Monday, March 31, 2008

The Hazards of Phonics

Hannah was asking Dave to give her some words to spell, so in fun he gave her the word xylophone. She did pretty good, I think.....phonetically anyway.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Hannah's Room - Finally!

It ended two days later than anticipated. I had planned for us to be done this project by Thursday, and we did not complete it until Saturday evening. Literally. Poor Hannah had to wait until then to see her room. She and her brother spent every day since Monday at grandma's house, coming home to go only to bed. She has also slept on the floor in Seth's room since last Saturday - one full week.
Here is the ribbon-cutting ceremony. We had to do something to make it seem special, so we had her do this when she finally got to see her room.

I must say that I was a little concerned at her reaction when she first went inside her room. She went in slowly, went straight to her bed and sat on the bed and looked around, uttering not one single word. For several minutes. I wasn't sure whether that meant she was in awe or not. Dave asked her if she liked it and she didn't answer right away. I knew, however, when she went back into her room in between bites to eat that she very likely approved.

These are various pictures at different angles of the room. Overall, I am very pleased with the outcome, although there are things I would like to change if I had the time. It is very difficult to know what colors to buy things in when you have no idea on which wall it's going to go on at the time, depending on how the furniture had to be arranged. This is the biggest problem we ran into. We had intended to centre the bed, but realized very quickly the impossibility of this with having such a big, bulky (stupid, ugly) desk.

I also realized that the very easiest part of the renovations was the painting, believe me. It's all the nitpicky things like putting back together, cleaning up and the tons of things you don't think about at the time, making a kazillion trips to Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Canadian Tire, Michaels, etc.

Honestly though, it was not until just today that I became unglued. And Dave. And the "D" word was contemplated. And clawing of the eyeballs. When I think about it now, that's pretty good seeing that we've spent six days in that room for a good portion of the day. It was because we were so near the end and were running into frustrating little problems, like finding out my curtain rod for the blue curtains was too long, of all things! It was easy enough to fix, because thankfully Dave was calm at the time, so he easily just cut some off (imagine that?). I thought it was the end of the world. His spaz came later when the door wouldn't shut, the closet door wouldn't go in, etc., you get the picture. Then I was calm. Thankfully.

We could not have undertaken this project without the help of a few people. My mom for starters, who had the kids all week and was pretty good natured about it. My sister, Laura, who not only sewed curtains, but basically used her creative talent for pretty much everything on the walls. I helped her a tiny, little bit, (or should I say I was the foreman and pretty much got in the way) so I have to give her a great, big, hearty thank you. And last but not least, my other sister, Lana, who spent several hours with me Friday finishing running around for last minute things and then back at the house helping me figure out where to hang things. I can be creative at times like these, but usually I need time - that being the operative word. Which I did not have. So I could not have done it without her as well.

And so it ends. And now I have a house to try to clean in just a few short hours after church Sunday morning to get ready for Hannah's party Sunday night. I'm tired, needless to say.

These are just some close-ups of some of the things on Hannah's wall. I really wanted to put some of these in to show off the creativity of my sister, Laura.

I loved this saying. Laura had a book of quotes, so I picked out my favorite ones. I thought this was applicable.

I wonder if Mindy, if she sees this, will recognize her kids. Umm, maybe she would even DARE to comment. ???

I think I love this saying best of all. It is so much Hannah's personality. If you click on it, you'll be able to read it.

We cut this dress out of a gift bag and made a shadow box out of it. Again, thanks mostly to Laura.

And last but not least, this was painted by my niece, Rachel. It is not a very good picture of it because you can see the reflection of the window in it. The butterfly is really all just in the blues, whites and blacks. At least you can have a general idea of how beautiful it is.

And so that ends our adventure. The crowning glory of it was tonight when I was kissing Hannah goodnight, she hugged me and said, "thank you for my room, mom". That makes it worth it all.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Hannah's Room - Part Two

Here is where Hannah has been sleeping since Saturday. I must say that both of them have been really good about it. Seth, my social kid, thinks it's great to have company (although he still sneaks in with us most nights), and Hannah I think realizes that at the end of this she will have a new room and so is just good naturedly biding her time.

This is my pink and purple wall. Dave is hard at work painting the desk that is causing us so much grief. I think if I had to do it all over again, I would have just bought a desk for much more money that was already perfect. Instead, we got one on sale that we had to paint because it was a putrid brown color. We have had to paint and sand it at least a half dozen times. If our time was worth money, then it definitely wasn't a steal of a deal after all.

