Friday, May 31, 2013


It's been a long week... 

It's been hot. I've been busy. I warmed up some freezer food (chicken nuggets and french fries) for dinner last night.  Folks expressed their displeasure.  My hubby's been REALLY busy at work.  Kids have been running around screaming. 

It seemed that the evening might end in fisticuffs.  (Not really.  I just wanted a chance to use the word fisticuffs.)

And then we learned about Prancercising.

And then this happened:

And all is right with the world again.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Fun with Snowbirds

We're a family that enjoys learning together.  A few weeks ago I was looking at the news headlines with my 10 year old.  We saw that the Snowbirds, a Canadian flying team, would be performing in Niagara Falls on May 29.  My son quickly added it to the calendar "just in case you forget, Mom."

I haven't forgotten, but we hadn't made plans for it either.  I glanced at the calendar this morning.  This reminded me that, yes, the Snowbirds are still planning to be flying tonight.  (Click over here to read an article from the perspective of a journalist who got to fly shotgun with the Snowbirds a few years ago.)  We're planning a picnic dinner on the grassy area around Niagara Falls, followed up by an amazing air show at 6:00.  I hope to pick up a book at the library, before we go, so we can read about how planes actually work.  It should keep our minds engaged while we're waiting for the show to start.

The Snowbirds fly over Niagara Falls on a media demonstration flight on Sept. 4. 2009. (Ken Lin/Snowbirds/DND)

I love that my kids feel free to add life events to the family calendar.  As family members, we're all walking down the same path, so we might as well do it together!  

If you're not around to join us for a cool air-show tonight, make your own plans to do something fun with your family.  The kids may not remember the details of all the things you do together, but they will know that they are valued and loved by their parents.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Exploring our neighbourhood

I have discovered a new favourite place to "get away" with the family.  The best part?  It's FREE!
It's only a 10 minute drive from my house, but it feels like we're in the middle of a forest.  Well, that's probably because we are.  But it's a small enough forest that we can explore without being worried about getting lost.  And there are lots of fallen trees from last year's wind storm, so the climbing is pretty fun, too.
 Most of the paths are level enough that Grandma can join us for a hike if she's visiting for the day.
 The kids were begging us to go back again with the other set of visiting grand-parents, so we made it happen this past weekend.
Being out in the forest brings out the best in all of us, even when it means that my hubby decides to be sneaky and tells the kids to pose on this ledge...
 And then tells me to turn and run with him, away from the kids, as fast as I can.

(Don't worry, they caught us.)

It's such a beautiful place to explore.  And we haven't even seen half of it in the three times that we've been.  I think we'll need to go back this weekend to see how the tadpoles are doing.

So much to learn!  So much to explore!  We've got our work cut out for us this summer.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Abstinence and Planned Parenthood

I've been following the case of abortionist Kermit Gosnell.  I'm one of the few.  Apparently, only about 25% of people know more than a name or basic fact about this news story.  Typically, about 60% of the population will hear a news story about an ongoing first-degree murder investigation of this magnitude, so if you're one of the 25%, give yourself a pat on the back.

Since I'm following this news story, I'm finding a lot of very disconcerting information about abortion clinics and the ins and outs of how these abortions are carried out.  I was reading this article, explaining the different methods used for abortions.  (I encourage everyone, pro-choice or pro-life, to read up on the different abortion methods available, as we cannot truly make informed choices without first knowing what is really involved in this type of procedure.)  The article was very basic but summarized it all by saying that all of these methods had the same final result.  Only one was considered first-degree murder while the rest were legal and subsidized by the government.

Reading further into that particular blog, I read a bit about Planned Parenthood and abstinence.  I was curious to see what Planned Parenthood's stance on abstinence was, so I searched and found this page, a detailed explanation of abstinence, void of any religious sentiment.  I was actually really happy to see this, not thinking that they would have so brilliantly endorsed abstinence as a 100% effective means of preventing pregnancy and STDs.

For the record, about 28% of respondents (to the survey on the right) thought oral sex counted as abstinence.  Right...

