Sunday, December 27, 2009

Bible Scholar

I realize that it's long past due that I blog about my daughter. I have a lot of things on my mind about her that I have not yet put into words and I'm working on it. However, because my son does so many memorable, quirky things daily, I find it easier to just jot down a quick post about him. Truthfully, he gives me no end of writing material.

I was quizzing him today, just for fun, on Bible characters. I was curious to see how many he really knew and who were his favourites. Interestingly, he told me that:

*He did not want to be like Jonah and be swallowed up by a huge fish;
*He wouldn't want to be Joseph either because he would not want to be thrown into a pit and sold;
*He wouldn't mind being Moses, but he "would not want to take his shoes off because he was standing on holy ground";
*He had no reservations at all being David;
*He would NOT want to be Haman (although he could not recall Haman's name, he knew he lived in Queen Esther's time) because he did not want to be "hanged UP".

I was very, very impressed at how much he knew, which he knew with surprising ease. However, my two favourites of all were when I asked him if he knew who Xerxes was, he said,

"Of course, mom. He was Queen Esther's King," much to my delight.

And, the biggest surprise of all?

"Mom, I would not want to be Elimelech, either," he said with perfect pronunciation. "Elimelech dies before Naomi. And I wouldn't want that."

I had no idea he knew anything about Elimelech. I am very proud of my boy. He's obviously been paying attention.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Clumsy Tribute

I've been thinking a lot this week. Perhaps it's because I've been getting enough sleep - the kids did not want to be tied to the bed post after all - baking with the kids while listening to Along The Shores Of Plum Creek, and just overall relaxing. Perhaps it's because it's the end of one year and I always get this way when one year ends and a new year begins.

I'm feeling very thankful. I'm surrounded by wonderful people I love and who love me. I've got a wonderful church. I'm blessed to have a great pastor, along with a pastor's wife who is a class act. I've got life long friends.

And obviously, most important of all - besides Jesus - is my own husband and children.

However, this post is not about them.

I've had a couple of discussions recently that has made me realize how grateful I am to have the two best sisters in the world. We couldn't be more different really. We disagree strongly on several things. But I've realized that it has been a long, long time since any of us have had an argument that we didn't "fix" in short order.

We didn't grow up particularly close. We fought hard. I don't remember trusting many secrets to them and they didn't entrust theirs to me. However, we were always loyal to each other. We celebrated each other's victories. If any of us were jealous of the other, we kept it to ourselves and did not let it spoil the other's special moments. We were not in competition with each other.

Now, thirty-some-odd years later, we are reaping the benefits. Our childhood fighting days are over. We realize how precious our close-knit "sisterhood" is. We cry with each other. We laugh hard with each other. We sincerely rejoice for each other. There are no petty grievances or jealousies.

We do tell each other some of our secrets. Because we can trust them to each other.

To you, Laura, and to you, Lana, I want to say that I love you and I'm glad that God placed you both in my life.

Because, like it or not, you're stuck with me.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Difficult Week

It's been a very difficult week.

The first two days were extremely cold and I've made it very clear what I think of THAT. On Monday it reached -44 degrees Celsius with the wind chill, and our standard rule is that we cancel the school bus when it reaches -45 degrees with or without the wind chill. It was the one day I actually felt ripped off because it wasn't COLDER. One itty bitty stinkin' degree colder. Imagine driving a big, honking bus in that temperature. Hannah had on three jackets and extra socks. Seth had on two jackets and extra socks. They also had a warm, fuzzy blanket to wrap around them.

It took me three days to thaw.

On top of that, some darling child or children took it upon themselves to graffiti the back of the bus seats. Not once, but twice. And they quite explicitly called me a VERY BAD NAME. Because I have so many kids, I cannot recall who sat in those seats. I now have the ginormous task of assigning seats. I haven't yet figured out how I am going to do this with 80 regular riders and 169 registered kids total - which is why I have not assigned them previously. Additionally, I still can only name approximately half of the kids. I know everyone's face and their stops, but 105 out of 169 of my students are non-Caucasian, some immigrants, and I cannot even pronounce most of their names.

I have found the week so draining that I stopped our own school on Wednesday. The kids and I are taking a longer, much needed break.

On the ONE plus side, I received gifts from some students this morning, such as a tin of Tim's coffee, a tin of Tim's hot chocolate and Toffifee. A daycare mom (who was behind one of these gifts) even had all of her kids sign a card for me. After the week I've had, I was very grateful for this thoughtfulness.

Imagine that? Some kids think I'm a......well, you know. And others actually LIKE me. Wow!

And so, I'm going to huddle under blankets and relax for two weeks. Who knows, I may not even leave the house. I'm going to drink Tim's hot chocolate and play games with my kids.

And sleep in.

Until at least 8:00 a.m., anyway. I've told the kids they better not open their lids until at least then if they don't want to be tied to the bed post make their mama unhappy.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Future Ambitions

For the sake of the kids' diary - my ultimate intent for blogging - I am recording what their current plans are for the future, as told to me this evening.

Seth, age five:

1. Ice cream maker
2. Chair builder (a.k.a. carpenter)

Hannah, age seven:

1. Store clerk
2. Knitter and sewer
3. Construction worker

At present, it appears there are no budding neurosurgeons or rocket scientists. Apparently that means that their dad and I will have to depend on our own limited savings for retirement. {Big Sigh}

Sunday, December 13, 2009

200th Post

Song: (Tune to Rain, Rain, Go Away)

Cold, cold, go away
And find yourself in Montego Bay
I'm so cold
Yes, I'm so cold
I won't be going out today

My darling husband went to Princess Auto today because he decided to buy himself one of these hats. Only in black and not quite so fashionable.

The only problem is that he decided to buy FOUR of them. One for him. One for Hannah. One for Seth.

AND ONE FOR ME.

Hmm. Special. I can't wait to wear it next time to church.

Yes. I'm still supremely ticked that it's still STINKIN' cold.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Railing Against The Stinkin' COLD!

I try not to say the word stinkin' in front of my son because it sounds pretty bad when a five-year-old goes around saying, "stinkin' this and stinkin' that". However, since he doesn't read my blog, I WILL blog about this STINKIN' weather.

It is officially winter. And for all of you pansified people who don't know what cold is, I'll tell you. Right now it is -31 degrees Celsius, which is -23.8 degrees Fahrenheit. Tonight the wind chill value is predicted to be anywhere from -40 to -50 degrees Celsius, which is -40 to -58 degrees Fahrenheit. It is colder here than in Iqaluit, Nunavit (one of our Northern Canadian Territories). It is colder here than Whitehorse, Yukon (another of our Northern Canadian Territories). Only Yellowknife, Northwest Territories is colder right now with a wind chill factor of -51 degrees Celsius.

It is only -2 degrees Fahrenheit in Juneau, Alaska.

I tell ya, life isn't fair. Like some people think that wealth should be redistributed, I think that the COLD should be redistributed. I love winter usually, but this year the cold is getting into my bones in a new way. I just can't seem to warm up. I have gained a new respect for my almost 89-year-old grandma.

We have a young man coming to our church who recently moved here from Uganda (where the average high is +25 degrees Celsius, or +80 degrees Fahrenheit - YEAR AROUND!). He has not yet been in Canada for two months. Having heard of the "horror stories" of our winters, he told me a few weeks ago that he had been praying for God to keep away the cold for as long as possible. Since November had above average temperatures, it appeared that God was answering his prayer. I told him to keep on praying it and I would continue to pray God's blessings on his prayer.