And this, folks, is our yellow and green wall with a glimpse of the blue ceiling. So you see, it is definitely a colorful room. I must say that overall, I like it very much. I chose the colors with some trepidation and was a bit worried that I would hate it. But I don't. Even my mom, who likes bright "white" walls and has no imagination at all with decorating, admitted that it was better than she expected, which is high praise coming from her. And Dave, who was just obediently painting what I chose admitted after painting the ceiling that it seemed to bring it all together, which is true, it did.
I will post the final pictures when the room is put together. Except for the stupid desk, the end is in sight.

Again, goodnight.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Hannah's Room - Part One

I'll be much more lighthearted tonight, I promise. I've recovered from last night. We're in the middle of redoing Hannah's bedroom for her birthday, which is on Monday. Thanks to my niece, Rachel, I was finally able to upload some pictures (remember how stupid I said I was?). The one above is one of her old, messy, Pooh room.

This one is also of her Pooh room, minus some decals which she took down when she was around three years old. I spent many hours doing this and loved it, but alas, the time has come to let it go.

She is enjoying ripping off the decals below, as you can see. She had been after me to let her do it, and was not at all sad to see it go.

Below is her room all cleaned and ready to begin. She will probably have her bed right where it's at in the picture, so I put it there to see how well she adjusted with it being in the middle, having never had it anywhere but against a wall. We needed to take it apart to paint her headboard and footboard.

She really wants a princess room that's colorful. I told her we would do lots of color and as princessy as we could make it without Cinderella being on the wall, as she would be sick of Cinderella in about two years, and she was not getting a new room until she was at least 12. So, her room is going to be very colorful, each wall a different color. I'll post pictures as we go along, now that I know how. We started yesterday (actually Dave started cutting in Saturday), so she's been sleeping on a mattress on the floor in Seth's room since Saturday night.

We've finished all four walls, all different colors, all 3-4 coats of paint. Now the ceiling needs to be done, her closet door needs fixing and painting, and a desk we bought needs to be finished painting and sanding (which seems to be a bigger project than anything else). Hopefully by Friday morning I can start moving everything back in and doing the fun, decorating stuff. Her party is supposed to be on Sunday night at our house since we only have church Sunday morning this week and I'm beginning to wonder when I'll have time to clean it. You should see our living room. All Hannah's furniture is in it.

I'll post more pictures tomorrow. Good night.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Another long post......sorry!

I have a lot on my heart tonight and feel like writing. And I haven't posted in a bit.
Today was the first time Hannah has ever spent an entire afternoon with someone other than family. I realize how strange that sounds and I will explain that in a bit.

Since Hannah's birthday is coming up, Rebecca asked me if she could take Hannah for the afternoon, go out for lunch, do some shopping and then probably hang out at her house until church this evening. Needless to say, Hannah was very excited and had a great time. She went out to Boston Pizza with Rebecca, Thomas, Amanda and Tonya and got to eat her favorite pepperoni pizza. They then surprised her with a little piece of cake and had the servers sing Happy Birthday to her (which apparently embarrassed her!).

Next she went to Winners where Rebecca picked out a few dresses for her to try on, telling her she could choose the one she liked. Rebecca told me she was leaning toward a bright pink dress, and everyone else encouraged her to pick another one. However, she was to have the final choice and she ended up eventually picking the one everyone else liked best. Then they went to Old Navy where Rebecca again bought her a shirt to go with the dress (or should I say jumper). They ended up at Rebecca (and Holley's) house doing hair and gabbing until church.

By 5:30 I was very excited to get to church to see my girl and hear about her afternoon. We ended up pulling up just behind Rebecca and Hannah, who gets out of the car, I thought to give me a hug. I was wrong. She came tentatively to me to bring her bag of stuff to put in the van and then asked if she could sit with Rebecca in church. What? Where was my little girl that was supposed to miss me?

She looked absolutely adorable. And not so little anymore. She was wearing her beautiful new outfit and had her hair done just perfect.

Dave informed me tonight after church that I mentioned at least three times to him how adorable Hannah looked and that "she sure is growing up". That about sums up the emotion I was feeling then and am still feeling.

She did eventually come to sit with us during church because she missed us. She yapped our ears off tonight telling us about her day, then phoned and told grandma all about her day. Just before bed she told me that she was sure glad she was sleeping at home.

