Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Thwarted Again

On the BRAT Diet, Mary was starving
"You, my dear, don't seem to stand a chance."
 Mary was two years old when some sort of bug attacked her digestive system with a vengeance. My doctor ordered the BRAT Diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, toast) to remedy the lingering diarrhoea problem.
Poor Mary! It seemed like she was stuck eating the BRAT diet forever.
She looked so pitiful at meal times as she eyed her siblings plates and the turned back dejectedly to look at her bowl of rice.
Claire, Mary's partner in work and play, understood her little sister's frustration with this imposed spartan diet; so she decided to do something about it. Quick witted as always, Claire chose to carry out her plan when I was safely out of the kitchen
My Daughter initiated Mission Impossible while I was in a darkened bedroom, nursing our baby to sleep. With the bedroom door open , my kid radar turned on, alert to any sounds that my children might make. I heard disturbing noises. Up I got, slowly and carefully, not wanting to wake up Katie. I changed her position so that I could rock her and I made my way to the door and tiptoed to the kitchen .
My eyes widened in despair as I took in the scene and I whispered as loudly as I could,
What did I see?
The bread box was open, the peanut butter jar lid was off. Wiry three-year old Claire was squatting like a tiny elf up on top of the counter, spreading a thick layer of the stuff on whole-wheat, stone ground bread. Mary stood below on the floor, both arms out stretched with her tiny hands opening and closing frantically. She was starving and could hardly wait to get hold of real food. The sound of my voice startled both of them. Claire glanced up briefly and finished her assignment even quicker; Mary glanced over her shoulder and then stuffed the sandwich into her mouth, hardly chewing at all before she swallowed and lunged for another big bite.
And me?
I did not want a cranky baby on my hands and she was not quite ready to lay down, so I was helpless. Thus, with great strategy and timing, Claire and Mary pulled off Mission Impossible.
I phoned my doctor's wonderful nurse, after this disaster bewailing my misfortune and this major set back to my plan of attack on intestinal bugs. Olga laughed,
"You, my dear, don't seem to stand a chance."

Blogging About Health Issues: ME??

my children are still alive and in good health!

I am a relatively green, 57 year old blogger who has barely one toe in the  21st century and is basically a computer illiterate. Unwittingly, I have  just agreed to blog for 30 days in a row on health issues. As I sit down to type my first post, reality suddenly clashes with my impulsiveness. My mind is blank, I hold my breath but I have decided to jump into the unknown with a grin and a sense of challenge.

On the other hand, I have raised nine children and managed to keep them all alive on a lively hobby farm. It is a miracle. Do you have any idea what can happen on a hobby farm swarming with nine kids who generously share germs with each other?

 I wish that I had access to the incredible mounds of health information on the Internet that I am just discovering this year. Many nights in the wee hours before dawn, I frantically flipped through out of date childcare books, encyclopedias, condensed family books on symptoms, treatment and diseases, hoping to find relief for a whimpering sick child. Most of the time it was to no avail and I was forced to wait till the morning to speak with my doctor's nurse or someone in the hospital's emergency room who was not allowed to give me any real advice.

melanie jean juneau
In the thirty odd years since the birth of my first baby, suddenly it is easy to access libraries, scientific studies, to question doctors, nurses or even other mothers and to get answers in seconds. The internet has changed society even more than the arrival of the Guetinburg Printing Press at the end of the middle ages. Suddenly "commoners" have access to health information that was only avaiable to researchers or health professionals only a decade ago.
On the positive side health consumers are more knowledgable, ask better questions and feel empowered to ask for a second opinion rather than take their doctor's opinion as a pronouncement from God.

However, this new found freedom has caused problems as others jump to conclusions, argue with their health care provider or refuse his advice because they have read some obsure article written by a self-proclaimed health guru. Not all advice is wise or ased on fact. Students have even sabatoged Wickepedia, presenting fiction as fact, just for the fun of confusing the ordinary reader.So it is with excitment tempered with common sense that I start this journey and begin to write a Health Blog on my family site as well as posting on the official Health site of Facebook. I hope you enjoy these posts as much as I will.I will gear most of them to women, children and of course families.

