Sunday, 25 October 2015

Don’t Let the Dog In and Don’t Let Daniel Out

Life was especially chaotic after the birth of our eighth and ninth children because everyone was still fourteen and under. It was difficult to keep a sharp eye out for my new bundle of energy, Daniel.
As our second youngest, Daniel's basic character has always been pleasant and easy-going. His eyes are still twinkling and a slight smile graces his face. Most troubles seem to just roll off his back and his small smile often changes into a mischievous grin as he sits back on the fringes of our family stage and observes the emotional drama of his six sisters unfold. Teenage Daniel has learned a lot from observing teenage sisters.
One year, a high school religion teacher noticed Daniel's deep grasp of the feminine mind. During class discussions, after a few male students stumbled out vague answers to her inquiries  the teacher would turn to the class authority on girls,
"Daniel", she'd call out," You had six sisters; what do you say?"
Invariably, as my son started giving his opinion, all the girls would slowly nod their heads in agreement.
However, this agreeable, laid-back young man, was a real handful as a baby and little kid. With his little eyebrows lifted up in surprise, his eyes wide open, making sure he didn't miss anything and with his tiny, wiry body, squirming with energy, he was definitely alive. As Daniel peered over my shoulder one afternoon, staring at a friend of Michael's, the 'stranger' blurted out,
"Boy, is that baby ever awake! "
That short statement basically sums up baby Daniel's personality.
Once he learned to crawl, he was into everything and made sure that he reached his destination with great speed. Sometimes, after running to grab and scoop up this little bundle of happy energy, before he could dive into trouble, I would realize that Daniel's hands and feet would be still moving, as if he was trying to crawl in the air.
The pivotal point, where his crawling speed accelerated dramatically, was when he discovered the bowl of dog food. If the dog, Leisha, didn't come to eat right away or left food in his dish, Daniel was immediately crawling over to it as fast as his hands and knees would move. He'd grab a chunk of dried food in his hand and start gnawing on it.
Was he using it to teeth on?
Did I not feed that baby enough?
Did little Daniel actually like the gritty, hard, dry dog food?
I don't know.
All I do know is that when we moved the dog dish and huge bag of food to the back entrance, trying to hide it from this baby, he still found the dog food. When he reached the dog dish, he dove into it, chomping with gusto. That spot became Daniel's destination every morning while I was trying to get six kids feed, dressed decently, with notes signed, homework done, lunches made and packed and hair brushed and braided.

Finally, I reached my limit. We decided to move the dog dish and food right out of the house to the wood shed, even if it meant that feeding the dog became more complicated.
Did that stop the baby crawling cruiser? Not after he was out one day and saw the kids feeding Leisha.
The kids had barely turned away from the shed when the speedy crawler made a beeline to the dog dish.
From that moment on, I'd yell from the kitchen, as the kids headed for the front door,
"Don't let the dog in and don't let Daniel out!!"
Some mornings, as older children struggled to keep happy, eager Leisha from bounding energetically through the door, Daniel would crawl as fast as he could, duck through everyone's' legs and try to squirm out the door. Then kids would call out,
"Daniel's headed for the dog food again!"

Wednesday, 9 September 2015


If only adults could apply lessons learned when they were still preschoolers, our world would be a better place. Think about the basic lessons we teach our little ones so  the family runs smoothly.

listen to others respectfully
pick up after yourself
wait for your turn
you can't always get your own way
sometimes you have to wait
ask for help when you need it
treat others the way you want to be treated.
Why  there would be a world revolution  if big business and government actually lived by kindergarten rules.
Granted, life is messy and family life is especially messy because we "let our hair down" in our own homes. Yet it is in our chaotic  homes where we learn to see and love each other when we are not wearing our masks.  In family, divergent personalities learn to live under the same roof.
Each member is unique.
Often at odds.
Still part of the same family.
These skills are essential for our families to live in love but even more so for society to thrive.

Friday, 4 September 2015

Humourous Survival Tips From Mother of Nine9

The following quotes, written by Melanie Jean Juneau, are child proof, child tested and  guaranteed  to turn any child created disaster into a comedy in minutes.

Useful  tips for every mum, dad, uncle, aunt, grandma, grandpa and godparents, houseguest, friends….

Kids need time to be bored; that is how creativity is born.”
Ignore the bad and praise the good.
The only thing that could kill you as a mother of nine is pairing socks.