It's at times like this that I am completely content.

Now, to explain my statement about Hannah not being away for an afternoon prior to today, except with family.

First, I consider myself blessed to have a lot of family living in the same city. Because of this, any time my kids spend away from me for various reasons has been with grandma, aunts or cousins because there has been no need to ask anyone else. She has a very close relationship with my mom and my two sisters in particular, and it would be no big deal at all for her to spend all day away from me if she was with them.

Secondly, no one except Rebecca has ever asked to take Hannah for an afternoon, and there has only been one other time Rebecca asked to take Hannah (approximately a year ago), at which time I said no. This is what I want to explain.

I felt tonight at church that several people looked at me rather strangely when they heard that Hannah had never been away from me all afternoon with non-family! After all, this is not typical for an almost six-year-old girl! Probably these same people would also gasp to hear that except the one night I was in hospital after having Seth and Hannah stayed at grandma's house that they have never slept overnight anywhere, even grandma's without me! I have not been in the habit of taking off to Tahiti for two weeks and leaving my kids behind. Strange, one might think. Not to me.

I will confess that the way I parent is really not anything like I expected to be. Before becoming a mom, like most people, I was the expert and was quite sure I knew how I was going to do things. My original ideas have changed probably about 80 percent, and that is not an exaggeration.

At my first homeschool conference three years ago, I was very strongly influenced by a wonderful family that taught very strong principles on "keeping your children's heart" from a Biblical perspective. I bought their books and have read them more than once.

At my second homeschool conference, Dr. Gordon Neufeld, psychologist, spoke on the same principle but from a clinical perspective. He talked about being "connected" to our children and that connection, in his opinion, is the single most important factor in teaching your child . This is the main reason why public schools have such a difficult task; teachers in this day and age have a very tough time connecting with the student because of class size, the potential problems of getting too close to a child when it could be misconstrued, etc., to name a couple of reasons. He also said some things that I will never forget and herein are the reasons I have changed my views so much.

Parents started losing their way in the mid 1900's when society began its shift from being adult-centered to child-centered. And this is ruining our children. Parents have lost their initial parenting instinct. Because society now is largely child-centered (if you don't believe me, think about how much POWER a child has today compared to the distant past) the connection of parents/children/family are being severed. He talked about how very, very difficult it is for a child to maintain a connection with parents when he is being influenced by his PEERS. A child will disconnect with his parents rather than embracing both UNLESS the connection comes as a direct result of the parent. For example, let's say two moms are close friends and they get together often. Their children start playing together and become friends as a result. They are not forced to choose between the two because the one was the direct result of the other and therefore the connection to mom is maintained. However, when a child spends too much time away from his parents with other children his own age that are not part of his parental circle, then he eventually will have to make a choice who to be connected most to. And unfortunately, peers USUALLY win.

Now, this is just common sense to me. This is exactly what happened to me in school. Peer pressure is the most common problem of all. Why? Because the parent and the peer are diametrically opposed in the child's mind. They come from opposite sides, instead of the same circle. Too much emphasis today is placed on children playing with children. Teens spending time with teens (and getting into way worse trouble because of it). Oops, I stepped into a minefield there.

When asked how much time children should spend with children, Mr. Neufeld said, "I don't know, two hours a week?" with some sarcasm, although he was serious in his reply. Huh? But how will Johnny not be a social retard? Because Johnny is learning how to interact with people, and people include all ages, not just their own age.
At this year's homeschool conference, Dr. Jay Wilde, a science professor from Indiana, told a story that I will never forget. He said his dad was an administrator in one of the prisons in Indiana and it was his job to question new inmates. For over 20 years he asked the same question to every new inmate that entered into that prison: "What is one thing you wish was different about your childhood?" And over 50 percent of the inmates answered, "I wish my parents would have kept a closer watch on who I hung around with."