I think I may have to ask him when I see him next if he has recently done something to make God mad......

Just sayin'...:)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Gratifying

I've had more difficulties with my bus route this year than I did as a new driver last year. The main reason is that I very much butt heads with the principal of this new school.

There are times, however, when I feel rewarded for trying to go the extra mile. And today was one of them.

I had two new students start bussing last week that were unable to speak any English at all. I found out they were from Colombia, South America and spoke only Spanish. When the dad brought them to the bus stop the first morning we were unable to communicate and I only hoped that I was taking these kids to the correct school. Fortunately, it turned out okay.

On the second day they rode, I went to pick up the kids after school. I drop off some students North of the school on my first round and then return for my second load of students to drop off South of the school. On the first day my new students rode, they got on the bus on the second round (like they are supposed to), so I thought they somehow understood this was when they were to get on. However, on the second day on my return to the school to pick up the second group of kids, the vice principal told me that this girl (grade five) was crying quite hard because she thought she missed the bus. She could not be consoled.

I did my best to comfort this girl in whatever way you comfort people using only body language, and dropped her off at her stop - much troubled. This is one of the most difficult parts of this job I have had this year. There have been many communication problems because of the language barrier, but nothing troubles me more than having a child cry in misunderstanding.

I pondered the problem on the way home. Then I had a "moment". Sometimes the answer is so obvious it stares you in the face. Here I am on the computer daily, hooked up to the internet, and I realized that......duh......I could probably find a website that translated English to Spanish.

And I did. The only consolation I have is that the school - the great educational system - did not have the brains to think of this either, because the vice principal was telling me that they could not communicate with this family at all because they did not have a translator.

I came home and typed a letter to this family, introducing myself by giving my name, explaining everything they needed to know about the bus, especially the "second round" that their children would be on after school. I said that I hoped this would comfort their daughter, welcomed them to Canada, and then told them how they could get onto this website to communicate if they could get access to the internet (though a library, or something). I gave this letter to the dad yesterday morning when I picked up his children.

And herein is my reward:

This morning when I picked up his children, he came up to the steps and said - with a huge smile on his face,

"Good morning, Darla," in broken English.

Such a little thing, really, but one that brought tears to my eyes, for it made me realize that he did, indeed, understand what I tried to say. And he was gratefully conveying this to me as best as he knew how.

And I am gratified this morning.

Monday, December 7, 2009

My Brilliant Teacher

Okay. I have to give credit where credit is due. The fact is my husband is a brilliant teacher. I have no doubt that if I worked full time (and part time, like he does), and he homeschooled the kids, that they would be brilliant scholars.

I do alright at homeschooling. I am diligent and make sure they do not slip behind. In fact, I try to keep them ahead, but that's mainly because it frees up days where we don't have to do any school at all. But I am no great teacher.

And I do NOT have an inordinate amount of patience.

Yes, if Dave was home all day with them, I suspect he would lack in the patience area as well, like I do. However, he is in his element when he is teaching and if there is any time he has extraordinary amounts of patience, it is when he is teaching.

I had a tough morning with my son with mostly behavioural issues. On the bus this morning, since the weather has turned suddenly very cold, there were more kids riding, causing the kids to be packed like sardines. That meant that Hannah and Seth had to share their seat with another kid, which meant that it gave Seth an even greater opportunity to torment his sister, who was sandwiched beside him. He was the worst behaved kid on the bus. And that began our wonderful morning.

And to be perfectly honest, when my patience is tried first thing with my son, I'm hard pressed to regain it before we start school.

We were doing math, and like Hannah did at this stage, Seth has a problem with the number 0. He is finally understanding that 5 + 0 = 5, and not 6. And he finally understands that 6 - 0 = 6. However, if you switch it around (like 6 + __ = 6) he could not grasp that the answer was 0. I tried every visual thing I could think of to help him and I still could not help him to understand.

And then God heard my prayer and his dad came home unexpectedly for lunch.

With an exceeding amount of patience - because Seth did not grasp it immediately, even with his brilliant technique - he visually led him through this problem. I watched the master, trying to pick up some tricks. Truthfully, I don't have the patience (big surprise there) to explain how he so masterfully accomplished this, but I will say that part of it was because of healthy amounts of patience added to his teaching skill.

Smiling as he ate his lunch - he really does enjoy this and should have been a teacher, in my opinion - I tried to defend my inability by explaining our less than perfect morning. And although that is partly true, I know beyond a doubt that I cannot hold a candle to my husband's natural ability to teach.

I will end this post with one last brag about him. He has taken four correspondence courses in the last couple of years (things like technology, real estate, etc., all management-type courses) with the goal of readying himself to qualify for civic management positions. There will be some people retiring within a couple of years and positions opening up. Which means a significant increase in pay and ONE job instead of TWO.

Anyway, my husband has mastered the art of studying (and it IS an art, believe me) so well, that the lowest mark he has received in his four courses is 95 percent. He has gotten one 100 percent, and two 99 percents.

Pretty impressive for a 48-year-old......ancient......man.:)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Questions of the Day

From Seth, first thing this morning before my eyelids were even open:

"Mom, how do goats kiss?"

For which I had no coherent answer to (or even enough brain cells to wonder where on earth that question came from), and then,

"Mom, is Jesus God's second name?"

I told him that no, Jesus was God's first name. He then asked:

"Then, is God Jesus' second name?"

And my question? Why can't he wait until I'm awake before he starts the million questions?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Stupid, "Special" Parent

Again today, for the 376th time this year, there was a vehicle parked in the bus zone this morning. I'm finding my spirit sorely tested every time this happens (and pray to God this isn't WHY this keeps happening), so, ticked off, I got off the bus to let the special parent know (as he was just getting back in his vehicle) that he was in the bus zone and that he now must WAIT.

Picture the scenario: I am pulled beside this vehicle. I tried to box the vehicle in so he couldn't move until I was done unloading the kids. The kids have to walk IN FRONT OF this vehicle to exit, now that the dumb, bone-headed special parent took my spot. I open the doors to start letting the kids off.

THIS MORON PARENT STARTS TO DRIVE.

I freak. Literally. I yelled at the top of my lungs to this parent who was coming between me and the bus door (with window down) to:

"WAIT! YOU HAVE TO WAIT! YOU CAN'T MOVE!"

This stupid, dumb, moronic, special parent yells back at me,

"RELAX, LADY! I DIDN'T SEE THE SIGN!"

Relax? Relax? NOW WHY DID HE THINK THAT I SHOULD RELAX? I yell again,

"WAIT! YOU HAVE TO WAIT!"

He again tells me to relax. He then manages to squeak through the small opening with his vehicle and leave.

Now, several hours later, as you can see, I am still NOT RELAXED. Why? Because all day I've been picturing what could have happened. If I would have let one of those kids down, they would have been hit by that car.

And I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, my days as a bus driver would have been over. Even if I would not have been at fault, I don't think I would be able to get over it if a kid was hit by a car on MY WATCH.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Dramatic Morning

This morning, Seth waited for me to finish doing my hair in my bedroom because he was afraid to walk by the bathroom alone.

"Did you see the scary hand that was in the bathroom?" he asked me.

"Uh, no," I replied.

So, together we ventured out to pass by the haunted bathroom. As we passed by (with him doing a half run), he again asked me if I saw that scary hand, to which I again replied that I had not.

All this from a kids' imagination. A kid whose scariest thing he ever sees is a ghost on a Freddi Fish CD. And the ghost has no hands.

That was my early morning and an omen of things to come.

