Thursday, 30 August 2012


 The only thing that will kill you as a mother of  a large family is pairing socks.
There are solutions.
I remember a crazy campfire song, that is usually sung in rounds.

 "Black socks, they never get dirty;
the longer you wear them, the blacker they get.
Some times, I think I should wash them
but something keeps telling me
oh,  not yet, not yet, not yet"

I did not seriously consider this option, though. After ONE day stuck inside an active child's running shoe, socks NEED to be washed.Oh well, sometimes I did four loads a day and socks really didn't take up that much room.

Still socks disappeared into mountains of laundry and I could never find them all.
Socks need to be PAIRED!!!
Or do they?
That was the brilliant, out of the box sort of question I asked myself one day.

New solution
Buy LOTS of black socks in every size,throw them in a basket
and hope for the best
That was the plan.

I decided to simply toss them into a wicker basket with a three-foot circumference and a height of two and a half feet..
I must ad
BUT little girls don't like black socks. They like pink socks. To make matters worse my mother bought cute socks with frills and bows and patterns that the girls really needed and loved.
 NONE of them were the same!

So although I used the toss and throw method of pairing, some mornings found us frantically searching for some semblance of a pair but it made life exciting.

Monday, 27 August 2012

WHAT? You want to Shave Your Head and Pierce Your Ears?!?

Some people use this quote, “choose your battles” to express the idea that when dealing with a potential confrontation with your child, it is a good idea to step back and ask,
“Does it REALLY matter? Does this disagreement really have to do with morality, commonsense or responsibility or is it simply a matter of taste, choice or opinion?”

About 90% of the time, I had to admit that some disagreements were not worth fighting over and as the most mature person in the equation, I should probably acquiesce as gracefully as possible.
For me, this was a ‘very hard pill to swallow’ as the saying goes. It went completely against my perfectionist nature.  The examples I could give are countless but I’ll recount a  couple of the most amusing.
 A good friend, who was a slightly younger and a more cool mother than I was, offered to shave my two oldest boys’ heads.
My two boys really wanted to try this new style. David was especially jumping up and down.
Carol laughed , as she looked at the expression on my face,
” Oh come on Melanie, it’s only hair. It will grow back!”
To me, that hair style looked rough, like an army kid would wear but we didn’t have a lot of money and this was a cool, free haircut that would last a looong time. Carol  actually carried her shaving kit with her, so it was easy to let go of my prejudices. The buzzed heads delighted my two boys and I had to admit, it WAS easier to wash their heads.
I let Melissa go on her first trip alone with Carol’s family when they returned to Toronto a couple of days ahead of the rest of our family. The next day another Carol induced crisis popped up when Melissa phoned, excitement bubbling in the tone of her voice,
“Mummy, guess what? Carol said she would pay to get my ears pierced and for the earrings. PLeeeease say yes, pretty pleeease!!!”

I wanted to wait until she was when she was sixteen but you know what? It wasn’t corrupting her morals or injuring her health and it was something free and the earrings would make her feel pretty EVERY day. So I gave in. Of course five-year old Mara saw her sister and cried,
“Melissa got her ears pierced??!!”
I had to let Mara get her ears pierced as well. This decision turned out to be a good one because the girls kept the same little studs in for years and were completely satisfied for years.  Those little studs made them feel like they fit in with the other girls.

Friday, 24 August 2012

The House That Kids Built

Picture This scene.

Five year old Anthony is leaping off the fourth stair wearing his black cape, a purple Batman sweatshirt and his 'Mountie' hat. Three year old Lucy carries a huge, old purse stuffed with cut pieces of paper and fake money and 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 again. 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.

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 is tending the animals.

 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 that people stop to work on on for a few minutes and the coffee table is Katie's craft station.

 There are goldfish on my too small counter, a huge dog who trips anyone walking through the main door and a cat who thinks she owns the most comfortable chair in the house. I warn you, do not try to move the queen! Sometimes a caged hamster or guinea pig squeaks for attention EVERY time the fridge door opens!

My kitchen walls, fridge and cupboards are covered with all kinds of art and scribble art and I have 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 y. Just come on in!"

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

A child is like a magnifying glass

The phone, which was on the kitchen wall, rang after school. Surprisingly, it was for eight year old Melissa, our second child.
My kids didn't actually start a social life after school for another couple of years but this was a crisis.

Angela, the reigning, self proclaimed princess of the grade two class at St. Thomas, had treated poor Audrey terribly all day and she was crying over the phone.

Melissa was sympathetic but did not indulge Audrey's self-pity. She caught Audrey's attention and then said, quite firmly,
"Audrey, how Angela treated you today has NOTHING to do with you; Angela was having a bad day and she took it out on you!

Melissa's wisdom astonished me. I couldn't remember explaining this human tendency to her; she must have learned this information just by being part of our family.

