Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas Newsletter 2011

Greetings to your home from ours this Christmas season!

2011 was a busy year in our home and the word "transition" would probably be one of the best ways to sum up our year.

In February our son was born at home with the support of our midwives, and of course dh! DS3 was a chubby baby and we delighted in having a baby with rolls! We enjoyed a visit from dh's family at the end of March when we dedicated ds3 at church.

In April, my extended family got together to celebrate my grandmother's 90th birthday. What a blessing it is that Nanny is still in great health and sharp as anything. It was good to see relatives who made the long drive from M...

After four years of part-time studies, I received her Masters of Information Studies degree in June. It was great to have my Dad, dh, and baby ds3 there. When I was asked how I managed to get my degree with four children, I proudly pointed to dh in the stands - couldn't have done it without his tremendous support all these years. My mom supported us behind the scenes by watching the three older children so that dh could attend with four month old ds3 (who needed to be near his meal plan!).

At the end of June we enjoyed a visit from dh's mom and sisters to celebrate dh's birthday. The following weekend dh's brother came up for the Canada Day long weekend and helped dh install an egress window in the basement bedroom. It was a gruelling and very dirty job as they dug down to the foundation, cut the wall, and installed the window.

DS1 turned 7 in July. He is in Grade2 and has a very strong grasp of math. This year he has found a love of art and is enjoying our "Art With a Purpose" curriculum. He continues to read everything he can get his hands on and is working his way through encyclopedias! He is advancing well in his swimming lessons also and this will be his final year as a "Spark" in AWANA before he moves up to the next level next Fall.

In August we took our annual trip to a State Park in P... to vacation with dh's family. We love the beautiful surroundings, enjoying the creek, lounging in the hammock, campfires, and being able to spend a week catching up with the family. Having two under two was a new experience this year, and one that prompted us to take a break next year since the great outdoors is a difficult place to try to contain so many adventurous explorers!

In September I returned to work in the Library System and dh took a leave from his workplace to assume the balance of the parental leave at home with the children. He has done a great job of picking up the reins with homeschooling and running our home full-time.

In November dh's mom and sister came up and gave DS2 a great surprise for his 5th birthday. We hadn't told him they were coming and he was speechless when he saw them at the door! Which, if you know DS2, is saying a lot!!

DS2 is doing Senior Kindergarden work and is an avid reader. He has done very well with his swimming lessons at the Y, and this year is enjoying being a "Spark" in the AWANA group the boys attend weekly.

DD turned 2 in November. She truly is our little Princess and we love the flash of pink and fun she brings to our home. We have been fascinated to see how she loves accessories! From hairclips, to bracelets, to little purses, we are learning that girls are innately unique!

We are thankful for God's blessings and provision for us this year. We look forward to catching up with you so please drop us a line!

From our family to yours, we wish you a Merry Christmas and a very blessed 2012!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Preparing daughters for a single income family?

I received a question on my Book review: "Preparing Sons to Provide for a Single-Income Family" (Maxwell) asking "Is there a book on preparing your daughters for a single income family?"

This is a great question and the answer is - yes!  There are many books to help women make the most of the resources available in a single-income family.  Books on frugal living, homemaking, reducing grocery expenses, bulk cooking, and generating income from home abound.

Vision Forum has a selection under their Homemaking section. 

What about you?  Which titles would you recommend on this topic?

Friday, November 18, 2011

working homeschooling mom?

I don't find much on the internet about homeschooling families where the mom works outside of the home.  So here I am making my contribution...

Back in August I was offered a part-time position at the Library (where I had worked prior to going on what would become a 2 year maternity leave!)  The position was at a higher level than the one I would've been returning to, and a new concept which was been piloted for a year.  After studying part-time for the past 4 years in order to attain my Master of Information degree, I was keen on beginning to appy my learnings and move up through the system.

I started the job and my DH left work and assumed the parental leave we were entitled to due to DS3's birth.  DH took on the household responsibilities, including homeschooling.  He is fantastic at it!  Not only has he always been a very "hands on" dad, but has always been very involved helping with household chores and is the main cook in our home.  DH does a great job of staying on top of laundry, keeping the house reasonably tidy, making sure children are fed and bathed, taking them to their weekly phys ed classes at the Y, and teaching Grades 2 and SK.

