Thursday, 21 May 2015

Grammar Humour

gram·mar ˈɡramər/noun
the whole system and structure of a language or of languages in general,usually taken as consisting of syntax
and morphology (including inflections) and sometimes also phonology and semantics.

synonyms: syntax, sentence structure, rules of language, morphology; linguistics
“the editors of this newspaper need a refresher course in grammar”
a particular analysis of the system and structure of language or of a specific language.
a book on grammar.
plural noun: grammars
“my old Latin grammar”

Monday, 4 May 2015

Letting Go and Watching Growth

Spring has finally come this week,
Without any help from me.
Flowers are blooming
pushing through dead leaves and untilled soil
Even more surprising,
all sorts of breakthroughs are happening
in my adult kid’s lives
simply because I let go of control
prayed, trusted in God and
allowed natural growth and development to progress
without my meddling
…too much! Let’s say I facilitated, then stepped back.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

No More Mental Kung-Fu

Posted on my fridge right at my eye level (I'm 5'1") are quotes that are key to my sanity. When I feel at my wit's end, this quote makes me laugh and cuts through stress.
One in four people are mentally unbalanced.
Think of three friends.
If they seem fine,
You're the one.
I never fail to smile, even after reading these lines hundreds of times. This reaction pushes worry to the side. When I don't take myself too seriously by entertaining the thought that I might be slightly unbalanced, I immediately stop over reacting. My worries are now put into perspective.
Laughter is the best way to snap out of melodrama.
Cognitive therapists love to tell us not to 'make a mountain out of a mole hill', however there are times
when everything actually is even worse than it seems, times when our world really does shatter. What then? I love to control but when my safe little world has shattered, sometime it was the only way I could step out of my comfort zone.
Many times devastating circumstances have ended one way of life for our family but something new always rose out of the ashes. I had to learn to relax and patiently let the process unfold naturally.
Again melodrama really did not help. I always say that I finally can laugh in the face of tragedy.  Christian Cognitive therapy came to my rescue.
That old proverb, "Don't make a mountain out of a mole hill", has saved my sanity many times. Laughter puts every thing into perspective. Although stuck in retched circumstances, I still can change how I feel and how I think. Cognitive therapy is a powerful tool. I can often change my thoughts and focus on all the blessing is my life, instead if everything that is going wrong and my emotions change as well.
For example, I still can see, hear, use all my limbs and I don't have a chronic illness.

But what about the times when you simply cannot change your thoughts?, when you can't snap out of anxiety or panic? My family coined a phrase for crazy thinking that leads to stress. Repeat this phrase and it is once again laughter what will put a stop to your running brain, guaranteed.No more Mental-Fu Can't you just see your thoughts sparring with each other in a match that neither of them can ever win, especially in the middle of the night? Really, humans are so illogical, we are comical. So this is my wise advice.
To quote the Reader's Digest, "Laughter is the best medicine.
Laugh and Let God take charge.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Oopsy Daisy: Free Ebook

new cover on Smashwords
Life at the Juneau's farmhouse was often overwhelming with eleven personalities living, working and playing together. Luckily, Melanie had a wicked sense of humour and just enough grace to remain serene in the eye of the hurricane, the CEO of a chaotic domain. She has written hundreds of short stories, insights and articles which only could happen when you put nine kids together on a farm. Oopsy Daisy is a selection of short stories, an introduction to her upcoming book, One Breath at a Time.
“Melanie Juneau—motherofnine9—knows that a woman’s ground of creativity lies as close as her child’s heart. In her delightful stories and memories of mothering nine children, she shows how a Christian mother bathed in love brings all the power and light embodied in her faith to that most important sphere of hope, the family.”—Isabel Anders, author of Blessings and Prayers for Married Couples
Melanie Jean Juneau captures the Holy Spirit's message in her writing, unlike anyone I've read. Her writings are practical, direct, and faith-filled. Living a contemplative life as a Hermit Monk for me, Ms. Juneau provides a vineyard of spiritual fruit of which to meditate and pray for. All I have to do is reach out and pick. Her heartwarming writings in time will transform you. -Abba Justin Anthony, Hermit Monk
Found on Amazon
and for free on Smashwords
I wish I could find an image 1400 pixels wide to use on Smashwords like I used on Amazon...will keep trying
Amazon's cover
old cover on Smashwords

