Sunday, December 28, 2008

They're finished!

...and pictures can now be posted of my creations. I made 3 stuffed animals for Christmas presents this year. One for each of my boys and for my niece, Sadie. I'm pretty proud of them and the boys seem to like theirs. I talked to Andrea before they opened presents on Christmas Day so I don't know Sadie's reaction yet. Thank you Jill for posting instructions on your blog. I had fun and hope to sew something else sometime soon.

Elijah's Christmas Dog and Jeremy's Creature (he calls it bear)

Sadie's Bear

Sunday, December 14, 2008

O Christmas Tree

This is the story of the Springthorpe Christmas Tree 2008 edition.

I pretty much always put up the tree the weekend after my brother's birthday. (Doan family tradition). This year that happened last weekend. Now, we didn't put up the tree last year. We knew we'd be away for Christmas and with Jeremy scooting around, what was the point? So I went to put up this year's tree. (We use a fake one, remember that otherwise this story doesn't really make any sense). I carried it up from the storage room only to realise that I only had the bottom half of the tree (about 4 feet of tree). I looked back down in the storage area where I was kept, all I could find was some tree like garland, but no tree top. I kept looking around the storage room (I found the winter boots I'd been missing for Jeremy, but still no treetop). I asked Jonathan (the organiser of the storage room. He told me it must be there somewhere and suggested that perhaps I wasn't really looking hard enough. I looked again. I checked every box and nook and cranny in every inch of that storage room and nothing. Now it was Jonathan's turn. Of course he'd find it, I'm just blind and not really looking right? - wrong! He couldn't find it either. Well, can't we just put it up the way it is and fix it somehow? (that was his suggestion) No. I was really irritated now. Somehow my treetop had been probably thrown away during the past 2 years and now I have no tree. I decided to out. Hopefully to bring back a new tree.
If you know me well, you will know the absolute level of my irritation and despiration when you know where I went...Canadian Tire. I am not and have never been a fan of Canadian Tire. I don't like it. Any one of them, anywhere. It's a terrible, irritating store. It's over-crowded, not well laid out, and has silly Canadian Tire money that just piles up taking up valuable room in your wallet. It also has the irritating ability to carry just about anything that you can only find there and no where else. Of course being the Christmas season and a Saturday the parking lot it is full. Great. I put Jeremy into a shopping cart and headed inside. My first irritation at the store happens almost immediately. The wheelchair/stroller/shopping cart access has a locked lock on it and the seeming only other way you can get in is through the turnstyles...aha, wait, I can sneak through the returns area. As I head down I encounter irritation #2, pushing the shopping cart to the seasonal area is near impossible as the main aisle is narrow and is also taken up by people lined up at the cash registers (they were not thinking clearly when they designed this store). I finally make it to the Seasonal Aisle where the load of Christmas crap is unbelievable. They have this life-size singing Santa that is seriously the ugliest thing I have ever seen. Who would invent and be able to sell this stuff? The price of Christmas trees shock me. There is no way I'm paying hundreds of dollars for something that will be up in my house for 3 weeks of the year every other year. Then I spot it. In the sale bin is a stack of 3 ft trees marked down from $24 to $8.99. I take a closer look. Yes, the pole seems to be the size I need. I take it and go...back down the small main aisle to the narrow cash register lines where everything is at easy access for my one year old (a new Canadian Tire irritation). When my mini-tree is rung in and my Canadian Tire money is taken off the total, I owe $8.60. Perfect and irritating all at the same time. Why is it only at Canadian Tire I can find these things?
I take my mini-tree home, pull it out of the box, tug the bottom stand off and fit my mini-tree into the spot where my tree top was supposed to have gone. It fit. And you can't tell the difference. I used a little bit of moving tape for reinforcement and the job was done. Jonathan helped me get the tree standing in the tree stand (another crappy Christmas product that was a neccessary purchase that I could only find at Canadian Tire a few years ago). Elijah and I decorated the next day...(and you can't see the tape unless you are looking for it.) Really I'd had enough Christmas tree by the end of all of this. I'm enjoying the tree now, a week later, if only I could keep the one year old away from the ornaments, but I think that's a losing battle :o)


A Poem I Found

The sleigh was all packed, the reindeer were fed,
But Santa still knelt by the side of the bed.
"Dear Father," he prayed "Be with me tonight.
There's much work to do and my schedule is tight.
I must jump in my sleigh and streak through the sky,
Knowing full well that a reindeer can't fly.
I will visit each household before the first light,
I'll cover the world and all in one night.
With sleigh bells a-ringing, I'll land on each roof,
Amid the soft clatter of each little hoof.
To get in the house is the difficult part,
So I'll slide down the chimney of each child's heart.
My sack will hold toys to grant all their wishes.
The supply will be endless like the loaves and the fishes.
I will fill all the stockings and not leave a track.
I'll eat every cookie that is left for my snack.
I can do all these things Lord, only through You,
I just need your blessing, then it's easy to do.
All this is to honor the birth of the One,
That was sent to redeem us, Your most Holy Son.
So to all of my friends, least Your glory I rob,
Please Lord, remind them who gave me this job."

Love of Tea

It's no secret that I love tea. I have fond memories of having tea at my Auntie Sue's house as a young girl (and many times as an adult too). I didn't expect my son at the ripe old age of 21 months to love tea too. He's fast. He will find my tea mug and sip at it, saying 'mmmmm' while he's at it. Take a look.


Sunday, November 30, 2008

Nostalgia

It's no breaking story that we're into the beginning of the Christmas Season. Elijah is now at the age where he's into Christmas shows (he loves the Charlie Brown one, but for some reason I can only find the case, not the tape...one of the secret vortexes ate it I guess). So I went looking for my favorite old show. The little un-known Bass/Rankin movie, The First Christmas or The Story of the First Christmas Snow. I love this show. And we had it. My Dad make a tape of all the old Christmas Specials when I was a kid and that was one of them. Do you think any of us could find that tape now? Not a chance. First I went looking on You Tube, because that's where I found Rudolph, but it wasn't there. So I went looking on Amazon. 2 sellers had it on VHS (yes, that's right this one hasn't made it to DVD yet) prices began at $40 CDN. Seriously. I guess I'm going to have to be nostalgic another way and hope this one makes it onto a Christmas Classics DVD sometime while my children are still young enough to enjoy it with me.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

look out world, I'm learning how to sew (again)

In the spirit of being both economic and retro-homemaker, I've decided that I would like to make my boys their Christmas present this year. (Aside from the books I've already bought through Scholastic and their stockings that is). I've been slightly jealous, but mostly inspired by the cool things that my friend Jill makes for her boys and others (I especially love her toy robots). I've also been in love with the Ugly Dolls for years, but seriously could not justify actually buying one of them for the price. So I've decided that I really should take another more serious stab at sewing. This time I'm without the benefit of my mother's side by side lessons (and her sewing machine) as both are on the other side of the country. So I called upon my crafty friend to tutor me. Now if my life were perfect, I would have my teleporter handy to whisk me away to Jill's home for a few cozy evenings of sewing and tea while the boys played imaginative build and destroy games together. And although life has Jill and I living geographically closer than my mom and I, we are still 4 provinces and 2 timezones away from one another. Jill, being Jill and 2008 being 2008 makes for an online tutorial. Part one was posted today and you can follow it here . I will update you on my own progress as soon as I buy myself a nice pair of sewing scissors.

Friday, November 21, 2008

money, money, money

We've decided to put Elijah on an allowance to teach him about money. The allowance is only for extra jobs he does around the house (not ones he has to do anyways). We started this last night with the idea that he would be able to go to the dollar store at the end to buy something for himself (last night's wage being a dollar plus tax). He did his job and off we went.
Have you ever been to the dollar store with a 4 year old? Oh my goodness, we must have been there for 45 minutes by the time he made his final decision. We had to be sure that he bought what he really wanted because quite frankly I wasn't coming back to exchange anything.
He ended up with a metal airplane kit that we (being me) put together. I thought this was really a cool toy (esp. for the dollar store). What they don't tell you is the instructions are inadequate tiny pictures and that it's a fiddly little thing to put together(I know, I bought it at the dollar store not the science shop, so I shouldn't complain). But it's together now and he's happy now and looking forward saving more money to buy more things another time.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Proof I'm getting older...or why my brother will laugh at me

I had a sense of deja vu on Friday. The original people involved were my mom and my brother, this time it was me and Elijah. On Thursday I bought myself a couple of CDs. One of these is definately 'mom-music' as my brother would say. It was Josh Grobin's Awake CD. I listened to one track on the way home from the mall. I was looking forward to hearing more of the CD when I went out running errands on Friday.
Friday came and Elijah requested Elvis. No sorry, we're going to listen to this. Deep sigh from the backseat. But we always listen to this was the response. No, Mommy just bought this CD last night, I'd like to listen to it. More deep sighs. See we listened to it yesterday and now today and then it will be forever. Well, sorry about that son, but we're keeping it on. Even more sighing and a more adamant arguement, but mom, this music is giving me a headache and I can't listen to it. Okay then, I'll put it all up front and that's that. More sighing, but he knows when to quit (for now)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Toy Story