For my part, I have since moved into a full-time position and truly love it.  I enjoy using my brain and skills in new ways, being able to interact with different people and help them, and the adult conversation.  I am looking ahead to when a Librarian position opens up that I can apply to.

Some of the adjustments we've had:
- I was able to adapt to life with 4 kids over a 6 year period... DH was thrown into it all at once and had to sink or swim!
- As much as we (homeschooling moms) say that Dad is the "Principal" of the homeschool, the dads rarely show up to homeschool support groups - leaving my DH as the token representative now.  This has also caused some discomfort for nursing moms I think.

What about you - what roles do Mom & Dad play in your home?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Review: To Timbuktu for a Haircut: A Journey through West Africa

To Timbuktu for a Haircut: A Journey through West Africa To Timbuktu for a Haircut: A Journey through West Africa by Rick Antonson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was intrigued by the book's title and the cover shot of a man standing in the desert, with Arabic script overlayed. The story is the author's retelling of his journey to reach the fabled Timbuktu. It includes a great deal of detail as to the history of this mysterious city, with particular attention given to the plight of the endangered Timbuktu manuscripts. I confess to skimming over some of these historical descriptions as I was more interested in following the present day narrative of the journey.

I recommend this book for those who enjoy travel adventures with a good dose of history thrown in. As for the haircut... you'll have to read the book to find out!

View all my reviews

Friday, October 14, 2011

Book Review: "Bubbe Isabella and the Sukkot Cake" (Terwilliger)

The Jewish Holiday Sukkot is October 12-19 this year.  This holiday is also called the Feast of Tabernacles and is a time to acknowledge God's provision.

Although we are not Jewish, we try to educate our children about Jewish Feasts and Holy Days and even to observe them in some way if we're able to.  We do this because as Christians we believe our roots begin in Judaism - Jesus was Jewish after all!  We believe the whole Bible and observing certain Feasts and Holy Days was something God asked the Jewish people to do.  So we think it would be good for us to try to observe them to.

This is a lovely book that tells the story of bubbe (grandma) Isabella as she welcomes various animal guests each night in her Sukkah.  She had hoped someone would enjoy the lemon cake she prepared but through the story we see every aspect of her Sukkah being enjoyed.

A great read not only for this holiday but also a story of friendship in spite of diversity, and appreciation for all that we have.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Book review: "Preparing Sons to Provide for a Single-Income Family" (Maxwell)

We bought this book at the Homeschool Conference in 2010 and I finally read it this past month.  When we bought it we had two sons (now we have three!) and we want to help them develop a heart to provide for their homes. Being able to live as a single-income family means one parent can be at home and homeschool if this is how God leads.

The book cautions against allowing appetites to develop which will essentially be a waste of time and not provide value to the family.  One of the things they mention is team sports.  Sometimes cited as a way for children to learn to work hard with others, Maxwell explains that children can develop teamwork by working with siblings, and develop the ability to work hard by helping with home repair.  The cost of team sports may be that the family is at the mercy of the coach's schedule.  The children will be associating with others without your influence, and you may have to sacrifice important evening routines.

One of the things I like about this book is that they have chapters for ages three to six, seven to twelve, and thirteen to graduation, as well as post high school.  I can easily refer to the chapters that most apply to me right now to get ideas of things I can do with my children to help them develop the heart and skills that will make them successful.

I would recommend this book to any parent as I believe the admonitions around the development of appetites apply to all of us.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Book review: "Raising Real Men" (Young)

Raising Real Men: Surviving, Teaching and Appreciating Boys 
Raising Real Men: Surviving, Teaching and Appreciating Boys” by Hal & Melanie Young

We purchased this book at the annual homeschooling conference in April 2011.  We had heard Hal & Melanie speak and I really enjoyed how down to earth they were.  Melanie was very real about “keeping all the plates spinning” and the joys and challenges of parenting boys and teaching in a busy household.

This book is easy to get into and reads very much like they present.  As parents of six boys and two girls, they have much practical advice and encouragement to share. 

