Monday, December 18, 2006

Checking In...Again

Hello all,
Just letting you know we are still alive and well. Kids are recovering over a nasty cold - even Kori was down and out with it. Rai is coming along slowly. He has stomach pain every day now from his enlarged kidney. His test day at CHEO (Jan 11) is coming very quickly, even though it sounded like it was a long wait when we first got the appointment.
I think today was the busiest day of the year for us. Kori said we did 20 errands today. We certainly did accomplish a lot. But we are exhausted. I am trying to be efficient in getting ready for Christmas. Next year, would someone please remind me to bake in early December and then freeze everything...PLEASE! I planned to bake this week. Yet this week seems like it's slipping away too fast. What a stupid plan that was!!
We enjoyed a great day on Sunday. We drove to the farm and celebrated Kori's bithday with the McCombs. Grandma once again outdid herself with the cake. They gave her some beautiful gifts. It was nice having her party early. Now she has time to enjoy her birthday gifts without having them all mashed in with her Christmas things. Funny enough, last week we put in a full size new-to-us desk in Kori's room. Grandma and Grandpa and Paul gave her a whole whack of drawing, colouring, writing and cartooning supplies. So her new desk is stocked with new supplies. I don't think I've seen her happier.
I'm trying to keep up with the housework. It's just about killing me, but for a week+ I've managed to keep in almost-ready-for-company shape. At any point, I've been ready to run the vacuum through and we'd be good for visitors. Not only that, but I have been consistently caught up on laundry. At any time, there's only about a load waiting to wash. That and the ironing. But I'm improving. I'm also off the coffee. It's just about killing me. I've been to Tim's (Tim Horton's for you uninitiated Americans) twice so far and have managed to stay away from the coffee. Ok, I was supervised, but in this case, that's a good thing.
No other great and exciting news to report. The mailman used our phone to call a cab the other day. That was different. But our door was open due to the lovely weather. So I suppose he knew we were home.
That's it for now. Still trying to get used to the new set-up since the update here. I'm finding it slow. I'll try to get around to my regular haunts and comment some...that would be neighbourly of me.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Our Tour Of Town

For our homeschooler postcard exchange, we decided that a picture was worth a thousand words. For each participant, the kids decided to write a short personal note on the actual postcard. Kori is going to colour a picture for some of the kids who included a personal note in the postcard packages we received. Raiden didn't want to print anything but wanted to share about our town.

So today we ventured out and took pictures of many of our favorite places. It was one of the first cold, crisp winter-y days we've had this season. I thought it was gloomy and dreary. However, we are shamefully late getting these postcards out, so I figured as long as the pics turned out clear, they would have to do. Brian thinks the photos are beautiful - so that's encouraging.

We have a beautiful town. The waterfront is amazing. I love the architecture and the history. The kids made a list of venues that we had to take pictures of. Interestingly, not many 'must sees' included modern buildings. So, just in case you're wondering, we bypassed the new 'powercenter' that was built just last year with some of the recently popular 'box stores'. We also haven't included any pictures of suburbia - we have quite a collection of turn-of-the-century Victorian, even older Georgian, post-war quick-builds, 70s suburbia, apartment complex neighbourhoods and modern suburban sprawl.

So, here's the pics. If you want to see the bigger versions, at the end I'll leave a link to where I uploaded the pictures. Happy touring!

http://loveandlaughter.spaces.live.com/

Monday, December 4, 2006

My New Winter Coat

I'm so excited. This winter, I'll be able to sled and skate with the kids in comfort and warmth. Isn't that a great gift??? My very generous mother in law and her husband gave it to me....early, no less!! Brian picked it out. It's a lovely new, white and blue, lined and hooded Columbia winter coat.


So I thought I'd take a picture of it:


Yes, I'm lovely. But you can't really see the coat.

Let me try again:


Hmm. That's a bit better. Not as 'complete picture' as I would like.
How about this angle?

Yikes.


Brian to the rescue:

There we go.



I should say that it has been ....12 years since I bought a winter jacket worthy of outdoor activity. The year I started college, mom and I bought me a Columbia shell. I figured I'd just layer up underneath....or buy a liner when they went on sale. Well, of course, college life kicked in. After the ski trip and the high wire course went off without a hitch - or a liner - I thought I was good to go. Then there was the trip to England...no liner required. Then I was a poor, starving single person trying to scrape by on a pool-rat's salary...at a not-for-profit workplace! Yeah. Again, no liner required as I couldn't afford a car so I had to roller blade to and from work every day. Yes, even in the snow. Although I do remember one rainstorm in which I took a cab. Once I got pregnant, I was so darned hot I didn't even want liner in the silly coat. Then a liner wouldn't fit. Then I had a car! And a baby to feed. Then there was another ski trip on a picture perfect weekend...I wore the shell around my waist down the hills...Then another baby...then a weeny snowsuit to buy every winter. One year it's Kori's turn, the next year, Raiden gets one. No new coat for Mom since the babies arrived. Last winter the zipper broke. Did I mention my lovely red shell has a side zip?? Yes, now go back and read the pregnant roller blading part...I'll wait while you laugh.

So thank you Madeline, G. This Christmas gift is more appreciated than you know. I will wear it well and often. Even if the red shell stays in the closet.

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Sunday Night. At Home. Bored.




So we fed the dog peanut butter. Talk about cheap thrills. I laughed so hard I nearly...well, it was funny.

Saturday, December 2, 2006

Happy December!!

I am not really a Christmas person. Could be because I found the holidays stressful througout my teenage years. That was totally my own doing as my parents always prepared a wonderful holiday season for us. Then the couple of years around Kori's birth were a wee bit strained around the holidays as well. I did see some hope in enjoying the holidays as the kids began to understand the excitement. Then I worried about pulling off a nice holiday for everyone. It didn't go very well: If mom is unhappy, ain't noone happy. So the last couple of years I've let myself get caught up in the whole month of December. This seems to be working out with some success.

I spend the time from November 1 to December 1 griping and complaining (in 'pretend negativity' as I'm really not that grumpy about it; I just avoid it if I can) about the commercialism in the stores. Some poor sap spends the night of Hallowe'en cramming all the unsold Hallowe'en costumes onto one shelf. Then the rest of the night, they have to beautifully display Christmas candy and decorations in prominent spots throughout the stores. Really, is that enjoyable?? Novemeber 1 we walk into our local WalMart and poor Kori nearly peed her pants in fright when the 4' Santa moved and sang at her. It's a good thing I was holding her hand when she jumped because she nearly fell over.

So to avoid the unecessary pre-holiday stress I used to take on, I consciously make effort to have our home decorated for Fall. Until yesterday, there was a cornicopia on my table. There was a scarecrow in the hallway. Leaves and pinecones and fall placemats. Any Christmas shopping has usually been post-poned and only exists in list form. Now, this year, Brain and I have been able to have two kidless days so a lot of our shopping was done then. That seemed to work. No stress overload. Only some minor, infrequent anxiety. So shopping in November might be an option again for next year.

Our first holiday activity is normally the local Santa Clause Parade. THEN we being talking about how Advent is approaching. THEN I begin doing the mental math making sure I have wreath supplies on hand and filling up the calendar with specific holiday plans.

Yesterday was December First. The kids know Advent doesn't start until Sunday. We deep cleaned the upstairs - bedrooms and bathroom. Now, throughout the busy month of holiday celebrations, things will only need a passing over. We'll do downstairs today. We went around collecting the Fall decorations and packing them away in their spot on the shelf downstairs. I took the kids' chocolate Advent calendars out of the freezer (we have not done chocolate calendars in I don't know how long, but these were a gift from Uncle Brad's trip to Disney last month. He brought home chocolate. I recommend the Disney chocolate calendars if you're going to do them. Individually wrapped in foil, a generours hunk of lovely chocolate. But I digress). We set out the Winterish placemats and matching centerpiece.

Today we will continue to dig out the Advent/Holiday decorations. I have the St.Nicholas book in the basket, ready to read. I might even go to church tomorrow.

The tree is up for discussion this year. Normally, we celebrate Kori's birthday on the 23rd. After birthday celebrations, we put up the tree - usually on the morning of the 24th. Presents arrive throughout the day. Nice Christmas Eve dinner (the kids request the menu - last year I think we had pizza, or chicken fingers...). We follow Brian's German tradition of gift giving on the 24th. Works out nicely. However, this year, Kori has asked to put the tree up early. We don't usually miss having the tree up, with the Advent wreath and a daily Advent activity. So we'll see. Maybe if I can spare the space.

So in all this rambling, I guess I'm trying to say that after a few false starts, Chrismas is becoming enjoyable again. It's really nice to be able to fall back onto Brian and be able to ask him to make the decisions with things I'm feeling particularly stressed about. He's good like that. We've managed to carve out something that the kids understand and enjoy, something that I am ok with planning, something that is balanced and sustainable for the month and something not so overdone that we diminish Kori's birthday.

Now....if it would only stop raining....

Thursday, November 30, 2006

This Week's Lesson

Monday started out all right and then went steadily downhill. School work wasn't working out. We couldn't even get our morning chores done without conflict requiring negotiators to resolve. By the time Brian came home for lunch at 10:30, I was angry, the kids were sullen and nothing was getting better. We drove Brian back to work and then I got a coffee and we went for a drive. I had the best intentions of starting fresh once we got home, but we all needed some down-time first.

