Four things I would recommend….

1.   If you like reading blogs, I would recommend my friend Christa’s blog over at Sodemanland.    She is a mom and a deep thinker (definitely deeper than I!) and her blog is thought provoking and honest.   She posts a wide variety of things to keep it interesting and it certainly keeps you coming back for more.

2.  If you own a central vac and have a sock on your hose –  I would recommend that you take that sock off the hose and wash it more than once every 6 years.  If you do happen to leave the sock on for 6 years and then decide to wash it, it will  be so dirty that the rinse water will practically turn to mud and you will marvel at the fact that every time you were trying to clean your floors by vacuuming them you weren’t helping the cause by dragging this horridly dirty object all over them.  ( I wouldn’t have any experience in this area… none whatsoever.)

3.  If you like to read, I would highly recommend reading the book “Lies Women Believe and then Turth that sets them free“.  An amazing book by  Nancy Leigh DeMoss.     The basic premise is that Satan who is the father of all lies, first started testing his wares on Eve in the garden of Eden and look what he accomplished.   He’s still lying to us now and telling us things like ‘I need a husband to be happy’ or that ‘If my circumstances were different I would be different’ and a biggie… ‘I can’t control my emotions’.    She points out that these are lies… all LIES!!!!   It’s time to combat those lies with the truth –  the truth that’s found in the Bible – God’s word.  It’s a very freeing book.

4.  My last recommendation for today…. if you have a sore throat that goes on for a week – and you go to the doctor after 6 days and she doesn’t think it’s strep because even though your throat is fire-engine red she doesn’t see any pus (yuk!).   I would recommend going home and mixing 2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar with a cup of water, then gargling a tablespoon or so of this liquid once every hour for a full day (swallowing a bit at the end – oh don’t give me that – you’ll survive).   And if you are oh-so-fortunate like myself,  that annoyingly very sore throat might completely disappear!!

So there you go… I think I like this recommending things, it might just become a regular feature. 🙂

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I love these cookies…

My mom always manages to find the best books and this year at Christmas she didn’t disappoint.  She gave the girls these oh-so-sweet Cookie books by Amy Krouse Rosenthal...

They are basically cookie dictionaries… a really yummy way for children to learn the meaning of big words.  From the first book one of my favourite pages says…  “PROUD means, My chin is high, and I sure do like the way my cookies turned out. ”  And then the next page says… “MODEST means you don’t run around telling everyone you make the best cookies, even if you know it to be true.”     I think the concept she uses is so simple but understandable,  I love it!!

From the Sugar cookies book, “FORGIVE means, I needed some time to get over what you said about my cookies – ’cause that wasn’t very nice – but now I think I’m ready to play with you again.”   And then the definition of selfless, “No, really, please, I want you to have the last cookie.

Oh these books are just as sweet as the cookies they are about and I really enjoy reading them to the girls.  And it’s such a great teaching tool too, not only the meaning of works, but also values like being trustworthy.  In the cookie dictionary trustworthy means, “If you ask me to hold your cookie until you come back, when you come back, I will still be holding your cookie.”   That one really spoke to Sarah and it’s neat that we can talk about it and I can refer back to the book to remind her of things like being modest and trustworthy.

I am giving these book 2 thumbs up and they are definitely books worth investing in for that special little someone in your life!

Mike Teavee

So the other day we were at Jay’s parents and I grabbed some old children’s books for Erik one of the books was  Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  This book was a favourite of mine as a kid so I’ve been reading it and tonight I found this poem… and loved it even though I don’t remember it at all.

And to think that Roald Dahl wrote this book in 1964.  And if it was true then, I hate to think what he would think of TV now.

Anyway, to get back to my point, this is the song that the Oompa-Loompa’s  sang to Mike Teavee after his passionate love of TV got him shrunk to the size of an inch in Willy Wonka’s factory… enjoy…

“The most important thing we’ve learned,

So far as children are concerned,

Is never, NEVER, NEVER let

Them near your television set –

Or better still, just don’t install

The idiotic thing at all,

In almost every house we’ve been,

We’ve watched them gaping at the screen.

They loll and slop and lounge about,

And stare until their eyes pop out.

(Last week in someone’s place we saw

A dozen eyeballs on the floor.)

They sit and stare and stare and sit

Until they’re hypnotised by it,

Until they’re absolutely drunk

With all that shocking ghastly junk.

Oh yes, we know it keeps them still,

They don’t climb out the window sill,

They never fight or kick or punch,

They leave you free to cook the lunch

And wash the dishes in the sink –

But did you ever stop to think,

To wonder just exactly what

This does to your beloved tot?

IT ROTS THE SENSES IN THE HEAD!

IT KILLS IMAGINATION DEAD!

IT CLOGS AND CLUTTERS UP THE MIND!

IT MAKES A CHILD SO DULL AND BLIND

HE CAN NO LONGER UNDERSTAND

A FANTASY, A FAIRYLAND!

HIS BRAIN BECOMES AS SOFT AS CHEESE!

HIS POWERS OF THINKING RUST AND FREEZE!

HE CANNOT THINK – HE ONLY SEES!

‘Al right!” you’ll cry. ‘All right!’ you’ll say,

‘But if we take the set away,

What shall we do to entertain

Our darling children?  Please explain!’

We’ll answer this by asking you,

‘What used the darling ones to do?

Before this monster was invented?

Have you forgotten? Don’t you know?

We’ll say it very loud and slow:

THEY… USED…TO…READ!  They’d READ and

READ,

AND READ and READ, and then proceed

To READ some more.  Great Scott!  Gadzooks!

One half their lives was reading books!

