Monday, February 27, 2012

A Week in Pictures (Week 7)

We are working on this play with another homeschool family. 

Diggin' the soother.

Seth concentrating on opening a banana.

E learning some programming.

The kids made chocolate chip cookies while Mike and
 I were in the living room visiting with company.

It was messy

and creative.

Mike and his mushrooms- it's magic. Remind me to tell you his recipe.
Yeah, so I went grocery shopping with all 4 children. It was wild.

Seth helping Olive with her dishwasher job.

Ezra placed in the top 10 at the Kub Car Rally. He's going to regionals.

My favourite things this week? Reading an interesting book and talking to Jennie on the phone. I especially liked the beginning when she said "Are you in a weird mood? You're using your weird mood voice." I love that she knows me so well.

First Crushes

Micah is six years old and creating works of art for a girl he likes in his grade one class, named Teagan.

I was surprised at the time and precision that went into the picture he brought to school for her today.  The picture showed Teagan frolicking under an apple tree wearing a blue tutu, with the sun, birds, and clouds above her and also the words, "I Love You". 

I am wondering what kind of reaction we should expect from one child's profession of love?

Will Teagan show the note to others, laughing?  Will she tuck it away to keep forever?  Will she drop it like a hot coal and stomp on it with her muddy boots?

Micah is quite sure the feeling is mutual and that she and many other girls his age like him "more than a friend".

Remembering back to my day.  I was married quite a few times at his age, holding hands in the playground.  The six year old minister was busy, with kids lined up each recess.

My first crush without a doubt, was Lucas.  The jogging pant suits never bothered me. 
 I remember being personally hurt and fiercely defending him when others would tease me, by chanting "Luuuucassss Pukeaaaaas!

The only time my affections waned, was during story time on the carpet when I watched him pick his nose and oh no- he didn't-yes, eat it.  Well that was gross.

I don't remember all the particulars of his not returning my affection.  I do remember attacking his picture with a thumb tack in all of the class pictures I had at home, because he was being mean to me.  Another time, literally forcing him to stand beside me, so a friend could take a picture of us.  (It wasn't as charming as I thought it would be when the picture came back and visibly showed his struggle to escape from me).

Finally after years, he asked me to sit with him on the bus,for a field trip to a magic show.
 I was on top of the world!  Then a "will you go out with me Megan?" this was all I had dreamed of! 
But then, a short time later a "my family is moving to southern Ontario." 
Heart break afresh.
Well it was all for the best.  I can now look back with a mixture of embarrassment for my behaviour and that of perseverence being rewarded in the end.

Now, many years later, Will and I have high hopes that our girls won't inherit my boy-craziness. 

Since Heidi is more interested in books than anything else and Elora is our shyest child with a fiesty dislike of the opposite sex in her age group, so far so good for the girls. 

Just maybe it's our boys we'll have to keep an eye on!

Week Eight in Pictures (Jane)

This week in pictures is dedicated to Grace on her 8th birthday.

Running on the lake - so thrilled to be out on the ice by themselves.

Grace and Heidi.

The Bymans threw Grace a birthday party on Friday - cupcakes & the pocket game.

Grace sporting beautious new scarf from the Bymans.

Grace and Shelene.

Cake #2 at Primary party - thanks Lisa! Love how she's letting Abbie help.

Emma made her birthday crown this year.

Grace deciding on her birthday wish before blowing out the candles on Sunday.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Just Acting My Age

I am at home. I want to be downhill skiing with my boys. They left an hour ago for a day of skiing with their school and I really meant to join them, but I have had an extremely sore muscle in my neck/shoulder for three days and don't want to risk making it worse.

So now I am home, eating a bowl of muslei with bran buds sprinkled on top (VERY high in fibre) and feeling like an 85 year old.

A week or so ago, I was diagnosed with a pesky thyroid disease and was told I have to take medication for the rest of my life. I am in a little bit of denial over that statement. I am beginning to wonder if my body knows it's turning 40 this year and has begun to self-destruct.

Forty. Another bit of denial.

