Monday, 30 June 2008

"I Will Go and Do"

"I will go and do the things which the Lord has commanded, for I know the Lord giveth no commandment unto the children of men save he shall prepare a way that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them." (1 Nephi 3:7)

I received a great compliment today. A couple of friends came over unexpectedly today and so the house was in a bit or a whirlwind from a busy morning. As I discreetly picked up diapers and tissues and little car toys from the couch, I invited them to sit down and to please ignore the mess. I could do a little tidying, but the bulk of the mess was the contents of our 72-hour emergency kits. I have been working really hard this month to get these packs complete. Just this morning I dashed out to Canadian Tire to pick up some great knapsacks to keep the contents in (40% off!). The result being that the contents of the kits are currently all over the floor in the living room as I take inventory and distribute the items.

Feeling like less than a perfect housewife amongst all this, my friend turned to me and said "You're like the perfect mom! You've always got everything together." I laughed and commented that in fact, I knew several other moms who fit this description much better than I. I often look to these moms as role-models for myself, vowing that "one day I'll have things together like they do!"

"No way," my friend said. "You are so 'I will go and do'! You're just like Nephi!" (referencing the above scripture). "Everything we're told to make sure we get done, you just go and get done!"

(72-hour emergency kits are one of the recommendations in our church - they recommend that each person be prepared with a kit in case of an evacuation or local emergency).

Then she added: "You wanted to build a fence, or start a garden, and you just go out and do it! It's like you don't even think of whether or not you can - that doesn't seem to be an option for you."

I was so flattered. I mean, I try my best to be the best I can be, and to be bettering myself each day. But it just feels like there is so far to go. And it's not like the light at the end of the tunnel gets closer - in fact, the more steps I take the further away it seems!

Sometimes, though, it takes viewing yourself through someone else's eyes to see how far you've really come. I just put my nose to the grindstone and push away as best I can. And maybe I have come farther than I've realized. It's nice to know that I really am "going and doing" and getting things done!

Sunday, 29 June 2008

These are a few of my favourite (green) things

1. My two feet. I am a powerhouse walker. With only one car in the family (that James takes to work 5-6 days a week), walking is the only way to escape from the confines of the house. My friends say they see me everywhere around town. We have an assortment of carriers, strollers, toddler cars and the like to keep things varied and interesting. I have an umbrella and a stroller cover and I'm not afraid to use them.

2. My dishwasher - or lack thereof. We have a lack of space in our kitchen, and I really don't want to take up precious space with a large and bulky dishwasher (built-in is not an option). But I don't mind. I try to do dishes after each meal, and while I'm preparing dinner, so that there isn't a pile up. I treat myself to a more expensive dish soap that smells of lavender and reminds me of the lavender fields in France. In truth, it is somewhat of a therapy for me. I know "water-therapy" is used for all sorts of things, and I truly feel the calming properties as I wash up.

3. Windows. We didn't have air conditioning in our apartment, and although we have a wall-mounted unit here, we have only turned it on twice so far. (In fact, there is a problem with the water draining tubes and so both times we turned it on led to water dripping through the kitchen ceiling, which led to turning it off). I can't stand the chill an air conditioner creates in a home - it gets into my bones like an awful winter bite. Conversely, I love the smell and feel of a fresh breeze, and I open all the windows as often as I can, letting in both the natural light and cooling system our earth provides. You'd be surprised at the air conditioning the air can provide!

4. My washer and dryer - both energy efficient. Luckily they came with the house, because these appliances can be awfully expensive. I don't have the time for line-drying at this point in my life, and so I revel in the fact that I'm doing at least a bit more this way.

5. My push lawnmower. Cutting the grass is everyone's favourite duty. Although probably a little more work than gas or electric (I wouldn't know - I've never used either), it's a fantastic way to exercise. Even Colin loves to help push. This is probably the only chore around the house that never gets missed!

Saturday, 28 June 2008


Every time Colin takes off his shoes and puts them back on because I put the wrong one on first...
Every time he gets back in his chair to get out of it by himself...
Every time he screams because I skipped a stair on the way up...
Every time he yells "I do it!"...
Every time he is crying because he can't seem to do it but won't accept any help...
Every time he won't eat a snack because it's not in the right container...
Every time he repeats his demands as though he didn't hear my emphatic "no"...
Every time he has to go back and find a very specific pine cone...
Every time he melts down because I opened the door and he wanted it closed...
Every time he lock horns with me in a battle of wills...
Every time he is frustrated because the toy won't work...
Every time he struggles with me...
Every time he resists me...

