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August 27, 2010

The Creative 4-Some

When Josh was younger, Mark and him started to build a treehouse.
Well they got as far as the floor and then things got busy and.....well you know.
So the treehouse stood...more like a platform for many years.

This year the 4-some decided enough was enough and that they were going to put some walls and a roof on. They asked Mark for some materials and away they went.

They spent hours, day after day, measuring, cutting and pounding.

I have to admit that I never even went out there to see what they were creating the whole time.
I was just glad that they had a project that they were working together on and that it was using up some of their boyish energy :)

Finally one day the announcement was made. THEY WERE FINSIHED!!!

So they asked me to come and see it...and I did. Now you have to understand that I really wasn't expecting much. I mean really....they did it all on their own, they have never done something like this on their own... So I expected a few rickety walls and secretly hoped that it wouldn't fall down on them.

But when I went to see their creation....I was shocked! What I saw was nothing like what I imagined. It was sturdy, relatively straight and looked REALLY GOOD! (I really shouldn't have been surprised, because they have a Daddy who has amazing carpentry skills!)

So here's to my little 4-some and their creation.....(regretfully 2 of the 4-some were not there when we took these pictures...but they pulled their fair share of the work)

One of the carpenters

Having lunch on the roof


Look way up!


The foreman


Picturesque window view


Inside the humble abode


Way of escape


View from the other side


So now I've been thinking....
Maybe they can build Mark and I a house someday :) By then they will have 2 more to join the ranks!!!

August 24, 2010

Butterfly Beauty

It all started with a young boy....

A couple of caterpillars....

A Jar from Mama....
And this was the result.
The caterpillars ate and ate for a few days
the spun a cocoon.

After a bunch of days (around weeks I think) the young boy saw this....and proceeded to run around and excitedly tell the household of his new observation.

After watching the butterflies dry off...

The young boy put them on his finger.....
And sent them on their way....



And this is all he was left with!
And of course a great learning experience :)

Now fast forward to today....
This same (dirty) young boy and his (really dirty) brothers were playing outside....


And this is what they saw....





And the young boy and his family once again was reminded at the beauty of God's wonderful creation!

For more about monarch butterflies and their life cycle go here.

Here's a little video of it all....

August 21, 2010

Training Little Ones to Sit in Church

One of the questions we get asked the most about child training is....

Over the years of having more and more little ones, we have learned more and more about kids sitting in church. Here are some of them:

#1: Kids don't need food, books, and toys to be entertained during church. Some people have chosen to go this route, and that is fine, but for us, we found it more hassle than it was worth. So now we come to church with our Bibles and a diaper bag with bottles and diapers and that's about it. Every once in awhile one of the younger ones will ask for a pen and paper from Mark's Bible, and sometimes we say yes, sometimes no. We will often have a sippy cup for our babies to tie them over for a late lunch and very rarely they have had a snack if they didn't eat a good breakfast, but for the most part, that's all. This cuts down on a lot of "extra activity" in church. 

#2: To teach your child to sit in church, we have found it is easiest to do the training at home. In church everything is quiet and we want our children to be quiet as well, and this makes training them in church very difficult. So we start with our children when they are quite young (depending on the child, but usually before a year). Mark usually does this at a time when they are most unlikely to sit still (before a meal, when they are 'wired'). We choose to train them at this time because let's face it, it's easy to make a child sit when they want to....it's when they don't that it's a challenge. So in order to train them, we need to choose our times wisely. We have had parents tell us that they practice getting their children to sit at home and they do just fine, but once they get to church it all falls apart. Sometimes it is just because the child is having a bad day (and we all have had those), but other times it is because we are making them sit at times where they fine with sitting. Therfore, no real training is done. So we will start at home, making them sit for 15 min. for a few days, then 20 min. and so on, until we have it that we can get them to sit with us for as many minutes as we want them to sit (within reason). It's important that when they are sitting, they are sitting relatively still and quietly. If they choose not too, we usually squeeze their leg, or something to get their attention. If we use this method (squeezing the leg), we can easily do this during church if they choose to be noisy or not sit still, and we do not have to take them out to deal with it. So at home, it's important that you get to a point that if they squirm or fuss and you squeeze their leg, that they don't let out a howl, rather they take it quietly. Like I said, takes practice. Use words like, "You need to get self-control" or "You need to obey quietly". Once you have your child sitting at home, "when you choose to have them sit" then you should be able to have them sit in church. Now like I said, there will be the odd day that the child will choose that "this is the day to misbehave", but just keep trying again the next time. It will come.

#3: We don't take our children into the nursery to play. Children are not dumb, they will get the pattern, "If I fuss, I get to go play!". I will go into the nursery with my children when I am nursing them and if, when they are older, I need to take them into the nursery, I do not let them down to play. They have to sit on my knee just the same as they would have in the service. But our nursery visits are very limited.

#4: When your children are older and can sit by themselves, and they get the 'wiggles' the little trick of folding their hands usually helps out quite a bit. It helps them to gain self-control. We use this often.

#5: For the older children you can do role playing or practice at home. Sometimes when we feel that the children are being a little more squirmy than they needed to be during church, we will have a refresher lesson. We will set up some chairs just like church and practice how we sit in church and go over the rules once again. Everyone needs a refresher now and then :)

#6: Every once in awhile, if we feel that a particular child(ren) were sitting very nicely  that Sunday, we will reward them with something small (usually a couple of smarties or something like that). But we don't do this on a regular basis, rather very randomly. We don't want our children to sit nicely in order to get a reward, rather we want to reward them because they sat nicely. There is a big difference! One trains the behaviour, while the latter trains the heart. We always want to train the heart. 

