You are currently browsing the monthly archive for May 2007.

dsc00522.jpgToday was belt-testing day at Judo.  D-11 and P-9 were not very confident that they knew all of the requisite throws and holds to advance to the next belt.  They warned me ahead of time that they expected to get an orange stripe (a belt midway between yellow and orange).

There were three tense judo moms on the bench at the end of class today.  We were all hoping to bring home happy kids and have a great Saturday afternoon.  That depended largely on whether our children did well or not.  P-9 was one of the first kids called forward during the belt presentation time.  He had succeeded and got his orange belt.  I was thrilled but that initial emotion was soon followed up by dread.  What if D-11 didn’t pass and advance?  The thought of bringing home my youngest son with an orange belt and my oldest son still with his yellow belt was the equivalent to a hellish afternoon.  I wasn’t up for that so I audibly breathed out, “Dear God, please let D-11 get his orange belt too”.  That prompted the equally tense mom on my right to audibly pray, “Oh God, please put me out of suspense and let me know if my daughter got her orange belt or not”.  We each got excited when the senseis poked around in the box and drew out another orange belt.  It  kept hope alive for our children and for a peaceful, happy Saturday afternoon.

Several children got called before D-11.  Finally his name was said and I was relieved to see that the sensei had an orange belt in his hand.  Again I audibly said, “Praise God”.  The mom on my left assured me that she too prayed.  She let out a deep sigh of relief when both of her boys advanced and then let out a whoop as they went forward one after the other.  The poor woman on my right was kept in suspense a little longer.  Finally her daughter was called up and awarded an orange belt.  She too let out a “Thank you, Lord”. 

All three of us Judo moms let out some collective sighs of relief, some congratulations and some “See you next week at the tournament” comments.  Ah yes, the end of year tournament.  I’m sure there will be some more prayers from the bench at that one.  Hopefully there will be a few “Praise God”s and “Thank you Lord”s as well.

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dsc00493.jpgIt’s amazing how much paper we deliver sometimes.  I weighed one of these bundles and it came in at about 2 pounds.  Since we deliver 190 flyer bundles that means the paper in this photo weighs about 380 pounds.  Since each of us delivers approximately 1/3 of these 190 flyers, we each get to haul around 126 and 2/3 pounds.  That happens in two runs so each run represents a little over 60 pounds for each of us.  That is more than 1/2 my weight.  It is 100% of  D-11 and P-9’s weight and they will haul it twice tomorrow.  We get $0.10 for each flyer bundle we deliver so that means we get about $0.05 for each pound we haul. 

I have no idea why I wrote this.  I think that I am impressed with myself for doing the math when no one was making me.  Either that or I am just plain tired from putting the elastics on those 190 bundles and stacking them in my kitchen.

dsc00481.jpgThis is the sequel to the story that told of the demise of my luggage carrier that I was using to deliver flyers.  Here I am sporting a terrible hairdo and a spiffy granny cart (a.k.a. a trundle buggy in some parts).  In between the pitching of the old delivery system method and the purchasing of this new system,  I used brute strength to haul and deliver my share of the flyers.   All I can say is, “Whoever invented the wheel, thank you.  Whoever had the bright idea to build the first granny cart, thank you.  A special thank you to D’s mom who spotted and bought this trundle buggy at a garage sale.  My back and arm muscles are very grateful!!”

D-11 and P-9 have taken quite a shine as of late to eating upstairs while watching the tube or playing Game Cube.  This used to be a no-no in our home.  I really didn’t want to spend all my money on carpet cleaner and all my time on cleaning up their accidents.  Now that the boys are older, they are marginally less likely to make big spills and even if they do they are old enough to pass the vacuum cleaner or to spot clean.  The one rule that I have insisted on with this new-found freedom is that they bring their dishes down and rinse them off.  Since eating upstairs is a new-found freedom, I am finding that I am having to remind the boys often of the rule.  Nine out of ten times when I go into their rooms with my arms crossed, my foot tapping, and my eyes glaring at the dirty dishes that weren’t brought down to the kitchen and rinsed off, the boys will say, “Sorry mom, forgot”.  Every now and then I get a creative humdinger of why the rule wasn’t obeyed.  I really should write those ones down.  They’d make for interesting reading at some future date. 

Today, I sauntered into P-9’s room to check how he was making out with his language arts work and spotted a glass of juice on his shelf.  I don’t know how long that glass had been sitting there but I do know that there was something very green and very fuzzy floating in it.  I called P-9 and D-11 over to show it to them.  P-9 was especially grossed out since I informed him that since it was discovered in his room, he would be the one cleaning it out.  We then had a short talk about why we don’t want to grow mold in our home. 

Well,  I am happy to say that the ice cream dishes came down and got rinsed pretty promptly tonight.  D-11 just kind of shrugged and said, ” I don’t want to grow mold in my room”.  Aaah…music to my ears.

