my girl is 9!!!

Aili decorating her cupcakes. It was very important to her that she decorate her own this year.
I bought her a real scrap book this year for her birthday, complete with fancy paper and 3-D stickers. She has been begging for one for months now. She is a crafty girl who is also very sentimental. I might add that she is much better with those goofy jagged scissors than I am.

This girl is not capable of not being a goon during picture time.
I can't believe my silly, creative, unique, independant girl turned 9 years old today. Where do the years go?! I keep getting flashbacks to the ridiculously alert bug eyed newborn we brought home from the hospital with us and countless nights I tried unsuccessfully to convince her we both needed to sleep. Where did that pig tailed little pixie with the impish grin and adorable speech impediment go? I swear she was here a minute ago.

She had a sleep over party planned with a few friends last weekend but unfortunately a sudden 2 day fever caused us to cancel her early party. She handled it with surprising dignity and maturity despite her devastation. Parties are EVERYTHING to this girl. She spent weeks writing down, planning, and dreaming about every detail of her sleep-over schedule. She was feeling great today though.
Her scaled down mid-week party still consisted of all the essentials,....daddy home from the field, grandma and grandpa, a friend and of course cupcakes.

I've heard the saying that with motherhood the days are long but the years are short. So true.
It's strange to think that I already have a child that is nine years old. I vividly remember being that age. I remember being in grade four and moving to the "room 2" the big kid classroom at our 2 room elementary school. I remember feeling so grown up.

I am enjoying my big grown up girl. She has morphed from the "helping" stage (making them do chores because it's good training but you could do it in half the time and make half the mess!)to the really being an asset and a contributing member of our family. It's still feeling like a bit of a novelty to have someone else in the house who is capable of folding laundry and pushing a vacuum (although sometimes...very....slowly....). I don't know how I would keep this show on the road without her. She is my trusty side kick, my little mother in training.

Aili is still a girl who is gifted at consuming my last morsel of patience. She has a wide range of slightly irritating quirks and idiosyncrasies. Those are the things that make her Aili though. She is one of a kind. Beneath my nail biting, disorganized, day dreamer lies a heart of gold.
I'm so proud of my girl!

We have begun our first week of home education and I am enjoying our new routine and structure. There have been moments in the past week when I have severely doubted my wisdom and sanity in choosing this path. The night before the "first day of school" I nearly gave myself a panic attack. I fear that my kids will resent me. I fear they will be missing out on some essential childhood memories. I fear they will end up holding up a cardboard sign on an intersection somewhere that reads "Will work for food...my mom pulled me out of school and now I'm too dumb to get a real job" Self doubt was beginning to cripple me before I had even opened a phonics book.

Our memory verse this week is "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding" Proverbs 3:5

I needed that reminder. I need to be reminded where to lean when the responsibilities I am carrying seem too heavy.

I know this is an investment that will have incalculable benefits in the years to come even if the start of the road is a little daunting.

I admit, within the first five minutes of trying to shake the rust off my kids summer time brains, I was ready to call up their old school and make two last minute enrollments. I'm glad to say that we made it though and are slowly getting the feel of things.

We have started doing only morning schooling because of this crazy busy time of year. We're easing our way into it. It will be a long, cold, dark winter with nothing better to do than spend many hours reading and working ahead in workbooks. I think harvest is going to cause us to postpone schooling for a little while now anyway.

Tomorrow I will be sitting in a combine picking up Canola swaths. The kids will be with my mom while I'm working on their farm (the same family farm my hubby works for). It will be a nice change of pace for a few days.


Harvest time begins

This is a busy time of year.
Hubby is out cutting Canola until late every evening.
Harvesting the food in my yard and garden before frost is becoming a full time job.
The maintaining of my household has not become any less demanding.

There are more apples to pick,

mountains of laundry waiting to be folded and put away,

meals to make,
dishes to wash,
jars to fill
more canning to do,
more berries to pick,
BUT, it can wait for a few hours...
Childhood is short

......and our Canadian summer is even shorter!


Children of the corn

We found this little guy on the "Island of Grumpy" and against our better judgement decided to bring him home with us. He is a gifted grump...he could put Oscar out of business.
That is unless he decides the fun, silly, happy boy should come out to play.
I like the happy boy...the grumpy one can go back to Grumpy Island.

This little girl is about as sweet as strawberry sherbet. She is so easy to love.
At five months old Miss Cece is full of giggles and smiles. She is a relentless flirt and melt hearts where ever she goes. I love how she smiles with her whole face. I wish I could show you a picture of how adorable she really is. She now has two teeth and a bunch more on the way.

