Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Mood swings

I am a fairly even tempered person. I have a lot of patience with people and situations. When there is trouble, my mind automatically kicks into problem-solving mode, so I rarely sit and stew over things.

This morning, however, I became acutely aware just how my own good or bad mood can have an over-reaching effect in my home. I received some disappointing news this morning, unexpected both in the content and the timing. While I did immediately start going over the different options and possibilities left to me, I was thoroughly put out.

What had started as a fairly pleasant morning, (the first day of summer vacation) suddenly turned sour. I heard a sharpness in my voice when I spoke with my boys. I had no patience for antics of any sort, or even the expected behaviour of 2 and 4 year olds. My mood was foul and I couldn't help but be bitter in everything I said and did. Worse, I was aware of my attitude and knew that it wasn't fair to those around me. But I just couldn't seem to lift myself out of it.

We passed the morning at a friend's home in a flurry of conversation. The boys were occupied with her children, and Benjamin was relatively quiet. I had a chance to offload about my situation, and then get my mind engaged in other issues. When the visit was over and I felt somewhat more settled (and less likely to explode) I decided to drop in for a visit with the vice principal of Colin's school to discuss what options we had, so that we might make an informed and best decision.

After a 45 minute wait (we were told she would be available in less than 5!), time spent trying to amuse Colin and Caleb, I walked into her office, ready to calmly discuss the situation. I wasn't looking to fight a losing battle for what I'd originally hoped for; instead I just wanted information about other options. But I had barely launched into my well rehearsed piece when she smiled and said that the matter had already been resolved, and a message to that fact was waiting on my answering machine at home! The whole situation was very reminiscent of the trouble I faced in September when I was trying to get Colin into a certain classroom for very specific reasons.

Suddenly the clouds parted and my mood lifted. I all but danced from the office to the van, smiling and laughing with the boys in a sing-song voice. And once again I was aware that my cheerful mood was spilling over onto how I communicated and interacted with my kids.

I felt today like a cartoon; the one where the person has a little storm cloud over their head when they are angry, and then a sun shining above when they are happy. It was all so obvious to me. It was also a poignant lesson in attitude. I have learned the powerful effect mood has on me and how I can unfairly take it out on those around me. I will definitely try harder in the future to take control of my emotions, find an outlet that isn't another person (kids, husband, family, friend, etc) and in so doing treat those around me more fairly.

The Sound of Music

I picked up my Dad's guitar from my sister's house the other day. As I walked out to the car, I felt very much like the image of Maria from the film "The Sound of Music." The case is well loved and when you carry it the handle causes a gentle swing.

Not that I don't already have enough instruments I'm learning. I'm still a novice on the flute, and a few months back I had my Poppy's trumpet fixed up as well. I rarely get in practice time on the piano, although I try to at least sit and play through some favourite songs once a week. But I have been wanting to learn the guitar for years. The piano is wonderful for singalongs, except that it's not exactly portable. With our upcoming camping trip, a planned group music class to teach in the fall, and these gorgeous summer days spent in the backyard, learning the guitar finally seems natural.

Surprisingly (for me) I was actually able to pick out a bunch of songs. I laid open both the Raffi and the Eva Cassidy songbooks and found my way through some easy chords and songs. Benjamin bounced in his Exersaucer, the boys and James ran through the sprinkler, and I strummed and sang away some of our favourite tunes. I have tried many times in the past to pick it up and learn, but never had much success. Yesterday it just seemed to come to me.

Monday, 28 June 2010

Like mother, like son

After hearing Colin recite "The Polar Express," a friend asked if either James or I were similar when we were young. I initially gave the usual response that both of us enjoyed performing from a young age, and that while I can't seem to remember a book I read last month or an appointment I have tomorrow, I can memorize a Shakespeare monologue in 10 minutes.

