Monday, March 30, 2009

A Tale of Tic Tac

Once upon a time, there was a very clever girl who spent an evening plotting what she hoped would be a foolproof plan to get out of doing her school work.

And so the next morning she tried to strike up a bargain.

"Mom," she asked, "How about if I spend the day cleaning my room instead of doing school?"

Finding this largely humorous - the mom being gifted with extraordinary insight (her beloved child was willing to bargain away an hour's worth of school work for a day's worth of cleaning ??) - realized that since she was almost through her school anyway, a day off couldn't hurt. Besides, she was very interested to see what kind of a job her daughter would do in cleaning up her room. She gave her the green light to do just that, but warned her very seriously that she would be checking up on her to make sure she was finally getting rid of her little piles of junk.

"I know that I have to get rid of some stuff, mom. I already plan to throw away my empty Tic Tac container, you know."

Again, barely holding back her laughter, the mother told her that she would have to do better than that. She would have to get rid of all of her Tic Tac containers.

"All of them?!" the girl asked incredulously. "But mom, I can't. The other Tic Tac containers have stuff in them!"

These are the times in which this particular mom finds it impossible not to think in "sarcasms".

The morning went on with the girl sorting stuff and talking to herself, not realizing that her mom heard every word she said.

"Hmm. Since I have three of these I'll have to get rid of one," she said meditatively.


"I can't throw this away. This is the first picture I ever drew of a tree."

A little while later, the girl proudly presented a small grocery bag full of trash. One small bag out of a POTENTIAL TRUCK LOAD FULL OF GARBAGE. And she informed her mom that she managed to throw out all of her Mix & Matches. All of them.


This little tale is true. Every word of it. Well, mostly.

Perhaps you know this little girl. Perhaps you know her mother.

And perhaps you know the inevitable outcome of her daughter's beloved Tic Tac containers.

And what the eventual outcome will be of approximately 50 percent of the contents of her room.

Perhaps you know as well that a trip to grandmas is very quickly approaching.

Sunday, March 29, 2009


A recent conversation with my son went like this:

"You are my favorite boy in the whole wide world!" I tell him.

"You are my favorite mommy in the whole wide world!" he replies back.

Tickled, I reply, "You make mommy's heart so happy!"

To which he responds, "You make Seffie's heart so glad!"

Now on a roll and enjoying this little game, I say, "You make me so ecstatic!" I then eagerly await his response. He cogitates a bit over the word ecstatic, but eventually quips:

"You make me so........invisible!"

Thus - in the midst of belly laughter, sweet hugs and several kisses - our conversation ends.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Seven Years Ago

This is Hannah at six months of age. I tried to find a newborn picture somewhere on the computer, but because our computers have been updated a couple of time since she was born, Dave has the old pictures stored somewhere. I have no clue how to find those ones and am actually fortunate to have found this one.

Hannah today. On her birthday. She is SEVEN.

Like I've said before, seven today. A teenager tomorrow. Married next year. Life is flying by.

Right now I feel at a loss for words. I can hardly fathom that it was seven years and nine months ago that I found out I was pregnant. It had been a year of hoping, dreaming and praying, with finally our dream coming true - we were going to have a baby. I was sick for six out of nine months, so sick that I had to take four Diclectin tablets per day (a prenatal antinauseant) just to keep any food down.

Hannah was born curious. I know it's said that a baby can't see that much when they're first born, but I have a hard time believing that. She was very alert for a newborn, staring at everything like she was just "taking it all in". She hardly slept. Instead of having long naps, she "catnapped" for approximately 45 minute stretches. Unfortunately, she still doesn't like to sleep. She's afraid she "might miss out on something".

One of my favorite stories about Hannah was when she was between one and two years old. She was in bed, we thought asleep, because she'd been there for quite a while. We heard a noise of something falling in her room, so I went in to find her sitting at her table, in the dark, looking at a book. She couldn't see, but she was "reading". If a book hadn't fallen, who knows how long she would have gotten away with it.

And that is my girl today. Ever reading. And never sleeping.

One more quick story, showing her quirky personality. She was reading sitting on her bed yesterday, trying like mad to finish off one of her Boxcar Children books. She finally finished with a triumphant, "I'm done it, mom!", came out of her room, and told me that her neck was sore. I asked her why she didn't change positions to make her neck more comfortable while reading. And her reply?

