May the force be with you…

William has loved StarWars for a while now.  We weren’t quite sure where he was first introduced to StarWars but I think the influence is all around him, from Jason’s old StarWars sleeping bag that Erik’s been using for a few years to friends that have figurines to the Lego StarWars sets they’ve received as gifts and even Lego StarWars games on the computer.     But Jason was getting quite concerned that the boys were getting a wrong view of StarWars because they have never seen the movies.  And by ‘the movies’ he meant of course the original trilogy, none of this episodes 1,2 & 3 stuff.  Jason refuses to see them or even acknowledge them as real StarWars.  

So this weekend we decided that the boys were now old enough to watch the movies and on Sunday afternoon when Sophia went down for a nap, we broke out the DVD’s and watched Episode IV – a New Hope.  They were mesmerized… it was a huge hit and of course they loved it.  And what’s not to love?   Luke – the petulant, pouty jedi-in-training, Hans Solo, the bad-boy and of course bossy and beautiful Princess Leia.   So now the boys are well versed in the ways of the force.   *Disclaimer –  I did skip the part where Luke sees the bodies of his aunt and uncle, I still find that scene disturbing.  I think we will view Jason’s favourite, ‘The Empire Strikes Back’  next weekend, but I don’t know about return of the Jedi.. I think the content might be a bit too mature… we’ll see.

You know what’s funny though, is that we waited to show the boys the movie until they were old enough – but Sarah saw it too and she’s 4!   Isn’t that just the way it is with subsequent kids?  The first one has to follow all the rules and they all get broken for the younger kids.    I had many high ideals when I first had Erik, for instance we never let Erik drink pop until he was 4 or 5 – but Sophy get a tiny bit when we eat pizza because everyone else is having it.    Erik didn’t watch TV until he was two – as per the recommendation of the Pediatric Society – but then William watched it with Erik and he was not 2 – neither Sarah or Sophia for that matter.    It’s funny how our attitudes change…  and we relax a little when we get more comfortable with parenting. 

But now all the kids have lots of costume ideas for next Halloween – Sarah wants to be “Chabaca” – Chewbacca and William and Erik are fluctuating between stormtroopers and Hans Solo and I think I’ll dress Sophia up as a tiny princess Leia… I can hardly wait.   

William was in heaven again yesterday when he received an early present from his aunt Daila from out East – she couldn’t have sent a better present…

More Star Wars – thanks Aunt Daila!    And it even came complete with a Yoda birthday card that plays the StarWars theme when opened… I’ll just hide it before it gets annoying.  

So as I said before we are now well versed in the ways of the force and if the kids start hitting each other with sticks to mimic light sabers, at least we will know we brought it on ourselves.

Job Jar and marbles…

I have four children.    I know,  it’s quite the shocker.   And typically the first thing that people say to me when they find out how many times I’ve reproduced is, “Oh, you must be busy”.  And I am busy, most of the time.  (Sometimes I’m very busy sitting on the couch reading and eating chocolate.)   Now 4 kids and 1 husband do generate quite a bit of work, you know…  a little bit of laundry,  a few dishes and a TON of things left lying all over the floor.   And for ages I was doing most of this on my own, slaving away and then getting just a tiny bit frustrated that I do everything myself.  

But then one day I said, “Enough is enough!  It is time these children started to help!”  So I started to think about motivation.    I had tried to motivate them to help before, usually with charts, but I’m the queen of printing off charts and then filling them in for 2 days and then forgetting about them as the kids lose interest.    But I just didn’t want to just harass them about doing chores,  I like things to be fun.    So I reached into my past and remembered how I loved it when my mom would  write out jobs on slips of paper and put them in a jar and we could go and  pull out a random job, do it and come back for another one until the jobs were done. 

So I created our own ‘job jar’ that we use Saturday mornings.  We’ve been doing it for months and the kids still think it’s fun and it’s just become our Saturday morning routine after pancakes.   The jobs are very age appropriate and can be easily done by Erik, Will and Sarah….

They really love flinging that duster around!    And the whole point really is getting them doing stuff and I don’t worry too much about the end result, although I have been surprised about how great a job can do if they put their mind to it.

So that’s Saturdays, but I needed motivation for them during the week that wouldn’t involve a chart.  So when Sarah was at her speech therapy in January, I found this idea in a magazine and I wish I could remember what magazine or who the author was to give credit where credit is due, but I don’t remember.  Sorry!   But basically, you get a jar (any container would do) for each child, and as they do chores they get a marble to put in the jar.  I’ve actually made a list of chores with their marble equivalent to keep things fair.  

