Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Awkward Moments #2

     Life would not be nearly as funny if Gord and I did not have kids.  Life would also be tidier, cleaner, cheaper, and way way too quiet.  However,  the last two weeks have been full of frustrating moments.  I have been left a little confused as to how to handle it all.  A lot of sour attitudes and short fuses...mine included.  I finally talked to Gord about how to get us back on track.  I obviously should have done that right away when it all started, but I thought I could manage on my own.  Wrong wrong wrong.  Thankfully he's set them all to rights, and me too.  He's got my back in this and I am so grateful.

     In all the crazy, we still had our laughs and smiles.  I don't think we could survive if we couldn't laugh at ourselves...or our kids :)  Oh my.  Somedays I wonder if I am teaching them anything useful at all.  The stuff they say and do kinda makes me wonder.  I then look in the mirror and I see their '24 hour walking example.'

     I sat down the other night, exhausted and mentally drained
                 "I'm just gonna sit here and decompose"
     I meant decompress...but some days I feel my mind decomposing :)

     Wyatt was looking at the movies in the Library
                 "Mom can we get Oh Stupid Me?"   WHAT??!!
      Oh, "Despicable Me?"
             "Yeah, Stupid Me"
      We'll work on that

     The one that takes the cake, as in deserves a medal for shocking his mother, is my oldest Taylor.  He wants to laugh, tell jokes, and pull pranks.  It also good for him to learn to  laugh at his own blunders,  and he's learning.  Again, he has amazing role models for this.  Taylor is my literal thinker.  So, often a joke with a hidden meaning takes him awhile to decipher, no big deal.  His brain works just fine, but sometimes we get wires crossed.   Years ago he and I were driving to town, and he wasn't very chipper.  I asked him "Did you lose your sense of humour?"  To my shock he started looking on the floor and picking up stuff.  He was literally looking for that sense of humour.  Still makes me smile ;)

     Anyway, we drew names for Christmas with our kids and their cousins.  Taylor couldn't remember who he had, so I went to whisper it in his ear.  I leaned in, and he raised his hand AND..... covered the other ear.  Get it??  HE COVERED THE EAR SO NO ONE COULD HEAR!!  Very calmly (I'm laughing hysterically inside) I told him, "You know that it can't pass through.... right??"  He gave me the sweetest, sheepish smile... And I am left  questioning our homeschool material and methods.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Sweet Silence

    I sit in complete silence in my shop right now.  It's late, kids have just fallen into bed, and I have foolishly made myself a pot of coffee...it's a French Press ok?  So I won't be having cup after cup tonight...I think.  We just had an absolutely wonderful evening at our Church and my heart is full to overflowing.  I have just filled up on love, fellowship, laughter, and goodies.  On our drive home Gord mostly sat in silence as I chatted his ear off, recounting all that happened tonight.  There is something so special about a Christmas Program, and tonight did not disappoint.  Now, we don't have a spectacular program with effects and amazing props.  No, we are an 'old-school' Church....and we love it.  Trust me, we aren't old fashioned in a self-righteous way, it's just the manner of a small, rural, country Church.  Our program was simple, but I like simple.  And it seems, so does the rest of our small body.

     A few things happened tonight that make it especially wonderful.  First my own kids were involved.  Wyatt didn't have a part this year, but that's ok.  I'm still laughing over last year when he was in a sheep costume and the girl in the cow outfit took a particular delight in swinging the tail in his face.  We could see him seething from where he sat.  He was only 4, but did a rather remarkable job of trying to stay calm.  Trying...but not succeeding.  We separated them before an actual fight took place.  It worked, until she found straw to poke him in the head with ;)  Anyway, my older three did their parts and made me so very proud.  Nathan,  spoke in PUBLIC!!  Shocking really, but he's come a long way and we were thrilled to see him say his part loud and clear. Chloe sang in a small girl choir, it's not really her thing, but she did it well and with a smile.  Taylor and two of his young friends sang 'God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen' and that was both a hoot and a hit!