...a day in the life of the toys at our house


the morning zoo


dinosaurs looking for breakfast


mid-day rock show


construction zone in the cardboard house


night-time cuddles

Finds after the boys are in bed...aka what Mama saw while tidying up:

my favorite recent find, Dr. Dinosaur checking over Mr. Caribou


Firetruck parked in front of (where else?) the fire place


Thomas at the end of the line (quite literally, there's no where to go past the wood boxes)

We Remember



We've just returned home from the Remembrance Day service at Harbour Station. I was very pleased to see many students and their families there. In fact, the announcer said that this was the largest crowd they've had since moving the service indoors for the comfort of the veterans.
After the service the crowd was invited down on the parade floor to greet the veteran's if they wished. Elijah wanted to go, so we went. I was very proud of him as he said hi to a veteran that is about 90 years old. He shook his hand and said "thank you" to him. The gentleman was very kind and complimented Elijah on wearing his poppy to remember.
Another veteran came up to me looking at Jeremy sleeping in his stoller, he told me that looked like a good idea, he was about ready for a nap himself.
Whether or not you agree with current missions, or the notion of war itself, I believe that it is important to take the time to remember those who have offered themselves for the freedom that we currently enjoy. Those that are currently serving overseas in Afghanisan are there by request of the government of Afghanistan. Their presence has also enabled children to go to school, been able to deliver and administer vaccinations, and are letting the Afghanistan government to rule.
It's an odd paradox. We go to war in hopes of peace. It's a difficult concept to comprehend, but one that touches all of our lives.

All About Elijah


Elijah is my highly sensitive, highly determined, highly intelligent little guy. (sorry big boy - he's 4). I've watched him transition from baby to toddler to preschooler and right now he tells me he just wants to skip ahead to be a grownup so he can be a paramedic and help people (as his main job, in his off-time he wants to be a firefighter and help more people.). Well unfortunately for him he has to go to school first and yes that's coming soon. We've started the transition to school year with all the pre-kindergarten meetings and activities.
Yes, he still loves anything to do with firefighters and hockey. He's starting to get into the Rescue Heroes stuff too. Thank goodness for kijiji so that we can find out of date toys (he's getting a load of them for Christmas). What has struck me with Elijah lately is that he is transitioning from this pre-school oriented stuff to the next level of boy toys. More about action figures and rescuing and race cars and construction. He wants to know how things work and asks a lot of questions.
He has this knack for remembering everything and figuring things out quickly. Be careful when you pray for a smart child, you may just get one.
He's very clever. A couple of weekends ago he asked if we could go uptown and look around at the uptown mall. Sure. A little while later we found out his whole reason for wanting to go uptown was to go to the big library uptown to find the Rescue Heroes movie again.
I was reading the developmental stages of a 4 year old last week and had a giggle at one that described having less temper tantrums. We get into a power-stuggles at times with Elijah. He has no problem with the 'I messages' that label his feelings, they are just often accompanied by a feeling action too. "Mommy, I'm so frustrated with you right now" *stomp, stomp, stomp,* goes his feet.
He loves his friends and playing. And they are wonderful to watch play. Full out imaginations at work. I love it!
He can be very helpful too. He's starting to work with us doing the housework. He has his own set of rubber gloves to clean in the bathroom, he puts away his own laundry and yesterday helped his dad mop the floors. This is not to say that he loves to clean up all the time. That would be entirely misleading. Putting his toys away without a fuss is one of the goals we're working on right now. I'm trying to get him to realise that the toy mess would be less overwhelming if he would put away what he is playing with first before getting out something new. (I know, Mom if you are reading this, what goes around comes around right?)
Overall, he's a very intelligent, very loving little boy. He loves storytime at bed time and playing with his brother (so much more fun now that Jeremy is past the baby stage and will pretty much copy cat anything Elijah does). Alright, I can feel myself getting into gush mode now, so I'll stop.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Allergies

We've noticed Jeremy itching and scratching his head and face off and on during the past few months. Every once in a while he would get these little bumps on his forehead and the back of his neck. We knew he was reacting to something, but what? So we'd give him a little bit of Benadryl and put on a little of the percription cream our doctor had given him. Well, then the reactions got a little worse. Nothing like seeing your 1 year old break out into big blotchy rashes to get your attention. Our doctor sent us to the allergist. I know, he's young for allergy testing, but because we were pretty sure it was a food allergy, they only did one series on him. (unlike Elijah's allergy testing last year, which was the full series). I had suspected tomatoes (because twice he broke out after eating spagetti), but I cut tomatoes out of his diet and he was still scratching.
The culprit? Not tomatoes, but soy. Surprise surprise.
Well, that got me thinking. We don't have a lot of soy in our diet do we?
Ha ha ha!
Do you know how many things have soy or soy oil in them?
Chicken nuggets, french fries, na'an bread, Ritz Bits sandwiches and Alphagetti, just to name a few.
This discovery also explains why Jeremy would get terrible immediate diaper rash all of sudden (he has a perscription diaper cream to deal with this). Of course he would get it after eating the whole wheat soy bread I would buy once in a while. (hindsight right?). So now we're reading labels, and reading labels and reading labels. We have a Info Pamphlet on Soy (one of food's 9 most common allergens) that tells us all the names for soy. And we're monitoring his reactions. Fortunately, he's only having skin reactions, it could be a lot worse! Thank goodness there's no soy in macaroni!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Whatcha eatin?

This is a question I've gotten a lot since I've moved to the Maritimes. In honour of my love of food and love of cooking, I'm starting yet another blog. Introducing Whatcha Eatin? Happy Eating.

God according to Elijah, age 4

Our church does not give young children communion (they get a blessing prayer at the communion rail). When on vacation Jonathan took Elijah to a church that did give kids communion. He explained to Elijah how the grape juice and cracker represented the body and blood of Christ. Later that day we were having a few Timbits. Elijah took a chocolate one and said, "Daddy, is that God's poo?"

We have a collection of fruit flies currently hanging out at our kitchen window. I took a tissue and started to squish as many as I could. Elijah looked at me in horror and said, "Don't do that Mommy, God gave us those bugs to enjoy". "Well, not really enjoy honey" I said. "Well did God make bugs Mommy?" "Yes" "See, I told you, and He wouldn't like it that you're killing what He made!" (I guess I have to my bug killing in secret now)

We were driving home today and it started to rain very hard. Elijah asked me, "Mom, is God spitting on us?"

At the bottom of my stairs



I'm okay letting you see this picture right now because I know that this mess no longer exists (I spent most of Saturday doing some fall cleaning). But this is usually what the bottom of my stairs looks like. Jeremy has this fascination with gravity and being 1 anything and everything he can get his hands on gets thrown down the stairs. Usually shoes that sit by the kitchen doorway (the stairs go down from the kitchen), but anything will do really. Elijah also has a habit of bringing up downstairs toys (aka anything sports related), so when asked to put them back downstairs they often get tossed. I admit to adding to the mess as it's ever so convenient to toss down the used kitchen washcloths (the laundry room is right there). I thought this would be a good chronicle to proove (yet again) that the Springthorpe's are not perfect.

Saving Gogee

I don't sew. I don't think this is a big mystery to most people. I think this is one thing Jonathan would change about me if he could. I have domestic giftings , but sewing is not one of them. I do know how to do a basic stitch. But procrastinate about fixing anything so much that Jonathan has given up on me and taken his mending to Stitch It to do for him.
My Mom can sew and makes beautiful quilts. She's made a few for the boys.



detailing on Elijah's crib quilt



The crib quilt Mom made for Elijah



The crib quilt Mom made for Jeremy



A quilt Mom made for Elijah's toddler bed, that is now Jeremy's

My friend Jill also sews and quilts very well. In fact, she made Jeremy a beautiful quilt and while she was at it sent Elijah a bean bag frog she made too. Elijah loves Gogee (the frog). In fact he loves him so much that he played with him all the time. Unfortunately, Gogee got thrown a little too hard one day and broke. You can imagine Elijah's reaction to seeing Gogee's lentil stuffing all over his room. Because he was so sad, I promised him Mommy would fix it and make Gogee better. That was about 6 months ago (remember, I don't sew, I have great intentions though). Well yesterday I was trying to get Elijah to do something for me, as I asked he looked up on my dresser to the container to where Gogee and the lentils still sat and said, "Mom, you promised you'd fix Gogee and you never have!". Oops. Yep, he's right. Where Jonathan has learned about my intentions, Elijah still takes me at my word when it comes to sewing and really, 4 is too young to have your image shattered about your mother's perfection. So I did it. I fixed Gogee. It's not the most beautiful repair job in the world. I couldn't figure out how to sew his foot back on and still allow the lentils freely flow into it, so his foot is sewn shut, but Elijah is happy. He's played (carefully) with him the last 24 hours and Gogee has resumed his place of honour on Elijah's bed.
I feel safe writing this, knowing that Jill will probably read this story and be resolved that yes indeed, Gogee did get fixed and is not sitting torn in a tupperware container still.



