Friday, October 28, 2005

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Where is a Camera when You Need It?

Alas, it is out with papa doing picket duty.

We had a mama moose and her triplets nibbling on the willows not over 25 feet away from our backdoor today. Would have made a great picture.
I Want It That Way

Thanks to Jerry for this. Hahahah.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Some Days I Want to Scream

And lately it has been most days. It isn't that my days are really horrible, it is just that I have too many things to do in them, and all of them must be done.

Having a full schedule doesn't go well with having children. Children are not efficient. They dawdle because they haven't yet learned that you have to hit the floor running and keep running and flop down exhausted by the end of the day, overwhelmed by all the things still left on your "to do" list. I wish I was still a child.

When James was born, Trista gave me a beautiful picture of a mother bending over her baby's cradle and adoring her baby. With it was the poem about telling cobwebs and dust to take a long walk off a short pier, or something like that. I think of that poem often as I am zooming around cleaning the house, yelling out instructions about grammar rules, throwing laundry in the washer or dryer, and telling my son whether office supplies should go in the assets or liabilities column of his balance sheet. If you hear me yelling at the laundry or telling the piles of dirt I have swept up to button up and go to sleep, you will know why. I am trying to rock my baby because I hear they don't keep. The fact that my kids are involved with housekeeping chores and that the house is fairly orderly doesn't mean there isn't a great deal of stress involved with it at times. Maybe if I had a maid...

Next month will be better, please Lord! Next month no swimming lessons twice a week, and hopefully all the dental appointments will be done.

I can always hope, right?

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Trista, the Birthday Girl Posted by Picasa
Happy Birthday Trista!

Twenty-two years and five hours ago a little girl made an entry into our lives. Her name was Trista, and now she is all grown up and a mother herself. Where has the time flown?

Trista was always crazy about babies. I remember how thrilled she was when each of her succeeding siblings was born. Whenever I had to scold them for something, they usually ran to Trista for comfort. If I went grocery shopping and she spotted a baby in another grocery cart, she would take off and follow the cart in order to look at the baby. I always thought she would make a good mother, and she has. It has been fun being a mother with her and keeping each other up to date on what our current babies are doing.

Watching Trista change from a young lady into a young woman, mother, and wife has been an interesting experience. She was always very capable and full of energy and whatever she puts her mind to, she usually achieves, including the man of her dreams.

Some of the happiest memories of my life was when I was a young mother and had just Patricia and Trista to look after. I think the home that I enjoyed the most was that little condo we owned in Maple Ridge. She was probably too little to remember walking to the library or the swim center or shopping with me at Zellers. I remember the first real scare I had with her when she fell and hit her head so hard at Zellars that she knocked herself out for several seconds. Those seconds felt like hours when I looked into eyes that were wide open, but unaware. In those days her prized possession was a little pink kitten someone had given her and which she named "Yowmeow."

Both Patricia and Trista bore the brunt of my fumbling, inexpert, and frustrating attempts to homeschool. Most of my regrets relate to how unfun those times were for the girls. I wish now I had tried harder and found better ways to accomplish the same tasks and not been so self-centered and immature. If any satisfaction can be felt about the whole experience, it is that I have learned from it and am attempting to make things better for her siblings. It is a hard thing to have to grow up alongside your children, and the sad part is that the first children suffer because of your own immaturity, youthful arrogance. I wish I could go back and give Trista the mother she deserves.

I'm not feeling all that eloquent this morning because of the weight of things that await doing, but it is easy to sum up what I think of Trista: I love her and I am proud of her. I'm glad she is my girl.

Heheheh... This is a picture of Marc and I taken just shy of 25 years ago. Hard to believe I was ever that slim and trim to look at me now. Notice the Abe Lincoln beard starting to sprout on Marc. When you are bicycle-touring it isn't that convenient to shave. Posted by Picasa

Friday, October 21, 2005

Give Mammography a Miss!

It was National Mammography Day yesterday, and if you failed to observe it, bully for you! I didn't observe it and I never will, nor will I ever have a mammogram done.

Does it make sense to you that doctors are told to be gentle when doing an exam for breast cancer for fear of spreading it but radiologists can manhandle them and squash them flat for a mammogram? There is reason to believe that mammograms will spread a cancer if it is there. Not only that, if it is at all detectable through a mammogram, it was likely there for at least ten years, which kind of rules out the idea of mammograms being used for early detection, doesn't it?

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Frap Yourself

I saw this over on Barbara Curtis' blog and thought it would be neat to see where people are who read me. Why don't you wend your way over and leave an entry showing me where those who read me live?

Monday, October 17, 2005

Tagged Again!

List five things people may not know about you and tag five other people to do the same.

1. I am a thirteenth generation descendant from at least two people who came over on the Mayflower.

2. One of my ancestral clansmen was the Dean of St. Giles cathedral who had the famous stool of Jenny Geddes flung at his head. The Dean's name is the same name of my own father: James Hannah, only he spelled his last name Hannay.

