February 2008

We are in Weyburn this week, spending some time with the Petersons and with Lyndon. It is always fun to come back here. I lived in Weyburn three times in my life. First, as a child. Then, as a high school student. And finally, as a married woman with kids. Carter was born in Weyburn, in the same hospital I was born in.

When we drove into town, the kids started remembering.

“I remember this street.”

“There’s the store we always went to.”

“Remember the time you make us walk so far that when we got home Colton threw up!”

We did go for a lot of walks when we lived here. I would pack everyone up and load the stroller or the wagon, and we would head out to the park or to town. We lived on the top of “The Hill”, so it was always a long walk home. Now that we live out of town, we drive everywhere.

Today, we helped a wonderful couple move from their house into a condo. They are an elderly couple that are part of that past fabric of my life. Both have health problems, and keeping up their house was beginning to be too much for them. Darla, Tyson, and I went into town this morning to help move boxes. We loaded the back of a friend’s truck, and then decided to take that load over to the new place. Our friend drove the truck and we followed in Darla’s van, to keep an eye on the load. Part way there, a tupperware lid came flying out of the back of the truck. Darla quickly chased it down the street with the van, recovered it, did a U turn (in front of the police station) and raced back down the street to catch up with the truck. We saw a man step off the sidewalk and grab a tupperware container from the street. Darla pulled over, rolled down the window, and asked if it had fallen out of the back of a truck? The man nodded, and Darla held up the previously recovered lid. “I think it goes with this,” she said, and the man handed her the container. He had a rather confused expression on his face. Darla thanked him, and we managed to arrive at the condo without any further trouble.

It was fun to help move these precious people. Another friend who was helping told us that when she arrived at the house this morning, the couple were dancing together in the hallway of their old house. The last dance! I love it! I am so glad to know that about them. (Our friend said she left them in privacy, went and bought a muffin, and came back a few minutes later.) I hope I can be as gracious as I navigate my own life changes.

This afternoon, I took the kids to the pool. They love to swim, and our Gravelbourg pool is closed in the winter, so it was a real treat. They loved it. They are playing Nintendo now with Karina and Starlet. Tonight we’ll go into the church for Bible study. A chance to visit more old friends. Life is good.

Today was a gloriously uncomplicated and unproductive day! I spent the morning sitting on the couch with a cup of coffee and my book. I finished a Gail Bowen mystery that I had not read before, although I had read a more recent one so I knew what to expect to a certain extent. I enjoy reading her. The setting is usually the Regina area and the story is always complicated and interesting. I am on a Canadian author kick. A few days ago I read If Looks Could Kill by Michael Blair. This is his first novel, and it is set in Vancouver.

Tyson made us scrambled eggs for breakfast. The boys watched CBC cartoons for awhile and then joined me in the school room. We tucked ourselves away there for a good part of the day. I let the kids play some of the games they like on the internet (mainly Club Penguin). While they took turns doing that, I read my book. Eventually, the boys went outside for a play and I decided I should try to accomplish something. I worked away at the pile of books that need to be priced, and did the dishes. Then, I went for a load of water so we can all have baths before church tomorrow. I stopped at the Snack Shack and picked up crazy bread for the boys for supper. So we are now munching crazy bread, sipping hot chocolate, and watching some old Petticoat Junction episodes on DVD. Petticoat Junction is one of my least favourite nostalgia shows. It is so full of stereotypes.

I am going to have to be a little more motivated tonight. I need to pack, tidy the house a little, and finish pricing the books. I am not quite sure how I am going to fit the four of us, two dogs (and doggie accessories), luggage, school books, and several boxes of used books in our five-passenger truck. The boys helped me lift the water tank out of the back of the truck, so we do have that room for luggage, etc. I will try to be ready so that we can leave after church. I have made arrangements to leave Betsie (the collie) with Lyndon’s mom and dad for the week, so we will drop her off on the way to Weyburn. We’ll spend the week in Weyburn at Lowell and Darla’s and then head to Regina on the weekend to attend the homeschool conference. Well, I’ll attend the conference and Lyndon, boys, and poodle are planning an ice fishing adventure. Then we’ll go back to Weyburn to drop Lyndon off, and home again for the boys and me. Whew.