Cece has come so far this past month. She is rolling all over the place, picking up and playing with toys and discovering the world around her. I really do love this age.

I forgot ,after a string of newborn foster babes, how much I love the big baby stage....until they get to the toddler years and it all goes down hill for a bit. Generally.

I've started pureeing some fruit and vegis and she is now getting her first tastes of real food. Its still a time consuming and messy endeavor to get food from the spoon into her belly but she's slowly figuring out how to eat without sucking.

At 5 months old she is very much bonded with us and has a strong sense of who her peeps are. She is crazy happy when Daddy gets home from work and she just about turns herself inside out to get to him. She is just as impressed with her foster siblings. Aili was away at camp for a week. Cece smiled so big when we went to pick up big sister that her eyes nearly disappeared. Big sister was just as happy.

She has a very healthy natural attachment and bond to me, her mama. Being that there is no bio mom that has been involved in her life at all....I'm it. Both bio parents have voluntarily signed their parenting rights away....which is the best thing they could have done for their child. Sad but true.
I hope to be her mommy for ever. At this point she will always be my daughter, regardless. It's easier to not put myself emotionally in the role of "mom" when there is another mommy who loves them and makes an effort to visit or to be reunited. In that case I am the loving "auntie", support person and caregiver....foster mom. This precious girl deserves a mommy...not a caregiver while she is in my home.

Should she go to another adoptive family , that foundation of healthy bonding and stimulation will be essential. She has learned to attach, to bond, and to love. She has learned security. Some babies/ children are denied that. Babes who are institutionalized , neglected, or bounced from care give to care giver develop "attachment disorder"...which can cause a whole LOT of problems throughout their lives.
As you can probably tell by the matter of fact way I'm describing her being placed with another family ...I am emotionally disassociating myself from that possibility. The "system" is so uncertain. I think it will nearly put me in my grave if that day comes. The time we've been blessed with her will still be worth it though.

Change of topic....
My boys helping harvest the garden.

My freezer is filling up more and more each week. I'm a freezing machine! Corn, peas, beans, herbs, diced onions, ground zucchini , jam.....baby food.
I like to freeze stuff. It's fast and easy and it feels great to know I'm saving lots of money in our grocery bill this winter.


What does a Christian look like?

I was browsing through some new-to-me blogs today and came across one that I fell in blog love with.
They are a very non typical large family.
You must pop over and check out this rockstar tribe! Storing up Treasures.

I came across a recent post written by Courtney called "What does it look like"

I appreciated her fresh and very honest perspective on what it really means to be a Christian.

So often we are more concerned with making up rules to follow than we are about following Christ. We are more concerned with judging appearances than we are with looking at the heart of someone. We go about in our masks of hypocrisy confident that because we never drink alcohol, live in a nice neighborhood with nice friends, attend church every Sunday and dress conservatively that we are somehow made more holy because of those things.

A man covered head to toe in scars and tattoos may be a passionate disciple of Christ. He may be visiting the outcasts in prison and sharing a message of hope and forgiveness.

The man with the beer can in his hand may be the most Christ -like person you'll ever meet. He may be planting vibrant new churches in areas where darkness reigned. Maybe he is opening his home and fathering the fatherless. That same man may be spending hours a day in intimate prayer. Does that concept throw you for a loop?

We may turn up our noses, cluck our tongues and look the other way...but in reality that persons heart may be a lot more pure and filled with God's Spirit than ours.

In the church we like to rate sin. We like to make things into sin that are not. Things like smoking, tucked in shirts and base ball caps on backwards. When we make social taboos or expectations into sin ..that is legalism. The pharisees where legalists.

In our Christian circles certain addictions are considered sin...but some , like food addictions, are totally acceptable.
We gasp if someone uses a word that is crass or crude...but we use our tongues to lie, gossip and slander.
We cluck our tongues at the woman that enjoys a glass of wine because " too much alcohol is unwise and she is clearly defiling her temple". We shake our heads and cast our judgments while we sit and eat our third apple fritter.

Christians enjoy drawing lines and casting judgment on one another.
I'm not talking about living in and glossing over un-repented or habitual sin. On the contrary.....

The man who keeps his shoes freshly polished and his collar neatly starched may be addicted to porn. He may be committing fraud in his business activities. He may be going home to molest his daughter or beat his wife. Under the image of "Christian" perfection may lie a lot of sin. Things are not always what they appear.

Behind the quick judgement lies the truth of our condition. We are ALL sinners who are only saved by God's grace.

