Sunday, October 26, 2014

Memory Verse - John 10:28

I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. John 10:28

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Memory Verse - James 1:22

Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only. James 1:22

Monday, September 22, 2014

Summer of Silence

Today is the last day of Summer.

I haven't said a thing all Summer long, and it's not because there's been nothing to talk about. To be honest, it's because I'm too much of a perfectionist to just post something simple and I haven't had the time (and sometimes the energy) to post anything complex. I've composed elaborate posts in my head time and time again, but I'd fail to actually write them for one reason or another. Usually because I'd lost too much time for the post to fit the perfect title it was intended to go with, often because I was missing an important component - like getting a picture downloaded off the camera, resized or even taken, and sometimes I'd fail to post just because I talked myself into believing that what I was considering, was insignificant and uninteresting to anyone else, and that it'd just end up being a waste of time - I have this thing about practicality.

So, I'm posting today because of a whole list of reasons, some of which are:

  • It's really the last day of summer and my catchy post title won't be accurate for any other day.

  • Today is Emma's 7th Birthday!

  • Today is the first day of the school year for my kids - well, for any other public school kids in our province too, for that matter.

  • This is Butler's First Day of School and I'm pretty sure I said something for each of the other kids on or about their First Day.

  • If I don't post something about Baby #7, it'll be here before anyone even knows it's on the way (picture scanning hang-up excuse for that)

  • How can I babble on excitedly about one of the best summers ever, if I wait until the season's over?

  • It doesn't make a lot of sense to chatter up a storm about how we got to do our own week or two of Home-schooling, when we've had to move on and everything I have to say is out of date (I'm almost pushing the limit on this one, but I REALLY REALLY want to talk about that.

  • If I don't post something, I may never get back into hang of blogging and then Sir's predictions that I'll give it up altogether might come true. There's too much to record and write about to let him be correct in this case!

    And now I don't know where to start! There's no way I can properly address everything in that list in one day, but maybe I'll get to most of them, and maybe I'll even scrounge up enough time to find a picture or two to go with some of the things on the list. It's hard for me to call a post 'finished' without a picture that makes it feel proper and complete. Maybe I should schedule when this gets published now, and what's done by the appointed time is what gets into the post! Ah! the pressure I can put on myself sometimes... just the thought of doing that sounds stressful. Maybe I should just get started and see how this ends up.
    Emma.
    Somehow Emma is fixed in my mind as being my 'middle' child. She's not though - hasn't been for a while now. I think I often categorize her like that, mostly because she seems to be able to really fly under the radar around here when she wants to. Note, I said 'when she wants to'. Emma can really stand out when she wants to as well. At the end of the day though, I often feel like I've overlooked her a bit or let her get away with more than she ought to have. Or just that I could have done a better job by her, as a mother, that day somehow. But this day is the day that Emma turns 7, and I will do my best to summarize this girl of mine at 7 years old!

    I distinctly remember a number of times when I was growing up that my mom would say to me, "I hope you have a kid just like you, someday!" She usually said this when we locked horns on something, or I was causing her grief or frustration in some way or other. I'm pretty sure Emma would be the child of mine that fits the description best. So aside from being excellent at finding my most explosive buttons, there's a LOT to say that encapsulates this particular 7 year old. Emma is petite - she's little. Butler, who is a full 2 years younger could easily pass as her twin, and this always surprises me because she started out as my biggest baby - outweighing the others (with the exception of Butler, who she passed by only 2oz) by 13oz up to 2 lbs, 4oz. But what Emma lacks in size now, she definitely makes up for in personality! She's quick thinking, persuasive, influential, determined, and immovable.

