted and funny. By in large, they're not. In fact, as the kids grow on me more and more, I'm finding less to laugh about all the time.

The majority of these kids come from extremely difficult home situations. Quite a few of them are vocal about it. Little Shayna tells me that she "saw her daddy hit her mommy, and now her daddy's in jail. I don't have a daddy anymore." For some reason Austin lives with his grandma and isn't quite ready to tell me why. In fact, quite a few of the kids live with aunts or grandmas, at least part time. I pick up six kids from two different foster homes. And of the ones at least living with their mom, I find that most of them are single moms.

Last week, Shayna's brother got on the bus crying. I asked him what was wrong. He told me his "mom pushed him". What in the world do I say to that? I know the home they live in. I know their dad is in jail. I know this boy is full of anger. I also know what it's like to be a mother and that children sometimes "embellish the story".

Today I picked up four of the foster kids. As I pull up, I saw one of the boys, age 12, hit another boy, age 11 and give him a nosebleed. When they got on the bus, the 12-year-old told me that, "River took my backpack". I told him that that was no reason to hit someone, sat him up front with the little kids, and got River a kleenex for his bleeding nose. I then chatted with the principal when I got to school.

After school, River gets on the bus with his hood pulled over his head so that I could barely tell who it was. It takes me a moment to see that the kid is crying his eyes out. This is the 11-year-old boy who wasn't even crying this morning after being socked in the nose, so I'm thinking this is pretty serious. As he sits down, I try to discreetly make my way to his seat (I say discreetly because I usually go up and down the aisle at least once, checking to make sure the kids are following all the rules of safety), lean over and ask him what is wrong. He doesn't answer, so I ask him if he's okay. He shakes his head yes. I leave it alone.

These are the type of situations I have to deal with. What makes it really difficult is the fact that we're taught that we have to maintain professionalism with these kids and not to get too close to them. I'm not quite sure how I can do that. It's already hard enough not to be able to hug them when they're hurt and crying, but to remain aloof and unmoved is another thing altogether. The day I'm not allowed to ask if they're okay or why they're crying is the day I quit driving bus altogether.

When I started this job I never thought of it as a mission. It was a way to make a little extra money and take my kids with me. That's it. I'm now realizing the need these kids have for attention, for love, and especially for Jesus. That perhaps I may be the only person that they come in contact with who can give them that hope. And I find it daunting, simply because I feel at least one of my hands is tied behind my back, so to speak.

I know that nobody can stop me from praying. I know that Jesus can open doors in ways I could never imagine.

And I know that I'm starting to really love these kids.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

This Fat Lady Ain't Singing

I was thinking of posting on Monday, trying to be optimistic, that It Ain't Over 'Til The Fat Lady Sings. I was hoping that last night you would hear my anthem clear across the border.

But this fat lady ain't singing.

I spent last night reading opinions and must admit to being convicted because so many Christians were trying to be positive, saying that they would "pray for their president".

After you-tubing both John McCain's concession speech and Barack Obama's acceptance speech, I was moved to tears. John McCain was one classy guy in defeat, calling Mr. Obama "his president". Wow. It was hard to see this man, trying not to let emotion overtake him, knowing that he will never again get this chance to run for president. He had the unfortunate task of running at a time when the Republican party had a very low approval rating, and was unable to shake the chains of George Bush's unpopularity off of him. Personally, I don't think Sarah Palin's VP nomination hurt or helped him because the love and the hate for her balanced out. I think everyone can agree that very few have served their country like John McCain.

The one positive about Barack Obama's presidency is the fact that he is bi-racial. I truly am very, very happy about that. Hopefully this will heal old scars within America and strengthen relationships with other non-terrorist countries.

I realize ultimately God is in control,. However, I believe that hard times are ahead for the country of America, possibly the hardest since WWII, and that its effects will flow over the border to the country of Canada. America is just too big and powerful, and whether we like it or not, we have hidden under her protection for a long time. It will effect us.

We can now expect to be neighbours with a country whose president will appoint new liberal judges during his term, ultimately leaning to the left like we have never seen before. Kiss goodbye any chance of saving the unborn; kiss goodbye any chance of keeping the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman; kiss goodbye freedoms of parents to be the ultimate authority of our children (look at Massachussetts if you don't believe me); expect a new look at legalizing euthanasia. We now have the most liberal senator of 2007 (over Hillary Clinton and Ted Kennedy) in charge of the most powerful country in the world.

I tell you, Hillary Clinton never looked so good.