So we did RECESS. I stopped at the new playground by the river and let the kids out. It was relaxing. I was sitting in the car, watching the kids play, appreciating Rai's health and Kori's loving big-sister-ness. I think I even considered that getting out of the car with the kids may have been the best choice. After all, fresh air and activity are the fastest ways to a more active life style and a better mood. At least, that's what I learned in Recreation 101. I even threw up there a 'O Lord, I wish I could find the extra energy..." I thought it was a bit of wishful thinking.

We went on with the day. A visit with the Grandparents, lunch, a visit with friends for garage-hockey. Then the day kicked into high gear. Get Brian from work. Pack food for the kids. Get them ready for Guides/Hockey. Drop Kori off with mom so they can get to Guides on time. Get Rai dressed and out on the ice. Here's where I usually sit with Bri in the stands and wait for the second heat to start.

But no...Today was Hockey Picture Day. Silly me, I took Rai's helmet up in the bleachers with me. So when he's done his pictures, I run it back to him. Run back up to sit with Brain. Run back to the boards to get the picture order form. Climb back up to Brian to decide on the photo package. Rush back to the boards to find out when to hand it in and who to pay. By this time, I'm a little miffed with Brian. After all, couldn't he come down to the boards with me and save me from all this running?!?

Then it occurs to me. Hadn't *I* been the one who wanted to find the opportunity to find the extra energy to add in a bit of movement to my usually sit-still day?! And, um, didn't this qualify as 'extra'??

Of course, you have to be careful what you ask for in this life. That is a lesson I learned early on. Because if you ask, you are likely to get. God knows I'm not the most motivated individual out there. I usually need a helping hand. I'd consider 6 trips across the hockey rink a helping hand, wouldn't you? And as soon as I realized how stupid I was to be blaming my frustration on Brian, guess who joined me at the boards to watch the end of Rai's practice?? My loving, very forgiving, overly tolerant husband.

I tell the kids that God is all around us; always watching; always listening; helping us to make good choices. I tell them that they can call that little voice in their head whatever they want (God, Jesus, their conscience) but they would do well to listen to it. And then sometimes God slaps me up the side of the head and tells me to quit making life more difficult than it really is. I really should pay attention to the things I tell the kids.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A Quick Update

Nothing too fancy folks.....just a quick update as it's been a few days.

I'm feeling the push to get ready for the holidays. I have learned to dig in my heels and fight it until Advent starts. Brian and I have done a lot of our Christmas shopping, but that's it. The kids are looking forward to baking. We've invited some friends over to make gingerbread houses. Kori's birthday parties fall in there somewhere and the regular bits of holiday visiting we do. Grandma Maddie will be visiting as well. Serendipitous that her trip to town lands on the only free days on our calendar!! So...

Last Friday the kids had a full day at the Museum. They enjoyed and did fine. Came home with lots of artwork. I enjoyed a surprise lunch date with Brian, Christmas shopping and a long, drawn-out coffee with a friend.

The weekend was busy-ish. We attended the local Santa Clause parade. It was somewhat disappointing. I can complain in detail later. I'm thinking of taking the kids out of town to an evening Parade of Lights this weekend to compensate. Took the kids skating on Sunday. Kori did very well on her new hockey skates. I think that weekend skating will become an enjoyable habit.

We jumped back into our casual pick-up-what's-interesting school habit this week. That included stopping by a friend's place for some garage-hockey for the kids on Monday. Interesting how little boys don't find doing the splits on cold concrete while wearing hockey pads uncomfortable. Yet they can't sit still for 15 on a warm, soft couch to read a book they picked out. I hung up the Canada map and a few postcards we received from around Canada from other homeschoolers. The kids dove right in to making our own postcards to send out. So, more work on that today. Picked some books up at the library last night - we've always got things for read aloud on hand.

A full week has passed since we went to Ottawa for Rai's appointment. On Monday, I got a call with our appointment times. On Tuesday, I got the letter with the testing procedures and directions. I am not looking forward to this. We've talked about the schedule of the day of the test with Raiden. But not the actual procedure. Last night on the way home he asked if we had the information on the test yet because he wanted to know "what he was up against". Super. He also said if there were needles, he wasn't doing it. Unfortunately, he will have to do it. That and much more. One way or the other (that is, whether the kidney is working well or not) he will have surgery to correct this. I'm hoping to put Rai off for a couple of more days before I have to explain catheters and IVs to him. I was really hoping to wait until after Christmas. But if Rai seems to think he wants to know now, so he has time to process, think and talk about it, then that's good too.

That's about all for now, I suppose. I'm off to get Kori out of bed and to start our reading.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Something Schoolish

We've been puttering along through our days, fitting in our school work and reading where we can.

We should finish Little House On The Prarie today. Raiden is not enjoying it except for bits and pieces here and there. He chose a book at the library that he'd like to read...it was an odd choice for him, but we'll try it. It's called Hoot.

I made a cuneiform tablet out of Model Magic yesterday while the kids were eating their lunch. Mostly for demonstration purposes. The kids did not want to try it out. Until, of course, I was ready to move on with something different for the afternoon. Then they pulled out the Model Magic and rolled tablets. They poured over the cuneiform alphabet for a while, trying to decide which figures would be the easiest to reproduce. They couldn't decide on an 'easy' word that made sense, so Kori used the stylus to mark in her name. In English letters. Gotta love independence.

We reviewed our chapter in SOTW while they coloured a map - that seemed popular. Today they will dictate a narrative to me about the chapter and I will type it for them, print it out and they will have it for their binders.

The pomanders Kori and I made are drying well!! They smell wonderfully spicey and 'holidayish'. The cloves are staying in the orange well and the spices are adhering to the orange. I had thought we were going to have cinnamon dust all over, but apparently not. They will definitely be ready early in Advent.

Speaking of Advent, I have signed just a couple of books out of the library in preparation for our Advent study. Last year I found a website that explores a different Christmas/Advent symbol every day of Advent. We stopped all school work and get ready for Christmas while studying a different symbol everyday. It worked really well. December is busy with activities and events to attend. Family visits, Kori's birthday. It's just a busy time. The kids get a kick out of decorating and making Christmas presents for our extended family...it's all time consuming. So, I am planning and preparing in my head for the coming season.

We're taking a week off of our lit. studies. We'll get back to them next week. In the meantime, we're talking about Candian art in preparation of the kids' Museum Day on Friday. They will attend 8 - 4 (long day for us!) and the theme is 'The Group of Seven'. Kori was refusing to go until she learned that it was all about art, painting and artists. Raiden wasn't going to go until he heard 2 of our fellow homeschooling friends are also attending. The schooled kids have a day off and the Museum is hosting a whole day program in light of that. Should be an interesting dynamic...usually is when we throw a couple of un-schooled kids into the mix. I really shouldn't be amused by that, but I am.

I should say that I'm feeling a little lost about Friday. I will have no kids 8 - 4. That's, like, a whole day. I have arranged to have coffee with a fellow homeschooling mom - we'll be dropping the kids at the Museum at the same time, so it's convienient. Then Brian will need lunch. But that still leaves me 6 hours. I will do some Christmas shopping here in town. That should use up some time. And since I'll be on my own, it may very well take me 6 hours. I'm sort of slow when I'm shopping on my own. I need to make a list....

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

...And We're Home...

It was very nice to come home to a couple of very thoughtful comments to this morning's post. As much as this blog is for my own personal meanderings, I had thought to keep family updated on current happenings and our own personal take on homeschooling. I'm not sure of how many make it over here to read up on us, but it's nice to know that I have virtual friends who make the time to do so. (...and that reminds me...perhaps I should produce some acedemic meanderings sometime soon...)

The short story is that Raiden's left kidney is in poor shape. It is not going to get better. The question to answer now is: How much function does it have? Once we can answer that, we can determine the course of action. We haven't yet told Rai what that will entail, so I will save the "S" word for another day. Rai can only just handle one step at a time, so that is how we'll take it. He was near tears for the hour drive to the hospital and as soon as the day was done and we were headed home, he was asleep in the car. Totally overstimulated.

I was so thankful that Brian came. He's like a big kid a lot of times (and I say that with the most loving appreciation possible: he is full of humour and knows how to have a good time) but when it really counts, he's the git-er-done guy. Our consultation with the doctor was great. He showed us the problem, explained everything and took us through all of the "what if's" so we know what to do in case Rai gets sick again. It was very comforting to know that Dr. Leonard is on-board. Noone touches Rai without his consent at this point.

So, we're back on anti-biotics and waiting to hear from CHEO. We will do a semi-invasive diagnostic test next. In the meantime, I'll be diving in to a few areas...not the least of which will be how to improve our immune systems and keep them strong. I need a very healthy little boy asap.

And I can't forget the toystore. I have never seen such a collection of Playmobil and Lego under one roof. Rai picked out Kori's birthday gift and Santa may have even picked up something for under the tree. I think I impressed Brian with my stealthy gift buying techniques. And apparently the clerk at the store is used to such manoevours as there were thick, black garbage bags just waiting for such a purpose behind the counter.

I will leave my poor navigating skills story for another day.

