Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Deck the Halls

I recently reread "The Chosen" by Chaim Potok. I am fascinated by Jewish culture and history. A excerpt from the book:

"..."Reuven, listen to me. The Talmud says that a person should do two things for himself. One is to acquire a teacher. Do you remember the other?"

"Choose a friend," I said."

Ah, the blessing of a true friend. Spending these last few days with Jennie has been lovely. It's as though no time has passed between us. I hope that never changes.

I loved staying up and visiting once the hooligans were tucked in their beds. We cuddled with our husbands and hashed out a few political ideas and pondered some of life's deepest questions.

There was laughing.

I took them to church and showed them off.

We frolicked at Niagara Falls.

                                                          We saw superman fly over.

We toured the TO science center:

 We played some games, had some snacks, roamed the trails:


I'm going to miss that friend of mine.

A few things that I love about Jennie?

-her goodness
-her kind, uplifting words
-her honesty
-her deep faith
-her ability to have a good, deep conversation- filled with realness.
-the love and attention she gives my children

Week 12 in Pictures (Katie)

                           We celebrated the first day of spring. Ezra made a fun, bright banner,

                                                              We opened presents,

and had a cake. Half lemon half plain with chocolate icing. It was delicious. We all felt sorry for Mike who is on a self-imposed, "trying to be healthy" no-sugar diet.

 The weather was HOT and summery. It was 25* in the house and I got a sunburn one afternoon at the park. The boys built water rockets and fired them in the backyard.

                                                  We recovered the kitchen chairs.

                          Annalise is interested in toys and will roll to get something good.

 I love to see my children playing happily in nature. I think this collection they put together is beautiful. I'm pretty sure they were playing kitchen in the backyard and these were the supplies.

                             The Halls came to visit! This is some Saturday night Blockus.

My favourites from the week?

-We started gymnastics again. A family we met there shared an afternoon at a new park. I had an amazing conversation with the mother and the children got along beautifully. Aside from the sunburn, it was an ideal afternoon.

-Giving Jennie a big hug!

A Proper Education

My husband recently asked our 12 year old son to name the provinces of Canada. To his dismay David could only name one or two and then guessed a few major Canadian cities (Calgary??). Granted, he probably had no interest in answering his father's query, however, it is obvious that our children are quite ignorant of basic Canadian geography.
Today I found a crumpled hand drawn map of Canada on our living room floor - I assume from a recent family geography lesson. A few moments ago I overheard our two youngest children reading the labels from the map to each other while playing school. As I listened to them, I wished that the map meant more to them than a bunch of names and squiggly lines. They have no concept of the enormity of this gorgeous country that we live in: they've never seen a mountain, an ocean, the prairies, an ancient forest. They've never seen Niagra Falls or any other Canadian wonder.
Until this moment I have had absolutely no desire to travel anywhere with my children. We have taken them to Ottawa a few times and Toronto once or twice. We travel into the States a bit for hockey tournaments and dance competitions - hotels, arenas, snowy highways - but never just for the sake of seeing the world. In my limited experience I have learned that family travel is the ultimate test of patience, sanity, and creative distraction techniques. The very thought of being packed into a mini-van with five children (and a husband) for 8 straight hours gives me the distinct feeling of wanting to fling myself from the moving vehicle.
Also, we live in paradise - a beautiful island with my parents' beach just a short walk away. My only ambitions each summer are to stock up on beach towels, good snacks and sunscreen. The thoughts of packing our car and facing traffic, paid parking, heat and crowds are unappealing at best.
And travelling is so expensive. Just the cost of gas is prohibitive. I have had other priorities. And still do.
But suddenly my thoughts on travelling with our kids have taken a drastic turn. I want to show them more of the world than our little corner of it. They are the perfect ages to take on adventures - no baby strapped into a seat crying unconsolably, no teenager rolling her eyes and complaining of constant boredom. They are young enough to want to travel with their parents yet old enough to remember and enjoy. And I think it's time.
I feel a bit of urgency in fact. As parents - a duty - to teach them, to enlarge their world. It's time to make a plan.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Week 12 in Pictures (Megan)

My handsome husband hard at work. 
We had to do some waterproofing this weekend.
He dug a trench 20 feet long and 5 feet deep
in 4 hours!  Then he put up the blueskin as a barrier.
We discovered, much to our relief,
 that we have weeping tiles around the rest of our house.

Will's hands were very sore and he was exausted, so I took a turn with the shovel.

