Thursday, 28 June 2012

Photos of a fun but quirky life on a farm

                                                                                       Daisy our goat liked to follow the kids around.

We raised one calf per year. I called our meat "happy meat" because they were free range animals the didn't suffer the trauma of the slaughter house.

Anthony loved trying new stunts on our very old,
staid horse

My  nieces and daughter Emily delighted in a squealing, squirming piglet
Pigs, pigs, those intelligent pigs
Michael my husband loves to fish and we love to eat fresh fish.

Rachel is my animal lover. The cat is not impressed.
Turkeys are very stupid when they are young. We put marbles in the water so they could find the water. Baby chicks, so we had to keep them separate ran circles around them

I have many rabbit stories, Iggy had great a self image. He chased the cat and played with our dog.And our mother cat nursed two orphaned bunnies at the same time as her kitten

Our siberian huskey loved to cuddle with kids and cats
Since Muscovy ducks eat flies, we always ordered a couple of ducklings a year. Later we learned that muscovy meat is an expensive delicacy.
If someone calls you a chicken, it is REALLY an insult. The kids and I had to chase, grab and pick up 175 meat birds every year and pitch them outside for the first couple of days. They are afraid of everything.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Letting My Readers Connect With Me.

I read an article suggesting that writers should reveal odd facts about themselves to their readers so that they could become aquainted with the person behind the articles.Well, here are some of my secrets.

1. I HATE scary movies. As soon as the music rises ominously, I start pacing. Once in a movie theatre, at The Lord of the Rings, I jumped and managed to throw quarts of popcorn in a 10' radius all around us. It landed in people's hair, on their coats... everywhere. My husband has never let me hold the popcorn again
2.. Someone told my mother that I was cute but my sister would be beautiful! I am short, 5'1" and 104lb. I was a cute little kid (the grade six girls wanted to cart me around like a doll ),  a cute new mother and now at the age 57, my kids' friends think I am cute( they are 16/17).  I am destined to become a cute, little old lady. Doomed to be forever cute

3.I am the definitive bookworm. I read at least 5 books a week till I was 15, stopping only if I had too much homework. My mother used to beg me on nice summer days to , "At least read outside!" Sometimes, to limit my late night reading, I have read perched on the edge of a cold tub, only to realize 2 hours later that I am frozen and can hardly walk.

4. I love STRONG tea, butter tarts and red wine and cilantro. I love old houses and restoring their beauty, gardening, big windows and old pine floors.

5. I have a sadistic streak. The times I have laughed the hardest concern my husband and bathtubs. Once he was stuck in a too small bathtub, trying to rinse his hair with a princess shower head without getting any water on the floor. The second hilarious incident was when he was stuck in a cold bath, with his leg sticking straight out in a cast, while I attempted to haul him up! Both times I laughed so hard that I ended up on the floor. My husband did not even smile.

6. My athletic skills are dismal. Michael, my athletic husband finally gave up on trying to find a sport to suit me when he realized that the only possible choices were a very gentle game of badminton or crochet but even those two sports were a stretch for my athletic skills

.7. At 13, I played Becky Thatcher in a Tom Sawyer musical even though I really can't sing. I also I had to kiss him in front of the school, then night performances, on a televised production and  a record. I STILL cringe at the memory.
8. I can't spell or type, and I am basically just entering the 21st century's computer world. So what would be the most difficult dream to fulfill? Why, become a writer and of course this is the path I find myself on.

9. I love my husband and my kids. I love play dough, looking for bugs, colouring, reading kids books and making doll houses. I really need lots of grandkids.

10. I am eccentric, living on the margins of society and I love quirky, intellectual nerds with a sense of humour. I often laugh in the face of tragedy. It works for me.Only my parents really get my humour.
11. God has managed to heal and love me in spite of myself and I could weep in gratitude for His patient mercy.

12. If it was not for my daughters buying me clothes, cutting and dying my hair and teaching me about make-up, I would look very frumpy.

13. I was pregnant and nursing, often both, for 18 years without a break. My husband says he saved me from becoming a nun librarian.

14. I am an inefficient square, trying to force myself to roll through chores like a circle. I just recently have begun to take delight in my inefficiency.

