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Not quite according to plan


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Tuesday, July 31. 2007

Why is it that children seem to have this innate ability to know when your time is very limited and you need to have things accomplished quickly and appear to create more issues to tend to and create more mess that ends up taking more time that you had left to accomplish all the other things needing to be done???

This afternoon was one of those instances for me. We have two bunches of company coming for visits tomorrow and I needed to pick up some things that are still around from our trip and with all the activity I haven't had a chance to take care of things. We got a new kids table and chairs yesterday and the kids were busy creating works of art so I figured that R (our friend that is seventeen and staying with us for a visit) and I could tend to some of the other "pick up" tasks around the living room.



A-girl managed to find a non-washable marker in the plastic container of about 30 markers and scribble all over the table. AJ took a pair of scissors and cut out a chunk of his hair at the front. He thought it was totally hilarious. I wasn't 5 feet away from him and at first thought they were joking til I noticed the lovely patch of hair missing from the front of his head. He thought it was so funny til I wanted to take a picture of him and then he didn't want to show me his missing hair. He told me I had to delete the photo and not put it in my blog. I figure if he is silly enough to cut his hair when he knows better then he should expect it to show up on my blog!!!






I then tried to get them involved in the pick up of their strewn toys, clothing, books and everything else and after a few minutes decided that was even more painful than having to clean up additional messes so agreed to their pleas of letting them play in the sprinkler. I could see them through the window and figured it would be fine. Well, in no time flat they had filled pails with water from the sprinkler and used them to create a mud bog in a patch of non-growing grass turned mud on the lawn. A-girl was covered in mud head to toe and it was over her ankles.





I have resigned myself to the fact that my company will not have my house in the order I would prefer as I have run out of time and energy. I'm slowly learning that in the whole scheme of things it really isn't that important. Could it be that after all these years my perfection is starting to subside or is it just the demands of four active kids and fatigue that are keeping it curbed?!?

"I will never be two again!"


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Monday, July 30. 2007

Our little A-girl is three years old today. Due to work schedules today, we celebrated her birthday yesterday. Saturday, we talked with her about turning three and she was getting confused as to what happened to being two. I told her that you never are two again. You move forward like when we are counting. The kids also tired to help her understand and all seemed to be lost although she was obviously keeping it deep in thought. Sunday morning, as she came out of her room, she announced happily "It's my birfday!! I'll never be two again!!" She thoroughly enjoyed her birthday. She had icing from her butterfly cake that she specifically chose before she ate breakfast, has frozen custard at "Libuddie" and in the late afternoon had a pool party with two other families. She was still going strong at 10:30 last night. Could have been the excitement of the day, however it is more likely the nap she had earlier in the day.

This morning we told her it was her actual birthday. She then asked where her present was! It is so much fun to see her so excited about her birthday.

A-girl, you are such a special little girl. You are so full of life and energy and find joy in everything around you. You love to dance and are not afraid to ask anyone at a wedding reception to dance with y ou! You love to swim, jump and play in the water and are so happy in the pool. You are very adventurous and love to climb, ride your bike and explore nature. You also love to play "dress up", dolls and anything else that uses your creativity and imagination. Books, coloring/drawing and "Loving" your baby brother are also great fun. You have always told people you were older than you are, perhaps being the "little sister" and not wanting to be left behind have pushed you to try things you may not have. Your bright smile and huge hugs bring joy to others and you often leave them laughing. Its hard to believe you are three years old already! I am looking forward to all the adventures you will find in the years to come. Have a special day!!











Boys!


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Monday, July 30. 2007

Last night as we were all sitting on the couch getting ready to read a book and calming down from A-girl's birthday party, AJ proclaims with great excitement "Mom!!! You know that farting sound that I make under my arm??????" As he paused briefly waiting for my reassurance that I knew what he was talking about...how could I forget his new found talent making under arm fart noises that tend to be funny and entertaining at first and then turn into a constant annoyance?! Anyway, he then exclaimed, eyes beaming with excitement, wonderment and awe "F (our friends' 6 year old son) can make those noises under his leg behind his knee!!!!!" I asked if he thought he could do that. He sat on the couch trying and decided that his hand needed to be wet. I'm really looking forward to the day when I can be serenaded with fart noises from his arm pit and the back of his knee!!