Children learn not by just words and actions but by osmosis. The atmosphere or the "vibe" that fills our homes forms our children, be it loving and accepting or critical and condemning.

A child is like a magnifying glass pointing out our faults, good points and even our unconscious through their words and actions.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Passing along some sunshine: SUNSHINE BLOGGER AWARD

Unfinished business passed this on to me a long time ago and I did not know enough blogs to answer so now I am doing 3 around the same time! (To be truthful, I had forgotten. Sorry, unfinished business; it was such a wonderful surprise to receive an award)

1. Include the award logo in a post or somewhere on your blog.

2. Answer 10 questions about yourself.

3. Nominate 10 to 12 other fabulous bloggers.

4. Link your nominees to the post and comment on their blog, letting them know about the award.

5. Share the love and link the person who nominated you

Numbers 1 & 5: Check.

Number 2: I get to make these questions up, which is fantastic

How did you come up with the title and theme of your blog?

I have a gift of joy that bubbles up at the strangest times. Even though mothering nine kids was difficult, when I look back, all I remember are the happy moments. I suppose the same phenomena occurs after childbirth. Thus the title, THE JOY OF MOTHERING.

How would you describe yourself?

 I am a bit eccentric (my kids laugh at the word 'bit' and say, " only a bit?"). 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.

Who are you?

My identity is changing but to others I am a mother, wife, grandmother, homemaker, laundress, cook, counselor, gardener, former farm-hand, writer. However theses are my roles. I am discovering that my true identity lies deep within in my spirit. God  created me from the same stuff He is made of. When I relax and open the 'door' and allow Him to connect with my spirit, then I live in freedom and joy. Then I am simply a child of God. No more but no less.

Do you regret not having a career?

The first time someone asked me that question, my mouth dropped open and my mind went completely blank. The answer was and is, "NO".

Do you have any any advice that you would give to new mothers?

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 a pencil. (The Juneaus went for two years without a TV set.)
5. If you want to be happy never let your kids get tired and never let them get hungry. If you ignore their needs (not wants), you'll pay for it.

Do you have an original motto?

The only thing that will kill you with nine kids is pairing socks.
Say the words Mental Kung-Fu and all crazy, stressful thinking will stop as you laugh.

What do you LOVE to do?

I love to garden, read and write. Oh and crochet afghans ( NOT those ugly multicoloured ones your maiden aunt crocheted) I do it while my husband is driving because it is an hour and a bit into the Ottawa are where all our kids live. It is mind-boggling but I have crocheted more than a dozen 'blankets' mainly in the car.

What has made you laugh the hardest?

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.

Why do you read and write?
I Iove reading and writing. That is why I majored in English Literature in University. 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.The same thing happens when I write I become focused and completely involved in the world of words

What are your favorite movies?

Of course they are two humourous movies. One is British, with  dry, understated humour and wit called "Waking Ned Devine". The other is amusing and heartwarming called "The Second-Hand Lion".

Nominate 10 fabulous bloggers

I will fulfill this slowly, as I get to know some blogs that caught my eye and ones that I like but have not read in a while.

Lanthie Ransom who writes Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries at this woman is funny, witty, insightful and writes well. She is also a great support to me and many others.

Elaine Plummer at is a REAL nurse at heart. She writes about all the questions we feel uncomfortable to ask our doctor.

Linda Anselmi A real writer at heart, she hates to press publish but when she does, it is excellent. She is warmly Supportive to other blogger

Carolina Becky at A committed writer, funny, honest and down to earth.

Ginalynn at Truthsfromthechaos A brave woman who writes about her struggle towards inner healing

Karen Sandoval who writes Karen at

Elaine Griffin who writes  The Laine List  at Lovely lady, good writer, awesome web designer (this is blatant advertizing because I have seen her stuff)

Virginia at Homereared chef at because she IS a ray of sunshine into many readers live's

Denise a t she really lights up the darkness of my confusion

Menopausal Mother she is funny and a support to MANY bloggers

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Surprise! Fellow bloggers spread encouragement with the Liebster Blog Award

Thank you to Behind The Smile the author of   for the privilege of the Liebster Blog award. It made  me smile. She is a brave woman who says, "I only hoped my experiences and thoughts may resonate and be of some help to others who wear their smile but have illness or struggles to deal with behind the smile." 

As a recipient of the award it is now my privilege to pass this on to other bloggers. The Liebster award rules are as follows (If you so choose):

1) Answer eleven questions. 
2) Think of eleven questions of your own to ask.
3) Choose eleven worthy bloggers (who have fewer than 200 followers) to pay the award forward to.

My answers to Behind the Smile's questions
Q1. Who is the person who has influenced your life the most and why?