    For years, I've tried to figure out what makes Emma tick - how I could channel her energy - mould her most successfully. And for years, almost everything I've tried, hasn't worked. Emma has the will-power and determination to move worlds if she chooses to. She also has the will-power and determination to keep worlds from moving when she wants to! But what I've recently figured out about Emma, is that she loves the helpless. Maybe it's because they're the easiest to control or manipulate, but she thrives on catering to those who are less able than herself - as long as she can determine how, when and why they need her. Or maybe she just naturally comes by an instinct to care for those unable to care for themselves. She does have a lot of family predecessors that took up a nursing profession. Emma has a high pain tolerance, but she makes a dramatic mountain out of the minutest things when she thinks she can benefit from the performance. She's very smart, and catches on to concepts quickly, but there have been quite a number of instances when she's claimed to 'not get it!' if there' a chance she can be walked through by the hand. She reads well, prints beautifully, loves to color or draw and has an excellent ear for music.

    Emma's thorn in the flesh is probably her hair. It's wispy, incredibly fine and refuses to grow. But no one else ever sees that because when she smiles, her face lights up and her sapphire-blue eyes positively sparkle! It's nearly impossible to keep from smiling when she flashes a dazzling, happy smile at you. Emma also has a gift of being able to connect with people. She really fascinates me in this because it seems that she is able to really reach other people in the tiniest allotments of time. People she's only met for a day, remember her distinctly months later, store clerks recognize us on reoccurring visits and shock me by remembering Emma's name from a past visit. Somehow Emma is able to really get to know someone or learn something about the people she meets beyond just matching a face and a name and I still find myself amazed by this every single time. And besides everything else, Emma is incredibly athletic and effortlessly photogenic. She'll probably never really appreciate those qualities, so I'll settle for appreciating them for her! And I get to have a front-row seat as I watch my delightful little Blue Bird soar into her next year as a very big part of our family! Talk about privileged!

    First day of School.
    Summer break started for us when the teachers all went on strike two weeks before the end of the past school year. They were still on strike when schools were supposed to open this year on September 2nd. Finally everything got resolved enough to actually get started educating and today was the 1st day of the new school year for us. I'm sure the consequences will be felt by shorter holidays and longer school days as they do their best to make up the 3 weeks they wasted protesting contracts, but we enjoyed the long summer while it lasted.

    Tomorrow is actually the first real full day of school, but we had to show up, meet teachers and get sorted into classrooms for an hour this morning. Butler has a gradual entry program, but that will only be for this week and he'll be on a full day schedule starting next Monday. Butler was the first to hear the alarm clock today, but we had to have a talk later about what the alarm clock is for. Turning it off, and hopping back into bed isn't exactly the best choice. Once the boys were finally out of bed, there were issues about what pants or shorts could be worn fashionably. The shorts Butler had set out the night before were passable in his opinion, but only as a last resort. He'd been hoping that I had washed the pants he had really wanted to wear while he slept - and that didn't happen. When there was just enough time left to eat and get into the van, he finally donned on his second-best and joined the morning rush. Butler's class has a gender ratio of 3:1 with the boys in the majority and a couple of those boys are very much like Butler. His teacher is going to have her hands full this year! For now he's just a little boy who's very excited to be joining the ranks of the 'big kids who go off to school'. And I'm going to do my best to enjoy his excitement and wonder of a new adventure.


    Butler's First Day of School.

