Friday, February 28, 2014

Mysterious Whispers

He breathes beside me 
On the bed
His pillow neatly lain

His lungs inflate
And fill with air
He lets it out again

It's silent now
For apnea reigns
But I know what comes after

His snore begins
At decibels
That convulse me in laughter

I love this man
Who wears my ring
Our love runs pure and deep

But buy me earplugs,
Please, and soon
So I can get some sleep!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Free handwriting worksheets

I want to share something that's been an incredibly useful tool for my family over the last couple months. My friend told me about this many months ago and I just started it in January, but I've already seen improvement from it.

It's a free handwriting worksheet generator.

You do need to sign up for an account, but it's free and you can unsubscribe from the email newsletter if there's no option to opt out.

Anyway, I love this tool!  I usually choose words that we've been discussing as topics for the week, vocabulary words from books we're reading, definitions of those vocabulary words, and words that the children have struggled to spell properly.  Today, I made the sheet with words from The Hobbit, the definitions of those words, and the Olympics.

I've seen huge improvement in my youngest's printing.  He is learning to make his letters smaller and keep them within the proper lines.  My oldest is loving the cursive handwriting pages that I make for him.  I love that it's totally free and take about 2 minutes to prepare.  And I can customize it based on what we've been learning.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Brother, where Art thou ?

This boy...

He is just a GOOD kid.  He does chores without complaining, cleans up his brother's messes because it needs to be done, and is always ready to participate in whatever activity we choose to do.  He's the strong, silent type.  Unless he's laughing or trying to make you laugh.  And then he's loud and silly.  Anyway, I don't write about him much because he seems to slip under the radar, just plodding along, doing what he needs to do, and then some.

Today, as I was clearing off the table to ready our dining area for school, he pointed to the graph paper that had mysteriously appeared on the table and mentioned, "I thought maybe I could teach the other two how to do this art project today.  You print a picture you like, draw a grid on it, and then copy it to your own graph paper.  We did it in Grade Four and I really liked doing it."  We discussed details and I assured him that he could teach his siblings this art technique if he wanted.  We would make time for it in our schedule.

Part of our schedule included watching the Olympics, so as we made our plan for the day, I asked each kid what they wanted to watch.  This boy picked Bobsled (not a surprise to me, since he's been fascinated with the sledding events this far), which was being broadcast one hour and fifteen minutes into our school day. We planned accordingly.

At 10:15, when bobsled coverage started, I turned on the TV and waited.  And waited.  The kids were having too much fun with their art project.  The oldest, the one who chose Bobsled as his event to watch, preferred to sit and listen to the TV while working on his art with his brother.  He's been up and down, showing his brother the proper way to draw lines, helping him with his technique.  He loves this!  More than watching Bobsled!

And I love that he is sharing his passion for art (a passion that I just don't share with him, try as I might) with his brother and sister.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Just love

I did not get a single rose, flower, card, or chocolate from the person who loves me most in this world.

And I've had a FANTASTIC day!

You see, I wasn't expecting him to get me anything.  And he already shows me how much he loves me in so many other ways.  Why do I need to hold him hostage just because someone, somewhere, decided that February 14th was the day to make grand declarations of love?

So, today, we spent the day together, all five of us.  It wasn't a glamorous day by any means.  It included a haircut, an oil change, a trip to the post office, fueling up the van, and watching 60 kids run around like crazy for two hours.  But it was so nice to just be with the people who matter most to me.

Today, don't make the day something it shouldn't be.  Don't hold those closest to you hostage if they don't live up to your expectations.  Just love them, without thought for how they will complete your life.  Because they won't.  It's an impossible expectation to put on another flawed human being.

Just love.

Under construction

Every so often I read The Matt Walsh Blog or Ann Voskamp's A Holy Experieince (complete with hypnotic music, forcing me to become more introspective) and internalize the goodness they have to share.

But more often than not, I just have some kind of ongoing dialogue in my head, usually stuck on the loop where I'm berating myself for saying something stupid.  Or doing something stupid.  Or saying and then doing something stupid.

My moments of stupidity used to happen much more frequently.  I didn't stop to ponder how my words and actions affected others.  Somewhere between getting married and having kids I finally started to get it.  I was not a nice person.  And I had no filter.

So, I made an effort to screen my comments before they made their way out of my mouth.  Generally speaking, over the last 10 years or so, I've made great strides in not looking like an idiot at every turn.

Lately though...  Well, lately, I've been saying stupid things again.  Pointing out areas of improvement in other people (or even worse, in other people's kids.)  Telling people the same story twice in an hour.  Butting my nose in to conversations that don't concern me.  I could go on, but it's really just embarrassing.

I don't know what's happened to me.  I'd like to think that I'm becoming more and more like Ann Voskamp, but in reality, I think I'm turning into Amelia Bedelia.

And so, I war with myself.  I want to be involved and be social.  I want to get to know new people.  I want to have something to say.  But, inhibited by the stupid things I say, I realize that I need to clean that filter and get it working again.

I'd like to think that I have moments of quick wit.  Perhaps my quick wit has found a way to bypass the filter. Perhaps my quick wit has sacrificed the "wit" side of things for more "quick."

I have no solution here, People.  I'm trying.  Really, I am.  If you could crack open my head and see the things that I DIDN'T say, you'd be amazed, aghast, and some other adjective that starts with "A" describing how you'd feel if you saw inside my head.  (See, that's just a peek at the inside of my head, unfiltered.  It's Choose Your Own Adventure, adjective-style.)

I guess what I'm saying is this:

I'm sorry.  I'm sorry for the stupid thing I said to you earlier today.  Or earlier this week or this month.  My filter has been working so hard and is so full of crud that I really just need to take it out and clean it.  So please bear with me.  I'm undergoing some maintenance.  There's no completion date, so I can't even really offer you any hope of getting rid of these construction cones.

But to the friends who risk the mess, I thank you for stopping in and saying hello to me.  My new filter will be working overtime, but I'm going to make sure I keep it firmly in place.

Monday, February 3, 2014

It's "Old Hat" but let's try to look at it as if for the first time

Love is patient and kind
Love is not jealous or boastful 
or proud or rude.
It does not demand its own way.
It is not irritable
and it keeps no record
of being wronged.
It does not rejoice about injustice
but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.
Love never gives up,
never loses faith,
is always hopeful,
and endures through every circumstance.

I've been thinking about this passage a lot lately.  I have been realizing that it's really easy to get complacent about words that I memorized long ago.  But when I spend time thinking about what each of these statements really means, I realize that I have a long way to go.

And I have a lot of people that I choose to love.  And there are even more people that I need to love, even though it's not my natural inclination.  Even though it's difficult.  

So, I am reading this every day this month, in an effort to understand love a little better.  As I read through this list, there are things that love is and isn't.  Do I see the good in me?  Do I see the bad?  As my kids are tired of hearing me say, I can't change other people's behaviour, but I can change my own.  The way I love has to start with a change within myself.

The one that always stands out to me is "... it keeps no record of being wronged."  It is so easy to hold on to the things that our loved ones have done wrong so we can remind them of it later on.  But real love doesn't do that.  Real love forgives and moves on.

Look through the list of what love does and doesn't do.  Where do you see yourself struggling?  It's probably different with each person in your life.  We love different people in different ways.

I challenge you to look at this passage each day this month and look at each attribute of love to see where you need to make changes.  Take a day to look at your spouse, one day each for your children, your parents, your dearest friends, your aquaintances...  How do you love and how do you need to change that?

I'm guessing that the best gift you can give those dearest to you this Valentine's Day is to fine-tune the way you love them.