Then I recalled an experience from years ago. When I was almost eight years old my family lived in England. We lived in a row of townhouses in a type of court. There were lots of kids in the area. I remember during the summer I would set out a blanket and then set my alarm clock. When it rang, the neighbourhood kids would all gather on my blanket and I would recite Robert Munsch stories to everyone. I can particularly recall performing "Mortimer" and "Thomas' Snowsuit."

Everyone always thinks of musical talent being passed through the family, or dance or a knack for fixing things or a technical mind. But I had never connected Colin's storytelling talent to my own experience before. It's so neat to see pieces of you emerge from your children.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Vegetables for dinner, part two

Vegetable Mom showed up again the other day. This time I had not had time to go grocery shopping. Now honestly, we keep a 3 month food storage in the house. There is always food to eat. But I was sulking a little because James hadn't organized himself well enough to allow me time to grocery shop. So I served vegetables for dinner, because "that's all we had."

I served carrots, small roasted potatoes, corn, and green beans. (Yes, I know that corn is a grain, not a vegetable, but it gets thrown in that group often enough I count it as one). Nice big helpings of each one. It went over surprisingly well. Everyone ate everything on their plate; not one morsel was left to be scraped into the compost, a rarity at our table. Of course, the homemade cheese sauce I made probably helped in that. I figured I had to give them something if I was only going to serve vegetables.

In the end, everything really liked it. Well, Colin and I really liked it as a meal, and James and Caleb's stomachs really liked it after the fact, since their digestive systems are often gummed up with breads and grains. All in all, a resounding success.

Vegetable Mom strikes again!

Meet the temporary dishwasher

Our dishwasher is broken. Okay, it's not really broken. It's barely broken. In fact, it's just this tiny little black and white ring thing that came off off the faucet. But that tiny ring is the only way to attach the dishwasher to the faucet. Even more frustrating is how easy it should be to put it back together. For goodness sake, I can build a fence, install a humidifier, and the kids call all the tools "Mommy's tools." How on earth is one tiny little black and white ring giving me this much trouble?

Thank goodness my Dad arrives in Canada Tuesday.

Here I go to unload the dishwasher and begin to do it all the old way.

(Even though he's at the church right now, I can hear James gloating in victory that I miss the dishwasher. You can have this one, hon. I want my dishwasher back!)

Thursday, 24 June 2010

When you're thinking of me...

While perusing a friend's blog last week, I noticed she had a nifty little column on the side called "Dear Santa." In the column was a list of links to items that were on her gift wish list. Well, hopefully she believes that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, because I, too, am going to build my own wish list here. I know, I know. I'm probably already one of the easiest people to buy gifts for. I have lots of varied interests and hobbies, I love to read, watch movies and listen to music. But, like many people, I always seem to draw a blank when the question is put to me: "what do you want for your birthday/Christmas?" So throughout the year whenever I come across something of interest, I'll put it on this little compilation. I hope to build the list big - not because I want everything on it, but because my favourite thing to get, above all, is a surprise.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

It takes a village to raise a child

I firmly believe that it does take a village to raise a child, a concept that I think suffers in our age of over-protectiveness of our children and the (often justified) heightened sense of fear we experience as parents. We are afraid to let our kids be with other groups of people, and other adults especially, without hovering over them. I came to this realization the other day while shopping at a local farm. A woman I would call an acquaintance, who has a daughter around my kids' age, asked if she could take my boys up to see the chickens so I could shop in peace. My instinct was "no, that's okay, I can watch them, I don't want them that far out of sight, I don't know you as well as I should..." Then I realized that this was a safe environment, I have spoken with her lots around town, and the boys could learn a lot from this, both from the chickens and from someone else talking about them.

As soon as I said "yes," I was awash in that feeling of community. My boys need exposure to that kind of experience, and I need to help them learn and grow among all kinds of people, not just at their mama's side.