What does this have to do with my kids not spending much time away from me? Just this. If I am going to let my children be away from me, it is going to be with: 1) family, which is in my circle of connection and not diametrically opposed; or 2) with a trusted adult who will not influence them in a peer-like fashion, which is what happened today with Rebecca. The previous time Rebecca asked me would have been with other kids as well, which was the primary reason I said no. I am not against my children playing with other kids, but I will limit it if I am not around or again if it is not a direct result of a friendship of mine. I do believe, idealistically of course, that the best hope for my kids as teenagers (besides prayer) is limiting and/or closely watching their peer influence, and this can only be done by a true heart-connection being maintained. I know my kids aren't there yet, that's why I said idealistically. I also know that I am very likely alone in my views, even among our churches. After all, I am NOT thrilled with youth groups. In my opinion they only promote the worst things that youth face, like silly, stupid talk about the opposite sex (being one of the most common). I believe we parents normalize this behaviour way too much because after all, this is normal youth behaviour and everyone is doing it. I don't think it has to be normal at all. I was once a youth in church, I know whereof I speak.

The youth functions need to be church-oriented more than social-oriented. There are plenty of occasions youth can and should have fun (I do believe it having fun, believe it or not), but it doesn't always have to be with other youth, a.k.a. PEERS, where they will get into the most trouble.

I'll get off the soapbox now.

Like I've said, I have a lot on my heart. I don't know if I was able to express this adequately. I do know that I do firmly believe these principles. And I can't do any of this without God's help.


Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Random Thoughts

Coming home from church tonight, we went to do Dave's "building checks". He has a couple of high rise condos he takes care of "operationally" (my word) on a daily basis, and when he hasn't been able to check them before church Wednesday, then we usually go as a family after church. This is a highlight for both of the kids because they usually get to go in with him to check his boilers, get to ride up elevators, you know, all that exciting stuff kids like. On the way out of the last building tonight, Hannah ran out ahead so she could open the door, again, another very important thing to a child. On our way home, the subject was brought up about Hannah running ahead of her dad to open up the door and run out. He asked her, "Hannah, what if a dog was outside and you opened up the door and ran out?" Now please note, this was her dad asking this, not me. I would not have even thought of it, let alone say it, especially to a girl who lies awake for hours "imagining" things. Instead, because of the way Dave said this, a discussion ensued that went something like this:

"Would the dog have gotten in, dad?" (Hannah)
"Well no, not likely. He likely would have been caught off guard..." (Dave)
To which I interrupted, "and you would have likely jumped back and the door would have shut."
"But the dog could have opened the door with his teeth, right?" (Hannah)
"Well no, Hannah, no dog can do this." (Dave)
"Actually, there are probably a few specially trained to open doors..." (Me)
"I highly doubt it." (Dave) he trying to undo his scaring?......con't.....
"Dad, do wolves live in caves?" (Hannah, without skipping a beat)
"No they don't, Hannah" (Dave) Now how does he know that for sure they don't at least go in caves?
"But if we ever saw a wolf, we would run away, wouldn't we dad?" (Hannah)
"If we ever saw a wolf, we would definitely, uh, try to avoid it. But actually, we have more of a chance to see a coyote, Hannah, than a wolf." (Dave)
"Are coyotes like wolves, dad?" (Hannah)
"Coyotes are much smaller than wolves, Hannah." (Dave), then asks her to picture her Aunt Donna's dog and imagine a coyote to be about that size or a little larger.
"Coyotes would probably run from us, right dad?" (Hannah)
"Coyotes would run from us because they're scared of people. Coyotes like to get dogs to chase them, then run them right into the middle of the pack of coyotes, and then they eat the dog. They also eat sheep and chickens." (Dave) Yummy....
This conversation took place over a very few minutes. This is the way my daughter's mind works. We went from dogs to wolves to coyotes in a very short span.
It's at times like these that I'm very glad Dave is along. He is MUCH more patient with answering the 101 questions and is actually a very good teacher. He is gifted at bringing an explanation to her level of understanding, so much so that quite often when she asks me a question, before I've even had a chance to answer (because I'm thinking of a response she might understand and am a bit slow on the uptake) she'll tell me to never mind, she'll just ask dad.
Which brings me to my second subject: Her schooling. Now you know why she is like she is with her swift topic changes. I went specifically to the homeschool conference in Regina this past weekend to check out a certain curriculum that's meant to help kids with 1,000,921,092 daily questions, and would you believe they weren't there? The nerve! They did not come to this year's conference and did not bother to let me know!
Seriously, now I'll likely have to go to the store in Calgary to purchase it. I could order it online, but I want to see it first and go through it with a fine tooth comb. Such is life, I guess.
Now I'll go rest my tired mind, caused by my inquisitive daughter, even though her dad was the question answerer tonight.
Maybe dad should be the homeschooler and I should work full time. What do you think?