Wednesday, June 19, 2013


1.  It's been a long enough trial period.  I have added Prancercise to my Firefox dictionary.

2. A Costco-sized jar of Bicks Garlic Dill Pickles takes four full-sized towels to clean up.

3.  The closer we get to the end of public school, the more I feel the urge to hug my kids and find new topics to explore.

4.  We bought two badminton rackets and 8 birdies to go with the set we already had.  Just this morning the kids landed two on the roof.  I guess it's to keep company the one that their father lobbed up there yesterday.

5.  Is there anything more exciting than getting packing lists ready for Church Family Camp?  I don't think so.  Well, maybe a new born baby or a wedding.  Or another saint being added to the number.  Or...  Okay, enough.  Packing lists for camp are still exciting.

6.  I'm planning to make about 100 goodies for school on Friday.  To Cinnamon Bun or Not To Cinnamon Bun, that is the question.

7.  I had to get my boy to clean his room the other night.  He whined about it, as he typically does.  I challenged him to pick a song and then race the song to get the floor tidied.  He picked his new favourite song and beat it.  Clean floor, happy boy, happy mom.

8.  I'm looking forward to a slower-paced summer.  None of the kids are in sports this summer.  We drove by the baseball diamond last night, watching the parents try to find a place to park, watching dads lugging lawn chairs to the sidelines.  We smiled at not being there.

9.  Family date night last night at Avondale Dairy Bar.  Our girl asked how they make ice cream.  Hubby explained that they get the milk from arctic cows so it's already frozen. 

10.  I wasn't going to put a #10 but then I wanted to tell you that, so I typed it... But then it became #10.

11.  I better put another item, just to annoy my OCD friends. 

Friday, June 14, 2013

Hate what is evil, cling to what is good

Our church ladies group had dinner and chatting the other night.  Since it's report card time here, we looked at Romans 12 to grade ourselves, as individuals and as a church group.  We got to the part about hating what is evil and clinging to what is good.  There is so much evil in this world that it's almost easier to turn a blind eye to it.  But no, we're supposed to hate it.

In talking about all this a little more I was challenged with "Well, what are we going to do about it?"  We all agreed that prayer was in order.  But one thing I've discovered about prayer is that it can be very effective, to the point of changing me and calling me to action.  I am trying to prepare myself for whatever call or need I see around me in this regard.

In the meantime, there is this...  It's a song, introduced to me by our camp worship leader.  I loved it the first time I heard it because it's so upbeat and catchy.  And then I actually started listening to the lyrics.  My favourite part is from the chorus:

Show Your mighty hand, Heal our streets and land
Set Your church on fire, Win this nation back
Change the atmosphere, Build Your kingdom here we pray

This song has become my prayer for this broken land.  Listen to it here and follow along with the lyrics:

Build Your Kingdom Here

Verse 1
Come set Your rule and reign
In our hearts again
Increase in us we pray
Unveil why we're made
Come set our hearts ablaze with hope
Like wildfire in our very souls
Holy Spirit come invade us now
We are Your church
We need Your pow'r in us

Verse 2
We seek Your kingdom first
We hunger and we thirst
Refuse to waste our lives
For You're our joy and prize
To see the captives' hearts released
The hurt the sick the poor at peace
We lay down our lives for heaven's cause
We are Your church
We pray revive this earth

Chorus 1
Build Your kingdom here
Let the darkness fear
Show Your mighty hand
Heal our streets and land
Set Your church on fire
Win this nation back
Change the atmosphere
Build Your kingdom here we pray

Verse 3
Unleash Your kingdom's pow'r
Reaching the near and far
No force of hell can stop
Your beauty changing hearts
You made us for much more than this
Awake the kingdom seed in us
Fill us with the strength and love of Christ
We are Your church
We are the hope on earth

Rend Collective Experiment
© 2011 Thankyou Music (Admin. by EMI Christian Music Publishing)
For use solely with the SongSelect Terms of Use.  All rights reserved.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Homeschooling (Part Three)

If you missed Part One or Two, catch them here:
Homeschooling (Part One)
Homeschooling (Part Two)

So, we are planning to teach our children, at home, in the fall.

I believe that anyone can get an adequate education through the public school system.  I believe that my children will receive a better education by learning at home, as a family.