...I just remember that come ten years or so, I will be grateful for his persistence independence, making him the one to lead and not blindly follow or give in to peer pressure. It may nearly kill me today, but I know one day I will be filled with gratitude and relief because of these characteristics.

Friday, 27 June 2008


After walking through the heat this morning to buy bicycle helmets for the family, I was disappointed to learn that there is no way to bike safely with a baby under 1 year. My "on foot" destinations are becoming fewer, with the increased heat and added weight of a growing baby. We found one of those "pull-behind" bike attachments for kids to go in, but I have learned that I can't put Caleb in it this summer. Too bad - I was really looking forward to biking around with them!

Thursday, 26 June 2008


The weather is absolutely perfect. Sun shining, light breeze, warm air. The trees on our property provide a mixture of sun and shade. This afternoon, during a rare moment of coinciding naps, I lounged in my deck chair and indulged in a few chocolate chip cookies while perusing a book ("100 photos that changed the world" - a fascinating read, if you get the chance). Then I pulled out my recipe books and created a meal plan for the week, complete with shopping list for later today. Somehow "work" never seems like work when you can do it sitting outside in the sun on patio furniture (where I am now).

I have taken a break from the rigorous activities of fence building and gardening these past two days. Instead I have just spent the time sitting on our swing or in a deck chair, taking in the rare perfection of a summer's day. It won't be too long before the weather takes a turn for the unbearably hot, and we are barely out of the coolness of spring. These days don't last forever and so I will spoil myself with this break.

The emerald leaves shimmer with a twinge of silver in the sun and the birds serenade me from their nests.


Tuesday, 24 June 2008


"Daddy! Your cell phone is ringing!"
(I think it's hilarious that the word "cell phone" is in my two-year old's vocabulary)


"I'm just working right now."
(work = sorting pieces of fabric, playing with a game, inspecting a pencil, etc.)


Guess what, Mommy? The wise man built his house on the rock, and then the rains came down and the floods came up, and the house stood still. And the foolish man built his house on the sand, and the rains came down and the floods came up, and the house on the sand washed away."
(Based on a song he learned at church. But Colin narrated this to me as though he had witnessed the event!)


(Colin is not only speaking in full sentences, he is now combining two thoughts with the word "because". Ex: I need some Cheerios because my tummy is grumbling and I am hungry.")


(He always starts his answers to a question with this now. We nearly die from laughter each time, because he says it with such purpose, as though this was the most important part of the answer!)

Monday, 23 June 2008

Mom-sense Postscript

Tonight I fed Caleb, sang to him while sitting in our armchair, then put him down in his crib. He cried, and so I sang to him as he lay there until he calmed down and fell asleep. All within 15 minutes. Moms - always trust your gut.

Good ol' Mom-sense

No more expert books, please!

I know there are many different schools of thought out there, each with their own fancy lingo and terms. I know that family and friends all have their little tricks and advice. I know that any philosophy I want to adopt, I can probably find a doctor who agrees with me.

But I think after all this, what I have learned most is to trust my own instincts.

Tired and worn-out, we had decided to "sleep train" Caleb. He was still feeding every 3 hours, even through the night. We had been repeatedly advised by many people that by six months there was no need for him to be feeding through the night. And he also needed to learn to soothe himself to sleep without our help, or he would have sleep issues his whole life.

His schedule before sleep training was:
7pm - nurse and bed.
10pm - nurse, awake time
11pm - bed
2am - nurse, sleep
5am - nurse, awake
8am - nurse, nap
11am - nurse
1pm - nap
2pm - nurse
5pm - nurse, nap
7pm - nurse, bed

Having tried the attachment parenting up to this point (which involves attending to the needs of the baby as he expresses them) and he still wasn't sleeping through the night, we were advised to try several "cry-it-out" methods. What we learned is that Caleb does not have the capacity to cry it out. He can (and has) cried for six solid hours. If we let him cry during naps, he cries until naptime is over, without having slept a wink.

Oh yeah - he doesn't just cry - he shrieks. As though he was in excruciating pain. People who have never heard this before are terrified something is wrong and run to his side.

So last Friday we finally came to our wits end with sleep training. It was 3 in the morning (which is never a good time to start a disagreement!) and we were exhausted, and Caleb was exhausted, and Colin was waking up because of the crying.