I enjoyed it and would recommend it especially to parents of boys.  It covers topics such as “Resisting Feminization”, and “Violence and Scripture”, and has chapters on “Doing Real Things”, Your Own School For Boys”, and “KP Isn’t Women’s Work”.  You can read a sample chapter on their page here.

The book won the Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year award for 2011.  You can get more information about them at

Sunday, August 28, 2011

chiropractic care

Below is an endorsement I wrote for my chiropractic doctor.  If you know me IRL and would like his contact info let me know.


When my sister-in-law sent me a Christmas card in 2009 with an invitation to a free screening and feedback session at Dr John’s office, I put it aside to think about.  I had been in a few car accidents over the years and had got used to living with the pain.  My right shoulder was so bad that I couldn’t sleep on that side and I would go for massage therapy to ease the pain.  Dr John’s staff called to invite me to come in but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to give chiropractic a try, so I asked them to call back another day.  I assumed they wouldn’t get back to it so was impressed when they followed up.  Meanwhile, I’d had a chance to bounce a lot of questions off my brother and felt more comfortable that this would be a legitimate course of treatment. 

I still remember meeting Dr John.  He seemed almost too concerned to be for real.  He even called me after seeing my x-rays to excitedly tell me he believed treatment would bring relief to my shoulder pain.  Now I understand that Dr John really is genuinely interested in helping each person.  This is more than a job for him -  it’s his calling and passion in life.

After an eye-opening educational session, my husband and I were on board for treatment not only for ourselves but also for our children.  We were so relieved when Dr John worked with us to find a way that we could afford this important care for our family.

Since then we’ve been coming faithfully for our adjustments and have seen improvements in our well-being.  We are rarely sick, and enjoy better energy levels – both quite a feat in a family with four small children!

The best change for me has been that I can now sleep any way I want to!  I know staying on track with my adjustments is crucial because when I have been away on vacation I have felt the difference in my pain levels.

Dr John and his team are willing to help you overcome barriers to receiving care.  We all need help to live in-line.  I recommend Dr John’s chiropractic care for everyone.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Book review: “The Happiness Project” (Rubin)

The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More FunThe Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun” by Gretchen Rubin – July 2011

I borrowed this book from the public library and read most of it in the 3 week loan period.  I had to return it at that point as it was on hold and could not be renewed so I skipped the last few chapters.

I enjoyed the way Ms Rubin was able to take what could be a somewhat abstract and subjective topic – happiness – and find a way to quantify it through research.

I felt that some of her projects were unrealistic for someone like me – a mom with 4 children and limited time and money.  One of her chapters does discuss whether money can buy happiness though :-)  It was sometimes problematic to me because I felt for example that collecting items was a waste of money, time, space, energy, etc.  I am really not into things like that that have no eternal value…  One of the most practical discoveries I made was that in order to get the happy feelings from a hug, the hug needed to last at least 6 seconds.  So my husband and I have put that into practice – surely we can spare 6 seconds a day for each other :-)

I would recommend this book to virtually anyone who is curious about increasing happiness in their lives, however I do think it is skewed towards married couples with children as that is where she’s coming from.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Giving up Facebook

For quite some time I deluded myself into thinking I would just check Facebook on weekends, or maybe just evening, or just once a day.  But in reality it was every time I would stop by the computer.  And then I would sit down, and write a quick answer, "like" something, share something.  Before I knew it too much time had passed and my children had either stopped doing something they were supposed to be doing, or started doing something they weren't.

I had given up Facebook for Lent the past couple of years and each time felt that after Lent I would go back and use it more moderately.  A couple of people I know (Symph and MadTurki for example) gave it up for periods of time too.  A teen in Australia is giving up Facebook for a 40 hour famine to raise money for charity. 

Indeed, sometimes it began to feel a bit like a clothesline where one might air things that shouldn't be (ie. dirty laundry), other times it was like a contest to see who had done the most, or who had had the roughest day... or maybe just who had the wittiest status update.