3. I have vitiligo, but mostly in places that no one can see.

4. The second toe on both of my feet is longer than my big toe. Is there something significant to this?

5. Once, in a fit of teenage insanity, I dressed up and did Juliet's soliloquy from the balcony scene in Romeo and Juliet before most of the student body of my highschool in a talent show. They were obviously cultural philistines judging by their response.

I now tag Amanda,Tams, Jode, Willena, and Trista to do the same.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

"Christian" Child Training

I read a thought provoking article today on the various popular Christian parenting gurus who are out there. Many of them I am familiar with through homeschooling circles, and some of them I have even read. Almost all of them claim to be providing Christian parents with a method that has God's stamp of approval on it, with results guaranteed. If you don't get the result you want, then it was because you didn't do something right and are a BAD PARENT whose name will become a hissing and a byword to other godly parents who did it right. Ok, this is a bit of hyperbole, not to mention, simplification, but you tend to get this idea if you read a lot of these folks.

Now, I am the first to admit that my parenting isn't perfect, even with all the years of practice that I have had. In my inadequacy I turned to many of the books by the experts, especially if they were Christians. It seemed simple according to them. Some of them advocated spanking for a great many things. It wasn't long before everything looked like a nail for this proverbial hammer to hit. In retrospect, their methods were quite wooden and had a cookie cutter mentality to them that did little to show respect for children as people and individuals who would benefit from an individualized approach. Instead, children were subordinate creatures who were to view mom and dad as the fount of all wisdom and who were required to submit to their every command, even the arbitrary ones.

Over time I became disillusioned with a lot of these methods. I came to the realization that God is a perfect Father, but his perfection doesn't keep His kids from going off the rails with great frequency. Do we dare to say that it is all His fault when His children misbehave? I also noted that God doesn't spend His time spanking us for every infraction. He is often merciful and withholds the wrath we well deserve and often the evidences of that mercy are enough to bring us to our senses. At times He even entreats us, "Come let us reason together." It is His kindness that brings us to repentance. In short, God uses a variety of methods to correct His children, including, but not limited to, spiritual spankings. Such flexibility and creativity on our parts then surely doesn't come amiss.

I guess one of the problems that comes with writing a book on child training is that once you are published you tend to be married to those opinions and statements of yours til death do you part. If in time, you find that you were wrong about some things, how embarrassing to have to admit this to the public who may be following you. I would think that the temptation to defend and protect your methods in the face of greater knowledge or well deserved criticism would be great if the stakes were high enough in terms of prestige, book sales, and website hits. What else could explain the dogged tenacity of a Gary Ezzo despite the number of times he has been disciplined by churches and the amount of criticism he has had to endure?

You know, it is easy to think you have the whole child raising thing under your belt when your kids are little. I know I did. My kids were well spoken of when we went places (still are, if it comes to that). By this I mean places like the dentist's office and the various grocery stores I frequent on a weekly basis. I am not sure what the standard they used to measure them by. Perhaps the fact that they didn't try to trash the store or office was enough to merit the badge of "good" in their eyes. Then the kids hit the teen years and all of a sudden the things we thought were under control became manifest that they were not. I am convinced that teens are God's means of keeping parents on their knees. They also serve the salutary purpose of demonstrating that your methods were not foolproof, and if they turn out right, it was because God worked in spite of you.

This might put some people's knickers in a knot, but one of the best books on child training that I have read recently is SuperNanny by Jo Frost. If she is a Christian, it isn't overtly made manifest. However, I find a lot of her methods are based on what works and, most importantly, they respect children as people, not merely little extensions of parents designed to make the parents look good. Moreover, I don't have to think too hard to see that these methods are actually Biblical in their application.

Just my humble opinion.

This is a week late, but we celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. Here is what we looked like on that fateful day that we wed. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Things to Watch Out for...

Aspartame -- This sweetener has been controversial since it came out and it accounts for the most complaints made to the FDA regarding side effects of its consumption. Now a new study seems to be saying that aspartame is a "multipotential carcinogen" causing dose related increase in leukaemias and lymphomas in female rats, and a dose-related increase in incidence of cancer and its precursors in the kidney (renal pelvis and ureter) as well as tumours in the peripheral nerves, in particular in cranial nerves.

Rats were studied for nearly three years, until the end of their natural lifespan; most studies last about two years. Six different dose levels were tested against a control group not given aspartame. The National Toxicology Programme of the US National Institutes of Health convened a pathology working
group to provide a second opinion on the interpretation of some of the cancerous lesions observed by the Ramazzini researchers, and helped with the statistical evaluation of data.

Aspartame is metabolised into aspartic acid, phenylalanine and methanol. Methanol is in turn metabolised to formaldehyde. Previous large-scale experiments by the Ramazzini Foundation have linked both methanol and formaldehyde to a significant increase of leukaemias and lymphomas, the researchers say. However, they point out that the other sorts of cancer they
observed in their aspartame study did not show up in studies on methanol and formaldehyde, suggesting an urgent need to study whether aspartic acid or phenylalanine were also potential carcinogens.