 A friend , Elaine Plummer, a registered nurse who writes on health issues on BlogHer has agreed to save my ignorant middle aged brain  and keep me up to date..  ElaineR.N., as she calls herself, has kindly agreed to let me quote her massive collection of articles as well as  interview her. Thank-you Elaine 


Saturday, 27 October 2012

The Liebster Award: Even more revelations???

First, I must thank Patricia Needham for nominating me for  the Leibster Award. She has a delightful blog called Life is Only What You Make It

 Each person must post 11 things about themselves.
- Answer the questions that the nominator set for you, plus create 11 questions for the people you've nominated to answer.
- Choose 11 people and link them in your post.
- Go to their page and tell them.
- No tag backs

First- 11 things about me.

 I have already disclosed 15 things about me in a post called "Letting my Readers Get to Know Me" - so this will be short and add more to this fascinating list of revelations.

1. The only snack food I could devour by the fist full is Smart food, white cheddar popcorn.

2. My husband calls me Myers (my maiden name) because no one else does.It is his special term of endearment and that as sweet as he can manage.

3. I do love four seasons and if is going  to be cold, then let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

4. I have seriously been gearing up to learn how to drive a car by driving the lawn tractor. My mishaps are legendary and Michael only knows half of them. I good literally write a book about my tragic-comic episodes.
5.My grandaughter is PERFECT and another daughter will soon be a mum. I must learn to drive

6.I am 5'1" and 104 lbs. but often feel taller than people who prove to be inches taller than me. Any one my height seems sooo much shorter than  me. A fatal  flaw???

7. Since I have read the Classics, good Literature or spiritual stuff my whole life, I am now  pleased to announce that I am reading Romance novels and loving them.

8.In our old house my bedroom was an awful  purple-pink for 16 years. Guess what colour it was in the new house? Yep. Unbelievably  the very same awful shade..exactly!! Someone did not like me. My kids completely redid the bedroom for an anniversary gift. It is now a pale blue with white trim.

9.It has taken me 40 years as a purposeful Christian to finally start grasping the first basic steps- God loves me and surrendering complete control to that  Love, not just in my head or my adult mind but in my sub-concious, pre-verbal self. I am very resistant to paradigm shifts.

9.I can only stand golf, hockey, baseball, football... with a book or crocheting.

10.I love cats

11. My floor is my children's ceiling.

Now Patricia has 11 questions for me.

11 questions from Patricia
1.If you had one wish what would it be?
World peace
2. If you were on the daytime soap General Hospital who would you be?Why?
Never watched it
3. Where do you see yourself in five years from now?
A brilliant writer, painter?
4.If you were reincarnated what animal would you come back as? Why?
A cat. Very loveable
5. What would you change in your life?
6. If you were a bug what would you be?
A butterfly because they are beautiful and a symbol of freedom
7. What do you want to be known for after you are dead and gone?
8. Do you cook in the nude?
AH- Are you kidding,? 
9. If money didn't matter where would you live?
Somewhere warm IF I could take my whole extended family with me- otherwise I would stay right here.
10. What is your favorite memory in life so far?
Times when the Light, joy love of God has broken through to my heart
11. What would you do if you were a pink hairy troll?
Try to make friends
My questions for my award picks
1. How did you pick the title for your blog?
2.What do you write about, what is your theme?
3. Any subjects taboo?
4.Why do you write, any benefits?
5. Where do you post, on any directories?
6. What tips would you give a new blogger?
7.Where do most of your referrals come from? pinterist,stmbleupon,etc.
8.How would you describe your personality?
9. What makes you laugh?
10.What makes you cry?
11. Any dreams for the future?
My bloggers of note who will pass on this award to the wonderful blogs that I missed.
no obligation to answer everything or fill in everything. Feel comfortable just to be yourself.
Rum Punch Drunk
Ana The Imp
Helena Fortisma  Channeling Hippocrates
Darin L. Hammond
yuni 2009http://bodypainanddepressio…
 Stuff and Nonsense…

Friday, 19 October 2012

Fashion Sense? Snort-She Was BORN With It!

