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Nine years ago today, I sat with my best friend as he passed from this life to the next. His passage was long and arduous, his breathing being laboured and difficult for many hours. I know that his efforts were worth it. He died the same way that he had lived – full out for Christ. He closed his eyes for the last time on this earth but I know that he opened them to behold the Saviour that he had served so faithfully. He is now free of the disease that tormented him the last few months of the time allotted him here. Nine years ago today began everlasting bliss for him. Nine years ago today started a very difficult part of the journey for me.
The way marked out for me has been an uphill battle, at times almost an impossible one. There were many crying sessions along the way and more than once the question “Why?” has been whispered out of my mouth. I now feel that I have an answer for that question. God designed this way for me that I might become strong. He has made my feet like hinds’ feet that I might walk in the high places. I am at a higher place than I have been for a very long time. I can see back down the trail I have climbed with such difficulty. There are pools of water along its sides where I have cried until I felt there was no more water in me that could be squeezed out. If God has kept all my tears in a bottle, that bottle is at least the size of an Olympic swimming pool I think. There are also two sets of footprints along that path. God has been faithful. He has never left me or forsaken me no matter how alone I may have felt over the years. At times, there are only one set of footprints. Another weary travellor has penned it well when he/she wrote that “it was then that He carried me”.
I am also looking ahead on this special day. In years past the road that lay ahead of me looked very much like the road I had already travelled. I have wondered more than once if the way would ever level out and get more enjoyable. There was a time when it seemed I would never laugh again. God has promised that He would turn my sorrow into dancing and my mourning into joy. I am laughing more these days. It seems that the weary chapter I have passed through is just that – a chapter. I am now embarking on a new chapter in my life. It promises to hold adventure and maybe even a few surprises for this pilgrim. Nine years of sadness have passed. I am expectant today for many more years of happiness to come.
You know your kids are getting older when you shoot baskets to win but don’t. P and I went to a local park to shoot some hoops today. The first one to get twenty in would be the winner. I used to win these challenges easily when he was a little guy. Well, he’s not a little guy any more. He’s a decade old and he’s got better aim than I do. For a while, I was wondering if I would even make it into double digits. I ended up losing respectably, the score being 20-18.
Today was the big finale to day camp for D and P. Instead of their usual lunches packed by Mom they got to order hotdogs and pop. Instead of their usual learning sessions they got to show off what they had done during the week.
D had his open house just before lunch and showed me how he had programmed his lego dinosaur to do a number of things. It was fun to see the burglar program. They programmed the dinosaur to slowly creep forward towards a “jewel”. At some point the dinosaur crosses a laser beam and a siren goes off. Then the dinosaur does a hasty retreat. He and his partner were pretty proud of all they had done and took me to the behind the scenes programming they had done to get their dinosaur to do all that it had done. All we parents had to do was push a button on the screen to get the dinosaur to move but they had to do a lot of coding to get that to happen. It was all very impressive.
P had his show and tell later in the afternoon. He showed me a number of movie clips that he had worked on. The funniest one was a bad guy named zbaron who escaped from jail, the guard was chasing him, he got on to a jet and the jet crashed into a cactus. It finished with the credits running to the “Star Wars” theme song. He also did one of shapes morphing, of a fish eating another fish while the “Jaws” music plays, and of a butterfly flitting from one flower to another. I was impressed with how much he had learned in such a short time.
Now, it’s back to life as normal…packing, trying to find a house to move to and trying to eat our way through our freezer of frozen meat.
Enthusiasm continues to run high concerning camp. D worked on a special page today that will help make his presentation to the parents tomorrow a whole lot easier. P worked on his movie clip that I will get to see during the open house. It’s all very exciting stuff and the boys have a lot to say about it. Hopefully I will have more to write tomorrow when I actually see with my own eyes what they have been doing. I still must confess that their word descriptions of their activities are not helping me much to really understand what happens at camp.
Day # 3 at camp was as exciting as the first two days. The boys are very enthusiastic about going and are really enjoying all that they are doing and learning. It’s nice to know that my money was well spent!
D and his partner built a dinosaur today and made it do some moves using the computer. There is an open house for the parents on Friday. I am looking forward to it. D tells me all about what he is doing but I’m afraid that my tired, stone-aged brain just can’t picture it.
P and his partner designed a program where one fish eats another fish. They got to add the “Jaws” musical score to it. P thought that it was pretty cool. I will get to see all that he has worked on at Friday’s open house as well. He’s pretty excited to show me.
In the evening, we joined friends of ours at the Running Room for the twenty minute challenge. We walked (the boys ran/jogged at times) a 3 km course and for our efforts we were all rewarded with Running Room hats. D and P were excited to see two of their homeschool friends and a friend that they had made at camp there. The boys did the challenge together following the course map on their own. (It wasn’t hard to do. There were a lot of people wearing the blue Running Room hats and you basically just had to follow everyone else.) It was a nice way to finish off a busy summer day.
Well, the excited camp experience did not wear off. D and P were again speaking volumes when I asked them what they did at camp.
D excitedly told me about an elevator he and his partner built. If I understand correctly they had to program the computer to make the elevator go up, ding at the top, have a light go on and then go down again. D and his new friend had some trouble with it. Even their teacher couldn’t figure out what they had done wrong. D said that he really liked that today’s assignment was more challenging than yesterday’s.