15. I need to start drawing and painting again.

Monday, 25 June 2012

An Individual's Basic Personality Remain's Constant

Every one of my nine children is completely different in looks, temperament, talents and interests. Sometimes I wonder where such diversity came from. However just a glance at the vast gene pool available and the wide variety among our extended families, it is no great conundrum. What is fascinating though is that each individual's basic personality remained constant right through to their adult years. Their gifts matured but did not change.

Matthew, my first born, was a practical, down to earth thinker even as a baby. At ten months he sat for hours, studying household objects intently, placing them one at a time into a pail, only to dump everything out and start all over again.

In contrast, my next child, Melissa, yanked out all the books off the book shelf as fast as she could, twice a day. At least I knew where she was. One afternoon, before she could walk, I walked into the kitchen to find her sitting on the fridge! I froze, then yelled for my husband to witness this extraordinary event because I knew no one would believe my word alone.

Matthew played checkers at four with the seriousness of a master thinker while Melissa hopped on one foot, moved checkers hither and yon and managed to completely frustrate her unflappable father. They were both happy to avoid that father/daughter activity for years.

At seven, Matthew perched on a stool, silently watching his dad in the workshop for hours. One day, Michael, half muttering to himself, agonised over a problem. Matthew finally spoke up, "Dad, if you turn it this way it should work."
The little squirt was right and his father was so amazed that he mentioned this incident at Matthew's wedding this year! Another time, the next summer, a neighbour struggled to put a wheelbarrow together. This man had the instructions, but Matthew, sitting on a nearby log spoke up,
 "Ron, you have the part upside down!"
Ron, still impressed 15 years later, related this story, laughing and shaking his head.
My son uses the same approach to solve problems that he did at 10 months old. Sit back and study the problem in silence. When he has considered all the possibilities then he simply fixes it!

Friday, 22 June 2012

" Remember, ONE Mud Bath Per Year!"

 I  usually recruited children to pull carrots and cut broccoli for dinner every afternoon. 
Of course the toddlers and preschoolers jumped at the opportunity to tag along. It was an adventure to walk through our jungle of a vegetable garden because a tiny person could loose themselves among the tall plants and weeds . This transformed the daily ritual of picking vegetables into an exciting adventure. 

Our garden was massive, with rows that were 75 feet long. The sheer volume of produce we grew was our insurance that that the raccoons, groundhogs, rabbits, deer, mice and bears would not eat it all. We also grew enough vegetables to barter with neighbouring farmers, sold some on the road side or simply gave our surplus to our generous family and friends.

Rain had poured down for days, soaking our heavy clay soil.  

This particular day, everyone trooped out  into the garden wearing rain or barn boots which were soon coated with sticky clumps of clay. As David  struggled to pull out a huge carrot, his boots sank so deeply into the mud that he couldn't lift his feet.

Everyone began giggling as Matthew struggled to extricate his younger brother. David was finally set free but left a boot behind. Of course, as he stood on one foot as he attemped to to free his boot,  he fell, landing in the mud. Matt was laughing too hard to help again. Of course, the next rescuer slipped and landed on their bottom with their feet straight out and their bodies coated in sticky clay soil.

It doesn't take much imagination to figure out what happened next. The end result was a bunch of laughing kids, covered from head to toe with mud.

They startled me when they came to the door and even I had to laugh while I shook my head and tried to figure out what to do with them. Since it was hot enough, we started the clean-up outside. Ruined outer clothing was peeled off outside, feet and legs washed in a bucket of warm water and then kids ran inside one by one, to shower or bathe.
I did add, " Remember, only One Mud bath per year!"

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Okay, Okay, Everybody. Quit Trying to Dismember Me.

It was a beautiful fall day. The sun was already warm  Although the school bus was not scheduled to pull up for another twenty minutes, six-year old Lucy, my youngest child, already had her lunch packed in her schoolbag. Grade 1 She was hauling the heavy kitchen door openwas so exciting, she could hardly wait to climb on the big bus. was pulling the kitchen door open, hoping  to sneak outside for some free time before school.  As the door open, I looked up.

