Monday, 31 May 2010


Colin: I'm hungry. Can I have a snack?
Mommy: Yes, you can have fruit or vegetables. We have bananas, apples, oranges, cucumber, peppers and broccoli.
Colin: I'll have crackers and cheese.
Mommy: Nope, you can have fruit or vegetables.
Colin: I'll have grapes.
Mommy: We don't have any grapes.
Colin: Oh fine. I guess I'll just have a pomme then.

(pomme = apples, in French. Intermingling the languages is a sign that he really is starting to learn French!)


"Terri-Ann-ism" from my childhood (in kindergarten)

Mom: Terri-Ann, where are your shoes?
Terri-Ann: In my boite.
Mom: Your what?
Terri-Ann: My boite.
Mom: What's a boite?
Terri-Ann: You know, a boite.
Mom: No, I don't know what a boite is!
Terri-Ann: My box at school where I put my shoes. My boite!

Friday, 28 May 2010

Here comes a busy summer

I just bought myself (from my parents and James) my birthday present - a kayak! With band ending, I was looking for a new activity for my once-a-week "me time." Kayaking is a favourite pastime, and a great sale on at a local store meant I could treat myself to my very own! I plan to go about once a week.


The garden is very slowly getting in. Very slowly. Very very very slowly. Right now I have two strawberry plants in, and that's it. But I do have two 4'x4' boxes built and sitting in the garden, and all the ingredients for "Mel's Mix" (Square Foot Gardening) in the backyard, and all my seeds and seedlings on the deck ready for planting. I also dug up the purely decorative plants to make way for my new blackberry bush. The plan is to get it all in over the next couple of days, providing my lobster-red sunburn eases up enough that I can start walking without shuffling.


This afternoon James and I are planning to head out and buy a swing set for the boys, complete with sandbox and fort. That will be a full day's work, putting it together (the recommendation is 12-14 hours, after taking inventory of all the parts! But I'm in my glory in this kind of setting (inherited from my dad) and so I'm actually looking forward to it!


Our other big purchase was a tent for camping. It's a nice big one, that "sleeps 8" (which really means 5 + luggage and toys). It's got two great little vestibules, perfect for luggage or toy storage, or a nap for a tired boy in an afternoon. The centre part is huge, which will sleep the whole family. We still have a 4-man tent from our pre-children days, which will be great as a play tent for hot or rainy days. We hope to put it up in the next week to air it out (and probably James and the boys will break it in overnight!)


The basement is our big house project this year. No, we're not finishing it, but we ripped up the dingy carpet down there to find holes in the floor near the walls, which of course lets in water. It's not a big disaster; we just need to fill in the holes with concrete and then seal the floor. But the lights have also been giving us problems, and we're at the point now where we need an electrician. Once all that is done, we may decide to put up two small sections of drywall, since James has to work down there.


As summer arrives, so does the Canadian real estate boom. We won't be ready to move for another 5 years or so, but a girl can dream. Every time we hop in our car for a drive out of town, my eyes take in the beautiful hills and forests and properties around. I don't want a large home; just a small country house on a good size acreage (10, maybe?), a place to garden and plant apples trees and space for the boys to run around and have adventures on. If the house has good bones, I'm not afraid of a little work. Mostly I'm after the outside ambiance. It will be a long process, for sure, since we'll likely have to wait for just the right property in the right price range to come along. But it would be lovely to buy a home to which our grandchildren will also visit one day.


Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Summer reading, part two

When I reached into my box of books, down in the dark of my basement (the lights are still out), to my delight my hand landed on my Grandpa Martin's old 1946 copy of "Tom Sawyer"and "Huckleberry Finn" (two volumes, one book). It seemed the perfect summer reading fare! A chance to slide into a time period long past in two ways: one, in the era (1870) and two, in terms of age (both protagonists being children).

As I lounged in the sun and opened the first few pages, Colin descended from his bedroom, not tired enough for an afternoon nap. He took in the grey hardcover book, faded with years and fraying from many days of enjoyment.

"What are you reading?" he inquired.
"Tom Sawyer. It's about a boy not too much older than you, and all the trouble he gets in."
"How come he gets in trouble?"
"Well, he tries hard to be good, but he always seems to choose the wrong thing."

Colin watched the pages intently, seeing no pictures, just line after line of words.

"Would you like me to read it to you?"
"Oh, yes please!" came the delighted reply.

And so I started to read from the first page, Colin standing attentively at my side. I invited him to sit alongside me, but he shook his head. I saw a dreamy look settle into his eyes as I read. After a few pages I paused, asked Colin if he wanted me to continue. "Yes!" he affirmed. I read the first chapter, 9 pages, while he stood and took it all in. In the end, we only stopped because Benjamin started to fuss. It is clear, however, that Colin is ready for the adventures of chapter books and the in depth and involved stories found within their pages.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Summer reading

With the beautiful 30 degree weather we have been having lately, I have suddenly discovered the allure of "summer books." I haven't yet picked one up, but the piles of non-fiction lying around my home just aren't calling my name right now. All I want is to be immersed in a wonderful story with interesting characters involved in captivating plots.