Sorry – very uninspiring jar of marbles pic,  but it works.   When the jar is full they either get $2 or 4 Lego bucks – which they can put towards a new Lego set and then we start over again.     This should be a great marble week because the boys want to earn more money… for a good cause.    The kids at our church are raising money for our sister church in Nepal and they trying to raise enough money to cover the tuition costs for 5 children and my boys are excited.  And it warmed the cockles of my heart tonight to hear Erik explain how it costs $250 a year per child for tuition in Nepal and they’ve already raised $150 and so they need more money to give!  They are taking this very seriously.  In fact, I had a hard time to restrain William this morning from emptying his piggy bank, he wanted to give it all.   So I can only see this as a win-win situation.  More chores equals more marbles, more marbles equals more pay-outs, more pay-outs equals more money for Nepal…   how wonderful. 

So that’s how I share the load here and even if I am still busy, it doesn’t matter, it’s for a good cause too.  Any other thoughts on how to keep kids motivated to do chores?

Camera withdrawal…

I miss my camera!   And I’m finding it hard to blog without having pictures to weave my posts together… it’s requiring much more thought and my brain on 6 or so hours of sleep per night is not managing that well.   And it’s not all the kids fault that I’m not getting that much sleep, most of the problem is that  really don’t like going to bed at night.  I like the quiet house and enjoy the time with Jay, and sometimes I’m just TOO tired to put myself to bed.  But the kids aren’t helping.   Sophia has learned the word ‘hungry’, and that’s what she has been at 6:30 this morning and 5:30 the morning before… and to hear her little plaintive voice saying  ‘hun-gee’, ‘hun-gee’, motivates me to crawl out from my warm cozy bed like not much else will.   And then even though I try desperately to resume sleep after, it’s disjointed and restless and so the end result – a very tired mom.   Tonight – tonight is the night that I will get my act together and go to bed early – yes, it’s true, really I mean it, going to bed early, yup, I’m all over it. 

But the kids are good for a laugh even though I can’t take pictures of them.  Like yesterday when  Sarah thought she would help and wash some dishes and solemnly declared that it really is a good idea to take your shirt off when washing dishes so that it doesn’t get wet – and then proceeded to do so.   It’s a good thing she’s four – and it’s a good thing I don’t ever plan on following her advice.   But then she went on to say, WELL ACTUALLY if you really want to do it right, you would put your bathing suit on… which I thought was very resourceful of her, but was thankful it didn’t come to that.  And I’m glad that my dish-washing skills are such that I have never been required to do so myself… bathing suit season year-around… that give me chills.  

In other notes I have an amazing friend who is NOT reading my blog right now because it’s Lent and she’s giving me up… WELL ACTUALLY,  she is limiting her computer time so she can spend more time with her family which I happen to think is wonderful (she’s outlined it here in her blog).   But she willing shared some of her family time with me today and took care of the girls for me for an hour this morning.   And wonder of wonders while I was writing this entry,  she sent me this…

 A Sophia pic that she took this morning!    Thank-you Christa!   How did she know I was in Sophia-pic-withdrawal along with my camera withdrawa?     I have this feeling that a post is never complete without a pic of my littlest sweetie-pie.  

Well I’m hoping that my camera and I will be united soon, I’m also hoping the snow will melt and my house will magically clean itself, but I would settle just for my camera.

A post for today

So March break is coming to an end tomorrow it’s back to school.   I was trying to figure out this week how we could avoid school without having to home school, but I realized it can’t be done in good conscience and that I should cheer up because it’s not me that has to go to school. 🙂 Sorry boys!   It’s not that I’m not all for education,  I just like having my kids around and being able to do whatever we want to and not having to get dressed until noon.  And I hate packing lunches.   I really do.   And the boys are constantly changing their minds about what they like and dislike so I never seem to get it right.   Sigh, the trials of lunch packing… thankfully I can pick them up for lunch when I really want to avoid it.      

But March break was wonderful even if Sophia did get sick with the stomach flu and stayed sick. I didn’t know that someone could throw-up once a day for 5 days, but I can assure you that  it is possible.   Except that she didn’t exactly throw-up every day, sometimes it came out the other end… sorry, but had to be strictly honest.    It was this weird thing where you thought she was on the mend and then she obviously wouldn’t be.   The most  slow and dragged stomach flu I’ve ever experienced,  I wouldn’t recommend it.   She didn’t share any of her lovely germs with us (yet) but she did pass it on to her little cousin Katie (sorry) and my brother John (extra sorry!) who were so nice to play with us while we were at my mom and dads for a few days.   The kids and I love going to my parents and we spend two nights there and had a blast… apart from the fact that Sophia being sick forced mom and I to cancel a mother and daughter shopping trip that I was looking forward too.   I pouted.  

