Saturday, March 29, 2008

(Not so) Happy Birthday :0(

Jake has been excited for weeks......his 10th birthday would be happening soon. Jake is an enthusiastic sort, to put it mildly. When he's excited, he's ummm....really excited. He is extreme in all of his emotions, when he's sad he really feels it. When he's happy, he really feels that. So, his approaching 10th birthday was no exception.

After careful consideration, he decided who he wanted to invite and that we would all go out for lunch and then back here for cake and activities. Even though his real birthday isn't until April 2, we decided this Saturday would be the best day to celebrate. We invited the little boy, he accepted and arrangements were made.

For the last several days, Jake had been having difficulty narrowing down which restaurant we would go to. There were three in the running. Several times he wrote the names of those three on pieces of paper, placed them in a hat and had each of us draw out a name. He had a formula (Jake's formula lol) to work out just which restaurant would win. He did this several times, as..well...."It's just such a big decision you know, Mom."

Last night, he went shopping with us to pick up his cake and choose the right potato chips (this is a treat as we never have potato chips on hand here). He had ordered chocolate cake and was disappointed to see a white cake. After explaining the problem, they redid him a cake and a chocolate one this time. He selected some special items to make a couple of loot bags. He was already to go, other than he still didn't know which restaurant we were going to.

He had difficulty sleeping --- it was almost as big as Christmas .... and did I mention he was excited???

En route to pick up his friend, he finally decided Swiss Chalet would be the winner. We picked up the boy and headed to the restaurant. Everything seemed to be going well.....until half way through the meal. The friend all of a sudden started saying things like, "I may have to leave early." "I think I'm going to visit my grandmother so I'm going to have to leave early." "I'm not allowed to eat cake, I can only eat hard things as soft things are too hard on my teeth.". He hardly touched his food. It was becoming clearly apparent he wasn't happy. Next came the tears, he wanted to go home and was clear he wanted to go right waiting for the bill, he wanted to go NOW!

The restaurant staff all came over with a sundae and a candle and sang Happy Birthday to Jake. By this time both boys were fully engaged in tears --- one because he wanted to go home, the other because his 10th birthday, the one he had so eagerly anticipated for weeks, was being ruined. (Just as an aside here, a couple of things come to mind here. First of all, the thing I hear most of all about homeschooling is "What about socialization??" This always makes me laugh and this whole situation illustrates why so beautifully. The theory says a child who goes out to school will learn wonderful social skills, they will learn how to handle social situations. if this theory is true, then this almost 11 year old boy who has always attended public school, should know how to handle social situations by now.....shouldn't he? There goes that theory ;0))

So, we proceed to ask the waitress for the bill and explain there is nothing wrong with the food or the service. By this time, the friend is demanding we let him leave the restaurant on his own, so he can go home, on his own NOW!!! When we attempted to explain we were trying to get the bill quickly, and that he couldn't go out wandering around a city by himself, he got even more upset. Crying loudly and everyone in the restaurant was staring.

We finally pay and leave. After driving him home and taking him in to his house, we're told, "Well, there's not much we can do." Honestly, there have been several times one of our kids have not wanted to attend a birthday party and unless we have a good, legitimate reason, they are always made attend. Surely parents can put themselves in the place of the birthday boy and know how disappointing it will be (especially when they accepted the invitation in the first place).

Jake was so many tears....which made mom the same way. (I don't like to see one of my guys so hurt....he'd been sooo excited and then this). We offered to cancel the plans and do a family birthday next weekend, but Jake wanted his birthday celebration to be today.

Home we came. Tyler and Brittney decided they were going to rally around their little brother and make it a good party, regardless. They sang and sang loud (we even got Tyler to sing!!) when the cake came out. They treated him like a little king. They brought all of his presents to him. They made him feel special, despite the fiasco that happened earlier. After all the presents were opened, they retreated to Jake's bedroom where Brittney blew up some balloons for Jake. Tyler helped Jake put together a Lego Sponge Bob Square pants. A little while later, Jake emerged to announce he needs to put together a loot bag for Tyler, after all he's been at his party. The loot bag which had been intended for the friend, can now be Brittney's.