Thirty-nine? No problem. Being thirty-something kinda suits me. I do have a husband, five kids, a house, a minivan, two university degrees, a solid sense of self and I somehow know all the lyrics to every outdated 80's song on the radio. I have tried out a few different careers - teacher, caterer, photographer, potter, day-care provider.... I would pretty much have to be in my thirties to fit all of that in. Thirty suggests some stability while still having the potential to be cool, youthful, fun.

But 40?

Thyroid hormone replacement pills daily on an empty stomach.
Muscle pain without any known cause.
Wrinkles and pimples - at the same time!
Iron pills (later in the day, but not at bedtime).
Grey hair. Lots of grey hair.
Brain fog.

So far it's not looking very pretty.

Perhaps I will add a new prescription for Zoloft to my list of meds come September. Or curl up in a ball and refuse to uncurl for ten years. Or spontaneously combust.

And really, for the sake of my parents, I can't just go and turn forty. How would THEY feel? Having a child who is forty? I still think THEY are in their forties!

And the very word forty looks ridiculous - it's missing a 'u'. 40 just doesn't seem to have any redeeming qualities, so I think I will just stay here at 39.


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Week Seven in Pictures (Jane)


Mom and Micah playing chess by the fireplace

Happy Birthday Megan, Paul and Kerry

German Chocolate Cake

Kids, Grandkids, Grandpuppies - it got a little crazy at the Grandparents house on Saturday

Brooklyn watching the puppy

Isaac's sculpture

Calla Lilies are one of my favourites

Have you seen those photo-alphabets? This could be the letter "X".

Grace and Abbie at highland dance class

Abbie unpacking her Valentines after school

I really like calla lilies......

Things from this week that I wish I had a picture of:
  • David scoring a goal at a hockey tournament in Indiana.
  • My book club girls
  • me - I was thinking maybe we should challenge ourselves to include at least one picture of "us" each week. What do you think of that?? I don't like pictures of myself but I think we should try to have some documentation that we existed.
  • Emma swimming in SSM and at a dance in Traverse City this weekend...

A Week in Pictures (Week 7)

This week I spent some time organizing.

I made dinner for a neighbour who just had her first baby
 and for a lady at church who is so sick with her pregnancy.

Good snack. Peeled it with a knife in the style of Ketrisse.

Sugar cookies for valentines day. These are Olive's creations.
Heart shaped pizzas to celebrate love.

They were delicious.

Annalise was there too.

Again with the dishes- there were a lot of them.

Seth proud of his creations. He made these all by himself.

Ezra was addicted to Harry Potter this week.
It makes me happy to see him in love with reading.
Artsy 4.

Mike built this side table for me. He got the plans from Ana White- love her! I get to stain it now. Yip!

My favourite part of the week was exfoliating Annalise's head. Seriously. It was really satisfying to pick off all her cradle cap nastiness. Gross but true. Also going to the library alone to pick up the 20 or 30 things I had on hold. I love a nice stack of books.

---I want to remember that I typed this post over the period of several hours. I uploaded photos with Seth on my lap. He fell asleep on my arm and I used one hand to click and clack. After laying him down I nursed the baby, had some visitors over and started dinner. I came back to add comments and did so holding Annalise- again one hand click-i-ting and typing. I will miss this stuff one day I reckon.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The courage to do it?

The day I decided to home school my children I let out a breath of relief.
I had been going back and forth with the idea for months.

Sometimes it is impossible for me to know something unless I talk it over..a lot.  It seems the process of talking brings me to truth. I say something and then say "no, that's not really how I feel. Maybe it's more like ___."

So this particular day, I needed clarity. I called my mother- the wisest woman in my life. She listened and stayed neutral, allowing me to hear myself.  After an hour (or two?) I said "What it comes down to is that I lack the courage to do what I know is right."

And there it was.

The days that followed were an easy hard. I wrote an email to Ezra's teacher. I went into the school to pick up his things. I drove away, looking over my shoulder thinking "Is that it? Aren't they going to come after me and make me sit on the bench outside the principal's office?" I felt like a rebel on the loose.

They didn't come after me. In fact when I went to the school board office to meet with the home education rep. (expecting a stern talking to) he expressed his love of home education and said looking back on his career as a public school teacher he would have done things much differently. "You're going to love home schooling" he stated.

And love it I do. Except when I don't.

It reminds me of motherhood- crazy and beautiful all mixed together.