Gogee's now gimpy foot (notice my terrible stitching in navy, I don't even own black thread)



Gogee the Frog

Friday, November 7, 2008

Mine!

A little more on the essence of who Jeremy is at this point in time. Everything is his (according to him anyway). The phone, the remote, Daddy's socks, the grocery list, Elijah's toys...pretty much anything and everything gets a 'mine' label. Sometimes it's easy to get back, sometimes not so much. A big 'no' and trying to hide whatever it is he has. Unfortunately for him, he's the smallest and we can get most things back anyway, we just have to put up with the grumpy face or crying accompanied by 'mine, mine, mine' afterwards.

Silly Monkey


I thought it had been a while since I've written about my boys (or a while since I'd blogged at all really). So this feature is on my Jeremy aka Silly Monkey. I don't think he can help being a silly monkey right now, he's 20 months old and I seem to remember Elijah being somewhat like this at this age.
Examples of his silliness:
1. Last night at supper, he finished his yogurt and decalred, "Daa" (done) and in his exuberance threw open his hands, one of which had a yogurt covered spoon in it which very nicely splattered all over my pants (just before I was to leave to the pre-kindergarten meeting at Elijah's school). I said, "Jeremy, look at Mommy's pants", he said "funny" and laughed.
Yep, you have to be quick when he finishing a meal. Otherwise, he's decided he's done therefore any food left on his tray gets swept by his arms right onto the floor.
2. He loves to throw things, particularily if he is sitting in his booster seat. So his spoon will 'accidentally' drop on the floor and he'll say, "uh-oh!" in mock innocence.
3. He also think it's hillarious to run out of the room when you're changing his diaper. I've caught onto this and usually remember to close his bedroom door, otherwise, he'll run down the hallway squeeling with laughter, until he's caught.

He's talking a lot more these days. I'm always amazed at the 18 months to 2 years language growth. His favorite words these days are 'funny', 'why?', 'no' and 'I don't know' (which kinda comes out as 'idano')...the I don't know is pretty cute as he has the whole arms up in the air with a shrug of his shoulders while he says it.

He absolutely loves his big brother. Pretty much anything Elijah does or is doing, Jeremy will follow and try. Most of the time this works out well. They've grown into that play-friend stage. It does not work as well when Elijah is building with blocks and Jeremy knocks them down (because of course that's what boys at his age do with blocks). Last we got a good system going where Elijah was building with half of the blocks and Jeremy was happily amused putting the other half of the blocks away using the shape sorter. This is progress. They do get pretty funny together, running up and down the hallway (I don't know why this is amusing, but it is). They also love to play with the empty laundry baskets, filling them up and dragging them all over the house.

Jeremy is a real, rough and tumble boy. He's the kinda kid that will fall down, bump his head on something and you'll wait for a reaction, but all he'll say is 'ow' and rub his head and move on. Sometimes, he'll come over for a kiss better, but that's about it.

He's really getting into playing with boy toys (as opposed to the generic baby toys). My favorite time watching him play is with a toy airplane that he'll fly around and make an accompaning airplane noise. He also loves cars and trucks and trains. Right now, we only have one firetruck (this has become an issue) so I'm pretty sure Jeremy's going to get his own for Christmas.

He's a very affectionate, cuddly kid too. One of my favorite time's of day is just at bedtime when he and I cuddle in the rocking chair in his rooom. I know some people are opposed to the rock your child to sleep theory, but I'm an attachment parent and they only stay little for a little while, enjoy all the cuddles you can! My first was cuddled to sleep when he was younger and he goes to sleep just fine on his own now thank you very much.

I'm just enjoying Jeremy be Jeremy right now. I think you have to do that, enjoy the age they are at, because it goes by faster than you think :o)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Ready, Set, Fall

I didn't really notice it happening. Goodness knows Elijah still picking out shorts in the morning didn't either. But fall has come and chilled the Maritimes once again. Summer out here is so short and sweet that you want to savour every moment. But as sunny as it is, fall is fall. And I love fall. I really do. Out here it is so pretty. I love to go and look at the trees in their prime. I love to take walks with the boys, hear our feet crunch the leaves, just before one of us starts to throw them at each other for a big leaf fight. I look forward to our apple picking weekend.
It is very different than fall in BC. Fall is BC is pretty. It's just a lot rainier. It's not as cold, but the people there think it is. I know because I just saw pictures my mom took on Thanksgiving weekend and there were people wearing parkas. I've definately grown some Maritime stock in me to hold off on the parka for as long as possible. I'm still wearing my fleece jacket and I have to argue for Elijah to at least put on his vest ('but I'm wearing long sleeves Mom, I don't need a jacket').
I also look at Maritime fall as a big warning sign. Sure the road construction is almost finished, just before winter comes along to put in some more potholes. This week I completed a get ready for winter task that I'd never heard of in BC, winter treating my windows. Basically, you go to Kent (or whatever big hardware chain you're dealing with) and buy window plastic. This kit comes with double sided tape to line your windows. You then cut the right size sheet of plastic off to fit your window. Once your windows are covered, take your hairdryer and use it to shrink the plasic tight. Cut of the excess and you're good. Apparently it increases the S-factor of your window by a bit. And it does work. There's a noticeable difference already (as there was last spring when I took off last year's plastic). If you west coasters are having a giggle, look it up. Rick Mercer did a spot with Jean Cretien a few years ago showing him how to plastic the Prime Minister's residence.
Another sure sign of winterizing happened today, we had our first fire of the season in our fire place. I know we didn't need a fire today. In fact we probably won't need one for a few weeks yet. But Jonathan loves the fire. And you could tell he was itching to see how this year's crop of wood would burn. It was really nice to smell the wood smell in the house again. And to come home this afternoon to a toasty house.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Hidden Talents?

Earlier this summer, Jonathan and I were in slight awe as our friend Lucas fixed Elijah's balloon sword and turned it into a dog.
'You know how to do balloon animals?'
'Yeah'
That's something we felt we were missing from our ministry repetiore. We can act, we can sing, I facepaint, Jonathan has great Bible lesson, but neither of us know how to make balloon animals. Jonathan decided that I should be the one to do it. Then we set a goal and announced that I would be making balloon animals at our church's neighbourhood celebration. I guess I'd better get learning. So I did. I learned 3 basic balloons by reading on the internet. A very basic dog, a crappy sword and a swan (swans are easy). They were okay, but I really wanted to learn something a little fancier, like a flower, so I did a search for instructions. What I found was Ori Livney. He is an expert balloon twister. From his videos I not only learned how to make a flower, but also a cute teddy bear, a poodle (much better than the basic dog), and a fancy sword.

You can check him out here: http://www.5min.com/OriLivney



A Teddy Bear



A Flower

Poetry in Lyrics

The Ballad of the Boy in Red Shoes (John/Taupin)

I'm stoned in the twilight
Screaming on the inside
Give me your water, help me survive
Gonna miss the sunlight
When I lose my eyesight

Give me my red shoes, I want to dance
They search for an answer
But that old man wouldn't listen
Back then I was handsome
Back then he was ignorant

And shave off the years now, it's all inside my head
The boy in the red shoes is dancing by my bed
Put them in a box somehere, put them in a drawer
Take my red shoes, I can't wear them anymore

Had garlands in the wings back then
All the pretty little things back then
Calling out my name, oh what fame brings
After curtain calls and bows
I can't see the front row now
Hand me my red shoes just one more time

They pushed aside our presence
They refused to go the distance
Back then I was Sigmund
Back then he wouldn't listen



Ticking (John/Taupin)

"An extremely quiet child" they called you in your school report
"He's always taken interest in the subjects that he's taught"
So what was it that brought the squad car screaming up your drive
To notify your parents of the manner in which you died

At St. Patricks every Sunday, Father Fletcher heard your sins
"Oh, he's unconcerned with competition he never cares to win"
But blood stained a young hand that never held a gun
And his parents never thought of him as their troubled son

"Now you'll never get to Heaven" Mama said
Remember Mama said
Ticking, ticking
"Grow up straight and true blue
Run along to bed"
Hear it, hear it, ticking, ticking