While doing school, I got so excited at how well he answered a question that I grabbed him with the intention of giving him a big hug. I think he still had the scary hand on his brain, because he jumped back and hit his head on the wall. After many hugs and kisses to stop the tears, he went to go by me and I accidentally poked his eye. Again this required more kisses to stop the tears.

I was beginning to think his dramatics matched his sister's.

Immediately following the eye poking incident, he went into the living room and smashed his hand on the wall in his haste. Requiring more kisses.

This time he definitely surpassed his sister's natural ability to dramatize.

A couple of minutes passed by. Just as I was beginning to think that things were settling down, his sister came out of her bedroom where she had been doing her school work. She came out with a long pink and blue afghan draped around her neck like a cape. She had decided that she was Queen Esther this morning and was completing her school work as the Queen. On the long tail of her cape were several stuffed animals - her subjects, perhaps - trailing along behind her as subjects are wont to do.

This is when Seth decided he didn't like her subjects. What happened next is hard to tell because I didn't actually see it. What I think happened is that Seth grabbed one of the Queen's subjects and/or stepped on the Queen's cape. Queen Esther - to protect her subjects, of course - pulled her cape from the bandit, causing him to go flying. I think the bandit was partially on the cape because he ended up landing on his left knee.

And all previous dramatics were very mild in comparison.

"I'M PRETTY SURE THAT MY KNEE IS BROKEN!" he wailed.

I sent the Queen to her castle, along with her subjects. We would have a chat later. Meanwhile the little bandit wailed for about five minutes. I checked his knee and it was quite a bit......less than......broken. In fact, I could scarcely see a red mark, although the little bandit pointed out the HUGE RED MARK on his knee.

Amidst his wails he continued kept repeating,

"IF IT'S NOT BROKEN, I'M PRETTY SURE IT'S GONNA GET BROKEN YET!"

Now what is a mama to say to this? I mean a mama with any sense of humour at all? It was all I could do not to break down and laugh myself silly. As it was, a few chuckles escaped.

And so, with many kisses and hugs, a stern lecture or two, my very interesting morning ends.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Mixed Bag

It's been a rough week this week. I spent the first five days wondering where on earth I had gone wrong as a mother. It's not that things had really gotten worse, it's that I finally had enough. Every mother out there will know what I'm talking about.

When you realize that you do not have obedient (enough) children, you better slap yourself upside the head if you're the parent. Much of my week was spent re-evaluating my discipline methods; wondering when my own hearing loss began; and most of all - asking myself where lines really needed to be drawn and what really constituted a battle.

For example, should my children, more specifically - my son - be forced to sit perfectly still on a chair in a restaurant without wiggling and with very little talking? You may laugh, but this was really troublesome to me this week, particularly because that said son fell off his chair (because of his wiggling), causing his "neighbour" (a relative of mine) to spill their salad on themselves and partially on the floor. Apart from this catastrophe, it bothered nobody else in the restaurant.

Including his mother.

Whether this makes me a bad mother or not, I haven't yet decided, but throughout the week I have had to take stock of what is deemed appropriate public behaviour and truthfully, I still am not sure. I have a very "mixed bag" philosophy of parenting - largely traditional with discipline, and untraditional with behaviour. As a rule, I do not tolerate my children disrespecting adults, which is why the whole salad-on-the-floor incident troubled me; I wasn't troubled enough about it even though he disturbed an adult.

In short, here is what I've learned about myself:

1) I worry too much what others think;
2) I have too much stinkin' pride and realize that my children's misbehaviour sometimes bothers me because it's a reflection on my lack of parenting RATHER than their misbehaviour;
3) I probably won't know any more next week how to be a better parent.

I've also learned a couple more things, these during church tonight:

1) Not to look at my son while on the platform singing during song service, and;
2) Not to make eye contact with my sister after looking at my son during song service.

While I was earnestly trying to give God the glory in song, I made the mistake of looking at my son, only to find both of his fingers in his ears, eyes crossed, tongue sticking out, jumping up and down during the singing. I then observed my sister (whom he was with) stop his nonsense, only to look up at me, make eye contact, and start to laugh.

I challenge you to try to sing seriously at a time such as this.

Now, to complete my mixed bag post, I hope you enjoy pictures of the "art work" my son produced during church tonight. Some of it had me in stitches.


Title: "To Be Continued"


Title: "Seth David"


Title: "Castle On A Hill"


Title: "Happy Man"

AND MY FAVOURITE OF ALL:

Title: "Scary Mouse"
(Those teeth really do it for me)


Last, but not least, the chilluns' and I made a gingerbread house on Friday.




Hope y'all enjoyed my mixed bag post. Good night.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Lock-Down

Reason #50 (at least) of why I homeschool: My home is SAFE.

Today at the school I drive for, there was a school LOCK-DOWN. This is the same school that I would likely send my children to right by my house.

Apparently a child was making threats.

I really don't think anything else needs to be said.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Statue of "Liverty"

Seth called me to come to his bedroom.

"MOM! COME AND SEE MY STATUE OF LIVERTY!" he exclaimed.

This is what I saw:



Lovely, lovely statue.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Mr. Webster

After getting off the bus today, Seth decided to coin a new word. He told Hannah to,

"iquidenity"

Iquidenity apparently means, according to Seth, "to co-operate and listen on the bus so you can get a treat."

The boy's a genius.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Four More Reasons

In light of some recent events, and to add to my already large list, herein lies four more reasons why I choose to homeschool:

Reason #1. I am convinced that if my son was in school, his teachers would want to put him on Ritalin. I have discovered that he is almost completely unable to sit still while doing his work; instead standing ON his chair, standing BESIDE his chair, KNEELING on his chair, eventually ending up on the floor to dance a few little "jigs". This cycle is repeated continually throughout his school work. I in no way believe he has ADHD, he is just a normally active little boy. Neither do I see a reason to suppress his motion since it does not disturb anyone else. He is suppressed in church and at other occasions where his activity will disturb someone, so if he chooses to stand on his head to complete his school - as long as he gets it done - it's fine by me.

Reasons #2 & 3. In recent weeks while driving the school bus, some new revelations have come to light. First, in spite of the fact that I love the darling little kids from the refugee camp that I spoke of in a recent post, they reaffirm that there is no language barrier too big to learn how to SWEAR. Yup. The worst four-letter word manages to creep its way into their weak English vocabulary. Which goes to show what other kids are teaching them at school, and reinforces why I do not want my kids in a regular classroom at public school.

Secondly, I have been shocked to observe an enormous lack of supervision by the teaching staff of my school. Since I have to make two small loops on my route, taking some kids home in one loop and then returning to the school for the second set of kids, there are anywhere from 30 to 60 kids waiting for my return, which is a 10-15 minute wait. There have been at least a half dozen times when these kids are left unsupervised and running wild. One time when I pulled up I noticed a lady supervising the kids that I had never met before, only to find out that she was a "concerned citizen", who happened to be driving by the school and almost hit a kindergartner who was OUT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STREET. She very kindly took it upon herself to supervise these kids while waiting for my return.

On one other occasion, Dave and I were picnicing with our kids during a school day in late September at a park close to a school. Since we were there at lunch time, we observed the kids coming out after their own lunch to play for the remainder of their break. There were two teachers supervising that I noticed, but I was amazed at how many kids were hiding in places that the teachers couldn't see and realized how easy it would be the kids to escape the bell when it rang. It would be impossible for the teachers to know exactly how many kids were on their watch, since they were from all grades and the number would vary day to day.