I was quite proud of Jake today. Even though he'd been majorly disappointed, he pulled it together and had a good time (well as good as he could) in spite of all that had happened. His brother and sister helped too and I was proud of them for rallying around.

When I tucked him tonight, he told me he still thought it wasn't very nice what his friend had done but did have a good time with us.

I still don't like to see my guy so sad.

A Day in the Life of us

It was a beautiful sunny day here on The Rock. The sun was shining and the snow was melting.

We are still trying to find our groove, so to speak, since moving here. Our days in Ontario were very well laid out and planned. Things haven't been quite so defined here.

Here is what our homeschooling day looked liked today (although not typical)

Around 7:00 Larry and I got up (phone was ringing so somebody had to get it). The ringing phone wakes the rest of the house up and slowly they come to life.

By 7:15 Larry is eating his breakfast, I'm enjoying my coffee and catching up on my homeschooling sites on the internet. Jake emerges from his room and immediately comes to have his morning cuddle with me. This is one of my favourite times of the day.

By 7:45 they have all made their way to the kitchen and are selecting or preparing their breakfast. Larry joins me in the living room and we enjoy a cup of coffee together while discussing our plans for the day.

Around 8:30, Larry heads for the shower, Brittney is washing the breakfast dishes, Jake has gone downstairs to practice some of his skate boarding moves, Tyler is helping Brittney in the kitchen by sweeping the floor and wiping the table and I'm getting prepared for our day.

Once those tasks have been done, they get their books and start on their studies, Tyler and Brittney in their room, Jake with me in the living room. Larry leaves for work. Jake has started working on poetry. A homeschooling friend in Ontario and I have decided (well we came up with the idea and her daughter "C" and Jake have decided it's a good thing). They have decided to write a poem (Jake is hoping it will sell and they will each make millions of dollars ;0)...hmmmm.....we'll see) Jake made up a line, we email that to "C", they read it and "C" makes up a line. My friend then emails it back and Jake makes up the next line. Back and forth it goes. Jake loves doing this and wanders around here all day eagerly anticipating what "C" will come up with.

By about 9:03 Jake is done the bookwork part of his day. He goes on to practice his piano and then make a birthday card for a party he's going to later today. When that is done, he gets ready to head off to the library.

I head to the shower while the other two finish up their work. Jake returns from the library and we get ready to go out for the afternoon. We drive Jake to his birthday party and Tyler, Brittney and I go out for lunch before doing some shopping. This is a rare day for us, usually town days are reserved for Saturdays, but because we were in town already to drop Jake off, we thought we'd break from usual routine. That's one of the things we like about homeschooling --- the flexibility it allows us.

Brittney had brought some of her math to do, on the way but after discovering her calculator battery was dead, she had to put her math away. She wasn't impressed about that as she really wanted to finish her school work before the weekend got here. She is very disciplined and sometimes I think too hard on herself.

At the appointed time, we picked Jake up and after a brief pit stop at home to wash cake off a very excited boy, change his clothes (because there was cake all smushed into those too), we made a sandwich for Dad and headed out again. We met Larry and headed back into town for our weekly grocery shop. Of course an outing with Jake wouldn't be complete without Jake doing something. Tonight was no exception. He shoved his wallet down between the two panes of glass in the freezer. After going to the bakery and obtaining a long cake knife, we were able to get it out.

Upon our return home, we put groceries away. Brittney finished her math and then phoned her friend in Ontario. Jake again practiced his skate boarding moves, played a video game and then called his friend. Tyler had stayed home --- he needs his alone time and had some emails and research for his cartooning to do.

By 10:00 Brittney and Jake were getting ready for bed. Jake is having more trouble than usual shutting down --- tomorrow we are celebrating his 10th birthday and to say he's excited --- is an understatement.

Brittney is thinking a radio DJ may be a career worth considering. We'd hoped to check into visitng the local radio station but didn't get to that today.

All in all a good day.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Living simply, indeed

We're still on a quest to simplify our life. Although we have made great strides, we do have a ways to go yet, but we're getting there.

So far, we've downsized our house from 2450 to 1000 sq ft. We've gone from three, huge bathrooms to one really tiny one. (We thought this would be a big adjustment, but hasn't been nearly as bad as we'd thought.) Cleaning day is a breeze now. Heating the house doesn't take nearly as long or as much money. When I factor in the wood stove and our ability to cut wood from our own property, it reduces our heating bill even more. The kids are learning (and ummmm....sorta liking it) to live without a dishwasher (I'm still working on convincing them that this is a good thing). We're learning to live on less, with less.