However, I'm still not one for mysteries or romances, the traditional "summer fare." More than likely I'll pull out my box of classics downstairs and settle in with Charles Dickens or Louisa May Alcott. I'll still call it summer reading, though. Hey, it's the best I can do!

Monday, 24 May 2010


After 2 months of trying, Benjamin finally succeeded in getting his toes in his mouth. A couple of weeks back he got the first foot in. Undeterred by a small taste of victory, he continued on until he managed to get both in at the same time.

I always thought babies were born being flexible enough to get their feet in their mouth. Whether or not this is true, Benjamin had a goal and saw it through. It was funny to watch the sheer determination in this little guy. His eyes would focus on those toes, and he would control the jerky movements common to babies. One hand grasped each heel, and then he would slowly pull one foot back at a time, eyes never leaving the goal. His neck strength was strong since birth, but this exercise increased the strength even more, as he pushed his head toward his feet.

From about 2 months old to 4 months old I watched him and his determination to get those toes into his mouth. And so when, a few weeks back, that first toe went in, I shared the joy in the victory with him.

Little lessons in life. This may have only been toes in mouth, but all the little nuances of the journey say so much about the tough trials we face in life, and the sweet taste of victory at the end.

Thursday, 20 May 2010


Every day I spend as a mother I am learning to let go of the "I can (and must) do it myself" mentality. Life is so much easier when you share each other's burdens and talents.

I called a good friend last night whose 6 year old is ill. I called to see if I could run any errands for her, or sit with her son if she needed to run out (her husband is out of town on business). She said she had it covered so far, but thanked me for the offer and agreed to call me if she needed something.

Then she said she did need one thing (unrelated). She had written a song and wanted to know if there was an online program to create printed sheet music. No, I replied, there isn't, but I have a great computer program and keyboard that makes it really simple. She asked if she could stop in next week and use the program, to which I agreed.

Then I backed up. "I have a proposal" I said. My friend is a master sewer. Really fantastic and experienced, which also makes her fast. I have curtains I need sewing. Just basic hemming on four sides, with a slot for the curtain rod. Then I have a little ribbon to make a trim. Nothing too complicated, but my sewing machine is more temperamental than ever, and I was looking to borrow a friend's machine. The proposal: I come to her with my computer and keyboard, so she can use the keyboard and I can use her sewing machine.

We agreed, but within moments realized one more thing: it would take me a lot longer to try and actually sew those curtains, and she would have to struggle through the computer program. The solution was obvious: she would sew, I would transcribe, and it will all be done in an hour!

Although she insists she is getting the better deal, I secretly know I am. Actually, it's such a fantastic partnership I don't know why we moms don't have a system like this going on continually!

Wednesday, 19 May 2010


While reading about homeschooling, the first concern or question that is always raised by people (and addressed in these books) is about socialization. How will a child learn to interact with people if they stay home all day?

Aside from the usual argument that "homeschooling" is a misleading term, that much of homeschooling actually takes place outside the home (visiting museums, visiting family and friends, music lessons and sport games and church and homeschooling groups and...) my viewpoint on socialization has evolved simply from my personal observations.

First of all, who decided that school is a natural place to socialize? I do not choose my friends now based on the fact they were born in the same year as I. In fact, I do not have one single friend with whom I interact on a regular basis who was born in the same year as I. Not one. I have friends who are older and friends who are younger, friends who are my age but have pre-teens, friends who are my age who have no children, friends who are younger but have children the same age as mine. The terms "age" and "stage" are two very different terms, and I think that "stage" has a lot more bearing on friendship than age. But I also have many friends who are both different ages and stages then I; my friendship with these people is just as deep and important.

Second, who decided that school is a humane place to socialize? Have we all somehow mentally blocked what the social scene of school really was? I think this is likely, since for nearly everyone it can be quite traumatic. Blocking it out is probably the only way to get passed it. No matter how well you were raised, no matter how nice you were taught to be, there were cool kids and geeks, and then the rest of us who floated in between. We all desperately wanted to be cool and desperately feared being a geek. Something just beyond our comprehension seemed to place us in a social spot, and if we were unhappy there we did everything we could to either change it or deal with it. I know there were people I was mean to in an attempt to "socialize" at school. I know there are people teased to the point of suicide. I know there are kids who are bullied, or are the bullies. There are kids who try to be someone they aren't because who they'd like to be would be rejected. School socialization makes you do things you hate, be someone you don't like, and impose the system on those unfortunate to be beneath you on the social ladder. I vividly remember grades 6, 7 and 8 being the worst years of my life. I felt marginalized by the school for the class I was in, and marginalized by the kids in my class, simply because the others were more forceful and successful in climbing to the apex of the social mountain. I had only one other friend in the school; if she was away I ate lunch by myself and wandered the school grounds at lunch time, desperately wishing I could just go home instead of enduring the humiliation of having no friends.