You can see from the picture that just above the link for the page on "Abstinence" was a chart comparing effectiveness of birth control options.  I was very interested in seeing what this said, and how the other birth control methods compared to abstinence, so I clicked on it.  Here's a screen shot of what I saw:

I found the "No-Abstinence-Option Birth Control Option Chart"

I couldn't find where abstinence was listed on the chart.  I thought maybe I was missing something, so I double-checked the title of the chart and double-checked that I hadn't scrolled too far.  Nope.  They just didn't think it was worth putting the most effective birth control method on the chart.  Even though it's a chart meant to teach and compare how effective birth control methods can be.

Does that strike anyone else as a little weird?  If their goal is to inform people of ALL the choices available, why don't they have the most effective choice on that handy dandy little chart? It's the only choice that makes all that stuff not happen every single time.

What gives, Planned Parenthood?  Do you think maybe you could put the most effective birth control method on your handy dandy chart so we can actually see all our options?

p.s.  Personal Testimony:  I found abstinence to be 100% effective.  Every day that I didn't have sex, I didn't get an STD or get pregnant.  It really is amazingly effective!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


There are some days that cause a person to take stock of their life and count their blessings.  I've been doing that lately.  In chatting with a dear friend yesterday, I remarked that I sometimes felt guilty for what a blessed life I lead.  And then today I had several friends express a desire for blessings on me.  I take those wishes to heart and do feel incredibly blessed.

And I realize that all of those blessings come directly from God.

There is no way that I could be this blessed on my own merit.  And I do not know why I am so blessed. I'm not going to list my blessings here.  I started to make a list and I realized that this is a list that I can keep to myself.  We each have our own blessings, unique to our circumstances.  It's good to look for and acknowledge our blessings.  It's good to give praise to God for our blessings.

Two things come to mind as I think about gifts and blessings from my Heavenly Father:

1) Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.  Luke 12:48

God has not given me these gifts so that I can roll around in lush green fields and brag about how blessed I am.  He has given me these gifts because he thinks I will manage them well.  I am making changes to my life so that I can do that.  The more I realize that I have been given, the more I realize my responsibility in being diligent in His service. I think specifically of my kids and my husband and marvel that God has given them to me. 

God, may I have the wisdom and knowledge to care for this gift of marriage and family as You want me to? And may I teach my family to use the material gifts that you've given us to share Your love with others?

2) The Beatitudes

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

These are blessings.  There are blessings all around us, we just need to remember that God sees them that way and wants us to as well.  If you've never studied the Beatitudes, plan some time, soon, to do so.  There is so much in that passage that we don't realize.  Read it, and read it again, and realize the blessings that are out there. 

A song I've recently come to love and appreciate is "Blessings" by Laura Story.  She wrote it after her husband was diagnosed with a brain tumour.  Through it all she waited for life to get back to normal.  From an article on Today's Christian Music: “I thought it would all get back to normal.  Here’s the road… we’re gonna take a detour. About a year into it, my sister said to me, ‘You know, I think the detour is actually the road.’”

If you have not heard the song, please listen to it:

We spend so much time and energy trying to live that blessed life that we miss the point.  It's all a blessed life.  We just need to realize it.  "The detour is actually the road."  Some detours are a lot bumpier than others, and we may find that we've lost a passenger at the end of a journey. But, at the risk of sounding trite and kitschy, as long as we're heading down the road with God driving us, we'll all end up at the same destination. 

We cannot feel blessed if we don't take the time to number our blessings, even the blessings that look like detours.  As the old gospel song says, "Count your blessings; name them one by one.  Count your many blessings; see what God has done."

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Harvesting Fruit of the Spirit

This is another one of those lessons that I keep hearing over and over from different places.  I've had a few of those over the last little while. 

Several weeks ago I read an article (which I cannot find now) from a mother, apologizing to the child's pre-school teacher.  She said that the child was still learning and the mother was frustrated with the same behaviours as the teacher, but she knew that over time and with patience, her child would grow into proper behaviour.