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Joyful Chaos: Dining With Eleven

Listen as I struggled to gather my crew every night for a family meal.
“Oh good, you’re done barn chores. Perfect timing; dinner is almost ready.”
“Two more minutes, everybody!”
“Joseph I’ll help after we eat, okay?”
“Mary, please run up and open Jean’s door and shut off the music.”
‘Dinner is ready!”
“Grace, I know you love that book sweetheart but, remember, no reading at the dinner table.”
“Where’s Mark?”
“Honey would you lift up Daniel into the high chair?”
“Are we all here? Anyone missing?”
Ah, dinner time in a large family.
Dinner was the highlight of the day with everyone clambering to share their news or simply squeeze in comments into the cacophony of voices. It was a humorous symphony which sounded perfectly in tune to my ears. High pitched baby squeals combined with loud, boisterous little boys.and the quavering of a male teen voice balanced teenage girl’s chatter. Dad’s reassuring bass tones soothed my shrill calls for everyone to listen to the toddler’s newest word. The highlight of this often unruly symphony was the spontaneous laughter punctuating the entire meal.
Life around the dinner table was relaxed and happy because I allowed my children to behave in age appropriate ways. I did not demand adult perfection. The consequences of this decision were messy but well worth the time it took to mop up after meal time. It meant I did not shovel neat, tidy mouthfuls of food into a toddler because we let little people feed themselves as soon as they reached for the spoon. It meant including three-year olds in meal prep, sending five and six-year olds running out to the garden for vegetables and allowing a ten-year old to make the dessert. In other words we valued participation over a neat and tidy kitchen and orderly meal times.
Now I am reaping the rewards of decisions which sent some visitors into sputtering, spirals of incredulity as they eyed my kitchen and the messy faces of my little people after a meal. I feel vindicated when I look at my grown-up kids; they all love to cook and entertain, especially for each other. Just drop by for a quick hello and inevitably they will cajole you to stay for a delicious meal.
It is a simple fact- there is no better way to form deep relationships than conversation over a home-cooked meal. In fact there is no better way to encourage the development of a warm supportive family than with great food and relaxed conversation around the dinner table.
God delights more in joyful chaos than in miserable, tight perfection.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

The Dangers of Techno Pacifers

My contribution to TENDER TIDINGS Spring 2015  is The Danger of Techno Pacifiers. ALL the articles are excellent in this free parenting resource for gentle, intentional, and attachment-minded parents:

In This Issue:

  • Spring cleaning:  heart and home.  How is decluttering a Christian activity?  Abby Sasscer, author of Simplifying Your Domestic Church, answers that question.
  • Nature journaling for the whole family
  • Saint Patrick’s Day Celebration
  • Cleaning up your family’s favorite JUNK FOOD
  • MORE!
The Dangers of Techno Pacifiers by Melanie Jean Juneau
Children, Technology, Nature, and GOD.
For children to mature as God intended, parents must ensure their kids have the opportunity to experience nature.
For most modern families living in apartments, townhouses, or even the suburbs, it takes a conscious effort to ensure little ones connect with nature and animals and, as a result, connect with God. Nature is suffused with the Presence of the Creator because God sustains and controls nature.
It seems to me children need to go outside where they can delight in the smallest details because their hearts sense the Spirit of God and His joy when they are in nature. Even adults are growing increasingly discontent with the hectic pace of the 21st century because it is an existence more plugged into technology than to people.
Many are more comfortable texting each other than speaking face to face or even talking on the phone. This disconnect has devastating repercussions, also affecting our relationship to nature, but most especially our relationship with God. Man is losing the ability to even engage in authentic prayer because prayer is all about communion, the ability to relate.
Children are especially vulnerable to the toxic influence of technology. It is so easy to switch on the television or hand a tiny child an iPhone when they are distraught and parents are busy. One of the creators of the television show Sesame Street once said that any activity is better than watching television, even an educational show like Sesame Street. In our home, we went a year without any television when we had seven children. After this, we limited their time in front of the television as well as the computer — not too difficult when kids of all ages are clamoring for their thirty minutes of allotted time.
The Canadian scientist David Suzuki also believes children must be given the opportunity to connect with animals. The inner drive to bond with animals is so strong that, if they haven’t the chance to connect with real animals, children will turn their attention to stuffed or cartoon animals. Suzuki calls these substitutes for real animals a “grotesque” substitution.
While watching my own kids interact with our pets and farm animals, I discovered children do have a deep -seated need to relate to animals. I was as fascinated as my kids with the arrival of tiny balls of fluff called chicks, cute piglets and tiny kittens. The whole family gathered around in the barn when the chicks and piglets first arrived, not wanting to miss anything.
In the coming weeks, the smaller children clambered for one of the older ones to take them to see the chicks. Sitting among the little birds with the warming lamp, holding or simply watching them was an almost magical time filled with quiet joy.
Mary was and still is my most fervent animal lover. Before she could even walk, she exhibited an obsession to find, crawl after, grab and squeeze any and all animals. This was a passionate love for animals, I would say. She could barely talk, so to communicate her wish to hold the hamster, her hands would frantically open and close and she would utter soft little grunts as she pleaded, with big chocolate-brown eyes, for someone to open the cage. When Mary realized that she would finally get to hold the hamster, her hand would literally shake with excitement and anticipation.
Needless to say, either one of the older siblings or I had to supervise Mary, because she would tend to squeeze Hammy till his eyes started to bulge out. Then the cry would arise . . . “Mary’s squeezing Hammy again. Come quickly!” Once she could walk, Mary would haul the disgruntled cat around, but she was happy with her eyes shining with joy. Mary was in heaven, so I couldn’t bear to deny her access to her beloved pets.
At least the rabbits in the hutch on the covered porch were more placid than Kitty and tougher than the hamster, and she was content to simply stare at the goldfish. Though she did tend to over feed them. I’d scoop out food from the top of the water to use for the next few feedings. Spring provides the perfect time to build memories like these.
It really takes minimal effort to encourage little ones to connect with nature and animals, and, as a result, with the God who sustains them.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

The Joy and Pain of Self-Publishing

 Echoes of the Divine is  my first e-book and it is free.  You can help me if you download this mini e-book and gave it a rating because if it is successful,  a publisher might consider my upcoming book. How about checking it out and giving me some honest feedback so I can learn. The book has received premium status already and will be listed on Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Nobles within days.
Echoes of the Divine
And don't forget, I will be happy to answer any questions. Trust me, no question will sound dumb. .

It took me a year to read the more than 100 pages of Smashwords Style Guide. However, the guide explains every step with diagrams and in ordinary terms ...but I am a technological idiot. After days of fumbling, forcing myself to work as if I was technologically intelligent, I finally self-published a short, free e-book on Smashwords.
Supposedly, this process only takes a couple of hours but I inadvertently downloaded Microsoft doc.x instead of a simple doc. file. Then,  I typed the meta tag for my name without capitals which prevented the entire thing from working. That little mistake took hours to uncover.
Smashwords – Echoes of the Divine – a book by Melanie Jean Juneau
Finally, my cover was one I designed on Word and took a couple of days to decide upon which version to use but I could not convert it into a jpg image. It was difficult to find an image with enough pixels on the internet.  In the end, I simply found a huge old master painting by Mary Cassatt, used Pic Monkey photo editing and slapped on a title but it looks okay.  Figuring out how to get a free ISBN  from the Canadian site called Ciss ( kiss) wasted more hours.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

The Effects of a Miscarriage on the Next Baby

Did you know that a child conceived after a miscarriage can be affected negatively? I had no clue until recently.
It really is such a simple and obvious emotional and spiritual dynamic but one that most of us are oblivious to.

