The Classic Question

"If you had to choose, would you marry Ginger or Mary Ann?"

My jaw dropped in surprise, then laughter, as I realized my seven-year-old had asked the question.

This summer has seen a resurgence in the popularity of "Gilligan's Island" in our house, and the boys are about halfway through the third and final season of the show. I never watched this show as a kid, so most of the episodes are new to me, too... well, kind of. It didn't take me long to realize that the show used the same two or three plot lines on a heavy rotation and none of the characters ever changed. And it was less than a week before I was beyond done with the ever-loving theme song. And stereotyped, one-dimensional quaint and charming characters.

At any rate, the boys have been loving it, and as long as they stick to their max limit of two episodes a day, I can handle it.

But I never did expect any of them to come up with the hypothetical "Ginger or Mary Ann" question... at least, not yet.

As it turns out, all the men-folk of the house, except Noah, voted for Mary Ann. (Well, also except Levi, who abstained from the vote.) I am glad. Noah gave his reason as "she's pretty."

Yes, she is, but I was relieved to hear that the votes for Mary Ann had a few more supporting reasons. Among them:
  • She's pretty, too.
  • She's nice.
  • She can do more than bat her eyelashes.
  • She can cook, and sew, and clean, and do stuff outside.
I can just never figure out why Ginger didn't convert her glittery, slinky gowns (WHY was she wearing that dress on a "three-hour tour?" when it is meant for a night on the red carpet? Does the woman not own a good set of designer cigarette pants, or anything?) into something much more practical and ripped-off within the first week of being stuck there. And knock the heels off her shoes. In fact, almost everything about that woman irritates me.

I am a strong admirer of the practical, as well as the beautiful. And every time she tries to manipulate a man into doing things her way by tickling his cheeks with her false eyelashes, I want to smack her.

(Aside: Also, I want to know how Mary Ann and Gilligan (the designated laundry-doers most of the time) managed to keep everyone's clothes so immaculate for three years on an island with no power or detergent. Seriously, I want their secret. No one ever gets so much as a worn cuff! Ahem. End aside.)

So, I guess I cast my vote with the majority: Mary Ann. Except I don't want to marry her. I bet she and I could have been friends, though. :-)

Bulking Up

This winter, Jason has been doing some training, as he is planning to enter the Spartan Race in Edmonton this July. There is a kid's version of the race, too, and the boys are stoked that Daddy let them enter it. Thus, they have been diligently doing karate, swimming lessons, walks or Nike Plus (Fitness XBox Kinect program) on non-class days, and with the nice weather lately, they have added "trampolining" to the regimen.

All that hard work has really been paying off.

Honest, we don't let our kids use steroids, or anything! Maybe there was a radioactive spider around the place, somewhere...


Newly Nine!

 Noah, my sweet middle boy, is turning nine today. What a perfect opportunity to celebrate a child who is cuddles and smiles and math genius and cause-of-mommy's-gray-hairs all in one. Here are some things about Noah right now:

Favourite Food: Cake and ice cream, pancakes run a close second and pasta gets honourable mention (except pasta with tomato sauce)

Favourite Books: Bone, Calvin & Hobbes, Garfield, For Better or Worse (do you see a trend?)

Favourite Games: Super Marvel Squad, Angry Birds (any variation),

Favourite Subjects: Spelling ("It's so fast!"), Bible ("That's so fast, too!"), Math, Piano

Dislikes: Work, tomatoes, cauliflower, and hot days. (Also zombies.)

What do you want to do when you grow up?
 "When I grow up, I want to marry Emily and build a house or buy a house that is so nice, and buy beds or bunk beds for my kids. And also, I'd get Wii and XBox 360 and Nintendo DS."

 Last week, we studied the story of Midas' golden touch. For their notebook page after, they had to write what Midas learned ("there are things more important than gold"), and what they would wish for if they had had that opportunity. This was Noah's wish:
"I would wish for all the video games in the world, except zombie and monster games."

When Noah was a baby, he was the cuddliest of all our children. He would snuggle right into the crook of your neck with his arms tucked in front of him and go to sleep. Once he became the "middle", there was less time for all those cuddles, which he seemed to handle well, but he still loves his hugs and kisses.