Last night a friend shared this article with me about God being the perfect father but giving us the story of Prodigal Son.

A couple weekends ago I was listening to Voddie Baucham speak at a conference and he shared that same sentiment in two different sessions.  He said that Jesus, who was the perfect teacher with the perfect message, still had a Judas.  He also shared that the characteristics we are trying to instill in our children, things like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control are all by-products of the work of God's Holy Spirit.  (Gal 5:22-23)

"Character development apart from Christ is Pharisee-ism." ~ Voddie Baucham

Go back and read that again if you didn't get it the first time.

If we expect our children to live with the by-products of God's Holy Spirit before they've actually been filled with the Holy Spirit, we are teaching them, and specifically training them, to be Pharisees.  They are learning to be self-righteous, doing good apart from the cleansing that God can give.

"Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God." Gal 5:19-21  This is our natural inclination as humans.

We all naturally live "in the flesh" as humans.  It is only through God's super-natural spirit that we can live "in the spirit."

Parents, be patient with your unsaved kids.  They are living according their fallen human nature.  They can model right behaviour that they see in you, but they won't be truly living it until they are living with God's Holy Spirit inside them. When their human nature bothers you, let that remind you of their greatest need, salvation. When you are reminded of their greatest need, do something about it. Pray for their salvation.  Show them that their behaviour is a result of The Fall.  Teach them how Jesus has died and risen to cover their sins.  Guide them into the spirit-filled life of a Christian.

Don't teach them to be a Pharisee.

P.S.  This applies to everyone, not just kids.  If your boss is being a real jerk, pray for his/her salvation.  Talk to him/her about what made the difference to you.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Snow on the Bridge

Do you ever get those times when you find something really funny and you just know that the people you are with will not appreciate the humour?  That happened today.

We were driving down the highway on our way to our Sunday morning church service.  As we approached a bridge, I saw a sign that I've seen many times before.  It said, "DO NOT THROW SNOW FROM BRIDGE."  Usually I think of snow sitting on the highway in the middle of the warm sunny day and I giggle. 

This time, all I could think of was "Snow"...

You know, the Canadian rapper, famous for his hit "Informer," the lyrics of which no one understands.

I laughed and laughed, and shared it with my hubby.  He gave me that you're-one-Krispy-Kreme-short-of-a-full-box look.  I explained who the punchline was and then sighed, knowing my joke had been lost on him.
So I'm sharing it with you, in the hopes that, maybe, one of you will laugh with me.

(If you don't know the song, you can listen to it here.  It's not the least bit edifying.  It's merely here to add context.)

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Strong, Silent Type

I don't write about my oldest boy too often.  He's the kind of kid who follows the rules.  When there aren't any rules, he makes up his own.

To give you an example, he's the one who does not know what to do for free-time during piano practice.  I've told him he can be creative and play around with existing songs or make up his own songs, but he just sits there, near tears at time, because he doesn't know what to do.  (Lest you think he's a saint, this same boy loves to play around and improvise during piano practice when he's supposed to actually be practicing.)

He's been reading Roald Dahl again and he's going through Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator for the third time.  On our walk to school this morning he said, "Mom, I found a mistake in the Great Glass Elevator book.  It says that the elevator is going 17,000 miles per hour* and they're talking to each other.  But if they're going faster than the speed of sound, they wouldn't be able to hear each other because sound wouldn't be able to travel as fast as they are."

*My approximation based on my awful memory of this conversation.  I'm certain he said the right number.

Another day:
I went in to his room to say goodnight. We love doing math problems so I threw one at him.  "Hey Bud, what's 84 x 3?"

He thought for a second or two and came up with the right answer, 252.  Then I told him why I asked him.  "Dad and I were chatting with a man who sold math books to people.  He was trying to sell us his math books, so we asked how much they were.  He told us they were $84 each and if we wanted three it would be just over $240.  Then he figured it out more precisely, '... 240 and that's 12 so it's...  $246.'"