Saturday, 19 June 2010


Tonight Colin "read" (from memory) the entire book "The Polar Express." It was Caleb's request, but when I opened it to the first page, Colin started reciting the story. He got through the first page, then the second, then the third...and continued on until we reached the end. Often he would even start the sentence from the next page before I had a chance to turn it, showing that he didn't even need any picture prompts. I would venture to say he got it 98% right, and only needed two prompts (and each prompt only needed to be one word before he was off again). All this while Caleb was having a major meltdown, crying and screaming at the top of his lungs. I don't know how he focused enough to remember it all, but he did. The writing is quiet poetic, each sentence very lyrical. It was quite beautiful to hear such poetry coming from the small voice of a four year old. Once again Colin's fantastic memory amazes me.

Friday, 18 June 2010


At the end of a long week of little to no sleep (for both Benjamin and I!) I finally found out the reason: today Benjamin cut his first tooth! I had been completely dumbfounded at the drastic change in Benjamin this past week. He has always nursed every three hours, even through the night, but during the past week he was waking every hour at night, whimpering, fussing, nursing, turning, tossing. Naps were almost non-existent throughout the day, which only makes a tired baby more grumpy. Last night we couldn't even get him to go to sleep without being held - not crib nor co-sleeper nor swing would do. It was eventually in Daddy's arms that he exhausted himself into sleep.

Then this afternoon as he chewed on my finger I felt the tiny little scrape of a tiny little baby tooth! And finally I have my answer as to the reason for Benjamin's unsettled week. A dose of Tylenol and he's been out like a light since bedtime. Here's hoping for a quick return of our little smiley guy.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Soccer Mom

I have entered a new stage of life...soccer mom!

I had all three boys by myself last night, as James had to work late and was going to meet us at the fields. When we arrived, I felt a surge of excitement run through me. It was chaos - but a good kind of chaos, as all the kids and parents wove through the throngs to find their team and jerseys. It's hard to describe, but the moment I stepped into the area I felt the mantle of soccer mom fall on me and knew that I was going to love this part of parenthood.

It was a crummy evening, but the organizers had already canceled the first two weeks due to weather. It had been raining on and off all day, including thundershowers in the morning. But when 6pm rolled around, I had decided that, canceled or not, I was heading up to the fields with my own ball. Colin was simply too disappointed after two rainy Wednesdays not to at least go up and kick around a ball. Gratefully the organizers knew that the kids would want to play as long as it wasn't teeming rain. So we froze our fingers and cheered in the drizzle, and the kids had a blast.

These six kids from Colin's team all found each other on their own, and started running down the hill hand in hand, over and over again. Talk about instinctive team building! (Colin is second from the left).

Colin's very first kick during practice. The kids have half hour of practice first, and then play a game. Colin is in the 4-6 year old league. There are about 10 kids on each team, and about 8 teams. His team is called "Kreator Equipement" (the teams are named after their sponsors). I think it would be neat if one year in the future Senior Moving can sponsor a team. And I'm sure at one point or another I'll coach!

During the game. Colin is the one in the red in the middle. He was right in the middle of the action throughout the entire game. There was one point where he was the only red shirt in a sea of blue opponents! He wasn't shy about trying to get in and kick the ball, but also seemed to understand to hold back when a lot of his teammates were already there. What can I say - the kid's a natural! (Guess where he gets it from.)
Everyone after the ball! In traditional 4 year old style, all the kids moved in one giant group after the ball.

Team huddle at the end of the game. Only 4 kids on our team survived the cold until the very end. Colin is number 2. The man in the red shirt, squatting down with them is Thomas, their coach. He's a young guy, perhaps even still in high school. He is a little unsure around the little kids, but he's really nice and the kids like him.

So the soccer season begins! It's a bit of a drive out to this league, but it's a much more relaxed atmosphere than the league in town, as well as only half the cost. A good friend has her girls on Colin's team, so there will always be friends and fun every Wednesday night for us!

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Vegetables for dinner

Totally frustrated the other day with the sheer amount of bread/carbs being eaten in my home, I served for dinner: vegetables with a side of vegetables. No, I'm not kidding. Yes, I think James nearly called for pizza.