He is a sweet, sensitive boy, but he also likes to play rough-and-tumble--to a point. He gets excited and doesn't always know what to do with himself, which can annoy his brothers and friends somewhat.

He also loves to sing while he does his schoolwork, or listen to music. This annoys both his brothers, but especially Jabin, who would love everything to be perfectly silent while doing his work. Mommy is still working on solutions to the problem...

Noah is gifted in math and music, and although he struggles with the writing process, he has a wonderful imagination that can come up with some really great story ideas.

Noah gave us a scare a couple of months ago when he silently disappeared as we got up to leave the A&W. His boots and coat were still there, but the last I had seen him out of the corner of my eye, he was heading out into the hallway of the mall. Ten minutes of panicked searching in the bathrooms, stores of the mall, and around the outside (at -20C) had Jason and I both (mostly me, I'm sure) starting to become VERY alarmed... when we discovered that he had gone to the bathroom in the handicapped washroom, in a back hallway we didn't know existed, without bothering to tell anyone. He still forgets to communicate things like that because his mind--while fertile--works on only one row of the garden at a time. :-) Despite Jason's and my extreme, obvious concern and reiterations about how important it was to tell us (and take a Bathroom Buddy) when he does that, he still did it the next time we were in the restaurant. Things like that take constant repetition with him. I am encouraged, though, that he is finally starting to remember to excuse himself from the table after a meal... about a third of the time, anyway. :-)

Noah, we are so thankful that you are part of our family--and that we didn't lose you that day! By God's grace, you are growing into a wonderful young man. We are excited to see what the next year has in store for you, Little Big Man.

Happy birthday!

The Wonder of Wire

Last week for History we were studying ancient Greek art and architecture. As a project to go along with it, I had the boys make a wire-frame sculpture. They did a pretty awesome job, I have to say.

Jabin's ("He looks like Junior Asparagus," I commented.):

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Jude's (He ended up having to add a support and a wire for the sword. It kept "wilting."):


Noah's (like an egghead ninja!):



Fighting Zombies with Soap

Over a year ago, my brother, Logan, introduced us to the cutesy, simple-to-play "Plants vs. Zombies" game app. Normally, anything with the "Z"-word in it is forboten to me (I have an active imagination, and it does not need brain-eating images in it as fuel). However, after finding that the game was more about strategy, and being endeared by the cartoonish and fiercely protective plants and gentle music, with no images of zombies eating brains anywhere, I became temporarily addicted.

My video game addictions are always temporary: a weekend--a week, tops--before I lose all interest because the time spent on it is so unproductive. However, it was long enough for my kids to decide to want to play it. They all loved it. Well, "all", briefly, until the first time Noah lost, the zombie walked into the front door of the house, and (off-screen) he heard a man scream and the words pop up "The zombies ate your brains!"

Guess which child inherited my active imagination? Bet it didn't take you long. From that moment on, he was riddled with zombie fears, not wanting to go to sleep in the dark, not wanting to be in a room by himself, and not wanting anyone within a 100 m radius to be playing the game. Just imagining that you MIGHT be playing the game was enough to have him covering his ears (the music freaked him out because he imagined what was going with it) and running for the other end of the house. This went on for some time. While his reaction has been somewhat tempered over time, he still has a strong dislike for the game, and the idea of zombies in general. (I can't blame him for the latter. Eep.)

Logan, however, has no such issue. He LOVES zombies, finds them humourous, and keeps trying to convince me to watch "Shaun of the Dead" because it is "so funny." Not happening, bro. (See the part about "active imagination" in the first paragraph.)

Last Friday, I went to restock on my favourite Rocky Mountain Soap Company soap (stay with me, this is related, I promise), and saw this on the shelf:

Knowing how much Logan loves all things zombie, I decided to pick it up for him. However, later on when I was telling Jason about it, Noah overheard.

"Zombie repellent?!" he exclaimed excitedly. "To keep zombies away?"

"Should we put it by your bed?" I teased.

"Yup!" he said.

Later on, when he had come back to the living room from a trip down the hall to the bathroom, he exclaimed, "And I didn't even have to turn the hall light on!" (This is a big deal, because I am always berating him for turning on the light completely unnecessarily during the day, since there is a window and he can see everything perfectly.)

