Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Deal With The Wheels...

Ahem. I have a small confession to make.
Actually, I probably have several I could scrounge up, but we'll leave it at this for now....
I never EVER wear a bike helmet.
We're all about safety first over here, and kids wear helmets and all that, but in this one teeny tiny area, I've not been one to set the example.
I don't like helmets.
I personally don't OWN a helmet.
But now I have to find one!


This year I get to PARTICIPATE in the Ride for Refuge.
Ever heard of it?
Well, I hadn't either, until last year.
Until my sweet neighbor invited me to bike along, but just having had a baby and focusing very hard to trying to maintain my sensibilities, I cheered her on from the sidelines instead ;).
Here's their 2010 promo video....

HOWEVER. This year I get to grab my wheels (and, sigh, a helmet :P) and join in the biking fun. We'll be cycling in Winnipeg on October 1.

WHY ?? You ask?

One. Awareness. It's soooo easy for me to forget. To go about my business. To not stop, to not care, to turn and walk away instead of stopping to look need in the eye. It's one teeny tiny way for me to get involved in something so much bigger, to contribute in some way, to remember.

Two. We're raising money. Most of the proceeds we raise will go to support the Winnipeg Crisis Pregnancy Centre. These fine folks are doing the best they can to love, support, nurture and care for other fine folks who find themselves in life's difficult circumstances. They all need our prayer. Our care. And a little bit of cash goes a long, long way too.

Three. We're raising money :). A portion of the proceeds will go into the Ride for Refuge fund ---

Uprooted by war and political conflict, marginalized by gender discrimination and racial prejudice, and abused by the powerful - those who are displaced, vulnerable, and exploited urgently need our protection, especially women and children.

The Ride for Refuge helps churches and charities fund and promote their work with people who are displaced, vulnerable, and exploited. These include:
Refugees and Internally Displaced Peoples (claimants and sponsored)
Migrant Families (economically displaced and migrant workers)
Indigenous and First Nations People
Widows (men & women)
Orphans (single-parent, abandoned and street kids)
Homeless (urban or rural poor)
Abused (elderly, spousal, kids)
Human Trafficking (child & adult)
Sex-trade (child & adult)
Labor (child, bonded, forced marriage, child soldiers)

Wanna join in the fun!?
You can grab a bike. You can raise $$.
You can contribute $$.
You can come and be a part of the adventure on October 1 (ride starts at 9).

Click HERE if you want to sign up and/or contribute $$!

I'll let you know how it goes.
The last time I participated in a bike-a-thon, I was going into grade eight, biked 148 kms, had a very sore behind, and great calf muscles for the next two years!!!
I'm a bit older now, starting off with the 10k bike (25k and 50k to come :P?), and suspect my calf muscles could use the work out!!

And now --- off to find a helmet!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

A Wrestle I Never Thought I'd Have...

It started the morning I dropped Little M off at Kindergarten for the first time.
By this time, next year, we'll be home-schooling.
Where on EARTH did that come from!?

Keeping in mind that I was sleep-deprived AND post-partum ;), I just assumed that the hormones were playing havoc with my mind (again!) and entertained these ideas as a way of coping with the whole transition. And so entertain them I did, for a while.

Then, while walking home from school one day, we chatted with a friend who was teaching their kids at home. They were all excited about a chrysalis that had been discovered in their backyard. They had brought it inside and were waiting for for the butterfly to make it's grand appearance.
Chrysalis? CHRYSALIS!?
Seriously, I don't even know what one looks like, let alone where to find one. Even if I DID manage to recognize one, I would never think to bring it into the house for observation. Then and there I mourned, immediately deciding that if my poor children were taught at home, they would be completely and utterly deprived of any sort of real education whatsoever.

I simply let the matter drop.

I love this quote from the movie Inception:
Cobb: What is the most resilient parasite? A bacteria? A virus? An intenstinal worm? An idea. Resilient, highly contajous. Once an idea has taken hold of the brain it's almost impossible to iradicate. An idea that is fully formed, fully understood. That sticks, right in there somewhere. 
[he points to his head] 

This idea had lodged itself deeper than I had imagined. Later that fall, while shopping for christmas gifts, I ran into a friend who had been working on the same college degree as I was a few years ago. We'd clicked, and had both contemplated pursuing our masters degree in counseling. She excitedly told me about another route that she had taken in order to obtain her dream -- and strongly encouraged me to consider the same. I became excited -- very very excited. I shared the conversation with Jon, and he was able to locate the appropriate information for me (being a high school guidance counselor and all, this is very handy!). Maybe not for another year, or two, but definitely worth considering.