My third observation is much more positive and is directly related to my children, specifically Colin. Colin plays very naturally with children both older and younger than he. When we are at the Early Years Centre, he is one of the oldest there. He is very caring and attentive, showing younger children the ropes, including them in play, leading and teaching them. At the park he is generally one of the youngest. He loves to play with children 10, 11, 12 years old. "Do you want to play with me?" he invites, always expecting a positive response, and confused and despondent if he receives a negative one. He enjoys the challenge of older children, their greater developed abilities on the equipment, the way he is pushed to run faster to keep up. Colin does not see age (or even size) as an inhibitor to friendship. Funny enough, when he is in a setting with children who are is age, the play is stilted, or often doesn't happen at all. It's as though he's not quite sure what to do, how to play. I think he instinctly sees the value of being a leader/teacher (to younger children) or a follower/learner (to older children). Beyond play with other kids, both my older boys love some of my adult friends. I have one friend specifically, who although she has children the same ages as my boys, she is the one they want to visit and play and talk with. They are so excited when we "go to Kathy's house," and rarely want to wander off with the other kids, preferring Kathy's infectious laugh and sincere attention. Other times, when I say to them Braydon or Timmy or Felix are coming over to play, they quickly ask if Emily or Rebecca or Mrs. Campbell (their mothers) are coming also. They do not separate between young friends and grownup friends, but enjoy the company of all.

The more I ponder on the ideas of socialization, the more I realize this would actually be a very strong argument in favour of homeschooling rather than against it. In fact, in light of reason number two above, I would be much more likely to pull my kids from public school to homeschool them due to bad social experiences in school! But no matter the schooling situation they find themselves in, I would always want to help them build and nurture friendships with people of all ages. I think it is inarguable that maximum personal growth would occur when you have opportunities to lead those younger than you and learn from those older than you. Anything else (ie: exclusively socializing with those of your exact age and stage) would result in societal stagnation.

Frustration in the store

You know how the experts always say that it's just best to avoid a toddler tantrum situation in the first place? Yes, I know that, too. Why I ignore it, I don't know. Sometimes I think I'm just in a no win situation.

I had just hyped Caleb up for a visit to the store, thinking my morning appointment had bombed on me. As we were climbing in the car, my girlfriends showed up. It was a three-way miscommunication about the time. So I promised Caleb we would hit the store after they were done.

Well, the appointment finished on time, but it was getting really close to lunch and nap. I knew that could be bad, but not going to the promised store would likely result in a meltdown at home. So really I was looking at the same result either way. So I went to the store.

Caleb wouldn't follow me. Then he lost his boot. Then he only wanted to wear one boot. Then he SCREAMED when I picked him and the boot up and left the store. On the way out, he wound up his hand and smacked me across the face. The kid has a great arm - it actually stung. I stopped, pulled him arms out of reach of my face and gave him the dreaded "mom stare". He was still hysterical.

The whole way home (2 minutes) he wailed. I calmly kept repeating every minute that he had hurt me and needed to say he was sorry. We were at an impasse.

I silently prepared his lunch. He smashed his hand in it, refusing to eat. I stayed quiet and ate my own lunch. Eventually Caleb capitulated and began to eat. Right now he is happy as a lark and ready to go for nap.

None of us are happy when we are hungry and tired, so why do I expect anything more from my two-year-old?

When will I learn?

Monday, 17 May 2010


Sunday was much better. Thank you for the blue sky day, the shining sun and the warm weather. I was able to recharge and felt wonderful this morning, ready to face the week, which is also supposed to be beautiful in the weather department. Yay!

Saturday, 15 May 2010

When I get tired and hungry and grumpy

Today was a whirlwind of a day in which I experienced my entire range of emotions.

It actually began yesterday with James and I going over what was to be a very busy day, filled with big chores to get done, plus a few of the regular every day ones, some shopping, some appointments - one of those days that must be carefully planned in order to be executed well.

Then the phone rang at 6:45 am. Our company was suddenly a man down, and James needed to go work a move. He needed to leave immediately and wouldn't return until late.

All of a sudden everyone was up (it's hard for anyone to be quiet when you have to get out the door in five minutes to go somewhere you really don't want to go). As I whisked the boys downstairs for breakfast, I started shifting the day around in my head, trying to figure out how on earth I would get everything done on my own, with three boys in tow. I could manage my hair appointment with the boys (begrudgingly) if I got Benjamin asleep in his carseat and brought the portable DVD player for the boys. They might sit for an hour and a half. Grocery shopping could be right after the haircut, or I might squeeze it in before if I bribe the boys with a visit to the Early Years Centre after. If all three napped at the same time I could start ripping up the carpet, and hope the electrician came before they woke up. After nap I would have just enough time to do a tide and clean of the whole house in preparation for a get together tomorrow night. I'd likely have to skip the drive to the dump, unless I did it in three or four trips of just the trunk full, with another movie on to keep the boys from going crazy...