As I think of the things we've downsized and feel somewhat satisfied with our accomplishments, I'm brought back to reality when I think of my Dad's generation. Above, is the cutter he rode in as a boy (he's since had it restored) but this was the only mode of winter transportation for his family of five! Hook up the horse and away they'd go. How many times have we complained at the lack of room in our van? There is barely room for five people in this cutter, let alone any 'stuff'.

He had no bathrooms inside, no hot water -- in fact no indoor plumbing at all. They had no hydro, they used a wood stove for heat and cooking. No hydro meant no refrigeration, no freezer --- they preserved meat, dairy and other perishables in other ways. They had no chainsaw to cut wood, only hand saws. Everything they used, they either grew or produced on their farm (except for sugar, coffee, tea and perhaps a few other items I can't remember right now.) As things weren't packaged, garbage was minimal. Containers, jars and the like were reused. Composting (although it was different than today's way of composting) was normal.

It's really difficult for me to get my head around living like that and yet they were happy. They had what they needed and made use of what they had. There wasn't this quest of 'wanting it all' that seems to exist in today's society.

Not sure I'd like to live without hydro or indoor plumbing, but in many ways living as simple as possible really makes sense to me.

Yep.....we still have some work to do.

Friday, March 21, 2008


somewhere between here....
(Our Ontario Home)

....and here
(Our Newfoundland Home)

...sigh.....I used to be such an organized person....with 'used to be' being the key phrase here. There was a time and a place for everything and everything was in it's place and done on time. I had no trouble adhering to this and in fact thrived on it.

That was then.

I'm not sure what happened to all of this organizational ability I used to have, but it seems to have gotten lost somewhere between Ontario and Pouch Cove, Newfoundland.

I'm know..... it has something to do with packing up and moving five provinces away. Now, I've heard people saying one move is difficult enough......but we did three moves and all within a six week span. Two of them were done simultaneously and let me tell you, it took it's toll.

One move was our own. We chose to do this and were prepared for the turmoil that we knew would follow (being organized really helped here).

We weren't prepared however, to pack up all of Larry's brother's house and belongings though --- that was totally unexpected. Some help from somebody would have been appreciated. Anything.... but not too much was forthcoming, which left us to do most of it. In our typical fashion though, we arose to the occasion, completed everything in time but at great expense to our family's health and well-being.

The third move was again our choice. We moved from our rental home into our own home. Again, this had been part of our original plan --- to come to NL, rent until we found our own home. We were half way through and had to carry on. we are in NL left to pick up the pieces. I am more than a bit concerned over my lack of being able to get on with things. This has been a valuable lesson for me in doing for others at the expense of my own family. One more thing I need to re-evaluate. After many attempts to kick start us again, I've decided baby steps are the way to go. I'm hoping so I'm running out of ideas.

Starting next week, I'm going to reintroduce one of my old tried and tested ways...making weekly menu plans. As simple as this sounds, even this has been a challenge for me to complete. Deciding what we would eat has been left to the last minute. That led to something highly processed with not much nutritional value being popped in the oven for a quick meal. The lack of nutritional food certainly didn't offer the fuel my body needs to function at it's peak. This of course would leave me with even less energy and meal planning became even more of a challenge. It was a vicious downward-spiraling cycle and one I need to break out of.

I know *if* I am prepared ahead of time (with a meal plan and time to buy proper ingredients), we will eat better. With eating better, we will feel better. This baby step will, hopefully, help me feel more motivated to being organized and get back to our life.

So.....wish me luck..... I'll keep you posted on my new venture.

Meanwhile, if anyone sees my lost motivation and organization, please send it on home. :0)

Monday, March 17, 2008

Entrepreneurial spirit alive and well

As posted about HERE Jake is on a never-ending quest to make some money. Daily, he comes up with various ideas --- any idea ---- for him to earn some money.

Last week, he was going to write some books --- hand draw them, print them, staple them together and sell them door to door in our neighbourhood.

After that, he wanted to sell off some of his small cars.