I read Jaynee's blog and was struck by this comment she shared about why she was giving up Facebook:
*Going house to house
The Lord has given me several people in my life to which He has called me to minister.  He's given me my husband.  He has given me my children.  He's called us to minister here in our little town in Mexico where He has brought up a church...a body of believers who are growing together in the faith and reaching out to those around them.  He's given me some dear family members/friends.  One's whom love, care and pray for me and I for them.
And while I may spend most all of my time inside of my home, I can still "leave" without physically leaving.  I Timothy 5:13 says "And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; an not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not."  
Facebook made it easy to see everyone's business.  In fact, blogs can do the same thing.  They can take up precious time that the Lord has given us to do other invest in the lives of those He's give to us. When making up our schedule each school year, I always remind myself that while there are many "good" things to spend my time on, the Lord has only given me 24 hours each day and I want those 24 hours to be used as He would have me to use them.

Finally, after our week long vacation with no access to technology, I realized that for me Facebook does more harm than good.  So I've deleted all my photos and information and "unfriended" everyone but my husband - it just didn't feel right ya know... it was pretty weird taking myself off as his wife, but at least he still shows as being married! 

Yes, the argument is made that it's a way to stay connected.  I love sharing photos and looking at other people's photos.  But I can share photos through Google (let me know if you want to be on my list - if you know me IRL), and I decided that it would be better for me to stay connected by actually connecting with people.  One-on-one.  Like by writing a personal email.  Or maybe *gasp* talking on the phone!

What about you - what is your level of involvement with Facebook?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Book review: "Keeping Our Children's Hearts" (Maxwell)

Keeping Our Children's Hearts: Our Vital Priority” by Steven and Teri Maxwell – August 2011

We purchased this book at the annual homeschooling conference in April 2011.  I started reading it in June or July and finished it while on vacation in August.  It’s a 268 page book which I felt I needed to read only about a chapter at a time because each chapter gave me so much to stop and think about.  I found it often put in words things I had a vague feeling or idea about and helped me find ways to better express why I have made certain choices around my children’s education and social life.

The book includes chapters such as “The Concept of Sheltering”, “The Biblical Basis of Sheltering”, “Sheltering from (various) Negative Influences”.

I would recommend this book to those who homeschool and choose a conservative lifestyle as I think it may help them in explaining their choices.  I would also recommend it for the grandparents of these children in order to assist them in understanding the parents’ heart for their children.  Parents who are leaning towards homeschooling because they feel there is something wrong with public education may also find this helpful.  I think the questions at the end of each chapter could be used as conversation starters for a husband and wife.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

how many stomachs does a donkey have?

A while ago over dinner, I pointed out to DS1 the importance of chewing and swallowing, since he only has one stomach.  This led to a discussion of cows and the question of “how many stomachs does a donkey have?”

As a homeschooling mom, I’m keen to encourage my children in topics that interest them. As an aspiring librarian, however, I was stumped! Unable to find anything in the catalogue that would appear to provide more information about which animals ruminate, I resorted to a web search on 

Of the results presented to me, I chose the “Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations” website where I learned:
The stomach of a ruminant has four chambers. The first chamber is very large and is called the rumen. The second chamber is the reticulum (honeycomb). The third is the omasum (book) and the fourth is the  abomasum (the true stomach). The ruminant chews grass and swallows and it goes into the rumen.  Cattle, goats, sheep and buffalo chew the cud; they are ruminants. Horses, donkeys and mules are herbivores but do not chew the cud. They are nonruminants. 

So, how many stomachs does a donkey have? Well, one, just like everyone else. But, unlike the cow which has four chambers to help it digest, donkeys (and humans) only have one; make sure to chew your food… preferably with your mouth closed!

Friday, July 15, 2011

The secret to happier parenting?

So my mom sent an article to my sister, sister-in-law, and I with this as a the subject: "Just an interesting article -- nothing personal directed at anyone!"

After reading it I did a quick search for more information about the author.  I think knowing a bit more about the author provides some context for where they're coming from and what sort of credibility they may have.

The author, 40 year old Bryan Caplan, describes himself as  "An openly nerdy man who loves role-playing games and graphic novels, I live in Oakton, Virginia, with my wife and three sons."  His children are eight-year-old identical twins and a baby. 

The article makes a good point about not trying to overachieve in a sense or do too much with one's children.  I suspect however that Bryan's experience, world views, and goals for his children and family may be different from mine - which is why to him it's no big deal to have his kids watching TV and left with a babysitter.  For my family, we feel that leaving children to watch TV shows which don't reflect our Christian values is not appropriate.  We are also extremely careful about the people we leave our kids with, as we believe protecting them spiritually is just as important as protecting them physically.