Before I could comment, Mara, one of  her many older sisters, whipped around and remarked,
"Lucy, did you try to do your hair again? The part's crooked. Come over here and I will fix it for you."

Lucy had barely taken a few steps when Emily entered the kitchen, stopped and looked Lucy up and down She closed her eyes, shook her head at her little sister,
"Mum couldn't have picked out those clothes for you to wear. The top doesn't match your sweater. You'll have to change polo shirts or keep that sweater buttoned up all day."

Lucy started the slow, awkward process of doing up the buttons.
Hearing all the commotion, Rachel yelled from the bathroom,
"Lucy, you forgot to brush your teeth again!"
Lucy suddenly through her arms up into the air and huffed out in exasperation,
"All right, all right everybody. Quit trying to dismember me."

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Mothers Are Essential To the Survial of the Human Race

Raising children is definitely not a default chore for women who were not successful in the world of business, power and wealth.

Loving and nurturing the next generation is a noble calling and vocation because mothers are essential for the survival of our race.

 A smile-
 for the wisdom of women, and tears for the suffering we experience to acquire it.  

Painful regret -
 for this  hectic modern society that scrambles after flash and glitter, efficiency and success  while pushing the wisdom of mothers to the fringes of influence. 

Joyful hope-
 that women will grow in confidence to share their unique wisdom with the world. 


Friday, 15 June 2012

Baby Whisperers

There are horse whispers who have the ability to read a horse's non-verbal cues and respond in a way that the horse understands with body language and tone of voice.So why  aren't more parents baby whisperers?

It is not hard to become a baby whisperer. Read all the books and then close them with a resounding slam. Now you  are ready to learn how to be the expert on your unique infant.

Most importantly you must understand that you have motherly/ fatherly instincts in the very fibre of your heart and soul if you trust yourself. Just stop, look and LEARN  from your baby because he is intelligent and emotionally intuitive.  In fact, infants are complex little people who see, hear, touch, communicate, receive information and who above all, remember. And, in their own way, they are telling you what is wrong and what they need, if you pay attention.
Of course we can readily observe that loud, sharp or deep voices make them jump but a newborn will turn to look at a voice he remembers hearing in the womb.It was still  amazing to watch my first grand-daughter turn towards her mom's and dad's voices.  She calmed down best when she was cuddled by her parents because she was constantly reassured of their love and devotion while she was still in the womb. Now out in the world, she knows that she is safe and protected especially in their arms.

 All babies are sensitive to the approach of a stranger.
 The most blatant  personal example I can remember is six month old Rachel. I was holding her when a tall, slender, older priest, dressed all in black, gently reached out to hold her. He smiled and patiently waited while Rachel tensed her little body, drew back and looked him up and down very suspiciously. She drew back a second time,even further, and once again glanced from his head to his feet and slowly looked back at his face again. A third time Rachel repeated the process and then suddenly she relaxed, broke out into a wonderful smile and reached her own arms out to lean foreword so Father could pick her up.

That little baby was receiving unspoken messages from Father's facial expression, tone of voice,  body language and emotional and spiritual 'vibes' that radiated from his inner spirit. In short, even though Rachel was not talking yet, she was not an idiot. We tend to forget that.

Michael and I were lucky because we somehow understood, right from the start, that we were relating to another human being when we communicated with our babies. I stopped and listened when they cooed and then I answered them when they were finished. It might sound foolish but I believe that this attitude instilled respect for themselves and others. I tried to treat them as people,  they just happened to be little people.

Sometimes family and friends were critical of my inefficient way of mothering. I just couldn't make myself mother them any other way. Perhaps it was because I was not used to children.  On the other hand, my own mother,  let us 'help' her even as toddlers. Basically, I just included the kids into our life as intelligent  little people with feelings, opinions, tastes and preferences. If these tendencies were respected, they cooperated and worked along side us better. In the end, this impractical, slow way of doing things made life run a  smoother.

 It was also fun, sometimes chaotic and crazy but always humorous.

Kids First

One afternoon an acquaintance stopped by for a cup of tea with two pre-school children in tow. At first she was very nervous and jumping up at every disturbance she heard as the kids played. In an attempt to soothe her nerves I explained,
"Relax and let them have fun; anything that could be broken probably is and anything that is not, probably should be." 
Her mouth dropped open but then she laughed and stopped straining her ears for the smallest sound of trouble.

