Saturday, July 26, 2008

There is something so powerful about watching someone you love, love your children.

i got home yesterday at 3am from my sisters house in Hinton.

She has 7 children & like us, is pretty far from extended family. It felt so good to hold her children & watch her hold mine. We laughed as we compared strengths, weaknesses, personalities & physical similarities... The littles couldn't get enough of each other & the night hawks visited way too late.

i think i am one of the luckiest people in the world because of the sisters God gave me. People think it must be mayhem when we all get together because of the mass of children, & yes, at times it's busy ~ but as they've gotten older & the bigger ones help with the little ones, sometimes the adults feel like gleeful spectators watching a beautiful work of art unfold in front of our eyes. When i get home from a visit with my sisters, i feel like i just ate one of my mom's famous sunday afternoon roast beef dinners.

mmmm... full....

Sunday, July 20, 2008

So, little Gage is still "ebf" (exclusively breastfed) & yet, he's cutting his 4th tooth & is very interested in food, so mealtimes are getting interesting with him grunting & reaching for everything & gnawing on everything in an effort to relieve his teething. i gave him a huge carrot to rub his teeth on, but he quickly got sick of it, & so in desperation tonight to get a few bites, i gave him a pickle. HE LOVED IT... but he was also very very tired. Soon he was nursing on the pickle and drifting off to sleep... Neil captured it on video, so here 'tis. (post script: The pickle was whole when i pulled it out of his mouth, just a little less round... no, he wasn't a happy boy when i took it out of his mouth...)

Friday, July 18, 2008

peace be still ~ twila paris

There is an ocean surrounding me
Mostly the water is calm
Just enough breeze to keep me sailing
I feel safe and warm
Angry winds blow suddenly
And i become a churning sea
Then i hear the Master's voice--
he says to me

Peace be still,
Peace be still
Peace be still and the wind and the waves
Peace be still,
Peace be still
Peace be still and the ocean obeys

There is an ocean inside of me
Mostly the water is calm
Just enough breeze to keep me sailing
I feel safe and warm
Angry winds blow suddenly
I become a churning sea
Then I hear a quiet voice--
He says to me

Repeat Chorus

Angry winds blow suddenly
I become a churning sea
Then I hear a quiet voice--
He says to me

Repeat Chorus

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Gage, having fun & then maybe not so much :) Waiting for the laundry to dry...

Did i mention i love my cloth bum bum baby? & i love the sun dried variety even better...
i *so* remember this stage with all of my girls. This is molls with her new big girl haircut!
This is how the queen sips tea, isn't it??

Monday, July 14, 2008

You're gonna love me...

Neil & i watched (most of ~ we tuned in a little late) Dreamgirls on tv the other night. i had never seen it before, but there's a scene where a couple's relationship is ending & she sings this song, about how she's not going anywhere & you.... you're gonna love me...
& in her voice is just this pleading... love me, love me, love me.
It touched me.
i think because i am so needy sometimes.
& i think because i know so many others who need someone to give them more, or at least *some* love...
Today Neil & i were talking about Gage & how he's still not even close to sleeping through the night. Neil told me he thinks we should really try letting him 'cry it out'. & i just know i can't. The older i get, the more my heart tells me to err on the side of love. Gage is little for such a short time & i don't think it's over indulgent to comfort, feed, sooth, touch, hold him when he wakes at night.
There are so many, many times during the day that i legitimately need to discipline ~ & i try to do that in a loving way... using so many *words* i get sick of the sound of my own voice... & yet, i think this softness that i feel is good for me. i want my first reaction, not to be anger, but to be love. :) hehe. i blush as i type that, because i've seen my own temper flare... i hope that as i get older (32 today!!!) & as Neil continues to tease me more & more about being a 'softie' ~ that it'll be true & i'll take it as a compliment. i want to adore my husband... & see him sit in the comfort of the firm knowledge of my love. i want to show love to *people*... God thinks they're important...
Anyway, i'm thinkin' today ~ about love. Getting it, giving it... showing it, hiding it, withdrawing it, being stingy with it, or extravagant... speaking it, knowing it, living it, losing it... love.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

On Homeschooling :)

My sister answered these questions on her blog & i was looking for another post of hers & so i didn't even read her answers. To be honest, i always feel a little intimidated by these types of questionaires, like, what if i get an answer wrong? Or say something i didn't mean? Anyway, the same questions came up on a homeschooling support thread i'm on (not much lately, but i sure have gotten a lot of support from the Tidbits ladies :)

Anyway, i thought i'd try answering them on my blog...