They had you holed up in a downtown bar screaming for a priest
Some gook said "His brain's just snapped" then someone called the police
You'd knifed a Negro waiter who had tried to calm you down
Oh you'd pulled a gun and told them all to lay still on the ground

Promising to hurt no one, providing they were still
A young man tried to make a break, with tear-filled eyes you killed
That gun butt felt so smooth and warm cradled in your palm
Oh your childhood cried out in your head "they mean to do you harm"

"Don't ever ride on the devil's knee" Mama said
Remember mama said
Ticking, ticking
"Pay your penance well, my child
Fear where angels tread"
Hear it, hear it, ticking, ticking

Within an hour the news had reached the media machine
A male caucasian with a gun had gone berserk in Queens
The area had been sealed off, the kids sent home from school
Fourteen people lying dead in a bar they called the Kicking Mule

Oh they pleaded to your sanity for the sake of those inside
"Throw out your gun, walk out slow just keep your hands held high"
But they pumped you full of rifle shells as you stepped out the door
Oh you danced in death like a marionette on the vengeance of the law

"You've slept too long in silence" Mama said
Remember Mama said
Ticking, ticking
"Crazy boy, you'll only wind up with strange notions in your head"
Hear it, hear it, ticking, ticking

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Crocodile Rockin'


I remember a journal entry I wrote in grade 5. I had just started piano lessons and declared that I wanted to play piano just like Paul McCartney and Elton John. After Tuesday night I am even more convinced that that will never happen. I actually kinda wonder why they are letting me teach music at all really :o)
When I heard Elton John was coming to Saint John, I was in disbelief. After living near Vancouver most of my life, the shows that came to my new home were alright, but nothing to get too excited about. I've seen 2 other concerts at Harbour Station in the past 6 years, the Dixie Chicks and Dolly Parton (I would have seen the Barenaked Ladies, but they were playing the week before I was due with Jeremy and I didn't want to take any chances). But Elton John, ELTON JOHN! That was exciting! So I did something I've never done before to get tickets, I got up in the middle of the night, gathered my lawn chair, sleeping bag and book and waited out.
When we found our seats on Tuesday, that wait was totally worth it. There really isn't a bad seat at Harbour Station. It is a relatively small venue. We were pretty close and facing him face on while he sat at the piano. The show we saw was his Solo show, just Elton on the piano for 3 hours, yes, he played for 3 hours solid. I admit that I did get a little tear in my eye when he opened the show with Your Song (which has been my favorite of his since I was 9), it was the one song that I really really wanted to hear, after that, whatever he played, I'd be happy. And I was. This was the most amazing show. When you think about it, one guy and a piano, that's it, nothing fancy, just the music. It was beautiful. When you are that good, you don't need any fillers and distractions. He didn't skimp any either on the music. Many of the songs were extended versions, Rocket Man must have lasted 10 minutes, and he went from Benny and the Jets to Glen Miller's In the Mood and back again. I was just very impressed overall. He knows how to work the crowd (including getting up from the piano to lead the La la la part of Crocodile Rock, and signing at least 20+ autographs before starting his encore numbers). It was just very, very good. I loved that the cameras focused in on his fingers playing the piano quite a bit, amazing to watch him play. As well as the 'hits' that he played, there were a few lesser known songs of his that he added in. Two stuck out for me. The first was a song from the early 70's called Ticking, that was written about Gun Violence in the States, the second was a song from the early 80's called Red Shoes about a fellow with AIDS back when AIDS was not gettting a lot of funding and was considered a social disgrace to have contacted. They were both such beautiful songs. That was something that kept coming back to me during the night, how much of Bernie Taupin's lyrics are true poetry, beautiful.
I know that the ticket was expensive, but it was my treat, and definately, if you ever have the chance to see Elton John live, it's worth every penny.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

20 years ago

I'm teaching 2 grade 7/8 classes music this year. It's actually a lot of fun. We have a new grade 7 program and text that we're following that both I and the students enjoy (Spotlight on Music 7). The intoductory chapter is all about music through the generations. It explains what generations are and how music identifies with certain generations as well as music that is considered timeless.
So I posed the question: 20 years from now you'll all be in your early 30's what is the music that you all will hear and say, that was THE song?
-I'll be so old, one girl said (I'm exactly 20 years older than these kids)
So here I am 20 years later, looking back.
According to Billboard, the top 5 albums of 1988 were:
1. Faith by George Michael
2. Need You Tonight by INXS
3. Got My Mind Set On You by George Harrison
4. Never Gonna Give You Up by Rick Astley
5. Sweet Child O' Mine by Guns and Roses
Do I relate? Absolutely I could sing along with any one of these songs. My favorite of these? Definately INXS, I loved INXS! What else was I listening to back then? The Dirty Dancing Soundtrack, Def Leppard, Tiffany (I was 12 after all), Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jam (remember them?), Debbie Gibson, Janet Jackson, Whitney Houston...



This is me with Sarah and Sema at our grade 7 'grad' dance. Look at those pastels. Oh, we thought we were so cool back then, just about to go into high school (no middle school where I was). It was our first dance (now that I think about it, why do our middle schoolers get a dance every month?) and I can remember that it was such a big deal that the 2 (count 'em 2) class couples were slow dancing together. Life's changed a bit for our 7th graders hasn't it?

I also had a lot of fun trying to explain what generations were and about how old they are now. They inevitably asked me which I was...good question, I'm not really. I fall into that awkward XY or MTV generation, too young to be X, too old to be Y, can relate to both but not really either. My friend Karrie is definately X, my brother Jeff is definately Y. Wikipedia used to have a good article on it, until some bonehead decided to delete most of it. Maybe I'll write more about it later.

A Little Bit of Action

Friday night, home alone (not quite true, but Elijah and Jeremy were sleeping). I was out of books to read (an uncomfortable feeling for me). Nothing interesting was on TV. My laptop is out of commission. What was I to do. I know, a movie! Wait, I can't just run out to Blockbuster, I can't just leave my 2 kids alone in the house. Shoot! So I looked through our movies. Hmm, I first picked up a triple feature I'd bought a few months before - Singles, Home Fries and Mickey Blue Eyes. Well, I'd bought it for Singles, until I watched it and realised that I had seen it so much in my late teens that it didn't have much attraction anymore. So I popped in Mickey Blue Eyes. I had a vagues reccollection of seeing it in the theatre years ago and I figured, Hugh Grant from his floppy hair years how bad could it be? Okay, pretty bad. 20 minutes in and I was bored. Jonathan called to check in from work and I was so grateful for the distraction. Yes, he confirmed, it's not a very good movie. Once we were done talking, I popped the movie back into the case and looked for something else. I found Jason Bourne. This was more like it. And as a bonus, 2 more to follow once I was done. I forgot how good these movies are. I just love action movies. I know, tradtionally I list my typical chick flicks and classics when I have to say what my favorite movies are (and yes, it's true that Gone with the Wind is my favorite), but you can't go wrong with a good action movie. I'd put the Bourne trilogy at the top of my list, right up there with Spy Game, the Ocean's movies, National Treasure (1 & 2), Indiana Jones, Batman and Star Wars. Spy Game I can watch over and over again (and have). It's so brilliant. Speaking of action movies...I saw the preview for the new Bond flick - amazing! Very much looking forward to that one. Daniel Craig has to be the best Bond yet (I know some believe that to be sacrilige, but he's really got all of it down).

How to feed a child fruits and veggies without him knowing

1. Banana Pancakes
2. Pumpkin Pancakes
3. Blueberry Pancakes (I swear my pancake theme is done here)
4. Pumpkin and Applesauce Muffins
5. Carrot and Pineapple Muffins
6. Spagetti Sauce...wait on that one, discover your child is quite possibly allergic to tomatoes as he breaks out into hives
7. Raisins
8. Zippy Fruit Snacks
9. Request Sneaky Chef Cookbook for your birthday
10. Cut-up small pieces of fruit to put in yogurt
11. Plea with friends for recipe ideas, yes, zucchini is coming next
As you can tell from the above list, Jeremy is a picky eater. If it is bread he will eat it (hence the many pancake and muffin recipes). It is not that he doesn't have a good appitite. It's not that I'm not giving him enough food options. He eats well, I always put veggies out for him, we eat together as a family (I don't do separate meals unless we're eating something spicy I know they won't like)...I do all of these things, and yes, Elijah is a good eater. It's just Jeremy. I remember my brother was picky when he was little too. Give him peanut butter and he was happy, show him a banana or a tuna sandwich and he's be heading for the hills. So it's not that unusual, but yes, I'm pleading for help. Got great kid-loved sneaky veggie recipes? Please send them my way. And no, dips don't work. You should see the look on his face when I pass him a carrot stick, a slice of bell pepper or a piece of cucumber. He licks the dip off and passes the veggie back thank you very much.