"Because I knew that if I stayed in that uncomfortable position, mom, that when I was done my book and got up, it would make my neck feel that much better!"


That's my girl. Ever logical. And I sure do love her - just the way she is.

Every last quirky bone in her body.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Mix & Match

I have ranted several times about the fact that my daughter is a packrat. Every time we go to Safeway, she collects as many of the Mix & Match ads that she can. I've never understood it, but have seen no real harm in this unique obsession. Until today.

We went to Safeway this afternoon for a few things. As usual, my daughter collected her specimens. When we got home, they landed on the counter in the kitchen while she disappeared into her room. While cleaning up the counter, I threw them, along with some other junk in the garbage.

Wouldn't you know it - darling girl child just happened to notice her beloved papers in the garbage can. Hannah - who happens to have a very big gross reflex - managed to remove them from the garbage. She let me know in no uncertain terms that it was very wrong of me to throw out her papers.

To be honest, I really didn't know the extent of her obsession. If I did, I would have been more sneaky. But it prompted a discussion between us. I found out she has a very extensive collection of these stockpiled in her bedroom.

I have been warning her for some time now that in the very near future, I will be doing a very thorough cleaning of her bedroom. She has always been a bit put-out that Seth's room takes a very short time to clean, and I've told her that it's because of her huge JUNK PILE that keeps piling up every few days. I am really not joking about this. One of these days I will take a picture of the little treasures on her desk, dresser and under her bed and post it. She cannot keep her room clean because she cannot get rid of her junk. I, on the other hand, will have absolutely no problem at all doing it. I will send her to grandmas for the day (because I'm quite certain it will take me that long) and try to sincerely help her grieve when she gets home. This will NOT continue. I am determined.

And so, goodbye to Mix & Match.


One little story about Seth. Both of them had their storytimes taken away tonight for having selective hearing. They went to bed right after their baths tonight. On the way to bed with my son, I carried him into his room (tradition), he turned off the light (again, tradition), and said:

"Mom, that sure was a great story tonight, wasn't it?"

At least the little imp is easily consoled.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Typical Sunday

As you can see by these pictures, my son was being quite a goof this afternoon. After he awoke happily from a sleep, he came out with this hat on his head. As you can see, the hat has definitely seen better days.

Although he didn't start off being the best little boy on the planet at the beginning of church tonight, he fixed it quite nicely. He was grumpy with a man in our church who was only trying to make him laugh, but he apologized properly (and humbly - for him) to this man. After that, he was very, very good in church.

After church I let my darlings have some ice cream as a treat for their improved behaviour. They decided to make an adventure of it, as you can see.

After all, where else in the world is it better to eat ice cream but underneath the dining room table?

I was in the kitchen when Seth started crying like his heart was breaking. I knew right away that he must have spilled his ice cream, and sure enough, his bowl ended up upside down on the floor. Knowing that his distress was simply because he lost his ice cream and thought he wouldn't get any any more, I was moved to compassion by his tears. I cleaned up the mess and replaced his ice cream - with a little bit extra - with the warning that he would get no more if this happened again (in case he got any ideas).

They ended the evening giggling and eating their ice cream under the table.

Along with their stories, of course.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Thumbs Up

Tomorrow there is no school. We are ecstatic for the second day off this week. Wednesday the bus service was cancelled because it reached -47 degrees C with the wind chill! In mid-March (when the normal high is 0 degrees C)! However, if it's going to be cold, at least it was cold enough to get a bit of a PAID break thrown in.

After parking the bus at the compound this afternoon, I met another lady on the way to our vehicles. We chatted a bit and told each other to have a great day off tomorrow. She told me to "sleep in". I told her that it wasn't likely to happen as my kidlets usually wake up bright and early. She told me a little story about the days when her kids were younger, and said that if she wanted a day to sleep in, she got out their cereal, put them in bowls and told them that in the morning they could get up and get their own breakfast (and even put sugar on the cereal, the one day she allowed it) and she would get a little extra sleep. I told her that, unfortunately, this would never happen with my son because he does not begin any morning without a snuggle first, whether he crawls in with me, or if I'm up first, by snuggling on the couch when he gets up.