So... that's me, making a mountain out of a molehill... now you know why my mom would put that disclaimer in her subject line!

What about you - what do you think about Bryan's article?

Friday, July 8, 2011

Shoe storage for six

We live in a 12 foot home... Most of those pairs of feet owns a pair of flip flops/sandals (sometimes both), a pair of slippers, two pairs of running shoes, a pair of Sunday dress shoes, and a pair of winter boots.  Some also own work boots or rubber boots.  That's a lot of shoes!  Want to know how we store them?

In our family of 6 I have a "boot tray" by the back door that the 3 kids' (not for baby yet) keep a pair of running shoes and a pair of flip flops in summer or boots in winter on.  I also have a pair of my own flip flops and slip on shoes there.  Since the kids are all pretty small it works ok, with some shoes stacked on top of each other.


In the front closet I have a hanging thing from Ikea that I keep the kids' Sunday shoes and better pair of running shoes in (so that when they're going to AWANA for example their shoes aren't the muddy ones from the back yard).  There's another boot tray on the floor of the closet and that's where running shoes, flip flops, Sunday shoes, dh's work boots go.  It usually requires shoes to be stacked on top of each other.

DD1's shoes extra shoes are stored on a little shelf in her room.  DS3's shoes are stored on a shelf in his cupboard too since they're so small.

I keep the off season shoes in a storage area in the basement, so that's where the boots are now.  I have 3 dressers in the basement and I store the kids' too big/small shoes there.  I made myself a list of which shoes are in which dresser so I can see at a glance what size, gender and style I have.


This works well for smaller feet but I have larger shoes in shoe boxes under beds for when we get to those sizes.  I don't have an ideal storage system for the winter boots as I find they take up more space so I'd prefer to keep them out of the dresser drawers.  I should also mention that the shoes have been washed before going in to the drawers.

What about you?  How do you store your family's shoes?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

donating hair

Quite some time ago I donated my hair to be made into a wig for cancer patients.  My hair had gotten quite long and I really wanted to cut it but realized if I hung in there just a bit longer it would be enough to donate.  It was a very simple process of simply having the hairdresser make sure it was cut with an acceptable length to donate.  (Donated hair must be a minimum of 8 inches long - measure hair from just above the elastic band of the ponytail to the ends).  The hair was held together with an elastic at each end and placed in a ziploc bag and mailed in.  Creating a real-hair wig requires at least six ponytails to make so every bit helps.   It was no trouble at all and yet something that will help someone else.

As the hot days of summer come along, consider resisting the urge to chop your hair off and see if you can let it grow long enough to donate.   

What kind of causes do you support?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

currently reading

As always, I have a number of books on the go...

The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts

The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts (Chapman) - we're discussing this in our Moms & Tots group at church

Keeping Our Children's Hearts: Our Vital Priority (Maxwell) - got this at the homeschool convention and have just started it.

Raising Real Men: Surviving, Teaching and Appreciating BoysRaising Real Men: Surviving, Teaching and Appreciating Boys (Young) - got this at the homeschool convention and am working my way through it.  Enjoyable as it reads the way the couple speaks when they do their talks.
Preparing Sons to Provide for a Single-Income Family (Maxwell) - got this one at last year's homeschool convention and am still reading it in snippets. 
Spiritual Parenting: An Awakening for Today's Families (Anthony) - haven't started this one yet.

Readers Advisory Service in the Public Library (Saricks) - because I've been on maternity leave for almost two years and need to keep current with my job!

What about you?  What are you reading right now?

on cancer and indulging in pink...


That one word conjures up so many emotions for people.

According to the Canadian Cancer Society, cancer is the leading cause of premature death in Canada, with two in 5 Canadians developing some form of cancer in their lifetime.

My family has been very blessed not to really have been personally affected by cancer.   I remember as a child around age 11 hearing that my great-grandfather had passed away from cancer.  Then about 5 years ago I heard that one of my uncles had to undergo chemotherapy.  Thankfully he responded well to it.