    Baby #7.
    A classic example of old news. Back in July I was going to break my blogging slump with a post about this littlest person of ours, but getting to and remembering how our scanner works deterred me. Then it seemed more and more out of date. I was going to do a 'Three Months' post with the ultrasound pic when we hit the last trimester, but then I missed that date too. Now if I don't post something, I'll blink and have 7 kids on my hands and no time to even announce the last one's arrival. And yes, 10 weeks can go by in just about a blink of an eye around here! Baby #7 is due to arrive the last day of November or thereabouts and will be our gender tie-breaker. I don't know what the other kids will do if it's a boy... the pattern predicts we must have a girl. We told the kids they were getting a new sibling back at the end of July, but it wasn't until last week that Ricka finally understood the reality of it. I had been talking to her about how we'd switch up the sleeping arrangements after the new baby comes. She'll move downstairs to the big girls' room, and Hal would inherit her toddler bed so the new baby could have Hal's crib. She was nodding along as if agreeing in a 'yeah, yeah, that's nice' way when suddenly she froze and just looked at me, "You have a baby in your tummy?" she asked like she'd misheard something. "Yes." I continued, "and when it's Hal's birthday, you'll get to sleep in Dolly and Emma's room." "Really?!" she sparkled, now staring at my stomach. "Yep." I said, slowly catching on to her question "It's right here, in my tummy." and I patted my stomach and resumed helping her get ready for bed. A few minutes later as I was zig-zagging between bedrooms and the bathroom where I was brushing teeth and keeping kids moving towards bed, Ricka nearly collided with me in a doorway and without even thinking of what she was actually doing, she whacked my stomach as if she was trying to check if there really was a baby there without me noticing what she was doing. When I jumped in surprise and asked her WHAT she thought she was doing, she was as shocked by her test as she was by my reaction! It was so very very funny, especially as she kept glancing over her shoulder at my stomach as she went on to her own room. Later, just before I tucked her in, she said to me while pointing to eye, "Do you know why my eyes are smiling?" "No, why are your eyes smiling?" I asked. "Because I'm happy that you have a baby in your tummy!" And she hopped into bed with a smile, finally really understanding what all this 'new baby' talk this year was all about.


    Baby #7

    And that's about where I'm going to have to stop tonight. There's so much to say/record about the next thing or two on my list, they are almost entire posts in themselves. If I try to fit them into this post, it will definitely not get published today and my title won't fit so well anymore. After all, tomorrow is the first day of Fall!




  • Wednesday, May 14, 2014

    Something to Crow About!


    (December chicks)
    Halfway through December, we decided to take the plunge from the comfortable position of acquiring full grown chickens to the new frontier of raising chicks. We wanted to add some color to our egg basket, and the only Easter Egger chickens we could find, were day-old chicks. The person selling them, claimed to be able to 'feather-sex' them which meant that the chances of us ending up with a better than 50/50 ratio of roosters or hens, would be significantly higher in our favor. So, we bought all the supplies to build our own brooder box from the local feed store and paid the extra $2 per chick for 'pullets' (hens).



    (Back row, left to right: Popcorn, unnamed, Flutter. Front chick: Burnside)

    Three weeks in, just when we thought we'd gotten the hang of adjusting temperatures, accepting the fact that chicks will scatter ⅔ of their food while eating the remainder and patiently clearing and re-clearing their water dish of the shavings they constantly scratch into it, one of the chicks died. They were all fine one morning, and 3 hours later, one was dead for no apparent reason. We later learned that this 'sudden death' thing isn't uncommon with chicks and thankfully, we haven't repeated the experience.


    (the survivors)
    We moved the chicks out of the pantry and to the garage around 8wks old. They were technically old enough to no longer need the heat lamp, but that week was the week of our winter deep freeze, so I felt sorry for them and set them up in a bigger box with an oil heater out in the garage. When everything thawed out, I moved them to the hen house along with their heater for another week or so, gradually lowering the temperature settings until they were braving the rest of the winter like all the big chickens.

    But by the time I moved the chicks outside, I had some serious doubts regarding whether they were all pullets or not. As time went on, it became more and more clear that Flutter and Popcorn were definitely NOT hens. Popcorn even croaked/crowed at me once when I went in to let the chickens out for the day one morning. And Burnside was becoming a more expensive hen all the while because the city rules are that, roosters are not allowed in our zone. This means we will have to either eat them or sell them for someone else to eat, and our hen was a '1 for the price of 4' deal.



    (Burnside)
    Today was pretty exciting around here because Burnside laid her first egg! She officially went from 'pullet' to 'hen' status. It was so much fun to show the kids our first green egg. Ricka's smile was priceless. And Emma was so excited, she could barely contain herself. Even stoic PC cracked a pretty big grin when I showed him today's egg carton. Dolly didn't even see the egg because she thought it was a wad of colored paper at first. Even Hal was excited, but he just thought it was a ball and tried to throw it when he finally got close enough to make a grippy-fingered grab at it. It was definitely worth waiting 21 weeks for!