But now we are home and gearing up for getting back to routine.   And it’s so great that the snow is disappearing so quickly, although when I got home yesterday it was to a yard that was seriously littered with toboggans and shovels.  For some reason these things don’t look so bad scattered all over snow, but on the dingy grass where the snow had receded… let’s just say the mess seriously decreased our property value.  So being the good mother I am,  I spent the 5 minutes it took to tidy them up, I felt I had too.  We had new neighbours moving in across the way and I didn’t want them to get the wrong impression. 

And I would love to share some pictures of what we’ve been up to, but again, I have camera issues, namely that I’ve left my camera at my mother’s who lives an hour away and won’t get it back for a few more days.  I could see in Jason’s eyes when I told him that he’s starting to think I shouldn’t even be allowed near a camera so I need to be extra careful in the future.

So I’ve dragged up some pictures from last March just because this was cute.  Sarah loves tea parties and one day after school Erik decided to put one on for Sarah – in his room.  It was an occasion to get dressed up for, so he and Will put their Sunday best on and convinced Sarah to put a dress on (no mean feat).  Then Erik left a trail for her to follow to her surprise tea party.  It was really cute.  Even if the box wasn’t meant to support a tea-pot and cups and eventually caved it, a wonderful time was had by all.

And no blog post is complete without a picture of Sophy – here she was last year, it give me a little bit of spring baby fever.

Happy back to school!

In peace I will sleep…

The last few days I can’t really get my mind off of what’s going on in Japan.  With it’s devastation and human suffering, it makes me realize that our lives truly are fleeting (Psalm 39:4) and that we just don’t have as much control over our surroundings as we would like to think that we do.  It’s crazy isn’t it?  We like to feel ‘in control’ and hate the feeling about being ‘out of control’, but how much is really in our control?  I think it’s probably not very much.   

So of course I’ve been praying for the people of Japan and especially praying that their nuclear issues would be resolved… that does NOT sound like fun.   I’ve been reading so much about it that I now know more about  nuclear fission than I ever thought I would, not that I understand it.  I guess should get Erik to read it and then explain it to me.

But back to being ‘out of control’ – thing like natural disasters and things going wrong that could kill us like nuclear plants melting down can all lead to fear and I am no stranger to fear.   Jason laughs at me for being scared about everything, but it’s just the brain that I was born with.  I have a good imagination and I just can imagine all the things that could go wrong or the things that could hurt my kids.  

Praise the Lord though, I know how to deal with my fears… it’s found here in my favourite verses Philippians 4:6-7…   “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus..”  So basically a simple exchange of  trading fear for peace,  sounds like a plan to me.    And I am proof that it works.   Am I a basket case of worry? NO.  Would I be without God? YES.  Not to say that I never worry, or that my worry doesn’t get the best of me sometimes, I just know what to do with it.

Kids of course have their own set of fears and I had a little William here last night who couldn’t get to sleep last night because he was afraid of the abominable snow man from Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer –  a movie that he saw at Christmas time….say WHAT?  I guess no one says fears need to be rational.   So I sang him this  verse, Psalm 4:8 which was put to song by Steve Green, ” In peace I will both lie down and sleep;  for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.”  It is such a reassurance to me that since safety is from the Lord I (and my kids) can sleep without fear.  Again, it doesn’t mean that bad things won’t happen, but when they do, I know that God has allowed them, they are from His hand and He alone will get me through.

So there are my deep thoughts on peace… here is someone who is literally sleeping in peace…

She was up last night with another bout of the stomach flu.  Although I have found out that she is a swallower… after throwing up the first time, she never actually brought up again, because she worked very hard to swallow it back down again.   I just don’t know what to say about that.   It’s probably not a good thing, but it did save me from more laundry, so again, not really sure where I stand on that.

I hope that we didn’t get this little guy sick yesterday. 

My cousin Janine came for a visit yesterday with her two beautiful children.  This little guy is 6 months and SOOO cute and little daughter Erin is very sweet, but was tired at the end of the visit and really didn’t want her picture taken… but I snatched this one.  She played so well with the kids the whole time she was here, I was really impressed.

Well as I’m hoping and praying that the nuclear reactors will be contained in Japan, I’m also praying that it was just a one person flu-bug this time and it won’t make the rest of my little ducklings here sick, one pukey baby is definitely enough!

JC + LC = LOVE

Erik is many things as I have shared before here – but he is also very sweet.   This was a surprise that he made for me yesterday on the fence…

It makes me just a little teary.  First off – it’s cool to have kids old enough to do things like this for you and secondly, I love the fact that he knows that  Jason and I love each other!   I guess we’re doing something right… something… and that feels good in the times when you feel like you are probably doing most everything wrong.