We're back!!


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Sunday, July 29. 2007

We arrived back Friday afternoon from our 2300 mile trek to Ontario. We enjoyed N and R's wedding, a visit with S's friend J and his family (they met in Grade 3), stayed with C, J and L and enjoyed a beach day at the Pinery Provincial Park(an old hang out spot for me when I lived in Sarnia), stopped by my place of work to see all the changes in the building and staff after 10 years, more beach time, park time and fries under the bridge. I wish we had even more time as there were many people I didn't get to touch base with that I had wanted to. We weren't exactly sure of our timing due to some work things for S and traveling that far with 4 kids so it was a bit hard to plan ahead, however we had a great time anyway and hopefully will see those we missed (we were thinking of all of you!) on our next trek through. I will post pictures later.

You People!!!!


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Wednesday, July 18. 2007

At one point during the day, A-girl became extremely frustrated when her two older siblings would not allow her to fully participate in a play activity (they had stages set up, had chosen their dolls to act things out and were trying to give A-girl the "nobody wants them so you take them" dolls and accessories and she was having nothing to do with it) or to demonstrate any of her own creative thoughts and ideas. She became so upset she burst into tears and came running to me as I walked into the hallway. As she passed by her brother and sister she yelled "YOU PEOPLE.....ARE......POOPY HEADS!!!!!!" As the two of them sat speechless running that scene over again in their minds as being told off by their little sister is not common, it was all I could do to not crack up. Every time I think of her so emotionally saying "YOU PEOPLE........." I just have to laugh.

Half a Year


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Wednesday, July 18. 2007











It is hard for me to believe that Baby L is already 6 months old. To look at him most think he is older than that. To me, its hard to imagine a time in our family that he wasn't here. He seems to have been a part of our family for much longer than that. He is really changing these days and developing new skills. He loves to jump in his jolly jumper, hang out in the exersaucer, sit alone and takes great interest in and entertainment from exploring toys. He has a huge fascination for noisy toys with movement. He loves to ride in the trailer on bike rides, swim in the pool or the lake, and go for walks as long as the stroller keeps moving. He is a happy little guy whose smile and laughter bring such joy to your heart. He loves to be with his siblings (until A-girl pushes him a little too far with her physical displays of affection to which she replies when asked to stop "but I LOVE him!!") and he seems to be happiest in the midst of the chaos surrounded by all three of them. Good thing since that is likely going to pretty much describe his next several years of life. He is growing and changing so quickly these days. He now has much more hair and it appears to be light brown. The boys have strikingly similar looks and features although AJ had very little hair at this age and Baby L has some. Happy half birthday my precious little boy!!