We're Off For The Day

Well, today is the day. We have a clinic appointment at CHEO for Raiden. I have all the paperwork together, directions ready, childcare arranged and a map to the toystore from the hospital. Rai is feeling well although he's not excited to see the doctor. He is looking forward to lunch with Brian and I and Christmas shopping at the toystore that we're going to check out: over 14,000 square feet of independently owned toys - all brands we love. I'll let you know what it's like once we're back.

I'm hoping for a doctor who is gentle and considerate. I hope I can be outspoken enough to speak up for Rai if need be. I'm glad Brian is able to come with us. He's very level headed at times like this. He'll remember to ask things that we need to know, but that I would totally forget to ask. All prayers, vibes and other good thoughts are shamelessly accepted.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Is It Ever Going To Stop Raining??!??

It has been raining for weeks. Hallowe'en was a clear day...but the only one in that week. It's still raining. The landscaper was by. He said in October there were only 3 clear working days for him. That's crazy.

I thought I'd rake up the leaves around the yard. Then, I thought I'd wait until it dried up a bit. At this rate, I'll be shovelling them out from under a snowbank.

The kids are wrangy. Not enough large muscle activity. Even going out to play in the rain has lost it's novelty. The dog is wrangy. She doesn't like to get her feet wet. She stalks around waiting for something fun to happen. She's a little high strung as it is, so it's like living with a jack-in-the-box.

So with all that in the house, as well as the grounded helicopters....everyone's getitng bored and cabin fevered. That usually doesn't hit us until February. Great. Something I acomplished ahead of time.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Lazy Wednesday Evenings...

We have no activities to run off to on Wednesday evenings. Once Brian comes home around 4, everyone has some down time. Dinner is usually a little later and sometimes more elaborate. Tonight is roasted potatoes - the only way Kori will eat them - and salmon. Raiden's been asking for salmon for a week now.

How do you make salmon fillets from frozen so that they actually taste good? The kids won't eat spicy or creamy. So I guess it's a little lemon, butter and dill. Not terribly exciting in my opinion.

Had a bit of a blip on the 'productivity' front today. I spent too much time on the computer. I let the kids spend too much time on things they wanted to do before the things we needed to do were done. However, instead of stressing about it too much, I made sure that the basics were done. Morning chores were done and we were presentable to answer the door. Brian's lunch was ready when he came home. We did our reading and school work and all that is left is dinner and showers for the kids.

We read yesterday's paper to understand the election results. Kori's math was based on that today. She also did some work on Ch.4 of her novel study. She completed some Guiding badge work and got her repot ready for badge testing next week. Both kids did a colouring page while we reviewed our history lesson from yesterday: the origins of writing; cuniform in Mesopotamia and hieroglyphics in Egypt. Rai did some math facts and I reminded him about carrying numbers in addition. Most facts he does in his head, but I know he needs to be able to work out problems on paper. He will do anything to get out of printing, so I guess mental multi-digit addition helps with that. Rai finished his printing work from his Literature Study book we read yesterday and we read the next book. His author this Fall is Robert Munsch. He can read the books but he prefers not to. Not a pleasure reader, that one.

Onwards and upwards to tomorrow. An early morning for Rai's appointment at the lab and then to the hospital to pick up his ultrasound films in preparation for next week's appointment at CHEO. Perhaps a few groceries and school work in the afternoon. Our postcards arrived today - very beautiful postcards that I do not really want to send away - so we will start our postcard exchange for the homeschool forum.

That's all for tonight. I am off to finish the evening and then spend some time with Bri. We're out of movies to watch...I wonder if he wants to watch me ....

Ok, This Stuff Is Weird

I've been blog-hopping, as I tend to do. There seems to be a trend to learning wierd things about people. I will spare you my list of wierd things for a couple of reasons.

But here's one for you. I was reading over at Thoughts from the Home Front about lining up Smarties/Skittles/M&Ms into colour groups before eating them. Who knew that many people did that??!? I do that!!! You line them up, eat the extras, make a rainbow and then eat the treat.
So here I was thinking about this the last few days when what do I see?? Yup. That's Kori. Lining up her Smarties. Where does she get this stuff?? Genetics?? **sorry, missing picture**


Poor Rai's treat was interrupted. Rather rudely. He had just opened a lollypop. He was sitting beside Kori on the couch. The dog was sleeping on the other side of Kori. You see where this is going, don't you? The dog wakes up, contorts herself just enough to stretch her neck across Kori's lap and licks Rai's treat. Who does that?!? Apparently my dog, the sneak. I won't tell you who taught her to lick lollies. I couldn't betray Brian like that.

And for your mindless Entertainment News update. It appears that OJ Simpson is giving a TV interview (and launching his new book). It is titled "If I Did It." Essentially he'll tell us how he would have killed his wife, if he had done it. In two evenings of viewing pleasure, no less. Two questions pop into my head. Is it just me or does he do something every few years to keep his name in the news?? And, is there really any point to this type of thing? It just seems so useless. I am so glad that we have chosen not to have tv in the house. Oh wait....is that a wierd thing??

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Election Thoughts

A confession of sorts. Until yesterday, I had never voted. I understand that it is my right and duty. Normally, I follow the election races. In general, I like to know the candidates' platforms. The kids and I follow all these things and talk about the popular issues and the sticking points. The kids know the difference between the Federal and Municipal governments. For this past election, they could rattle off most of the candidates and the offices that they were running for. But, until yesterday, I had never actually voted. I should say that I am ashamed. I am a proud Canadian. So yesterday's voting was educational. But I think God was sending me a message of sorts with the results.

First, He was telling me that voting is a democratic process and the voice of the people ( in the collective sense) will be heard. Just because I actually made it to the polls doesn't mean I am Queen High And Mighty Local Political Master Know It All Chooser Of Candidates.

Second, He was affirming that I must take the road less travelled. I just can't conform. Obviously. The candidate I chose for mayor didn't win. It's sort of ok as the winning candidate is in most ways of the same mindset as my favorite. However, I didn't vote for Mr. Winner as I have seen his parenting practices in person. If one can't control one's own child in a public setting, how is he to demand the respect of, and lead to better times, or community? If rude and violent behaviour escapes his notice, exactly what else are they going to slip past him?? Apparently we've got four years to see. Didn't fair too well on the counsellor selection either. The two I didn't want to see in in our ward succeeded. The new guy I voted for won, though. That was the only bright light on my ballot.

Rai accompanied me when I filled out my ballot. And the ladies were careful to explain the ballot counting machine to him. They told him what to watch for and he understood when the machine accepted my ballot. So that was a good thing.

I will say that I will vote in all other elections that come my way. It is a good example of exercising our freedoms and doing our part for this great country. And as the boys at Beavers learned tonight, people died fighting for this (among other freedoms). The least I can do is this one little thing.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Interesting & Not Really Relevant Links

My not sleeping gets you access to these wonderful links that I have come across. Don't you feel lucky?

First, a relevant survey for you homeschoolers. I hope you take the time to complete it - it doesn't take long. I found the link to the survey at one of my favorite homeschooling blogs to read: lightingthefires.

Home organization has been in the forefront of my mind for a while now. I stumbled across Lori Seaborg's blog. She calls it 'Keeping the Home' and there is a lot to read and get into. If it interests you, get a snack and a drink and set up camp at your computer table for a while. I was particularly interested in her thoughts on setting up an household notebook, but I'll have to poke around her site to find exactly where I saw it.
(As an aside to this, the kids and I have stumbled across a system of reminders that might work for us. It's not as in-your-face as FlyLady, but it should help the kids understand what we need to accomplish in the course of the day. I can incorportate a list of homeschoolish activites that we agree they should be working on throughout the week - an attractive feature for us. We're going to try it out this week, and hopefully longer, and we'll let you know how it goes.)

And for my daring and bold explorer of natural hair care friend...here's one for you! How to go No Shampoo. If you try it, I might.

Other favorites I poke around at if I have the time: BabyBlues, FBOFW, Maple Leaf Used Curriculum (check out //welovebooks.com for an explanation), and the Waikiki Beach cam for the days when you wish you could get away.

Thursday, November 9, 2006

Pomanders And Present Going Ons



Kori and I have made some pomanders. I suppose I should say that it has been a family affair as Raiden likes to stab the orange with a toothpick and insert the cloves. And Brian chauffeured us around town, finally finding orris root powder himself in the health food store. I hope they work. We have 3 completed, covered in spices and drying. Various sources have said it take 4 - 6 weeks to have a nicely dried pomander. So I'm hoping that we have them ready at Christmas time. If they work out ok, I'll plan to make some as gifts/ornaments next year. This year, I think they will stay here and decorate my house. Better safe than sorry, you know.

The birthday boy is another year older. We had a good day, I think. He is happy with his gifts and I was able to surprise him. Which is a feat in itself. I suppose I should share...might make some sense of the prevcious confusing post below.

The kids and I thought it would be nice to surprise Brian with a birthday gift of a remote car starter. He gets up for work early each day and has a forty mile walk from the parking lot to the building. (k, not 40, but it's uphill both ways, in steel toe boots and driving snow....) We are usually snug in bed when he leaves...and this is a man who loves his sleep. Anyway, we thought it would be nice for him to be able to start the car up as he was getting ready for work, without having to go out and scrape the ice off the car in the wind. At lucnch, he doesn't really have time to scrape the car off, come home to eat and then drive back, either. So the kids and I went shopping. We picked one up. Took it to the shop to make sure they could install it. Yup. No problem. Left it there and booked myself in for 11am the next day to have it installed.