     I am blessed to have the freedom in our little Church to work in the music department.  I have found that kids seem to sing better when they sing to a guitar.  Guitar is not my favourite thing to play, but it works.  Maybe it's because you are closer to them, or it's not as loud as a piano, whatever the reason, the kids in our Church continue to surprise me with their willingness to sing.  And they sing WELL!  I was given a pleasant shock tonight when one of the girls in our group approached me about doing a solo in the song.  I had mentioned this to them previously, but this girl in  particular seemed a little shy about it.  Well, 30 minutes before the program we had a chance to practice  her solo...and this girl can SING!  I mean, really sing.  She's only 11 or so, but the power in her voice is already very evident.    The surprising part is that even her Grandpa, who came tonight, had never heard her sing before.  In fact, he didn't know she could sing, and they're a close family.  She's a shy, quiet girl, but for some reason she came out of her shell tonight...and I don't want her to ever go back in there ;)

     Following the program comes the difficult decision of knowing what to take from the food tables..as there's always an over abundance.  And of course, the fellowship.  Tonight I was talking with the mom of this young girl.  I know the family history, and it's heartbreaking.  They lost their only son about 2 years ago in an accident.  The young girls were very close to their older brother and I can only imagine the pain that they still feel.  But the Mom is precious, and real and open about the pain, but also the revival that can come from loss.  She shared with me how real the concept of God giving His Son, is to her.  She is using loss to draw closer to God...and what an honour it was to speak with her.  I sang a song tonight called 'Could You Give Your Only Son,' and as I sang, I looked at this mother with tears in her eyes.  She has felt the loss of a son.  God understands her pain.  I just can't, and yet I see her living in hope and I rejoice with her that God understands her suffering.  God understands MY suffering, He understands YOURS.

    Christmas is often filled with manger scenes and songs like 'Silent Night.'  How serene and peaceful the Christmas cards look.  The truth is He came to this world to suffer.  He took on the weight of the world.  My sin...my lies, my jealousy, my anger, my greed, my selfish heart.  He came to take my sin, and He suffered for it.  My oldest sister told me this week that she does NOT like to sing 'Silent Night' because it's not true.  Mary was fully human and labour still hurt.  They were in a  city packed to capacity.  I doubt there was anything quiet about that night.  And yet we sing it because it's beautiful and pleasing to our ears.

     We do the same thing with the Cross.  We have pretty necklaces, and adorn our Churches with them, but the Cross itself isn't beautiful.  In fact, the cross that Jesus died on was stained with His blood and flesh.  It was an instrument of shame and torture.  To be hung on a cross was a disgrace, yet Christ allowed Himself to be placed there.  Again, another sign that He came to suffer.  His death was shameful in the eyes of the world.  Now, what Christ DID on the Cross is beautiful.  I find myself having to 're-tune' my thinking so that I stay focused on Him, not the objects that He used to accomplish His mission.

     In a few days most of the world will celebrate Christmas.  The secular world will sing the traditional Carols, without heeding the message in them.  They may even set up a beautiful Nativity scene in their home, and yet the Glory of the Story will be lost to them.  Maybe it's because the world only want's the 'pretty' version.  Goodness, even some of us Christians prefer that version.  Don't talk about suffering it's Christmas, right?   I pray that this Christmas a few more people will look farther than the manger scene, and understand that the birth led to something far more amazing.  The Birth of Christ was only the very beginning, and I am so thankful that the ending has made my Salvation possible.


Thursday, 18 December 2014

Why we Homeschool

     I thought of labelling this "Reasons to Homeschool" but then I would be telling you what to do...and that's not my job.  I can tell you why we chose this path and  I will include a few disclaimers:

  1. We can be friends if we don't agree ;) I have friends and family that have a very different view and I am blessed to have them in my life
  2. My view of 'Education' is not the norm
  3. I do not believe that Homeschooling my children will save their souls, nor do I believe that children in a school system are lost forever
  4. I believe that the responsibility to teach and train children falls solely on the parents...."Teach them diligently in the way they should go...." The Bible says this....but much debate can take place as to how to interpret that statement

     Now that that's out of the way, what is Education?  The normal view is the teaching and receiving of information..some of it is even useful ;)  Seriously, how many of you remember what you were taught in school?  How many have to think for a few minutes when your child asks you for help and you've got to do a quick cram session so you know the answer?  What on earth did we work for all those years if we can't remember most of it?  The things I do remember I use in my daily life.  Math and reading are put to use everyday in our home.