What Kids Really Want That Money Can't Buy


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Sunday, July 15. 2007

I have been reading the book "What Kids Really Want that Money Can't Buy" by Betsy Taylor. She is founder and president of the non-profit family organization Center for a New American Dream whose purpose is to help families return to basic values and a less consumeristic life. The foundation had a contest and asked children to write or draw their responses to the question "What do you want that money can't buy?" Their answers were divided into several areas; you (parent/parent figure), family (immediate and extended), free time, friends, nature, spirituality, to make the world a better place, acceptance and health. I was really impressed with the comments included in the book made by children. I was amazed at the clarity of their thoughts, their visions and their desires. When reading them it was hard to imagine that the child was only 9, 13 or 17 when the words they spoke had such a deep impact. Reading the book has reaffirmed some of the choices that me make in our family, challenged me to think more about what I really want to give our children (memories, opportunities, legacy, life lessons etc) and has also left me with a feeling that society in general is going against what feels good/right and the basic needs and values. We have become a "more the better", "bigger is better" "do rather than be", society and are losing touch with the things that are truly valuable in the world.....the things these young children know, feel and yearn for. What makes us truly happy. What gives us joy and pleasure. In our consumeristic culture we are led to believe that we have to buy something or do something in order to feel that way. S bought me a little saying displayed on a decorated piece of wood that read "Joyful is a happy heart". It says it all for me. I read it often. I want to feel joyful and be joyful each and everyday (at least at some moment during the day). My bigger question is how do I help my children learn to do that for themselves. According to Allen Kanner, clinical psychologist at Wright University in Berkely, California "Advertising is contributing greatly to a consumer identity in children in which they believe and behave as if they can't be happy unless they constantly acquire more goods and services." In her book, Taylor states "Kids seem on the brink of losing so much that is precious: core values, family time, connection to community and nature, and creative down time. What many of them have instead is intense rivalry on material goods." According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the average American child is exposed to 40 hours a week of commercial messages from TV, radio, newspaper, magazines, billboards, radio, internet/computer, at school/work, clothing and toys. The vast majority is from television. Taylor writes "Americans in general spend 40 percent of their free time watching television, and children are usually the most avid viewers, watching on average two and three-quarters hours on a typical day. The average twelve year old spends four hours a day watching TV. That's the same as two months per year of non-stop television." She notes that the amount of time Americans spend in front of the TV has greatly increased in the past few years (especially for children) and so has the advertising directed at/to children. Taylor states that "Those who are concerned about the violence kids watch on TV are fighting the good fight. But the manipulative messages children are watching between programs are perpetrating another kind of violence directly on kids. The constant stream of commercial pitches to buy happiness warps children's spirits in its own devastating ways." Advertising to children has increased significantly in the past several years. This is no longer a pre-teen market push but more recently the focus has been on the birth to three market. Even before children can speak they can recognize symbols and advertisers know that they can get life time followers if product/logo recognition is in place at the early years. There is also the nag factor and the peer pressure factor that influences parental buying that the advertisers are also aware of. Taylor suggests making choices for ourselves and our families that take us back to basic family core values, limit exposure to the marketing onslaught, teach them how advertising works so they won't be easily manipulated, join with others to restrict advertising to children and allowing children to develop their own spirituality. I'm not sure exactly what this means for our family. We have several great things in place that try to keep us on track with our core values, provide us with a lot of time together and enable us to provide a lot of opportunities that reinforce our beliefs but there is always more and different things that we could be doing to greatly reinforce this. As our children mature, are exposed to more and more of society/culture's ideas, values and influence it will be increasingly hard to keep our children focussed on what is truly valuable and joyful in their lives. This is not a quick process. There are no easy or "right/perfect" answers. It is hard to go against the societal norms (we have experienced this with our choice to home school and often lack support from family, friends and community) that would ease the process of this different choice/journey). There is no pre-tested formula that would work for everyone of every family. This is a journey. I foresee a lot of re-shaping, re-directing and forging in new directions for our family. I challenge you to ask yourself the question "What do I really want in my life journey that money can't buy?" and see where your thoughts, dreams and ideas will take you.

Bike Fever Continues


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Saturday, July 14. 2007



Watching the Tour de France has become a daily family event that everyone looks forward to. We had noticed on a recent family bike ride that AJ's bike was looking too small. His body just looked too large and disproportionate for the frame of his bike. Today, we found a used bike that will work very well for him. It is a little large and therefore getting started is a bit tough for him but it is much better overall. He was very excited about his new bike. This is his third bike in less than a year. He had ridden his "Hot Wheels" bike since he was two and then last fall we switched him over to a bike without training wheels. That is the bike that now doesn't fit him right. He needs the same size bike as L so there isn't any hand me down available so this "new to us" bike is great. He and Daddy went for a nice bike ride this afternoon but apparently our little rider is not quite "King of the Mountain" material as he ended up walking the hills along the creek. He is so focussed on watching the riders of the Tour on TV so I am sure we'll see and hear some interesting things in the next several months as he rides more and more.