The kids and I arrive at the shop at 11am the next day. It is so busy that I take the kids into the back office to wait. Mom and dad are crazy busy with customers. Even my brother is out in the shop working. We wait. 11:30. My brother grabs the kids and they run across to the parts shop across the street to get a part. They come back. Rai is bleeding. Brad hasn't got his part, the phone is ringing off the hook, customers are waiting, cars are blocking the bays. I take the kids home. There is no starter on my car. Mom calls later. Bring it right over, it's not so busy now. I pack up the kids and off we go. The car is in the bay and torn apart. There is a mechanic embedded in the underworkings of the dash, working away. Suddenly this one hour job is more like a two hour job. I check the clock. It's Friday, Bri usually tries to wrap up his week earlier than his normal 4pm finish time.. Best case scenario: they'll be done around 3:30. I turn off my cell phone and hope for the best. 3:30 rolls around. The mechanic starts putting the car back together. The starter isn't working properly. Brad is on the phone with the starter tech-support line. The best I can do is bring it back Monday morning and they'll finish it up. I coach the kids on why it's not really lying if we don't tell Daddy what we did all afternoon.

So Monday morning rolls around, Rai and I hit the shop with the car earlier than is decent. We leave the car, take my moms, pick up fresh birthday pie as it appears that those who work at the grocery store are up at that hour. Return to the shop to find that the starter is working!!! Grab coffee on the way home and all is good. We were quiet about the starter until Bri got his keys on his way to renerw the licence plate stickers later in the morning. He found the remote on his keychain and was all excited. So, a good surprise, well taken by the guy that you're not supposed to surprise 'cause he hates surprises. I'm not sure if he's more surprised by the gift, or the fact that we surprised him...jury's still out on that one.

Today was the day to drop off Rai's second sample at the lab. A week and 2 days he's been off his medicine and no fever so far. This is good news, however, there are niggling worries in the back of my head. The antibiotics were much stronger than his first round. I can't help but think that it's just going to take longer for his system to get rid of the stronger drugs and then we'll be back to square one. The past two days have been bad days as far as his tummy pains are concerned, but no fever.

I should probably let everyone know how lessons and such are going. We are reading every day. Our present selections are Little House On The Prarie and The Dawntreader by C.S.Lewis. The kids couldn't decide together on a read-aloud, so I started reading both of their choices. I have to say that Rai is holding up through "the girl book" very well. So far we have read about exploring and building, wolves and fires and he says it's not that bad. He says he might even like it when we get to the part with the Indians. The Dawntreader is pretty fantastical - even more so than the first two of the Narnia series that we've read. It seems there is a seperate adventure in each chapter. Our attention is held; it will be interesting to see how it all turns out.

There is much unstructured learning going on. Kori is working on a creative writing story and Rai is helping with ideas, plot, characters and such. They disappear for large chunks of time to work on it. Kori is discovering Lego with Rai. I am beginning to get a picture of our Advent activities in my mind. I see some more structured time for lessons creeping up behind me again. The kids were doing very well keeping busy. But the last week or so, I see less and less of the 'interesting' things keeping them busy. There's no excuse, either, as they both lost any sort of video games for a week. Even Brian noticed that they were rushing through their required things, doing a less than stellar job, in order to turn the game-box on. Brian made short work of that. We are practicing doing a thoughough job the first time we do things - chores, helping mom, taking care of themselves, etc. I suppose I can count that as some sort of 'lesson', can't I??

Was thinking about Rememberance Day and who was going to lay the wreath in Ottawa for my Grandpa this year. Usually Dad goes up and does it. But I haven't heard any plan for that this year. Its funny, when you think about not having your dad any more. (or when you think about your dad not having his dad anymore...) Whether they're taken from us too early or if they've had a full life, it always seems to me that those left behind are too alone in the world. It's sad thinking about the little ones who won't know their Grandpa, not really, at least, not like we knew them. I know the stories I tell the kids about my Grandpa don't do him justice. I suppose that's just one of those life lessons that you have to learn. Sometimes learning isn't so fun...

Saturday, November 4, 2006

May I Be Confusing For A Moment??

So I have this blog...which I have invited the family to share in. So that they may see what homeschooling for our family is like. So that I can share whats going on with them, etc.

I know we are not the easiest family to deal with. But doesn't every family have their own quirks? I have decided to follow my husband's lead in a bunch of areas and that may be seen by some as 'giving in' or 'being oppressed' or whatever. I sort of see it as trying to find my place as a good wife and mother in my own family - you know, doing the whole 'what works for us' thing?? Brian brings up some very good points regarding support and respect that I really benefit from.

I can be reasonably certain that most of the family doesn't come here to check in. But that doesn't give me the right to go on and on about them or be critical. That would be disrespectful. (See?! I'm listening...) So why have this silly webpage if the family that I am supposed to be keeping up to date couldn't be bothered? That's rhetorical, by the way.

Might I just share this: my family (not the ones I chose or birthed) is frustrating me. I really really apreciate their help...I know and understand the sacrifice they take on to provide for me. It is obviously not my place to demand the same considerations they would give others. It just seems to me that if they would extend those same courtesies, even though I may not deserve them, entire projects would go more smoothly. Instead, I get frustrated, the kids get shafted, Brian gets frustrated and wants to rescue me by 'fixing' things...which I won't let him do...so I end up telling him only part of the story. See how it just gets out of control? And so goes the weekend for me...stressing, worrying, sitting around in my p.j.s avoiding things until 3pm on a Saturday.


Oh. Before I go, I should tell about the hockey game we went to last night. First, I am glad they were free tickets. The boys certainly haven't found their groove on the ice yet. There are at lest 10 new drafted players in from the States. The mother in my feels like I should bake a pie for all of them. Anyway, so they're out there playing their little 17-year-old hearts out. Behind us is a row of very vocal, very rude people. So much so that Brian and I picked up the kids in the third period and left to watch the rest of the game rink-side by the snack bar. I explained to the kids that we do not want the kids exposed to such inappropriate behaviour. It is fine to shout and cheer and get excited at a hockey game. It's hard not to. However, it is not appropriate to be heckling, shouting and keeping up such a tirade that the entire section is commenting on it.

Now, the very, very unfortunate thing is that the people we had to move away from were the 'responsible adults' in charge of a couple of kids that Kori and Rai really like to watch the games with. It was an exercise in irony to hear the kids reprimanded for heckling and carrying on when they were only copying what they had hear from Auntie and Grandpa. We won't be sitting there anymore. Which is saying a lot as Brian is a sit-in-the-same-seats-every-time kind of guy. Oh well, maybe the kids will be able to visit inbetween periods. That is, if the Braves improve their playing style this season. It was a pretty painful game.

In other home-town hockey-game news...the lady sitting in front a couple rows down is back together with her boyfriend. They had broken up a few months back. She had told him to 'get out and take all yer stuff when you go!' So he did. He took everything. Including the newly installed stick-on laminate flooring. I know, I know...there's no humour in such vindictive behaviour...but I wonder if he stuck it back on when he moved back in???

Thursday, November 2, 2006

Puttering Along

Ok, a quick catch up to let you all know that I'm still alive. Day #5 with the new schedule firmly in mind and it's going well. I am not sweating the small stuff. It will all get sorted out. We have 3 chunks of schooling planned throughout the day and we always hit two. That's pretty good for me. I'm starting to feel a little more balanced. However, that novelty may wear off. Ok...on to what's been going on.

Lovely program at the local Museum last Friday. I may have already mentioned that. Pics to follow...some day.

Hallowe'en was great. A gloomy and drizzly day turned into a clear and balmy (for the end of October) evening. We went over to the neighbourhood where Brian grew up and did two streets. The kids got two huge bags of loot each...we've got enough to keep us in chocolate, chips and treats until June, I'm sure. We could easily skip Easter treats and be ok.

Rai finished up his meds the other evening. I am monitoring his temp as I fully expect him to crash within the week. I am continuing his ColdFX and enzymes - which seem to ward off any digestive upset. The sore tummy has not disappeared, but it is easier for him to recognize and describe. Which says to me the general discomfort is gone and the specific complaint is apparent. Dropped off his first sample at the lab this morning: Dr.W is also wanting to monitor him until we see the specialist on the 21st.

Enjoyed a nice afternoon at the Y yesterday as the guests of friends. The Y is trying to be more 'family friendly' and has tried to open up it's schedule, services and equipment to families with 'youth'. I even got a nice walk in on the treadmill with my girlfriend as we did not have to be tied to the kids. Nice.

Looks like we'll be taking in a Sens game this weekend. Very nice surprise as we are being given tickets. At first, just Brian and Rai were going to go, but now it loks like there are extra tickets so it's turned into a family outing. My kids will have been to 2 NHL games in the space of a year. Pretty decadent. Come to think of it, we were given tickets to the local Braves game for Friday night as well. And that birthday surprise I was thinking about for Brian looks like it will work out. And the car is able to be paid off as soon as we make the call. How blessed are we? It's funny how good things pop up when you're not looking. We are busy trying to make good changes. Focusing our energy on doing better with what we have. And these nice extras just jump out and slam into you. Funny how that happens, eh?