Here’s an interesting fact from Carter. Did you know that scorpions are in the same family as spiders? They are both arachnids.

This almost never happens, but for the next couple of hours I am alone in my house. Lyndon is not coming home this weekend, and the boys are at a youth activity at the church. It seems very quiet. I should probably do something… or not!

Pretty normal Friday here. The boys did their school work. Carter spent his time working on numbers. Colton and Tyson are both diagramming sentences (remember that?) in their English books. We finished Stuart Little this afternoon. Everyone agreed that the ending felt a little funny. Kind of unfinished. Carter came with me this afternoon to get water. He was a big help. It is nice to have an extra pair of hands, even six-year-old hands. He stood in the back of the truck and held the hose in the tank. It had been previously discovered, on a very cold day, that if one was not careful the water pressure could lift the hose out of the tank and spray water on everyone and everything in the immediate vicinity. So Carter held the hose while I plugged the loonie, and we were set.

I also spent some time pricing books that I am going to sell at the used book sale at the homeschool conference. I spent about a day going through all of my books and pulled out a bunch that I am willing to part with. So now I have to label them, price them, and record them on a form. It’s a lot of work, but I am in the mood to downsize, declutter, and generally get rid of the excess. I still have way too many books, but it’s a start. (I confess that as I was pricing, I did sneak some of the books I had planned to sell back onto the bookshelf.)

Today I read a post from a mom who lost a young son in a car accident a few months ago. I have been following this family’s journey on-line (there is a family connection) and it has been amazing and inspiring. Both the mom and the dad have written with such poignancy about their grief, their pain, their anger, their faith. I, like anyone who has been spared such a loss, can not begin to imagine the emotional depths of such a walk. God bless them.

Last summer I went to the funeral of a neighbour and his four-year-old son. The father and son were using the tractor to grade their driveway. The tractor snagged on something and flipped over backwards and they were crushed underneath. I will never forget walking up the the front of the Catholic church and looking into the casket that held both of their bodies. They lay together, the dad holding a pair of drumsticks in his hand and the little boy, curled toward his father, with a stuffed teletubbie under his arm. It makes my breath catch to remember. A mother and three children are left to carry on. God bless them.

Yesterday I read the blog of a woman whose husband was killed on his way to work two months ago. He left in the morning, after saying goodbye to his wife and five children, and he was gone. God bless them.

I don’t know for sure why these, and many other, situations stay in my mind. I guess that since becoming a mother myself, I immediately put myself in the shoes of these moms, and wonder how I would ever get through such a tragedy. I can’t even make myself contemplate the loss of one of my children or my husband. I pray that God will comfort these moms and the many others who have had to live the reality of what I can not even begin to imagine. God bless them.

It is sunshiny. (I don’t think that is a word. Oh well). I love these kinds of winter days. The snow sparkles, the dogs and kids love to be outside, and Mom feels less blah. (Less blah sounds a little “glass half empty”. I should say, Mom feels more energetic).

Yesterday we had a busy day in Assiniboia, which is about 45 minutes from home for those of you who are not familiar with this corner of Saskatchewan. We went for several reasons: Bella, the poodle, had a beauty treatment, the boys and I had dentist appointments, and I needed to do some banking. We enjoyed the day. Bella came home fluffy and clean, the boys and I came home with clean teeth, and my wallet came home much lighter than it was when we left! We stopped and ate at The Chat and Chew before we left Assiniboia. The boys like to eat out and we don’t do it very often, so it was a treat.