Our piano man


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Saturday, July 14. 2007

Recently, AJ has shown more interest in "creating" music on the piano. On Thursday, while L was away for the day at "pioneer school", he spent over 30 minutes creating "piano stories" about bears, caves, dancing and so forth using "light/dark" and/or scary notes. I was really amazed at his ability to "Create" great stories and he kept asking me if I heard the tones he was using and how they were different. We have gone to various concerts geared for children at Orchestra Hall and they often talk to the kids about the stories that the music tells, the moods, the various tones and so forth. AJ has spent a lot of time bouncing in his seat, starting into space or laying on the floor and I figured a lot of the information was drifting in one ear and out the other. Obviously, I was greatly mistaken! Yesterday, L had a piano lesson and in the summer program you sing up for a number of lessons rather than a set time per week. Due to our schedule and her teacher's I had ended up signing up for an extended lesson as we couldn't fit it all in. I spoke with G and mentioned what AJ had been doing and she suggested he take the latter part of L's lesson. He was quite self conscious and wasn't sure but in G's wonderful, creative way she had him playing a little song at the end of 20 minutes. He was so excited! He couldn't wait to get home and surprise Daddy (as we hadn't even considered starting him in a lesson quite yet). We are enjoying being caught up in the excitement and enthusiasm he expresses each time he plays the piano. I must admit that even at 7:30 this morning, when I would have preferred to be sound asleep it was great fun to hear him playing "I like Pepperoni" (a variation of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star). WE hope his interest in learning to play the piano continues.......although currently it shows no signs of fading as he keeps asking when his next lesson is and plays a little tune each time he walks by the piano. He even had his little friend come in the house to listen to him when they dropped him off after a play date yesterday!

Kid Comment


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Saturday, July 14. 2007

As we were sitting down to eat a veggie lasagna for lunch, L commented "I could eat this better if it didn't look like the ground after a tornado!! It also looks a lot like the ground in the Fall covered in leaves and other dead things!"

End of t-ball season


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Friday, July 13. 2007

I am not looking forward to the moment that AJ realizes that last night was the last game of his t-ball season. He has thoroughly enjoyed the past 4 weeks. While some kids seem to be "not as interested" in standing in the field, running bases or hitting, he seems to enjoy all aspects.







Pioneer Girl


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Friday, July 13. 2007

Yesterday, L and her friend M were able to attend the Gibb's Museum of Dakota and Pioneer Life School Day. She thoroughly enjoys these types of activities. According to her, the highlights were making lemonade for lunch, making a corn husk doll, a candle and ice cream. She and M would like to go back today.





L and her teacher.

Daily learning


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Friday, July 13. 2007

Each day is an adventure in my life and all come with a sense of looking deeper within and learning more about myself. Often the kids through their journey will teach or re-teach me something and at other times I will have a light bilb moment about my own life and what makes me tick. Sometimes it is profound but mostly its just trivial.

This morning, in my tired state as I reflected, I realized I have learned a lot already today.
- I am not getting enough sleep and therefore am not a morning person and am severely lacking the patience and understanding required to parent four intense children in the manner that I would prefer.
- You cannot reason with a 5 year old that despite the sun being "out" and the brightness of the morning, the clock indicates that it is much too early to start my day.
- It is even more pointless to try the same reasoning with an almost 3 year old.
- Being so tired will take all the joy out of the most beautiful time of the day, when the youngest three kids all end up in the bed with you telling you they love you, talking about all sorts of things about what brings them joy and giving the best hugs and cuddles. Luckily they are persistent and can warm my heart even if my body just wants to crawl deepr under the covers.
- Almost three year olds talk non-stop, especially when you are trying to keep a baby asleep and have no comprehension of "let's see how quiet we can be"
- My almost 8 year old has the sleep pattern that I would love to adapt.......she is still asleep three hours after the younger ones woke up, despite the noise they create.
- If I want time to do things for me, to take a break, to scrap book, to hang out with friends, it comes out of sleep time. This doesn't necessarily mean that the events occur during the time I would typically be asleep, however the "clean up" of things left undone so I can go isn't getting done and the only time left in the day is sleep time.
- Sleep is important so I need to re-work my current plan. Now I just need to figure out how to convince a 6 month old baby that he needs to stay asleep between the hours of 2am and 5am, convince the older kids that 5:30am is not a time that Mommy functions best and that she should be left to sleep until at least 7:00 if we want a "good flowing" day and convince myself that snoring is just "white noise" and will help me sleep better.