I am off to do lunch and school work with the kids for the afternoon. We were so productive this morning, I'm almost afraid to. Errands, schoolwork, housework and computer time?!?!? Brian's going to start taking my temperature....

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Pumpkins And Costumes





This past Saturday, Grandma and Grandpa M. and Paul arrived with pumpkins and Kori's costume. Kori did her own carving this year and is quite proud of the results. Raiden stuck both hands inside of his pumkin - holding scoops chopstick style - which is great progress. I still don't think he's actually touched pumpkin guts, though.



Kori's costume, an Egyptian mummy/Cleopatra, turned out really nicely. Paul put a lot of work into it and trekked around to more than one theatre supply place in Toronto to do so. Kori is pretty happy with it. Raiden is a 'Karate Guy'. That's it. Just 'A Karate Guy'. No embellishment...actually, come to think of it...this picture is a fairly accurate representation of my kids' personalities...

Thursday, October 26, 2006

How Do I Feel? Let Me Count The Ways...

In a previous blog I mentioned that I had felt a bit of mother-guilt relief after I discovered Raiden could read 6th grade sight words. This evening I ran into an old acquaintance. She's a teacher and a previous employee of mine in my past life. We used to be kinda chummy until I began homeschooling. Of course we caught up quickly: she's teaching 7/8 at a local school; my kids are 4th and 2nd grade; still homeschooling. In the midst of the chit-chat, she opens up ds' backpack and checks out the things he brought to do. He's packed a few books and she asks him if he can read these books. He says yes and she is somewhat impressed. Wouldn't it be nice if her grade 8 kids could read those books, she remarks.

So, how do we feel about this...

First, I'm a little put out that she was so forward to go into a backpack that wasn't hers. Second, I was relieved that I could set aside her unsaid assumption that my kids weren't going to do very well without a 'real' teacher. Third, I was happy that Rai spoke up for himself. And fourth, I'm still disappointed that her opinion of homeschooling is such that I am only delaying my children's entrance into the system. Fifth, I am feeling confused as to why I feel the need to impress/explain to/justify my choices to this woman.

More Sleep/Less Sleep

Raiden decided today that he is the type of person that needs less sleep. It's true. He can go to bed at midnight and still be up and functioning at 7am the next morning. Rai still likes his bedtime stories. He gets very upset if we dont' get a few chapters of some sort of chapter book in before we turn out the light.

Kori made it very clear that she recognizes that she needs more sleep. She also needs wake-up time in the morning. She also prefers to have up to an hour of quiet time bofroe light's out at night. She reads, knits, draws, journals. Not to label, but she is a high-needs individual.

So, it looks like we're going to try an 8:30pm lights out for a while. And we're going to try an 8am start to our day. 8's not so bad if I get to bed between 10 and 11. I sound so spoiled. I'm such a whimp.

More of the Grand Design later on...for now...it's off to the pool for swimming lessons!

A Quick Check In

Some points and highlights from today so far....nothing earth-shattering....

Went to visit Grandpa out at the house today to see how the kitchen demolition is going. I think we'll go out on Sunday with masks and gloves to help get the lathe and plaster off the walls....not to mention the various layers of wallpaper and drywall. There's no insulation, I noticed. Crazy!

Stopped and let the kids run rampant through the grocery store on the way home. lol No, really I went and collected a few items while they looked at toys. Kori seems to think staring wantingly at the 'Cuddle Chimp' for extended periods of time will get me to buy it for her.

I just discovered Limewire. This might be a problem.

Tom Cochrane is releasing a new album on Hallowe'en. On it he has done a cover of 'Spirit In The Sky'. I used to love that song. I'll probably love his version of it as well, since I'm not opposed to Tom Cochrane.

The kids are getting along wonderfully lately (<--happy dance..couldn't find a 'knock on wood' smilie). They are even helping each other out and being considerate.

Brian is still sick. I have watched him suffer enough so I went and collected some special teas for him today. I drink this stuff when I have a cold. One cup every four hours and your head stays clear, your throat is soothed...and you have to pee like a racehorse...frequently. But even that would be better than this 'close to death' state that Bri is walking around in. The rest of us have sore throats and even Kori is starting to get a sniffle. So I think I will share some of Rai's Cold-FX around.

K, cold meds, lunch and then we hit the calender.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

A Long, Uphill, Bumpy Ride Over The Hump This Week

Wow. Is this week ever dragging. It feels like we've been slugging through mud, uphill and someone keeps moving the darn hill! It's been cold and dingy out. The kids are playing outside if I send them. It seems I have begun to hibernate early this year. Brian has caught a terrible cold. I wish he would let me put him on ColdFX...or echinacea...or that nice Cold/Flu tea that mom gets us. But no, he'll battle it out...and of course, he has absolutaly no time off in the forseeable future.

We've had two different recipes of crock-pot cider the last two days. Makes the house smell nice instead of like old-stuffy-carpet. And the kids like it. They heard me read the recipe we tried today (maple syrup, allspice, cloves, cinnamon, orange juice concentrate, cider) and then they actually tried it and had seconds. Did you know that cloves are expensive?!? Almost $7 for one of the weeny shaker bottles!! And I was thinking of doing Cloved Orange Pomanders at Christmastime...


Rai's Hallowe'en party was awesome - he says. I managed to drop him off and return only to help clean up. He's having a good time at Beavers and I don't need to be there. Progress!! I forgot the camera so I don't have a pic of him in his 'Karate Guy' uniform. One of the mom's commented as he went in, "That's a pretty fancy belt for a kiddy Hallowe'en Party". I cringed as I knew someone was going to say something. I know nothing about the Martial Arts (other than Ninjitsu rolls cause my brother to break collar bones in turn causing mom to yank all her offspring out of that 'violent silliness'). I was tying his belt when we were getting ready to go knowing for certain that I was doing it wrong and probably breaking 14 Cardinal Rules of Katate Uniform Respect. Oh well...he loves his costume and didn't ruin it...it is all white, you know.

Rai's finishing up his last week of meds. We finally received our Clinic Appointment: November 21. I need to dash over to the hospital and get his films from the ultrasound. We are in big trouble if we don't bring them. When the lady called to book the appointment with me, she told me about them twice. Then, we received confirmation by mail and it's in there too. Twice. Highlighted. In Pink. Twice. Apparently we are going to see how Rai does without his meds for a couple of weeks. We will monitor him through weekly urinalysis at the hospital lab, watching for rising levels of infection. I spoke briefly with Dr.W who mentioned he had seen the ultrasound results. Rai's left kidney seems to be the culprit. There seems to be a couple of different problems with it. Suddenly the abdominal pains and the urine infections make sense.

We are looking froward to a homeschooler's day at the Museum this Friday. Hopefully I will remember to pick up local postcards while I am out. We also are hoping to check out the new park at Blockhouse Island with friends after our program.

And the last thing I will share tonight....I am just about ready to throw the towel in. Everything takes so long to accomplish here at home. I can't keep up with anything. Every time I start something, someone else needs me to do something for them. I am too scatterbrained to get back to whatever it was that I was doing in the first place. A simple 'pick up the house' (declutter) took me two and a half hours last week. I insisted the kids helped. Once I am able to get everyone on the same page (stuff put away, ready for the day, fed & watered) we are all too frustrated to hit the books. Stuff piles up and I avoid it. Case in point: still haven't filled out October's calendar. I am so scattered right now I'm avoiding the phone. So, instead of jumping off a bridge...I fear I will have to make lists. And charts. And I'm going to have to really try to stick to a schedule. Oh joy. Oh bliss. We've been talking about doing what needs to be done first and then enjoying free time so we don't feel rushed. Excellent in principle, not so successful in practice. Over the summer I read Sidetracked Home Executives. Amusing. Practical. Good ideas. Now I'm going to have to do it.

That's a good idea. I think the kids and I will sit down and do it together tomorrow. IT being a daily/weekly schedule of stuff-to-do-after-breakfast-before-dad-gets-home-for-lunch-and-before-anyone-leaves-the-house-or-uses-the-electronics. I'm even thinking of getting Bri to lock out the PC until he gets home for lunch. Isn't that what husbands are for? To help with accountability?

As always, lovely chatting with you and catching up. Cross your fingers for us on the 21st.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

A Memorable Friday


I love to take pictures of the kids and the first snow of the season. Of course, noone else understands this. I won't bore you with the horid details, but here are the two pictures I quickly took. The snow was very surprising...huge, wet flakes coming down very fast. They stayed for quite a while and the kids had a chance to go out and play in it. Well, dd only lasted a few minutes as Nanny came to pick her up to do some shopping. For flip-flops, of all things. She come home with $30 Crocks and a new ball of yarn for her knitting basket.