    (Leghorn, Australorp & Olive EE)
    Technically an Easter Egger chicken is a cross between an Araucana or Ameraucana (both of which lay a blue egg) and any other breed of chicken. Because they are a 'cross breed' the colors that Easter Eggers lay, can be almost any shade of blue or green and can even be light pink! We discovered today, that Burnside is an 'Olive Egger' EE, as she presented us with a very green egg.

    Burnside's egg is noticeably smaller than our average egg, but that's just because she's young. Her eggs will get slowly get bigger and should be comparable to the other chickens in just a few weeks.


    And now we'll have a rainbow egg selection! So much fun!




    Sunday, May 04, 2014

    It's time for the...


    Because even the little people need to be refreshed and encouraged!

    Wednesday, April 23, 2014

    A Party!

    At the beginning of April every single one of my kids recieved a letter invitation to a Co-op party to be held at the middle of the month. See, way back in September when we got our first chickens, we had to do some scouting for a feed/farm supply store that we were hoping was decently priced. All the local feed stores seemed to be ordering their feeds from the Co-op half an hour's drive to the east, so we thought that maybe we should just check the co-op out and order from them. What we learned was that the feed stores somehow managed to sell at a lower price than we could buy at the co-op, but we decided to join it anyway since we'd probably need other farm stuff besides feed. Part of joining up included free admission to the 'kid's club' for all of our children. Basically this just meant that they got a little card that says they can have a free cookie whenever we pop in for a visit, but it also put all the kids on the mailing list for seasonal events like a Christmas party in December and the Easter party in April.

    Along with the invitation that listed all sorts of fun stuff like: face painting, bouncy castle, popcorn, carriage rides, petting zoo, fishing pond, lollipop tree, egg toss, ring toss and plinko games, balloons, cupcake decorating, nail painting, and concession stand, there was a coloring sheet that could be colored and returned to enter a draw for a new bicyle! The kids were beyond excited to even get the invitation, but the thought of possibly winning a bike, was more than they could contain. I told them we'd see how things went, and decide whether or not we went later, but they could still color the pictures and we'd figure out a way to submit them. It turned out that the party was on a day that the kids had off of school, and instead of the predicted rain, we woke up to dazziling blue skies and sunshine. Sir had things to get done at home, but if I wanted to take my chances on a outing with 6 kids by myself, I was more than welcome to do so.


    (the check-in line up)

    So, we got up, had breakfast, did our chores, grabbed the coloring sheets and headed off to the party. We got there just before lunch time and the first thing we had to figure out was where to even start. There were lines EVERYWHERE! Finally we asked enough people the right questions, and got pointed to the starting line that took a whole half hour to navigate. At the end of the line, we checked in, and each kid got a booklet of tickets to use at the different stations set up all over the roped-off part of the parking lot. And we were off!


    (Butler waiting for the next batch of popcorn)

    First we decided to take advantage of the all-you-could-eat popcorn. It was lunchtime, and I had not thought far enough ahead to pack a lunch. The party was supposed to be over by 2pm and I had valiantly thought beforehand, that we could be there by 10, see all there was to see and be home for lunch maybe a little on the late side. HA! But we were saved by the popcorn and it was delicious. It also provided enough steam to make it from station to station throughout the day without too much fuss.


    (Hal and Ricka enjoying every bite!)


    (Dolly bounce-posing)

    Some things didn't need a ticket to experience, which meant that you could do them over and over if you wanted. The bouncy castle was one of those things, and a few of my gang really got their miles in on it. Ricka left her sweatshirt in the shoe pile (I was able to track that down before too long) and Emma must have been planning on saving time on a return trip to the castle because I found her in another line without her shoes on once. I made her go put her shoes back on unless she was INSIDE the bouncy castle. Butler didn't have a lot of patience for waiting in the lines to the various stations and more than once I found him back in the castle after making it about halfway through a line somewhere else before giving up. And PC's only regret for the whole day was that he only got to bounce in the castle ONE time! I later learned that this was to be treated as a serious misfortune because of the tragedy that it really was.