I would have no problem with Hannah in the supervisory care of a teacher in these instances because I trust her and she is cautious. But there is no way in this lifetime I could trust Seth. I could easily see him being the boy in the middle of the street and him hiding on the teacher thinking it was funny.

Reason #4. This is the biggest reason of all. I recently learned of a situation (from a very reliable source) where a mom dropped her 9-year-old daughter off at school and realized she forgot her lunch. She told her daughter that she would return later with her lunch. However, the mom was late in dropping off her lunch. As a result, a teacher called in social services (without permission/knowledge of a parent), a social worker questioned the girl (without permission/knowledge of a parent), asked questions that eventually led to the inevitable, "do you ever get a spanking?" (which she does). As a result, the parents are being subjected to home assessments and have been told that if they fail they are at risk of losing not just their 9-year-old daughter, but their BABY BOY!

ALL THIS BECAUSE A MOM DID NOT MAKE IT BACK TO THE SCHOOL IN TIME WITH HER DAUGHTER'S LUNCH! ALL BECAUSE OF AN OVER-ZEALOUS TEACHER!

I don't know about anyone else, but this absolutely enrages me. Ironically, I drive the school bus to inner city schools who PROVIDE LUNCH FOR THE CHILDREN BECAUSE THE PARENTS ARE INCAPABLE OF PROVIDING FOOD FOR THEIR CHILDREN.........!!!!! I have also listened to countless stories - by the children I drive - of arguments and physical abuse, as well as see their dilapidated homes. And these children continue to be allowed to live with their parents.

I realize I don't know everything about the above story, but I do not believe a teacher should have the right to call in a social worker to question a child without authority from a parent. If a child looks abused or neglected, then call the police. But this child was not. This child has two parents who love her, and whose mom was.......a little late. That's it.

I'm sure in a little while I'll have four more reasons why I homeschool. At least.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A Conversation With My Boy

My boy and I were having a special snuggle time tonight. With it came an interesting conversation that began with what he wanted to be when he grew up to discussing what Jesus was like. Our little talk went something like this:

"Is Jesus good, Seth?" I asked.

"Yup. Jesus is good," Seth replied. "He's good AND nice. All the time."

"He doesn't kick."

"He doesn't punch."

"He doesn't bite."

"He doesn't pinch."

"He doesn't spit." All wonderful words of wisdom from my boy.

Impressed, I asked him if someone told him this.

"Nope. I just know it. Jesus also doesn't lie. But sometimes I do."

Now, how can my heart not melt when he speaks like this? After discussing the "lying" thing for a bit, I asked him if he wanted to know Jesus when he was older (because he has already said that he is TOO young).

"Yup," he said.

"How do you know that you're saved?" I asked him.

"When you walk with Jesus," he answered.

Stifling a chuckle - because after all, walking with Jesus IS part of being saved - we got down to the bare bones plan of salvation. When we came to baptism, he explained very earnestly that,

"Someone gets in the water, and then goes underneath the water. ALL of him, with no part staying outside the water!" he said emphatically.

I absolutely love these little talks. Not only do they let me know how much he really understands, but the unique child-like understanding is sometimes cute and startlingly accurate.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

More Stories Of Seth

"You've told me not to do such an awful lot of things that I can't remember them all."
(Davy, six-year-old twin to Dora from Anne of Avonlea)

I've decided that Seth doesn't remind me so much of Calvin anymore, but Davy from Anne of Avonlea. Davy is a six-year-old boy that is adopted by Marilla Cuthbert and Anne of Avonlea is largely about his adventures and the trials of Marilla and Anne bringing up twins. Calvin, from anything I've read in Calvin and Hobbes, has no lovable and redeeming qualities. He's just a capital "B" Brat that has a bit of a mean streak. Davy, on the other hand, is very mischievous and always getting into scrapes, but is also very lovable. Much like my Seffie.

I have said repeatedly - and I go on record as saying it AGAIN - that I cannot imagine how much more mischief this boy of mine can create. Just when I think that surely he'll be calming down a bit, his escapades seem to increase. Sometimes I do wonder if it's because I have an abundance of rules and he just can't remember them all. Other times I know he's just being a twerp.

The last few days has brought about something new: increased VOLUME when he speaks. It seems that when he is excited, which happens to be a lot, that he cannot speak in anything less than about 500 decibels (with the normal range being 50-60).

On one of the games he plays on the computer, he squirts water at Mickey Mouse (or one of his cohorts) and he often gets so worked up I'm sure the entire cul-de-sac can hear him because he can't play it without yelling at the computer in excitement. Sometimes he gets scared too if he thinks one of the objects of his attack is chasing him and yells for his sister to come and help him. Sometimes she does. Sometimes she's busy and doesn't. When she doesn't, he gets a little perturbed and yells things like:

"THAT'S FINE! I DON'T NEED YOU! I'M REALLY NOT SCARED ANYWAY!"

Apparently today in Sunday School he put on a concert, singing his favourite Jungle Jam songs. He put popsicle sticks in his ears, made faces, drew funny pictures and did his best to make everyone laugh.

During song service tonight, he did his best John Travolta imitation and practiced his Staying Alive routine. I have to constantly be on my guard with him, because if I don't I'll find him turning around making funny faces to people behind him. He then periodically sneaks over to me to give me a big kiss or hug. Or sometimes to bug me by tickling my neck or earlobe - which he knows I DETEST.

It's ever so hard for a five-year-old boy to sit still in church, after all.

Tonight after church, Seth was impolite to one of the lady's in the church because he wouldn't answer a question (just a general question about his well being). He has this tendency which we are trying to break, and as a result, his daddy said that he couldn't have a treat. So, off to bed he went treat-less. After 45 minutes of silence, in which I thought he had gone to sleep, he called me into his room. He informed me that he just "could not get comfortable" (a line he has borrowed from his older sister, I think).

"I think I really need daddy to lay beside me to help me get comfortable," he 'splained. He got to sleep in the big bed beside daddy this afternoon, you see.

I went to tell daddy of his request. I wouldn't want him to miss out on this special father/son bonding opportunity, after all. Daddy told me to tell him to "try a little harder to get comfortable". I went in to Seth and relayed the message.

"But, I can't," he said. "I really, REALLY need help to get comfortable," he said beseechingly. (You can tell I've been reading the Anne books again lately).

So, I had him roll over and I tickled his back for a little while. When I was done, I asked him if that made him comfortable, yet.

"Yup," he said. "You can go and let daddy know that I don't need him. I'm comfortable now." So I did.

About five minutes later he yelled from his room to his dad:

"I'M NOT COMFORTABLE AGAIN! I NEED YOU TO COME LAY WITH ME!"

So patient daddy (with a grin on his face, I might add) went in and made him comfortable. And it only took about ten minutes for that little rascal to fall asleep.

He's happy. Dad's happy. And I'm EXTREMELY happy. I have a couple of hours of quiet before I head off to bed. Good night.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A Long Time Ago

Today I printed off a poem I wrote to my daughter just before her seventh birthday and gave it to her. For some reason, I neglected to give it to her for her birthday which was my original intention (how bad is that?). As a result, she spent some time this afternoon writing a poem for me.