We listened to E.B. White read Charlotte’s Web in the truck. Colton is reading Charlotte’s Web as part of his literature studies. I am reading Stuart Little to all of them during our family reading time. We’ll have to read The Trumpet of the Swan next and round out our E.B. White experience. It is fun for me to revisit these favourites of mine with the boys. We are also currently reading together Volume 3 of Susan Wise Bauer’s The story of the World, which covers Early Modern History. Bloody, bloody stuff! And, we are reading a book on Canadian inventions. Interesting. Did you know Superman was created by a Canadian?

The boys are finished their morning assignments, and are starting to call for food and drink. I guess it is time to go and nourish my offspring! Before I go, here are some interesting mammoth facts from Colton:

Some scientists took a frozen mammoth, made mammoth steak from it, and reported that it tasted really good. Also, in some places in Siberia, where mammoth fossils are found, people steal mammoth tusks from museums and illegally trade mammoth ivory.

I have just spent the last hour or so googling summer art camps for kids. I would love for the boys to be able to attend a good quality art program of some kind this summer. Emma Lake has a day camp (art and ecology), for ages 7-11. That works well for the younger boys but leaves Tyson out of the picture. It is possible to camp at a nearby park, however, so perhaps Tyson wouldn’t mind just hanging out at the beach while his brothers were painting and hiking. I think I’ll check it out further. The Mackenzie Art Gallery in Regina does some stuff with kids, but they don’t have their summer schedule posted yet. If anyone knows of an awesome summer art program, please inform me!

Well, another weekend is over. I think the winter blues are beginning to hit me. I often find February and March difficult months. Spring still seems a long way off. I am looking forward to a couple of things, though.

The Saskatchewan Home-Based Educators Association is having our annual Homeschool Conference the last weekend of February. I look forward to this event every year. It is a time for me to visit with other homeschoolers, look over new curriculum, attend workshops, and simply be re-energized. This year, Dr. Jay Wile is the keynote speaker. He has written a junior and senior high school science program that I am interested in. I am also looking forward to attending a workshop by a presentor who has developed a “Canadian History in 90 Seconds” program. Sounds interesting.

Then, in March, I am attending a Christian Women’s Renewal at Manitou Springs in Watrous, Saskatchewan. Although I am not certain what to expect, I am so looking forward to this time. I am sure it will be challenging and rewarding.

Yes, I am feeling a little blah, but am sure that God has many surprises in store for me this week. I am looking forward to finding out what He has up His sleeve for my children and me in the days ahead.

Lyndon and I had a date this morning. We drove into town to pick up water, alone. That’s a date, isn’t it?

We have a 200 gallon tank in the back of our old truck. Getting water is relatively simple–drive to the water treatment plant, pull up to the hose at the back of the building, stick the hose in the tank, drop a loonie in the coin box, and *presto* 150 gallons of water are deposited in the tank. So, this is what we did this morning. I was really looking forward to a nice bath.

Lyndon hooked the hose up to the house and started unloading water. He went to the basement to re-pressurize the system and… nothing. He couldn’t get the STUPID (sorry) system to hold pressure. Turns out the pump is toast, so he and Colton headed to Assiniboia and the rest of us are at home. Tyson is playing a computer game on Lyndon’s laptop, and Carter is watching Underdog, the movie we rented last night.

We are having company tonight for supper. Our good friends, the Ratzlaffs (or, the “Ratz” as we affectionately call them) are coming over in honour of Colton’s birthday. I hope Lyndon gets back in time for me to have a bath before they arrive. And if I am really lucky, I might be able to get the dishes washed as well. Speaking of the birthday boy, there were no gerbils to be found in Weyburn. I think Lyndon was secretly relieved. He came home instead with a bunch of goldfish, and one Siamese fighting fish. (What do you call a bunch of gold fish? …a passel, a pile, a heck of a lot of…) We dug out the old fish bowl and found some leftover food from the last time we were fish owners, and Colton is thrilled.