I need to run as the baby is now ready for a nap......wonder if I could convince the rest of the kids it was time to go back to bed as well.......

Bike Fever


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Tuesday, July 10. 2007



Yesterday morning, after we had said "good-bye" to Grandpa and were outside playing (or weeding in the garden for me), I asked the kids if there was anything that they wanted to do that we hadn't been able to do in the past week or so. They unanimously yelled "bike ride!" Unfortunately, single handedly without the help of S, his bike and another trailer, it is not possible for me to take the four kids at this point bike riding. A-girl's intense love of her baby brother and his lack of ability to sit up in the seat would leave him at severe risk of injury likely inflicted by "I love him so much" hugs and his inability to push her away (although that day is in the very very near future). When I had to say no to their wonderful idea, there was a chorus of "but we haven't ridden for such a long time," "can't we just get a baby sitter for the little kids?" "can't Dad come home early?" "Do you think Grandpa could ride a bike by his next visit?" but they eventually calmed as I promised we would go very soon. The mention of baby sitter prompted me to remember that I had hired a 13 year old girl to watch the older two this morning while I took A-girl to an appointment. I called J and asked her if she felt up to a bike ride. The kids were up early and eager to go. They packed snacks and water and they headed off on a ride. They rode around the lake, stopped to play at the playground, stopped at the Peace Gardens and made paper cranes and eventually found their way home about three and a half hours after they left. They had a wonderful time. One would think the bike bug was squished, however I think it was only fed! Luckily S had a bye in his ultimate schedule this evening and was able to go to AJ's t-ball game. We rode there as a family and then took the "long way" home along the lake and then creek as opposed to the faster street route. As we took the turn off the trails to the streets to take us home, the kids begged for a longer ride (everyone except Baby L....he had had enough of the wind blowing in his face and making him cough and he was really really hungry and was letting everyone within a half mile radius know he was not happy!). AJ did incredibly well, considering he usually rides his tag-along bike behind one of us and this was his first solo ride and he had done two lengthy rides in one day. It was a great way to spend the evening.

Since the Tour de France started on the weekend, our TV is on much more frequently and everyone is glued to the race. The kids are asking about the yellow jersey, who is "King of the Mountain" and so forth. They are learning a lot about cycling and are eager to learn more about the many aspects of the Tour. Its hard to get them to go to bed when they are so interested in the race.

As I tucked them in tonight, L commented on how her legs felt like they were still pedaling her bike. I'm glad the kids have such a passion for cycling. It is such a great way to connect as a family and create incredible memories. It is also a way to stay fit, leave the van/car and home and save gas, to get out in nature and enjoy many of our other passions. Out of the many fevers we have had in this family......this is one I'll take and embrace whole heartedly!

Grandpa A's visit


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Tuesday, July 10. 2007

Grandpa A left yesterday after spending the past 11 days with us. It was a busy time. We celebrated Canada Day and the Fourth of July. Grandpa went in his first parade on the 4th. We watched t-ball/AJ played t-ball a couple of times, we celebrated the neighbor's second birthday and had an early birthday celebration for our girls with Grandpa. S and his Dad also cleaned and stained the front and back decks and the walkway at the back. Luckily they were able to work between the rain and finished up in the 100 degree heat this past weekend. It took a little more thought and planning (not being able to go out certain doors, not being able to eat or cook on the back deck for about 2 weeks, keeping the kids entertained when they would have preferred to be "right in there," keeping the dog off) but it looks great and its wonderful to have that task off the "to do"list. Thanks A for your help. HE also had a chance for a couple of visits and meals with his sister and brother-in-law who now live here in the metro area as well. I'm sure he is enjoying the peace and quiet of his own home now. Our small home filled with the joyful (and not so joyful noises) of four kids is very different from living alone.













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