I am without laptop :o(

My laptop died this week. I am currently using the downstairs computer which I rarely use as we don't like to have this kids in this room (read Jeremy who gets into everything), and when they are sleeping I like to be on the same floor as they are. I'm making an exception right now as Jeremy is having his nap, Elijah is playing with his downstairs toys in the play area. I miss my laptop, I feel this burst of creativity to write and just completed 4 entries in my book blog...this is my 3rd regular blog blog. So Dad, I'm sorry, all those games of word twist will have to wait until my laptop is back with me again.

Flat Wonder Woman

Our little cousin Eva in England has a school project, she was to write a letter to someone in a different country. We recieved our letter this week. It came complete with a cut-out drawing of Wonder Woman, appropriately named, Flat Wonder Woman, and the request to show Flat Wonder Woman around our country, and mail her back with pictures. Jonathan thought this was hilarious and already you can see him wanting to get carried away with this. Tales of Flat Wonder Woman's Canadian Adventure will be coming.

Sometimes the answer is 'no'

Have we become such people pleasers that people just expect their requests to be answered 'yes'? I know I've struggled with it. This week I said 'no' to someone about something and now it's an issue. It shouldn't be, but it is.
Ronald Morrish (parenting/teaching guru/motivational speaker) was once booked a year in advance for a pre-school conference. A few weeks before he was to speak they called to cancel him, once they read his work and realised that he used the word 'no'. 'We don't believe in saying no" they told him. 'Why not?'...if you don't say no to kids when they are young, how are they going to learn to say no for themselves when they are older? Interesting...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Of horses and other farm animals

Last Thursday night I took the boys to play at Rockwood Park. If you know the area at all, or have seen my facebook pictures of the park, you will know that the playpark is adjacent to Rockwood Stables.
As soon as we got to the park, Jeremy raced up the hill to look at the horses (he loves animals). The horses are double fenced in so I have no worry about him getting close to them.
We looked at the horses until Elijah got bored and declared it was time to play, and play they did. About 1/2 hour after we got there, my friend Luan arrived with her kids, even better for playing, and time for yet another look at the horses. So we meandered over again, this time at a different part of the fence. Pretty much as soon as I realised that this part of the fence was not doubled in, Jeremy had reached his hand in to pet the horse. The horse decided that Jeremy's hand was or contained food and bit down just as I tried to pull his arm out.
I admit, I panicked...well, screamed my bloody head off at this horse to drop my son's hand while trying to get it away, while Jeremy is screaming and crying.
The other children were so incenced at this horse. Zoe was calling it a bad horse, go away. Elijah was telling it that it shouldn't eat his baby, and Zach was just repeating bad horse, bad horse and pointing at it. Fortunately for me, Luan was there and offered to take Elijah while I took Jeremy to Emergency to get looked at. Also very fortunately, Jeremy's hand was okay (not broken or anything terrible) and now after antibiotics not infected either. Apparently if you are going to get bitten by an animal it is always preferable to get bitten by an herbivore (according to the doctor).
Well, this Sunday Luan (and her husband) and I took the kids to New Brunswick Open Farm Day. This, I figured (aside from being a great opportunity for city kids) would be the test of how much did this horse affect Jeremy. No need to worry, as soon as Jeremy saw the horses, he wanted to pet them again, no fear there. The other kids however...I don't think they are scared really, just more cautious, which is a good thing. (You never know around animals). Elijah did tell the story to the lady showing us the horse and declined the opportunity to feed it an apple.
They did end up having a great time at the farm. We got to go right into the cow's field and feed and pet a couple of the cows, which was cool. Elijah was most displeased with me that I forgot to bring his boots as we had to be extra careful where we stepped. He told one cow as we passed, 'now, don't you poop cow, you just ring your bell like a good cow' :o) I think Jeremy would have pet every animal if I had let him...good thing that the chicken's cage was out of his reach as I'm sure he would have gotten his hand pecked!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Creating a Moment

It was past bedtime. Jeremy was sleeping, Elijah was not. He was sitting up in his bed using the hall light to look at books. My usual response to this would be to tell him to go to sleep. Tonight, I didn't. Tonight I called him over to follow me. I grabbed a quilt and opened the front door.
"Where are we going Mom?"
"Just come with me and see"
I sat down on the front step, pulled Elijah onto my lap and wrapped the quilt around us.
I started to point out different things that were happening outside. I was dusky, close to night but not quite. There were a few satelites visible, but you could still see the clouds out too. As we watched the sky turn from dusk to dark, and the sky gave way to starshine, Elijah beamed as he snuggled in closer.
"This is so snuggy Mom"
My happy boy.

This time outside wasn't terribly long, and he was content to crawl back into bed when we returned inside. But it did give me pause to think. So often I get caught up in the business of the day, that I forget to enjoy the little moments. Everywhere I go other parents tell me how fast this time goes by. And it does go fast. I know I'm not speaking of 16 years in a heartbeat, but these last 4 have just flown by. My babies are not babies any more. Next September Elijah will be in the new class of Kindergartens. Every day Jeremy says and does more and more, not a baby, but a toddler boy. In my heart I want to hold on and treasure each moment, in my day to day living I don't. I wish I did.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Do you ever wonder?

I've been a teacher for 10 years now. I know, I can't believe it myself. Over the course of these years there are some skills I've picked up. I've perfected the 'teacher look', one that will even freeze misbehaving children in a supermarket (though unfortunately, this skill does not translate its effectiveness on my own children). I've developed a skill of being able to deliver witty remarks to audiences ranging in age from 5 to 13. And, I can find the truth behind most children's conflicts with remarkable speed. But the skill that I seem to be reflecting on a bit these days is the ability to pseudo-diagnose kids who are 'a little off'. Let me be clear about this. I'm not a doctor. I don't have a psychology degree. I am not qualified to officially diagnose anybody. But, when you spend as much time with children as I do you pick up things. In fact, you kinda look out for them so that if you suspect something, you can make a reccommendation to a team for a possible assessment of that child by someone who's qualified to do such a thing. That way, the child will get as much assistance as they need. Basically it's knowing by previous experience. Kids with Aspergers tend to have similarties to each other. Kids with Attachment Disorder have similarities to each other and so on.
It's kinda funny looking back at your own childhood when you are a teacher. Things that you wondered about school make more sense now. There's a girl in particular that I went to school with and I wondered about then and have had an 'aha' moment about now. I could never figure out why this girl kept getting passed to the next grade. She was clearly below level and it drove me crazy. I would know this about her because I was a good candidate for teachers to partner her up with, which they often did. I was bright and quiet and nice. Meaning, I would do my part of the work well enough that she would also get a good mark; I would also help her as much as possible without making her feel stupid; and, I would be nice to her (where other kids may have made fun of her). Most of the time I was willing to go along with this (arguing with a teacher would never have crossed my mind), but I do remember one time where I had had enough. It was the only time in my memory I ever begged a teacher to partner me up with someone else. Looking back now, I can see why they chose me (and other kids like me) to work with her, and I also see me doing similar things when I assign projects and group work. But I still wonder about this girl today. Where is she now? What is she doing? What kind of life does she lead? I can't say that I know the answer. Once we got to high school, I headed to my honours classes and don't think I ever had a class in common with her again. I know we ran into each other from time to time, but that was it, she was just a girl I had gone to elementary school with.
I wonder now (with all my fabulous teacher skills) if she was diagnosed with anything and was able to recieve assisance in her schooling. Or, was she just passed along, teachers accepting that's just her and that's what she can do. We are talking over 20 years ago in non-integrated schools, so it's hard for me to know. People didn't use words like autism and aspergers with the ease that they do today. This was back in the day when the word retarded was still acceptable (although not very nice).
I also wonder if we are too quick to judge and diagnose. If there's too many people out there insisting that their child has ADHD because it's a buzz word. I know I've taught kids with true ADHD and they really do deserve recognition and assistance, but I don't believe that as many kids have it as claim to. I know some kids who use their diagnoses as an excuse to not learn, rather than take the stance of, 'yes, this is something I have, but I have to deal with it and succeed anyway'.
Just things that cross my mind really. I just got a book out called 'Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's' by John Elder Robison and I'm really intrested to read it. It's a memoir from a man who wasn't diagnosed with Asperger's until he was in his 40's. I wonder what his take on all of this labelling is?