Claire is on the left
One evening as I tried to rush out of the house, Claire glanced up from her homework, scrutinized me up and down disapprovingly and asked, very slowly, “Are you going out?”
Tiny, adorable, clever and independent Claire was also strong-willed, high maintenance and high-strung. My fifth child, Claire was a beautiful little package of contradictions who gave me strife and hilarious joy, sometimes at the very same time. Most arguments were about clothes. Although her fashion sense has developed into a wonderful gift now that she is in her mid twenties, at three and four-years old this “gift” was a pain.
Claire changed her clothes often throughout the day, from the age of two. Watching one of the few videos of our family, one of my older daughters pointed at the screen and laughed,
“Look at Claire. That is the third time she has changed clothes during this video!”
Sure enough, the pip squeak had another outfit on.
Claire was always aware of what she was wearing as well as those around her, which often led to disagreements about what she could and could not wear. Although she was a mature, articulate, fashion conscious three-year old, I was still concerned that Claire was too young to start four-year old kindergarten. When she stomped into the house after the first morning, ranting about a little girl who had worn a “jean skirt with a matching jean jacket”, I realized that it was the school which was not quite ready for Claire!
Alas, Claire's attention soon turned to her busy mother. I sometimes pulled on stockings, brushed my hair and applied a touch of make-up once I had climbed into our huge 13 seat mini-bus. I barely had enough time to make sure my dress was clean and I had brushed my teeth before I hustled everyone out the door. This changed when my daughters were in their late teens because they organized an all out assault to bring me into the 21st century. They took me to a hair salon for a cut and dye make-over, plucked my eyebrows, bought me clothes and make-up and forced me to throw out decade old comfy clothes. Claire has been the most persistent fashion advisor, however.
One evening as I tried to rush out of the house, Claire looked up from her homework, looked me up and down disapprovingly and asked, very slowly,
“Are you going out?”
I answered in the affirmative.
Claire continued, “And you’re wearing that?”
I nodded slowly. I knew the direction that this conversation was headed.
“I don’t think so”, she added, “Remember the navy pants that Melissa bought you for Christmas and the top that Rachel gave you on Mother’s Day? That would look really sharp with my light blue scarf and my little black belt. Could you pleeeease try it on?”
I sighed and trudged back upstairs because it was easier just to comply. I must admit that she was right. Of course, once I came down, Claire had to jump up to adjust the belt and re-tie the scarf but as a result of listening to my daughter’s fashion advice, Michael, my husband, was pleasantly surprised.
Really though, Claire is an expert at changing outfits. She has been practicing since she was two-years old.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Blogging Opens The Door To Writing

Actually I can hardly believe that I feel free  enough today to stand up and boldly yell,
” I love writing and I want to help others  start writing by encouraging them to blog.”

It took me years to finally decide to start writing again. I had taken a 30 year sabbatical since leaving university to raise 9 children  and I just couldn't seem to start.  Perhaps I could have started seven years ago when everyone was in school full time but realistically there was simply to much physical work involved in running a household for eleven people and helping with the farm animals and our large vegetable garden.

there is a lot of work on a hobby farm with a family of 11

Instead of writing, I told stories. The Irish side rose to the surface as I entertained family and friends with the latest exploits of my kids and the farm. Their escapades really were legendary because some situations can only occur  with the combination of 9 kids and a hobby farm. I  told the hilariously true stories of  our family in true Irish form, with wry wit and dramatic flourishes. As an oral story teller, I discovered that the tales rose up from deep within me because I had assimilated them and  made them my own. In fact, my creations were the products of my right brain; they were imaginative, intuitive and alive.  I did not know ahead of time exactly what I would say. I did not memorize a script with my logical left brain. No, the very act of speaking words aloud  was part of the creative process. The stories were alive, full of joy and humour and that spirit was infectious.

my adult offspring encouraged me to start writing again.
 For years,  my children  badgered me, “When are you going to start putting our stories down on paper?”
Acquaintances tentatively suggested,  “I really think you should start writing.”
Strangers at conferences challenged me, ”You are very articulate, you can think on your feet, have you  ever considered writing?”
Once four people approached me and said, “You are a natural. You are called to write. What is holding you back?