Why do you homeschool?
There are so many reasons we've chosen to homeschool. At first it was just a gut feeling that it was what we needed to do with our first born (& i'll be honest here, it was *my* gut feeling, Neil nervously gave me his go-ahead...)

Over the years, i've had so many affirmations that this is what we're suppposed to be doing & this is where we're supposed to be. i love being able to catch bad attitudes, or wrong thinking, or hurts & fears before they become stumbling blocks for my littles. i also love being around these little people. ~ They're helpful, interesting, smart and funny, & public school would just take up so much (too much) time.

What technique or curriculum do you use? Do your kids work above or below grade level (or both!)?
Hmmm... this varies by year. i've got 6 years under my belt & 3 different children ~ At first i started out with Sonlight & i am a huge fan of their booklists. As i added more children & a bigger age span to the mix, it just didn't work for me quite as well ~ but i think with using it for my first 2 years of homeschooling really shaped the way i think about teaching. Now, i just put together whatever i think works & try to make sure that good quality books & resources are available to them. i love Saxon math for grades 4+. i'm pretty laid back as far as schedule goes (there's a baby in the house!) but again, this changes year by year. Some years, we've just had a different 'feel' or fallen into a different rhythm. Chores are part of school, as is teaching homemaking & loving each other & learning about our faith & The One who gave us life. Is it fair to say technique & curriculum is 'mish mosh'? As for above or below grade level ~ i'm guessing here, but i think we've probably got a bit of both. We take the PAT's in grade 3, 6 & will in 9 too, so Cai took them this year & we got half of her grades back & she scored a 90 & a 94 ~ i was so pleased with that ~ even though i know those grades don't mean much & i'm homeschooling for much better reasons than grades ~ it was heartening to know that, as my sister jessie said, "Cairo completly rocked the testing in an arena where she wasn't taught" ... otoh, we've had areas where i know they're doing more, or better at public school, but i figure, i've seen my guys have different lags & spurts in different subjects. i'm confident it will all even out in the end.

What is your educational level? Do you feel this has an effect on your teaching (both limits and abilities)?
I have highschool & i finished a 2 year program at a community college in music. i'm not sure if my educational level limits my ability as a teacher, so much as i wish i had more brains!! i've seen a lot of people with little schooling who are driven and intelligent and capable of learning. i want my children to see in me a willingness to learn & most of all a willingness to let God bend me & teach me & mold me until the day He calls me home. i think He'll cover what i lack.

What does your daily schedule look like?
We get up & have breakfast & start right into school. As the children get older, & need less supervision, they can work by themselves with little to no help from mom. My oldest will make bread in the mornings if we're getting low. i find the littlest ones need a lot of mom time when they're learning to read. We have a list of chores that is different for each day of the week & we try to get those done after lunch & some people still have work to do for school. We usually have some time with mom reading out loud in the afternoon & the other biggie is we try to have the house clean for when dad comes home. Even when we didn't have a teeny baby in the house, it wasn't much more structured than this. i set yearly goals & figure out what they'd need to accomplish daily to meet those goals (ie. a lesson of math every school day, or 2 pages of mcp...etc..) & then about 3 times during the year, we'll check our goals & see how we're progressing towards them & make changes if we need to... i've noticed we've been doing less 'bookwork' & we tend to have a ton of free time/ reading time these last couple of years. Seems to be working...

Are your kids always polite and ready to learn?
Really? Did they have to use the word "always"? Is anyone going to answer yes??

So, the short answer: no. But, i'm so pleased with their good attitudes towards learning. i've found i'm really lucky with my littles being very teachable. Other people have complimented me on this one with my kiddos, & i think it's one of their strengths. BUT, my kids have problems with manners sometimes (i'm horrible with interrupting & they're worse, sometimes we're all talking loudly at the same time & it's not pretty...)

Do the kids (or you!) get frustrated? How has this affected your parenting?
Yes ~ sometimes i think they get frustrated if i'm distracted, or busy... & i *know* i get frustrated with delayed obedience which to me isn't really obedience... or disrespect, or *sin* :) i was just thinking about this last night; what am i doing wrong that it takes tears every night & an hour long fight to get my 4 & 6 yo's to bed?! i'm thinking i need to be consistent. i would say that my frustrations are working to 'refine' me as a parent & as a human being.