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Reason 134 How A Second Born is Different Than The First Born

Elijah didn't watch TV until he was about 18 months. Even then it was only Baby Einstein and very little of it. Jeremy just turned 18 months and not only is he a seasoned TV watcher he already picks out his own shows to watch. This morning he came up to me holding a Bob the Builder DVD, said 'Bob' and led me to the DVD player so that I could put it on for him. Did I plan it this way? No. This is one of the drawbacks of your baby having a 4 year old brother. So Jeremy dances with the Backyardigans, knows who Dora and the Wonderpets are (he wouldn't put down a stuffed Ming-Ming at the toy store) and yesterday was his first viewing of Thomas the Train. You have never seen a boy so excited. As soon as he got got his first view of Thomas he cried out 'tain' and continued to do so through the entire video. Well off and on. Fortunately, he's not at the stage yet where he watches a show in entirety, it just catches his attention once in a while.

More than 1st Cornithians 13

Please don't get angry at me for my next post but...Jonathan and I have shot a number of wedding this summer and there are a lot of lovely differences and nuances to a couple's wedding. But the one thing that seems to remain constant is 1st Corinthians 13. I really have nothing against the passage itself. It's a beautiful passage:

1 Corinthians 13
13If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant 5or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. 7It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. 9For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; 10but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. 11When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. 12For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

I know it seems fitting. You love each other, you are getting married, you have the love passage read at your wedding. I'm just saying that for those of us who go to a lot of weddings, it gets a little repetitive. I also know as I write this I'm a little bit of a hypocrite in the repetitive choices of wedding material. I agonised over the choice of using Pachabel's Canon in D for my stoll down the aisle. I knew I didn't want Here Comes the Bride, I loved the Canon, but I also knew that the Canon had become the new Here Comes the Bride...but still I used it.

For the record, we did not use the Corinthians reading at our wedding. We had 3 readings which were:

Genesis 2:
Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.’ 19So out of the ground the Lord God formed every animal of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. 20The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every animal of the field; but for the man* there was not found a helper as his partner. 21So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then he took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23Then the man said,
‘This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
this one shall be called Woman,*
for out of Man* this one was taken.’
24Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh. 25And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed.

Ephesians 5
Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.
22 Wives, be subject to your husbands as you are to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife just as Christ is the head of the church, the body of which he is the Saviour. 24Just as the church is subject to Christ, so also wives ought to be, in everything, to their husbands.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26in order to make her holy by cleansing her with the washing of water by the word, 27so as to present the church to himself in splendour, without a spot or wrinkle or anything of the kind—yes, so that she may be holy and without blemish. 28In the same way, husbands should love their wives as they do their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29For no one ever hates his own body, but he nourishes and tenderly cares for it, just as Christ does for the church, 30because we are members of his body.* 31‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ 32This is a great mystery, and I am applying it to Christ and the church. 33Each of you, however, should love his wife as himself, and a wife should respect her husband.

John 2
On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine.’ 4And Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.’ 5His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’ 6Now standing there were six stone water-jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7Jesus said to them, ‘Fill the jars with water.’ And they filled them up to the brim. 8He said to them, ‘Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.’ So they took it. 9When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom 10and said to him, ‘Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.’ 11Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

I'm sorry I can't see anything now!

When did it become socially acceptable to not dim your brights to oncoming traffic while driving at night?
I was driving back along highway 7 last night, one of my least favorite drives in the world. It's bad enough that it's dark, there's no towns until Welsford, no lights and then there's threat of moose jumping out at you at any moment. And once the fog hit, I seriously couldn't see anything and started to drive like an old lady (and really couldn't care less that I kept getting passed, the red lights gave me something to follow)...but the number of people who did not dim their brights as they came along the road astounded me. At first I thought it was some random thing, but it became more and more apparent that their ability to see something was more important than blinding the people they passed along the way. Strange.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

To Be One

Jeremy is almost 18 months old and there are days I envy him. I'd like to live his life for just one day. You see at that age you are really cute and can get away with pretty much anything. At the beach last week he saw some other boy his size had beach toys and just wandered over, sat down and proceeded to play with them (never mind that he had his own pile of beach toys, these were 'new' beach toys. And no one cares, no one says anything. At most people smile and nod. "Isn't that cute?" they think to themselves. The other child doesn't really care, there's someone else his size nearby who has just left open a pile of sand toys that are new to him. Can you imagine if we did the same thing? You know, you're on the beach and you've got your standard beach chair, and as you look around you you notice a better beach chair, perhaps a lounger so your legs can lay out. Maybe next to it is the latest issue of People that you haven't read yet. The owner is down by the shore so you just decide to walk over, sit in her chair and start reading her magazine. There's no way anyone would be cool with that. No matter how much you want a better place to sit and something new to read, you'd be told to F-off.
But you see, Jeremy's beach mooching does not end just at the beach toys. Oh no, it gets better. Sometime after he's played with the other child's toys he decides to come back and see me. When he does, he has a Timbit in hand. We did not buy any Timbits that day. He noticed a box of them sitting in someone's wagon and decided to help himelf. When I went to go over to close the Timbit box and apologise, Jeremy reaches in for more. The owner of the Timbits laughs and says that's okay he can have one, there's lots. What if the roles were reversed and I was the one reaching in the Timbits box? Again, I'd be deemed crazy and a social outcast. And Jeremy proceeded to mooch food the rest of the afternoon. Aside from the Timbits he got an assortment of chips, some licorace, and a bag of crispy minis. He was also able to convince one woman to open her cooler for him so he could rummage through. (He found some ice to play with). For the record, yes, I did bring our own lunch and assortment of beach snacks. And yes, I did try to intervene and keep him eating only the food we brought, but everyone around us thought he was cute and kept telling me it was okay. After a while, they just started to offer him things.
Another part of being one I'd like to experience is the sheer delight they find with everything. Jeremy loves water. Puddles, bathtime, streams...it doesn't matter. Everytime he sees it he shouts, "Waa Waa!". Repeatedly, until you show some acknowledgement that it's exciting and interesting too. The last stream Jeremy found he stood in the middle of, picked up rocks and threw them in, screaming with delight at their splash. And the fun-ness of this activity doesn't seem to wear off. He would stand there all day if one of us didn't pick up him to go somewhere else. And he can find water where there seemingly isn't any. Last Wednesday I took them to a park. Jeremy sat happily playing with the gravel as I helped Elijah ride the zip line, or so I thought. No, he wasn't really playing with the gravel. He was really digging it up until he hit water (it had rained the previous day). In the short time it took me to help Elijah on the zip line and come back, he had managed to dig himself quite the puddle and start rolling in it shouting, "Waa, waa!", and then proceeded to have a huge scream as I picked up and tryed to remind him of how much he enjoyed the swings on the other side of the park.
Jonathan recently introduced me to the comic Dylan Moran (who is hilarious btw if you are looking for something interestingon YouTube, type in Dylan Moran Monster). Anyway he has a theory that looking after children is like looking after drunks. It's so true. They can't walk well. Jeremy will be walking on the perfectly flat floor and trip and fall and cry. He walks into all kinds of walls and tables and chairs and looks at you as if to say, how did that get there. The need for instant gratification is huge. This morning I set out to make toast, Jeremy saw the bread and started to shout, "toa, toa". And the shouts became more persistant over the 4 minutes or so that it takes to make the toast. He took his plate off the counter and waved it at me. He went over to the kid cutlery drawer and found a fork for me (he eats everything with a fork, don't ask me why) and when the toast couldn't be ready fast enough for him, he decides that I'm just being mean about it and starts to cry. No amount of explaining or reassuring will soothe. There is no reasoning at this age. It's all in the moment here and now. When the toast is ready, I strap him into the booster seat, set the toast in front of him. He smiles at me with the biggest smile and says, "Toa!". He points again and says, "Mama, toa", still smiling. Just in case I don't get it. This toast is now the most wonderful thing in the world. And I'm now wonderful too because I've given it to him. Oh they are funny.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

On the way home

Warning: The following post is gross!
I have one New Hampshire story I've been saving...Near the end of our camping trip Jeremy got sick. It was Saturday, the day we went to Boston, the day before our drive home. I debated whether or not to go to Boston, but I figured he'd be sick if we were at the campsite, or, if we were in Boston, and both were away from home. While touring around Boston, Christy also became sick, as did Faith. The next morning, Elijah started to throw up as well. You know the car trip is going to be interesting when you have to pull over before you even make it to the highway.
By the time we reached the I-95, there were a few more sick people in our group. Originally, the three cars were going to stick together on the drive home, but, each car had at least one person in it who was throwing up. So instead of continuously stopping for everyone, we split up and each car only stopped then when it had too. I'm so glad Christy was in our car. She was such a help. At one point in the trek, it became comical as I was looking for the switch from the I-95 to the I-295, Christy was looking for the toll money, Jeremy was calling out Bum Bum as he had a diaper explosion, and Elijah was calling out for a bag as he was going to throw up again. Needless to say we took the next exit. At that point in the day I had run out of clean clothes for the boys. Jeremy was dressed only in a t-shirt. We had no more bags for Elijah to heave into. So I asked the kind lady at the Blue Canoe for help. (we were in Portland a that point, not quite lunchtime). She gave us a stack of plastic bags and directions to Target. While at Target I bought both boys some clothes and a pack of wipes (because we had run out of those too). We decided to make Portland out lunch stop, but as soon as we left Target, Elijah promptly fell asleep. Maybe that was a blessing because he couldn't have had anything to eat anyway. So we grabbed some drive-through Wendy's and headed back out. We ended up back into the storm that had hit us the night before in New Hampshire when we got to Bangor (and the rest of the drive through Maine and New Brunswick), so that was fun driving too. By the time we reached home, I think we had only 3 bags left. Oh, it was not fun. Over the next few days more of the team had their share of whatever bug was hitting us. All told, 11 of the 14 had it in one form or another.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Gum, Gum, Flava, Flava