(That's another thing - no sleep book tells you what to do with your 2-year old while you spend an hour trying to get your baby to sleep, or how to keep a 2-year old sleeping while your baby is shrieking at night.)

At any rate, I realized that all the sleep training had done was make Caleb terribly afraid every time I left the room, and also scared to pieces of being in his room. I came to two important conclusions regarding Caleb and sleep:

1. I realized that he eats for a good 15 minutes at 2am, and so probably really does need the feed.
2. I realized that he is not ready to be by himself yet. He is only a baby and still needs the comfort of his mother. He is only 7 months old. I can understand this.

The worst of all this sleep training is that since Friday when we decided to toss this theory, Caleb has NO sleep schedule at all. He can't seem to fall asleep for daytime naps, and only sleeps from 8pm-10pm at night. After 10pm, he comes in and out of sleep every 15 minutes or so, whimpering and trying to nurse until 5am, when he's up for good. Last night he actually fell asleep as long as he was latched onto me, and if I tried to unlatch him, he started whimpering and shrieking. Right now I'm not getting any more than a couple 10 minute cat naps, and wishing I had been satisfied with 10 hours of sleeping/feeding, instead of yearning for a solid 6 hours.

I am fervently praying he will settle down in a few days, once he realizes that I have not abandoned him any longer.

Homekeeper Challenge #9 (gardening)

You may think I have been neglecting the challenge, but quite the contrary. As I consider my fence part of keeping my home beautiful (and safe), this is an extended project that is taking more than a week to complete (obviously). Thanks to my fantastic father, I am now half done the picket panels I need to build. I am well on track to being where I need to be for July 9th when the posts go in. It looks amazing, if I do say so myself. I won't give you any sneak peaks until I'm done, though.

Today, however, I do have a second project to tell you about. Yes, I do keep myself busy with many things going on simultaneously. In fact, my neighbour jokingly asked yesterday "Do you ever take a rest!" This was gratifying to hear, because I often feel like nothing is ever getting done.

My second project is the gardening around here. My long term plan (for next year) is to turn my current backyard jungle of a garden into a vegetable garden. This year is really more about getting everything under control. I have finally learned what are the weeds and what are the plants. I have also learned how to prune back my crazy bushes, and how to move my lovely ferns (which are the only thing worth saving where my veggies will go - pretty much everything else is coming out!) I have also learned the true meaning of "grow like a weed". I will never use this expression again.

So mostly I have been dig, dig, digging. Hard work. I have also discovered a blue recycling box is a poor substitute for a wheel barrow. Dirt is heavy! My muscles are growing and aching, aching and growing.

But this picture below represents my biggest accomplishment in the garden so far. We had this terribly ugly thing posing as a bush, right in front of our mailbox and front steps. It was really the only thing you could see coming up to the house. It was flat and evergreen and infested with spiders. And it had to go. Not an easy feat. I took my hand saw to it, tearing away branch after branch. That was day one. Day two I dug and dug and dug at the roots. And dug some more. Then covered in sweat and dirt, left it for day three. Day three. I dug more, then started taking the saw to the roots too deep to get to. Then I started rocking the stump back and forth, jumping on it to try and wiggle it free. Then it started to rain, which I completely ignored.
This stump was too close to leave now! In front of neighbours watching to see who would win the battle (I hope their money was on me!) and with cars slowing as they passed to witness the crazy lady jumping and shaking a bush stump (we live on a surprisingly busy street!) I finally tore the thing from the ground! Here I am with my prize:

Okay - this picture doesn't do my opponent justice. I am the conqueror! There are now some lovely beautiful green ferns in its place. This gardening stuff is hard work, but I am learning how gratifying it truly is to "till your own land."

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Summer Walk

Yesterday Caleb and I ventured out on a summer walk, under a clear blue sky and in absolutely perfect weather. As we strolled through the neighbourhood, I realized again how much I love this beautiful town in which we live. Passing old homes with plenty of character, widespread well manicured lawns, unique gardens bursting with every colour of the rainbow, and neighbours lounging about in their yards - I was grateful for the beauty of this life I am blessed to live.

Any town with an ounce of character is not without its quirks. For instance, I chuckled to myself as I passed "Orange Mill Road", realizing that those who live on that street "live on Orange Mill in Orangeville." Here are other shots that made me smile:

Where the sidewalk really ends!