I say the same thing every summer break, every Christmas Break and every Spring Break...  My kids have so much fun together once they settle into being a family unit for day to day activity.  I love listening to them play.  I love being the one to help them resolve differences.  I love that they bounce ideas off each other and forget about the expensive toys that their friends have.  I love that their play is more creative and less expensive when they are together.  And honestly, they don't bicker or argue nearly as much when they're used to playing together.  I'm really looking forward to fostering best-friend relationships between the three of them.

I love learning and am looking forward to showing my kids how fun learning can be.  My current plan (which is rather flexible at the moment) is to do grade-appropriate workbooks for Grammar/Spelling and Mathematics and then to learn about individual topics together as we come across them.  We'll incorporate science, geography, history, social studies, and foreign languages into whatever we're doing.  But we'll ease into it by figuring out how to learn together.

You see, I love my kids.  I love my family.  I love being together as a family.  And I think that my kids will be primed for learning if they are surrounded by the comfort, love, and freedom that home provides.

"But what about..?"

I've thought the same objections that you might be thinking...

Socializing - How will they learn to interact with others if they're shut away at home?  In all honesty, my children's ability to socialize is one of the reasons I'm looking forward to this.  One of my children is very awkward and uncomfortable around nearly anybody.  I think of a turtle, drawing into it's shell for protection. I don't want my boy to totally draw into himself to avoid the world.  I want him to learn the right way to interact with people... Cashiers, folks at church, neighbours, friends' parents.  Rather than learning to be intimidated by the many authority figures around him, he will learn that he has a voice, that what he has to say is valid, and that he needs to use his voice in many different ways.  I'm very much looking forward to teaching my children proper social skills.

Proper Education - I hope you'll make sure they're learning the same stuff as their public school peers. Actually, I'm not planning to do this.  Research has shown that Mathematics is the only subject in which it really matters if you learn your stuff in the right sequence.  All the other subjects can be learned out of order.  You can learn about the War of 1812 in Grade Three or Grade Seven. So, I hope to teach my children together on most of these subjects.  We can talk about all sorts of things over dinner, telling Dad what we learned each day.  And since we all learned the same thing, we'll be reinforcing what we learned that day.  I just love the idea of learning things together!

Religion - If you teach your kids just what you believe they'll be naive and totally unprepared for the world.  Let me tell you something that has stuck with me since I was a kid. As a young whipper-snapper, I asked someone close to me how we could know that our beliefs were right and others were wrong.  The answer was, "We just have to have faith that we're right and they're wrong."  That answer never sat well with me and has stuck in my mind ever since.  As a result, I am constantly researching, reading, listening, questioning, to determine if something is true or not.  I want to teach my children, with that same interest, to know for themselves what they believe and why they believe it.  They can't do that unless they understand what others believe and where those beliefs originated.  I don't think my children will be naive and unprepared.  I believe they will have a better understanding of their faith (which will be theirs, not mine) for having learned this way.

Parenting  - Won't you get overwhelmed and want to have a break?  Probably.  Doesn't matter.  It's not about me always being perfectly happy.  It's about what's best for my family.  Even single people with no kids can feel overwhelmed.  Next.

Future - Aren't you afraid you're going to mess up your children for life and turn them into weirdos?  I've read about too many awesome people who were homeschooled (C.S. Lewis, Mark Twain, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Tim Tebow, Jason Taylor, Bethany Hamilton, Jamie Grace, The Jonas Brothers, Jordin Sparks) to worry about that.  Besides, from what I hear, "homeschooling is extremely efficient and forgiving*."

*Thanks for that mantra, Carol Barnier.

So, we shall see.  Once we start, I'm quite sure everything will change.  Ideals will go out the window and sanity may be in short supply on some days.  But, God's grace is sufficient for me and where I am lacking, he will supply.  It's incredibly arrogant of me to think that this obviously God-directed decision could succeed or fail on my actions alone.  If we are keeping God at the centre of our family and at the centre of our learning, we will come out of it better off.

So, please, cover us...  We're going in!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Homeschooling (Part Two)

If you missed Part One, catch it here:
Homeschooling (Part One)

At the beginning of May we went to a Homeschoolers Convention. Don't go to one of these if you don't want to homeschool. Hubby and I each got exactly what we needed out of that weekend. He was able to talk about high school and post-secondary education, and I was able to understand more fully why this was something our family needed.