Gum has been on my mind lately. When I was a kid I loved to chew gum. The more pieces, the bigger the bubble, the better. I would take my gum out at dinner, saving it for later. It was an emergency breath mint. It was just something that kids did.
Of course when I was a kid there were rules about gum. Chew with your mouth closed. Don't chew gum when you are climbing or running. Gum is only for time off times. Definately don't chew gum in school. Basically it boiled down to this: I could chew gum in my free time, provided I wasn't running or doing anything else that may cause me to choke on my gum.
I've found out that the Maritimes takes a more casual approach to gum. I've seen gum chewed by people leading church worship, brides as they walk down the aisle and piles of students in the halls of the various schools I've worked at. I have to say (and I know how old fashioned and Emily Post I sound when I write this), I am more and more disgusted by gum chewing. I think there is a time and a place (your wedding is not one of those places). I think if you are going to chew gum keep your mouth closed, no one else wants to see it. And yes, I'm one of those teachers with a no gum rule. I don't want to find chewed up old gum under my classroom tables. I don't want kids to learn to sing with gum in their mouths. I just don't. Sure, some kids challenge me on this. There was one student in particular who tried to convince me that it was just part of him and why was I trying to change who he was? His friends just told him to give it up, he wouldn't win against me. Fortunately, I've been at the same school long enough now that my repuation for gum intolerance proceeds me and the kids just naturally spit it in the trash as the enter my room.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A Cup of Tea

Oprah had a show on recently(?)...I don't really know when because I just look at her website, very rarely do I actually catch an episode of Oprah anymore...totally sidetracked there. Anyways, Oprah did have a show where she discussed how she enjoyed a cup of tea. She has the full on tea set approach. It looks beautiful. Me, I'm more into the comfort tea approach. I like my tea in a big mug. I do have a beautiful tea set that I've used sparingly and will one day reside in a hutch that I do not yet have, but that tea set is for company formal tea tea. My everyday comfort tea is completely different. During the school year my morning tea is usually toted off with me in a go cup, and I have my comfort tea at night and on weekend mornings. My comfort tea is usually served in a big mug. (hee hee, I just fixed my typo there that had me drinking out of a bug mug...wouldn't that be funny). Big Mugs must be part of the BC girl in me that is still hanging on as I live in the Maritimes. My first big mug I fell in love with at a local craft store in Abbotsford. It's handpainted with a sun on one side and moon on the other. And my collection just grew from there. I have a large blue one that could double as a soup bowl, I have a pretty blue one that was a gift from my friend Taryn and then there is my Starbucks collection. You can blame my mom for this one. Which in turn you could blame my brother for because he started her off on hers. The Starbucks collection is an assortment of city mugs that you can only purchase if you are in that particular city. The first of these entered our cupboard as a result of our fist trip to England 4 years ago. We thought we would pick up a mug for my mom's collection for a Christmas gift and while we were at it Jonathan picked up one for himself (pretty nice, it has Will Shakespeare featured on it). Since then we've added Vancouver and New York (we bought), Seattle and San Francisco (mom bought for us) and my latest hails from Boston. I have a couple of other hanging around too, one Jonathan bought me for Valentine's Day that's so pretty and one that showed up for one of us around Christmas time last year that I've adopted as my standard. It's red. It's funny now these big mugs are my norm. With everything else that's become supersized I've become irrated (you know what used to be a large is now a medium and so on) except when it comes to my comfort mug of tea. That has the opposite effect. If I'm having tea somewhere and they haven't yet adopted the big mug attutude I really do wonder if that's it. Strange.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Bookworm

I know my brother is probably laughing his head off at this title. He used to drive me nuts when we were kids calling me a bookworm nerd. Now that I'm the very grown up age of 32, I admit it, I am such a bookworm nerd. Books are my addiction. If I am not in the middle of a book, I start to feel nervous, it drives me crazy. Most moms say they miss reading once they had children...I gave up TV and other lazy pursuits and kept reading.
So it has been driving me nuts that I haven't found a good place online to converse with other book addicts about my latest read. I haven't ever bought anything off Amazon, so I can't write there. Yahoo Answers Books and Literature helps a little but there are way too many Twilighters on there and frankly, Answers is not a discussion group anyway. (BTW, I have never read the Twilight series, nor have any intention of it, get over it). So I have started yet another blog. This one will be my little page on the web to share and vent about what I have been reading. You can find it at bookwormkristen.blogspot.com

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Summer Catch-up

So it's August, and there goes my well intentions of keeping up with the blog over the summer. I have good reason, my Dad has distracted me with all these games of Word Twist. If I skip at night of playing, I'll have twice the games to catch up with the next day, and that's a lot of word twist. I know, excuses, excuses. So with a week or so left of my summer break, I'm playing catch up.
I think the last time I wrote we'd just gotten back from our trip to PEI. I very much enjoyed it. We'd been a couple of times before, but that was pre-kids. This trip was very different. You haven't camped until you've camped with two kids under 4. Unfortunately, the camping has interrupted my master plan of weaning Jeremy to his own bed. Why would he want to do that when he could snuggle with his parents? I actually believe he has a master plan to take over our bed completely. He hates the toddler bed for anything other than bouncing on. It's much too small in his estimation. Our next plan of action is to give him Elijah's bed (which is a twin) and move Elijah into the other twin that currently serves as a guest bed downstairs.
The second half of July was spent doing things around here. Mostly, we prepped for Elijah's birthday. You would think that planning a party for a July birthday would be an easy thing...usually it is. Get some food, a cake and send them out to play for a couple of hours. Unfortunately, we've had a bizarre summer here in SJ and the 2 days leading up to Elijah's party poured rain. I was freaking. We had 10 kids and their parents coming over, what the heck was I going to do if we had to stay inside? Fortunately, the day was not rainy, but it was foggy enough that we cancelled the playing in the pool part of the party. They didn't care. Get 10 kids together under the age of 5 and they will play and play and play and have a blast! I seriously do not know why people get so stressed about kid birthdays and spend huge amounts of money and time (especially for this age group) planning and over manging. They don't need it. You can have a fun time for under $40 (including food)...we did. The highlights for me were Elijah's face when he saw the hockey cake I made for him (he'd only been asking for one since last November), and Jonathan's Pinata. He made one for next to nothing and it was a fun time for the kids (and the grown-ups)...I can't believe what they charge for a pinata in the stores, especially when you think that it is made to be destroyed.
Shortly after the birthday party (and on Elijah's actual birthday), we headed off for New Hampshire for Soulfest. Soulfest is a Christian Music Festival, 4 days, 6 stages and I don't know how many bands. There were 14 of us altogether in our group. I didn't see a lot of the music, I was just happy to be out in a new place. I really love camping. Missing out on the music is just another part of the stage of life I'm in right now. My kids come first. They can't be up out late (even on vacation), or they will be miserable the next day. I did (finally) get to see Jars of Clay live. They were the fist Christian band that I really liked (and still do). They played 4 of the 6 songs that I wanted to hear (although the 2 they didn't, I didn't expect them to play as they are more obscure). That was the highlight (musically) for me. I didn't actually know what to expect going to New Hampshire. I'd drived though a piece of it before on the way to New York, but really knew nothing about it. The area we were in was really quite beautiful. We stayed at Gunstock Resort which is in Gilford, in an area known as the lake district. We did get to spend some time at the beach, which was nice. We also decided to take a little road trip on the Saturday down to Boston (a 2 hour drive away). That was fun! We had about 4 hours actually in Boston, so we saw Quincy Market (yummy Boston Chowda for lunch), and the area around the Boston Common. If I had known we were going to go I would have brushed up on my history a little bit because so much has happened in Boston. It's kinda funny living in Saint John which is a Loyalist City, and visiting Boston which is known for the same time period, but the other side of the conflict. Boston actually is a lot like Saint John in Architecture (or what I imagine Saint John would be like if it was a lot larger, better kept up and less slum lords). The thing in Boston that we saw that just made me so excited was the front they used for Cheers (the TV show). I love that show so for me, it was really cool, to go for a walk and there it was.
Since we've been back from our trip I've been spending as much time outside as possible. We've had more rain this summer than I'd like :op I've been working at getting the gardens all weeded out and organised. It's amazing how fast the weeds grow (especially in the rain), but I feel a real sense of work well done when I'm out in the garden. I'm very excited about the giant sunflowers that Elijah and I planted earlier this summer. They are about as tall as I am now and still growing. Unfortunately, they are are one of the only things that turned out. A groundhog ate my pea plants (nasty thing), and I don't know whatever happened to some of the other seeds we planted. My herb basket is growing will, so fresh basil is just about ready.
Our other summer project has been Elijah's library club. I think this is the 3rd summer Elijah's been part of the read to me program at the local library's summer reading program. Each Thursday that we have been here, we have dropped in on their pre-school story time. Jeremy has tried to take part as much as he can too (he's out to proove that he is a big boy too)...it's kinda funny to see him sitting at the craft table, this one year old surrounded by 3 and 4 year olds. The other part of the program has been reading to and with Elijah to reach his goal of 50 books. And as of last Thursday he did it! We finished out with 52 books read. This upcoming Wednesday is the summer reading celebration party that he's excited about.
That's pretty much our summer caught up. Of course within each of these updates there are stories within stories, but I'm not sure how ambitious I am with writing them down (not tonight anyway, maybe tomorrow, there's a good one from the New Hampshire trip I'm wanting to share). My next project is starting a new blog...I'm not planning on quitting this one, but I wanted to start one that has a specific focus...I'll announce it soon.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