On and on my brain swam, around and around as I tried to get the details worked out before I too much of the day got away from me and I lost valuable time. I was just finishing up the breakfast dishes when, lo and behold, James called to say he'd be back in 10 minutes, that he'd worked something out and was on his way home!

Inexplicably, I was a little annoyed, since I was so proud I had worked it all out to do on my own. I should have caught the sign that I was going to be moody all day...

The boys and I ran up the street to a yard sale a friend was having, not to buy anything but so the boys could play with their boys. Only it was barely above freezing, we weren't in winter gear, and in the first five minutes their friend and bowled over both boys, leaving them in tears.

We zipped back and I ran over to my hair appointment. It was a resounding success, and I have a cute new (very short!) summer hair cut. But usually on one of the two days a year I actually get my hair cut, I like to do things all for me - shopping, go for lunch, visit with girl friends, go on a date with James - something to help me remember what it's like being a woman and not only a mother. But there was cleaning and carpets calling me.

The rest of the day was a blur. Neither Benjamin nor Colin napped, which didn't give me any time to myself. Colin, who is usually excellent at playing on his own for quiet time if he doesn't nap, couldn't go two minutes without calling me. Benjamin was plain old tired. James was ripping up the carpet in the basement, where the boys couldn't be, which meant I was looking after them until he was done. But the stupid business phone rang all day, which meant the one hour carpet job turned into 5 and a half. Which meant that I didn't get my much needed break.

I just need a little time away on Saturdays. By the time dinnertime rolled around, I didn't want to hear any more voices or see any more faces. I had had ENOUGH! I was on the brink of tears, tears of exhaustion and anger and frustration. The boys asked for a snack and I wanted to scream. Benjamin started whimpering and I wanted to scream. The business phone rang again and I wanted to scream!

I threw some spaghetti on and dumped a jar of sauce on top. Luckily there were frozen spring rolls in the freezer, or pasta and canned sauce was all they were getting for dinner. I was in no mood to supplement it with garlic toast or salad. They were all lucky they were getting fed.

After dinner I quickly escaped to do the grocery shopping. I used to hate grocery shopping more than anything else I had to do. Now I relish the time away. Every week we must eat, therefore every week I must take 45 minutes out of a Saturday and buy food. I shop at a store open 24 hours. Some weeks I like to go at 10 or 11 at night just to have a little quiet.

I was in a better mood when I got back. Which was good because Caleb and Benjamin were both screaming when I opened the door. I ran up and nursed Benjamin and rocked him, then rescued Caleb from the bath (and the mean Daddy who insists on rinsing the soap out of his hair!). I soothed and cuddled and made them laugh. Then I told James that we could spend an hour or two together and then he could go over to a friend's house. I really needed a little time to myself, most likely to write (check) and read (next).

To top the day off, it was a grey-sky-day all day, which always gets me grumpy. Here's to tomorrow, which "after another day" and hopefully a sunny day, a peaceful day, a day of rest. We are having people over for dinner, but I have planned ahead with a crock pot meal. Hopefully everyone will nap, and I will be a lot less irritable. I have heard over and over how the mother sets the atmosphere in the home, and I take that influence very seriously. But I am grateful my children don't seem to log the down days I have, the days when my patience is too short and my temper too loud. Tomorrow I will do better.

When boys get mad...

When Colin gets upset or angry about something, he says very deliberately, and not making eye contact:

"I am going to put a sign up. And the sign is going to say "...(no doing whatever it is that is making him mad)..."

When Caleb gets angry with you, he says very abruptly:

"You're going to move to another house!"


While experiencing some frustration playing a computer game the other day, I heard Colin exclaim:

"Who designed this game?"

(This is clearly from James, as I don't play computer games)

Thursday, 13 May 2010

All done

I gave Caleb a snack of Cheerios while he watches a movie. He helped himself to a spoon, even though there was no milk (he's a creature of habit).

Just now, he sauntered nonchalantly back into the kitchen, licked the crumbs from the spoon and returned it to its place in the drawer. "All done," he announced and sauntered back to the TV. It was such a smooth process it is obvious that although this is the first time I've seen him do it, it's definitely not the first time he's done it.

I laughed so hard I had tears in my eyes.

Reason # ___ to homeschool

Why is school pickup right in the middle of nap time? Clearly the person who set the school day as is never had toddlers. It is really easy to know when Caleb is tired: he dissolves into tears every 3-4 minutes, over absolutely anything. It can be as big as bumping his head and as little as taking too long to walk across the room.