    (Dolly at the Cupcake Decorating station)


    (Dolly helping some of the other kids with their cupcakes)

    The cupcake decorating station was a fun one. Each kid got to choose either a chocolate or vanilla cupcake, spread pink or yellow icing on it and top it with as many sprinkles and/or candy flowers as could be fit on top. And then they got to keep it! I wish I had taken pictures of the kids' finished products, but we were so hungry when we got home from skipping lunch that day, that I let them go right in and gobble up the cupcakes even before having a normal afternoon snack. The cupcake station was also where Dolly really shone as a helper. She's getting so big and independent and she's very capable and willing to help the younger kids. It was really nice because usually I'm so busy doing and redoing every step for different kids, that I never get a chance to step back and see the big picture. This time, I was able to juggle Hal and Ricka and take pictures while Dolly helped out where an extra hand was needed. She did that for a number of the things we did that day and it was a real refreshment to me.


    (The Co-op mascot and PC)

    PC is reaching an independent stage where he's able and good enough to do things on his own, but he struggles with being brave enough to actually use his independence. At first he sort of tread water at my elbow. Wanting to go do stuff, but being afraid to just GO and get started. However, by the end of the day, he had built up a good dose of confidence and was even brave enough to help Butler at some of the stations. The saying, "Still waters run deep." is very true with this young man. So much more than you think is going on inside his head and it's a real delight to see him venture out of his protective shells once in a while.


    (Emma at the Nail Painting table)

    This station was not really a station since you didn't need a ticket to participate, but it was definitely one of the highlights. All three of the girls got their fingernails painted, but where the other two did it because it was there to do, Emma savoured every second. Things like this make Emma sparkle and when she sparkles, it's dazzling! I think she literally glowed for 20 minutes after her nails were finished. It was beautiful.


    (Butler and PC finally making it to the front of a line.)


    (Emma at the Egg Toss station)


    (PC at the Ring Toss station)


    (Dolly at the Fishing Pond)

    At each of the stations where a ticket was used to participate, each kid received a prize of some sort when they were finished. They got a plastic egg full of chocolates and jelly beans at the egg toss, a toy car or necklace at the ring toss game, and whatever the person behind the ocean picture clipped onto their fishing rod at the fishing station. The random prizes ranged from playing jax, bouncy balls, bubbles, pencils, playing cards, noise-clappers, window stickers and tiny stuffies. I didn't get a picture of the Plinko game or the lollipop tree, but by the time we were done, we had so much loot from all the stations, that when Hal was not in the umbrella stroller, the bags of prizes hanging on the handles kept tipping it over!


    (5 of my 6 descending upon the baby animals)


    (Ricka found the piglets)


    (Emma found a lamb)

    The petting zoo was another no-ticket-needed amusement, and it was very much enjoyed by my gang. There were baby goats, little lambs, a baby calf, ducklings, chicks, bunnies, and little pigs. We would have spent a lot more time with all the baby animals, but time was running out, and we still needed to work our way through the longest line of all. I spent half the time my kids were petting baby animals standing in line for the carriage ride so I didn't take as many pictures as I would have if there weren't time constraints.


    (The carriage ride line - or rather, half of it)


    (A full carriage heading out)

    Each carriage ride took about 10 minutes and they could squeeze about 20 people in per trip. We finally made it to the front of the line after four trips, and just barely managed to squeeze all 7 of us in. While we waited in line, PC tried working his way through the balloon line, but each time the carriage came back, he'd ditch that line to join me in case we were finally able to go. He almost ended up missing out on the balloons altogether because everything was winding down. The same thing went for Emma and the face painting table. She even made it to the 'next in line' spot once, but gave up her spot to rush back to the carriage ride line because the horses were back. The carriage ride itself was pretty simple; a walk around the parking lot, down the side street to the first driveway where they turned around before heading back. But the kids enjoyed it. I tried to take a picture of the kids opposite me, but they were so excited and I was rushing too much to notice that my hasty shot didn't turn out at all. Dolly did much better when I asked her to take a picture of the rest of us though, so we do have one good picture from the carriage ride.