Our goal in all this is to raise children who respect God and others. In learning to sit and listen in church, they learn from God and His Word. I think many parents would be surprised how children can understand an adult service. There have been many times when one of our children will comment on a sermon that I thought was way "above their head". In learning to sit still and listen in church, they learn to respect the one who is preaching and the people around them who are trying to listen and in doing so they honour God.

How about you? What works for you in training your children to sit quietly and respectfully in church?

August 16, 2010

A Disaster Turned Into Something Beautiful!

Back in July we had a bit of a 'situation' on our yard. 
I was in the house working when out of the blue our electricity went out. 
I found this kind of strange, since there was no storm or threat of one.

Since there was nothing to do inside, I ventured outside.
That is when I heard a weird hissing sound. Kind of like when you let the air out of a balloon.
Megan heard it too and we went to investigate.
This is when we realized that the sound was coming from the transformer on our pole (the gray thing on top of this pole).

Obviously this was going to be more than just the electricity blinking out, so I called Manitoba Hydro and reported what was happening. The guy called me back and I told him what we heard coming from the transformer. He told me that he would get someone out to look at it. After I hung up from talking to him, we started to hear popping sounds coming from the transformer. Like really loud popping sounds. It was then that I told the kids to stay away from the pole because I wasn't sure what was going to happen. Every time it would pop, the ground would shake and oil would spray out of the transformer. Finally after what seemed a long time of this thing popping, the lid blew right off the top of it, sending a ball of fire and spraying oil everywhere, on the tree, on the rose bushes, all over the grass.  I was in the house at the time and could hear it....it was LOUD! Of course kids came running from everywhere, wondering what had just happened. We were very grateful that no one was under it at the time.

About that time Mark was coming home and called me telling me to call hydro and let them know that a fire had started at the end of our lane......thankfully the hydro guy called me a minute or two later and said casually, "So, your hydro is out?" To which I replied...."Ummm....ya, the transformer blew and there is a fire at the end of our lane!!!!" Calmly he said, "Oh, so the trees probably are just touching the line." To which I replied, "NO....there are no trees there. Something is causing a fire." He then told me he was on his way out. When I hung up I realized that I didn't even know where he was coming from, so we had no idea how long he would be." 

Thankfully we had a water tank on the trailer, so Mark and Josh had taken it to the end of the lane and douced the fire. It had caught some grass on fire and was starting to spread. We were just so thankful that nothing had started on the yard.

After maybe half and hour the hydro guy finally showed up, and he seemed a little surprised at the fire and the transformer 'blowing' up! And I was just thinking, "This is what I TOLD you was happening!" (We found out later that something that should have shut the power down had malfunctioned when the transformer blew, that's why the fire)

It didn't take him long to tape off the area (see picture below, this is what we see when we look out our front windows) and proceeded to tell us to STAY OUT of the area. He said they were pretty sure that the oil that came out of the transformer wasn't toxic, but they  needed to be 100% sure before we went in that area.

So he called this big guy in to change the transformer so we could have power once again. Since this was a holiday (July 1st) we were very impressed at how quickly it actually all got done. And by evening our hydro was back on.

When they left, they reminded us again to stay out of the oil saturated area and a guy would come in the next few days to check things out.  And sure enough, a few days later an environmental guy came and told us that they would take a sample of the soil (not him of course, someone else had to come out another day!) He said that if the oil was toxic, then they would come in and remove the tree, rose bushes and sod. If it wasn't toxic then they would just remove the soil. The big tree is a special tree to us, we call it our family tree. It is a big old willow...not replaceable. So we were really hoping that the soil samples would not come back toxic. Then we waited, and finally they called and said that the sample was fine. They still had to come in and dig up the sod. They brought in new sod and then 'sprinkled' grass around the area. It was then that we decided we didn't want to mess with growing grass this time of year so we decided to do something totally different. We decided to make a disaster into a thing of beauty. And that's where the idea began.....and it grew.
To this....

We put in a fish pond....

We put in some rocks and perennials...

Found this cute windmill....

So when you drive onto the yard this is what you see now.

So there you have it, 
Some negatives do turn into a positive!

August 5, 2010

Loving Our New Little Person to Love

It's hard to believe that a short week ago we met our little Jaden for the first time.
And yet it seems like he has been part of our family forever.
I am always amazed at the miracle of birth and the adjustments of having a newborn.
Even though there are days I feel tired beyond tired, my heart feels full beyond full.
I love every opportunity I have had to snuggle with our little man, to kiss his fuzzy little head.
And the rest of our family has felt the same. Not shortage of cuddles and hugs for this little babe.
We are having a hard time keeping his hair looking fresh and clean because of all the 'pets' he gets on his head throughout the day :) What a special thing to watch the bonds of siblings.

So far Jaden has been a pretty sleepy guy. Except for sometime in the middle of the night, when he finally finds that it's too quiet and has too look around for a bit :) Once again my girls have chosen to bless their mama with some extra sleep and after I feed him they take turns staying up to cuddle and settle him. And what a great job they do at it! Words cannot even express my gratitude towards their servants hearts. I only hope that someday I can repay them the favour :)

Here are some 1 week photos that Megan took of him today. (Did I mention that I love having a photographer living in our home?)