I'm done with posting on this subject. Done. Done. (Unless Mr. Obama proves me wrong). Maybe then this fat lady will still sing.

I won't be holding my breath.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Yep, Another Political Post

Please, please, please folks. If you have any interest at all in the American election (and even more so if you can actually VOTE) read the powerful words of Huntley Brown, a black gospel pianist. He so eloquently sums up the reasons why he cannot vote for Barack Obama in the hopes of compelling Christians who are being swayed by this man in any way.


I borrowed the link from Sister Buxton's blog because I was not a recipient of this email.

I said I would keep posting until after the election, and I intend to.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

My Evening of Chuckles

Don't fall over. This post isn't political.

I think my son is feeling better today. He's on his third different antibiotic for strep throat in two months because his infection has been resisting the antibiotics to date. I think (and pray) this one might actually be working. And yes, I absolutely detest giving antibiotics to my children (for all of the anti-antibiotic activists), but I also understand what strep throat left untreated can do (like nephritis and rheumatic fever - however slim that may be). I don't relish the thought of general anesthetic AND surgery to get his tonsils removed, which, unfortunately, is still a possibility if this doesn't clear up. So, because I am not a total conventional medicine advocate either, I made a stop at the health food store and am filling his little body with probiotics to replenish his good bacteria, as well an immune booster. We've got to get this little guy up and running.

He's been smiling all day. In the last few months (because I suspect he's had untreated strep before it was caught two months ago and really hasn't been feeling good for quite a while) he's gone between goofing around and irritability several times a day. Today he was all smiles with no irritability.

Tonight after church, we took the kidlets to McDonalds for ice cream because we had free ice cream cone coupons for the kids. They were extra generous with their ice cream portion, actually giving us at least TWICE the usual amount. Seth, my slow-about-everything boy, downed his ice cream so fast I was shocked he didn't have constant brain freeze. He left his sister in the dust. Then he came over and ate half of his dad's muffin. Consequently, when we got home, he was HYPER. His dad had to chase him to try to get him ready for bed, and of course this was the best game in the world to Seth. Stripped down to his undershirt and underwear on our bed, the full extent of his energy hit him (do you think maybe the sugar intake didn't help - ???). He jumped and jumped and jumped and jumped...........and jumped. And he giggled and giggled and giggled. His dad finally caught him on the bed and, as only dads seem to be prone to, kept tickling him - working him up even more.

After dad brushed his teeth, I read them a story. I had my boy-with-a-glint-in-his-eye on my right side and my girl-who-was-in-a-very-snuggly-mood on my left. And I was in heaven. We read and cuddled. As we were snuggling, Seth-with-a-glint-in-his-eye looked me and said,

"Don't harsh the fizz, man!"

"What?!" I said.

"Don't harsh the fizz, man!" he repeated.

I looked to Hannah-the-interpreter for help. I know I can always count on her. And as usual, she told me this was part of one of his Pajama Sam computer games.

Which brought back to remembrance last Sunday. Apparently during Sunday School, Seth broke out in song in the middle of class.

"Nobody knows the trouble I've seen......."

Again, another computer adventure, although this time Freddi Fish. Anyway, this brought a chuckle to Rebecca and Jenna (Sunday School teacher and helper) and it was relayed back to me. Yeah, like a four-year-old knows anything about trouble......

Back to tonight. Finally the little man is tucked in bed. Prayers are said. We are doing our Strange Ritual and finishing it to perfect completion. As I'm snuggling him, he reaches out his hand, puts it on top of my head, and prays,

"Jesus, help this food in Jesus' name. Amen." (His usual meal time grace. I guess he's worried about his mother's cooking or something - ???)

I tell ya. He's so stinkin' cute and lovable and funny and, and.......so amazingly MY LITTLE GUY.

And I've been smiling all evening.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Previous Nazi Youth's Perspective

I'm not sure how many more times I will post on this subject, and I'm sorry to anyone who is sick of reading about politics. However, there are still some things I need to say.

Now, as I've stated in a recent post, there are many, many things that scare me about Barack Obama. One of the points I made was a comparison between Barack Obama and Adolf Hitler.

I came across this article, written by a previous Nazi Youth. If you don't feel you can take my word for it, perhaps you can take it from someone who has been there. Not only does he address the downslide of America, comparing it to Hitler's Germany, he addresses the abortion issue itself in a way I couldn't. And it touched me to the core. http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=79227

Maybe skeptics will understand more why I have become relentless on this topic. Our future - even Canadians - could very well be at stake if this man is in power.