Everything I heard at the convention solidified in my mind why I wanted to do this. It was no longer a matter of academics and having the time to learn beyond what they were taught in school. It became a matter of highly-valuing the importance of family. I realized that I was standing at a fork in the road. As I extrapolated and looked ahead, down each road, one road scared me and one road gave me such a feeling of peace.

I know my kids, probably better than anyone.

My oldest is a cautious pre-teen. He understands the need to follow rules and does not like to rock the boat. He has not learned to stand up for himself or for what he knows to be right. As I look down the road lined with school bells and 25 same-aged peers, I imagine my boy bending to the whims of many, never really finding his own footing, never really figuring out who he was.

My youngest is an ever-moving mass of energy, drawing from the activity and ideas of those around him. The more time he spends around school bells and same-aged peers, the less he seems to care about being kind and thinking of others. He is so easily influenced by those around him. I want to surround him with good while I still can. It's a mean nasty world out there and I don't want him to learn to fit into it. Not yet.

My middle, my girl, is the one that I think would make it through school bells and same-aged peers without too many scratches. But that is not “The Best” for her. I want to nourish her caring heart, not let her sit in a classroom where it will be broken time and time again as she watches nine year old children tearing each other apart with their words.  I want to show her the good in people, fostering a spirit of kindness instead of letting bitterness try to take root.

When I imagine these two paths and where they will take my kids, I can't help but want to choose the path that brings peace, joy, contentment... not just to my kids but to our family.

No, I'm not trying to shelter my children from the cruel world. I'm doing what any parent would do... I'm giving my children the tools they need to handle the cruel world. What parent, in the bitter cold of a Canadian winter, would send her child out to go ice fishing with no boots, no coat, no mitts, no hat, no scarf, and expect that child to come back 7 hours later totally unscathed? No fit parent would do that.

Seven hours at -40 dressed like this?

Ah, this looks much better.
Public school may be the norm that our society accepts and expects, but I am not interested in going along with the status quo, just because it's expected.

My loyalty is first to God, second to my husband, and third to my kids. I'm not going to let what others think get in the way of doing what I think is best for my kids.  I'm so over The Status Quo. I'm ready to do something different.

Read the next chapter:
Homeschooling (Part Three)

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Homeschooling (Part One)

January 15 will stand in my memory as the day that things started to change.

I have friends who “homeschool” their kids and I've always applauded and respected their decision to do so. I've also maintained that it's not something I could ever see my family doing.

And then, on January 15th, a friend challenged me: “Are you doing what's best for your kids? If you're not doing what's best for your kids, what's stopping you?” (This is my paraphrase, the words that have rolled around in my head for months now.)

When I actually allowed myself to think about what's best for my kids, I realized a few things:
1) I was selling God short. He set me in place, with my husband, to guide and direct these hearts.
2) God is bigger than my perceived incompetence.
3) Other than standing in line, there wasn't a whole lot that they couldn't learn at home, in less time.

Still January 15th, I mentioned it to my husband.

We'd had this conversation before, kind of a “what if...” discussion. He's always been staunchly opposed to the idea, for many reasons, most of which were steeped in assumptions that we later learned were totally unfounded. So I broached the subject once again. I told him of the exchange with the aforementioned friend and asked what he thought. 

 “No.” As expected.

I knew I wasn't going to win him over with my clever
nonesixtent debating skills, so I did all there was left to do. I started praying about it.

As I prayed about it, I read more about the idea and chatted with friends who are deep in the thick of teaching their children at home. And I got more excited.

Clue #1 that this time was different – I was actually excited at the thought of it!

I prayed and read and prayed and chatted and prayed and watched my kids and prayed and dreamed.

About a week later, I found myself sitting in a van, alone with my husband. We had dropped the kids off and were heading out to see a James Bond flick at the theatre. As we drove away from the house, I felt this urge to bring up the homeschooling discussion once more. I fought it down, as I had since that first conversation on January 15. The urge came right back. I pushed it down. It would not go away. So, I figured now was the time to talk about it.

I tentatively brought it up, laying out the reasons that I couldn't let go of the idea that this was right for our family. He listened. He had questions. I had some answers. He had more questions. I didn't have answers. But we were talking about it, actually considering it as an option.

Clue #2 that this time was different – We were actually talking about it beyond “Well?” “No.”