Otherwise, Friday was a busy day. Brian had a surprise day off and I tried my hardest to stick to my plan of house cleaning, laundry and basement tidy-up and preparing for Madeline and Gerald's visit. Worked pretty well...didn't get the walls washed or the yard work done though.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Algonquin Mig-Wich



Today we were lucky enough to catch a talk given by this guy - Mitchell the Storyteller. I have to introduce him that way as anything more formal would be a disservice to him. He was the most down to earth, unassuming, casual, easy to be around guy that you've ever met. He didn't really tell a story, per se, he jumped around from topic to topic as he meandered over things he thought the kids should hear about. Raiden was surprised he wasn't orange and Kori didn't believe he was Native until he spoke words in Algonquin.

The other more interesting and novel part of the day was the trip to Prince of Wales P.S. When we arrived at the library, the librarian told us the children from the school couldn't walk to the library because of the heavy rain. (Apparently 2 classes of children cannot walk to the library in rubber boots and raincoats, but a good portion of their school mates can participate in an outdoor, all day soccer tourney, get hypothermia and walk home soaked to the skin, covered in mud...but I digress...) So Librarian Maureen invited us to attend as her guests. Off we trek to the school and wait inside the main doors where Raiden asks, "Is this just like what a real school looks like, Mom?" We proceeded, awestruck, to the grade six classroom where a class of grade 3 children joined us.

Raiden says schools aren't as noisy as he had expected. Kori thought there were too many boys. I had forgotten how cluttered and crowded classrooms were! Every available space was crammed full of something. There was no lack of visual stimulation, that's for sure. And, the ever-neurotic me did ask Raiden if he noticed the words above the blackboard. He did and he said he could read most of them. That helped with some of the mother-guilt.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The Things I Think About When Alone In The House

Tonight I am single parenting. It has been a very long time since Brian has worked late or not been around in the evenings. Tonight he is being wined and dined and entertained. He is in the middle of the third period as we speak at the Sens game in Ottawa courtesy of the company that holds his contract. It is definitely a special occasion as they have never done anything like this for the guys before. I really hope they (his 3 co-workers and the contract manager) have a great time.

Today we managed 2 consecutive hours of school work. That is not including our reading. For those curious, and not in any particular order, each math subtraction facts to practice their proficiency; Kori finished the chapter work of the current chapter of her literature study (dictionary work, synonyms, parts of speech, crossword puzzle, opinion questions, characterization); we read one chapter of her book out loud; Rai silently read 2 Robert Munsch books (woohoo! he's reading!!); we read and discussed "The Making of The Paper Bag Princess" together as Kori is interested in the book-making process; Raiden did a page of printing (I figured it was about time he learned to spell his 3-syllable very German last name). During lunch I read 2 chapters of Farmer Boy and we looked at pictures of Almanzo and Laura Wilder on the internet. Kori spent the better part of an hour planning and cutting out the paper pieces required for the name tags she is making for her GirlGuide Hallowe'en party. Raiden and I spent some time doing logic puzzles ( Nonograms ) before bed. Kori went to swimming lessons with Nanny tonight as I am car-less.

We are looking forward to Brian's mom and her husband coming to visit tomorrow. As well, we are going to try to catch the storytelling at the local library. An Algonquin storyteller is going to share some stories and legends of his culture. Of course, I have high hopes of fitting in a house-clean, the school work and whatever else that is bound to crop up.

A friend mentioned to me this week that she is attending school with her son because the teacher says he can't focus and he figits. I also was reminded of my days in the classroom: I frequently heard "Bonni needs to stop chatting and should improve her listening skills". It is so hard to discuss my opinions or the situation in general as one of a couple of things are bound to happen. First, I am discredited as I know nothing about the current issues affecting the classrooms, the teachers, the students as I have no part in that as a homeschooler. Or second, I come off as being a big snot for bragging about my most wonderful and ideal set-up as a homeschooling family. It is really discouraging to think that these kids are being expected to go way above and beyond their abilities, to be little adults, to fit into the cookie cutter. It just seems so glaringly obvious that not everyone is going to do well in a sit-down-and-do-this environment. I know that teachers don't have a lot of space/time/resouces/magic to work miracles....but could some common principles not be adhered to consistently??? I guess there are so many things working against institutional education today that the smaller class sizes, better teacher:student ratios and the like are just not possible.

I see the same sort of problems in Rai's Beaver group. Out of the 12 boys, two don't show up regularly, two can't sit still/listen/behave, one is so loud it is painful and disruptive, one is too shy. Two are dropped off early and the same two are picked up late. These are the same two that never have parents present for any of the activities. The three leaders are forever trying to include everyone, keep them all safe and engaged, remind boys of the rules...multiple times, lead activities, wait for everyone to be paying attention, re-doing parts of the opening/closing to get it right, finding shoes, parts of uniform, coats and newsletters and then trying to get home to their families on time. I can't image a lone teacher with 25-30 students for six hours a day.

I wish society was more accomodating at times. If parents were able to take their kids to work or work an accomodating schedule, I wonder how many of them would simply yank their kids out of the system. Just to keep them safe and protected. I'm not even thinking about homeschooling them yet. Just take them out of school so they can save their children's self confidence and preserve their personality. I'm sure it must be very tempting to some...I'm sure for some kids it would be the best thing. After my public school experience (I unwillingly provided many young girls many hours of sadistic enjoyment) I can safely say that it will not make them stronger and it may come close to killing them. I wish that I had my act more together and was at a different place in my life when I hear stories of a parent's frustration and worry for their schooled child. I would love to be able to have the kids here to crash on the couch, to choose which math page to print, to pick up and go to the library with when the mood strikes. To learn to make scrambled eggs and bacon because that's what they feel like for lunch, to learn to divide 12 into threes and fours because you need to cut strips of paper for an art project, to teach the dog a trick, to play Dance-Dance-Revolution and really get what they mean when they talk about rhythm, beat and cadence. But we can't have our cake and eat it too. I guess I have to be content with the fact that there are parents out there that are an advocate for their children. I am glad for the parents that pull their kid just to make a point (ok, and to save them from the playground torture) until a situation is resolved. I would hazard a guess that even frequent interruptions in the school year are not going to negatively affect a child. In fact, I would wager that the child will understand the situation better and return to school better equipped after a day with mom. And there we are...back to the family. It is the family that should be a child's greatest influence - not the three other kids that your desk is mashed up against. Some kids are blessed with strong, outspoken, protective parents that are not afraid to explain, coach and lead their kids through life's tangles. These are the kind of parents that are going to override the classroom clutter. I wish there were more out there like that. It is the kids of involved parent's that are going to go out confidently into the world.

And on that note, I will sign off...Kori is not going to go confidently out into the world tomorrow unless she quits reading, shuts out her light and gets some sleep!!!

The Sunflower









Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Uphill Both Ways....But The View Is Great

It's only been six days since my last entry, but it feels like I've dropped off the edge of the earth again. Part of that is my own fault. I am beginning to feel somewhat productive in our days...although I've been awful at the 'get up at a reasonable hour' lately. Have to work on that. One of the things falling on the wayside is my telephone chit-chats with a couple of friends. So, I almost feel organized...but with the guilt of not keeping up-to-date here and with friends....there's always something, I guess.

School work is trekking along. Still have to order a math program for this year, but I'm not desperate for material yet. Kids are both working away on their literature studies. We're reading supplemental material covering the topics we've already read in Story Of The World. I've discovered that Raiden is finding dinosaurs and other ancient creatures boring. I've been making a serious effort to include Bible and Chracter. In fact, one day that got so involved in our Character lesson that it was the only thing we accomplished all day. We were reviewing the ten commandments and talking about how to use those as rules and guidance in our lives. Then we talked about our roles in the family and how we try to be a blessing to our family. I tried explaining it about five different ways and I finally said to them "How are you a blessing to your family/brother/sister?" And suddenly the floodgates opened. I had no clue they would relate to that wording. Anyway...apparently the discussion was popular and we're going to continue it with What We Can Do In Our Day To Be A Blessing In Our Family. They want to make a list and post it so they can remember all the nice things they want to fit in throughout the day.

You know how sometimes you want to drive to the outskirts of town and sell them to the Gypsies?? And then they come up with some amazing thing that make you just want to squeeze them and keep them that sweet and wonderful for all time? Yeah. And you kick yourself for ever thinking they were less than perfect...and you give them treats...just because. Ok...enough of that...

Tonight was Rai's Beaver Investiture. He was invested as a White Tail, his last year of Beavers. There was the ceremony and then there were snacks and drinks. Kori and her Guide friend E served drinks. The "I'm so grown up" attitude was just emminating off of them. Yesterday was Guides for Kori. She's all excited because she volunteered to use my brand new stamps and scrapbooking supplies (meagre amount that they are) to make name tage for 35 girls to use at their upcoming Hallowe'en party. Should be fun. We also invited a friend to go swimming with her on the weekend sometime. That will be fun...haven't done a lot of that so it will be interesting to see how Kori does. She's funny with people. Keeping her locked in the homeschooling closet probably doesn't help that...just kidding...I should write an entry one day outlining her particular social idiosyncracies.

Last weekend was busy. Apple Day for the Beavers Saturday morning. Then Thaksgiving Dinner for my side of the family. Had my brother for a short visit on Sunday and then we went out to Bri's brother's for dinner.