Check on the blog I linked above. She has an interesting check list of what we may think Christians are and aren't. There is also a pretty interesting discussion going on in the comments underneath.

Am I more concerned with looking like a "Christian" than I am with being like Christ?

Keep it real.

Is there fruit or just pretty flowers? The Spirit of God alive and and working in our hearts produces fruit. Fruit that nourishes those around us. The tree might be scruffy, unsightly or small but the fruit produced is what counts.


Bucking the status quo...again.

This time we are doing it with our children's education. I heard that gasp.
We have decided after much deliberation, investigation, and introspection to switch to educating our kids full time at home....rather than a conventional classroom.
Why ,you ask ,would we do such a shocking, unusual, drastic thing?
Well, that is what I'm going to try to put into words. I know most people around us will think we are mentally insane, negligent or too brave for our own good. They might be right. Time will tell. That being said...
I was not home schooled myself.
None of my close-by friends or any of my own large extended family home schools or was home schooled (to my knowledge).
No one in my church home schools.
10 years ago I think I knew of one or two stereotypical home-schooled families but that was it. We live in a small rural community with out clubs or co-ops to meet other home schooling families.
When Aili began Kindgarten we entertained the idea of homeschooling. I was probably 50/50 at that point. She began kindergarten in public school and has done very well over the past 4 years. When we left for Mexico last winter we pulled our kids out of school packed up their public school books and taught them in our trailer. That served as a catalyst and realization that we can do this. It is possible.

In recent years I have met more and more of my mommy peers who educate their children themselves. I am usually surprised that they seem so normal (and even cool.) The typical home school stereotype has definitely been broken with many of this generations parents. It seems there are now more and more skinny jean wearing, iphone tapping, soccer moms who have decided to invest themselves, their time, and their resources into strengthening their family and equipping their kids for adulthood. It's a big decision, one that we are committed to, but also one we will play by ear as the years go by. What's best for our kids in the next couple years may not be whats best for them 4 years from now.

The following are NOT reasons why we are switching to homeschooling:

1. I want to fit in with the people who think wearing pioneer dresses and tiny bonnets makes God like them more.

2. I have superior knowledge and intelligence. I'm smarter than their public school teachers and I'm a whiz kid at calculus and chemistry.

3. I have brilliant kids. (sometimes they hide it well behind the nose picking)

4. I want to raise my kids in a hermetically sealed and sanitized Christian bubble.

5. I hope to raise socially awkward kids who wear slacks 3 inches too short, scratch their dandruff and avoid all eye contact. I want to start using the word "slacks" in sentences more often.

6. We hate public schools. (on the contrary, for the most part, we had a really good experience in our 4 years of public school...they had very caring and invested teachers)

7. We think that homeschooling is the only responsible, natural, or God ordained type of education for all kids. (It's an individual choice out of many "good" options and not suitable for all families).

8. I want to have hyper control over everything my child thinks, feels, and experiences.

9. I'm an armpit hair braiding hippy or a psychotic legalist.

10. I want to start sewing matching denim jumpers for me and my daughter.

11. I have a dream of giving birth to 16 children who all perform in our musical travelling show and whose names all start with the letter K.

These are some of the reasons we are switching from our rural public school to teach our kids at home.

1. Time is short. The years I have with my children, influencing, equiping and helping to shape their character is going by quickly. The end of these formative years is in sight. From the time our children are born we, as parents ,are (generally speaking)the main influence, support and teachers in our children's lives...it seems natural that our role crosses over into other aspects of learning as well. I don't want to look back and feel one bit of regret that somehow I wasted years, days or even hours of our time together.

2. I like who my kids are when they aren't in school all day. We got a taste of our school-less kids last winter in Mexico and over this summer. It is a stark and definate contrast to the children who we rush out the door in the morning and who come back home grumpy, tired, snarky, lippy and looking for a fight (they bring home the school pecking order). I don't want whats left over of my children after school, activities, homework is finished. Effective parenting isn't about "quality time" but quantity time. It's in the quantity time that kids open up their hearts to us and share whats on their minds. That is where those teachable moments are hidden.

3. Roman is an outside the box learner. He is bright, imaginative and insatiably curious about the world around him. He LOVES to learn. However he hates to do it sitting in a desk holding a pencil to a paper (which he will still have to do briefly each day). It has been next to impossible for him to absorb any information in a distracting classroom setting. I believe that true education is about learning and fostering a love of learning that will last a lifetime...not programming my kid to conform to a classroom setting. School for him has been painfully frustrating for everyone involved. It has negatively effected his self esteem, confidence and desire to learn anything. In contrast he will sit for hours while I read to him about any topic from light refraction to Ancient history. Right now we are reading through the classics Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. He absorbs the information like a sponge...even if he stands on his head while I read. We have all kinds of classic novels, children encyclopedias, and educational books piled up waiting to be discovered...and a world waiting to be explored. That's learning.