“Never let little ones become over tired and never let them become too hungry. If you do, you will create a clinging wimp, or a raving monster.
Babies are pre-verbal, not idiots.
Children help you forget what is not important.
My ceiling is my children’s floor.
Don’t get upset over messes. It is just part of the normal routine.
More children are easier than less. If you have one or two kids you ave to be everything for them but with three, community starts.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015


Raising children is definitely not a default chore for women
who were not successful in the world of business, power and wealth.
Exactly how society forms the next generation
will directly influence
the kind of society they turn create.
Do we want a world focused
only on the accumulation of wealth?
Are we  creating a race of humans
who are becoming increasingly
cold and
about relationships, family and love?
A  smile
for the wisdom of mothers
for the suffering
necessary to acquire
not knowledge.
Painful regret
for this hectic modern society
scrambling after glitter
success while pushing the wisdom of mothers
to the fringes of influence.
Joyful hope
that mothers will reveal their unique
to a jaded cynical world,
which has forgotten all is fleeting
except Love.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Words of Wisdom From J.R. Tolkien

J.R. Tolkien was a respected scholar, professor, devout Catholic, and author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. This genius created a complex world with a history, geography and many realistic languages. Yes, Tolkien's Middle Earth is a fantasy world but not an insipid, fluffy world for little girls. No, he wrote profound literature, filled with complex characters and plots, universal themes, and symbolism with layers of meaning. I have dug up some of his quotes from his books which have something to say to us about life.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Chaining Kids With Fear

Childhood should be a time to play in freedom and joy.

When my oldest children started school in the mid to late eighty's, they played marbles, bounced tennis balls off the school wall and could bring real baseballs and basketballs to school. In short, they played like children have played for generations. By the time they were in grade eight, the principals had banned marbles and real balls from the schoolyard. Why? They were too dangerous!
My oldest daughter drew a picture entitled "Recess at St. Mike's" that shows a girl, standing frozen in place, with a ball and chain around her ankle. Quite revealing, isn't it?
When I was a child, we hopped on bikes without helmets, only wore sunscreen at the beach and ate peanut butter sandwiches. I that the world has changed but along with new, necessary safety measures this generation has put into place, society has burdened children with fear
Childhood is a time to play freedom and joy, freedom to lose themselves in the sheer joy of the present moment, without nagging regret about the past or fear of the future. My family was and is fortunate to live in the country, where my children roamed safely, caught frogs, built forts, explored a creek and created wonderful imaginative games.
One example stands out in my mind. I had gathered everyone for dinner but we were waiting for Anthony. Someone spotted him out the window and called the rest of us over to see him. There was Anthony on the platform of our large wooden play structure, wearing his usual uniform consisting of a black cape, black barn boots and grey felt hat, engaged in a fierce sword fight with an imaginary enemy. Suddenly he clutched his chest and staggered over to lean on the railing. Then rallying his draining energy and stamina, he suddenly rose up and with a courageous flourish thrust his sword into his evil opponent and collapsed in exhaustion and agony.
We were all delighted with his imaginary drama.
Children need free, unstructured time to let their imaginations fly.
This can only happen if we refuse to allow our own fears to burden our children and if we give them the time and space to simply be children.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Happy Canada Day, eh?

Maclean's Magazine published a Canada vs. America issue proclaiming "99 Reasons Why it's Better to Be Canadian: We're happier, fitter and richer and our kids are smarter too." You can read all the statistics in a July 8, 2013, edition of Maclean's.

Of course, I read this issue with glee. I am not competitive in my personal life, choosing to also praise and exhort others, but I have an ingrained, historically rooted compulsion to challenge the powerful country to the south of me. Perhaps it is a David and Goliath syndrome. Here is a list of why I love Canada. Some of  the stats come from Maclean's.
As Canada Day celebrates its 148th birthday, I celebrate Canada's triumphs. Next to the United States we might seem insignificant but remember,  looks are deceiving.

Lyrics O Canada (English version)

O Canada!Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all thy sons command.