By far the most difficult encounter I have had with cancer in my life has been witnessing a friend lose her precious oldest daughter to it at age 7.  Through all of this my friend truly lived out her faith in God – indeed, she and her husband walked through this valley of the shadow of death with God’s help.   This past mother’s day this same friend took part in a special fundraising walk and raised over $1,000 to raise awareness!

I was researching other ways of generating awareness about cancers and found some nice breast cancer awareness merchandise – seems like a great way to raise awareness and support a “girly” pink purchase :-) For fun I like to sort the products from high to low price to see what’s at the top end.  How about a case of 250 chocolate coins in Pink Foil for $99.99?  If that’s too rich for you, request a free sample of the pink, peel-and-stick embroidered ribbon.  Sorting by customer review, I have to agree, the Awareness Duffel Bag really is lovely and will only set you back $14.95.

July, August, and December are the only months where the Canadian Cancer Society hasn’t selected a specific type of cancer to focus on.  But give it more than a passing thought… and when breast cancer awareness month rolls around in October you’ll have some ideas of how to raise awareness (and possibly even indulge in some pink)! 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Bat Barakah ~ Blessing

Blessing my niece on her 13th birthday
We recently had the opportunity to bless my niece, the 2nd oldest of my parents' 13 grandchildren, in anticipation of her 13th birthday.

The whole family (aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, great-grandma!) all got together for dinner at my sister's house.  It included the usual birthday cake and song and gifts.  But more importantly, it included being blessed by each family as we celebrated her moving from childhood into womanhood.

The idea is taken from the Jewish tradition of bar mitzvah (bat mitzvah for girls), which means "son of the law".  Christians are creating a new tradition of bar/bat barakahs, which means "son of the blessing".  In a culture where grown men stay single and live in their parents' basement playing video games, it's an important transition to adulthood.  It's a signal to all that this person is no longer a child, they are someone who is growing into a new role and responsibility.  By blessing them we acknowledge that and come around them to support them.  (You can read more about Bar Barakah in Craig Hill's book by the same name)

So for my niece's party, each person prepared a blessing to speak over her - observations about her giftings and character, wishes and prayers for her future, and special verses from the Bible.

Grandpa and the uncles had an especially important part to play.  Because almost two years ago we lost her dad in a tragic motorcycle accident.  The men in her life once again affirmed that they were there for her.  To try to fill in for her dad wherever they could.

My niece receives a blessing prayer from the men in her life.  

We are so very proud of our dear "Juba" and bless her with every good gift from above.

What about you?  What traditions do you have for special birthdays?

Monday, May 30, 2011

Pay Equity for Midwives

I am a HUGE fan of midwives!  I have had wonderful experiences in their care with all four of my children.  I can't say enough about how they treat a woman as an intelligent participant in pregnancy and childbirth and how great it is to have their support at home after childbirth.  So when I found out that they are looking for pay equity I was more than happy to write a couple of emails.  I wish I could attend the rally on Wednesday but it's just not possible.  I hope there will be a great turnout and that they will be heard.

Below is the letter I wrote to my MPP (you can find your local MPP here) and to the Minister of Health.

I'm writing to request your support in ensuring pay equity for midwives.  I was blessed to have all four of my children under the wonderful care of the Community Midwives of Halton, the most recent being born this past February.  I am truly grateful to have access to professionals who view pregnancy and childbirth as a normal and healthy process in a woman's life.

As you may know,
midwifery care is a cost effective option for women that improves outcomes for mothers and babies.  Midwives have provided care to over 100,000 mothers and babies in home and hospital since 1994. 

Ontario midwives are asking the Ontario government for a pay equity adjustment.
  • Midwives have been providing excellent, cost-effective care for 17 years - for 11 of those years they received zero pay increase
  • Midwives’ pay has fallen behind that of other health care providers
  • An independent, third party report funded by the Ministry of Health recently concluded that there is a large pay equity gap for midwives

Please encourage Premier Dalton McGuinty on my behalf, and on behalf of the thousands of other women who are thankful for our midwives, to provide a pay equity adjustment for midwives.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

What about you?  Have you ever had a midwife?  Even if you haven't, I love birth stories so feel free to provide a link to yours!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Smothered Chicken and Rice

I got this recipe from and tried it out earlier this month.