"Why is that?" I asked.

"Because I could smell the zombie soap, and I knew it was keeping me safe."

Eep. I think there may be a gap in the training, folks. But come to think of it, Noah probably needs zombie repellent more than my brother does. :-)

Pillow Fight

When Jude was born, one of his baby gifts was a child-size body pillow covered in flannel decorated with ducklings and cutesy ladybugs. It soon became one of his favourite possessions.

This pillow has gotten a lot of use over the years.

As moral support when learning to put on socks:

As a dance mat, before Wii was invented (Daddy's shoes make it even better):

As a surface long enough to accommodate a brotherly moment of bonding:

When Jabin got old enough, he became quite attached to the pillow, too. (Noah, not liking confrontation, chose to stay mum on the subject.)

The mutual attachment soon became a source of constant friction--both between the two boys, and on Mom's and Dad's nerves. Finally, after years of this, and various "systems" to try and get the boys to share it peacefully that all failed miserably, I had had enough. I went to the fabric store, bought some flannel and quilt batting, and using some muslin I had at home made not one, but two more body pillows, plus pillowcases for all three. (No sense leaving Noah out--when the prospect of having one of his own arose, he was duly thrilled.)

Finally, a truce. And we are ALL happy about it. :-)

Unreasonable Blessings

Sometimes I feel blessed beyond reason. As in, I'm not sure for what reason I am so blessed... but I am grateful.

Jason has been on holidays since last Wednesday. Originally, we had been planning on taking a trip out to Abbotsford for a wedding, then down to Seattle to see my brother for Thanksgiving. We weren't the only ones who were disappointed when we had to cancel due to budgetary constraints. However, Jason had been saving up his time off, and we had several fall projects that needed doing, so he took the holidays anyway.

For the most part, I have continued to do school with the kids during his holiday, as he has been outside cutting and splitting wood most days. He has also helped teach the kids at times, which has been fun for them and for him. Today, as I napped to try and kick the final vestiges of a cold that just won't die combined with the monthly cyclical low that leaves me drained of energy, Jason took over the morning subjects completely.

By afternoon, bolstered by my nap, I was able to teach the kids science so Jason could take advantage of the gorgeous weather and get back outside. As part of a lesson on evaporation, the kids did a watercolour painting. Two of the three made pictures for me that said "I love you."

"And this is me hugging and kissing you," explained Jabin.

I am so blessed by my family.

Show and Tell

Jude has recently discovered Microsoft Paint. And gotten his first e-mail account. While the etiquette training for e-mail has been being directed by Jason and me (and I apologize to those of my readers that have had to bear with him in the learning process), we've pretty much let him explore MS Paint on his own. This is the picture he e-mailed to Jason and me on Friday:

And this is the picture that Noah drew in church today. I think he would have left the characters unlabelled, but Jude drew a very provocative picture of Noah first, so the labelling was a bit of comeback. :-)

So much fun. :-)

Continental Birth Order

Yesterday, first day "back to school."

I kicked off our year-long history subject of ancient Greece and Rome with a "getting-our-bearings" activity of the seven continents and where we live. The little booklet of continents I printed off from Enchanted Learning happened to show North America last.

Noah: "I think God made North America last."

Me: "Really? Why?"

Noah: "Because it's last in the book."


The Days are Just Packed!

We started summer almost a week early in our house, having Jude skip the last few days of school (mostly "party time" anyway) so we could spend eight days in central Alberta, visiting family for the most part. The holiday was a nice mix of "busy" and "relaxed", with plenty of visiting throughout.

My brother even came up from Seattle area for the second weekend, so although most of the visiting was with Jason's side of the family this time around, I got to see my immediate family lots (since we were bunking at my dad's.)

The reason we chose that week, instead of the following one, is because my boys all had swimming lessons back here in P.R., starting at 10 a.m. on July 2. (Weird, considering it was a holiday here.) We made it in time, although Jude missed his first day, as he and my niece Kayla (who had come home with us for the week to visit) both woke up on Monday with a horrible cold. That cold has since made the rounds through everyone in our family except Jason, with me being the most recent victim. I have been feeling the effects all this week, and have now got it reduced to the slightly-sore-throat-and-lots-of-nose-blowing stage.