For some pragmatic types, this concept might seem ridiculous but as I watched, listened and prayed with a daughter conceived after my miscarriage, it became crystal clear. A Catholic psychiatrist helped us discover that this truth was at the root of her sadness and heaviness. The death of my unborn infant during my seventh pregnancy changed the atmosphere of my womb. In a sense, because I was ignorant, my womb was still a dark place filled with the lingering shadows of death. A dramatic symbol would be that my womb was like a tomb for my next pregnancy which was Grace.
However, what made the situation even worse, was that we both almost died during this 8th pregnancy. My placenta tore, leaving a huge clot from the top of my womb to the bottom.

 The doctor ordered  bed rest for 6 months. When I complained that I felt perfectly fine, my losing her child and almost dying herself. The doctor had to call in the Archbishop to convince the mother that her other children needed her and to let her unborn baby die.
doctor explained that a similar situation had not occurred  two years earlier, with a mother of five
The words which rang in my ears and lodged in my baby's heart as well were," There is a cocked gun pointed at your head, ready to go off if you move. Stay in bed, laying down. Do not move.

Grace and I froze, only Grace stayed frozen, filled with fear of moving and  guilt - feeling guilty that she had almost killed me.  Typically, like all children she felt she was to blame. This weighed on her deep in her subconscious for twenty years till it popped up unexpectedly during family counselling and spiritual direction. Jesus set that baby free with a snap of His fingers. The changes in this young adult are unfolding slowly but miraculously because once the root is healed, emotional and spiritual growth takes on a life of its own, with God in charge behind the scenes.

God started to set that baby free with a snap of His fingers. The changes in this young adult are unfolding slowly but miraculously because once the root is healed, emotional and spiritual growth takes on a life of its own.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Laughing the Chills Away

It was so cold last night, our car battery froze for the first time in years. The weather is forecasting -35C by mid-February. It reminded me of my years on the Canadian prairies where even supermarkets provide plugins for car motors because in an hour or so a car can freeze up when it is -40C. So here are a few funny memes, mainly from our pets perspective to warm your heart with laughter.

Saturday, 31 January 2015


Once a year I post this article about Irlen Syndrome or SSS (Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome) because my son has Iren Syndrome. He could have grown up to be a functionally illiterate man, if I had not stumbled on a misplaced book.  Now he is an avid reader in his twenties. Schools in Canada do not screen for this disability. I am adamant that the public become aware of a reading disability that affects 11-13% of the population and is usually never detected.

Quite by accident, we discovered why our 11-year-old son could not read
I was gathering books to return to friends one day when the book “Reading by Colors” by Carol Irlen caught my eye. As I was skimming through it, 11-year-old Anthony looked over my shoulder and said in a surprised voice, “Gee, those words look nice.”
I turned to him and said, “What do you mean NICE?”
Anthony explained, “The words are flat with the page and they’re not moving.”
I sputtered, “What do you mean not moving?”
Anthony shrugged his shoulders and said, “You know, the letters aren’t shaking and they’re not high off the page.”
I shook my head, “No, I don’t know what you mean.”
This particular page was grey with blue letters. I quickly turned the page to a white one with black letters. Anthony wrinkled his forehead and described what he saw when he looked at the printed page.

Everything clicked into place as I did research into Irlen Syndrome or SSS (Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome); I realized that Anthony had every symptom. SSS is a learning disability that causes difficulties with reading as well as encoding and decoding verbal information. Unbelievably many eye specialists refuse to acknowledge Irlen syndrome, probably because a normal educator, teaching illiterate adults in California discovered the problem and the solution, not a scientist.

We struggled for years to teach our intelligent son how to read. It was sheer agony. Anthony couldn’t sit still, he’d lose his place, forget what he had read 30 seconds after he had read it. After ten minutes of struggling, he would start rubbing his forehead, complain that his head hurt and he felt sick. This kid had perfect eyesight, was smart as a whip, especially in Math but he could barely read.

No one in the school system knew anything about this handicap. I finally a found a private screener in Ottawa, Adel Francis. She discovered that Anthony had not one but five different distortions, each one corrected with a different coloured lens. Within two hours of testing, after Adele had pointed out a few complicated words, Anthony read smoothly and flawlessly at a grade NINE level. We came to tears because we had pushed and badgered our son for years, when he just couldn’t see the way most other people do.