Colin has my sensitive digestion and needs vegetables, even if he doesn't want them. He's pretty good about eating them if I serve them, though. James eats his meat and potatoes first, then pushes around his vegetables while eating about half, since that's all that's left on the plate. Caleb can go days without eating vegetables, if I don't watch him like a hawk. Me, I love fruits and vegetables. There's nothing like a fruit platter or a huge salad. Of course, these weren't always my favs, so I give my family a little latitude.

So often they just aren't getting enough, and that's my area. Part of my job description is healthy eating for all, which I take very seriously. Hey - I didn't plant that garden in the back out of sheer pleasure, folks. Not my idea of fun, but I acknowledge its addition to a healthy eating plan.

So the other day I pulled out every vegetable left in the fridge. I chopped everything, then steamed the hard vegetables (broccoli, beans, carrots) and warmed the softer ones (corn, peas, peppers) and through in some black beans to fill it up a little. Topped with some Italian dressing, I served up nice big bowls of this "summer stew" to everyone. Me, I loved it! Everyone else ate it because there was nothing else. Caleb picked at it, then ate it simply because there was a promised dessert.

I have told everyone that if I continue to put vegetable scraps into the compost after lunch and dinner that they can expect vegetable dinners on a more regular basis.

I am the vegetable mom!

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

On the warpath

Watch out - I'm on the warpath today!

Saturday night I went to a housewarming party, and besides the fact that my friend's custom-designed house is gorgeous (her husband was the designer - lucky girl!) what I was most impressed by was how clean and neat it felt. Yes, this was due to a couple hours kid-free because she wanted to have the house tip top for the party. But more than that, it was not stuffed to the brim with stuff!

Today I visited with another friend, and her house (which holds 3 boys and a toddler daughter) had the same feeling. It felt clean and open and fresh and peaceful. I'm under no illusion that any house with kids in it can quickly descend into chaos. But what gets under my skin is that even when my house is tidy and clean it feels cluttered.

I was having a conversation about a house that is up for sale in the neighbourhood. Another friend of mine was looking to buy it, but the house is a century home, and as is often the case, the rooms are small. The bedrooms of this house, in particular, were deemed to small by my friend. That opened the conversation to how common that is in older century homes. They simply didn't own as much stuff as we do today, and so did not need tons of space.

So I am on the warpath. My goal: to rid each room of HALF its contents. In my friend's house today, I counted 7 items. That's it. A bookshelf, a couch, two chairs, a lamp, a piano and a toybox. And you know what? It didn't feel empty or missing something. It was just perfect. In my living room right now, there are 23 items that belong there (and another 12 that don't!). The same goes for the kitchen and the toy room. The bedrooms will have to wait for now, but they will be next. I will take a count of the items in these rooms and cut it by HALF!

Drastic? Yes. Necessary? YES! I long for that airy and open feel in both my friend's homes, and I hope that this will finally be the solution.

Sunday, 13 June 2010



"I'm so mad, if you don't give that to me, I'm going to explode! Here I go: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 14, 36, 8, 7, 7, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1...Kaboom!"

(Caleb "explodes," jumping up into the air off the couch, and then crashing to the ground. A second later, he jumps up and reaches up to the couch to grab his soothers.)

"Oh, I forgot. My soothers exploded with me."

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Being specific in prayer

It's hard to prayer for things I want when there seems to be so much more going on in the world. One friend put it this way: "How can I ask God for these little things when there is war, hunger, poverty and disease?"

And yet, over and over we hear about how God cares for each of his children. He wants to hear what our hearts desire, both our wants and our needs. He wants us to pray over our families, our work, our lives. If it is important to us, it's important to Him.