I froze inside when I sat down in front of a computer

However, whenever I closeted myself in a room to sit down and write, I froze. I considered writing to be a solitary craft but looking at a blank screen or talking into thin air was a sterile exercise in futility for me. I could not translate the same creative energy that I experienced telling a story verbally to the keyboard. My intuitive, imaginative side stayed buried and my logical intellect wrote boring drivel.

Somehow I heard about the existence of blogs, blogging sites and  blogging directories and I snapped to attention.  Suddenly, I was thinking up a username,  a title for a blog,  looking at templates and design and layout. All these activities loosened up my creativity while I sat typing

It was like an invisible barrier slowly melted, allowing my imagination to bubble up in a stream of written words that felt just as exhilarating as my oral tradition. I was  excited to start sharing written stories with other people, people who would read them,  respond, comment and give me feed back on what I had written.  Within weeks, I was no longer an island but part of a community of other writers who had the very same insecurities and problems as I did.

It was spring time in my writer’s soul
At first I felt like I had just stepped off a spaceship into an alien world, I did not know how to do anything. Reading directions on line was useless, I couldn't understand half the words they used, never mind how to follow their directions. I still struggle with uploading, downloading, back linking….Why just right now I managed to delete this article twice, that’s right twice before the article was even finished. Still as I write, there is no save button or draft button. I have no idea why not, either! Worse comes to worse, I will leave to identical sites open on my toolbar in case one gets deleted a third time!

Early on I read that bloggers, on the whole,  are supportive and unselfishly helpful, rejoicing in each others success and offering free guidance . Well, I discovered that  this statement is true. So if you are tentatively  wondering if you will fit in, fear not. If a 57 year-old, computer illiterate, web dummy and green writer can learn while having loads of fun, you can too. Trust me.

the dawn of a new era in my life

Monday, 15 October 2012

Quit Trying to Dismember Me!

                                                   Being the youngest can be a trial

What happens when you live with five older sisters?
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 Rebecca, my youngest child, already had her lunch packed in her schoolbag, the bag on her back and her shoes were even tied. In grade one, she was so excited, she could hardly wait to climb up the steps and sit with her friend on the big school bus. She started pulling the heavy kitchen door open, hoping to sneak outside for some free time before school. As the door open, I looked up.
Before I could comment, Sarah, one of her many older sisters, whipped around and remarked,
"Rebecca, did you try to do your own hair again? The part's crooked. Come over here and I'll fix it for you."
Rebecca sighed. She had barely taken a few steps towards Sarah when Claire bustled into the kitchen, stopped and looked her up and down. Claire closed her eyes and 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."
Rebecca started the slow, awkward process of doing up the buttons.
Hearing all the commotion, Mary yelled from the bathroom,
"Hey Rebecca, you forgot to brush your teeth again!"
My youngest daughter suddenly threw her arms up into the air and huffed out in exasperation,
"All right, all right everybody. Quit trying to dismember me."

Temper Tantrum?

babies are completely dependant on their caregiver
My first thought is to pity the child, not the mother.
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 becomes a helpless victim in these situations because nobody is as miserable and disagreeable as a hungry and irritable baby, toddler, or small child.
When I see a toddler throwing a temper tantrum, my first thought is,
"That poor kid, not that poor mother."
To mothers of little children: Do you want well-behaved kids?
"Never let them get hungry and never let them get tired."
Trust me, ignoring bedtime, naps or snacks and meals either to shop, talk on the phone or visit a friend simply is NOT worth the aggravation of dealing with upset little people, afterwards. 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."