How much free time do they have? What do they do during their free time? What hobbies do they have?
Actually to be honest, they have a ton of free time. Sometimes in little snippets during the day & sometimes in big long chunks too ~ especially during the summer. In their free time, they play together. They like to draw or play 'house'. They go to the park by our house, rollerblade, bike riding, playing in the backyard. They like baking with mom, or playing with the baby, blogging on the computer, or playing games. My kids all love swimming ~ (even Gage loves going to the pool!) & we try to go every week, they're all learning to play the fiddle & some the mando, & on & off over the years, we've done different activities with them: gymnastics, dance, art classes, classes at the museum, soccer, baseball... etc...

Right now, Gage is napping, Mollen is sick in bed with the barfies, & the other 4 are pruning the bushes in the backyard & using the clippings to make bouquets in their flower buckets they painted at Peyton's birthday party.

What difficulties and challenges do you have with homeschooling?
Never being done everything (or anything)... There's always *more* that i could have done or could be doing. Choosing to do the best i can do & then leaving the guilt behind is *hard*. i also struggle with my lack of knowledge about certain subjects. i wish i was a little more skilled, or knowledgable about certain subjects, but then again, that's part of the fun of homeschooling, learning all the stuff you missed the first time...

What makes homeschooling enjoyable?
i love it all. i love learning, i love the lifestyle & most of all, i love being with my kids.

How do you get involved in the community?

We participate in our church & have made friends in our community. The kids have been involved in different things over the years (see the question about hobbies...)

i've also made it our goal to do 'garbage clean up' around our neighbourhood a few times a year. The kids actually enjoyed this:) We've also (through our church) gone to the seniors center a few times & played fiddles. We've moved a lot over the years & have been involved in different ways & in varying amounts depending on where we've been.

When do you have opportunities to interact with public or privately schooled children? Would you like more of these opportunities? How can they be created?

We go to church, awana, at the park... i don't think i'm aching for more of these opportunities. Socialization is not a huge worry for me. Sometimes i wish i was a little more social, but i'm learning & trying & i think i'm improving. i think the best way to make these opportunities is by following the teaching in the bible about 'practicing hospitality'. i think we need to worry less about perfection in our homes & be concerned instead with *people*. God loves *people* & i think i need to learn to be more loving & generous with my home & my life.

What is your least favorite homeschool stereotype?
Hmmm... i don't like the insinuation that you're taking away opportunities (post secondary education) by homeschooling...

Hmmm... i don't think i even know all the stereotypes that are out there. It's funny 'cause i know a lot of homeschoolers & there's not *any* that do it exactly the same as each other, we're a different bunch, with different reasons & different approaches, different resources, different children, different husbands. i can't imagine how you could paint us all with the same brush...

Pheuf! Long winded! This took forever to fill out! & i'll probably change my mind about all my answers tomorrow, but there you have my answers for today.

my teeny bookwormies :) ~ they'd be in different classes at ps.

Sorry the second picture is blurry :) i kept it 'cause it's a funny little snippet of "real life"... i can't breathe, i'm fat & tired & pregnant... let's do math...

Monday, July 7, 2008

We're home!

& fiddle camp was a huge success! The kids worked really hard & learned some new music & had a really fun time. i'm so glad we went. Yeah, i struggled with knowing where to fit in, but usually if i didn't know what to do & if i could get Gagey down, there was something i could help with in the kitchen.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Almost time for fiddle camp! Aieeee! Such a long truck out to Saskatchewan, but how grateful am i that my husband decided to come with us??!!

Music has always been something that moves me... It's part of how i communicate & part of how i pray... Sitting down at my piano & playing ~ & singing ~ gives me something.

& yet, fiddle camp:)

can be hard...

i have to try to work with everyone & i don't know where i fit in. i feel like i need to be doing a hundred different things & yet never even knowing how to find one thing to do! i feel like during the year i 'should be doing more' & that somehow, i've failed my little guys by not being diligent enough with their music... it's a different style of music than the stuff that stirs me... & then there's the simple fact that i'm recharged by solitude (sounds crazy for a mom of 6) & being with other people 24/7 makes me insecure & tired.

But, it's not about me.

It's totally about the little people who have been thinking about & looking forward to this week *all year*... It's about all the people who have decided to make this little event a priority & are giving giving giving ~ my auntie cooks ALL the meals for ALL the people... & let me tell you, my auntie can cook... unbelievable... my uncle is hosting my sister & i (& 10 of our children) at his house & i can guarantee you there will be gummy worms & oreos stocked up in his cupboards. My cousin, who is single & a fiddle teacher, has prepared music, photocopies, & brings with her a fresh perspective & this incredible ability to *teach* so that my kids go home with new skills in their pockets every year. My mom & dad, travelling all the way from Victoria to help...

What an ungrateful little wretch i can be... *grin*...


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