I am foolish but also proud to say that our house was a very, very fine house with a dog at the door, a cat or two curled up on the best chairs, gold fish swimming circles on my too small counter, sometimes a hamster,  guinea pig or rabbit in a cage on the kitchen floor, paintings and crafts displayed anywhere and everywhere and  of course way  too many plants.

Our living room was a living room with all sorts of activity centres and corners. Prized Lego structures were covered with a tablecloth for meals. After dinner, the older kids and their dad would sip tea or water and talk as they worked on the puzzle.

We lived in a house built for kids because their mental and emotional well being came first. It was so much easier to live this way. I was a fast learner as I quickly realized that tearing down a block city that would host hours of absorbing play the next morning was absolutely self-defeating. I once read, that for a child, the hour put into a block structure is similar to a business man working weeks on a project. Just as a grown man would be devastated to see weeks of work dismissed, so too is a child devastated to have his blocks swept back into the bin, right after he has finished stacking them.

Often we tend to barrel along with our self-important agendas or we strive to keep our house looking too tidy and guest presentable. I often had attacks of guilt, though,  like the afternoon when a six year old walked into our family room that was strewn with Lego,
"Why is your house sooo messy", she wondered.
Or the time a good friend , in an attempt to make me feel better said,
"Your house is very clean, Melanie, it just looks lived in, that's all.
I was not mollified at the time.

 One of my sister-in-laws intimidated me with her immaculate house. I mean the baby undershirts were folded neatly in four and stacked perfectly in the drawer! Do you know how small those undershirts are? I was lucky to get them out of the clean laundry basket and stuffed into the drawer before I needed to use them again.She did only have two kids... but still!!! Then she came over one day to help me attack a project and she leaned on a counter in the kitchen and said,
"Honestly Melanie, I don't know how you ever get out of the kitchen and laundry room!"
Tears welled up in my eyes and I sputtered,
"That is the kindest, nicest thing you could ever say to me."

 I trust that our house was built for kids not just adults.
I trust that our house was one where little people felt loved, safe and respected, no matter what their age or personality.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Quotes Taken by "India Times" from melanie jean juneau

The only thing that will kill you with nine kids is pairing socks.

If you want in-style runners or brand-name jeans, you need to have a job.

Her pastry was flakier than mine, and she was 11.

I had Anthony on my shoulder and Mara made pastry for 12 pies.

If they're still treated like kids or overindulged, they don't have a purpose.

I always make a conspirator out of everyone

It was instant attraction. Everyone thought I was going to be a nun librarian.

Children help you forget what's not important.

If you have one or two children, you have to be everything for them ... Family starts with three. I found one child horrendous, two a strain. But three was easy. With three, community starts

I don't think Nan is going to leave us any wine, my husband guessed.
"It's been hiding in the back of my pantry for almost twenty years and I have to tell you, it is the best wine I have ever tasted!"

Yes! I have raised a son with nurturing instincts!
"You don't have a clue how much grace I have poured out on you".

If one more person praises me, I am going to scream or vomit!.

"Anthony, you really don't want to keep these, do you?"

"Fine keep them, but if they get any worse looking, I am throwing them out."

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

"Problem" Teens: OUR Fault?

 In past simpler cultures,  communities had fewer problems with teenagers because young people took their place as adults in their mid to late teens.  In contrast, our culture leaves teenagers in limbo- bored, listless and often angry.

 In our experience, teens seem to thrive when they are given a chance  to contribute to the family or to learn practical, real life skills. Anything from how to fix  cars,  to cook, clean and organize a home or take care of finances, all these skills prepare teens for the adult world. The point is that teens behaviour improves if we don't treat them like misbehaving children.

As my children matured, they developed their own talents and preferences regarding their contributions to their family. Because our house was always so busy, I depended on all the kids and they recognized that their contributions were important. This was great for their sense of self-worth.