A mailbox:

Summer snow (it's hard to see, but tree blossoms were falling lightly like delicate snowflakes):

Friday, 20 June 2008

Food for the tummy

Tonight it's just Caleb and I at dinnertime, and I'm just noticing now how I really eat. You wouldn't notice it until you're only responsible for feeding yourself.

When I was making food for myself:

In high school, I ate cereal and green apples.

In university, I ate soup and crackers and green apples. When I ate out, it was Subway (it was their chocolate chip cookies that drew me in!)

Now I eat what I call "deli lunch". Basically it involves a smorgasborg of little snacks all rolled up together to make a meal. On my plate tonight I have: grapes, cheese, potato salad, crackers, pickles, pickled beets and yogurt. So incredibly yummy. Colin and I have "deli lunch" at least 3 times a week, in various forms. And, of course, I still love green apples. What is your staple?


Caleb is now seven and a half months old. I love to see his little personality emerge more and more each day.

He's been sitting on his own since about six months, which is a lot easier on me. He still falls over once in a while, but usually it's more of a roll than a fall. To watch him he looks just like a round ball that just rolls. He is desperate to walk and i'm sure

He has some interest in toys, but would rather a good book to chew on. At first I tried to keep him away from the books, as they don't take well to drool, but realized I want to foster a love of reading right from birth, and so I must let him "devour" books in any way he wishes.

Caleb loves peas, sweet potato, blueberries and oat cereal. That's it. Nothing with meat in it whatsoever, and definitely no formula. Any other fruit or vegetable or cereal is met with a thorough look of disgust and a refusal to eat. But feed him something of his choice and he can devour entire jars of food at a sitting.

He loves people. He is happiest when there is a whirl of kids around.

He loves to hear the sound of his own voice. Babbling, raspberries, singing, cooing - music to his ears.

Anything that is not a toy is infinitely more interesting than something that is a toy. By that I mean shoes, people, blankets, remote controls, windows, cats, spoons, diapers, and pens.

He hates to be missing the action. He will not sleep or eat if there is the slightest noise anywhere. Even in a darkened nursery he still turns to the pattering of people downstairs. I think he succumbs to sleep or food only when he finds it an absolute necessity for survival.

He loves to laugh. He has this huge "muppet" smile that involves opening his entire mouth as wide as it will go. He favours anyone who looks on him with this smile, as though he knew the attention he'll get with it. People are always pausing on their way to comment on his beautiful blue eyes and sweet smile.

He loves to be with me. When I walk into a room, his face lights up and he reaches out for me. I absolutely love it. There is no feeling in the world that can match the joy in your child's face, knowing the source of that joy is you and you alone.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Little randoms

Caleb: Da da da da da...da da da.
Colin: No Caleb, Daddy isn't at home. He's at work.


Colin started requesting songs at bedtime about his favourite things: trains, gates, food, family. As Raffi has yet to compose a song about Auntie Jennifer or using the text of "All aboard", I resorted to improvising songs. Now, Colin has taken to improvising on his own. He sings at all times of the day, in front of a crowd and when playing by himself. He actually creates rhythm, melody, pattern - most of his ditties could actually be construed as songs! This is one of our favourites:

"There's a little white frog,
It's green you know!
And there's me and you, and you and me
Sing the alphabet song."


Caleb finally found something worth crawling for - to get his toy back when Colin steals it from him. No way this kid is going to be a pushover! Both my boys are assertive and strong willed. And when it drives me crazy, I remind myself to be thankful that when they hit the teen years, it will hopefully mean they won't bend as easily to peer pressure.


(Colin, while playing with his grocery story cash register)
"Can I get a price check on five dollars please? Price check on five dollars."


Getting the chores done - yesterday I mowed the lawn with our push lawn mower with Caleb strapped on in a baby carrier. Talk about a workout! No need for the gym!


Speaking of baby carriers, you should see the three of us parading around town. With only one car, it usually means the boys and I are on foot. Or rather, Colin and I are on foot with Caleb in a carrier. Or I'm on foot, pushing Caleb in a stroller and pulling Colin in a wagon. I have never been out without receiving a sympathetic glance and at least two or three comments about "having my hands full". With two kids. Granted, they are both young and active. But two kids? I think of friends I have with four or five kids. Now that's having your hands full!