The Shattering by Kathryn Lasky

D-11 and P-9 are still enjoying the Guardian of Ga’ Hoole series.  We finished book #5 a few days ago.  This part of the story centered on Eglantine, Soren’s younger sister.  After the siege of the last book, an owl that had belonged to the Pure Ones and was injured in battle was taken into the tree.  This barn owl, named Ginger, befriends Eglantine and seems to have renounced her involvement with the Pure Ones.  She ends up being an agent and uses flecks to try to destroy Eglantine.  The Pure Ones want more information about the use of flecks.  They try to shatter Eglantine so that she will go to the Ga’Hoole Tree library and get the information they need.  Eglantine’s best friend, Primrose, a pygmy owl, knows that something is not right with Eglantine.  Her search ends up getting her captured by the Pure Ones.  When Eglantine sees this, she is brought back to reality and begins to fight back against the ones that are only posing as her friends.  The book ends with a battle in the midst of a raging forest fire.  The Guardians of Ga’Hoole win again and in the process destroy Kludd and Nyra’s egg.  Nyra swears revenge on Eglantine. 

The Pure Ones continue their quest for complete owl domination by capturing St.  Aggie’s, the biggest known depository of flecks.  This has the Guardians of Ga’Hoole worried and they are finally ready to start fighting offensively as opposed to defensively.  Soren and his band are called in at the end to go to the famous Northern Kingdoms to enlist allies and to bring the broken Dewlap (the traitor from the last book) to a place of healing. 

There was enough of a story here to get D-11 and P-9 to beg the age-old “one more chapter please!”.  It’s always good when they get that drawn in.

hogsback-051.jpgIt is hard to imagine four boys being happier than D-11, P-9, and two of their homeschooled friends, A and N, were this afternoon.  I took them to Hog’s Back Park for some unstructured play time.  Between the four of them, these boys have a ton of imagination and at least as much energy.  From the moment they got out of the van, they were a blur of motion.

It was such a pleasure to sit back and just let them run wild and free.  We were at the park for almost two hours and there was not one “I’m bored” complaint.  They saw a tributary coming off the flowing waterway and immediately set about to dam it off.  They had a great time hauling rocks, grass, sticks and whatever they could find for this engineering task.  When we decided to check out the rest of the trail, they joyfully ran off acting as scouts.  They came back every thirty seconds or so to let me know what they had found ahead.  At one point we found a little trail that led to a marshier area.  The boys stripped bark off a fallen tree limb and decided to use them as boats to race down the rapids.  They poked and prodded their make-shift boats with sticks and just enjoyed the moment.

The best part of the trip happened when we crossed the bridge to the other side.  The boys spotted a large limb on the rocks which became a test of their strength.  They were bound and determined to move the gigantic beast and get it floating in the water.  They heaved, hauled, grunted, got a bit irate with each other and then heaved, hauled and grunted some more.  Eventually, they found boards to use as levers to get the limb over some particularly difficult spots.  Amazingly, their coordinated efforts got the branch over some pretty rough rocks and in the water as they had intended.  The heaviest of the four boys is maybe 65 pounds.  I don’t know how much that behemoth weighed but I do know that it was mighty heavy!  I think that the boys worked for almost an hour painfully moving it little by little.  You should of seen them when they actually succeeded at what they set out to do.  They let out a mighty whoop and you would have thought that they had just won a million dollars by the way they were celebrating and high-fiving each other.  They felt totally victorious!  It was quite something to behold.  I’m glad I had the opportunity to be there.  I wouldn’t have missed it for anything.

I have been asked why I homeschool many times over the years.  You would think by now that I would have formulated a succinct, well reasoned, memorized response to that question.  I haven’t.  There are many reasons why I choose to homeschool and the longer we learn this way it seems the more reasons I add to my list.

One of the reasons that I homeschool is the pleasure I get from “seeing the lights go on” in my boys.  I had the pleasure of seeing that again today.  D-11 was starting something new in math.  I have been encouraging him to read the “information page” that explains new words and concepts and generally shows how to work through the new problems step by step.  I want him to learn how to learn rather than be dependent on a teacher for learning.  Since we live in a world of ever-changing technology, it is a valuable skill to be a self-learner.  D-11 took one look at the “information page” and decided that the new stuff he was to work on looked long, hard and impossible to figure out.  It didn’t help that P-9 is on an easy graphing unit in his math curriculum and has been finishing up his assigned work fairly quickly over the last couple of days.  D-11 was quick to cry “It’s not fair!  How come my work is always harder than his?” He then went on to lament how he would never get this particular page done.