Caleb needs a minimum of 2 hours, but usually naps 2 1/2 to 3 hours, every afternoon. He also needs to wake up on his own. If you try and wake him, even after the rare 4 hour nap, he will still exhibit those teary tired signs.

So, you can imagine what our house is like on school days (Mondays, Wednesdays and some Fridays) when I have to wrench him from his nap at 2:30. That's usually just over two hours of naptime, but he's rarely awake before we have to leave. I try to have a snack ready, whisk him from bed into the stroller/van and place aforementioned snack straight into his hand. It works for that transition time for him to wake up, but he is always grumpy by the time we get back, and right through until bedtime.

I'm almost tempted to pick Colin up early from school, at lunch time, and bring him home then. I hate to work the family around one child, but no one likes a sleep-deprived Caleb. You can bet that come junior kindergarten, if we choose to send him, I'll be picking Caleb up at lunchtime to come home for naps. I can't believe someone actually thought all-day kindergarten for 3 year olds is a good idea. I would not leave sleep-deprived Caleb with a teacher for the afternoon! If the school gives me any grief about picking him up early, I need only leave him one afternoon for them to give the okay to be picked up.


Thank you for naps. Thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you.

I am so grateful both my boys still take two hour naps, and that Benjamin is kind enough to coordinate his afternoon nap at the same time.

And I am grateful my body will drift off as well for much needed sleep.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010


When my doctor asked me what I weighed at each of my first pre-natal visits, I sheepishly replied "I don't know." And it was the honest truth. Growing up my mom never kept a scale around, and so I was never preoccupied with weight as a number. I could tell if I was losing or gaining (small amounts) by how loose or tight my jeans were. I know I weighed more in high school than I do post-wedding; I held onto those high school clothes for years, "just in case" I ever gained more weight.

Post-baby #3, I'm finally back into pre-pregnancy jeans. I was a little annoyed that it took so long, but given the "curse of the third" that apparently exists, I suppose I should be content. Granted, I'm only just into some of the looser jeans I owned, and I don't think I could even attempt my old favourite jeans from my university days. But I'm giving myself longer to get back into those, since nursing makes me STARVING all the time! I'm fairly good at healthy snacking, but those chocolate cravings are a killer!

I don't have the type of metabolism that I could eat anything and everything I wanted, if all I wanted was junk food. Gratefully I love snacking on fruits, and a nice big salad is a favourite of mine for lunch, which makes things a little easier.

I also don't splurge for a gym membership, but I do try and workout with a group of girlfriends twice a week. My AWESOME friend Kathy has been on a very successful weight loss journey and invites a group of us twice a week to workout with her at the church, benefiting from everything she has learned. She is a fantastic motivator and really knows how to put together an effective workout.

Probably the one habit that is helping me maintain right now is walking. I was worried back in September when I got my own vehicle that I would lose the habit of walking everywhere that I had developed since moving to Orangeville. Well, I'm happy to report that, for the most part, I've done fairly well. Having a van has eliminated the need for me to try and get rides, or take the bus. But I generally walk Colin to school in the mornings, and also to pick him up, if Caleb wakes from his nap in time. I don't walk up to the stores as often, but I am finding I am simply shopping less (better for the wallet!) My double stroller and my new Ergo baby carrier are getting quite the use, and I anticipate using them even more during the nice weather.

I'm grateful that as a mom I have retreated from the world out there, and the pressures of media and culture to look a certain way. Thank goodness that as we grow (older!) we become much more comfortable with who we are the way God made us.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Excerpt from John Holt's "Teach Your Own" (2)

"A Life-Taught Man"

"Hiram Salisbury was a man of 1815. I list his skills, one sheet of scratch paper after another. He knew every farm chore. He milked cows and attended the calves in birth. He physicked his horse. He plowed, he planted, he cultivated, hayed, picked apples, grafted fruit trees, cut wheat with a scythe, cradled oats, threshed grain with a flail on a clay floor. He chopped the corn and put down his vegetables for winter. He made cider and built cider mills. He made cheese and fashioned cheese tongs. He butchered the hogs and sheared the sheep. He churned butter and salted it. He made soap and candles, thatched barns and built smokehouses. He butchered oxen and constructed ox sledges. He fought forest fires and marked out the land. He repaired the crane at Smith's mill and forged a crane for his own fireplace to hang the kettle on. He collected iron in the countryside and smelted it. He tapped (mended) his children's shoes and his own. He built trundle beds, oxcarts, sleighs, wagons, wagon wheels and wheel spokes. He turned logs into boards and cut locust wood for picket fences. He made house frames, beams, mortised and pegged. With six men's help he raised the frames and built the houses. He made a neat cherry stand with a drawer for a cousin, fixed clocks and went fishing. He carved his own board measures (yardsticks) and sold them for a dollar apiece. He fitted window cases, mended locks, and fixed compasses. He hewed timber, surveyed the forest, wrote deeds and shaved shingles. He inspected the town records and audited the books of the Friendship Lodge, the oldest freshwater Masonic lodge in the country. He shipped plows, constructed carding machines, carved gunstocks and built looms. He set gravestones and fashioned wagon hubs. He ran a bookstore and could make a find coffin in half a day. He was a member of the state's General Assembly, overseer of the poor, appraiser of property and fellow of the town council. He made hoops by the thousand and also pewter faucets. For many years he collected the town taxes...

