Sunday, October 25, 2009


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.


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


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,


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


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:


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


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


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.