She then told me a cute story about her son. She said that she was his bus driver when he went to school, and every morning when he got off she told him to have a good day and that she loved him. There came a time, however, when he told her to stop saying that because she was embarrassing him in front of his friends. Somewhat hurt, she told him that she wanted him to know that she loved him and that if she couldn't say it then he needed to think of another way for her to tell him (and him to tell her).

He thought about it, and the next day, while getting off the bus, she looked at him in silence and he gave her the "thumbs up" sign, which she promptly returned. To this day, when her grown son and family come to visit her, he always drives away from the house with a "thumbs up" to his mom.

Feeling the warm fuzzies over this story, I retold it to my own mom. My daughter was listening, intently - or so I thought. I told my mom the story from the beginning, like I just told it now, how we met in the compound, how her kids fixed their own breakfast, and finally ending with the endearing "thumbs up" story.

After finishing the story, my daughter told me that we could do the "thumbs up". My mom, in a moment of astuteness, asked her what "thumbs up" meant. She promptly replied with,

"It means that I would be able to get up and get my own breakfast!" We all shared a hearty laugh over her reply.

Later on at home, my son and I were talking about "thumbs up". I often give him this sign on the bus when he asks me if he's been good. The "thumbs up" sign tells him that he has been, and he promptly responds with a smile and a "thumbs up" back.

I asked him what "thumbs up" meant. He told me that it meant that "he had been doing a good job". I was impressed. I told him that he was right. It meant that mom was "impressed, and that she really, really loved him". A little later, I again asked him what the sign meant, and he told me exactly what I had taught him.

Now I have a little boy who I can give the "thumbs up" to anytime across the room and I know a great bit smile will cover his face and he'll likely respond likewise.

And I have a daughter that if I give the "thumbs up" to, she'll sneak out of bed early and get her own breakfast.

Either way, it's all good.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Cult of Entitlement

When I was pregnant with Hannah, Dave and I, like every other new parent on earth, were very idealistic. One of our ideals was that we were not going to spoil our children with too much "stuff". No siree. Children have far too many toys - we said - and didn't appreciate what they had anyway.

She wasn't even born yet before we started eating our words. It was very easy to go into discount stores and buy discount toys, dream about how our beautiful baby would love it, envision the countless hours of enjoyment, and then promptly purchase it. We have continued down that path.

Until recently.

There has been so much that I've read, and so much that I've heard preached that has brought me to the point that I now am at. I know of someone who left their comfortable home, moved to a different area, lived last year on less than $20,000/year (supporting three children), because they craved the simple life, hated the fast pace and were determined to live within their means. I've read inspiring blog posts that have challenged my thinking. I have devoured information about the bailouts, the stimulus packages, and am trying to learn more about the ravaged economy, particularly in the U.S., but in Canada as well. I have heard several messages preached in a very short time about our generation of "entitlement" and its effects. I've seen the term "cult of entitlement" in describing our generation and happen to think it's very fitting.

One particular post I read, by Jeff Schreiber at excellently described it like this:

It's a disease, too, that has ravaged us on each and every level, from the single mother on a tight budget who decides that an extra three hundred dollars would be better spent on a Coach handbag than placed out of sight and mind in that online savings account, to the small business owner who gets just a little more truck than he really needs to even though he hasn't been in on a good project in weeks, to the pinstriped executives around the boardroom table who rationalize the purchase of a $50 million corporate jet, to the spendthrift congressmen and senators who see no problem whatsoever voting "yea" on a 1,073-page, $787 billion spending bill without even reading it first.

On a political level, I disagree very strongly with the bailouts and stimulus packages. I do not think it is right or fair that my children and their offspring have to pay for this mess that they did not create and had no say in. It is the responsibility of those of us who created this mess, even those of us who didn't vote the donkey's who are in power in, to learn to live WITHOUT. If it's time to pay the piper, then by all means let's not pass the buck.

On an personal level, we have been striving for several months to live on a budget (not always successfully, but working on it), within our means, and get out of the debt we created. Novel idea, isn't it?

The main reason this is so much on my heart is because it's both of my children's birthdays in the next few weeks. Last year we spent a totally absurd amount redoing Hannah's bedroom (which is my fault and not Dave's), and because so much was spent on Hannah it was very difficult not to overdo it for Seth's birthday, two weeks later. Even though Hannah seems to still likes her room, she has already requested changes. As well, it took me a very short time last year (like the same day) to realize how little Seth's toys meant to him. Over the course of the year, he's had particular toys taken away and hidden (for various reasons) only to be forgotten about and found a while later. Totally NOT missed.