Battle of the Wills: a daily conversation

Colin: I want to watch a movie.
Mom: Yes, you can watch one after nap.
Colin. I want to watch a movie.
Mom: Yes, definitely. After nap.
Colin: I want to watch a movie.
Mom: When do we watch movies? After...
Colin: ...nap. I want to watch a movie.
Mom: Yes, you can watch one after nap.

(The hilarious thing is that there is no escalation of tone in either of our voices. Colin just keeps asking for a movie and I keep telling him later. And it goes on for a good five minutes. Anyone listening in would swear the two of us are either deaf or suffer from severe memory loss, to indulge in such a conversation!)


"I've got a little list"

I once heard somewhere that when you plan for nothing, don't be surprised when you get it accomplished. Last week I realized that after seven months of complaining that I can't seem to get anything done between my two boys, I realized that I also hadn't planned to get anything done.

So Friday I dug out and dusted off a daily calender and proceeded to jot down goals for that day and the next two as well. I wrote down everything from Sunday School lesson prep, gardening, prepping for dinner, and how many fence panels to build. I jotted down the chores I wanted to get to and the commitments I had made to people outside the home.

And by golly, guess what? I got nearly everything done! Not everything, for I am living in reality, in which naps are erratic, kids need attention, and stomach viruses have no regard for schedules, but after four days I made some attempt to organize ahead of time, I am starting to remember why I loved and lived by my organizer during my school days.

Go ahead. Make a list. Any kind of list. Canadians are the biggest list makers in the world...I wonder if it's working? If my success is any indicator, we must be the most organized people in the world!

Monday, 16 June 2008

Homeschooling vision

The boys and I are walking in the neighbourhood. They each have a few papers in hand and their eyes are trained on the trees. They are looking for leaves that match the drawings on their papers. Today we are learning to identify the trees that grow in our area. Colin squeals with glee as he finds a maple leaf. Caleb is perplexed because he has found a leaf that doesn't match any of the sketches. He pockets the find to take home and compare in an encyclopedia.

The next day we take our walk south of Broadway. We are on an architectural treasure hunt. There are numerous century homes in our town, all marked with plaques naming the year they were constructed, the person who built it, and the occupation of the resident. We plop ourselves down in front of the first century home and observe the architectural points - brick, wood, sloped roof, large windows, gables. The house beside it is much newer. What common elements are there?

The following day rains. Today we are having a math lesson. We want to make muffins, but we need twice as many as the recipe calls for. Colin is in charge of calling out the new amounts. Caleb fills the measuring cups and pours the ingredients into our bowl. Later, while we enjoy our whole wheat muffins, we clip out healthy foods from the grocery flyer and glue them to paper, creating healthy meal plans.

Final exams (far in the future). Again we are out on a walk in the neighbourhood. We stop in front of a house and I ask Caleb to name the era the house was built and ten features that mark it. A Canadian goose flies overhead and Colin talks about the migratory patterns of birds. As we meander down main street, Colin gives a dissertation on what free trade coffee is and its importance to our economics. We rest at the gazebo in the park the boys treat me to a concert - first a Broadway duet, followed by an epic poem recitation by Colin and a guitar melody Caleb composed.

The final test happens at home - the boys are preparing a meal they created from food storage supplies, while I take a look at their plan for a one year food storage.

(I'm not sure if I would homeschool, although I wouldn't rule it out. But as I was taking a walk with the boys last week, this vision formed in my mind and it seemed so lovely, balanced and natural. I know this kind of learning would be impractical on a large scale, but it seems so much more natural and applicable than sitting at a desk, fenced in by four walls and reading a textbook!)

Saturday, 14 June 2008


6 2x4 rails...

36 pickets...

216 nails...

1/7 done...

Hand is starting to blister...

Loving every second of it!

Friday, 13 June 2008


Busy busy day today. Had some friends over this morning to help weed out the garden (as I suspected, most of it was weeds! Some were so deep rooted we had to dig them out with a shovel!) They stayed for lunch, after which I watched two young boys of another friend so she could go on a swim trip with her other son. Visited with her upon her return, which brings me to now, getting ready to have dinner guests! Homemade buns are already started, but I'm badly in need of a shower and my house is badly in need of a clean. Lucky for me, both boys decided to skip afternoon naps today!

Tomorrow I will be finishing the weeding, making a quick shopping trip into Brampton, mowing the lawn and building 4 more fence panels!

But right now, I have two diapers to change...