If I I had to pick only one HUMAN who has influenced me the most, it would have to be my husband because he completly changed the course of my life.  I think that there is a sneaky plot in the heavenlies that picks out a soul mate specifically for the purpose of chipping off our rough edges.

Q2. Do you have a saying or a quote which is your favourite and you refer to often?
Yep!One in four people are mentally unbalanced.
                                               Think of three friends.
                                               If they seem fine,
                                               You’re the one.

Q3. What is your greatest fear?
The deepest, almost non-verbal fear is that I am unlovable and not good enough .

Q4. If you could turn back the clock what would you change? If anything?
My husband and I have suffered many "catastrophies" but they  shattered illusions and our egos, bringing us to a place where we turned to His Love.

Q5. What do you do to be kind to yourself?
No matter what I always have a good, strong cup of tea and I always manage to hack out a garden,  In university I once was given a load of manure for my poor excuse of a garden as a BIRTHDAY PRESENT!! That would actually be a load of sh--.

Q6. Name two positive attributes/gifts you have? 
I can disarm most people and give them the chance to relax and warm up during a conversation. I also have been given an infectious gift of joy that bubbles up in spite of myself when I am with others.

Q7. Name one new skill you would like to learn? 
How to drive a car.

Q8. Do you attend church? If so what do you like about your church?
Yes. Lots wrong with my denomination but I treasure the Eucharist, the presence of Jesus in the host.

Q9. What are you thankful for?
My husband and my kids, the gift of joy,  the power of forgiveness and mercy in relationships.

Q10. What makes you smile?
People and our foibles.
Q11. Why do you blog?
I have so many stories bottled up inside, I did not want to forget them and as I write, more rise up. I am surprised by what comes out as I write. It is a source of great joy and I become so engrossed in writing that when I come back to the present moment, I am hungry, thirsty and aching everywhere

The following are my Liebster Award Winners in random order, Congratulations!





Now the FUN part. MY questions

1. Who are you writing for (besides yourself) when you write?

2. How did you come up with the title of your blog?

3. What are off limits on your blog and why?

4.Have you ever offended anyone with your blog and would you care if you did?

5. What makes you laugh?

6.What makes you cry?

7.What is the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you?

8.What's the funniest thing you've ever seen?

9.What advice would you give new bloggers?

10.What are you grateful for?

11. What quality do you like in others? In yourself?

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Food,Fishing and Fire

When Joseph had to prepare a short speech in grade one, I suggested he talk about his three favourite things in life - food, fishing and fire. That title described all our boys perfectly and soon the three “F” words became a traditional family joke.
One of my most vivid memories that captures life at the cottage, is six year-old Joseph hopping out of bed at 6:00 a.m.before anyone else was awake, throwing shorts and a t-shirt on and running out the door without breakfast. He would grab a fishing rod on the back porch and run down the hill to the lake to start casting.
I still grin at this little boy's obsession.
Daniel was more intrigued with the minnow trap, shredding bread, counting how many minnows were in the trap and yelling as he ran back up the hill to share his excitement with everyone. The girls and I would just smile and shake our heads at both boys because we could not fathom why anyone could become so excited over tiny fish.
The whole family kept a constant eye on the two boys, sending various siblings to fish beside Joseph or catch minnows with a net with Daniel. Matthew, their older brother or Michael would stroll down to fish beside them for an hour or so or the older girls would read or suntan in shifts, just to make sure neither of them drowned. Often I would have to practically bribe them to come in to put on sunscreen, a hat, to eat, or to get ready for bed.
Where did this passion come from?
Why from dear old Dad, who still can fish for over 12 hours, without food or even docking for a few minutes to stretch his legs. Even winter does not curtail fishing in our family. Ice fishing is almost as popular as trawling from a boat. My husband also loves fly fishing and in the off-season ties his own flies. The handmade flies are gorgeous.
The scariest fishing partnership is my husband and my future son-in-law. They both are fisherman. Put the two of them together and they stay out on the lake even longer! If they are not catching fish they stay out till they catch someand. If they are catching fish, they do not want to stop.Since both men are called Michael, we call them Mike Squared or Mike to the Power of 2. This is another family joke that never fails to trigger huge smiles.
The women in the family shy away from such fishing marathons because unlike men, we need official pit stops to duck behind the bushes every couple of hours. Stunned indignation meets requests to go to shore and offers of other solutions for our bladder needs!! We refuse these alternatives, of course!
Out of necessity, Claire now is an avid fisher woman because her partner is Michael. Some weekends she would barely see that fellow unless she tagged along. I must admit, though, that she totes a survival bag with food and a good book.
Yep. Food, fishing and fire, especially fishing, are three great passions at our house, at least for the males.

Friday, 10 August 2012

I'm Batman Foevaaa!