"I have not listed all of Hiram's skills but enough. I do not think he was an unusual man. Put me in Hiram's world and I would not last long. Put Hiram down in our world, he might have a little trouble with a computer, but he'd get the hang of it faster than I could cradle a bushel of oats."

"I tend to agree that Hiram, though perhaps not an unusual man in his time, would be a most unusual one in ours, far more knowing, skillful, intelligent, resourceful, adaptive, inventive, and competent than most people we would find today, in either city or country, and no matter how schooled.

"But the real question I want to raise and answer is how Hiram learned all those skills. To be sure, he did not learn them in school, nor in workshops or any other school-like activity. Almost certainly, he learned how to do all those kinds of work, many of them highly skilled, by being around when other people were doing them. But these people were not doing the work in order to teach Hiram something. Nobody raised a barn just so that Hiram could see how barns were raised. They raised it because they needed to raise the barn. Nor did they say to him, "Hiram, as long as I have to raise this barn, you may as well come around and learn how it is done." They said, "Hiram, I'm raising a barn and
I need your help." He was there to help, not to learn - but as he helped, he learned."

(my own thoughts)

Is it any wonder kids often turn their nose up at school assignments, knowing that there really is no greater purpose behind it? "Why do I have to?" seems to have a valid point, given the above barn analogy. When you see the real life application of a skill, it makes a lot more sense. You can talk all about fishing in a lecture, make me read pages from a book, and even have me hook a line and catch a fish from a little swimming pool. But when I'm out camping with a friend and we have to catch our breakfast, you can bet that's when I'll really learn how to fish.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Mother's Day

Another wonderful Mother's Day. A lazy morning with no church meetings for James! Usually it's a long three hours on my own with the kids, then a short 10 minutes once he gets home for me to jump in the shower and get ready. Not this morning. This morning I was treated to French Toast and bacon and orange juice, my favourite breakfast in the whole wide world. Then I got a nice shower and time to get dressed and do my hair (okay, it was another ponytail, but at least there were no kids at my legs while I did it!) and makeup. At church, James sang a beautiful solo about mothers while I accompanied. I love when we have the opportunity to sing/play/perform together. Lots of cuddles with Benjamin today, and a nice long nap with him in the afternoon. I was blessed with lots of extra patience with the older boys today, and realized how easy things can be when I access that store of patience. Barbecue over at James' parents' house, where we celebrated three generations of mothers. News from a best friend that she will be a mother for the first time later this year. And now a quiet evening with the man that made my motherhood a reality. Life is good.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Time Out For Women

Colin: Where's Mommy?
James: She's at Time Out For Women this weekend.
Colin: Why? Were they all naughty?


No, we weren't naughty. We were just 1200 women taking a "time out" to be emotionally and spiritually refreshed. This is the second time this conference has come to the Toronto Area, and even with a nursing baby, I knew I wasn't going to miss it. (Benjamin came with me, and was not only good as gold, but charmed every one of those women there! Someone even told me that he was by far the cutest baby there. Again, it's that charming smile of his that he doles out to all who pass by.)

There were speakers and singers, laughter and tears, and a whole lot of motivation and inspiration. Even if I had had a free hand to take copious notes, I'm not sure I would write them all here. Rather than a simple diary of who I saw and what they said, I'd much rather simply record the impressions I was left with, and a few of the ideas born in my mind.

The theme of the conference was "Infinite Hope." One speaker, a survivor of the terrors and wars in Sierra Leone, Africa, spoke of the power of hope. Hope is something that can stay alive always, as long as you believe in it, cling to it. I cannot recall the historical person of whom this story is about, but this person was a medical researcher of sorts. He devoted his life to finding a cure for a disease with which his mother was inflicted. Someone once asked him: "what will you do if the day comes that you realize you cannot find a cure?" He replied: "I don't know, because that day will never come. I will never stop trying."

There is so much pain and suffering in the world, that at times it seems there is so little I can do. Not only that, but I feel that I simply don't have what is needed to effect any change. But of these five things, I have infinite of them to give:
a smile
a cheerful greeting
a song
These five things have power in them beyond what I may recognize. It may be a small sacrifice on my part, and yet in imparting this of myself may give someone a greater gift than I could ever understand.