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

The News

I've written in the past about my interest in the news. I like to keep current about what's going on in my city, province, country and world. In high school I read the Toronto Star newspaper that was delivered to our house Mondays through Saturdays. And yes, I read more than the comics! I generally flipped through the main news section, the entertainment section, the hockey pages of the sports section, and then always enjoyed the daily crossword and weekly puzzles.

When I moved out, it wasn't in my budget to have a daily newspaper delivery, but it was just at that time that newspapers were coming online, and so I was able to catch up on the news mornings before work/school. I kept with the Toronto Star. I enjoyed the immediacy of it - news stories updated throughout the day. I also began driving to and from school and work a lot, which meant I was listening to AM 680 - our local news radio station. They broadcast new 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Their slogan was: "Read it tomorrow, see it tonight, or hear it now." Talk about living in an instant gratification culture!

Once I had my first child, I switched to television news. It was a lot easier to watch than try and sit at our computer with a baby on my lap. I moved from the Toronto Star to Global News. I chose Global News because their morning news had no "filler" (guests, interviews, etc) - anytime you flipped it on they were talking news. Their nightly news combined both local, national and international news, which meant I didn't have to watch a full hour of news to get everything.

But lately I have been reexamining my news habits. I started noticing that "news" I was watching was barely more than the latest shooting, stabbing, or other violent crime. Story after story, news reporters were infiltrating people's lives in the middle of crisis and tragedy. I began to wonder: why is this news? Really, it was nothing more than voyeurism. It felt like September 11th 2001, when every 10 minutes or so someone was rebroadcasting the towers falling. I didn't need to be witnessing that tragedy over and over and over.

Have you noticed what counts as news lately? How inflated some issues are, and how others (arguably the more important) are barely mentioned? Don't even get me started on the coverage of celebrities. If you get a chance, this video really changed my view of how I try to know what is really going on around me.

I still have a penchant for news, but I've jumped channels now. On the radio, I listen to our national broadcasting station, the CBC. They are a great potpourri of Canadian music, current issues, and interesting interviews. On TV I tune into CTV, which is national and international news at 11pm. With the advances in technology, the world is shrinking, and now my neighbours aren't just those on my street, but the whole world. I heard this quote yesterday: "In order to have a better world in which we live, we need to pay attention, get involved and never look away." My view of the world and my part in it is expanding - I hope in some way I too can affect it for good.

The things we do to get by

With both of my boys demanding so much of my attention, I find it difficult to get things done around the house. Usually I find myself doing a mad blitz at 9pm, after they've gone to bed, trying to get in some laundry, sweeping, dishes. These more intensive chores need more of my attention than the boys allow during the day, and so must wait for brief moments of repose.

What takes up most of my time is tidying. Just the general picking up of toys, clothes, food, papers, books and the hundreds of other things that find temporary homes lying around the house, not in their place. It's having things untidy that drives me nuts. More than a lapse in vacuuming or even a pile up of dishes.

And so I have found a way to tidy up while playing with Colin - and he doesn't even realize it. One of Colin's favourite pastimes is to "chase" him around the house. Our main floor is open concept and makes a lovely figure eight shape track to run through. So as Caleb sits on the floor, eyes tracking his brother, I chase Colin through the four different rooms. Each time I go through a room, I pick up one thing to tidy.

Round 1: pick up dirty diaper in living room, deposit it in kitchen garbage.
Round 2: pick up crumpled blanket in living room, fold while running through the house, toss onto couch on return to living room.
Round 3-8: clear table of breakfast dishes two at a time, depositing in sink.
Round 9: Open blinds in living room, return books to play room shelf.

It's a great system. In about 5 minutes I have entertained Caleb, exercised with Colin and tidied the house. But I bet anyone walking by would wonder "what is that crazy woman doing running around her house!" The things we do to get by!

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Again is good, right?

I have been asked back this year to a girl's camp as a motivational youth speaker. Last year I was asked to speak about the influence of media. This year they left the topic wide open for me - which is actually much more difficult! After much pondering and prayer, I think I'm going to talk about living in a "spiritual wilderness" - that is, trying to hold onto your personal standards when no one around you is.

Please forgive if my entries this month are a little more scattered than usual - it's a 45 minute talk I have to research, write, make engaging and entertaining, and then pressure, right?

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Lost? Ask Colin.