But even as my heart pondered this, I could feel it stirring. The idea.
What about teaching your children from home?

It became increasingly clear that this was something I needed to pray about further. And not just as a way of coping with the changes, but as a serious consideration. The more I prayed about it, the more the LORD began to reveal and refine - the more I wrestled with motivations, values, assumptions, fear. In this I began to long more and deeper for the LORD's best in our lives at this time.

Very quickly I began to encounter obstacles.
My husband was totally not enthusiastic about this idea at all.
I really appreciate our local school, and wondered what it would be like to not be a part of it.
I thought that the only home-school group in town was full, and I knew I did not want to do this on my own.
I'd begin thinking, maybe, just maybe, and we'd have a horrible week and I wanted to wave the white flag of surrender and thought there is just no way.

But the prayer and research continued. The more I discovered, the more it was confirmed in my heart. A day away to contemplate and pray sealed the deal --- LORD, it would be an honor for me to teach my children at home, however You will need to work out the details. I will not manipulate. I will not demand. You, and only You can do the heart work necessary for this to work.

After a conversation with Jon, we began to explore. He was more open to this than I'd initially thought. (Which, honestly, perplexed me a little because now it meant I REALLY had to consider what felt like a BIG risk!) Over time we carefully sought information, I spoke to hardly no one at all about this since I wanted no one to influence what the LORD was doing in my heart. We outlined a few steps that we needed to take before closing the door (or walking through an open invitation!).

Purchased a used curriculum online to peruse - check
Received confirmation that the Co-op would welcome us - check
Had many many many (many many) conversations about what about this, what about that, and this, or that, and have you thought of this, did you seriously consider that - check check and check!!
I think the thoroughness that I had given this surprised Jon (pleasantly!) and I felt so free, knowing that I didn't have to convince him. I just needed to be honest about what I was feeling and discovering and the LORD would do the rest.

Until this very weekend, I honestly had no idea which way the pendulum would swing. I have wrestled through so many misgivings. I really really like the elementary school. Love the sense of camaraderie and community. Enjoy the variety and diversity. Recognize that not every lesson can be taught in the home. I have struggled with how this would impact Little M, and each of her sisters. Would I have the energy to do this to the best of my ability? Sweet K requires more attention than a typical 4-year-old ... could I do both well?

And on. And on.

We finally came to the conclusion that it is best for us to teach Little M from home this year, quite likely the next and possibly a third. We'll see. I say: for the next foreseeable season, she's at home. Sweet K will continue to go to preschool one afternoon a week so that we can continue to build her case for requiring one-on-one assistance when she enters school (we are planning to send her next year, for her educational needs outweigh what I can give her at this point). How this will all play out --- I'm not even worried about it. I don't have all the answers, and I'm okay with that. If we've come this far, those details will become clear as we need them. For now we can focus on what we know, what we feel, what we believe.

It is good.

At some point we do want her in public school, as we both feel she will likely learn lessons there that we simply cannot teach her here. I look forward to getting involved with volunteering at that time, leading a Discovery class, assisting where needed in a classroom, helping with activities. Building community connections. I will miss that now, but know that a season is coming again when that will be a possibility.

If the tide had turned, and I'd be shopping for school supplies (which, incidentally I have to do anyway!) and packing her back pack and making sure all things were ready to go --- the journey would still have been worth it. I cannot explain how much I've learned, how much I've wrestled, and even how Jon & I have learned to communicate. It has not at all been easy, and comparable to the wrestle we had when deciding whether or not to have a third baby. Tough stuff.

But seeking out God's best is ALWAYS worth it.
You just never know which adventure is awaiting on the horizon!!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Cuckoo Bananas...

Yup. I can feel it.
We're at that half-way summertime hump.
You know. That hump.
That --- "the hot humid days are really bad for hair," the control issues in me surface and I long for more a bit more routine, and my emotional ability to handle sandbox sand in the house grows increasingly slim --- hump.

It's actually an annual milestone for me, and I've come to expect it.
I am no longer surprised by my quick peek at the sweaters pile in the closet, my freakish tendencies to make lists about everything, or that hyperventilating feeling I get when trying to pack a somewhat creative (but usually pretty standard) picnic lunch.
I usually combat it by snuggling in for a nap.
Nothing like a little sleep to restore perspective :).