And yes, I do believe a McCain/Palin administration, more than any previous administration, have the greatest chance of changing the abortion laws. They know and understand the sanctity of human life as God sees it.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


I am convinced that the first thought that goes through Seth's brain as he is waking up is "go....get....mommy". It doesn't matter if it's in the middle of the night - and it ALWAYS is - or after his afternoon nap, his eyes are hardly open when he calls for me. He comes to my bedside every single stinkin' night. He has learned that he is not coming in with us; believe it or not, we've won that battle. But he does know that I will go lay beside him. That battle I haven't won - yet.

I'm tired.

I am also convinced that it is impossible for Seth not to talk. He MUST finish his sentence. And repeat himself if he feels he wasn't quite understood. He reminds me very much of the son of some very good friends of ours (who will recognize this if they read the post). Their son absolutely has to be heard. He has to finish what he's saying and will not tolerate being cut off before he's finished. If he's allowed to finish what he's saying, then he's perfectly content. It's a lesson in patience to a parent.

And I'm weary.

Today he was at his worst. As a rule he's been better on the bus. Today all good behaviour flew out the window. He asks me constantly while I'm driving, "mom, have I been good?" in front of the other kids. I give him the thumbs up if he's been good and try to avoid the question altogether if he hasn't because he gets very upset at my answer. However, he will not tolerate my avoidance of his question. He will ask it until he gets an answer, and get louder until I do.

So, being particularly tired and not feeling well (he has strep throat for the THIRD time in two months), he was a complete pest to Hannah, to the point that I had to separate them. He also yelled at her, and then yelled at me when, upon finally answering his question that he asked for the third time (about whether he was being good or not), I told him that, no, he was not behaving particularly well. He then yelled at me again, "BUT MOM. I AM GOING TO LISTEN! IF YOU JUST ASK ME TO, I'LL LISTEN! MOM. MOM. MOOOOOOOOOM!"

This is not pleasant to handle with a bus full of kids. It is simply impossible to deal with correctly while driving a bus. I don't feel that I can pull over and have a chat (and I certainly can't spank him at that time) because it will make the other kids late getting home. However, I do have to deal with it to a certain extent because it's not fair otherwise when I've had to be very stern with some of the other kids' behaviour. It's tricky to say the least.

He spent quite a bit of time in his room today (which is punishment to him, but I also thought he might actually get some much needed rest), so much so that he reminded me of Marvie Snuffelson (from Jungle Jam, similar to Adventures in Odyssey but the characters are all animals). Marvie had to go to his room on pretty much every episode because of his smart mouth. Today Seth was getting to the point that he was going to his room on his own because he knew he hadn't been listening or was sassing me.

Because he is not feeling well and was overtired, I did have compassion. I even laughed when he persisted.....again.....with,

"MOM, I AM GOING TO LISTEN! MOM, IF YOU'LL JUST TELL ME, I'LL LISTEN! MOM!............." with tears coming down his face. Seth has yet to figure out that he needs to act on his words, not just speak them.

I was also convinced today that he really couldn't help himself. No, this isn't a cop-out, and I'm not excusing him. However, with all the circumstances working against him, I don't honestly think he could have acted much better.

Consequently, bedtime came very early tonight (so early that I'm able to post this by 8:30!). And so a very tired mama is heading to bed early tonight as well. Goodnight.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Call It A Miracle

Consider this fact: My son needs help for just about everything. Yes, I know, I've enabled him on this journey, finding myself extremely impatient, (particularly with his habit of slow eating - wonder where he got that from?) so much so that I find myself helping him out a lot, especially when there is a need to be somewhere. Of course, he's picked up on this and finds no reason at all to hurry.

He can do everything himself. But when we're dealing with a boy who is very easygoing, coupled with a lazy streak (usually), combined with a mother who is impatient and just wants to get done, he is often helped too much.

That's why when I started him out making his bed this last week, I've been very pleasantly surprised at how well he's done. The pictures above are the step by step process of the job he did this morning. Pretty impressive for a four-year-old, huh?

For breakfast, they each had a special pancake that daddy made for them. Daddy gets bored and likes to see what designs he can make with pancake batter, so this treat awaited them this morning. All in all, it was a good beginning to the day.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Warm Fuzzies

When I think of my daughter lately, I get the warm fuzzies. While my son is going through a very saucy stage - where he will soon find his lips pasted on the wall - my daughter is the exact opposite and doing my heart some good. God has this way of letting them take turns and giving me a break so that they are generally not both too bad at the same time. For that I'm thankful.