When we learn that 11% to 13% of people have SSS, we were appalled. So much potential wasted, so many people frustrated, unfilled, feeling dumb with many ending up in jail.
Everything changed rapidly once Anthony started to wear his miracle lenses. The first night we read together after he started wearing his dark blue, grey glasses, Anthony moved the page close to his face and then back again. He then turned to me with a puzzled look on his face and asked,
 “Getting has two t’s in it??!”
One night after supper, when the younger children had left the table to play, my oldest daughter laughed and said,
“Hey, I just realized that we don’t have to send Anthony away if we want to discuss an adult topic; we’ll just take off his glass!”
We all laughed of course.

Then there was the time a friend tried to cut Anthony’s hair. He couldn’t seem to stop squirming. One of my daughter’s, Rachel, suggested,
 “Why don’t you try putting on his glasses?”
Anthony put them on and he sat as still as a stone statue.
“Oh my god, I don’t believe it,” my friend yelled, “Everyone come see this. Okay, Anthony, take your glasses off and then put them on when I tell you.”

The difference was so dramatic and everyone’s reaction was so funny that even Anthony started to laugh.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Childcare IS the Most Important Work

What is really important in life?
One of my daughters phoned yesterday, on the coach with a migraine, only managing to nurse, change, cuddle and play with her baby. Bitter cold kept them indoors. She was feeling as if she hadn’t accomplished anything for days.
I reminded her
I watched her uncle die last month
realizing St. Paul was spot on
only love lasts
we die stripped of accomplishments
and possessions
The next day she posted this quote from C.S. Lewis, which happens tp be one of my favorite quotes.
Of course. this brings to mind my own infamous quote

Monday, 19 January 2015

New Life for Unpaired Socks

I always have said, "The only thing that will kill a mother of a large family is attempting to pair all the socks".
Thank heavens I had a wicked sense of humour and an army of free labour. Sometimes we would line up literally hundreds of socks of every possible size and colour as we made a game of pairing socks. For a couple of years, wearing odd socks was in style when my kids were little. Still, I remember many mornings when I frantically tried to find some semblance of a pair while a little one stood in the downstairs hallway, with coat and backpack on, waiting for their socks to sail over the upstairs railing at their feet.
Years later, I still have a basket of unpaired socks waiting to find a new purpose in life as dust rags.
I just discovered two new ways to recycle socks.
1. They make fantastic heating pads! Simply fill thick, comfy socks with dried beans, rice or wheat, tie the end and viola…. an instant, microwaveable heating pad that holds the heat!
 2. Now that I have started crocheting amigurumi dolls and animals, unpaired socks make great, free stuffing.  Crocheting is a way to give beautiful gifts without having to hand over oodles of cash. If you have 5 grandkids, nine adult kids and in-laws, consider crocheting because it is creative, fun and a cheap way to say I love you.
Find my new creations at Crocheting With Joy

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Experiencing Death During the Season of Joy

One of my husband’s brothers died a few days ago. The thought that birth and death are similar kept circulating in my brain as I hivesrealized that birth and death are intricately connected. We enter the world and leave it by surrendering to a force which sweeps us along. All we can do is let go of fear and control, let go of the familiar and plunge into the unknown.
When I almost lost a daughter in childbirth last April, I was forcibly struck with this truth Indeed most of the third world faces a real threat of death each time they conceive and face childbirth.
My daughter almost bled out when she lost a litre of blood in mere seconds after an emergency C-section.
I gazed down at her limp form,