The final product.
I think I didn't have mushrooms and I added in some tomatoes just because I had them on hand.  I also used white rice instead of brown because again that was what I had.   

DS2 liked it
and lovely DD1 was also a fan
DS1 liked it
Smothered Chicken and Rice
4-6 pieces of chicken
1 cup uncooked rice
1 small onion
1 package mushrooms
1 can cream of mushroom
1 1/2 cups water
salt and pepper to taste
Salt and pepper chicken, place in deep cooking pan skin side up.  Pour in 1 cup rice into the cooking pan,making sure it doesn’t sit on top of chicken In a large measuring cup mix soup and water till it reaches the 2 1/2 cups line, pour over rice.  Add chopped onion and mushrooms.  Bake @ 350 for 1-1 1/2 hours.

What's a quick & easy recipe your family enjoys?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

It's a booming business

So I did a little more research into the legalities and costs around cremation and all ... 

The Board of Funeral Services compiles statistics about the funeral sector based on information provided by licensees, education programs and the Ontario Government. They have quite the informative site and the following information was provided from them based on their fiscal year ending October 31, 2009.

According to their site, the average cost of services based on the current price list for a "direct disposition" is $1,626  This includes "the removal of the deceased from the place of death, the placement of the body in a container or casket, the delivery of the body to the cemetery or crematorium and the filing of necessary documentation. It does not include visitation or services with the body present."   Quite the deal when you compare it to the amount I was quoted by the lovely cemetery director I spoke to last week - but then, it is a business you know.

But wait!  You can get an even better deal at CremationCare Centre.  $1,412.39 will get you:
  • Transfer from place of death
    All documentation including 6 Proof of Death Certificates
  • Cardboard cremation container (but you can't weigh more than 200 lbs so it pays to stay healthy!)
  • A private family viewing room if desired
  • Transfer to the crematorium of choice 
  • Return of ashes to The CremationCare Centre
    All fees and taxes (Cremation Charge at Riverside Crematorium - other crematoria costs will vary, Coroners Fee, Death Registration and H.S.T.)
These guys don't require you to buy a fancy urn and will return the ashes in a small cardboard container at no charge to you.

Now, what do you do once you have the ashes?  The most cost effective thing to do is to scatter the ashes.  The lady I had spoken to had indicated this was illegal, or something to this effect.  However the government has actually gone to great pains to ensure people know that it is legal, stating:
"Any individuals or families who wish to scatter the cremated human remains of their loved ones on Crown land and Crown land covered by water in Ontario can do so.
Individuals and families are permitted to scatter on unoccupied Crown land, and those Crown lands covered by water. There is no need to obtain government consent to scatter on or in such areas, which include provincial parks and conservation reserves, and the Great Lakes. Individuals wishing to scatter on private land, or private land covered by water, should obtain the owner’s consent."  (October 15, 2010)

The next thing I was told was that it would be legally required when selling property to disclose if ashes had been scattered there.  I haven't found any Canadian laws stating this but am awaiting a reply and will update in the comments if this turns out to be true.

So there you have it - you can get your remains taken care of for about $1,500 Personally I would much prefer my family to enjoy whatever money I can leave behind for them than to see them sink it into the ground.  That's me though - and my family knows I'm all about frugal.  I don't need a monument or a graveside to be remembered at once a year - I'd like a Celebration of Life and to be remembered in the small things throughout the year.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Planning for the Inevitable

We met with a Cemetery Director last night.  We picked out our plot of land, our urn, our memorial plate.  We have 30 days to confirm whether we are going forward with it or not and 90 days before starting our payments.  Much like anything else, this is a product people buy and finance.  But we don't want to pay an almost extra $1,000 to finance it so we'll see whether we can pay it all at once or not.  If not then we'll put it on the back burner probably until we get next year's tax money.

I feel like such a grown up - a house, a minivan, life insurance, and now pre-planning my final resting place.  It's the responsible thing to do.  And if we can come up with the money without having to pay for financing then it's actually a good investment since the costs for burials will just go up as the need increases.