She has been particularly sweet to her brother. I thought when they started playing school a couple of weeks ago that the novelty would have worn off by now. It hasn't. In fact, it's picked up a notch to the point that Hannah "teaches" Seth every day in school. I gave her some curriculum suitable for his age and she is going through the book page by page.

And miracle of miracles, he is listening. And cooperating. (I know, maybe he's not so bad after all. Just mouthy. No big deal).

She is also doing remarkably well in her own school work. Yesterday, she asked me if she could do school with Seth before she did her own school. I said that no, she couldn't. She needed to complete her own work first. So, very compliantly, she took out all of her subjects and asked me if she could choose what to do. I told her that she could.

To my great surprise, she chose something in every subject. Normally we do one or two subjects in a day, completing several days worth of lessons, making it all equal in the end. It just seems to work the best for Hannah. This time, she did some spelling, some language arts, some reading, some creative writing, some math, some cursive writing, and even some health. And she did it very well.

Having heard recent stories of Hannah's meltdowns over creative writing, my sister Laura bought Hannah a journal. She thought this might encourage her to write more, allowing her to build confidence. And she was right. Hannah has written a few entries in the journal; precious, unforgettable ramblings. And I'm very glad for my sister's bright idea.

Finally, she is becoming more independent and less anxious. Recently my kids and I were at Wendy's. Half way through eating, Seth informed me that he had to go to the bathroom. I asked him if he could hold it, and he was agreeable to this - for about ten seconds. I realized he really had to go and did not relish the idea of leaving all the uneaten food on the table while my kids and I headed to the bathroom. So, Hannah surprised me by offering to stay at the table by herself while I took Seth to the bathroom.

You have to know Hannah to realize how big of a step this is for her. She shocked me. And you have to know me to realize how big of a step it was for me to actually consider this. So, after some brief contemplation, I gave her strict instructions on strangers, and left her alone at the table while I took Seth to the bathroom. And she did fine.

My girl. She was just born yesterday. Tomorrow she'll be married. (At least this is what my husband likes to tell me, to which I sharply tell him to "hush up".) However, it's pretty much true. And it's especially obvious at times like these, when she shows tremendous growth in a very short time.

My Lovey. My Rosie. My Petunia.

My girl.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Can't Help But Wonder

Okay, personal dislike and distrust of Obama aside, I have always wondered this and have not yet seen anyone ask it.

Barack Obama favors income redistribution. He believes in equality and thinks it's only fair that wealth is shared so the rich do not keep getting richer and the poor do not keep getting poorer.

The 2006 census of American households state that the median income for all families is $48,201.00. For married couple families, it's $69,716.00.

My question is this: How can intelligent people be duped into believing in a philosophy such as this, spoken by a politician who earns hundreds of thousands of dollars more (almost $1,000,000.00 in fact, according to their 2006 tax return) than the median income for married couples with families, without asking him to practice what he preaches? If he thinks it unfair for some to be rich and some to be poor, then HAND IT ON OVER, BABY.

I would like to see Barack Obama, a preacher of this redistribution nonsense, live on $69,716.00 a year. Share his wealth. Help bring a lot of poor people up to par. Perhaps Michelle can donate her $300,000 plus annual income to charity. She could always volunteer her time for the University of Chicago Hospitals if she's bored.

After all, fair is fair.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Strange Rituals

Since one of the main reasons I blog is to keep a record of sorts on my childrens' antics (so I can torture them when they're older), I thought it prudent to write about their.....unique.....bedtime rituals. This may not even be funny to some readers of this blog, but that's okay. I do not want to forget the many nights I endured these routines.

Every night, after we all pray together before bed, Hannah goes to her room and I tuck Seth in first. She starts by carefully getting her bed ready. This involves the proper arrangement of her big stuffed lamb, her stuffed Eeyore, her care bear, and her little Hannah (a tiny little doll she named after herself). She would have had several more stuffed somethings if I let her, but they were overtaking her bed and leaving her little room to sleep, so she had to make the choice of which ones she wanted sleeping with her. After carefully arranging her companions, I bring her some water for a little sip. This is essential. After I tuck her in, we begin by saying, "noses" (and rubbing noses), "butterflies" (and giving butterfly kisses to each eye), "chins" (we rub chins - both sides!), "cheeks" (we touch our cheeks together on both sides), "foreheads" (we rub foreheads on both sides), "kisses" (I kiss both her cheeks, and she kisses both of mine). She then repeats this saying, every night:

"I know that dad works tomorrow;
I know that there's no church tomorrow (or that there is church if there is);
I know there's no Sunday School tomorrow;
Am I having school tomorrow? (to which I reply yea or nay);
I'm going to start cuddling my big lamb, my Eeyore, my care bear, and my little Hannah;
I'm going to start playing with my pillows if I feel like it, if I want to;
I'm going to start sleeping if I feel like it if I want to;
I'm going to start imagining if I feel like it if I want to."