But now it’s March break and we are SOOOO excited to have this time off of school… and I’m excited about not having to herd four kids out the door at 8:30 in the morning…  insert huge sigh of relief here.   

We were lucky and got a head start on March break this past week when we packed up, dropped Sophia off at Oma’s (thank-you Oma!) and headed to Ohio to the Kalahari Resort with its indoor water part (I have to thank Grandma and Grandpa here too).  We had an absolute blast.  It was so much fun, their indoor water-park rocks, they even had a great indoor playground for the kids and of course they had an arcade.  Oh arcades, kids love them,  but they just suck your money and you don’t really get anything in return.  But they are smart over there at the Kalahari… I mean really thinking because you have to walk smack dab through the arcade to get to the water park…   oh the lights and the sounds that just lure the kids in.  Gee whiz.

We did have a great time that went largely undocumented as we didn’t have a camera with us.  Our new camera is too big and bulky and we haven’t replaced our point and shoot that got sand in it this summer.  We had Jason’s phone so we took a few pics… here are the kids in the lobby, I know it’s terribly exciting.

And Sarah riding the carousel at the arcade… again, so exciting for her at least.   For me it was very slow and went around about 50 hundred million times.  Thankfully she waved at me every time it went around.

So we were back late Thursday night   and Friday was supposed to be a school day, but we woke up to snow, yes lovely lovely snow, and the buses weren’t running, so we had a snow day!  Everyone was happy about that, especially me as I didn’t have to find my way out of the chaos of coming home to properly send the boys to school in an organized fashion.

Yesterday we played in the snow because I was hoping it was the last snow of the season.. yeah right… but we made a family of snowmen in the perfect packing snow…

And here’s Will playing with Sophia and making her laugh like crazy.  He is SO good with Sophia and I have a sneaking suspicion that he is her favourite sibling.  Even when Sophia was ‘lost’ at church this morning we weren’t that worried because we knew that Will – her faithful shadow would be with her.  And he was, he was just following her wherever she wanted to go, even if that was going where she wasn’t supposed to.   She’s one lucky little girl.    Just like I’m lucky with my wonderful family and a whole March break to lounge around in pajamas and hang out with friends, yahoo!

Cousins Rock…

My kids are very blessed in the cousin department.  They have 9 cousins currently and that’s not even it yet… there are two more on the way coming this May and July.   And my kids love their cousins, in fact, I have to be honest,  when I was teaching Sarah to pray we included Grandma and Grandpa and Oma and Opa and then I combine everyone else into God bless “all our friends and family”… yes, I’m a wimp.    But lately miss Sarah has wanted to pray for everyone and it takes a long time!!!     But I’m not complaining.   It’s so sweet to hear her pray for her cousin Aidan and baby Katie and the baby in aunt Lija’s tummy and the baby in aunt Jenilyn’s tummy and I think she can remember them all, I just help with the aunts and uncles, that’s can be tricky.  

But on to our cousins.   We’re really blessed because all the cousins are all quite close in age with the oldest one 12 and  the youngest just 4 months younger than Sophia.   So when the kids find out that we are seeing any of them they get quite excited.  And this past weekend was great because we saw them all!   On Saturday we celebrated Grandma’s birthday and we saw Aidan and Liam and then on Sunday we celebrated Opa’s birthday on Sunday and saw Ben, Matt, Nate, Rachel, Zack, Katie and Tyler!   What a great weekend!

Here’s Aidan on Saturday with the cutest smile…

And Liam and the kids had a great time playing and then here waiting to blow out Grandma’s candles…

And silly me, I didn’t take my camera on Sunday because I didn’t think I would need it????   I took quite a few pictures with my sister-in-law’s Canon Rebel (which is almost as good as my Nixon) but she’s pregnant with a toddler so I don’t want to bug her about sending me the pics – something tells me she might need her energy for other things.     So instead of all the cute pictures of the kids having a grand ole’ time with their cousins on Sunday, here’s a pic of another cutie…

What can I say?  She’s my baby and she’s cute and I rest my case.  

But I will say it again… the kids love their cousins!  And I love my nieces and nephews… wow, yes, I keep forgetting that I only have two nieces and 7 nephews – but I did mention that there are two babies on the way… maybe we’ll get some more xx’s to even things up with the xy’s.   I don’t think anyone would mind that! 🙂

What l’ll miss about winter…

As I gaze outside at beautifully falling March snow, I am reminded that it is still winter, no matter how much I wish it were otherwise.  And so, I’m going to embrace it and  just love it and enjoy it.   And so to really honour it I’m going to make a list of all the things that I will miss about winter.  Yes winter.  Things I’ll miss about winter.  