Dropped the last of Rai's paperwork off at the Doctor's office today. I'm not in love with the new receptionist. Perhaps I'm used to more personal treatment and I don't know what it is like to be 'just another patient'. Or perhaps she was having a bad day. Whatever it was, I had to get out my Pushy Mom hat and put it on. Ended up having a nice chat with the doctor himself in the empty waiting room. He has extended Rai's meds. Rai will stay on them until ??? The infection is in his kidney and is not going to go away on it's own. There are 2 problems with his left kidney and something is going to need to be done. His tests will be forwarded to CHEO today and we will hopefully hear from them with an appointment soon. But not too soon. They triage their referrals....so the worse your problem, the faster you're seen. Catch 22 for me...I want him in and taken care of asap, but I don't want it to be anything so bad that it's urgent, you know? I also don't want it to take months for him to be seen as he will be on meds until then....so...everyone scream with me now....

I'm off for now to do a bedtime or two. Perhpas I'll get on later and get to some much neglected picture tasks. I haven't gone through any since August...they all need to be renamed and organized. If I'd get to that, I'd be more likely to include more pictures....L&L
(haven't spell checked yet...but I'm posting anyway b/c I know you've missed me )

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Mid-day Thoughts

Just making lunch for the kids (yes, at 1:30...they ate breakfast at 9:45 so they're really not staving...and we had milkshakes with our school work so they're good) and I thought I'd check in and throw down some notes in order to get my thoughts together later on.

I'm cold. And my throat hurts. I think the cold has more to do with the weather and my refusal to turn the heat on just yet. Maybe the milk shakes too. Oh, and showering and then rushing out in a tee shirt to spend a good portion of last evening on the river with wet hair.

My dog is bald. She's blown her entire coat...the only place I can feel fluff is on her head. She rolls over and you can see the pink of her skin in among her hair. She's a husky! They're not supposed to show skin!!!

I have to give blood this afternoon. If my veins don't constrict into nothingness from this chill.

A few people have rsvp'd and want to come to our homeschooler's coffee evening on Thursday. I wish the people who were so very excited about regular meetings would come. But I am looking forward to seeing those who are coming. The months slip past so quickly. It's amazing how much time goes by between get-togethers.

I have a 'to do' list a mile long. I won't even start to write it down here. I will say that I have been knitting a bit, the laundry is caught up (for the most part) and the kitchen is able to be cooked in. School work and house work have both happened for a few days in a row now...hopefully I won't jinx it.

More later today (I hope) after some more school work, the aforementioned house work and maybe a bath to warm up. Thanks for checking in.

Monday, October 9, 2006

Thanksgiving


Thanksgiving dinner was nice. There was no turkey, but we had a lovely ham. None of us are particularly turkey lovers, but we all love a ham dinner.The kids tried beets and asparagus. They had appitizers. There was wine. Brian and I made and served dinner together. And then we cleaned up.

I think this may have been the first Thanksgiving that we celebrated at home on the actual day of the holiday - just the four of us - it was great.

Of course you think about being thankful and you try to express that to the kids. So after Kori rolled her eyes and Raiden told me how he 'already knows that' I just quietly thought thankful thoughts and ate my dinner. I was thinking about how I appreciate what we have. Not what we have compared to 'we do have/we don't have/ the Jonses have'. Just how fortunate we are in our family. It's nice to have a good dinner on the table, food for tomorrow in the fridge, my kids with all their indiosyncracies, my husband to provide all of it and the ability to try to take care of it. We really are blessed.

Saturday, October 7, 2006

A Busy Saturday

Ho-ly Hannah. You'd think I was perky or something. Let's look at the day...as I don't feel like getting philisophical on such a nice day. Now, you have to remember that normally, we do nothing on the weekends. The kids usually fend for themselves and I drink too much coffee and put off doing things until next week...

I slept in 'till 8ish. Then I took my knitting and sat on the couch with Rai. I finished his hat except for the back seam. At least his head will be covered. Showered while Kori ate leftover pizza for breakfast. She and I went dowtown to Dream Weaver to buy her friend a birthday mug. That done and Kori's Maplelea Doll shown off, we continued down to the Market. Didn't see anyone we knew but we did get to meet Tony Barnes, candidate for Mayor. We bought beets and maple syrup and cinnamon buns...or Chelsea Buns...depending on which end of 'der valley' you're from. Stopped at Wal-Mart on the way home to finish off the birthday gift. Grabbed coffees and arrived home almost on schedule. Moved the laundry forward, helped Kori wrap the gift and set Rai up so he could make his cinnamon toast. Made sure Bri was functioning and we girls were out the door once again. Dropped Kori off at her friend's. Drove cross town once again to the grocery store. Got everything I needed in one pass...or so I thought. Took the groceries home. Cleaned up the main floor so I could get the groceries in the door. Cleaned out the fridge, the pantry and the cupboard. Moved things around in the freezers. Put the groceries away. My men decided to come with me to pick Kori up. Drove by the party; they weren't quite done so I swung over to the kiddy consignment store and dropped off Rai's Thomas bedding. Talk about the end of an era. Thomas will be missed. Kori was finally ready and we came home, dropping off the rest of the things in the trunk at the Goodwill on the way. I made lunch for all. Bri washed the car, the bike and organized the garage to make room for the BBQ. I cleaned the kitchen. The kids were playing with a friend outside. We loaded up again and went to Hall's. Beautiful store, but good luck finding the Mulling Spices. Off we went after I successfully navigated around the pumpkin wagon in my blind-spot. I don't like driving very much when my 'concerned' husband is the passenger. Next, it was to the soccer field where we flew the helicopter. Then home for dinner as Rai was starving. I discovered that pumpkin-pie-from-a-can requires an egg and evaporated milk, not condensed milk (of course I've got two of those taking up space in the pantry...). So, after sausages and rice we dash off to the grocery store to pick up the canned milk stuff. DQ Dilly bars for the kids' dessert and we came home for the night. Washed Rai...well, he says he washed properly...and he was off to bed. We finished the very popular Pokemon chapter book. Kori and I knit for a few minutes and then she was off to bed. I have started Kori's hat. She's choosen to have white as an accent colour to her blue/green/purple blend. Hopefully that will work out ok. It will look 'girlish' anyway, and apparently that is what we're aiming for.

So that's it...a day in the life...

In the midst of things, I popped in and out of my usually-favorite message board. I'm not enjoying it lately. Perhaps I'm outgrowing the HSing forum. It just doesn't seem to be filling the need right now. And I'm not really feeling like I belong in any of the other forums. Oh well, it's hard not to lurk. Perhaps I'm just getting sick of virtual people. I think I prefer to stick with the blogs right now. It's nicer to stay in touch this way, I think. Although a message board is always good in a pinch. I did sign up for a HSing post-card exchange, though. I'll have to do that. I'm actually looking forward to it as the kids enjoy getting mail. Almost stopped downtown today and picked up a load of postcards while I was there...but I decided to wait until I had Rai with us...that and cash would have helped. Kori and I spent the last of the shopping change on maple sugar candy.

Not much else before I sign off...I wish I had had the camera on me during our drive this evening...there was the most wonderful harvest moon out tonight. I joked with the kids that they would have to eat their Dilly Bars with their eyes closed because Daddy and I were going to do some kissing in the moonlight. They just love it when I joke like that at their ages. I may need to get out more if that's how I amuse myself...getting a rise out of the kids should not be the highlight of my day...

Maybe more tomorrow...I'm playing with the idea of dragging myself to church. And we should visit my sister. Haven't seen the new place yet and it's almost been a month. Apparently there's a ladder to the sleeping quarters?! Here's hoping they practice their fire safety plan...I'd hate to have to navigate a ladder in the dark half asleep. But, I guess the view makes up for any lack in design. And pumpkin tarts. And mulled cider in the crock pot. And maybe ask BIL, SIL, niece and nephew to visit as it is neice's birthday on Monday...

Love & Laughter to all

Friday, October 6, 2006

Watch Out For Giant Smilies!!

Today was...ok. I think I had a happier heart. Every time I grumbled about something, I tried to remember that I am the one who signed up for this; that noone is making unreasonable requests of me; that people communicating with me, telling me what they need...it's all good.

Today the kids and I planned our Thanksgiving Dinner menu. We even planned extra goodies and hot apple cider for the crock-pot in the hopes that we can share. We talked about what a rich time of year it is, how the pioneers prepared for the long winter and how we are lucky and blessed to have all that we do. We talked about how to be thankful. For example, when clearing 40 items off your new dresser to dust, (we also tidied the bedrooms today) instead of grumbling, we should be thankful that we have those 41 things and we should clear them and dust with a smile on our faces.

It was a quieter day today...although Brian was woken up by country music this morning. It seems the new neighbours keep a radio very close to the shared wall of the master bedroom. This isn't the first time, either. There will be something said this weekend if it continues, I'm sure. Yesterday we noticed an event going on at the community park behind us. Every hour there were announcements on a loudspeaker. However our first real clue was the rising crescendo of noise that came early in the morning. It was like an invasion of blackbirds coming closer and closer...and closer. The entire local public school population (ok, maybe not the entire lot of them, but there was a lot of kids!) marched past our house. Once the paper came out, I realized it was a huge cross-country meet. I thought it would be a great idea to take the kids over to see. Then, thinking about it, I decided not to. The last time I tried a stunt like that, a few teachers were not impressed with me. My over-protected, unsocialized children tend to find familiar faces in large local gatherings and the grown-up supervisors get all flustered with 'they-who-drift-around'. Oh well, maybe next time.