      It is HARD to think beyond what we know.  Example, cursive writing.  It can be beautiful and it's a quick alternative to printing everything.  BUT have you ever seen the cursive writing of a young boy who absolutely hates to do it?  It's not beautiful!  Such was the case with our oldest.  I started to question why he had to learn it... after all, I stopped doing cursive the moment I graduated.  I never liked it, and have happily printed everything for the past 18 years...and I'm ok.  Yes, it was quicker for book reports, notes, etc, but what does everyone use these days for speed?  A computer.   Gone are the days when cursive is a necessity in life, computer skills are much more desired than cursive.  It's a changing world.  Is it worth putting so much time and effort into something that means nothing in the end?  Now my girl loves cursive and does it happily, so I encourage her.  It's not a punishment for her, but I recognize that Taylor has a different bend so I don't require it of him.   I am good with both.  There is danger in forcing all the kids to do exactly the same thing.  God has made them unique so why do I think that I can expect the same results from each child?  When I finally started to ask what the purpose was behind each 'subject,' I realized that my original view of education was just to teach them what I learned in school, useful or not.

     I have heard the argument "It's good for them to learn about something, even if they don't like it."  I agree, but maybe it would be wiser to pick carefully what we 'force' upon them.  I survived school by memorizing everything, but I didn't really grasp the context of what was being taught.  My marks were great...but that still didn't mean that I understood everything I wrote down.   I  did learn how to play the system though, by memorizing.  The school still gave me my diploma, regardless of the fact that what I 'learned' was promptly forgotten the moment I graduated.    That's not what I'm aiming for with my kids.

     I have very few desires for my children, but I will list them anyway ;)

  1. Love the Lord with all their heart, soul, and mind.  Seek Him in all they do, be it in family, work or recreation.  
  2. Learn to serve those around them wherever they are
  3. Learn to love reading and trying new things. (our kids LOVE books, but trying new things?  Um no...it's a process!)
  4. Learn to think and use common sense in WHATEVER they are doing.

     You will notice that I did not mention a desire for them to be academically driven.  Why?  Because not everyone is made that way.  Yes I do want my kids to learn reading, math, spelling etc, but that is not the end goal of education for me.  If one child simply cannot comprehend geomotry the world will still go round.  Yes, my children will have learning gaps, but so do yours ;) It's impossible to know all things, but do we ever explain that to kids?  So much pressure is put on these young people that 'Education' is key, it's 'Everything.'  And sadly, what used to be called an education is now just giving out a passing grade because you can't fail a student.  Education used to mean something, but we have treated it in such a shoddy manner that it isn't what it used to be, at least not in North America.  Our youth don't value what they are being taught in schools because they have always had that luxury and privilege.  It doesn't really give 'Education' a good name, at least not for me.    I am pretty sure that God won't ask me if I succeeded in teaching Math.  He will look at my attitude in my homeschooling journey, but HE does not expect me to know all these things.  I am so relieved!  I will give an account for HOW I taught my children.  Thankfully God doesn't look at grades ;)

     I pray that God gives me the wisdom to know when to push or encourage them in any given area of their life.  More importantly, I want my children to seek Christ in all they do.  How can they go wrong if they go to Him when making crucial decisions about marriage or work?  God's plans for their lives are not really any of my business, but He has given me the daunting task of preparing them for wherever He leads them.  So yes, it's good to have a well-rounded  'Education.'  Reading and writing are essential in the world, but more importantly for reading His Word.  Math is also needed to be a good steward of everything God places in our care.   History?  I'm all for it when God is at the centre of it.....studying the Bible is the best form of History I could imagine,  and it explains why the world is in it's current state.  And let's not forget Science.  Every time a child wanders through the outdoors and explores nature, 'Science' is being learned.  I cringe when I read what is being taught in  schools.  Since when can we decide that we are girls today and boys tomorrow?  Maybe that hasn't hit our local country schools yet, but it's on it's way.

     I am thankful that I have a God who can fill all the learning gaps I have, so it's safe to say He will do the same for my children.  Often, we learn something when we have need of it.  Case in point, I did not cook when I married my husband.  Oh I knew the general idea, I could make a few things, and I could read a cook book.  But having an idea of baking bread and actually doing it are not quite the same, as we all know.  I found myself completely capable, and willing to learn to bake bread in order to impress Gord.  I didn't take a course, I just read and practiced.  Why will it be any different for my children IF the building blocks are put into place?  My view of an 'Education' is not to acquire dormant information, but rather the training of the mind.  Training the mind to think and examine our environment is a skill sadly lacking in our generation.  Knowledge and Wisdom are not equal.  And to be honest, I would rather have a wise child than a walking encyclopaedia in our home.