P got a few words in edgewise and told me that he had programmed the computer to morph one shape into another, to make a butterfly fly from one flower to another, and to create a UFO. At the end of the week, he should be able to show me a short animated video that he created himself. I can’t wait to see it.
Both boys also talked excitedly about the group games that they played when they weren’t being taught robotics or computer animation. They are having a blast. They went to this camp not knowing one other person there. They seem to have no trouble fitting in and making friends. I hope all those naysayers out there who believe that homeschooled kids will somehow miss out on socialization and will end up being total introverts are reading this! My boys are confidently independent and very adaptable to new situations. It’s great to see them learning and having fun.
Today was the first day for D an P at camp. D went to robotics camp and P went to computer animation. I didn’t understand a lot of what they told me when I picked them up and asked them how it went today. They had a lot more to say than the usual “It was good, I guess”. They excitedly told me about all the cool stuff they did with their partners at a speed of about a million words per minute and at the same time.
It seems D worked with specialized lego and bionicle and worked with a rotating restaurant and a special light and some music and complicated things happened (or something like that). P made a ball bounce on the computer screen and made a scene with fish and multi-colored and multi-layered seaweed (or something like that). They also got to play a lot of games in the gym and outside, some of which I know how to play and some of which I have never heard of and still don’t know how to play even though my boys tried to explain them to me.
The long and the short of it is that they both had a great time and are looking forward to tomorrow’s activities. D even came up to me after supper and said “Thanks for paying all that money for me to go to robotics camp. I really like it” (or something like that). You know it’s good if D thinks of thanking you for it!
I love reading and I have always tried to communicate that love to my boys. From the time that they were little gaffers, I have read to them daily. We were the family that made weekly pilgrimmages out to the library and got to know the library staff by name. The boys took part in many library programs designed to help kids love reading. I scoured garage sales for good used books to add to the growing collection of “anytime reading books”. With all this effort and emphasis on books, I thought that my boys would quickly share my love of reading and take off once they could read on their own. Thankfully, they both did learn to read on their own but they never felt like doing it. There was always something more exciting at hand it seemed than a story. I continued to read to them and they continued to enjoy that but secretly I wanted to see them often with their noses stuck in a good book.
I finally got my wish. Last week at camping I read to the boys as I always do. D didn’t have quite enough and asked if he could stay up late and keep reading the story. I tried to act unsurprised and casually said that I thought that would be O.K. Inside I was screaming “Yes!!!” D’s example spurred P to read on his own. D would tell him some of the details in the next few chapters which had P pleading if he could read the book on his own. Double yes!!
When we got back from camping, it seemed that the newfound joy of reading was just a blip on the radar screen. Once again, there were more entertaining things than books at home. I have seen a few more blips in the last few days. We paid a visit to La Belle Province to see my mother-in-law and on the long car ride there the boys announced that they were going to read books. Admittedly, I did a double take in the rear view mirror to see if I actually had my kids in the back seat of my van. After all, we did pack the Game Boy along with the books. There were a few times over the last three days while we were in La Tuque that the boys actually chose to read books over watching television. Again, I tried to not pass out from shock but just enjoy it.
We made our weekly trip to the library today. D picked out a couple of books that completed the story we had heard on CD while journeying to La Tuque. He seemed pretty eager to get started on them. P actually spent his hard earned money on a book later on in the evening. Wonders never cease it seems.
I have waited a long time for moments like these. I am hoping that this sort of behaviour happens so often from here on in that I’ll stop noticing it so much and wondering what on earth has happened to my children. Yes, I have waited long and patiently for this but finally my labour is bearing some fruit.
We did something we have never done before this year. We went camping and didn’t bring a tent, a camp stove, a cooler or any food along. Instead we rented a chalet and bought a meal plan at the camp cafeteria. This was a great idea! It sure made “camping” a whole lot more enjoyable for me!
We didn’t have great weather the week we were at the campground but we all had a fantastic time. P (formerly called P-9) had his tenth birthday while we were there. The morning of his birthday he got up and sleepily announced to us all that he was now a decade old. It was one of those precious moments that make me glad that I am around my boys as much as I am.
I hardly saw D and P while we were chalet-ing it. They were off with their buddies playing soccer, baseball or manhunt and at times they managed to get a little fishing in. D had a chance to fish alongside Mr. S who knows his stuff. He caught seven sunfish that expedition.
I had a chance to relax and fellowship with Christians. I have friends there who bought a pontoon last year and this year I had a chance to go out on the lake in it with them. It was very enjoyable. I also had a chance to enjoy the nature trails. This year I did a little less dancing as I navigated my way along those picturesque paths. The bugs weren’t quite as thick and blood-thirsty as they were last year.
The boys are hopeful that we will continue to make our annual pilgrimmage out to this campground even if we move. I am hopeful too.
O.K. I feel very foolish now. Yesterday we went to the Mint and had our pictures taken in giant coins. I wrote that D-11 had his mug in a moose or posssibly an elk. I was reading a story to the boys today and the tale featured caribou. It then dawned on me that what is on the Canadian quarter is not a moose or an elk but a caribou. I even did an internet search to confirm that brilliant thought. I feel so silly. I have lived in Canada all my life and have looked at Canadian quarters many times over. I can’t believe that I was dumb enough to put in writing that it’s a moose or an elk on the front of the twenty-five cent piece. Thank goodness I have enlightened moments every now and then and that I can confirm them by doing an internet search. It’s also probably a good thing that I still read stories to my kids because on occasion they do spark some brilliant thoughts.