A Long Time Ago
(Dedicated to my 42-year-old mother)

A long time ago
You weren't what you are to me now
I had more play time then
But I want to spend more time with you now

A long time ago
I was more cute
A long time ago
I could make more of a hoot

When I was small
Long ago
I grew big
Not as big as Bo

You are the best
I think I know how
I love you
And I haven't stopped now

Love
Hannah
Rose
Marie
Your
Daughter

The first line really choked me up, because it is really true. Hannah wasn't very cuddly as a baby or as a little girl. She was busy and curious and loved spending time with her daddy. In the last couple of years she has changed dramatically. She has become a snuggler. She expresses herself very eloquently and tells me many times a day how much she loves me. One of her common sayings to me is that she "wouldn't want any other mom but me" (imagine that - even after a day of school?). We have begun a little game at night when she is tucked in we call "I love you more than.....". One of us will begin the line and the other will finish it with a rhyme. We have found it to be a very special, pleasant way to finish the day, bonding us even more - amid belly laughter because of the silly things we think to say.

She is still very close to her dad and I hope (and doubt) that will ever change. She's just managed to include me in her heart with that special closeness. I pray it will continue to grow as she blossoms into those teenage years.

I've hung her poem on the wall in my bedroom. Along with other works of "art" that she made for me (her latest passion). My bedroom wall has become a collage of childhood artwork and scribblings. Tell me, what is paint and design to the 1,000 watt smiles of a very pleased child?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Family Pictures

Well, after all the hassle, we finally did manage to do INDOOR family pictures (as a surprise for my mom's 65th birthday). However, because there were some very cranky members of the family (not mentioning any names, of course), it was quite an abbreviated photo shoot. As a result, there were only a handful of pictures per family to choose from. With poor lighting (done inside our museum on the recommendation of a professional photographer) and cranky family members, Rachel and her "side kick" Jenn, managed to do a pretty good job. My wonderfully talented OLDEST sister Laura will be scrapbooking a gigantic shadow box of a kazillion pictures with the help of some of her not-quite-so-talented sisters. This will thrill my mom.

I absolutely love, LOVE, LOVE this picture. This is why people think Hannah looks like her daddy. Can't imagine why.

And here is the happy clan. You can probably tell who was the most impressed by looking closely at this picture.

Anyway. IT'S ALL DONE. For another 25 years.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Unconventional

We are a fairly traditional family. Two parents. Two kids. NO pets. One God. Dad brings home the bacon. Mom stays home with kids. AND HOMESCHOOLS. Dad definitely wears the pants in the family. Mom is submissive (no rotten eggs, please!). Mom generally cooks the meals. Dad can cook and does sometimes (remember: he was a bachelor until age 38). Mom cleans and does laundry, and YES, dad can do these things but generally doesn't (not that mom thinks he should). Mom irons dad's shirts and everyone else's clothes. Mom brings home a little bit of bacon. Dad fixes - EVERYTHING.

There is one thing,however, that this mama does NOT do.

But daddy does. And it's pretty unconventional.

It's got a little something to do with a needle and thread.

This mama does not sew. Yes, she can sew a button on, but generally she chooses to use a safety pin. She has NEVER sewn a hem, choosing scotch tape instead (the preferred method of most of the single girls at camp meeting when she was young and single). Daddy hems his own pants. He sews buttons on. He mends.

AND HE SEWS THE HOLES IN HIS SOCKS!

Now, I really think the reason I have not offered to sew on his buttons or mend his pants (because I'm pretty sure I could) is because of those stinkin' socks. I'm certain that if I offer to do the one, I might actually have to mend them when they NEED TO BE THROWN IN THE GARBAGE!

My kids are very well trained in this area. When they have a tear in something, they very unconventionally take their item to.......daddy, of course. This morning, my daughter decided she was tired of the stuffing coming out of her bear, so she took it and three of her brother's animals with cuts and bruises to the surgeon general. So, before church, while I very traditionally ironed, fed the kids, helped them get ready, did my daughter's hair, combed my son's hair, washed faces and brushed teeth, Dr. Daddy gave stitches. And made my kids' day.

I watched in awe (when I had time). And I wondered if I should feel bad or not. And then I thought (in justification, of course), "Nah. I do every other traditional thing in this family. This just makes us unique."

So I'm curious. Are there any unique, unconventional habits in your family?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Caught!

My son is coming along very well with his reading. It's rather cute to hear him walk around the house sounding out words as he thinks of them.

On Thursday, I was going through his very first reader that comes with the curriculum that I use. The first page had some three letter words as well as the illustration associated with the word. As he sounded out the first word, cap, I began to wonder whether he was really reading the word or whether he had figured out the word because of the picture. However, because he painstakingly sounded out the word, I became convinced that he was really reading the word.

He read his first eight words, flawlessly sounding out the word first. Until we came to this word, illustrated with the picture below:

The word he was to sound out was "wet". He carefully studied the word and the picture, and then removed any doubt as to whether he was really reading the words prior. This is the word he very slowly sounded out:


S - I - N - K

The little cheat! He even carefully sounded each letter out without having learned the "nk" blend yet!

He went on to read very well after that (while I covered up all the pictures). Still, this boy of mine is so slick I doubt I'll ever be able to relax.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Family Traits

My wonderful, curious, bright girl learned how to knit today. It's been something she's been wanting to learn for the last couple of months, along with sewing and crocheting. Since my favourite pasttimes are reading, sleeping and taking hot baths, it pains me to admit that she must have received this curiousity gene from her dad. There is very little that doesn't interest her. She asks a million questions while helping her dad work. She is also very determined and does not quit until she understands it or conquers it herself if she is at all able to. I love this about her. I don't understand it, but I love it.

I also love the fact that she is very honest (unlike her brother - but I'll save that for a separate post). She has proven it countless times by confessing to me things she has said, done or thought that concerned her. Things that I wouldn't know about if she didn't tell me. During a spelling test a couple of weeks ago, after I corrected her perfect test, she took a pen and marked one word wrong because she took a quick peek in my book while I wasn't looking. And then she told me about it. In Sunday School last week, she was unhappy when she realized she forgot her Bible at home since they get rewards for remembering to bring their Bibles and for being able to quote their memory verse. She decided to take one of the generic Bibles from the pew into Sunday School so as not to miss out on that portion of her reward. When we got home, she told me about it because it "just didn't feel right". Very impressed, I agreed that it wasn't totally honest, but that I was very proud of her for seeing it and telling me about it. She understood that in the future if she forgot her Bible, she would just not receive her reward. This trait does come from me, since I always seemed to have enough guilt to cover the entire family's sins when I was a kid (and still sometimes do, for some stupid reason).

She has one nasty flaw, however. And unfortunately, I must also take the credit/blame for this trait. It's all wrapped in that stupid thing called vanity. And PRIDE.

Following our afternoon school bus run, we had to go to the store. I have to wear a bright neon yellow vest while I drive bus, and the kids are required to wear something similarly bright because they ride with me. Just before we got to the door of the store, I noticed that neither of the kids had taken their vests off. Upon reflection now, I wonder why I even mentioned it because it really is no big deal whether or not a person wears their vest into a store. I guess it just proves my point that she got this stinkin' trait from good ole' moi. Because of my stupid mouth, both of the kids removed their previously forgotten vest. Further, to Hannah's mortification, because my hands were already full, I asked her to hold the vests while we were in the store.

This was too much. To actually hold the vests while walking through a public place was akin to the world ending. By the time we made it to the line-up at the till, I noticed she had managed to scrunch the vests up into a very tight ball and hide them around her left armpit so that only a tiny little bit of NEON YELLOW was showing. I leaned over and quietly said (or so I think)...

"Are you embarrassed to be holding those vests, Hannah?"

To which she desperately whispered,

"MOM!"

Being quite quick on the uptake, I shut my mouth for the duration of our time in the store. When we got in the car, I asked her why she was embarrassed.