Thursday (the 5th), the last day of swim lessons for the week, we split from Peace River as soon as they were done to head back down to Red Deer, dropping Kayla off on the way out to my dad's again. Jason didn't come along this time, as he really didn't want to go on a 20-hour-in-4-day drive, no matter how beautiful the scenery. Our destination was Emerald Lake, B.C., by Friday afternoon, where my cousin Stephanie was getting married at 3:30.

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Emerald Lake, B.C.

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Walking down the "aisle" at Emerald Lake Lodge.

We made it with time to spare, and I got to visit with members of my mother's side of the family that I haven't seen in ages, including my cousin Michael and his family. Despite the fact that he has lived far away from me for most of our lives, I have always maintained a pretty good friendship with him (probably helps that he is my only cousin that is my age). His wife is a complete sweetheart whom I befriended as soon as I met her at their wedding reception years ago, and whom I hadn't seen since. (I always wish we lived closer together anytime I get to spend any time at all with those two.) And meeting their daughter Juanita for the first time was a joy.

The next day, my boys went kayaking for the first time EVER in some boats brought up by friends of the family and generously shared with all the guests present. The three of them went out together in a larger boat at first, coached along by Mr. Dalk in the basics of rowing, etc. They went a long ways across the lake before coming back.

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Our three big boys on their maiden voyage!

Then Jude and Noah each took solo voyages, a watchful adult in a kayak close by. Unfortunately, when Noah went out, all the smaller lifejackets were in use, so he was figuratively "swimming" in his. Fortunately, the boats were surprisingly stable, and he managed it like a pro! I was so proud of my boys. (And a little proud of myself for not going all maternal and not letting them go.)

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Jude on his solo trip.

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Noah going solo!

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Three crazy, amazing boys!

We had intended to take the short hike from Lake Louise up to Moraine Lake on our way up toward Jasper to camp for the night, but while the boating was going on, the aforementioned nasty cold bug hit Noah--he was suddenly in no condition for hiking. (This one comes on hard and fast.) So, my mom (who was coming up to Peace River from the wedding with us, having just flown up from Arkansas and driving out with her parents), the boys, and I packed up and hit Hwy 93 north. We did make a quick stop for the 10-minute hike to Peyto Lake. Since this was my boys' first time in the B.C. Rockies, I wanted them to experience it as much as was still possible with an "invalid" in the group. Unfortunately, Mom and I had to take turns carrying Noah the whole way up and back. It was a sacrifice we were willing to make to ensure the other two would get to enjoy a close-up with some of the amazing beauty we were driving through instead of just barely acknowledging it through the window.

The first night in the mountains (by Emerald Lake), I set up the tent with just the boys. It's an eight-man "mansion", as far as tents go, and although fairly easy to set up, I was quite glad that Mom was there the second night to help. Since this was my first camping trip of any kind for four years, I was also glad the the only thing I really seemed to forget was a flipper for the French Toast. In fact, being "out of practice" actually meant that I bought enough food to feed an army, so there was no lack of anything except ice to keep it cold.

On Sunday morning, we debated on our day's activities as we broke camp. We had to be back in P.R. by that night, as the boys still had swimming lessons the next morning. Noah was not doing a lot better (having experienced the bug myself now, I know why), so we thought that we would try to make one short stop at a place called "Jasper House" on our map, and that was it, disappointed to put off the planned stop at Miette Hot Springs for another time. Unfortunately, we somehow missed the sign that would have taken us off the highway to whatever that attraction may have been, so decided to take our own "pit stop" at Fiddle River, just before leaving the National Park. We pulled over beside the highway and hiked across the scrub and rocks to dabble our toes in the glacier-fed stream (COLD!!). Jude was brave enough to stand in it up to his ankles. It sure felt good on the sunburn I had collected the day before, and on that 30 degree day it was a wonderful refresher.

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The rest of the trip home was uneventful, which is good... Well, except for the yearling bear that ran across the highway right in front of us south of Fox Creek. We grazed his backside--but Mom said he still trotted off using all fours, so I'm hoping that that fact, and the lack of damage to my bumper, means that he would be fine--and much more wary of roads and vehicles! (Okay, I guess hitting a bear is kind of a big event!)