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star? Not a chance >

What did our younger kids sing during circle time?
We were standing in line at the Canadian Tire's automotive desk with our youngest daughter. Lucy, three weeks before turning two, was sitting quietly in the shopping cart looking adorable in a soft, pink snowsuit. Suddenly she pointed and yelled,
"Gee mum, that guy is cute!"
Once again my tiny toddler startled and amused me because her perfectly articulated words were so in congruent with her appearance and the baby like tone of her voice. I turned around to catch a glimpse of the gentleman who had caught Lucy's attention and I almost burst into gales of laughter. He was a thirty-year old, skinny, balding, gap-toothed banker type sporting a blond, handlebar moustache, wearing a dark suit and beige trench coat. Everyone within hearing distance glanced in our direction. This young man blushed with embarrassment but also with pleasure. With a huge smile, he replied,
"That is the nicest thing anyone has said to me in a long time!"
We all laughed but I thought,
"Where did that idea come from?"
Then it all came together.
One of the after dinner responsibilities, at that stage in our family's life, was entertaining Lucy so I would be free to act as the ring master to the circus of activity that swirled around our house in the early evening. Mara and Melissa jumped at the chance to watch Lucy because they would relax and look at catalogues and magazines with her. I knew that they pointed out objects and people to Lucy to increase her vocabulary but I realized one of their comments must have been,
"THAT guy is cute!"
One of the major disadvantages of a large family; older siblings expose young children to pop culture. A prime demonstration of this phenomena was during 'circle time' in kindergarten. Sometimes the teacher encouraged the children to sing a song, expecting to hear something like Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. She did not get that sort of song from my youngest two. This teacher laughed with amusement as she told me what my two youngest children sang for the other five-year olds.
Anthony sang Go Grease Lightning from the movie musical Grease.
Lucy sang some pop song about not dating a scruffy looking guy "who sits in the passenger side of his best friend's car"!
There is usually a positive side to everything . My oldest daughters also taught the younger ones a valuable life lesson through the lyrics to this song,
"Don't settle for the first boy who gives you attention."
All my girls must have learned this lesson well because they are very selective when it comes to boyfriends. In high school, if my daughters date, it only lasts a couple of weeks because they find that the boys are typically "idiots". Lucy's English teacher was just teasing her, last month, that she was high maintenance and he pitied her boyfriend. Lucy shot back,
"Don't worry sir; my boyfriend is like my trampoline."
This statement confused her teacher, so Lucy explained,
"I don't have one!" `

Friday, 12 October 2012

A Seven-Year Old's Perspective


"Want to know how to get a two year old to do what you want him to do?
In our large family, my children discovered how to interact with each other, without my constant intervention. They all aquirued wonderful people skills because they lived in a house with ten other very different personalities who all shared one full bathroom. Just imagine the tact it required to squeeze any sink and mirror time in the bathroom if you happened to have five or six older sisters!
Some interpersonal techniques were learned through the old trial and error method. I did not tolerate fighting or yelling among my children, so each child had to figure out which approach gained co-operation from another sibling. I was proud of their negotiating skills.

For example, one evening when Mark was seven and his brother Joseph was two, Mark sat on the floor and reached over the edge of the tub to play with his little brother who was in bubbly, warm water.
Mark turned to me and asked, "Want to know how to get a two-old to do what you want him to do?
I smiled in anticipation and nodded.

"Watch this", Mark commanded.
He asked Joseph, "Joseph, do you want the orange ball or the blue boat?"

Joseph chose the blue boat.
Hardly taking a breath, Mark asked his little brother the very same question but this time he changed the word order of his request, "Joseph, do you want the blue boat or the orange ball?"
Joseph dropped the boat and reached for the ball.
Mark turned around with a proud little smile on his face, looked at me and said, "A two-year old always choose the last thing that you say!"

Thursday, 11 October 2012

"How Much Longer, Lord, How Much Longer?"

Teenagers love to drive parents crazy
Living through teenage drama without loosing your sanity

One of my sons , in his early teens, had just announced that he could not stand living under our roof another minute,
"I'm out of here!", he bellowed, "and don't expect me to come back!"