"Well, what would you think, mom?!" was her sassy reply. "Wouldn't YOU be embarrassed to have to hold vests in the store?" she asked. "I mean, NOBODY EVER HOLDS VESTS IN THE STORE, MOM!"

Well duh! I mean, stupid me. Of course nobody would do something so disgraceful!

"And why did you have to ASK me if I was embarrassed in public?" she continued.

She is seven years old. SEVEN. Can you imagine what she'll be like in a few years?

But at least she is honest.

And curious.

And determined.

Three out of four ain't bad.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Hannah's "Problem"

Okay. I just have to post this. Hannah has been blossoming lately with her creative writing. She has been writing songs, poetry and short stories on her own (in her free time), so I'm pretty proud of her. This was a girl who, as bright as she is, struggled making a short sentence just a few short months ago.

Anyway, this is her latest "creation". It's a math problem she made up.

Once a cat had 3 babies. In another house a dog had 3 babies. The cat and the dog went for a walk. They fell off a high cliff. The cat had 9 lives but the dog only had one. Then another dog with 18 babies came along. He (not she....:) fell off the cliff too. How many babies did the cat have to take care of now?

And of course, she answered correctly.

Cool, huh? I'm just finding the little quirks in her personality fascinating, so of course I think everyone else should, too......:)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Celebration

Today was a major breakthrough day. Today I used every ounce of skill and brain power to help Seth over a hump in school. Today I pat myself on the back because in no way do I have any extraordinary talent and ability to teach. But today I taught.

I think I even deserved a gummy worm.

Much like the thrill of that first time a parent witnesses the baby steps of of their toddler - or some other equally wonderful milestone - I witnessed Seth READ his first word. Then his second word. Then his third through sixth word. It was extremely rewarding. I had to coax and cajole; he resisted. I persisted. He was able to sound out each individual letter in the word cut, but was not able to put the word together.

After several minutes of sounding out each letter, with him informing me that "that's enough now, mom", he finally said the word cut. I screamed and hollered and danced. Hannah came running out of her room to join in the rejoicing. Seth's eyeballs got big as it dawned on him what he just did. And then miracle of all miracles, he asked to do another word.

There was even joy in heaven. Daddy was called. Sirens went off. Fireworks exploded.

After he read cut, he went on to read cat, dog, lot and cub. He then ran out of his room later on with the word zip on something and read it to me. It was glorious.

Prior to this I had been using flashcards to go through the entire alphabet, mixing up each letter, just to see how many letters he really could name. He can sound out more letters than he can name (although he knows entire the alphabet verbally, he does not recognize all of the letters). It was during this time that I gained more insight as to how his brain worked. When holding up the "Y" flashcard, he said, "I know that letter is right before Z", and with the letter "W" he said, "Hmmm, that letter is definitely at the end of the alphabet." He cracked me up. For other letters he didn't recognize immediately, like "M", "N" and "P", he would recite the alphabet until he got to that letter and usually stop suddenly and shout out the correct letter. He is definitely very visual in his learning (he asked to see the entire alphabet as he looked at the flashcards of individual letters, which I didn't allow because I wanted to see which letters he didn't know).

And the funniest little ritual of all? To try to help him remember the short "E" sound, I was singing a silly song using the word elephant and making the short "E" sound over and over. So, when he came to any blends that had the short "E" sound in it, he would recite this little saying in order to remember the correct short "E" sound:

"The elephant likes red eggs, e......e......e.."

How is that for hilariously unique?

After the celebration ended and he got his gummy worms - which he promptly formed the letters "S", "U" and "V" with - we finished school for the day and he went to play. His little brain was still working, though, because he suddenly ran out, shouting:

"MOM! I KNOW ANOTHER WORD! B.......U.......G..........BUG! PRETTY COOL, MOM, RIGHT?!"

I laughed so hard (without him seeing, of course), because he hadn't been reading at all. He just sounded out the word and thought this was just like reading the word.

As the day is ending, I heave a heartfelt sigh. It's been a good day. A rewarding day. And I go to bed with a smile and sense of accomplishment.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

When I Cry

A few things are on my heart tonight.

Today my brother-in-law had surgery to correct his deviated nasal septum (nose surgery) and ended up having all kinds of complications. This was weighing heavily on my mind and, while I was explaining to my mom what was going on, my son was listening. He became concerned about his uncle, so I told him that we would pray for him. He wholeheartedly agreed. He told me to go ahead and start, and he would follow, and that is what he did, basically repeating everything that I said.

I was extremely moved that my son was touched. And I got to thinking about how much the Lord is touched by the feeling of our infirmities.

When my husband came home, he told me about this song. I have since listened to it several times and told him it has become my "new favourite song". We then started talking about how much Jesus really does care and how He does cry along with us when we are hurting.

Dave then said something to me that I think is truly profound.

"Think about it. Jesus knew when Lazarus died that he was going to resurrect him. Yet, he was still moved deeply - by the pain of Mary and Martha - and cried."

I have been moved tonight. I pray you are as well. God bless.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Seth Calvin and Tigger Hobbes


Once upon a time, there was a young, mischievous, funny, sly boy named Seth Calvin. Calvin's constant companion was a bright orange, striped cat named Tigger Hobbes.

Calvin and his best buddy did everything together. They played cowboys and indians, cops and robbers, knights and knaves. They rode trains and space ships and flew airplanes. They caused their babysitters grief and mom to pull her hair out.

They fought hard together and played hard together. But they loved each other. And whatever scraps they had, they usually made up.

One night mommy was tucking Calvin into bed. Calvin turned toward the wall where his ever faithful Hobbes was and threw him toward the foot of the bed.

"Why did you throw Hobbes?" asked mom.

"Cuz I'm tired of him bugging me when I'm trying to get to sleep," was Calvin's reply. "I'm tired of him not listening to me when I tell him to stop."

Stifling a chuckle, mom asked, "Aren't you always bugging him?"

"Nope. And I need to get to sleep."

And so ends a great friendship.

At least until the next great adventure.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Snow!

It snowed today. And even though I get tired of winter pretty fast, today I very much enjoyed the excitement of my kids - ecstatic about the first snow fall - trying to make a snowman.

Even more, I watched the wonderment of children from far away countries who have never seen snow before. Some things are priceless.

It's been a good day.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Heartbreak

She awakens with the dawn while her children still sleep to begin her day's labour. If there is enough flour, she will in all likeliness make them injera, a pancake-like bread, for breakfast. If there is not, she will try to scrounge enough beans for one meal that day to feed her family. She hopes there are enough beans until their rations come again in a few days.

And so begins one day in Dabaar, the largest refugee camp in the world located in Kenya. A camp that was built to hold less than 100,000 immigrants has now swelled to 230,000. Most of these immigrants are from war torn Somalia.

Trying to find enough water not only to drink - dehydration is one of the worst problems in the children of the camp - but cooking, bathing and washing clothes is very difficult. There are essentially two types of weather: extremely hot and the rainy season. The rainy season might relieve the oppressive heat, but brings with it the constant threat of flooding. And more mosquitos. And malaria.

In her stick hut - even more primitive than that of Little Pig #2, no joke - she beds down for the night on the ground. She finds it very difficult to sleep; keeping the netting around her and the children can be difficult and the constant buzzing of the mosquitos distracting. The heat is still oppressive. But she is exhausted for one other reason. She is pregnant and due any day with baby number five. Before she falls into her fitful slumber, she prays one more to time to Allah that her papers will arrive soon.