My first job as his coach was to get him to calm down.  I needed to remind him that his job was not to compare what he was assigned to do with what his brother had been given to do.  (There’s a good life lesson if ever there was one!)  My next job as coach was to help him work through the examples step by step.  I had him write while I explained and dictated the numbers to go down on the page along with the brackets and the appropriate signs.  After about four expamples,  D-11 stopped me and asked to try one on his own.  He managed with only a little prompting and correction.  The lights went on.  He understood these problems which moments before seemed impossible to decipher.  I sat mutely by his side as he worked through the rest of the problems on the page with ease and confidence.  It is such a wonderful feeling to take a child from hopelessness to confidently succeeding. 

D-11 was so pleased with his new-found knowledge that he made sure that he showed P-9 how hard his math work was and how smart he was for knowing how to do it.  It would have been nice if he had given even scant mention to his amazing learning coach who helped him gain his math expertise.  That is not D-11’s style.  It’s his way of saying, “Mom, I want you to live to blog another day.”  He knows that I would keel over from shock if he did something so out of character as to praise his mother.  I trust that one day I will write something along the lines of Proverbs 31:28 which says, “Her children arise and call her blessed…”  For today, I will have to content myself with having had the awesome opportunity to be there when the lights went on.

dsc00393.jpgD-11 and P-9 continue to work on doing independent research which they present periodically in an event we call “the great unveiling”.  They have been working for the last two and a half weeks on putting something together for the month of June on their home-made calendars.  All of the research they do is top secret so that “the great unveiling” is a surprise to the other family members.

D-11 started the presentation time by telling us about the goddess Juno for whom the month of June is named.  At first it seemed like a great idea to research how the months got their names.  In hindsight, it isn’t seeming all that great to me now.  The months were mostly named for Greek and Roman gods and goddesses who were maliscious and nasty.  The good thing about D-11’s research is that we can contrast the characteristics of these man-made gods with the true God.  At least Juno was committed to her marriage with Zeus and it is because of this that June, the most popular month for weddings to happen, was named in her honour.

P-9 told us all about the fire drake, a rather small dragon that lives in volcanoes and can breathe fire.  This particular dragon’s weakness is water.  Both of my boys’ particular weakness is writing and presenting.  These calendars and the research they require are a good idea but there isn’t a lot of pressure to do a really stellar job when the boys know they are just presenting to the immediate family.  I may have to up the ante and have them present to others to motivate them to put more work into their research and presentation.  Where there is a will there is a way.  I have a will that my boys would greatly improve in their ability to put ideas down on paper and present them orally.  Now, I have to plan the way…

dsc00369.jpgI know that everyone in their lifetime will ask this question once (LOL!) and I now feel that I can give an educated answer.  If you use a luggage carrier to haul around flyers and catalogues (about 40 -100 pounds worth each load) for about a half hour at a time, four to six times a week, and you take that loaded down luggage carrier through every imaginable type of weather there is in Canada, it will last you about one year.  At about the ten to eleven month mark, there will be no rubber on the wheels.  You can still use it for a month or two after that point but then the core of the wheel will splinter and one day one or both wheels will simply not rotate at all.  This happened to me today.  I dragged my hundred pound load for about 10 metres, making a nice scraping sound as I navigated the sidewalk, and then remembered that I have a van and flyers weren’t really worth the amount of muscle it would take to drag it along. 

Well, praise God that garage sales are starting to pop up.  If I can at all help it, I will not be purchasing another luggage carrier to haul flyers.  I will be upgrading and looking for a spiffy granny cart.  The hunt will begin in earnest tomorrow morning and God willing all will end well and I will be delivering in ease and style Wednesday’s bundles.

dsc00364.jpgWe have been part of the Barrhaven Teaching co-op for three years now and have been incredibly blessed for the experience.  These homeschool families are so creative, supportive, and just plain fun.

Today marked our last outing with the co-op.  We finished up this chapter in our lives with a visit to a friend’s farm.  D-11 and P-9 had a great time mucking about in the creek with their homeschooled friends.  They managed to catch a lot of frogs, a few crayfish and even one chubby tadpole.  All the exploring and soggy feet helped them work up quite an appetite for hotdogs on the BBQ, roasted marshmallows, chips and juice.  It doesn’t get any better than that when you’re a kid!

The proprietor of the farm kept them busy by organizing them into colour-coded teams and sending them on a scavenger hunt.  The idea was to find six coloured cards using the clues given.  Most of the clues used the cardinal points of the compass so at any given time you saw happy groups of kids running all over the place.  They ended up very sweaty and happy to receive a treat for all their hard work.

We also got to have a tour of the farm’s homemade chicken coup and met Lola, Miss Havisham and a few other lovely hens.  The owner of said charges was very happy to answer all our questions about them.  We went there to simply have fun but, as is usually the case with our homeschool friends, we ended up learning some things.  It almost made me want to try raising some chickens of my own.  Almost.

Well, we hope to move on to other adventures in the years to come but I know that we will never forget all the fun and learning we had with these amazing families.

Ecclesiastes 3:11

He (God) has made everything beautiful in its time.