We often hear of the parable of the lost sheep. Jesus will leave the 99 sheep to go after the one little lost lamb. But what of the 99? What of those who continue pressing forward in faith their whole lives, never straying too far from the fold? Though we may feel His attention is unnecessary because we are not lost, it is important to recall that we are still His. He still loves us, knows us, speaks with us, guides us, hears our prayers, and answers those prayers.

Mediocrity comes from a latin root meaning "halfway up the mountain." So if you feel that your life is one of mediocrity, remember that it means you've already climbed half way up! You're not at the bottom, staring up and saying "it's not even worth trying." Don't give up!

Often the question is posed: "have you been saved by grace?" But perhaps the real question is "have you been changed by grace?"

There are thousands of conferences that happen every year. People often pay lots of money to attend them, in hopes of learning new things, changing themselves, finding new paths, and a thousand other reasons. But surveys show that almost no one who attends a conference like this actually changes their in in any way afterward. And so we were encouraged not to overwhelm ourselves with goals and in the process give up at the enormity of the task. Instead, we were asked to just pick a few things and really and truly try to do something about it. Here are my ideas:

1) share my love of learning with Caleb by doing one of the 365 activities for pre-schoolers with him
2) give Colin five minutes at bedtime, once he is in bed, to just talk freely about all those thoughts that fill his mind just as I'm about to turn off the light.
3) have meaningful talk with James. With him, not at him. With the intention of sharing my ideas and hearing his, not trying to sway him over to my point of view.

And now I have yet another two books to peruse through. I have put a self-imposed moratorium on buying books until I read those that I already have!


Things sort of fell apart Friday before I had to leave, and so I apologized profusely to James as I left the house in a bit of a disaster, knowing that he would also be on his own with the boys for Friday night and Saturday. But once again I can brag about having the best husband in the world. When I returned home at dinner time, happy yet exhausted, the house was tidied, the dishes done, the bathroom cleaned, the floors swept, the children dressed, clean and happy, and dinner plans taken care of. And he even entertained family Friday night and had a friend and his girls over Saturday morning. If ever doubt creeps into my mind about James' ability to "handle" things while I'm gone, I will pull from my memory the moment when I walked in the door and beheld what had happened while I was away. He is the man!

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

It goes to show you-

Feeling quite cultured, I clicked on an item available at a bookstore online. It was titled "The Best Books: Classics for LDS homes, 8 vol. set." I thought I'd see how many I have already read.

A little too high on my own horse, I noted as I scanned down the first seven books that not only had I read them all, I also owned them all in my personal "classics" collection.

Then I read the eighth title: "The Scarlett Pimpernel." Funny, I had always thought it was called "The Scarlett Pumpernickel." Yep, that's me with egg on my face.

Excerpt from John Holt's "Teach Your Own"

I am just finishing up a book by one of the leading proponents of homeschooling, or, more accurately, alternatives to schooling. My own thoughts are still swimming around and formulating, so before I write on those, I'll post a couple of my favourite excerpts, the ones that left the greatest impact on me.

"The idea I hate the most about public schools is that they should have my children all day when I feed, clothe, doctor, transport, and care most for them, and I am denied those hours with them and the sharing of their learning experiences. I cannot reinforce their education if I am denied the subject matter they are exposed to and am only left with tired grumps who eat, do homework, and flop to bed."

Tuesday, 4 May 2010


Okay. This seems to be the most controversial topic out there (aside from vaccination), and yet the more I talk to people, the more I realize: EVERYONE DOES IT! I don't think I've spoken with one mother yet who hasn't co-slept with their baby. Which makes me wonder why "experts" are still talking about it. These experts are either childless, or perhaps fathers. If you jettison all other reasons to co-sleep, the one that will still always come out on top is: survival. A mom simply can't survive on a one or two hour long naps at nighttime. Nighttime lying-down nursing is the only way to go.

But, that reason aside, I had a moment of realization about co-sleeping the other day. It was bedtime and Benjamin was being a little fussy, which can happen. He is awesome about going down for naps: swaddle him up, lie him down and scoot out the door. It takes less than 30 seconds. Nighttime can happen this quickly, but so often I've missed his early tired signals and so it takes a little longer.

So there I was, lying on the bed next to him. He was tugging at his feet and cooing, perfectly happy just lying next to me. I didn't need to hold him or rock him. Sometimes I will sing to him and caress his chest. But that night I actually pulled out my book and started reading. He gradually got more and more sleepy and then just drifted off. I closed my book and left the room.

My realization was this: Benjamin simply wanted the comfort and reassurance that I was nearby. The act of sleeping and waking must be scary for a baby. I know I've woken up before and needed a few seconds to orient myself, reminding me where I am. I think there are just times when Benjamin needs a little extra reassurance that I'm there, that he isn't alone, that he needs not fear falling asleep.

From these thoughts, I could easily project down the road. It may take a few more months, but eventually Benjamin will grow comfortable with the idea of falling asleep because he knows I will be nearby when he wakes. Sort of like a kid learning to jump in the water. He needs to jump into his mom's arms a few times to be reassured that she will be there in case something happens. Eventually the kid will jump in on his own. But each kid needs a different amount of time to get comfortable with the idea.