The door slammed and he tore off on his ten speed bike. Of course my father was visiting and witnessed this dramatic episode. After a few minutes, Dad turned to my husband and wondered,
" Aren't you going to go after him?"
Michael calmly kept reading, then looked up and explained,
"Oh, I'm not worried. The only place near enough to bike to is one of his buddy's and they don't feed kids over there. He'll be back when he is hungry enough."
Sure enough, hunger brought my son home late that night. We did not need to pronounce any ultimatums because the recognition that he still needed to live at home and attempt to get along with our rules and his family
was humbling enough. No need to rub his face in the facts.
Teenagers are often humiliated by their mistakes in judgment so they relish the opportunity to catch us in the wrong.
For example, Michael's usual response to swearing, disrespect or a poor attitude was,
"Leave that sort of stuff at school!"
One evening at the dinner table on a Sunday, Michael yelled in anger at the dog. David had just filled his plate and was coming back to the table. He leaned over, looked at his dad and with a twinkle in his eye and a huge grin on his face said ,
"Leave that sort of stuff at church, eh Dad!"
Michael snapped out of his bad mood and had to smile. The kid was right. David's humour diffused the situation and Michael was the one who had to apologize this time.
Teenagers also love to rile their parents, to flaunt rules and standards in a blind wish to figure out who they are in and of themselves. If I remember this fact, I don't overreact to obnoxious behaviour. I like to compare teenagers to two-year olds because the very same dynamic is unfolding, only this time it is a stressful transition from childhood to adulthood that requires many years to complete. I read somewhere that 25 is the age that young adults finally get an adult brain! In our family, we actually celebrate that birthday and welcome our offspring into full adulthood.
Sometimes teenagers, boys especially like to prove their new-found strength. David loved to come behind me in the kitchen and with a huge grin on his face pick me up and swing me around or even turn me upside down!
"Oh well", I'd think to myself, "This too will pass, this too will pass."

Monday, 8 October 2012

Where Does She Get This Stuff?

three-year-old Lucy was perched like a little elf on a high stool
"Lucy, whose your favorite, mum or dad?"
One afternoon, I was making dinner, standing at the counter with my back to our three youngest children. Katie and Anthony were lounging around the kitchen table, with three-year-old Lucy perched like a little elf on a high stool, happily swinging her legs.
Simply making conversation, Katie who was about eight, asked Lucy,
"Lucy, whose your favorite, mum or dad?"
Lucy replied,"Both!"
Still facing the counter, I looked over my shoulder and intruded on their conversation,
"Smart answer, Lucy."
Lucy was not done, though,
"But she's not my real mum, Mary is.

Katie rolled her eyes, slapped her forehead with the palm of her hand and said incredulously,
"Where does she get this stuff?"I tried to explain as simply as I could,
"Well, the Holy Spirit is in her heart and she listens to His voice."
Lucy jumped right back into the discussion and chanted in a sing-song, lilting voice,
"That's right. God the Father in my heart. Baby Jesus in my heart. Holy Spirit in my heart. Mother Mary in my heart.... but.... I still like mum and dad the best!"
Katie rolled her eyes and plunked her head down on the table with a loud sigh,
"Where does she get this stuff?"
I just laughed.
A few weeks later, as I crouched down to tie Lucy's shoelace, Lucy picked up the small gold cross I wore around my neck and said,
"This is the cross of Jesus and the glory of God shines all around it."
Katie rolled her eyes again, slapped her forehead and asked,
"WHERE does she get this stuff?