I love John Holt

As a homeschooling momma of 4, I attract a bit of attention when I leave the house. I'm often peppered with questions. Questions like "Why aren't your kids in school?" followed by "Is that legal?!" and the most popular "What about their socialization?"

I adore John Holt. Years ago when I found his book "Learning all the Time" I found an instant connection. I couldn't wait to connect with this magical man. I was devastated when I discovered that he died in 1985. Come on John! Couldn't you have hung on for a few more decades?
Ah, well. So it goes.

Luckily I have an overactive imagination and can carry on a decent conversation with dear old John through his books. My latest conversation has been with "How Children Fail." I asked John some of the questions you've put to me in the past and he answers brilliantly. A sampling below:

You ask: Don't children need to get used to living in the "real world"?

John answers:
A mother said to me not long ago, "I think you are making a mistake in trying to make schoolwork so interesting for the children. After all, they are going to have to spend most of their lives doing things they don't like, and they might as well get used to it now."
Every so often the curtain of slogans and platitudes behind which most people live opens up for a second, and you get a glimpse of what they really think. This is not the first time a parent has said this to me, but it horrifies me as much as ever. What an extraordinary view of life!..Is life nothing but drudgery, an endless list of dreary duties? Is education nothing but the process of getting children ready to do them? It was as if she had said, "My boy is going to have to spend his life as a slave, so I want you to get him used to the idea, and see to it that when he gets to be a slave, he will be a dutiful and diligent and well-paid one."
It's easy to see how an adult, in a discouraged moment, hemmed in by seemingly pointless and petty duties and responsibilities, might think of life as a kind of slavery. But one would expect that people feeling this way about their own lives would want something better for their children, would say, in effect, " I have somehow missed the chance to put much joy and meaning into my own life; please educate my children so that they will do better."

You ask: Shouldn't we try to get certain facts, recipes and ideas down every child in school?

John answers: "These ideas are absurd and harmful nonsense. We will not begin to have true education of real learning in our schools until we sweep this nonsense out of the way. Schools should be a place where children learn what they most want to know, instead of what we think they ought to know. The child who wants to know something remembers it and uses it once he has it; the child who learns something to please or appease someone else forgets it when the need for pleasing or the danger of not appeasing is past. This is why children quickly forget all but a small part of what they learn in school. It is of no use or interest to them; they do not want, or expect, or even intend to remember it. The only difference between bad and good students in this respect is that the bad students forget right away, while the good students are careful to wait until after the exam.
...Much of what a child learns in school will be found, or thought, before many years, to be untrue...Moreover, we cannot possibly judge what knowledge will be most needed forty, or twenty, or even ten years from now...Instead, we should try to turn out people who love learning so much and learn so well that they will be able to learn whatever needs to be learned."

Thanks John. Let's talk again another day. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Valentine Sentiments

Valentines Day in our house is viewed (by at least one resident) with a certain amount of scepticism mixed with a wee bit of non-conformist rebellion. Flowers, chocolates, love notes hidden in lunches are foregone on this day of romance. However, it does not pass by wholely unobserved. This is the poem I received this Valentine's Day:

Blackberry Poem

Saying I love you with only my thumbs
Is like trying to hold pants up without any bums
Or trying to eat crackers without any crumbs
To express the breadth and depth of my love
To express all the thoughts that I'm thinking of
To describe your eyes, your lips and your laugh
I need the flexibility that ten fingers have
To tell of your legs, your skin and your hair
I need many more keys than I have right here
To speak of your kindness, your cuteness, your mind
I can't use the QWERTY, I want the other kind
For there's much more to you than I can tell with my thumbs
And now I must finish for the tips are quite numb

I imagine some women would be disappointed not to receive a traditional bouquet or glittery red card, but this suits us just fine.
Kind of reminds me of the sympathy card he gave me on our Anniversary.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

My Abusive Relationship

My second abusive relationship has recently ended.

It started in January of 2006.  Half frozen and tired of student life, we left Winnipeg, our first abusive love, seeking sunlight and a well-paying job. We'd been beaten by hail and sleet and snow for years. We packed our bags, said good-bye to our beautiful friends and went looking for a new, warmer beau. 