     Why do we homeschool?  In a nutshell, they are our children and therefor our responsibility.  I know there are far better teachers out there,  but I have come to believe that an 'Education' starts at home.  But trust me, I sure don't feel 'Holier' when I have a challenging day.  With having my kiddos around all the time, I am feeling the strain of being 'refined.'  Some days I am overwhelmed with my failures as a teacher.  I am not a patient person...at all.  And for me to teach Math?  I have cried many times.  Though at the end of a rough day (I am very glad rough days have endings) I am still thankful that we have chosen this path....even if that yellow bus passing by was a little tempting...for a few hours anyway :)




Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Family photos

     I love looking through pictures of my kids, all parents do I suppose.  It's hard not to get teary when I look at how little they once were.  Why did I ever wish that time away?  Yes the chaos was overwhelming at times....short nights, long days, pottytraining, chore training, toys EVERYWHERE,  and that awful diaper bag that had to have everything in it.  Actually, I should do a post entitled 'Evolution of the Diaper Bag' because it seemed to change drastically from baby #1 to baby #4.    I started with a bag specifically made for the transport of all things baby related.  It seemed the only thing it didn't carry was a baby bathtub.  Fast forward 7 years and I stubbornly refused to give up my purse...I just bought a bigger purse and filled it with a few diapers, wipes, a bib, and maybe a change of clothes IF I remembered.

     Pictures....back to the topic of pictures.  I have tried, pitifully, to take pictures of my kids.  Oh I can take a nice one of one or maybe two of them together, but all 4?  HA!!!  I managed to take a few decent ones when we had 3 kids, but the 4th seems to thwart my every move.  And by a nice picture I am not talking of a professional picture that should go on a gallery wall.  I don't know how to edit...and instagram doesn't really count ;) I don't know how to pose them and sometimes I've wondered at my ability to dress them...BUT, I don't care too much as long as I can look back, remember those years, and smile.

And it begins
I tried pretty scenery and props
I tried the studio look
I tried the casual play clothes and 'We just had ribs' look
I tried the dreaded 'Self portrait'
I tried draping a child over a tree
I tried 'posing'
I tried the 'I've got them all in one spot, let's take a picture' look

And finally, we had our first 'Professional' family photo done
I still like it...regardless of the dress code
Aaaaannnnd, we are starting the really awkward family photo phase
I've accepted the fact that every pic taken in the shop will be yellow
Desperately I start taking pictures when they are in their natural state

Or when absolutely ZERO thought was given to their apparel
I hope Chloe forgives me for ever buying these hot pink work pants
I started looking for the weirdest expression...it's become my favourite part of the pictures I take

Yes the background is yellow, and yes I used a filter, but I LOVE this one ;)

     Gord, however, has been after me to get a real family photo done.  The last one was taken when Wyatt was 6 weeks old...and since time does not stand still, we've all changed a bit.  I have had great intentions the past two years, but something always seems to come up.  One day it was just too hot, or we hadn't planned good enough etc.  And maybe I'm being a little picky.  See, I am blessed to know multiple,talented photographers and I would really REALLY love for one of them to do it for us.  One lovely niece/friend has offered multiple times to shoot us...and those really were her words.  Don't over think it!  But she does live  about 5 hours away, so of course, we have only a few times a year when it could potentially work.

     Well we were so blessed to have her and her family come stay with us this past week-end...and wonder of wonders, she had time to take a few pictures my family.  I have tried to warn her numerous times that we might give her rough time but she IS a professional and knows what she's doing.  I haven't seen too many of the pictures yet, but I love what I have seen...and I am anxious to finally, for the first time EVER, give pictures to family and friends.  Yes, we have been married almost 15 years and we have never done this.

It's unedited...but the sad truth is that I wouldn't have even know if she hadn't told me

   I wanted to share at least one, even if it's not final yet.  I don't know how SHE managed to make them all look perfect  (they still show their personalities) but she did...and that's why people call her.  


  If you want to see her capture beautiful moments, check out her blog.  She is self-taught and has a talent for capturing beauty in the simplest moments.  Looking at all her pictures has also made me want a family photo that is...simply beautiful.  Yes, it's not realistic...look at my pictures compared to hers.  Mine show real life and that's good.  But sometimes when my home is perfectly tidy, clean, and the table is set with beauty, I look around and admire that moment of perfection.  We all need bits of perfect every now and then...and when I see what she captured in one photo..I see perfection.  God has loaned me four blessings and He loves with with a perfect love that I can only dream of...but I will continue to dream of that day when perfection is possible.  Until then I am so thankful for the bits of perfect in life :)