Sunday, 7 October 2012

The Battle Of The Bugs

try pulling every sticky nit off every single strand of hair on ten heads.
The phrase 'quit nit-picking' took on a whole new meaning after our official Lice Week.
Once again the school had sent notes home about another outbreak of head lice but of course I was confident that we had never had and never would get lice. Over the phone, the school secretary asked me to check Rachel's head. Since she was in morning kindergarten, Rachel had missed the head check that afternoon. It seems that lice epidemics thrive in the younger grades and slowly spread through the entire school.
I laughed and said, "I just washed her hair last night; I really don't think she has any but I'll check anyway."
I called Rachel over to a bright window, parted her hair and peered closely at her scalp. Her head was literally crawling with bugs! After screaming shrilly, I picked up the phone again only to hear the secretary say,
"I guess that is a 'yes', Mrs. Juneau."
I was mortified; Rachel's head was covered and another daughter saw a bug crawling on her forehead in a mirror at school!! I get itchy just remembering Lice Week. Of course the school assured me that lice like clean hair but that did not reassure me at all. In the end, all Rachel's siblings had at least a couple of nits. No one could return to school until they were completely lice and nit free.
Do you have any idea the work that faced us?
In those days health nurses and doctors told us to wash all bedding, favourite stuffed animals, throw pillows, afghans, towels, combs, hair brushes and hair accessories, hats, mitts, scarves, sweaters, clothes, pyjamas and house coats and finally both sets of snowsuits (the good set and the farm set). In addition, it was necessary to vacuum Chesterfields, chairs, rugs and anything touched by a head of hair. Those directions amounted to almost 60 loads of laundry! I filled a bathtub almost to the ceiling with stuff I had to wash. I solemnly swear, I do not exaggerate but that was not the hardest job in the next few days.
I had to wash ten heads of hair with awful smelling shampoo, then comb out every nit with vinegar and a special fine-tooted steal comb. Are you familiar with the saying, 'oh quit nit -picking'? Well, it takes on a whole new meaning after you've tried to pull every sticky nit off single strands of hair on ten heads.
So what does a slightly paranoid, overwhelmed mother do? She arranges everyone according to age and size to simultaneously check each others' head. At least that helped with the more obvious eggs.
However, I was given a wonderful gift. A couple of my kids became expert nit pickers. The best nit pickers were the detail oriented offspring, who were slightly obsessive-compulsive; I grew to treasure that particular weakness during the next couple of weeks because one overlooked nit could explode into hundreds of offspring in a matter of days. Now that could cause a nightmare!
I wished I could say that this episode was the one and only "Battle of the Bugs" our family endured but kindergarten classes are notorious hotbeds for lice; the kids are always head to head examining something utterly fascinating with friends.
At least the next time lice hopped on a Juneau head we were battle ready.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

First Choice Home Haircuts: I Don't Think So!

my daughter had beautiful blond, wavy hair.

Imagine this scene: a little girl sits on a stool with a huge sheet tied around her neck, a pained expression on her face and a bowl on her head waiting for a haircut.

Do you remember this humourous, family kitchen scene, perhaps from the forty's or fifty's? A child sits on a stool with a huge sheet tied around their neck, a pained expression on their face and a bowl on their head as Mother stands poised behind them, scissors in hand? This family vignette came to life in the early 1990's.
Our whole family had driven out to visit a another large family for dinner. (Who else but another large family ever had enough courage to invite us, even if the meal was potluck?) Afterwards, Ginger invited my two oldest daughters to sleep over for one night.

Sarah phoned home in great excitement the next morning; my friend was cutting hair and would I allow her to give my daughter a shorter haircut,

Assuming that my friend was a competent hair dresser, I readily agreed because I was a reluctant hair stylist. This assumption was a serious lapse in common sense. Ginger must have learned how to cut hair from her grandmother because after she carefully combed my daughter's hair, she placed a bowl on her head to act as a cutting guide. My oldest daughter stood on the sidelines in shocked silence as this scene unfolded.
Later that day, when Sarah rushed through the door to show me her new haircut , I managed to smile weakly at her. At least Ginger had used a very large, deep bowl as her pattern and Sarah's hair was still long enough to redeem.