We did lots of reading today. We began Farmer Boy by Laura Ingals Wilder. It introduced our pioneer discussion nicely. We also read the first half of The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo. A very interesting read. I'll have to fill you in when we've finished it. It's sort of Velveteen Rabbit-ish with a twist. It pulls no punches...it's definitely not your warm-fuzzy-inducing type. But the kids are really liking it.

Kori came and knit with me this evening. She's off to a birthday party tomorrow. I think we'll hit the market in the morning. Mmmm...maple syrup candy! And Dream Weaver is right there...great place for a little girl's birthday present. I have to do groceries as well, so I hope to get to those while Kori is at the birthday party and the boys are at home. Might try to fit in a trip to the apple orchard in the afternoon. They'll have the apple cider things, I'm sure. I'd even like to get a batch of pumpkin tarts made...however, that might push me over the edge of 'ambitious'. We'll see.

Happy Thanksgiving, all. Hug your family and be glad you have them.

Thursday, October 5, 2006

What Is Up With Me?!


Every day this week I have been meaning to get the big calendar down from the fridge where it lives and sit at the table with it, the children and a cup of tea. We should have planned the month days ago. Yet I am procrastinating. We did not get to our review today. Nor did we review math facts. We did finish Prince Caspian. We didn't do any science reading. I even did the morning chores so I didn't have to interrupt the kids to do them.

Earlier this week I should have sat down and planned out meals for the next week and gone to the grocery store prepared. Now I will have to go back during the busy weekend.

The basement is currently 'on hold'. I climb onto the arm of the big blue chair, lean over and reach with my left hand to open the drawer to get my socks. I trip over the ironing board to get to the dryer. The laundry is being done...barely. I'm certainly not getting ahead. Brian had to go down to the laundry room today to choose a work shirt.

Of course, I had time to sit here and read through some blogs. You know how sometimes God comes along and smacks you up the side of the head? Yeah. I need a pink slip...or at least a quarterly review. So I thought I would share my self-induced guilt here.

I really like this picture. It was taken in November '04 in the front yard. It was the first snow of the season. The kids are wearing their sweaters and hats that I knit...my first attempt at such a venture. I think the pattern I used was the simplest thing you can find. Kori's sweater had a diagional diamond pattern running through it. They wore those sweaters everywhere. This year, I started a sweater for Rai. I've torn it out and begun it 5 times now. I really don' t know what I'm waiting for. Yarn for Kori has also been bought. And it's waiting as well. Last weekend Rai and I found a pattern book for $1.83 that has a simple child's sweater (not only is it simple,
but it is easy to customize the pattern...something I've been looking for). Not only does it have the sweater pattern, but it also has a hat and mitten pattern to match the sweater. Really, I think God is sending me messages.

So what am I waiting for?!?! Arrgh!

I am off to join my poor, patient husband. I am going to start Rai's sweater. I am even going to ignore the part of the sweater that I had already begun and worry about ripping it out later. I am going to knit until Bri is tired and then I'm going to lie there until I go to sleep. And not put off bedtime by reading. Perhaps while I'm lying there, waiting for sleep, whatever it is that I am putting life on hold for will occur to me. And I'll thank God that Brian hasn't figured out he can fire me. Yet.

Wednesday, October 4, 2006

The New School Shelf



I thought I'd share the new set-up...I'm embarrassed to even think of the old arrangement. This is working very well in our wee small house. The kids and I each have a cube and the rest of the materials are nicely accessible. I still have to set it up in an organized-to-me way...however, for now, it's perfect.

Singing In The Rain

The kids are outside running in the field in the pouring rain. Their friends have joined them. It been far too long since they've had a good run and time to just run and scream and play. Doesn't that sound odd?? Them being kids and all...

It is still very dark at 5:50am. I was up at 5:00, 5:18, 5:44 and by 5:50 I couldn't stand it any longer and I just got up and started the morning. I woke up with a killer headache and plowed through the nauseas part and hoped for relief before I had to wake the kids up. The morning went smoothly. We arrived at the hospital in good time. The ultrasound went smoothly and the tech even went on to do the post void bladder scan so we didn't have to spend the rest of the morning waiting in another department of the hospital. In and out in a little more than an hour. We returned home after collecting Kori from my sister to eat breakfast only to go out again half an hour later. I figured that Brian might like some lunch. What a treat at the grocery store!! You could shoot a canon through that place.Which was great news for us - in and out in 30minutes - not to mention the little red-headed 2-year-old driving demon we saw navigating the Produce Department at Mach2. They ought to make smaller carts for the wee shoppers...or at least put in a track!

The kids sat down and accomplished some work today. I'm trying very gently to get Rai to print a bit each day. It's not his favorite. Both worked on their Lit. Studies today. For Kori that involved dictionary work and definitions; using words in context; using clues to assist in definitions and reading comprehension of the first chapter of her book. She is ready to move on to Chapter 2. Raiden has completed three Robert Munsch works and activities to go with each book. Listening to the story on tape has been very popular, even though the tape rendition varies from the final form the book has taken. The Model Magic has been out for a couple of days. the kids mixed colours today and made miniature pumpkins in anticipation of the Thanksgiving celebrations this weekend. We are nearing the end of Prince Caspian. I am looking forward to reading our next selection before returning to the Narnia Series.

Thanksgiving will be a quiet familiy affair this year. Which I am very much looking forward to. We have decided to have a ham dinner with all "the fixin's". Hopefully over the course of the weekend, we will be able to visit with Bri's brother and family. Perhaps we will take in a bit of the Brockville Bowl: the two rival city highschool football teams vie for the honours. Last year (the 1st annual) the Pirates won. I'm sure this year, the rightful champions will be victorious...Go Rams Go!

More tomorrow...We are going to get to our review of the first couple of chapters in The Story of the World, math, science AND October's calendar....really!!

Tuesday, October 3, 2006

No Time To Blog!

Tonight I'm catching up the laundry and getting kidlets to sleep...tomorrow we're at the hospital first thing (7am!! Who makes an appointment for 7am??! We don't move around here until 8! Is it even light out this time of year at that time...seriously...I don' t know??) for Rai's ultrasound and bladder scan. Our appointment was for the 25th...but the Dr. called while we had our exam today and got us in the 'back door'. Today we had the consultation part of his testing...it's all part and parcel to the package that CHEO requires to see him. We need to do 2 weeks of charting after these tests and then we wait for our appointment with the specialist. Many hoops to jump through, but that's ok...it's all the leg work so we spend as little time as possible with the specialist getting to the bottom of this mess.

Kids are stressed but they're dealing well with the interruptions. With the weather, we're not getting a lot of outside playtime...going to have to make that the priority as they are a little wrangy.

Hope all is well and healthy wherever you may be!

Sunday, October 1, 2006

Rain, Rain, Go Away

After a very stressful Friday evening, things are settling down and the weekend is shaping up nicely. My very wonderful husband put up with my nasty habits and cleaned the house Saturday morning in anticipation of Saturday afternoon's company.

Our stressful evening involved me trying to remember the phone number of my childhood neighbour. Who is our family doctor. Every fiber of my being told me it was wrong to call him at home, however it was one of those 'the things you do for your family' situations. I called, he phoned in a longer, stronger prescription for Raiden and I was off to hassle the pharmacy staff. They worked for their $11.99 dispensing fee as I hovered first at the Drop-Off counter...then the Consultations counter...then the Pick-Up counter. You know, when the pharmacy tech says 20 minutes, he really means 37. I made it home in time to give Raidne his medicine and soon enough he was sleeping somewhat confortably.

Saturday, he seems much improved from his situation last night. This week will be spent tracking down the appropriate tests required to take to the specialists at CHEO. School work will be fit in where we can.

Both kids have begun their literature study...if you can call Robert Munch 'Literature'. Maybe I should call Raiden's work Language Arts...Kori was grumbling about her literature study until her Grandparents showed up. Then she was all sunshine and smiles showing what she had accomplished so far. I still have not ordered math curriculum. We are having fun doing a unit on Roman Numerals. We can also do time and money and work on our fact memorization if I don't get around to ordering something in the next little while. We are well into Prince Caspian and the kids seem to be enjoying it more than I am. Being comitted to one chapter a day is working out very nicely. For Science, I think we will continue with some simple experiments and relevant reading. We are reading Things That Spin due to the current intrest in BeyBlades. So far we have determined that a spinning body will keep spnning until some force stops it. Which, of course, leads to discussions about friction. We began Nature Journals in the rain last week and the kids surprised me. They want to invite their friends to 'nature journal' with them. It's amazing what you notice when you're looking for something interesting. Once I figure out how to post pictures here, I'll share our Maiden Nature Journal Adventure with you.

Today, I think we are going to use up the early harvest apples by making apple crisps for the freezer and friends. The kids love the stuff and Bri suggested an assembly line to make them. I'm looking forward to it.

I've noticed that at some of my favorite online blogs, there are many who are down and out. Hopefully this dreary weather will clear and we will be blessed with added reserves of energy to catch up and keep moving. Although, sometimes there are just days that come along where we don't have a choice and we make the energy come h*ll or high water...like birthdays and weekend visitors...Here's to a good week for all.