Helping us finish up a big job. 
Heidi was inside making us all pancakes for supper and watching Sam, it was awesome!
Jen and Jane, two amazing women we really enjoyed having over this weekend.

Elora was our photographer and directed us to make grumpy faces!
I wasn't the only one who enjoyed having company. 

These two had some quality time together.

Jane and Heidi had some silly fun too!
Heidi was thrilled to browse in Chapters
with Auntie Jane one afternoon this visit
and added another book to her Ramona book series. 

Modelling my favourite thrifty finds.

I loved thrift shopping with J&J, we scored some sweet finds!
   We were good at helping each other decide if the clothing suited us or not.
I almost left this one behind until they saw it on me and told me I was buying it!

My four beautiful children.
enjoying a sense of freedom....
Samuel, my sweet.  Love those cheeks!

Another day in the sugar bush for and Micah and Elora. 


Wish I had pictures this week of:

Will's elated face when he made three litres of maple syrup in one day.

Jane and Jen laughing hysterically.

Samuel cradled in my arms, relaxed and content, taking a bottle of warm milk from me for the first time.

My family eating great meals brought over by friends three days this week, to allow me to rest my sprained foot.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Trendy Chickens

A few years ago I read an article in the doctor's office about raising backyard chickens in Canada. I had been toying with the idea for a little while, but after that article I became a little obsessed. However, I resisted the urge to run to Kentvale and order a half dozen little chicks because:
1. we aren't allowed to have farm animals in town
2. I just didn't have the energy to try to change our bylaw
3. I would have to build a little chicken house and didn't have the energy or skills.
4. I want a super-cool looking chicken house - Martha style, you know??
5. I kinda lost interest in the colder winter months
But hello - SPRING is here and my obsession with chickens has been reawakened! Plus I have been taking my iron supplements for a whole two weeks and feel just about ready to tackle ANYTHING. Why, just yesterday I assembled my new Backyard Gourmet composter and filled it with alternating layers of green and brown matter just the way I've been meaning to compost for the past ten years...
So I'm back to dreaming about my little flock of egg producers and wondering whether or not to tackle a new project. Having backyard chickens is certainly trendy, if you consider the movement to self-sustainabiltiy and local food production a trend.
(It is interesting how trends change over time. When I was little, getting hand-me-downs was a little embarassing, now everyone goes thrift shopping. During the depression it was looked down on to have chickens in your yard, but now it is considered cool to have a few hens roosting in the garden).
I also think it would be a lot of fun (and a good work experience) for the kids to help with the chickens. And imagine how cute it would be to have little chicks for Easter....
So this week I'm going to see about our municipal by-laws and about buying a few cool kinds of chickens. I'll let you know!!
I just finished planting a wooden tray of wheat grass after the nudge from this site - I have wanted to try this for years, but just never have. See what I mean about the iron pills?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Do you bite your thumb at me?

I have been thinking, of late, about the issue of self-esteem. I have formed a mild hypothesis that most of our troubles stem from having a poor one. I believe I have a decently high esteem of myself. I'm not sure how it was formed.... this intrigues me- especially because I am interested in my children having healthy feelings about themselves. How is it formed? Can it be taught? Nurtured? Will successes and achievements bring it? Praise? 
Not sure. I'd like to find out.

I've just started reading the book "The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem" by Nathaniel Branden.

As in, I am reading the intro.

It's a good intro. Here's a piece:
"Apart from disturbances whose roots are biological, I cannot think of a single psychological problem- from anxiety and depression, to under achievement at school or at work, to fear of intimacy, happiness, or success, to alcohol or drug abuse, to spouse battering or child molestation, to co-dependency and sexual disorders, to passivity and chronic aimlessness, to suicide and crimes of violence- that is not traceable, at least in part, to the problem of deficient self-esteem. Of all the judgements we pass in life, none is as important as the one we pass on ourselves."

I'm hoping for an enlightening read.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on the issue.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Week 11 in Pictures (Katie)

Art Journal- where I live sketch.

This week we had beautiful summer weather. Jackets, shirts and shoes came off.

Mike taught the kids the pillow balance game.

She had her first foods- avocado, banana, rice cereal.  She loved it.
She turned 5 months this week!

She is gorgeous.

Wild day at the library-reptile show. All three touched a 9ft green anaconda. 
Refinishing and recovering the kitchen chairs.

The children and I learned how to felt spring chicks.

Annalise and I.