With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!
From far and wide,
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
We are more popular than Americans; wearing a maple leaf on your backpack means people treat you well in other countries.
We say, "eh" at the end of sentences. This is a word which reaches out in agreement while the American word huh tacked on sentences sounds like the speaker is a dimwitted.
                                                                                                              capital hill
Canada has one square kilometre of land for every three people
We are funnier; many comedians are Canadian such as Wayne and Schuster, Lorne Michaels, John Candy, Mike Myers, Jim Carrey, Catherine O'Hara, Seth Rogen Jay Baruchel, Michael Cera....
Our banks are better- 4 of the top ten in the world are Canadian, the top U.S. bank is ranked 9th- the Citigroup
For our population, we break more Guinness world records.
Our government does not kill people; capital punishment was abolished in 1776 and no one has been executed since 1961. The States has 3,125 prisoners on death row.
Maple syrup
We are more fit with 35.9 Americans are obese and only 24.5 OF Canadians are overweight.
We live longer- an average of 3 years longer than Americans
Americans always make fun of us because we are polite; we always say. "I'm sorry" but researchers at the University of Waterloo say good manners boost happiness. Apologizing to the police for speeding results in an average drop of $51 in fines.
The wilderness -- we still have lots of it.
Our lobster tastes better.

Our roads are safer.
Fewer homicides per person and mass murders are rare
Our national animal, the beaver, is industrious and rugged
The salmon run
We lead in quantum computing.
Our judges are appointed not voted in.
We can read the cereal box and road signs in two different languages.
                                                    the east coast- the Maritimes
There is a whole T.V. channel dedicated to politicians bickering.
Place Names that come from Aboriginal languages
We have better skiing with more ski trails, longer runs and more snow on Canada's Whistler Mountain compared to America's Vail
We dominate hockey; it is Canada's game
We get more paid holidays. 23% of Americans get no paid time off. ALL Canadian workers get at least 2 weeks paid vacation + 9 paid public holidays
Newfies - I love their accent and sense of humour. They are the salt of the earth
The north is a land of untouched beauty
Easy geography classes: we only have ten provinces and three territories
Excellent education system; our 15 year-olds score in the top 10 of 65 countries. American kids are #17.
Northwest Territories
Lots of immigrants -- this is the place people from all over the world want to come to!
Our Government apologizes for past mistakes!
The Queen and other Royals visit us
Our corporate taxes are lower
An almost peaceful history
Intelligent population
When spring comes, we appreciate it
We know how to make good, strong, HOT tea
The weather is a legitimate topic of conversation and we ALWAYS talk about the weather
Coffee Crisp ... Only available in Canada!
the Rocky Mountains in the West
Affordable university tuition
Lots of fresh water!
We're less pushy than some other countries
We let everyone come here, and do their thing. Even if they wouldn't do the same for us.
Ketchup chips ... only in Canada.
Moose, Elk, Deer
Brown Bears, Polar Bears
So many rivers and lakes- I live in South- Eastern Ontario which is called the land of a thousand islands.
Great fishing, especially indownload (4) fly-in camps up north
Majestic mountains
We have coasts on three oceans
Second largest country in the world
Largest prosperous country in the world
Aboriginal people who have fought in all the wars, with an astounding war record
Official recognition of rights of Aboriginal Nations embedded in our national constitution
No one ever won between the French and the English: we just compromised!
Every landscape imaginable, all in one magnificent country
Enormous National Parks
Anne of Green Gables
Lots of hockey rinks, great outdoor skating rinks in almost every village, town and city. We even have one and our population isn't even posted
Car heaters that plug-in when it's cold. Even store parking lots provide plug-ins
Icicles- some extend for 3 to 4 feet from our roof.
Skating and hot chocolate
Beaver Tails224834a50d6cd49cc0b64dd74a46c988
The longest skating rink in the world on Ottawa's canal
Sound of crickets
The sound of Canada Geese flying back from their holiday in the South
We spell colour and neighbourhood the right way
We are proud of our British roots
Aurora Borealis called the Northern Lights.
We love to make fun of ourselves
We love to make fun of people who don't know anything about us, especially Americans
Terry Fox was one of us
Gordon Lightfoot
Lenard Cohen
Arctic Rangers
The change of seasons
Incredible beauty
The tundra
Best opera house in North America is Toronto's Four seasons Centre built by Jack Diamond who built Mariinsky 11 theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia by invitation of Valery Gergiev
TIM HORTON'S makes the best coffee

Saturday, 27 June 2015

The Dangers of Techno Pacifiers

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 senses 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.