Melissa could dive into a messy bedroom with a younger sibling and organize their room (she uses this talent in a very well paying job today). Mara made pastry flakier than me at 11 (she is a red seal chef). Rachel always loved to mind the babies (she is an early childhood educator). Emily, from the time she was two, wanted to put outfits together and she helped the little ones get dressed and sorted through their wardrobe. Today she puts her mother together! Katie is very artistic and patient, she did crafts with Anthony and Lucy. The boys are very handy today because they helped Michael fix cars, renovate and repair anything and everything.

University bound kids don't often get a chance to learn any of the trades in high school.
 However, Mari Montessori encouraged teenagers  to run all aspects of a farm and the household as well as study. Just as she let little children hammer nails, sweep or pour hot tea into china cups, Mari believed that practical life skills were as important as intellectual studies  in forming well -rounded, mature, intelligent adults.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

The Tragic-Comic Experience Of Shopping With A Teenager

It was and still is an educational experience for one of my adult daughters to shop with a younger sister. After a particular stressful shopping trip, they would stumble through the door, complaining about their hard to please sibling. Typically,they roll their  eyes and sputter,
 " Do you want to know what kind of dress she wanted me to buy?!"
 In reponse to their tirade I'd laugh,
"Oh, we understand what you just went through, sweetie. It is payback time! Now you know what your dad and I went through."

I remember scores of tragic-comic dramas as we shopped with our daughters.  One example is particularly telling. One of my daughters was just thirteen and about to graduate from our country elementary school to high school. Since I was still surrounded by little people and laundry, Dad volunteered, quite innocently, for the shopping expedition into the city.
Four hours later, she barged through the kitchen door, glared at me and announced very dramatically,
"I am NEVER shopping with HIM again!"
She stomped through the kitchen and slammed the solid wood door to the hall behind her with a dramatic flourish.

A few minutes later, her father slipped through the front  door, shoulders slumped and silently communicated his exhaustion and defeat.
 "So", I queried tentatively, "How did it go?"
 Michael sighed and began to describe one scene in a dress shop. He had picked out a few pretty dresses which he felt were age appropriate. Holding up a flowered print dress with a high, round collar, he called out to his daughter,
" This one is very pretty."
Our daughter responded by rolling her eyes dramatically,
"Daaad...that's way too childish."
The sailor style dress that Michael thought was perfect was similarly dismissed.
Then, our thirteen-year oldpulled out a black, spaghetti strapped, clingy, black dress and squealed,
 "Dad, this is exactly what I am looking for!"
  Poor dad sighed but allowed her to try the dress on.
She emerged from the dressing room complaining,
"It makes me look FAT."
 Right then and there, my poor husband's only desire was to sink into a deep hole because the  store attendant and her customer both weighed  about 300lbs. and 350lbs. each.
 Both women chimed in and exclaimed to our 115lb. teen.
"Oh no dear, I don't think you look fat at all!"

Somehow,everything always seemed to worked out.   On this occasion, it was Melissa, an older sister , to the rescue. She borrowed a cream coloured dress from a friend, embossed with swirls and a Chinese styled collar that was decent but not childish. Our daughter was delighted and her dad was relieved.
"Do you want to know what kind of dress she wanted me to buy?!"

Oh, we know, sweetie,we know.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Does Your Child Think Their Food Comes From The Grocery Store? Try Growing Even One Vegetable Plant In a Pot

For me, the garden was always the children's domain as well as mine because I wanted them in the garden, connecting with the earth.

              As my kids participated in planting seeds, watering growing plants and picking fruit and vegetables, they became attuned to the rhythms of nature. They marvelled at the power packed in a tiny seed because after planting one bean seed, they soon ate handfuls of green beans that they picked themselves. They had the freedom to pickand eat beans, snow peas, raspberries, strawberries and carrots straight from the garden as snacks because they were not banned from a perfect, show piece garden.

I love to dig in the warm earth without gloves so that I am able to feel the moist earth as well as inhale its rich aroma. This love of dirt connected with my children's fascination with dirt and even toddlers dugg with a small plastic shovel in their own area near me while I was free to garden to my heart's content.

Sometimes a baby slept in our old-fashioned buggy
under a tree, a toddler 'worked' beside me, preschoolers helped me plant and older kids filled watering cans.  