I wrote a similar list when I was pregnant and over-due with Sophia… things that I will miss about being pregnant.   That list had things on it like, ‘I’ll miss all the attention’ and  “I’ll miss little feet and elbows jabbing me in the ribs’ and things like that.  But then a few days later I gave birth and I haven’t thought about that list again until now almost 2 years later.  So this list is different because I really do love winter.  Really I love it, I do.   So without further ado… my list.

I’ll miss…

  • How cute the kids (especially Sophia) look all bundled up in their snow suits
  • How beautiful everything outside looks with a fresh clean blanket of sparkling snow
  • Playing outside with the kids,  tobogganing, snow-ball fights, making forts, making snow men, all of it
  • Making and eating winter comfort foods like shepherd’s pie, chilli etc
  • Being able to concentrate on just my inside house-work
  • Curling up by the fire with a blanket, a book and some chocolate

There – now I know I only came up with 6 things, but this is winter we’re talking about.    Now just to even things up and show that there are two sides to me,  I’m going to list the things that I won’t miss about winter… so here goes….

  • I won’t miss how cute the kids (especially Sophia) look all bundled up in their snow suits.  They were cute, but not cute enough to want to stuff another kid into another snow ever again.  
  • I won’t miss how beautiful everything outside looks with a fresh clean blanket of sparkling snow… my new favourite outdoor colour is GREEN. 
  • I won’t miss playing outside with the kids,  tobogganing, snow-ball fights, making forts, making snow men, because I still will be playing outside with the kids, we’ll be playing soccer, blowing bubbles and swimming in the pool!
  • I won’t miss making and eating winter comfort foods like shepherd’s pie, chilli because honestly, the next time I see a pound of ground beef it better be in the form of a hamburger on the BBQ.
  • I won’t miss being able to concentrate on just my inside house-work because I’m getting SICK OF MY HOUSE.  Can anyone say CABIN FEVER?  Oh dear, I’m yelling, sorry. 
  • Curling up by the fire with a blanket, a book and some chocolate –  well this shouldn’t be on this list, because I really will miss this one.  You just can’t beat it and I will dream about it all summer, well maybe not, but still.  

So winter, stay as long as you want, or maybe just stay until tomorrow.

Being brave

We have a crawl space.  And like anyone who owns them you know that they are a blessing and a curse.    The blessing part comes in the form of a great storage spot.  The curse comes because it’s a storage spot that you have a to bend over to access,  has lousy lighting and is full of dust and mouse poop.   Well the last two might just apply to our crawl space, but still, I often wonder who decided that a crawl space would be a better use of space than digging down another two feet to create another room.  Someone actually choose a crawl space.  Interesting.   

 The  kids have a love-hate relationship with the crawl space as well.  For them it’s a treasure trove of cool things, in the big part that is general house storage and the smaller part that we keep their excess toys in.   But on the other hand, it’s kinda scary too with its shadows and the furnace and pipes… great fodder for the imagination. In fact Sarah scared the living day-lights out of me a year or so ago when she was in the crawl space with me and pointed off to over the furnace and kept asking me, “Who’s that guy mom?”   EKKKK – let’s just say I got out of there quick.   Here, quick Sophy pic to break the tension…

Don’t you just love her socks?    So yesterday when my plans got changed and I realized I was stuck at home, I girded up my loins and decided that it was a good of time as any to tidy up the playroom and reorganize the toy crawl space.    So off I bravely went in body even though in spirit I was sitting on the couch reading a novel and eating chocolate.       Sarah was looking at all the toys in the crawl space and decided she wanted her doll house, except I didn’t want any more toys out until I was done tidying up the playroom.   So she and William were standing in the doorway of the crawl space looking in longingly and William being the bigger, stronger older brother told Sarah he would get the dollhouse for her to which Sarah replied, “Oh William, you aren’t brave enough!”  in a really concerned, but proud sort of way.  It reminded me of an old movie where the heroine was clutching the hero’s arm as he vowed to save her.   William  was brave enough, got the doll-house and the rest was history, as in they played beautifully together and fought beautifully together the rest of the afternoon.

So my point?   Opps, I don’t really have one,  I just wanted to let you know that I am being a little productive this March, even though it is cold and spring won’t officially arrive for 19 more days and I really don’t feel like doing anything.  March should be a great time to do spring cleaning, but I would rather just nap.   And I wanted to point out that  William is brave.  

Here’s another Sophy pic…

I think her lunch yesterday may have have been a little too boring…  maybe something like this post. 🙂