Then he thought drawings were the way to go.

Tonight, he came downstairs with some of his clothes. He wanted to know if he could sell them off.

Then he thought he'd make more cookies. Brittney quickly pointed out nobody would be out and about in this storm and he'd sell no cookies.

He is certainly trying to earn some money and has no lack of new and different ideas. For one reason or another, none of them seem to be flying --- but he doesn't give up. Determination is one of his strong suits.

Now those of you who know Jake, know he loves to give back rubs (even to people he barely knows.....he'll just go up and start rubbing their back) when I was laying down watching tv tonight and he suggested I pay him for a back rub and to have my hair brushed.......I could hardly refuse. I asked him how much he charged (and think I caught him by surprise because all of his other ideas never panned out). He quickly announced .25 for the back rub and .25 for the hair brushed. He offered to do a make over for an extra .25 but I thought we'd leave that for another day.

About half way into the back rub, he announced he'd made a mistake.....the back rub was actually going to cost $2.00.....

ummmm.....I don't think so Jake ---- nice try though.

I hope he remembers his first customers when he he makes his first million. ;-0

Back to the grind

Well....this morning got off to a good start. Brittney set her alarm, was up early, had breakfast, dressed, made her bed and ready to go in record time.

Tyler is always punctual so it was business as usual for him. He works away at his own pace....keeping an even keel. He works away until all is done and done correctly. We very seldom have to question his progress. Sometimes, he is even tougher on himself than we would be.

It was business as usual for Jake too.....he climbed into bed with me this morning. He snuggled in under the covers and we talked about our day, what we hoped to accomplish, about the big storm that was approaching, why he wasn't allowed to go the library and the importance of keeping his room picked up regularly.

After breakfast was done, the dishes were washed (thanks Lar!) and the kitchen cleaned up. Jake and I got another blanket and put it over us, while he did his reading. He read to me and I read some to him. He went on to do his Science, Math and Piano Lessons.

After lunch, Brittney made her usual trek to the post office for the mail. She was quite disgusted about the approaching storm as that would mean the library would most likely be closed this evening and she wouldn't be able to go.

Tyler went out for more wood.....there is an approaching storm that is to be quite bad and we want to be prepared in case there is a power failure. They don't want to have to go out in a blizzard with 120 km/h winds just to get wood.

All in all....a good first day back.

We're hoping to get our second wind and push forward in order to finish our year on time.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Another March Break Finished

It's been a great break. Not that we have done anything particularly exciting, but it's been good in the sense of being a long overdue break. It was refreshing to have more relaxed mornings. The kids were able to do a few of their favourite things.

Brittney baked just about every day. We all benefited from this. ;-) She also enjoyed improving her roller blading technique, going to the library, sleeping in, shopping and having a sleep over with the girls from the youth group.

Tyler has been saving his money and used it to buy a PS 2. He's also got outside a lot --- exploring by the ocean, playing hockey and he also had a sleep over with the guys from the youth group.

Jake spent a lot of time at the library, cleaning his room which is always followed by an inspection from Mom. Sometimes it passes, usually it needs some more attention. He cleaned it on Friday and suggested I not bother inspecting until Monday as he didn't want to spend the whole weekend straightening it. ....sigh......gotta love the logic of a 9 year old boy.

Larry didn't get a March Break this year, although he had no teaching of our own children to do, so I guess he did get a bit of a break .... so to speak.

But, as the old saying goes, all good things must come to an end and this is the end of our break. Back to the grind tomorrow. Lots to tackle....hopefully our rest has given us all the re-energization we all need. Time will tell.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Yup....more snow for Newfoundland

One of my newly formed pet peeves is the amount of attention Newfoundland weather seems to get.

My Dad phoned me this morning, "I've just been watching The Weather Network and they said Newfoundland is in the middle of a really bad snow storm and I just wondered how bad is it? How much snow has fallen?"

Says me (somewhat astonished as I look out our front window), "'s not snowing here, in fact it's beautiful here, the sky is so blue and it doesn't even look like there are any approaching storms." can judge for yourselves. Here are some pics I took this morning. Does it look like we're in the middle of a blizzard? I honestly wonder if these weather casters actually take the time to look at conditions here or if it's just too easy for them to say, "Yup, more snow for Newfoundland today."


