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.


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


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

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.


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:


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




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.