Something I learned - even if you sign your organ donor card and donate your whole body to science your remains will still be returned to your family and they will have to arrange for your burial (and pay for it).  So unfortunately, while I believe you should definitely put your body parts to good use after death, that doesn't let you off the hook in terms of planning for the eventual burial of your remains.  Good to know.

Curious?  Well, the plot for two people (before taxes) costs $3,300  The other goodies we'll need to add on at some point break down like this:
Niche Memorial 10x10 Highland Non-Vase (this is the plaque) 1 @ $940
Cremation Administration Fee 2 @ $10 = $20
Niche Interment Fee 2 @ $310 = $620
Cremation Fee - Adult - Pre-Need 2 @ $445 = $890

and the best, the one we laughed at because it was so corny, but in the end it's the most cost effective - Entwined Heart - Ivory - Split (this is the urn) 1 @ $1,050  I asked if we couldn't just supply our own container (maybe an empty PB jar with duct tape around the lid to seal it?) but the answer was no...  

And in googling for a photo I found that you can apparently buy these on ebay... it pays to shop around!

So there you have it - something we all need to think of, and much easier to do "Pre-Need" and when not in an emotional state due to a recent loss.  Don't leave this burden for your children, that's just not nice.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Easter Lesson

My talented sister put together an Easter lesson for our kids.

1 Grade 4
1 Grade 2
1 Grade 1
2 JK
2 preschool
and 2 babies :-)

She led a Circle Time, read the Easter story (the real one... about Jesus), and showed them plastic eggs with coloured jelly beans and explained the significance of each colour.

Then they broke out into age groups and the JKs and Grade 1 worked on matching egg shells to make two syllable words.

After that they worked on a symmetry exercise - cutting a Palm frond out on folded green paper, and then used that to make an Easter card.


The toddlers worked at a sensory activity.

Great day!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Book review: “The Josefina story quilt” (Coerr)

The Josefina story quilt” by Eleanor Coerr was another great book in the Grandparents unit.

It tells the story of a young girl in the 19th century whose family sets off on a covered wagon train to California.  Many things must be left behind but Faith's mom gives her dad "that special look" and he allows her to bring along her pet hen.

It resonated with me because as I child I fell in love with the chickens we had and have always been fond of them for some reason.

A great read :-)

Me with my chicken "Speckles"

Friday, April 15, 2011

Book review: "Something To Remember Me By" (Bosak)

This book was part of the Grandparents unit we just completed with the Come Sit By Me curriculum we're using.  

It was a story about a little girl and her grandmother and shows the girl spending time with her grandmother as she is growing up through the years.

It was a beautiful book that moved me to tears as I read it out loud to them.  (I don't often preview the books so this has happened more than once now).  It probably hit me so hard because I have such great memories of my own grandmother and am thankful she is still around at the age of 90.

There's a lovely description of the book at Legacy Project and a link to Across Generations Activities.

Something to Remember Me By is written by Susan V. Bosak and illustrated by award-winning artist Laurie McGaw.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

iPod nano

I am so old and so out of touch... but that's nothing new to me...

If not for CDs being easily scratched by children, and CD players getting old/dusty/abused and skipping a beat more often than not now... and if not for looking older than Methuselah if I were to use a "walkman" or the more modern "discman" while I work out...

What I really want is a docking station - and those you can get reasonably "cheap".  But it would appear almost none of them would accept anything other than a genuine iPod - thus forcing me to buy a more expensive MP3 player than I probably need.

So since I was at Walmart (with all 4 kids on my own!) I decided it was time to spend my Christmas money and my allowance that I've been saving up.  It was actually ridiculously simple to buy, all I had to pick was a colour - PINK!

I love the little box it comes in!  The instructions however make A LOT of assumptions about one's technical expertise.  Seriously.  I've never owned something where I could touch the screen to make things happen.  The concept of "swipe" or rotating the screen, or shaking the iPod to shuffle songs (SHAKE it???) is foreign to me.  Yup, I'm an old fogey!

Hope my little bro gets a good laugh out of this post ;-)

[argh - when I went to add the link I see I could've bought it cheaper online since the Canadian $ is so strong it would've only cost me $152.67 including taxes and free engraving and shipping (to the in-laws' in the US though so I would've had to wait until I see them in August to get it).  I paid $180.12 :-( ]