We started dating Regina,SK and were grateful for a committed relationship. Over time we began to fall in love with it's personality and good looks (affordable housing, homeschool delights--science center, museum, art gallery, children's library, alternative school-- and kindred spirits). All this considered, we turned the other cheek when he smacked us with snow and -25 in October. We knew it wouldn't happen again.

It did.

We began to feel resentful. We were spending entire evenings shoveling snow and an hour each morning chipping ice off the windshield.

The relationship soured.

The confusingly cold, 7 month long winter sent us into the corner of our 850 sq. ft house. We rocked back and forth chanting "Regina still loves me. I still love Regina." We yearned for spring. On those winter days we left only to buy groceries- painful though it was to push a cart through ice and snow ruts to the car.

Family members expressed concern.

We were going to end the relationship. No question. We were moving.

But then spring came.

Strangers smiled at each other. Grass began to grow. Our frost bitten ear tips healed and we frolicked outside once again. Summer came blazing in. Hot, dry and glorious. We forgot all about the dark days of winter. We stayed, sure the good times would last.

But winter came. Every year.
And every winter we swore we'd leave.

The cycle continued for 5 and a half years.

We've been gone for several months now and the wounds are still healing.
Mike gets panicky when there is a nice day. He hoards them for fear it will be his last one.  He looks over his shoulder and calls out "we need to get outside and enjoy this- right now." He took the children for a 5 hour walk last week. He checks the forecast and shows cautious giddiness with any temp above 0.
I have been sporting my arctic, down-to-the-knees parka everywhere I go, suspiciously eying the neighbours in their spring garb.  In the name of February and winter I just don't trust these "above average" goings on. My past home sweet homes have been unstable, harsh and cruel. I have my guard up- even here in sunnier Southern Ontario.

Although we ended the relationship, truth be told, we kind of want to go back. In our moments of loneliness, we miss our old abuser. The good times were, well, good and at least we had love...some of the time.

But at the end of it all, we have sworn never to put our trust in so fickle a fellow again.
So for better or for worse, we stay away.

In the meantime, here's Olive and I roaming the trails.. in February!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Jane's Room

I am surprised at how much my children love hearing stories about when I was a little girl.  The stories really do stick in the kids' minds.

When I went to the school to pick up Micah last week, he was in the middle of re-telling a story of  eleven year old me, to a teacher. It's all about being lost at Canada's Wonderland, with the moral of the story being "stay in one place when you are lost".

I have told so many stories to the children, I may have run out of worthwhile memories to tell!

 In trying to help Heidi see how her actions affect her little sister, I recently told the story of
"Jane's Room":
 Heidi, when I was around eight years old and my older sister Jane was sixteen years old (making the year 1988) I thought she was the coolest person!  Sometimes she would let me hang out in her room.  Her room had many wonders;  the posters taped on the wall of guys like Kirk Cameron and Rob Lowe, the queen sized waterbed, the giant "ghetto blaster" with a tape player and the collection of tapes in a leather case, her white antique looking telephone, and her cool clothes and makeup. 
Just by letting me look at her stuff once in a while and treating me kindly, I felt like we were friends and I could talk to her about my "problems" like girls being mean at school etc, Jane had (and still has)a positive influence on me throughout my life.  Her actions helped me feel loved and calm.  I wanted to be just like her and that's how your little sister feels about you!

Heid has been really great with Elora lately, maybe my story worked to get her thinking, for now.

 I wonder what story they will request tonight?   "Dad and the Measuring Tape", "Christmas Morning" "Poop in Aunt Jennifer's Car" or "The Birds Think My Hair is Nesting Material", "Adam Throws Up On The Cat", "Skating Home" the list goes on.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Week Six in Pictures (Jane)

Everyone was nutso and giddy all weekend.

Isaac heading to the rink.
Abby made a valentine for Tyler- her kindergarten love.
Jody getting all artistic. Credit where credit is due.
Unconventional tic-tac-toe.
Abby and I playing Cadoo.
Abby's hammer sculpture.

Things from this week that I wish I had a picture of:

  • Me eating a whole bunch of chocolate desserts while judging a contest.
  • David scoring a goal today in hockey.
  • Emma, two of her friends, Jody and I all out to the movies Friday night.