And all of these things have been working on me. We have fallen into the "children are entitled" category that most of society is in.

Yesterday I went birthday shopping for the kids. Knowing that they are still going to be given toys by others, I was determined not to buy any. I got Hannah her own Bible and Bible case, very girly, with the goal in mind of encouraging her to read one chapter a day (since she loves reading and devours books). I got Seth some new church clothes (on sale), because he needs them. Totally practical and likely boring to the kids.

Like most of their other gifts in years past turned out to be in very short order.

When the weather warms up I will hunt down a bike for Hannah at garage sales as part of her birthday gift. I got her first bike at a garage sale for $4.00, so I'm hoping that I can get one for $10.00 or less. I am determined to stop spending a lot of money on things that they outgrow so quickly. The last thing I got for Seth that will spur a bit more excitement is a couple of new learning CD's for the computer, on sale. Still not necessary, but definitely practical. He really has been learning from them.

It's more my goal to DO something special on their birthdays rather than spend a whole pile of money on more stuff. Things like skating or bowling or miniature golf that will thrill them but not cost a lot. That's what's really important.

This year I also plan to have them pick out something of theirs to give to someone else (after their actual birthday has passed). Not something that they "really didn't want anyway", either. I want them to experience the joy of giving. As well, they will hopefully get a little lesson how much they really do have already.

As I walked through Toys R Us yesterday, I almost gave in to the temptation and went on a spree. It's so natural for parents to want to please their kids. But like so much of what our job as parents is about, we must learn not to give in to the short term gratification that their little "joy-filled faces bring", but rather work towards long term objectives that will eventually (hopefully) instill positive character traits that will last throughout their lifetime.

We must provide what is necessary (with lots and lots of love thrown in the mix) and strive not to AGAIN join the cult of entitlement.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


Well, they said it was going to happen, but I really hoped it would pass me by. We were told at the beginning of the school year that at some point someone would ride along with all of the first year bus drivers. They would be evaluated on their driving skills, on student management and on safety enforcement. I got the call last night that it was my turn this afternoon.

It was recommended that since I take my kids with me on the bus that it would be best to bring them along during the evaluation because they wanted to see my skills in a "real-life" setting. (I was already planning a call to grandma to see if she was busy but that thought quickly went out the window).

Great. I was thrilled.

Before my afternoon run, I laid out The Rules to the kids:

1) No talking.
2) No laughing.
3) No burping or other such like noises.
4) No moving.
5) There must be at least 12 inches between each other.
6) No wrestling, pinching, spitting or hitting.
7) Blinking and breathing were allowed.

Seriously, I told them in no uncertain terms that they had better listen the first time if I made a request, to which my smart-mouth daughter (my sweet princess has disappeared in the last couple of weeks, replaced by my almost 7-going-on-13-year-old MOUTH piece) replied:

"But mom, I thought they wanted to evaluate it the way it really is."

That, folks, says it all.

I explained very seriously to them that unless they wanted to live without a computer or candy for three years, they had better listen. For all of the positive-reinforcement moms out there (I know that I say that with sarcasm, but really - I am in total awe of anyone who can use positive reinforcement most of the time. I'm working on it but I'm just not there yet) I did tell them that if they did listen to me they would receive nightly DQ treats for a year. Sort of.

My first school is my easy run. I only have 12 kids that are registered to ride bus, but usually only 4-6 ride per day on average. Only one girl gives me fits, typically. However, because Murphy's Law rules, today was the day of several firsts:

1) A rousing game of hide-and-seek, with *Jaylynn hiding under the seat waiting for *Tyler to find her;
2) *Jaylynn using the bus seats as a trampoline - jumping back and forth, back and forth;
3) Having to physically pick up *Jaylynn from the back of the bus to move her up to the front of the bus where she is supposed to sit. This was also attempted by *Tara, but she managed to figure out that her legs worked on their own and moved herself up to the front;
4) While removing *Jaylynn out of her hiding spot under the seat, *Tara walked up to the front and shut the bus door. This is a NO NO.