She awakes the next day to start the cycle again. This time she is summoned to the United Nations base. Her papers have arrived. She is to leave in one week. With her four boys. Perhaps she has a husband, perhaps not; rape and sexual immorality is rampant in the camp. So she begins her preparations to leave the camp in one week. She breathes one last desperate prayer to Allah.

Please, please don't let my baby come before I leave.

Her baby does not have the necessary papers to leave the camp and the country.

Two days before she is to leave, she gives birth. She faces an agonizing decision: to leave the camp with her FOUR boys ONLY and leave her baby behind, OR, to stay behind, perhaps forever, and never give any of her children a chance to live without poverty, to get an education, and to be healthy. To just break the wretched cycle.

Two days later, she leaves the camp. With her four boys and WITHOUT her baby.

And her heart is broken.

-------------------------------------

One month ago I met Mar Lay Hla Ka, Mwee Eh Ka, Soe Soe, and Thart Shay. Those four precious boys got on my bus for the first time with their mother standing guard at the bus stop.

Today, I learned their story from the principal of the school. And I have cried off and on all day. I cry as I write this story. Last year I got to know some wonderful kids with some heartbreaking stories. This year is a whole different situation, and this story is the most heartwrenching one I've heard yet. None of the boys or their mother have had any education; they have never had a clock and do not know how to tell time. The first day the mom didn't know what time the bus came and didn't understand the clock so she stood out at the bus stop at 7:00 a.m.

She now lives in what she would think of as luxury. A three bedroom apartment that has running, ENDLESS water. But she is without her baby.

And I really don't know what to do about any of this. I just know that suddenly, more than ever, my house is too grand, my belly is too full and my bed is too soft. I get to sleep beside my husband and I have two beautiful children. I live across the street from a woman who comes to this country with hope for her boys but scars in her heart.

And I know a Saviour.

ABC - The Amazing Alphabet Book

Sometimes I'm really daft. Right before my very eyes, in my own house, was this amazing book that I believe has helped Seth cross a major hurdle in learning. I was trying to put Mrs. Wizzle's suggestion to use (but still struggle with coming up with my own creative words and songs, etc.,) when I remembered this book. Now, because of the silly words and silly songs we made up to go with the silly words, Seth is doing much better with his letters. In fact, today he actually began to understand and say some blends, like li, le, la, lu, lo as well as saying blends using the letters b, t, m and r. We were both VERY excited.

Again, thanks to this book, Mrs. Wizzle, and even "Mr. Wizzle" - the gummy worms he gave Seth at camp meeting have been the greatest reward for him (yes, even at 9:30 a.m., but sometimes I'm desperate!) - mother and son are doing much better.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Letter To Parents


Dear Parent:

In front of the First Elementary School, you will notice two signs. In case you have forgotten how to read, note the picture of the sign to the left to help remind you of what this sign looks like. Just in front of these signs there is several hundred feet of parking.

Monday through Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m, in between these two signs - picture to my left - there is a spot reserved for something called a school bus. Again, in case you have forgotten how to read, please note the picture at the very top of this letter and have your translator point it out to you.

Now, I realize that you are a special family. Special families are families that think that they are the only ones who would possibly need to stop in a NO PARKING ZONE and that they are the only ones with true, extenuating circumstances. However, I'll let you in on a little secret. Your school, First Elementary, has several special families. In fact, your school has so many special families that you really should consider getting together to form your own Special Family Club. Each of these special families think they have special reason to take up the space designated for a school bus - picture noted above. And because there are so many special people at your school, the spot designated for a school bus to park is taken up many, many times per week. Which means that the school bus has to stop in the middle of the street, hold up traffic, sometimes for up to 15 minutes, and have children walk onto the road to get on and off the bus. As you can see, if you have any brains at all (and herein lies the problem), this is truly not ideal.

This is my suggestion to you. Go downtown to SGI and pick up the newest edition of the Saskatchewan Driver's Handbook. Turn to page 20, subsection 3.3, to the part titled Stopping And Parking. Please read the section at the bottom that says "You must not park where signs prohibit parking". Again, if you need a translator, have your translator read this section for you. Then, turn to page 63, subsection 4.5 to the part titled Traffic Signs And Signals. You will notice many pages of PICTURES, one of which prohibits parking in a school bus zone. And again, have your translator help you understand this if necessary. If you still fail to understand what the meaning of this is, please do everyone a favour and book an appointment to do the written portion of your driver's licence OVER AGAIN. Or perhaps book an appointment with an optometrist.

If all of the above fails to make you understand that, in spite of your specialness, you are not to park in a school bus zone, then perhaps having a parking enforcement officer spend a few days hanging around the school will. Getting hit in the pocket book usually works wonders.

I thank you for your serious attention to this matter. Remember: If the temptation becomes too much to walk that extra ten feet from YOUR designated parking area because you are in a rush to make it to little Johnny's hockey practice or Suzie's piano lesson - a few extra bucks in parking tickets might just make it impossible to pay for those things that are so important to your special family.

Kindest personal regards,

Atilla the Hun
Your Friendly Neighbourhood Bus Driver

Note: Please pray that I overcome the temptation NOT to really hand this letter out at my school. It was written in jest, but my goodness, does it ever tempt me.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Hiding

It has become a goal of mine to accumulate enough stories of my kids' childhood to eventually amass them into a book to give them when they're older. When they would appreciate them. Like at least by age 47 (if I'm still alive then). If I ever do accomplish this, guaranteed that at least half of the stories will be about my son's misbehaviour in church.

I warned my son during prayer before church last night to stop being a pest. He was tickling my ears, sticking a pen in between my arms, almost poking my eyeballs out, just to name a couple of things. So, we eventually took our routine weekly trip downstairs. To the OLD SANCTUARY (for any Mark Lowry fans).

As we were marching to our secret place, he became concerned.

"I'm still a sick boy, remember," he reminded me, because he has been fighting a seriously debilitating disease a cold, after all.

After giving him two swats on the area where God intended swats to be, he had his cry and we had our chat. After his assurances that he would obey from that moment on (and my managing to refrain from rolling my eyes at these assurances), we left our secret place to go back upstairs. He stopped me at the foot of the stairs to air a concern.

"I don't want anyone in church to see my eyes," he said.

"Why not?" I asked.

"Because they might think I got a spanking," he answered. Now what would possibly give them that idea? I wondered.

We march up the stairs slowly. As we approach the door to the sanctuary, my son stops to take cover.

And so confirms to anyone who might be watching that he is either playing hide and seek, or is in fact, bothered by the brightness of the sanctuary lights.


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Impossible Variables

My mom is going to be 65 years old in November. Her main wish for her birthday is that she get a recent photograph of her entire family, since the last one was done 22 years ago. You would think that this would be fairly easy to do, since we have a "budding" photographer in our family, which keeps the cost down significantly.

Well, it isn't, and at this point I'm losing hope that we'll get it done.

The first obstacle is that the only possible time we can all meet AT THE SAME TIME (which is kind of important if you want it to be the entire family) is on Sunday. Every other day and evening of the week somebody is working. Our second obstacle is that we have to have a second photographer, since our budding-photographer-relative kinda needs to be in a few pictures. So, for the last two Sundays we have planned to run home from church in the morning, change into nice casual attire, and then meet at a previously decided location.

It was hotter than normal temperatures the past two weeks. Three records were broken in the province. Except last Sunday. That was the day it decided it was tired of being hot and that the earth needed a drink. And it rained cats and dogs. Obviously pictures last Sunday were cancelled.