A few notes from Carter World. He thinks Blog is a funny word for what Mommy does on the computer. He thinks we should call it Zingle. So, today I am going to post a Zingle in honour of him. He also wants me to tell the story of the time I put him in the wrong car. So here goes…

The Time Carter was Put in the Wrong Car

One day, Carter and Mom were busy doing errands in town. They had been to the grocery store, the bank, the other bank, and were finishing up at the post office. Mom was a little grouchy and anxious to get home. “Hurry, Carter,” she kept saying.

They left the post office, and Mom opened the back door of a white car parked on the street. “Hurry, Carter,” she said and she helped him get in the car.

“But…,” Carter started to say.

“Just hurry, Carter,” Mom said again, and tried to help him put on his seatbelt. Then she stopped, looked at Carter, looked around the car, and started to laugh.

“We’re in the wrong car,” she said. “Get out quickly! Hurry, Carter!”

Carter and Mom laughed all the way home.

Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone. I, unfortunately, am spending the night alone (unless you count the six-year-old in my bed). Lyndon is working tomorrow, but will hopefully be home in time for Colton’s birthday supper. Colton will be eleven tomorrow. Wow. When Mom and Dad were here, we were remembering when Colton was born. It was a very cold and snowy February. We were living in Roche Percee at the time. I remember that there was a blizzard the night before I went into labour, and I was worried about not being able to get into Estevan.

Mom came to stay with me for a while after Colton was born. We hardly left the house as I remember. The day she had to leave, Lyndon went first in his truck and she followed in the car she had rented. Lyndon drove into a snow bank and it took them quite some time to shovel him out. When Mom finally got back on the road she had hardly any time to get into Estevan to catch her bus to Weyburn. She said she has never driven so fast. She made it, though, and lived to tell about it!

Colton was my most contented baby. He chuckled and cooed when anyone talked to him. The only time he really got upset was when he was in his car seat. He hated that seat with a passion, and screamed whenever he was buckled into it. As a toddler, he was forever putting things in his mouth. If he was outside, he would have a mouthful of pebbles before too long. He was also bad for biting, which seemed so strange to me for such an easy-going kid. But he delivered some nasty chomps on a few unsuspecting victims.

Colton always has had a sweet tooth. I remember a potluck in Weyburn when he was about three. I wasn’t watching until some friends pointed him out to me. He had the remains of about eight chocolate cupcakes in front of him. He had eaten the tops (icing, yum!) off all of them, and was going back for more when I intercepted him. My friends thought it was hilarious.

For the last week or so, Colton has been campaigning for gerbils for his birthday. He thinks they would make the perfect pet for the family. He assures me they would be no trouble, would hardly eat anything, would make very little noise, don’t bite, and that he will personally take awesome care of them. Well, we’ll see what Daddy brings home from Weyburn tomorrow.

Carter wants to go to town tomorrow to get Colton a present with his Tooth Fairy money. Actually, the Tooth Fairy gave him a toonie, and a wonderful woman from church, Helen Bailey, gave him a loonie. I wonder what we can find in Gravelbourg for three dollars?! Carter’s prayer was so sweet tonight. I’ll share a few of the main points with you: help Uncle Quinn’s eye to get better, help Auntie Kathy’s leg to get better, help David’s cold to get better, help Stan to not get anymore diseases, help Karisa to not be sad, help the Ratzlaff’s Grandpa to be happy in heaven, help Daddy to have a fun day at work and to have a safe trip home and to not hit a deer or anything like that, help Colton to have a fun birthday, help Zoe to have a good train ride, and help the children in Mexico to have a good sleep and enough food to eat. AMEN!

Life has been on hold for the last week or so as Mom, Dad, and I gave this old house a facelift. What a difference a little paint can make! We managed to paint the entry way, kitchen, pantry, school room, and upstairs bathroom. The kitchen was the most difficult, as it first involved the scraping of old and very firmly-stuck wallpaper. The house looks beautiful now. Mom and Dad left last night, so I am in the process of putting things back together in the aftermath of the painting frenzy. I am also doing a little sorting, organizing, and disposing along the way.