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This fellow was having a snack beside main street in Jasper as we were leaving. This is right through our van's side window!

The boys finished their swimming lessons yesterday, with Jude and Noah both passing to Levels 5 and 4 respectively. Jabin gets to repeat Level 1 for the third time, but not for lack of effort. Considering he actually had a fear of putting his head underwater at the beginning of this school year, he's doing alright. Once he lets himself relax a little more, he'll just take off with the swimming. For now, he's enjoying the journey.

Which is exactly what I've been doing for the last three weeks. I have to admit, though, I am really looking forward to next week--no schedule, and hopefully the heat wave we've been experiencing this week will have slackened. (I'd only wish for a little slackening--'tis hard to keep the tin can I live in below 30 degrees when it is 35C+ outside. However, summer is usually so short here, I don't want to complain about the heat too much!)

What a great start to summer.

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Fiddle River, AB

The Great Disappointment

Ah, Monday. A whole new week to discover.

Jason was away in Vancouver for the whole of last week, taking a computer course for work. We went and got him from the G.P. airport Saturday afternoon, had a good Sunday together, and now he is home in bed with a stomach bug. I don't know what kind of evil creation can bring Jason down, and don't want to find out. He's usually the one with the stomach of iron, I'm the one who catches things like this--so I'm really hoping I don't.

The week without him was more challenging than I expected--not because he was gone, persay, although we all missed him, and my life was definitely busier (these are the parts I did expect)--but because that was the week that Noah decided to try out vandalism.

It rained, hard, for most of Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. On Wednesday, I had Noah's friend Q.S. here, a boy who is also home schooling, but his family is going through a tough time with health issues right now, so I've been taking him three days a week to do school at our house in order to help the family out. Q. is an interesting child with a tendency to "forget" the rules whenever it is convenient for him, and so is Noah--more like Dory on Finding Nemo--"something shiny!" they exclaim, and immediately forget about anything else. However, the two of them together are not usually a major problem. Until now.

I once received a hilarious e-mail forward about boys, and there was something in there about how a group of boys together have a lower combined I.Q. than each one individually. That was borne out last week, when Noah and Q. came in just before lunch, bragging that they had been breaking glass in the old trailer (which is still sitting a few hundred yards away in our yard, but at such an angle that I cannot easily see it from anywhere in our house, especially in the rain.) They did not think of it as "destruction of property"--until I illuminated them, that is. They were simply two boys, not thinking, having a lark, enjoying the noise and effect of shattering glass.

I haven't been that angry for a looooonnnnng time. Of all the things left on that trailer, the windows were the only thing of any real value. I had intended to take them all out and make a greenhouse with them.

On surveying the damage, I found that only four windows in the entire house remained unsmashed. The four panes in the beautiful large bay window in the front was destroyed. The only surviving windows are smaller. There is glass everywhere there, and so we have had to restrict and carefully monitor our dogs since then, as we have not yet had time to begin cleanup.

Most of the cleanup will be done by the two boys, as part of their discipline. We (our family and Q's) have initiated several other measures of discipline to really drive home how big of a deal this is, but the unfortunate part is that you can't make eight-year-olds get a job and pay back $6000 worth of damage. That is just the way it is.

However, I think that the part that will really help these boys remember is the lack of trust I now have for them, especially the two of them together. Even when Q is allowed to come back over to play (which will be some time), I will not trust them to be unsupervised by an adult or an older, more responsible child. How are they going to earn that trust back? I don't know--but it is going to take a great deal of time.

Because if a child was four, I could maybe see them not "remembering" that you don't just wreck stuff. Especially something like a house. But at eight, if you can't trust them--how does that trust get rebuilt?

Without a lecture on my parenting, I would appreciate any further insight that other experienced parents may have in dealing with a situation like this.

So... here's to a new week. Let's hope it is less exciting than the last.


I woke up from a much-needed Sunday afternoon nap to find this on the table:
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Cute poem. Misleading, though.

I thought, "How sweet! I don't think that's what he meant, but nice thought... And it's tough to find the right word that rhymes with 'pink,' I bet..."

Then I found out that Jude wrote it. He was playing a trick. So much for all that sweetness.

What a guy.