My boy giggled when he heard this and asked if it was really true.  I assured him it was.  "Was he just being silly?"  I assured my boy that the man really thought the answer was $246.  We agreed that the man needed to read his own books a little more.

Yesterday my boy competed in our school's track and field events against his Grade Five classmates and the older boys in Grade Six.  He analyzed his chances and talked strategy.  He was pretty sure he'd do well in a couple events.  He came home with a 4th place ribbon and a 6th place ribbon.  His sister came home highly decorated.  He didn't show one spark of jealousy.  He went to his room and dug out ribbons from years passed, remembering what each one was for.  He had no ill will towards his over-achieving sister.  We made sure we celebrated his efforts as much as his sister's.  We can't all get First Place.  But we can all do our very best.

Tonight he and I sat for over an hour, researching whatever he wanted to look up on the computer.  We started with sonic booms (first aircraft and then land vehicles) and moved on to roller coasters.  He knew the name of the tallest coaster and how high it is.  Speed, inclines, loops - he wanted to look at all of them.  This boy loves numbers; he loves quantifying things; and he loves to learn.

I love this boy of mine.  He takes after his father.  He's smart, silly, often quiet and withdrawn.  His antics don't usually make the news, but he's awesome all the same.

When you least expect it, he pulls one of these and makes everyone laugh.

Monday, May 6, 2013

A Monday Morning Skit

The players:
Boy, about 7 years of age.  Enjoys making boy noises

Girl, about 9 years of age.  Enjoys being girly and proper...  
when it suits her.
Girl, singing "Edelweiss."
Boy burping intermittently.

Girl:  Please stop burping when I'm singing!
Boy: Why?
Girl: Because it bothers me and I can't sing properly.

Boy burps again, quieter this time.

Girl: Sto-oop!  It's bothering me.
Boy: But I have to burp.
Girl: You're trying to burp to bother me.
Boy: I'm burping because I'm eating. You burp when you eat.
Girl: Well I don't have to burp like that when I eat.  I burp with my mouth closed.  You're not even trying to burp with your mouth closed!

Mom:  Gir-rl!  *waits for girl to come*  Honey, boys just burp. Especially that one.  And the bigger deal you make, the more he wants to do it around you.

Girl, crying: But it bothers me.

Mom: You can't make him stop just because it's bothering you.  You can explain that it's rude to do it around other people, but you can't ask him to stop just because you don't like it.

Girl walks back to kitchen.  Boy has stopped burping because he has no audience.

The End

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Building Excitement

I've got a very exciting couple of days ahead of me.  I'll be hunting and gathering information so that we can make some very positive changes for our family over the next several months.  That's not to say that we aren't already functioning well as a family...  Just that we can do even better!

Beyond this weekend, I'm really starting to look forward to this summer.  As a family, we're realizing that we don't have to stop learning when the school bell rings.  So we've got lots of learning fun planned come the end of June.

Summer vacation will give us a chance to try new things as a family and see what the kids are interested in.  We'll be exploring new ideas, like woodworking, geocaching, budgeting, and cooking, and we'll check out some Canadian geography, history and political science as we take a road trip out east towards the end of the summer.
I'd love to take some time, with the kids, to look through the pictures that Commander Chris Hadfield has posted from the International Space Station over the last few months.  He's got an incredible view of some gorgeous real estate.
I think our 11 year old is looking forward to learning a new instrument this summer.  (This kid likes his music!)  We've got a few kicking around this house (violin, ukulele, guitar, piano, trumpet, trombone) and he's asked to learn all of them!  He'll have time once school's out.

Roller coaster design, building houses, coming up with story ideas...  The kids are full of fun things to research!  And we'll have from sunrise to sundown to do it.  Once we reach the end of June.

How many families look forward to school getting out so they can learn some more?  We're weird.  But, we're exited!  Because learning is fun!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

On NOT being Cameron Lyle

Cameron Lyle, sacrificing his dreams for the life of another
There's a news story that's been circulating about a man named Cameron Lyle.  You can read about his story here on The Today Show's site.  He had signed up to be on the bone marrow donor registry.  All that meant at the time was that he had his cheek swabbed and he agreed to let someone contact him if he was ever discovered to be a match.