This past week Colin has been demonstrating his extraordinary spatial awareness. Being a one-car family, the boys and I are normally on foot wherever we want to go. That doesn't mean that we opt to stay home most of the time - quite the contrary. We get out nearly every day - Caleb strapped into a baby carrier or in his stroller, Colin walking alongisde me or in his wagon (yesterday I even pushed a stroller and pulled a wagon at the same time! It was Caleb's naptime, hence the stroller, and I had a few too many errands to run to rely on Colin's little legs holding out!).

This week I decided to let Colin take the lead and see where it led. I discovered that he knew the way to: the Early Years Centre, the library, Wal-Mart and the grocery store. He also could navigate his way home from any point in our neighbourhood. He took barely seconds at each intersection to discern which way our house was.

Now when I have someone watching the boys and they want to venture out for a bit, I can say "just ask Colin how to get there!" (and I have, in the past. I told my sister if she wanted to take the boys to the Early Years Centre, Colin would gladly lead the way!)

Monday, 2 June 2008

Homekeeper Challenge #8

"A few years ago my neice Krystal went off to college for her freshman year. She was staying in an apartment with five other girls, and they would all be cooking for themselves. Her mother recounted to me an interesting conversation. All the moms were hanging around in the kitchen chatting. Three of the moms said, "Boy, I sure hope my daughter will not starve to death. She doesn't have the slightest idea how to cook." Then the moms began to discuss the things their daughters didn't know how to do and chuckled to think of them having to learn it all. My sister was horrified, as was I. Who did they expect would teach their children how to cook - and when?"

This is an excerpt from the BEST parenting book I've come across so far. It's called "The Parenting Breakthrough" by Merrilee Browne Boyack. First let me share with you how I came to own this book.

This past weekend I attended a women's conference, at which there were many books of all kinds for sale. One table was filled with parenting, relationship, and family type books. Seeing the long lines and knowing the next address was about to begin, I felt compelled to pick up this book and buy it. I didn't get to read any more than the title and subtitle ("A real-life plan to teach your kids to work, save money, and be truly independent.") but bought it anyway.

That afternoon, I was captivated by an amazing mother giving an address on service. She has 4 teenage boys and told stories of how service in an integral and natural part of their lives. I was amazed at how selfless these teenage boys seemed and drank in every word she uttered, hoping I could somehow derive her secret to raising sons of such quality. She was down to earth, hilarious and obviously held no grand notions of what a "perfect" wife and mother should be. She was probably the most realistic example of a mother I know.

As I crawled into bed that night, I finally picked up this parenting book and cracked open its pages. As I started to read, the opening description of the author's family was strangely familiar...yes, I flipped to the cover and realized the book was in fact written by the same woman I had admired earlier that day! And here she was sharing her parenting techniques with me - I couldn't have asked for more!

Her words have been truly eye opening. She sat down with her husband to write up a plan for how they would raise their children. She rightly notes that we make lists and plans for all sorts of things in life: diets, careers, even shopping. And yet few people actually sit down and create a plan for the most important thing they'll do in life - raising their children!

Her philosophy is that by the time her sons leave home around the age of 18 years, they should already be prepared with all the important things they will need to know to live an independent life. She felt that THIS was her and her husbands job as parents. So simple, so true, and yet so unfulfilled by most parents.

So she sat down and wrote a list of everything she felt it would be important for her kids to know before they moved out, and then decided at what age it would be appropriate for them to learn that skill. And most importantly, if the child was capable of doing something for him or herself, there was no reason she should be doing it for them.

The list is four pages long, and each age from 3-16 includes about 10 things to be mastered during that year. Things like:

Age 3: Clean glass tables, say prayers, pick up toys
Age 9: Bake cakes, fill car with gas, sew on buttons, write letters
Age 13: Pay household bills, understand prescriptions, type without looking
Age 16: Understand advertising, file insurance claim, plan landscaping

And so this week I am starting to figure out what my plan is, and to WRITE IT DOWN! Not only that, but I realized there are several things that I've managed to get by without knowing, and I realize now that I don't want to HAVE to rely on paying an expert to do these things - I should have some basic understanding also (gardening, auto maintenance, to name a couple!)

This is my new parenting manual. I'm only halfway through (she also goes into depth in areas like money management and emotional and spiritual development) and already I feel as though I've found a fantastic role model in Merrilee. I bet there are girls lining up a mile long for her boys, who can cook, clean, garden, fix the car, have good money sense...they of course are not perfect children, but they are a good deal closer than boys who spend most days watching TV or playing video games!