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

March Break happenings

The break is a welcome change of pace for all of us.  They're using the time to kick back, relax and spend some time doing 'whatever' tickles their fancy.  We've decided to hang around home this year. 

As I predicted....Brittney spent the first couple of days baking up a storm.  Brownies and chocolate chip good! (and they didn't last long ;-).  So much for my diet....

She's also been busy creating 'the world's longest chain of tied together hair ties'.  She's up to 228 now.

This afternoon, she went roller blading on our road.  Since getting the roller blades for Christmas, she's been itching to get out and use them.  Every time we have a major snow melt, she eagerly gets out there and works on her technique.  She's doing well and hasn't fallen once!

Tyler has been spending a lot of time outside, playing hockey, hiking, looking around and.....(his favourite)....bringing in wood.  I managed to get a couple of pictures of easy feat, let me tell ya.

And that leaves Jake.  He's been busy being Jake.  He's been cleaning his room, playing lots of video games, cleaning his room, going to the library, cleaning his get the picture lol.

March Break is more than half over now, it always goes way too fast.  Oh well, we're in the final stretch to the end of the year. 

It's been quite the year --- one we'll not soon forget.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Six Word Memoir -- A Meme

Well, it would seem that Penelope, over at Roots and Wings has tagged me. I've often seen these types of things posted on other's blogs and thought it would be fun to play.

Here's the story behind the meme (as copied from the original post):

As I read yet another book review of a memoir this weekend, my husband told me that I should write one. I said that my story would be much too short and rather boring so when I ran across the following book I decided it was just my speed. A six word memoir! Written by Larry Smith and Rachel Fershleiser, Not Quite What I was Planning: Six Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure is a compilation based on the story that Hemingway once bet ten dollars that he could sum up his life in six words. His words were- For Sale: baby shoes, never worn. There’s a video on Amazon with examples from the book, it sounds like a fun read! I’d like to start a six word memoir meme and here are the rules:

1. Write your own six word memoir

2. Post it on your blog and include a visual illustration if you’d like

3. Link to the person that tagged you in your post and to this original post if possible so we can track it as it travels across the blogosphere

4. Tag five more blogs with links

5. And don’t forget to leave a comment on the tagged blogs with an invitation to play!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

This is a lot more difficult than it seems on the surface! I had a lot of fun as I tried to come up with six words.

However......without further is what I came up with......

Steeped in Tradition......Growing in Adventure

So....according the rules of the game I have to tag 5 other people to participate. That means, most of the people I will tag may be somewhat surprised (as I usually only lurk on other's blogs).

So....Yofed, Mama Squirrel, Amber, Laurie ....and one still be've been tagged!!

Friday, March 7, 2008

March Break has arrived.....


The weather here has been fantastic. (Here are some pictures taken today around our yard.) I'm hoping it will continue on into next week. They have finally decided to take next week as their March/Spring break. As Newfoundland follows a different school calendar than Ontario does, we told the children, they could choose which one we'd follow. They would prefer to switch back and forth depending on which one was most suitable for that day.

Most of our snow has gone. This will be the first year in a long time, we have not gone to Niagara Falls for a few days. It's time to start some new traditions, although that may have to wait for next year. We're looking forward to spending some 'us' time for a change. We've spent so many years looking after others, their needs and wants, while putting our own on the back burner.

The time for that to change is long past due.

We're hoping to check out around the ocean a bit more. Hopefully, we can hike up to Cape. St. Francis (where Conception Bay becomes the Atlantic Ocean). There is a beautiful hiking trail not far from hopefully we can take a day and do that.

Brittney wants to do some more baking.....she loves to do that....and we all like to eat it. When the contractors were here, she could hardly wait to serve them coffee and cookies one afternoon.

Tyler will no doubt spend some time on his cartooning. He is developing that more and more all of the time. He's ready to take the next step toward doing this as a career......we're just not 100% sure at this point, what the next step will be.

Jake is gearing up for another busy selling season. He's run out of money and is desperately seeking out ideas. Today, he thought he'd sell off some of his cars. The sign was made, but supper interfered with the rest of his, maybe there'll be some time for business next week. ;-)

Yep....looking forward to the break.