Now, two years later, he has given up his last few meets of his senior year, a pretty big deal to a track star, so that he can give a complete stranger the gift of hope and a potentially long life.  He has donated 2 litres of his own bone marrow and is recovering from the procedure.

My second-cousin, Becky
I have a personal connection to this story...  Well, not specifically to this story, but to the story of bone marrow donation.

My second-cousin, Becky, was diagnosed with leukemia when she was a teenager.  Our entire family was stunned and saddened.  Every one of us (who was of age) got swabbed to get on the bone marrow donor registry to see if we could be a donor for her.  Her father's brother was a close enough match that they set up the successful bone marrow transplant.  She married her high school sweet-heart and lived very happily for several years before Graft-Versus-Host Disease took over her body.  Her funeral was a bittersweet celebration of a life that was snuffed out far too soon.

A few years after I attended her funeral, I received a letter in the mail, sent from the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) and addressed to my maiden name.  This letter got to me only because the sender tracked me down with an address from 15 years and four residences ago.  Whoever it was from had something important to tell me.  I opened it up, with great curiosity, knowing I had done nothing wrong, but wondering what would be so important as to be coming to me from the RCMP.

The name on the letterhead said, "OneMatch."  The gist of the letter was that I was a potential bone marrow match for a patient in need of a transplant.  Of course my mind flashed back to how amazed our family was to discover that, miraculously, Uncle Al was a match for our cousin.  And here I was, staring at a piece of paper that said I might be a match for someone else, a complete stranger. 

I called the number and, after updating my contact information with them, told them that I was interested in learning more.  They gave me an appointment at the blood donation centre just down the road from my house and said that I would need to sign paperwork agreeing to the risks associated with testing and donation.  I would also need to get my blood sent away for further testing.

I chatted with my husband when he got home that day.  He, of course, agreed that I needed to do this if I could, so I eagerly anticipated going through the testing.

The day of testing came and I went in for the appointment, which was to take about two hours.  I chatted with an advisor/counselor first who explained what I had already read, about the risks and the procedures that I would be asked to go through, delineating the downtime and recovery time should I be asked to donate.  There was an air of excitement through the clinic that morning.  We were all very hopeful.

My blood was sent away for testing, first to make sure my blood did not carry any harmful diseases, but also to confirm that it was a match for the potential recipient.  The staff at the clinic told me that it can take up to six months to hear back one way or another.  They said that if I didn't hear back it was either that the patient had chosen a different form of treatment or that the patient no longer needed treatment.

I went home and carried on with life, waiting to hear back from One Match.  The more time passed the less I thought about it.  Within a few months I finally received a letter thanking me for my willingness to donate but telling me that my bone marrow donation was no longer needed.

Reading that letter, it felt like the air had been knocked out of me.  Had the patient died?  Was my bone marrow just not close enough?  Had they found a closer match?  I just had no idea.

I still think about that patient.  I think about that patient's family even more.  I have no idea if it was a man or a woman, child or adult, married or single, parent or not.  I have no idea if that patient lived or died.  So I pray for their family.  And if that patient is alive, he or she is definitely included in those prayers.

It was such a blessing to me to anticipate giving part of me to help another life.  If you have not signed up to be on the bone marrow registry, please consider doing it.  It's so easy to sign up.  And you just never know when you might get that letter asking you to give a little bit of yourself to help someone else.

In Canada, you can find out more on the OneMatch website.
In the USA, you can find out more on the National Marrow Donor Program website.

I want to challenge you to be motivated by the news story and my cousin's story and my story.  Find out where you can get swabbed to be on the registry and then do it.  Get your entire family to do it.  You just don't know the difference you can make to another family.

And if you're already on the registry, please call them to make sure they have your most recent contact information.  Can you imagine being a match but and never being contacted because they didn't have your current info?