Everybody was involved in gardening and eating what we grew at our house. Now, after a lifetime of eating garden ripe tomatoes, corn picked as the water in a pot comes to a boil and huge plates of fresh geen beans with butter and salt and pepper, store bought garden produce tastes bland.

Our gardens were lush and colourful but not gorgeous show pieces. They were filled with perennial flowers that could withstand being yanked, stood on and sat on. The gardens were and are huge, containing many more fruit and veggies than we could eat because we grew enough to give away to our generous friends and family for bartering with. Our family even grows enough  for the wild animals surrounding our little acreage because, in their opinion, our garden is their own personal restaurant.

Some years the kids organized a road side vegetable stand. Everybody was involved
and the stand became an exciting adventure, especially to the littlest ones.  A few created signs (just getting them to stand up was hilarious), lugged tables and chairs down a 200m. drive way, and generally ran about yelling excitedly at each other as  kids hurried up to the house to get  more change, served drinks to the vegetable sellers, bellowed for a bathroom break  if they were stuck done at the road or screamed out to everyone how much money they had made so far.
Even Dad and the oldest siblings were sucked into the mayhem.
Of course, my children complained about weeding especially when it was hot . To solve that problem they dumped buckets of cold well water over each others' heads and  just generally ran around screaming before attacking weeds.

They made games out of their jobs, staged competitions when they picked potato bugs and helped make rhubarb jam and frozen strawberries, currants and raspberries.

Gardening wasn't just a hobby, it was a large part of their childhood. As adults, they still love plants and gardening.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Want To Be Happy? Delight in the Little things.

We all want to be happy. The secret is to  consciously take off jaded glasses, stop and look around. There is a lot be grateful for . I heard of a fellow who hated his job, so he tried to find something to be grateful about every day and started to write his discoveries in a blog.  He hit a nerve in people because soon he had a huge following.  He is now writing a book at the request of a publisher.

 I discovered the same secret after years of  mothering tiny children. They taught me to take delight in the plethora of tiny details all around me because little kids are born with a sense of wonder and the ability to enjoy little thing. Now I am the type of person who notices and remembers details. These stories for example pour effortlessly from my heart and mind. Repeating a conversation, verbatim, just comes naturally because the details remain vivid in my memory

My daughter's seem to retain an appreciation for detail and she remembers the little things.
A friend of mine once asked Melissa, when she was about six, what she liked most about Christmas. Mara replied immediately,
 "The Pineapple."
Martha was astounded.
My adult children were remembering their childhood and Mara said, 
" I always remember the fresh smell of clean sheets every week."
Such a small thing, yet a child, with a heart full of gratitude, takes great pleasure from it.
Another time Mara was recounting how pleased she was with a plant in her garden. Realizing that she was enjoying such a small thing she laughed,
"Oh my god, I am sounding just like Mum.

Another daughter and  her husband of three months  celebrated their marriage with a huge wedding reception for two hundred people. Mara has planned every detail from the match covers to the large buffet. Most of all, she  poured her creative spirit into making all the decorations by hand with sisters and friends. From green wheat grass in planters, tissue paper flowers in greens and plum to spray painted hydrangeas in purple, sliver, black and lime green. She is creative and can make the most from the least. Everything is gorgeous and perfect in every tiny detail.

The things that raise my spirits are usually small and most people would not consider them significant. For example, one Christmas I was very tired and only one gift sparked joy, real euphoria. It was hand crocheted dish clothes from my friend Cathy. clothes, beautifully made, colourful, something I used a hundred times a day.

Perhaps this is one of the blessings of a large family; the ability to retain the child's sense of awe and to delight in and to remember the little things.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

A Mum's Rules To Live By

1. Ignore the bad and praise the good.
2. Don't get upset over messes.
3. If it's not broken, it probably should be.
4. Bored children never stay bored for long, so don't worry about it. They will pick up a book or pencil .
5. Kids teach you what is really important in life.

Anything that gets in the way of caring for
little people and loving them is expendable and doesn't  matter in the long run. When your house is empty and silent, then is time to buy fragile collectables and  become involved in hobbies, important time consuming careers or causes.

" I'm Bored."