Most people with a lot of kids cut their hair at home. Michael cut the boy's hair and became a confident barber. However I often panicked as I played hairdresser to the girls. In my defense I will say that I almost always manage to fix my blunders, thank God. The trick was to keep my daughters' hair long. Even then, I trimmed it with great fear and trembling because an odd genetic deficiency cripples me; I find it difficult to cut straight. The consequences of my handicap meant that I constantly juggled back and forth, from side to side, cutting a bit more hair each time. My brilliant strategy was to only trim a bit of hair at first. After all my adjustments, the hair was just the right length.

Of course there was the time I cut a couple of my girl's hair short, pixie style. Overall the hair style was cute but definitely not professional looking. A couple of younger daughters cut their own bangs and achieved a 'back to basics' look.Claire's creation was the worst because she cut her own bangs at three years old, with child safety scissors, an inch from her scalp in some spots and two or three inches in other spots. The only option available to me that time was to cut Clare's bangs all the same length and then to persuade her to wear stretchy, soft cloth headbands that practically covered her hairline.

However the funniest hair cutting story involved seventeen-year-old Mary and her thirteen-year-old sister, Rebecca. Rebbecca desperately needed her bangs trimmed but she refused to let me near her with a pair of scissors. She was actually very astute, I must admit.

Mary, however, was confident that she understood the theory behind professionally trimmed bangs. She announced that she would be pleased to help Rebecca out. Mary feathered her bangs well. Her one mistake however was to pull firmly on Rebecca's wet hair while she cut. Rebecca's hair is very curly. When Mary let go and the hair dried, her bangs sprang up and looked like they were about an inch long.
Rebecca burst into tears and Mary burst out laughing. In fact, she laughed so hard that she hit her head on the counter. Everyone came racing in and of course and started to laugh. Finally, holding back giggles, older siblings rounded up headbands, their own special pins, clips and combs and managed to console Rebecca.

Just this weekend, four years later, all the sisters were remembering the Bang's Catastrophe while laughing hysterically. Only this time Rebecca joined in.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

What Does Jesus Do With Ghosts?

David, mischievous, playful but deeply in tune with the Spirit
"These guys have big guns and they just point them at a ghost and kaboom, the ghost disappears!"
Michael's father, a police officer, had given our family free tickets to a large three-ring circus production that the police department were sponsoring. Of course after a few hours, the flashing lights, loud music, breath-taking suspense, excitement and cotton candy overstimulated all six kids. Rather than playing like they usually did, everyone was hyperactive, yelling and becoming increasingly agitated.
It was obvious that I needed to intervene and help them unwind. I don't like sticking kids in front of the T.V. but this was an emergency. None of the kids could believe their good fortune and immediately fell silent as I tried to find a decent show. Soon, they were completely enthralled by a cartoon called "Ghost Busters". At that point, even though I had never let them watch this particular show, I was just happy that everyone was gradually unwinding.
Not David though. He came barreling into the kitchen after ten minutes and yelled,
"Mum, mum, you've got to see this show. These guys have big guns and they just point them at a ghost and kaboom, the ghost disappears!"
I sighed and said,
"David, guns don't really work against ghosts."
Immediately David wondered,
"Well, what does work?"
I explained,
"You shouldn't try to deal with ghosts, just send them to Jesus." Dave paused for a moment and asked,
"So, what does Jesus do with ghosts when He gets them?
I laughed so hard that I barely could answer,
"Honey, I really don't have a clue."
David stopped for a moment, and then smiled. I quote my son's exact words,
"I know what He does. He takes them into Himself and fills them with His love."

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Ball and Chain in Place? Good. Now You Can Play.

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, (our country school went from kindergarten to grade eight), marbles and real balls for recess time. 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 understand 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 in 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.

Monday, 1 October 2012

The Wisdom of Mothers

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 that they in
turn create. Do we want a world focused only on the ruthless accumulation of wealth? Are we
 creating a race of humans who are becoming increasingly shallow, cold and cynical 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
scrambling after
while pushing
the wisdom of mothers
to the fringes of influence.
Joyful hope
that mothers
will reveal
their unique
to a jaded
a world that has forgotten
that all is fleeting
except love.
Especially the love for a child.