I have heard so many stories of people who were blessed to receive amazing answers to prayers. I have a friend who has, what she terms, "God boots." They are a fantastic pair of burgandy dress boots. She had a music performance coming up and her last pair of good shoes were ruined. She really wanted (not needed, but wanted) something to wear with her outfit. She prayed in faith. Then she got a phone call from a friend later that day saying that she was getting rid of a pair of burgandy size 9 boots, and thought my friend might want them. They went perfectly with the outfit, and were just the right size. Although this is a seemingly mundane prayer request, it was an example of how God even cares about the little things. She is my personal example of the power of prayer.

Recently I also read an example of Jill Savage, founder of the online forum "Hearts at Home." When the fund for a car for their daughter had to be used for emergency house repairs, Jill's daughter put her faith to work in prayer. But she didn't just ask for a car - she thought about the situation and put in three requests: 1) that it be an automatic (she didn't know how to drive standard) 2) that it have 4 doors (to make driving her siblings easier) and 3) if it could, that it be blue (her favourite colour). Jill listened to her daughter's request list, but bit her tongue from commenting right there. Jill understood that at this point any car would be a blessing, and that if her daughter had to learn to drive standard, or the kids had to crawl in and out of a 2-door car, or the car came in lime green, Jill's daughter would come to understand.

A few days later Jill received an email from an acquaintance. He was getting rid of a car. It wasn't much, but it worked and was reliable. In his email he said "it's a Honda Accord, 4-door automatic. And I don't know if it matters or not, but it's blue."

Jill writes that tears filled her eyes, and she whispered to herself "You have no idea how much it matters that it's blue!" Both Jill and her daughter learned a powerful lesson about prayer.

This entry isn't just about relating stories of others. If I am to learn and grow myself, I need to be pushing forward with positive change in my own habits. And I am about to change my habit of prayer.

I have always loved the outdoors, the country, landscapes of trees and rolling hills and rivers and ponds and the millions of shades of green our beautiful country is painted with. I have also always loved century homes, farm houses with big summer kitchens, the feeling of simplicity that remains in these homes built so many years ago in a time when things really were much simpler. As the boys grow, I am hoping to find a perfect little house which I can cultivate into my perfect little home. I long for land where the boys can roam. I long for the fresh colours of trees and flowers. I long for a garden where I can grow so much more of our own food. I long for a little country farmhouse with a big summer kitchen where the boys can hang out at the table while I cook up dinner. I long for acres of silence where I can walk and think and read.

If it were just this, it might not be so hard. That's the dream. The reality is that we need something close enough for James to commute to the city. We want something in this church ward. We want something in this school board so the boys can go to the French Immersion program. We want something no more than 10 minutes from town. We want land that isn't dense forest nor completely cleared (hard to find here!) And we don't want to spend (because we don't have!) a fortune on it. I was amazed that "simple country living" here means spending more than half a million dollars! The problem is that so many of these country lands have large country estates built on them. Me, I just want a humble home with a good size kitchen and a large sitting area.

As I think about the reality of my list, I realize that there is very likely one house out there that is perfect for us. Just one. But I know that my list is not something about living grand - it is about a righteous desire to raise my family in the best environment for us all. For my part, I am going to start living much closer to our monthly budget. We have the blessing of having surplus to our needs, which often means we are freer with our extra spending. But in case the home we want is going to cost much more than I hope, I am going to keep a mental picture of my little home in my mind and stay strict to the budget, allowing us to put much more against the mortgage each year. And while I wait for the right time, I will be content with the home we have now, which truly is perfect for what we need now. And I will work to make my home a little piece of heaven on earth, a haven for my boys, a school of life and a home of love.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Are we inherently lazy?

As James and I debated the idea of self-directed education the other day, an interesting questions was posed: are humans inherently lazy? John Holt, one of the thought pioneers of alternatives to the institution of schools, heavily favoured the idea of making school attendance voluntary. His view is that the compulsory nature of schools is anti-American, and that to maintain the precious gift of freedom meant that no one should be forced to attend school.