I tell you, those two (the Mother and the Father) are amazing when it comes to taking on a project. I could never have finished the job without them. Here is Mom, hobbling around as she waits for a hip replacement, washing (no, scrubbing) floors on her hands and knees, baking muffins, cooking meals, scraping wallpaper… You can’t get that woman to sit down! And Dad – my goodness – with a paintbrush in one hand and a hammer in the other. He repaired walls, painted walls, fixed toilets and cupboard doors, and cleaned carpets. I appreciate their help so much, and I am loving life in my freshly painted home.

We did take a night off while they were here, and went to see The Hunter Family in concert at the Co-Cathedral. This talented family from Shaunavon (mom, dad, and five boys) gave an energetic and inspiring performance of gospel music. My boys were not very excited beforehand (Do we HAVE to go?) but they all thoroughly enjoyed it. I encourage you to see this group if you get a chance.

Painting my house has had me contemplating facelifts. Well, perhaps the previously discussed 44-year-old milestone has also contributed to these thoughts. I am noticing many aging effects on my body lately: wrinkles, sagging and bagging, and the odd ache or pain. I recently bought a new undergarment (okay, a bra) which, sadly, resembles the bras my mother wears. I swear, you could make bridges out of that stuff. I am sure it is designed with as much engineering skill as most bridges are, with the crissing and crossing and lifting and supporting that is going on. Sigh…

I am reading, however, about replacing a covetous attitude with a contented attitude. So I will try to resist coveting my youth and will be content instead with the place I am at now. I have a wonderful family, and am enjoying the growing-up-time of my children. I have some of the wisdom((?) okay, I’m working on that one) that only time can bring, good friends, a lovely home… What’s a little cellulite compared with all that?

I just got home from a baby shower and now I am missing my “babies”. I can hardly believe that Carter will be seven years old in June. Colton is turning eleven in two weeks, and Tyson is almost a teenager. Where does the time go? The lament of parents everywhere.

I am remembering when Tyson was born. We lived in Roche Percee at the time, so I delivered Tyson in the Estevan hospital. I had been dilated for many days, so when I saw the doctor for my regular check-up, she asked if I would like her to break my water. Yes, yes, yes! She did it in the office and sent me over to the hospital, however she asked me not to tell the hospital staff about the intervention as it was a Catholic hospital. Lyndon was with me, and we got settled in our room to begin the wait. It really didn’t take long. By early evening, Tyson was here.

We had suspected he was a boy, and had picked out his name months before. I felt all of the things a new mom feels: awe, fear, incredible love, tenderness, protectiveness, did I say fear? And so it began, that phase of life known as “life after children”. I can’t imagine life without them.

A friend told me yesterday that she had heard of a study that determined that people who had children were not any happier than people who did not have children. Interesting. I hope there is some kind of pay-off. Grandchildren, perhaps? I also heard on CBC recently that people aged 44 were the most likely to be depressed. Apparently, depression-by-age is a U-shaped curve, with 44 being the bottom of the curve. Hmmm. I am 44. Well, as one interviewee on the radio said, “It’s all uphill from here!” I wonder about 44-year-olds who have children? Or what about homeschooling 44-year-olds who have children, dogs, cats, and (let’s see) …water problems …in February …in Saskatchewan?

Actually, we are working out the water thing. Lyndon came home Thursday night with a bunch of stuff from Peavy Mart. His dad came over on Friday and together they made a fantastic mess in the basement, the result of which is that when I turn on my tap, water comes out! There are still a few kinks in the system, but I am thankful for water.

Mom and Dad are coming to stay with us this week, tomorrow I think. Together we plan on painting as much of my house as possible. I have been scraping wallpaper in my kitchen and entry way, so that is where we will start. I am having a hard time deciding on colours. I am thinking a kind of sage green in the kitchen. Mom and I will have to take a trip to Home Hardware while Dad is crack filling and whatever else it is he does with such panache! I can’t wait!