Conversely, if I left Benjamin alone and forced him to sleep by himself, I can see him developing a fear of sleeping. Back to the swimming analogy, imagine if the mom just kept pushing the kid into the water telling him that one of these times he'll learn to swim. Some more adventurous kids might move their arms and legs and start swimming. Others might develop a deep fear of water. I think the lesson is that every child is different, every baby is different, and rather than learn a method one needs to learn their baby. When you pay attention to those early personality cues, even evident in young babies, it will be much easier to choose parenting techniques that fit both you and baby.

Perhaps that's why I've really enjoyed sleeping with Benjamin these months, and it also explains my reluctance to move him to his crib for the nighttime (although naps will be in the nursery so I can get in and out of my bedroom throughout the day!). As his mom, I have that instinct that he needs and loves to be near me at night, and now I understand a little better why.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Doctor's appointments

Before I write anything else, everything looks to be okay. So please nobody panic.

But today was a little bit of a scary day for me. The past two weeks I have had three symptoms present all of a sudden, getting worse and worse as each day passed. 1) Headaches 2) Memory loss and 3) nausea.

I had chalked it up to sleep deprivation. The headaches were a bother while I tried to go about my daily tasks. The nausea would come and go in strong bouts. The memory loss (or forgetfulness) was aggravating at first, and then soon became annoying. I missed 4 appointments last week, which culminated in missing my good friend's wedding. 2 of the appointment were with the same person - I missed the initial meeting and then missed the rescheduled meeting also! The wedding I had been talking about all month, it was on the calendar, and all day Friday I was thinking about it and getting ready for it that evening. But then when evening came, I completely forgot. I think James and I watched a couple episodes of "Lost" and then went to bed. It wasn't until the next morning when I got an email from a friend asking me how the wedding was that I even realized I'd missed it.

Saturday I happened to be over at my in-laws, and was "joking" about how annoying it had been to forget all those things. There had also been several other things, like going to the store and forgetting what I went for (three times). Then my father-in-law, mildly concerned, asked James if I had had any other symptoms, like headaches. James said no, not knowing that I had indeed been battling headaches for those two weeks also.

So when James casually mentioned that conversation later that night, I started to panic. I hadn't put all the symptoms together, but when you do, it gets real scary real fast. I promised to book a doctor's appointment for Monday.

Monday (today) came and I called for an appointment. They were completely booked, and so I figured I would just have to wait until tomorrow. Then the nurse called back to talk to me about my symptoms, and she booked me in a cancellation spot.

So this afternoon I toddled over with Caleb and Benjamin in tow. After a battery of questions and motor-tests, the doctor disappeared for a few minutes. She came back with a requisition for a head CT, saying that they were taking me right away. I looked at her blankly, then fumbled for words about having to get the kids to my mother-in-law's and get right back. She asked if someone could pick them up instead. Well, I had the carseats and it would be just as quick to drive them myself, so I promised I would be quick.

I couldn't concentrate on my book while I waited in the waiting room. When they finally called my name, I felt myself grow quiet. I answered questions with nods or shakes of my head, not even feeling like I could speak. I nodded blindly through tears when they said I'd have to stop nursing for 24 hours while the dye cleared my system. That hit me harder than I thought, although when I considered why I was there and what the possibilities might be, I realized that not nursing for 24 hours was a small concession compared to perhaps not being able to nurse at all.

The test took only 10 minutes. When I finished they asked me to wait in the waiting room. That's when I really started to panic. I had offered a quick silent prayer on my way to the initial doctor's appointment, and the words that came to me to pray were for "courage, patience, and peace." Those words flooded back, as I realized that I hadn't been inspired to pray that nothing would be wrong, but for courage, patience and peace, as if there truly were something I was going to have to deal with.

I waited for 15 minutes, after which a call came instructing me to go back to my doctor, who had requested a call on her cell phone with the results. I raced over there and held my breath while she finished up with a patient in the next room.

"The scan was clear." Four beautiful words that finally did bring me some peace. The doctor's main concerns of a brain tumour or a stroke were allayed. My sinuses were really blocked, although that wouldn't account for the "significant memory loss," according to the requisition. She prescribed me something for the sinuses, and told me it the headaches should ease in two or three days, if that's all it is.

So that's where I am now. She also mentioned it could be migraines, as severe migraines can have neurological effects, in rare cases. If it isn't the sinuses, she said the next step will be migraine medication. If there is no result from that, the next step will be an MRI. But as that has to be down in Brampton, she wants to take this course first.

I still have a headache like nobody's business. I'm managing day-to-day tasks a little easier than I was two weeks ago, because I've somewhat grown accustom to the throbbing pain. I hope that it all clears quickly.