But if children (and their parents) were given the choice, would anyone go? Are the majority of people capable of self-directed learning? Do they have the desire and the drive? It would hardly be necessary to insist that everyone learn in this manner; certainly not everyone actually learns from our current form of compulsory schooling. Today's buzz words of illiterate graduates and low test scores are evidence that sitting in a classroom for 12 years doesn't make everyone "educated" as it is.

The big question, when it comes to self-directed learning, revolves around our inherent drive. James put forth the idea that if kids didn't have to go to school, they wouldn't, and as a result would not learn the fundamental things needed to function in society. I concede that many of today's school-aged kids would likely opt out of school if you asked them. Remember the old rhyme of

No more pencils, no more books
No more teachers' dirty looks

I think this is obvious, deeply entrenched evidence of how kids feel about school. There is no doubt that if we made school voluntary tomorrow that the vast majority of desks would be empty the day after. Aha! some would say: a solid case that children are lazy and would not take the initiative to educate themselves.

But I think you need to back up to determine if they are indeed capable of learning on their own. By the time kids have been in school for a couple of years, I think they have learned the habit of being lazy. Babies, toddlers and preschoolers are probably the brightest and quickest people on the planet. They learn languages and social concepts and shapes and colours and how to read and sing and walk and interact...the list of things children learn in the first 3 or 4 years of their life is amazing, and at such an incredible rate. John Holt has a valid point if you observe young children: they want to learn, and they do it informally, not in a desk, and often with no formal teaching practices at all. They ask a billion questions, and if those questions are answered, they ask more. Their memory and rate of retention is unparalelled. So what is it that slows or stops this incredible learning curve?

By watching young children I think we answer the question "are we inherently lazy?" No, not in the least. Therefore laziness is something we learn as we grow, perhaps in schools, perhaps from society, maybe even from parental examples. I think if we fostered that love of learning in children when they are young, allowing them to ask questions they want to ask, teaching them as they desire, their education would be fast-tracked way beyond the current level. Does that mean we should dispense with schools entirely? No, of course not. We need somewhere to go to access the knowledge we desire to pursue. But I think the laziness factor is something to consider when designing a model of education.


Benjamin has seemed more curious about food, plus he can't seem to get enough milk lately, so I thought we might foray a little into the world of solid food. This morning I had planned on giving him some cereal, but I forgot I haven't bought a box yet. But I did grab a couple boxes of Farley biscuits (cereal in handheld form) when they were 75% off last week, so this morning, I gave Benjamin one.

He is currently chewing his fingers instead.


Mommy: Caleb! Please don't run on this sidewalk! It's bumpy and you'll fall!
Caleb: But Mommy, I'm wearing running shoes!

Monday, 7 June 2010


Not that "Polar Express" is ever gone for long around here, but this morning Colin is once again running through the entire movie. No, not watching it, reciting it. He is running a small wooden train around and around the wooden track on the small table we have set up. He has been doing it since he woke up, line by line through the entire movie. Right now he's about 45 minutes or so into the film. He hasn't missed a line or sound effect. Every line is delivered with full inflection, just as it is in the movie. He's been doing this for years. Perhaps I'm still amazed at it this morning because it's been a while since they watched the movie. The kid has a super memory! If I lived closer to the city, or if he was an only child, I might consider taking him to auditions. But I know first hand what that all really entails, and it's not a ship I want to sail at this time. So for now I'll just leave it all to his imagination.

Friday, 4 June 2010

I know I'm lucky

I know how lucky I am. I have three boys who still all nap together in the afternoon.

I know how lucky I am that Caleb has always asked for a nap when he gets tired. Truly. We have been out at the park and he simply stops playing, comes over to me, and says "I want to go home and have a nap."

But I didn't know how lucky I really am until today. We had arrived home after a morning play and picnic lunch at the park. I just wanted to get some bread into the breadmaker for dinner tonight, so I told the boys they had 5 minutes to play until we went up to bed. A few minutes later I noticed it was unusually quiet. Not only downstairs, but upstairs also. With a 2 year old and a 4 year old, this generally means trouble.