    (My attempt at taking a picture)


    (Dolly's photograph)

    After the carriage ride, we had about 20 or 30 minutes left before the party would be over. Emma beelined it back to the face painting line, PC and Butler got back in the balloons line, and Dolly and Ricka went back to the petting zoo and then to the bouncy castle before joining Emma in the face painting line. I think there were two or three people that made it through the face painting line after my girls, so there was a general buzz of adrenaline emitting from my daughters for having just made it in time. All three girls were really happy with their paint jobs but Hal was getting tired of being locked up in the stroller There were still way too many people milling about to let him wander without getting lost, so by the time the girls were done, he was ready to go home. It was nap time.


    (Bunny-face Emma!)


    (Ricka getting a heart put on her cheek.)


    (Flowers for Dolly)

    When the girls were finished, we joined the boys in the line for balloons. It was 1:54 and the sign they'd taped to the garbage can in front of their table said, "Balloons closed at 2pm." and they were turning people away when we got there. I guess, they went through the line a few minutes before the girls and I showed up to watch, and put a felt mark on everyone in line, so they could tell if you had been in line before they closed. PC had a mark. Butler had gone back to the bouncy castle for a minute and didn't get one, but PC was trying to share his place in line in case the balloon people would allow it.


    (The Balloon man)

    I think I enjoyed the balloons the most out of the whole day... well, I enjoyed watching the balloon people. There was a man dressed up like a clown, and a woman with a beautiful butterfly painted on her face, both making balloon creations. But I think the woman was getting tired. At first she didn't realized that the girls and I were just there to wait for our boys to finally get through the line, so she told us they were closed, that they weren't doing any more balloons that day and she made shooing motions with her hands as if she was sending us on our way. Meanwhile the man probably wasn't watching the time and was causally and extravagantly building balloon things while keeping a quiet, but engaging conversation going with his customer. Every once in a while, he'd tune in to the woman sending more people away and would nod and agree that yes, they were closed. And they he'd look at another person (not in what was left in the line) and say, "And what can I make for YOU?" It was so much fun to watch.


    (PC being fitted for a sword belt)

    Anyway, PC finally made it to the woman and requested a balloon sword which she started working on quickly while the rest of my kids watched in fascination. Then the man said to Emma, "Why do you look so familiar? Do you have a twin? Have you been in my line today?" She just beamed at him, and mumbled the appropriate answers and then he said, "Well, I like your smile, what can I make for you?" We all glanced at the woman still telling people that they were closed and then Emma requested a sword, Like PC's. And the man said, "Can I make you a sword AND a hat?" Emma just beamed more. So he made her a sword AND a hat while the other kids watched and then he asked Ricka if he could give her a flower. She said yes, and he made a balloon flower for her. Then he said to her, "What do I get for making you a balloon? Are you going to pay me?" Ricka reached into her bag of popcorn and offered him the biggest handful of popcorn she could hold. He took it, and I expected him to toss it aside when she wasn't looking, but instead he ate the 10 or so popcorn pieces, thanked her and told her how good that popcorn was that day.


    (A bouquet for Dolly)

    When Dolly heard the balloon man comment on the popcorn, she went across to the popcorn lady, got a whole bag of popcorn and gave it to the balloon man as she thanked him for making balloon things for her siblings even though they were closed. And then, the man gave her his display bouquet of balloon flowers complete with a balloon basket that held them all. I'm pretty sure he was just cleaning up since they were closed, but it really made Dolly's day, as she didn't expect to get anything. All this took place while the woman made PC's sword and a sword belt to go with it, and then she made Butler a sword too.


    (Flower vs. Sword balloon fight)

    Finally we left them in peace, did a head count and headed home. Tired, a little bit hungry and very happy.
    THE END