I had told myself before this run that if anything atypical happened I would NOT try to defend myself to the evaluater by saying, "this does not usually happen". Guess what I did? Twice.

As each of these incidents were happening - all in the EIGHT minutes that I waited at the school prior to leaving - I was wondering what Pollyanna would do. Pollyanna was the evaluater, or who I thought of her as. You can always spot a Pollyanna a mile away by the way they interact with the kids. I was in trouble. In my mind, I was certain that Pollyanna would get on her hands and knees and gently coax little darling *Jaylynn to get out from under the seat. I did NOT...gently...coax.

During the transit of these kids, I was already compiling a list in my mind of the 25 recommendations I would be handed at the end of my "test". Fortunately, during the transit, the kids actually.....sat. But my son, who was listening to his beloved Jungle Jam on the earphones, gave wonderful monkey impersonations and an entire concert in between them. Seriously, he has never sang the entire time on the bus before. He did today. I should have listed that under the firsts. But because he was at least sitting and obeying my Rules 1 though 6, I let him complete his concert.

On to school number two. Usually my tougher one. I couldn't wait to see what would go wrong here.

My daughter, meanwhile, yapped the ear off of Pollyanna. Chit chat is fine, but she more than chit-chatted. She informed her that "preschoolers probably shouldn't go to school that young", and "some preschoolers are TWO YEARS OLD!", and "I can read a whole Mandie book in two days!", as well as "I've been reading for two years! Some kids aren't even reading yet." I was a tad bit embarrassed. I could also see that Pollyanna was trying to complete an evaluation form and was being constantly interrupted by my darling, so, I made my request known that I wanted her to stop chatting and read.

"But mom, I don't want to read. I want to talk." As you can see, she's bursting with compliance.

I reminded her of our little talk before the bus. I asked her if she remembered it.

"Yes. But mom, YOU'RE TALKING, TOO!" And she continued using her lips.

As I drove, I mentally planned her demise. DQ was definitely out, which was a good thing because I wasn't sure how I could work it in our budget anyway. (See, that's Pollyannish - isn't it?)

We reached the school, and soon *Brennan, the mouth, entered. He's the bully, for anyone not familiar with him.

"Who is that lady on the bus? What, is she seeing if you are doing your job?"

The goober.

Besides firmly informing a girl that she would be moving up to the front if she didn't sit IN her seat and not IN the aisle, things didn't go too bad for the rest of that run. When *Brennan got off the bus, he said,

"How come you were so nice to me today, Darla?"

The twerp. I actually thought it was funny, though, and I did laugh. I was nicer to him because he was actually gooder than usual.

On my way back to drop off my bus, driving to my doom, the bus was quiet except for the serenading from my son. My daughter had actually ceased moving her lips. I was pondering my fate.

I put the kids in the van and stood outside waiting for Pollyanna to hand me her list of reasons that I am not suited to drive a bus. She surprised me. This is what she said,

"I have nothing but praise for you. I watched how difficult the situations were. I watched how you handled them. You handled them exactly how I would (What?). You drive expertly. You maneuver the bus very well down narrow streets. You can multitask. You have a very difficult run, and for the type of run and the type of kids you have on your bus, you could do no better than you do. There is nothing I can recommend that you do differently."

I could not have been more shocked. I asked her at least three times if she was "serious" because I really thought she was joking. Truthfully, I kind of had to hold back the tears (and contemplated falling at her feet......).

But then I remembered: I shouldn't be surprised - she is Pollyanna after all. Thank goodness. It really is nice to be on the receiving end of Pollyanna.

And I'm still smiling. :)

Sunday, March 1, 2009

My Charmer

Take a look at that handsome little face. Who couldn't love a little guy like this? This boy of mine regularly turns me into mush with the charming things he says to me. At lunch today, he looked across the table at me and, out of the blue, said:

"Mom, you sure are cute!" To me. ME. ME, who feels like a 600 pound heifer.

Totally smitten, I replied, "Well, my boy sure is handsome."

To which he responded with, "My mom sure is handsome, too!"

When he says things like this to me, he could have just finished a huge art project on his bedroom walls, or perhaps cut the hair off of his sister's dolls, or even tried to flush his beach ball down the toilet - and I would still think him the best, most wonderful boy that God ever gave a mom.

And God gave him to me. Imagine that?