A month passed. We continued to consider the idea, researching answers to questions, talking with friends who have first-hand experience, talking with friends who knew us but had no experience with homeschooling. We were both intrigued by the idea, but still hesitant. While my husband went into long-term research/planning mode, I started day-dreaming, which led to actual dreaming, at night.

Clue #3 that this time was different – I literally could not stop dreaming about it!

Suddenly everything became an opportunity to teach my children. I had

so much fun thinking of ways to incorporate learning into our every day lives. We already tried to do that, but when I considered the possibility of homeschooling I realized that our learning opportunities were endless!

As I type this, without having done one day of homeschooling, my heart is racing, just thinking about all the fun I've got stored up in my little brain. As I shared my ideas with the kids, they got really excited. The more we talked about it, the more they hoped that our “if” would turn into a “when.” Because we were saying “If we homeschool in the fall...”

Read the next chapters here:
Homeschooling (Part Two)
Homeschooling (Part Three)

Monday, June 3, 2013

A Salute to the Mother of a Pre-Schooler

How quickly we forget...

Quiet Time, that magical hour from 1:00 to 2:00 in the afternoon, was my favourite part of the day for several years.  I always intended it to be my cleaning time, since:
- my kitchen was always messy from breakfast, snacks, and lunch,
- my bathroom was always messy from kids running in and out without paying attention to the precise location of the toilet,
- my laundry room was getting filled from the mess of living, and
- my floors moderately resembled a muddy forest floor that had been used for a picnic.

And then my kids grew up.  They learned to clean up after themselves by placing their dishes on the counter and helping to empty the dishwasher.  They 2 out of 3 of them learned to aim for the hole in the middle of the toilet.  They started folding their own laundry and putting it away.  They learned not to track mud/food/clothes all over the house.

So Quiet Time became family fun time!  Sometimes you will find us playing board games or card games together in the afternoon.  Sometimes, we'll be out riding bikes.  You might find us in the back-backyard at the park, hitting/catching the baseball, or playing basketball.  Or, very rarely, if I just want some downtime, I'll declare it Quiet Time once more and send my kids off to read for an hour or so.

Today I found myself walking in the shoes of Wanda Whoopie-Cushion from years past.  The older kids were off at school and the younger kids were here at the house, making a mess and having a happy time playing.  Now, at 1:00 pm, I once again have blocks on my floor, dishes in my sink, dishes in my counter, dishes on the table, shoes all over the entryway, spots of this and that all over the bathroom sink, and laundry piling on the floor.

"Girlie, it is Quiet Time!" I declared.  "You can have a nap or you can read books on the bed.  When this number *gestures to the clock* is a "2" Quiet Time is done.  Okay?"

"Okay" she answered.  She's done this at Auntie Wanda's house before.

Auntie Wanda has never needed Quiet Time as much as she needs it today.

Auntie Wanda salutes the mommies and daddies of pre-schoolers.  So much energy packed into such a tiny frame.  So much mess to be made, whether externally-sourced or internally-sourced.  So much fun and joy to find and welcome with each passing moment.  So many squishy arms around my neck, ready to give me sticky hugs and smiley kisses.

So much love.

It is 1:20.  I need to stop playing on my "cah-puter" so that I can clean up to make room for more mess.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Giggling with the Girlies

Since I am the parent of  7, 9, and 10 year old children, I had forgotten that everything is hilarious when you're four years old. 

I took my nieces shopping tonight.  They are staying with us while their parents get a much-needed vacation for a few days.  As we turned onto the main street to go to the store, which happens to be the same direction we would turn to go to their house, the girls asked if we were going to their house to get "Pepper," their black poodle.  I made a joke of it so they wouldn't get homesick and said (in a silly voice, of course), "Nooo!  Pepper can't go shopping with us...  Can you imagine Pepper buying milk at the store?"  The girls giggled and settled into silence.

Until I heard a sneaky little voice pipe up in the back asking, "Pepper?" and then erupting into giggles.  That got the other one laughing and we laughed the whole way to the store, through the store, and home from the store.  All from one little word which turned into one very silly joke.

It's so fun to be able to just let go and laugh about silly things.  I think that sometimes the laughter masks other emotions, but it's more fun to laugh than to cry.  We've had tears today, but we've had much more laughter.  As I kissed the girls good night and tucked them in, they were still smiling, content from a day of giggles, hugs, reading, singing and family.

Kids will not remember the little things that make them cry if we give them enough happy memories of love and laughter.