The nursery shelves held books galore!

Books cluttered up the nursery floor!

And in the bedroom, by the bed,

More books were waiting to be read!

Such wondrous, fine, fantastic tales

Of dragons, gypsies, queens, and whales

And treasure isles, and distant shores

Where smugglers rowed witih muffled oars,

And pirates wearing purple pants,

And sailing ships and elephants,

And cannibals crouching ’round the pot,

Stirring away at something hot.

(It smells so good, what can it be?

Good gracious, it’s Penelope.)

The younger ones had Beatrix Potter

With Mr. Tod, the dirty rotter,

And squirrel Nutkin, Pigling Bland,

And Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle and –

Just How the Camel Got His Hump,

And How The Monkey Lost His Rump,

And Mr. Toad and bless my soul,

There’s Mr. Rat and Mr. Mole –

Oh, books, what books they used to know,

Theose children living long ago!

So please, oh please, we beg, we pray,

Go throw your TV set away,

And in it’s place you can install

A lovely bookshelf on the wall.

Then fill the shelves with lots of books,

Ignoring all the dirty looks,

The screams and yells, the bites and kicks,

And children hitting you with sticks –

Fear not, because we promise you

That, in about a week or two

Of having nothing else to do,

They’ll now begin to feel the need

Of having something good to read.

And once they start – oh boy, oh boy!

You watch the slowly growing joy

That fills their hearts.  They’ll grow so keen

They’ll wonder what they’d ever seen

In that ridiculous machine,

That nauseating, foul, unclean,

Repulsive television screen!

And later, each and every kid

Will love you more for what you did.

P.S. Regarding Mike Teavee,

We very much regret that we

Shall simply have to wait and see

If we can get him back his height.

But if we can’t – it serves him right.

A fabulous poem Mr. Dahl!

So sorry my darlings, there are just too many reasons here for keeping the TV off!

It’s great to stay up late

Last night as I was falling asleep I had the craziest thoughts – they were so random that I tried to remember what they were so I could blog about them, but no such luck.   They couldn’t have been that exciting so it’s probably just as well.     I had actually stayed up late reading a novel which I hardly ever do because I know that I’m grumpy as all get out when I don’t get enough sleep but I’m really glad I stayed awake reading last night because I read something that I liked – but first I’ll back-track.

When I came home last night from an unsuccessful shopping trip I found Jason at the kitchen table taking mud off his RC Car (he had put a plastic table-cloth down so I didn’t have to freak out) and I started helping him so we could chat.     And  I think that I was complaining to him.    At the time I thought I was just sort of airing my views on things, but he told me to stop complaining and of course then I got offended and told him that he should be supportive –  because that’s the thing we wives say to our husbands when they try to interject some common sense into our lives.   So then I thought well maybe I had a negative view but this is how I legitimately feel about things so isn’t that OK?     But I stopped airing my views and went to bed where I stayed awake reading a novel by one of my favourite authors,  Alexander McCall  Smith.  I like him so much because he gets people – he really understands what makes people tick and that’s how he can write from the perspective of a 40-year-old African lady detective in Botswana when he is a middle-aged professor of medical law at a Scottish university.   Amazing really   So toward’s the end of “The Double Comfort Safari Club” I read this…

“Do not complain about your life.  Do not blame others for the things that you have brought upon yourself.  Be content with who you are and where you are, and do whatever you can do bring to others such contentment, and joy, and understanding that you have managed to find yourself.”

I liked it – I felt like it was a little reminder from God that the opposite of complaining often tends to be contentment.   I do tend to complain –  and it’s usually about problems that I’ve brought upon myself to boot.    I do find myself extremely frustrating at times…   I like a clean kitchen but I can’t put away things after myself.   I like a good sleep but I can’t get to bed early –  the list could go on and on.  But I am as God made me and I have to stop beating myself up!    I was reading Psalm 139 to William the other morning and here’s a verse that I love … verse 14, “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”  So even though life isn’t going to be perfect and I’m not perfect, God made me and His works are wonderful!  🙂   Now, if I just stop complaining, put in my little stake of contentment, and not focus on the negative – I can use that energy instead to glorify God and serve Him and serve others – and that is where my joy will come from.

See, it is great to stay up late!

What I learned this week…

I would like to think that I learn a little something every week – so maybe this post will be a recurring theme – but I definitely learned something this past week!   And it’s this… that even though the kids were sure that not playing computer this week would kill them, they survived – in fact I think they thrived!

See Erik and Will were goofing off last Saturday whenever they were supposed to be doing something (shocking I know) and so I took away their computer privileges from Monday morning to Friday after school.    There was some whining, and they occasionally complained they were bored after school when they realized I wasn’t joking, but then they would start to play lego or make up a game to play with each other and then they wouldn’t stop.  They used their imaginations, they created elaborate games, read more for fun, and they made some messes, like when they all played play-dough for an hour or so along with our neighbour…

But the mess was so worth it.  And Jason and I liked the computer-gaming-free week so much that we’ve decided that this is going to be the norm here, which won’t delight the kids, but now I know it won’t really be that big of deal for them.   And William is still allowed to go on his Raz Kids reading program for school and Sarah can do alphabet reading games and Erik can do his school projects on the computer, but I’m so glad to find that they do just fine without the computer to entertain them or to keep them out of my hair.   And it’s great to get the kid’s daily screen time on the week down to less than an hour each day – they still watch a bit of TV, mostly while I’m making supper.

It’s so cool that the kids haven’t lost the ability to just play and entertain them without a screen in front of them, now if I could only learn to do without so much computer time myself!

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?

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. 🙂