A Tale from PEI

...or why you should never go clamdigging with a 1 year old.

We did not encounter the best weather at the onset of our PEI trip. The rain was so terrible on the Sunday after we got there that we debated going home. Instead, we spent the day in Charlottetown and waited to see what Monday would bring. Monday brought, clamdigging weather. This was something I was really looking forward too. I hadn't gone clamdigging since our honeymoon 6 years ago (but that's a story for another time).
So we set off Monday after lunch for a little clamdigging at the beach across the road from the campgound. (I should say, across the road, down the non-existant road across a field and then down a small cliff). Wouldn't you know it, but Jeremy picked that time to fall asleep. Seeing as Elijah had been so excited about this, I took him out of the car, through the path, down the trail to the cliff path, and passed him over to Larry and Luan. (Luan has done her fair share of sitting out of things due to napping children, so she understood completely). I drove back to the campsite, explained to Jonathan what had happened (he was to walk over later anyway) and rested myself while Jeremy slept.
After he woke up, we started the trek once again to the clamdigging beach. On our way, our car met up with Larry and Luan's truck. We collected our now beach weary boy and debated what to do next. Clearly, Elijah was on verge of the rare pre-schooler nap. Clearly, Jeremy was an energised toddler already excited having spotted the waa-waa (water). Jonathan suggested I take Jeremy down to the beach to clamdig and he'd take Elijah for a drive to nap, returning in a bit to pick us up. Sounds good to me. I took the baby, bag of shovels and pails and proceded down the path, realising that it is a lot more difficult to carry and child and a bag of things down the cliff path, than lead an almost 4 year old boy, but we made it.
Oh the beach was beautiful. Jeremy and I found a good spot to start search out the clam holes. I laid out some sand toys for him, grabbed a bucket and shovel and started to dig. I started to collect some clams (not many, but a enough to keep me encouraged). I then started a pursuit of what appeared to be 3 very fast clams attempting to escape my clutches. As I went to deposit one of them into my bucket, I noticed that the bucket was no longer there. It was now at the previous clamhole, where my son decided to put all of my clams back into. Alright, still early enough in the day to take the bucket back, distract him and start over. Nope, no deal. No matter how fast I was at moving the bucket out of his reach, he always got it back when I was in hot pursuit of a new clam. He thought this was great, just part of the game. The game where he was increasingly muddy. The game where he got to sit in clamholes. The game where he got to put his little hands in the hole I was digging out and splash mama. The game where I finally gave in and said, you know what, forget the clams, lets just enjoy the beach. So we did. Eventually, I waded out into the water in an attempt to clean myself up a bit, and dip Jeremy in too. After we trudged back up the cliff path, found Jonathan just pulling in to pick us up, I shepishly explained that yes, his wife, former master-clamdigger had returned empty handed. And I laughed, especially looking at my little guy, looking mighty-pleased with himself. No need to worry about supper though, Luan had hauled her fair share of clams that went very well indeed with the mussels we bought just down the road.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Summer Haircut

Warning to my mother, please don't cry when you see the following really cute picture of your grandsons!
Elijah has been looking a little shaggy lately and I knew it was that time again. He was wearing some remarkable bed-head that a brush just couldn't fix. Fortunately, our friend Rachel introduced me to home haircutting with Elijah's first haircut so I had my own pair of clippers on hand. Elijah has gotten really good at getting his hair cut. It used to be this tortuous routine involving a good DVD some Smarties and a continued promise that it would only take a few minutes. Now that he doesn't cry and wiggle, it really does only take a few minutes no DVD and no smarties.
This Friday, once Elijah was done, I contemplated something I've been debating on and off for a few months...should I cut Jeremy's hair too? I had cut it once, but it was just a trim. Now with the summer and constant sunscreen in the hair (when you have a fair baby who will only leave his hat on sometimes, the sunscreen is very neccessary) I was looking for him to go short. The same sort of short that caused my mother to cry out, what have you done to Elijah's hair, when we returned to her house after his first haircut at 17 months.
Let's face it, I'm no Celine Dion who refuses to put a blade to her son's head. One of the great things about raising boys is that short hair is easy. No tangles, no mess, just zip the clippers over them once in a while and they are happy campers. I'm also a big believer in boys looking like boys. (I'll duck while the tomatoes for stereotyping are chucked at me here). I know the style for boys these days is a little long and shaggy and that's great, when they are 12, not so much when they are 1 and someone comments on your very cute little girl. (trust me, it happened recently and Jeremy was wearing a very blue romper at the time...her apology included the comment, but he's so cute).
But I digress, the long and short of it is, I went for it. I propped Jeremy up in his highchair and started cutting. I waited for the tears and screams...I was not prepared for the giggles. He loved it. He thought this was fun. I have to remember that second children do not do everything the same as the first. (they are so different!). Now due to his beautiful, long, fine baby hair, his haircut took significantly longer than Elijah's. And in the end, I had to step away to decide if I did the right thing. One bath later, I was happy. Yes, he looks a little older now (they always look a little less like babies after a haircut), but it already is so much easier than before. It's neater and so much easier with the sunscreen. It was time, and I'm glad I did it.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Superman


A while back, I promised to write a bit about how superheroes relate to Christ. This was after I saw IronMan and before I got bogged down with work stuff/mommy stuff/life in general stuff. I thought a lot about which superhero to start with, narrowed it down to two before picking Superman.
Superman was the first superhero I really ever loved. My first experience with Superman was like any other child of the 70's...Christopher Reeve's Superman. And yes, like any other girl loving superheroes my favorite Superman movie was Superman 2(the romantic one).
I think we all enjoy the idea of the alter-ego. Clark Kent is the perfect example of this. No one would suspect him of being Super-anything. He's awkward, shy, bumbling, stuttering, and nervous. He takes care of his elderly mother. He doesn't drink or smoke. He's just this very good, very quiet person.
Christ was like this too. He was not the great warrior king messiah that the Jews were expecting to release them of their bondage. He was from a little town of little importance. He was a carpenter's son. His mother was unwed when she conceived him. He was unexpected.
Then introduce Superman. The fellow from Krypton. He looks human. He was raised by humans. He experiences life as a human. He even gives up his super-ness at one point to become completlely human. But as human as he is, he is also fully Kryptonian (I'm just making up a word here). He can do things that no human can do. He has super-strength and super-powers. He could do pretty much anything he wanted with them. But there is an innate goodness about him. His motto is to fight for truth, justice and the American-way. (I know, I'm Canadian, so part of me goes 'argh' at the American-way bit).
Christ also experiences human-ness. He is fully man and fully God. He is innately good. He doesn't fight for truth he IS truth. He also rescues people. He came into the world to save them. He laid down his life for us...all of us. True he could have come into the world to be this warrior-king that was expected and just knock everyone out of the way, making them do as he willed, but what good would that have done? He had a better plan.
I know all of this is over-simplifying. I also know that I could go on and write a big essay about it. But it's just food for thought. We love these superheroes. We long for these superheroes. Maybe we're all longing for a little more. Superheroes are just stories in comic books and on the big-screen. We're all looking for a little rescuing, a better way. Jesus is truth. He is my saviour.

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