4. I hate early morning rush. Enough said.

5. I love the flexibility that homeschooling offers. We don't follow anyone else's schedule or rules. We make our own. If we want to spend the winter in Mexico , we will. If we want to take a 3 day trip in the middle of the week we can. If we want to make popcorn and watch Little House on the Prairie and call it history class we will.

6. I want my children to thrive, not only survive, their years of schooling.

7. It is a more efficient way to learn. Our "bookwork" time will probably only take a couple hours at most. After that comes reading together as a family, educational games, and learning by living. They have a lot more time in the day for things like music lessons, discovering hobbies, reading, sports, volunteering, and just being kids. Because they have so much more time in the day for diverse activity and experiences, I think it will make them well rounded adults.

8. They can work ahead in subjects that they excel in and can work at their own pace in subjects that are more challenging for them. (This is ideal for Roman who loves to learn, is good at math...but is a full grade level behind in reading.) They won't get left behind, fall through the cracks or be held back in areas they want to move faster in. If a topic interests them they have the time, freedom and encouragement to follow their natural curiosity and study it.

9. No more packed lunches. I hate packing school lunches.

Well I need to go now but I'm sure I'll come up with a reason number 10...or even 15 as the school year goes by. It should be quite an adventure.


August Camping

My "big kids" got their first try at carrying Cece in the Ergo carrier while I supervised close by. It made them feel pretty grown up and Miss Cece enjoyed the view and attention from her big sis and brother. Roman is looking a little bit Mexican in this photo. Barefoot and a baby sister strapped to his back...although the carrier is a little more high-tech than the average shawl sling.

Miss Cece loved the water. She was fascinated by the sand and water as she sat wiggling and splashing in it. It's so fun to watch a child discover the world around them. I feel so blessed to be a part of that. Cece will be 5 months old in a few days!

My boys waiting to get pulled behind a friends boat. They had so much fun!
The Dad's hanging out with the boys around the campfire.Serenity.
  • a disposition free from stress or emotion
  • peace: the absence of mental stress or anxiety
Last weekend we went camping with our church family. It was so nice to visit, relax and enjoy each others company in such a casual atmosphere. So important for strengthening friendships, sharing our lives, and deepening relationships.
It was a good family time for us too.

The weather has now taken a turn and we have had cool, wet, stormy weather all week. I hope that these pictures weren't the last hoorah of summer. It has been a crazy wet summer! I don't think , as farmers, I've ever considered saying we've had too much rain...but this year...quite possibly we have. The crops which looked amazing a couple months ago (due to so much rain) have now been pummeled by relentless wind, rain and hail storms. Whats left standing is soggy and rotting rather than ripening. I think my families farm may have faired better than some (a lot of farmers didn't even get their land seeded due to so much rain) but we could sure use a couple months of hot dry weather. With winter just around the corner ,and such a short growing season, it's going to be cutting it close I think.
All this cool weather has me thinking about (dreading) the end of summer. In case you are new to my blog and haven't heard me complain about Canadian winter....I intensely dislike the cold. As I watch the looming clouds and feel the chill that's already in the air and I can't help but picture snow and ice. A shiver just ran down my spine even writing those words.
I want to load up my car and drive to my Mexican home.
I haven't written about Mexico much since we came back to Canada. Not because I don't think about it. I think about our time there, our friends there and our possible return there on a daily basis. I miss it so much! (although I am still enjoying living in a real house).

We have absolutely no idea if we will make it down there again this winter. It won't be for an extended time like last year but I am still dreaming of a few weeks or a month of rekindling friendships, checking on our kids in Santa Fe, and hitting a few taco stands...not gonna lie about the taco cravings.

I have a feeling this winter will be focused on fighting for our girl here in Canada before we can take her down to Mexico as part of our family. More on that later.

Another big change this winter is that we will be homeschooling for the first time in a real home. We did it for 6 months in our trailer last winter but this will be our first full school year. It will also be our first time using our own curriculum and making our own rules (last year we just took their books from school and attempted to keep up with the busy work). It's been a summer of going back and forth trying to decide what to do. Pros and Cons, praying, thinking, investigating. I have lots to write about regarding our decision and why we decided, after 4 years of enjoying public rural school , to make a somewhat drastic switch. I am now, officially, a home-school mom. I guess I'd better start sewing our matching denim skirts....or not.