I darted upstairs to discover they had put themselves down for nap! Caleb had flipped on the fan, and both were tucked under their sheets, drowsy eyes waiting only for a quick story and kiss from me before drifting off.

I am so lucky.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Charlotte's Web

We finally settled into "Charlotte's Web" to read. The first day, Colin sat while I read ten chapters. We only stopped because I had to make dinner. I think he might have sat through the entire book at once, if we'd had the time. One of his favourite parts of chapter books is the chapter title. He always makes me read the chapter number and title, and then his eyes grow wide in anticipation of what that title might mean is coming up. And when we stop, he always wants to know what the next chapter is called, and you can see the anticipation in his eyes. The next day we read another 6 chapters, once again stopping only when I had to tear away to attend to Benjamin.

What's made it even more wonderful is that we've been reading it outside on the swing. The swing folds down into a flat bed, and the boys and I, including Benjamin, pile onto it and read away in the shade of the hot summer-like days. Caleb wanders in and out, Benjamin smiles and gurgles and plays with his feet, and Colin lies enthralled as he listens. I have put a moritorium on movies when the weather is nice, and this has become a natural substitute.

(We're nearly done Charlotte's Web - if you have any other suggestions of books that might be of interest, let me know!)

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Golden Oldies

What are the "golden oldies" in music to you? The first songs you can remember your parents listening to (that would be about 1985-6 for me, songs like "Lady in Red") Is it a decade, like the '50's?

Oldies to me go way, way back. My Great Grandma Martin was a wonderful piano player, completely by ear. When she visited us, she would spend time at our piano, playing (and singing? I can't remember) what have become some of my favourite songs. When I think of her, I always see her sitting at that piano, her gnarled fingers stretched across the keys, the ones on her right hand nimbly plucking out a melody while her left hand moved automatically from one chord to another. She used every note as she danced across the entire keyboard.

She used to volunteer at a nursing home, entertaining the residents with her music. She was doing this almost right up to the end of her own life on this earth. Very likely she was older than many of the residents there. She is the reason I hope to volunteer myself, playing many of these same old favourites. By the time I get there I wonder if they'll all be songs be songs from before the currect residents' time?

Those songs, the ones that I suppose were her favourites, are some of my favourites. Somewhere along the line two well used Reader's Digest song books came into my collection, and in these books are found many of Great Grandma Martin's songs. I don't play by ear, but with these books I am able to sit at my own piano and play away, singing these old familiar tunes. Many of them I sing as lullabies to the boys.

Here is a list of some of my favourites, along with the year they were written (for interest's sake). There are a lot of them, but I want to have a list so that when the piano books are old and gone, I can remember them. Judging by the years on many of them, and the relative young age of my great grandmother (she was born in the late 1920's or early 1930's, I think, and so the earliest her contemporary music would have been was the 1940's), perhaps they were favourites passed down by her mother or grandmother. I love that music has spanned so many years and generations in my family, tying us all together.

Ain't She Sweet (1926)
If You Were the Only Girl in the World (1916)
The Man I Love (1924)
Someone to Watch Over Me (1926)
Begin the Beguine (1935)
The Blue Room (1926)
Mack the Knife (1928)
Jeepers Creepers (1938)
September in the Rain (1937)
Bei Mir Bist Du Schon (1937)
Gypsy Love Song (1898)
By the Light of the Silvery Moon (1909)
Hello! My Baby (1899)
In the Shade of the Old Apple Tree (1905)
The Band Played On (1895)
My Wild Irish Rose (1899)
Greensleeves (lyrics 1580, music 17th C)
Blowin' in the Wind (1962)
Shenandoah (early 19th C)
Aura Lee (1865)
The Glory of Love (1936)
Downtown (1961)
Three O'Clock in the Morning (1921)
Moon river (1961)
Mona Lisa (1949)
Let Me Call You Sweetheart (1909)
Autumn Leaves (1955)
You'll Never Walk Alone (1945)
Over the Rainbow (1939)