She then tells me she loves me and tests me out to see if I'm up to the quadzillion questions she has stored up for just such a time (which I'm usually not). I then go out the door, leave it open about a quarter of the way - this is important, because if it's an eighth of an inch out she notices - and blow kisses and wave from the partially open door.

Now for Seth. I have to carry him to bed. Yes, I know I could make him walk but I guess I don't happen (at this time ) to see a reason why I can't carry him, so I do. He has to put his book away and then turn off his light (while in my arms). I count to four, with kisses on his cheek in between counts, and throw him on his bed. He then says, very seriously, "We can snuggle for a bit after kissing, okay?" To which I very agreeably reply, "Okay." I then kiss his chin, his nose, his forehead, and each cheek in that precise order. Every once in a while he will giggle if I change it up a little, but most of the time this is serious business. He repeats the exact same pattern of kisses on me. He then says,

"America, America." Then, "We all did it!"

I have no clue where this came from. None. If I happen to try to sneak in a different kissing pattern, ie., chins, cheeks, forehead, nose, he promptly tells me I can't because I'm not doing America. When I ask him exactly what America is, he draws a funny design in the air with his finger.

You see why I have to record this. There is simply no one else I know of whose son (or daughter) perform these strange rituals.

I finish off by snuggling him - which is rubbing his back or his belly (I'm telling you, I pity his poor wife) - for a few minutes. I then give him a quick sip of water, again essential, tuck him in and kiss him again on the cheek. As I stand by the door, he says,

"You can sleep with me on Wednesday, okay?"

Not Tuesday. Not Friday. Wednesday, and only Wednesday. Again. No clue. But in order for him to be at peace he must ask me this. I've learned to respond by saying "yes", because he has no expectations that I know of. We then blow kisses and wave a couple times before I go out the door.

Tonight as I was snuggling him, I told him that "there was only one Sethie".

"No there's not, mom. There's two Sethie's," was his reply.

"Who is the other Seth?" I asked.

"He's black. I've never seen him."

"Then how do you know he's black?" I ask.

"Because he is," was his response. "He doesn't live here."

"Does he have a mommy, daddy and a sister?" I asked.

"Yes. But he has two sisters," he says.

"He does? What are his sister's names?" I ask.

"Hannah and Doogy Foogy."

And a chuckle escapes from my mouth.

"Was I funny, mom? Did I make you laugh, mom?" he asks delightedly.

I give him a final, extra, squeeze. Yes. He did make me laugh. And smile.

And my heart is happy with my two, very unique, very wonderful children.

My precious gifts from God.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Recent Pictures

We recently went to visit Dave's family in Edmonton. On our way back, we stopped in Lloydminster at the Bud Miller All Seasons Park. It's a wonderful park, and it's half way home. We spent a couple of hours here before finishing the trip.

Here are a few pictures of the kidlets.

Seth, being the usual "monkey" boy.

I like this picture of Hannah because it shows how far she's come. A couple of years ago, heights and climbing apparatuses scared her. We had to talk her through trying anything. Now, she pretty much has it licked, and even if something frightens her, she fights her way through it and doesn't give up.

My angels amidst the beautiful backdrop of God's creation.

Dave posing with the kids.

On the "pirate" ship, as the kids call it.

Last but not least, this morning Seth told me to "come and look". He said he "made his bed". Usually he takes all his animals and pillow off and I make it, and then he puts them all back on. This morning he did it himself. I thought his lumpy version was too cute not to take a picture of. I was impressed that he tried without me asking him to.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Hannah's First Story

On my previous post, I mentioned that Hannah agreed to write me a story if I gave her three days to do it. Here is her story, verbatim:

once upon a Time
a littil Girl ran
away from Home
she Got lost in
the woods she ran
and ran but she could
not find her way
out of The woods
but finally her Dad
found her and she
Lived Happily ever

We have been working on beginning sentences with capital letters and ending sentences with periods. This needs some work (obviously). However, like I said previously, from three weeks ago going from the dog ran to this is quite a huge leap, in my opinion. I'm pretty proud of her.

And, like most little girls, daddy is obviously her hero.