       Our second youngest, was born with a zest for living. This was obvious with even a quick glance at my baby’s face. With his eyebrows raised in surprise, eyes wide open to see everything around him and lips smiling with glee, Anthony was a delightful infant, toddler and young child. Actually his temperament at twenty has not changed much at all!

Anthony had a marvellous imagination, creating dramatic play scenarios like intense sword fights with invisible villains. By the time he was two and a half, he insisted on wearing one of two batman sweatshirts every morning. Anthony needed to wear his batman sweatshirt, so I just acquiesced and washed one of the sweatshirts every night. By four-years old he had added a black cape, felt fedora hat and black barn boots to his daily uniform. His outfit was my little guy’s salute to his three heroes- Batman, Zorro and the Canadian Mounted Police.
Anthony tried to imitate Batman’s ability to fly. I caught him just in time when he was three, as he slung a leg over the banister, so he could sweep down and save a hapless victim of crime. After that incident, I convinced him to jump off the fourth step of the front hall staircase. Honestly that little boy jumped countless times every day, black cape billowing behind him. One afternoon, a doctor passed us in a hospital and smiled at Anthony’s outfit,
“Oh my, what do we have here, Batman?”Anthony took a flying leap, cape billowing behind him again and answered,
“Oh no, I’m Batman Foevaaaa....”  
 Another time, as we sat in a doctor’s waiting room, four-year old Anthony backed up and then crouched low like a runner’s preparing to sprint towards the plate glass window. Shocked, I called out,
“ANTHONY, what are you doing?”
My four-year old son adjusted his tense stance and said,
I am going to run and leap and smash that glass with my feet! Then I’ll fly through the air.”
However, Anthony did get a few chances to really fly when his older brother’s friends came out to the farm.  Matthew’s friends would play catch throwing Anthony instead of a ball. With his little legs tucked, arms clutched tightly around his bent legs, the strong teenagers would toss my son between each other!!  
It was teenage sleepovers that provided Anthony with his most memorable flying feats. On early Saturday mornings, he would run from our big farm kitchen, down the hall and then launched himself into the air to land on all the teenage bodies strewn about the family room. A series of groans and moans joined Anthony’s gales of laughter as he yelled,
“Come on guys, it’s time to get up!”  

Matthew’s friends still shake their heads and grin when they remember their flying alarm clock.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Versatile Blogger Award.

I would like to thank "Life Cherries " for honouring me with the Versatile Blogger Award.

Here Are The Rules For This Award
1. Thank the Blogger who nominated you
  • Thank you, so much Life Cherries you are kind, supportive and FUNNY
2. Include a link to their site.

3. Include the award image in your post.

4. Give 7 random facts about yourself.
       # I love quirky, intelligent, creative people
       # Sometimes when I am reading and writing, I am VERY focused and only come back to reality when every bone in my body is aching, I am starving, thirsty and desperately need to use the washroom.

.       # I love cats

        # My favorite books are The Narnia Series- powerful allegory.

        # My husband is the opposite of me- thank God.

         #  I love to put the water on to boil and THEN pick corn on the cob. It is the sweetest then because none of  the natural sugars have turned to starch.

         # I am in awe of how well my kids are turning out.

5. Nominate 10 other Bloggers for the award.

   Since I nominated bloggers from blogher the last two times, this time I am going to take time to read and get to know bloggers on wordpress and blogspot. So I will keep adding to the list. Here is a start  because she is witty, with a wry sense of humour and she is brutally honest  straight forward, honest and funny a young, wise, articulate mum  - she can be funny or serious, intellectual or down to earth but she always writes well this woman is prolific, I love her photos as well as her open-hearted discussions about an imperfect life she writes about a potential debilitating illness with insight and even humour

- a wonderful artist with uplifting messages a  "dad" blogger who sees things from another perspective A missionary who writes great stories from Brazil. He truly is writing from a different perspective as well a truly versatile blogger

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Living With Lots of Little People

As a mother of nine kids, people often ask me,

 "How on earth did you manage without any help? "

If I had to divulge one secret that I was fortunate enough to discover early in my mothering career, it would be,

"Never let them get tired and never let them get hungry."

There is a universal image stuck in our brains of  a screaming toddler throwing a tantrum on the floor of a grocery store. Even the best parent is reduced to a helpless victimn in these situations because
nobody is as miserable and disagreeable as a hungry and irritable baby, toddler, or small child.

When I ignored  the warning signs that my kids were reaching their limits of endurance, I created either a clingy, irritating wimp or a screaming monster.Then NOTHING I did or said seemed to help the situation.
I might have LOOKED like a self-sacrificing mother but I was merely acting out of a sense of self-preservation when I put my kids needs first. No time for resentment because happy and satisfied kids were worth every "sacrifice" I made. The peace was worth any compromise.

One niece once told me that many people had given her advice when she became a new mother but the only thing she always remembered and practiced was,
"Never let them get tired and never let them get hungry."