A quick snooze after a morning of all-out playing fun!!

It's right around this time that I gaze nostalgically at ripening wheat, canola and flax fields. Growing up on a farm, we knew that the long summer days were running out and we'd be back in the classroom (and surrounded by friends!) shortly. I am still invigorated by the sight of farm equipment clearing a field as I recall the Harvest Buzz around our childhood home. Picnics on the field. Visits to Grandma's while my mom worked alongside my dad. 

It's right about now that I start to look at fall, how responsibilities will fit in and around family life, learning what to say "yes" to (and what to say "no" to).

And it's right about now that I embrace the sun-soaked mayhem a little longer, take a deep breath and enjoy that last stretch of summer.

And, just maybe, sneak a little snack. :)

Caught in the act of sneaking a sugar snap pea fresh from the garden

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Choses J'adore

Choses J'adore sounds so much more refined and learned than the English translation... things I adore. Not to be sneaky about it -- I used an online translation tool for this! I do NOT have a gift for learning additional languages. In fact, as a youngster, I even boycotted Sesame Street when it went bilingual!!! Since then, I have set my language-snobbery ways aside, and have (through sheer force of the public school system) studied German and also (totally voluntarily, which makes ALL the difference) dabbled in Greek.

However, this just sounds so lovely, I could almost consider studying french ;).

Anyway. Choses J'adore.

This summer is the first in many many that I've actually paid any attention whatsoever to my gardens. Well, that's not entirely true either. Every year I have planted flowers and veggies. Every year I have enjoyed, to some degree, the fruits of both. However, due to the delightful absence of post-partum blues, a remarkably enjoyable lack of anxiety resulting from child-related doctor appointments, and time around the home (when I worked full time away from home - because now I work more than full time AT home ;) - our holidays were always spent traveling. Three weeks. On the road. With only a tent and a sunfire-sized trunk full of supplies. Ohhhhh the stories we could tell!!!) I'd say this is the first year I've actually truly enjoyed the work of gardening.

1. The first step was to purge the gimpy soaker hoses that were not at all doing a good job. What was meant to save time and energy, as well as conserve water, ended up to be a colossal waste of money. WOULD have been a colossal waste of money, however my financially super-smart husband saved all receipts and we were able to return the gimpy, useless hoses for a full refund. (Note to self: go to Canadian Tire website and make sure you write appropriately negative reviews for faulty products. Of which we have tried several. All of which. Gimpy.) I whipped out a sprinkler, and really, aside from running out every 30 minutes (which, let's face it, is good exercise and gets you outdoors, right :P?) is no extra work.
Choses J'adore list - add plenty of SUNSHINE, nicely watered gardens. And yes, exercise. Because THAT has not been a regular priority since Wee One's arrival last summer!!

2. The next step was to evaluate the rock-hard-baked ground that our gardens had become. A quick email fired off to my garden-loving friends revealed to quick, easy, and CHEAP solutions.
 - Peat moss. A whole brick. Used in one flower garden. I will do it again next year because the lovely soil is soooo worth it!!
 - Sheep poop. We do not fertilize with chemicals, typically (though we do use weed killer). And I'm working on composting, but ahem, my dedication to that lately has been about as faithful as exercise!!! But SHEEP POOP is cheap cheap cheap, easy to spread and oh my goodness. Abundance of greenness. Weeds included.
Choses J'adore list - add quick and easy gardening solutions that yield such noticeable results AND cheap sheep poop.

3. A few fun things that I've added - a $30 bistro set, which some day I will sit at, enjoy a cup of tea, while watching the kids play (now I'm busy keeping little hands from pulling things out of the garden, teaching young ones to stay away from the road, keeping gravel out of little mouths and actually weeding and tending the flowers themselves ;P); a few pots (Jon says I have to keep these pots ALIVE for at least one season before I can even CONTEMPLATE buying new, prettier pots :)...) and a wind chime that I can hear almost every day.
Choses J'adore list - add little things that make life fun - a great deal on a table set, flowers that were purchased on a family outing trip to a local greenhouse, most selected by moi, but some specifically and lovingly chosen by both Jon AND the kids, and the sound of music, whether it is a breeze, a tinkling wind chime, the crickets or a song.

Choses J'adore list - in pictures....


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