As a tear trickled down her pale face.
She whispered,
“I felt myself slipping away…”
My daughter  thought for a moment that she was dying.
Actually, she was dying.
Years ago she would have died.
In the third world, she would have died,
As the result of a series of complications that no one could have foreseen.
Her husband carried her weak body to the washroom.
The nurse held her new son’s weight, as she nursed.
Life and death are not as far apart as I had presumed.
Life is precarious.
Life is fragile.
I know each time I gave birth, I panicked at the time of transition, just before it is time to push. It is a pivotal moment of intense pain when my body was pushed to its limits. There was a moment of exhaustion when I foolishly worried the baby was not going to emerge. I had to tell myself that billions of babies have been born into the world, most without the backup of modern medicine should anything go wrong.
The infant also goes through trauma, leaving the safety and protection of the womb only to be thrust out into cold, harsh lights of the outside world. His umbilical cord is severed. Separated from his mother for the first time, he gasps for air and cries pitifully as he experiences hunger and digestion pain for the first time.
In death, once again we must let go of the familiar and surrender to a force which sweeps us through the veil separating life and death to emerge on the other side. Fear and even terror grips most humans because we face the unknown. For most people, as the body slowly shuts down, they experience pain. Watching my brother-in-law struggle with his last laboured breaths was agonizing.  Yet I experienced moments of joy when I connected to Marc’s spirit and I knew he was about to be reborn and emerge on the other side just as he did when he was first born into this world.
Marc Edward Juneau of Metcalfe passed away on December 30, 2014 at age 57 after a brave battle with cancer at the Ottawa General Hospital while surrounded by his family and friends. He is dearly loved and remembered and will be missed by his wife Mary-Ann (nee Broda), his son Joshua (Shelby), and his granddaughter Seirra. Also, dearly loved by daughter Jennifer Brohman. Son of Alison and the late Robert Juneau. Brother to Bob (Gina), Michael (Melanie), Bill (Karen), Sue Willis (Ron), Peter (Wendy), Lise, John, Joseph (Sally) and the late Patrick. Family and friends are invited to pay their respects at the Daley Family Funeral Home, 6971 Bank St. (between Scrivens Dr. and Metcalfe Corner) on Sunday, January 4, 2015 from 2-4 & 7-9 pm. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at St. Catherine of Siena Church, Metcalfe on Monday, January 5, 2015 at 11 am. In memory of Marc, donations to the Canadian Cancer Society would be most appreciated by the family.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Remembering Christmas Magic with Nine Kids

As I clean and get ready for our adult children to come home from university and work in the city, it is nice to remember the magic of Christmases when they were little. In fact the scent of magic is still in the air, especially as our 3 and soon to be five grandbabies join our family! When you live with nine children, even the most crusty curmudgeon cannot resist the magic of Christmas.

It was still dark outside, way too early for my husband and I; we had worked to set up on Christmas Eve till 2:00 am. Although we couldn’t even pry our eyes open, we were smiling with contentment as we lay in bed, listening to the excited whispers and giggles of our three youngest children. They made their way down the front stairs whispering in awe because one of the older kids had intertwined multi-coloured lights around the banister, transforming the dark staircase into a magical pathway to the tree.
First, the trio ducked into the formal living room to see the presents for the first time and special candy canes on the tree. In our old farm-house, our bedroom was right above the kitchen and we had left the kitchen back stairs door open. Suddenly another excited gasp of surprise escaped their lips as they gazed in wonder around the transformed kitchen.
A gingerbread house, created at night when the littlest kids were sleeping, sat in the centre of the table with a fruit bowl, dishes of candies, nuts and, best of all, sugar cereal! The whole room was edged with coloured lights and Christmas towels, tablecloth,napkins, pot holders with bright red ribbons on all the door handles.
One year a friend at Madonna House, Martha, asked Alison what her favorite thing about Christmas was and she said,
“The pineapple!”.
Her answer shocked Martha but I was simply pleased. I understood that children notice and appreciate the small things. No detail escapes them. Without much extra cash during the year, they still to this day treasure every detail, ornament and treat that was and still is part of Christmas.
When a few of the oldest kids were in their mid to late teens, friends would ask to come over and set up with us. They would cart presents downstairs, arrange them, help fill 11 stockings and hang lights. They were intrigued by our large family with all the hustle and bustle and activity. It was never boring at our house The teens craved the joy and excitement of creating magic for younger children who did not receive many frills during the rest of the year. I think they also craved the sense of stability, of a family grounded in the old-fashioned values of mutual love and respect.