The researchers also found that while rats fed aspartame ate less food, there was no difference in weight between treated and untreated animals. The first results have been published in the foundation's journal, the European Journal of Oncology, and have been peer-reviewed by seven international experts, according to the journal's editorial board. The second results have not yet been peer-reviewed.

Well, that blows that theory about aspartame being great for weight loss.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Saturday Morning Mumble

I should be up and doing, as in cleaning my house top to bottom and getting a start on cooking next weeks meals, but instead I am sitting in front of this computer screen taking a rare moment to mumble out loud and in public. Times for mumbling and thinking out loud are becoming rare due to the full nature of my schedule now that school is back in full swing.

Speaking of school -- I think it is going well. I am up there every day diligently grilling the children in grammatical useage, noting what their math drill scores are, correcting tests, going over vocabulary and reading out loud for novel studies amongst other things. Next week we start swimming lessons twice a week, which means that we now have swimming, hip hop dancing, piano, and guitar lessons, not to mention band practice. Somewhere, somehow, I need to schedule time at the gym. It isn't easy.

Teachers in BC will likely be going on full scale strike near the end of the month. The beauty of this E Bus program is that it really doesn't matter. We can keep working on the school stuff and just pass it all back in when the dust finally settles and everyone is back to work. In spite of the strike and the resultant lack of teachers, I feel quite free of the pressures of recent years in worrying over whether or not we are doing an adequate job in educating the kids. I'm a fairly independent worker, but having the outside help available when needed, and having the recognition of a certificate at the end relieves a great deal of psychological pressure of going it alone. If we had a covenanted nation, it would be even better.

Primal Teen by Barbara Strauch arrived at the library the other day thanks to interlibrary loan. It was a very timely arrival. My neighbor is having troubles with a teen son who is currently exhibiting signs of being partially brain dead and the client I had yesterday has two teen daughters who have suddenly lost their mind and are causing all kinds of stress. I'm not too far into the book, but one of the things I have grasped is that neuroscientists can now see that the same thing that happens to children around two which calls forth that stage of life usually known as "terrible twos" is the same sort of thing that is happening to the brain of teenagers. The prefrontal cortex starts to exhibit signs of exuberance, which is another term for rapid overgrowth. While this process is taking place, children and teens use the limbic system and amygdala, the emotional centers of the brain, for doing a lot of their reacting with the expected imbalanced results. This explains a lot. Further insights will, no doubt, be forthcoming.

Nathanael is back in school finishing up his requirements for graduation. He apparently has only three more credits to earn before he gets his Dogwood certificate. His intentions are to win the school's trophy for best attendance, best attitude, best grades, etc. He had the honor of being chosen by his teachers to serve on the school district's curriculum advisory council. One of the things he will be recommending to the school district is Saxon Math. Heheheheh.

Getting back to the gym -- my current desire, sort of. I have all sorts of reasons as to why I should pursue it: a good body mass index equals good health, it is a good example for the children, I should practice what I preach to others, and it means being able to keep my physical and mental faculties in good repair so that I don't end up in a nursing home being useless in my latter days. My desire is to die in the traces, if at all possible (Lord willing, barring unseen providences of course). I have a greater chance of doing that if I exercise, eat properly etc. So why is it a struggle?

This is one of those opportunities where I got to see the twisty nature of my heart. I know what is right and what I ought to do, but often self-sabotage, even with the full knowledge of how good and right a particular choice might be. Very often the reasons for doing so can be hidden from me by the deceitfulness of my own heart. I finally sat down and mind mapped my conflict with weight loss the other day. I won't tell you what I found since it isn't necessary that you know, but it was pretty interesting to me to see what was behind a lot of my behaviors. If you really have some problems to overcome and can stand to find out what the core issues are that are holding you back, doing a mind map and just allowing the creative free associations to flow can really be helpful. You can't apply the right remedy until you know the real problem.

In other more cheerful news -- Jamesie is a darling. Some babies are just easier than others. People often remark on the cuteness of Elodie, who has enormous eyes with long lashes, but personality wise-- she resembles Lucy of Peanuts comic strip fame. She can be a crabby, pushy, little girl. (I think her brain is being renovated at the moment.) James, on the other hand, is a cheerful little bohunkus who spends most of his day happily squealing and smiling. And he loves to cuddle. He has discovered his hands lately and spends a lot of time gnawing on them and trying to swallow them whole. He is also a well educated baby and the teacher's pet in school. He either sits in the teacher's lap during lessons, or else is worn in a harness in front of the teacher when she is up writing stuff on the blackboard. I wonder if he will learn to read earlier than the other kids?

Well, the dust motes are calling me to come and gather them up. Thus endeth this day's mumble.