Now, today. This Sunday. Sibling #3 (I won't say which one that is, except that she has the youngest children) was concerned Saturday because her youngest child was getting sick. There was also 40 percent chance of rain in the forecast for Sunday. Sibling #3 warned Sibling #1, 2 and 4 of this, so it was decided that they would just have to get up Sunday morning and play it by ear. Sibling #3 was pleasantly surprised that her youngest offspring awoke happy, with no fever, and only a slight cough. The skies still looked gloomy, however, and the forecast still called for 40 percent chance of rain. And, it was very windy.

Sibling #3 discovered, with great bitterness, that the rest of her Siblings had a privilege that she didn't have. Perhaps they never used to have this privilege in years' past, but at this point they have arrived at a place in life that Sibling #3 was not. And that was the privilege of SLEEPING IN. So, while Sibling #3 was up with the dawn, her other Siblings slumbered. She was left to wonder whether pictures were going to take place or not because of the weather. Since Sibling #3 had more work to do to prepare, with younger children, she had to make a decision. And that decision was to awake another one of her Siblings (the one who was least likely to bite her head off) and ask them whether there should still be pictures in light of the cloudy skies and Oz-type winds. Sibling #4 said that she thought we should still plan for pictures, even making the decision just after church if necessary.

Immediately when church was out, Sibling #3 set about trying to convince Sibling #2, the budding-relative-photographer, Sibling #1's wife, and the rest of the relatives at church that since it wasn't raining, even though it was windy, that pictures should still be done. After all, Sibling #4 agreed with her, right? However, it was discovered at that moment that photographer #2 could not make it to the photo shoot. And so thus all plans were again kiboshed.

Sibling #3 called Sibling #4 after church to tell her that pictures were cancelled only to discover that Sibling #1 and Sibling #4 had already discussed it and decided that it was much, much too windy (and cold) for pictures and that they weren't going anyway.

Broken down, here are the unique variables of actually trying to get pictures done in our family:

a) whether it's raining;
b) whether it's windy;
c) whether it's TOO sunny (according to the budding-relative-photographer);
d) whether it's perfect, mostly cloudy, non-windy, non-cold, non-rainy, non-snow weather, between the hours of 1:00 - 3:00 p.m on a Sunday afternoon;
e) whether NONE of the family members, particularly the smaller children are SICK;
f) whether the second photographer can make it or not;
g) whether the spouses of Siblings 1 through 4 get too cranky about the whole process and tell us to jump in the lake (particularly the male spouses of Sibling #2 and 3);
h) whether any of the relatives love one another at all by next Sunday, the next presumed attempt.

I realize this is a lengthy story and it's meant to relieve tension and find some humour. However, to anyone reading this blog, trust me when I say that if you ever decide to try to have family pictures - particularly if your family has more than ONE person - just let that thought pass on by. For the sake of peace, harmony, love, and sanity.

Here's to next Sunday.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

New Title

We snuck in a trip to the grocery store this morning after my bus run. While in the store, my kids began their usual, "can we get this, mom?" routine.

One of the things they regularly ask me for is the Yop yogurt drink which I rarely get because it's too expensive. I just get regular yogurt instead that's on sale. However, today Yop was on sale, so much to the kids' delight, I stocked up.

Seth had to to protect them, so excited was he. He had to put them on the counter when I went to pay for them, so excited was he. And, so excited was he that I earned a new title today. On the way out to the car, he exclaimed in total delight:

"Mom, you're the best YOGURT-DRINK-PICKER-UPPER, EVER!"

And so today I proudly wear my badge of honour.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Trial By Homeschooling

It doesn't matter how much I tried to prepare myself for this fact, I'm still a little thrown off because of it.

BOYS ARE COMPLETELY DIFFERENT THAN GIRLS WHEN IT COMES TO LEARNING.

While I remain pleasantly surprised at how long Seth is willing to do school without his A.D.H.D. kicking in, I have been just as unpleasantly surprised at how much he does not retain. Just when I think he's "getting it", he promptly "forgets it".

He is still much better with numbers than letters. With his letters, he is still struggling with his vowels names and short vowel sounds, particularly with remembering the name of "i" and the sound of "e". The first two consonants introduced to him are "t" and "l" and from one day to the next he cannot remember the name of "t", only the sound.

Today I discovered two more problems, both of which almost reduced me to tears of frustration. I was asking Seth to trace his numbers first, and then write them in the spot beside where he traced them. I then got tied up with giving Hannah a speed drill in math and initially was not able to watch him. When I finally looked back at him, he was hung up writing the number 3 neatly (and not doing a very good job), and had not begun by tracing it. Now I do not expect him to write all of his numbers and letters perfectly or even that great. Yet. However, I do expect him to listen to my instructions. And that is what caused my frustration. It did not matter how many times I told him to TRACE the number 3, he would look at me in the face and promptly attempt to write a 3 correctly without tracing it. I had him look at me and repeat my instructions; he still did not carry them out. It was probably close to one dozen times of stopping him, erasing his attempt, and showing him myself (several times with me doing it myself) before he finally cooperated and/or understood.

Then I had him count to 20. He knows his numbers well and has on his own figured out the pattern of counting after 20. However, I had forgotten that for some reason he cannot retain the number 15. When he counts, he skips from 14 to 16, every time, and only does this at 15. Not 25 or 35 or 45, etc. So, I had him count over and over and over from 11 to 20. At least 20 times. He would miss the 15, so I would count with him. He would do it again himself, only to again miss 15. It took until the 19th time AT LEAST, for him to say 15 himself.

I'm sure a large part of it is that he is not really listening. I also know, however, that he will remember something one day, and forget it the next. He has also written his 2's and 3's backward on several occasions, so it's something I want to be cautious of and watch closely. One of the things I was told at a homeschool conference is that there are some studies that show that dyslexia can be caused by pushing a child to read TOO early, rather than letting them wait and read when they're ready. With this in mind, I realize I have to be careful with how much I push my son.

On a positive note, however, my daughter had a great attitude today, the first time since school started. I'm thankful that it all usually balances out. When one is having an off day, the other is having a good day.

Because God knows how much this mama can handle.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Attitude

I'm pretty sure my 7-year-old is turning 14 tomorrow.

Over the last couple of months and especially since school has started, she has so many ups and downs in a day that my head is spinning. She has not had a day go by in school where she hasn't shown major attitude. One day it will be because she can't write properly; the next it will be because her little brother gets to finish before her; the next it will be because she simply CANNOT make a sentence with the word tree, butterfly and flower. (Her sentence was A tree. A butterfly. A flower.!!!) This from a girl who has written TWO songs.

Then, she'll be the sweetest girl I could ever hope for. She hugs me regularly and tells me I'm the best mom in the whole world and that she loves me - several times a day. This from a girl who generally does not display affection even half the amount as her brother. She offered to wash my dishes tonight and did an excellent job. She carefully folded all of my towels that had been dumped on my bed, and again did a superb job of it. Unfortunately, the attitude showed up when I walked in on her doing it (she was trying to surprise me) and could not be comforted. It didn't matter how much I told her that I appreciated the job she did, all she could say was, "but mom, I wanted to surprise you!"

{{Huge sigh}}.

I cannot imagine what her teenage years will bring, but I'm sure hoping she'll have this part of them over with by then.

Ten more years of this and I'll likely have permanent residence on the fifth floor.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Question Of The Day #2

Question: What could possibly be better than waking up to hugs and kisses and tickles and pokes and ear pulling from your son?

Answer: Waking up to a CONCERT from both of your children, singing Redeemer at the top of their lungs, interspersed with your son yelling "HANNAH!" in outrage because she presumably stole his solo.