Many modern parents enrol their kids in vicious cycle of classes, activities and sports to ensure that they will  push past all rivals and snatch the best scholarships in the best schools to prepare them for wonderful careers.  However, when these kids graduate and enter the work force, employers are not impressed with them.  Their bosses complain that young employees  feel they are automatically entitled to the best jobs and perks but  are unwilling to start at the bottom of the ladder and work for the privilege of promotions.
I was a mother of a large family on a hobby farm who could not afford to put all my kids into many activities. So I raised them the way children have been raised for centuries with chores and plenty of time for free play.  I discovered that children should not be kept busy all the time. They need time just to  relax, even time to be bored because that is when creativity and ingenuity are born.

Surrounded by babies and toddlers, I was not always free to run and solve every obstacle my kids faced as they played. At first, I frantically scrambled to  run and help my  kids with a problem with a newborn in my arms and perhaps a toddler wrapped around one of my legs.
Finally I just could not do everything at the same time. That meant that my other kids had to wait for me or try to figure out snags by themselves. Loud  shrieks for mum gradually grew less frequent because impatience was a wonderful self-motivator. While waiting for assistance, my kids often solved their own problems.

Six year old David is a prime. His grade1 teacher recounted this story to me. It seems  that she asked
her grade one class this question,
"How would you open the garage door if there were no grown-ups around?"
Everybody just stared blankly at her, except for six year old David. He  frantically waved his hand in the air and then  excitedly blurted out,
"You just stand on a milk crate,  push on the upper left-hand corner of the door with a hockey stick and push hard. The door comes up a bit, you jump off the crate and crawl in!!"

Then, David beamed proudly.

You don't have to solve all the logistic problems for your kids or provide all the best equipment and toys. Mara was about ten and at the family cottage with a cousin. Every game she suggested, her cousin would point out that they lacked some piece of equipment. After a moment to think, Mara would brightly say,
"Well, we could always use this instead!"
Her aunt and uncle laughed and remarked,
 "I wonder whose daughter she is?"

Ingenuity and creativity spring into motion if
everything they could ever possibly need is not handed to our kids before they even know to ask for it.  I loved watching card board boxes magically transform into cars or doll houses, especially when little people asked older siblings to help them and everyone became excited and involved in the project.

Today my adult kids are self-starters, self-motivated and they are all creative at work, school and at home

I give all the credit for those qualities to boredom.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Joyful Chaos

A glimpse into the life a a large family.
Picture this scene.
 Five- year old Anthony is leaping off the fourth stair in the front hall,  wearing his usual uniform which consists of a black cape, purple Batman sweatshirt and his 'Mountie' hat. This ensemble is his salute to his three heroes- Batman, Zorro and Canadian Mounties.

Three year old Lucy carries a huge, old purse stuffed
with cut pieces of paper and fake money.  She is trailing behind seven year old Katie who is trying to make a scrapbook. Rachel is in the same living room playing "Magic School Bus" on the computer and Emily is upstairs changing her clothes yet again, as she has since she was two years old.

Dave and Matt are building a lego plane across the hall in the family room but eighteen year old Matt is the brains behind the construction and has completely taken over. Matt loves lego but, please, he really is only helping his younger brother.
Mara is on the phone and Melissa is listening to music that is way too loud while leaning over the upstairs railing and complaining about life.

 Michael , my husband is tending the farm animals outside... and me?

Why I am putting in the fourth load of laundry that day and planning a folding marathon where I sort laundry and literally toss each kid their own clothes to fold.

 Guess what?
 I learned to be happy in the chaos.

 I don't have a living room; I have work and play areas. A table in the living room is covered in a 1,000 piece puzzle ad the coffee table is Katie's craft station.

There are goldfish on my too small counter, a huge dog trips anyone walking through the door and the cat thinks she owns the most comfortable chair in the house and I warn you, do not try to move the queen! My kitchen walls, fridge and cupboards are covered with all kinds of art and scribble art and I have  way too many indoor plants.

One day my father-in-law tripped over our dog (who did not move,
by the way) and he gruffly asked me,
"What is that dog doing in the house? He should live outside."

I laughed and said,
 "Welcome to OUR home. We love kids, animals, plants and even you. Just come on in!"