Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Wow-ful Women Wednesdays

Happy New Year's Eve! For this special, forward looking edition of Wow-ful Women Wednesdays, I thought it would be rad to look back a couple of decades and celebrate the Wow-fulness of three Sirens from the 80's.

I should tell you: my 10 year old, when I told her this idea, said, "Won't all those ladies be dead by now?"


That's coming out of her (non-existent) allowance....

Now I did pick 3 today because really there are so.many specimens of excellence. But I'm starting with the "weakest" of the 3 I picked. This is also the newest, which could say something.

What I want you to notice about this video is the excellent amount of overacting as the Roxette girl (oh no she didn't pick Roxette! Oh yes I did) reaches the climax of the song. I think I'd get kicked off the stage for that. But Roxette boy (do they have names?) is so cool just sitting there on the couch with his spiky hair and guitar at his side. sigh.

Now my final two are really hard to pick between as to "the best". I'm fairly confident that this video I'm putting in second place has a WAY COOLER story to its video. I mean, the costumes, the sound effects, the fire, the angels....well, you better let Bonnie Tyler just show you because "WOW!!"

And last but not least...

This video is just so poetically beautiful. Her make up is remarkable, her voice, the lyrics, the children's choir and it. Although when picking a Pat Benatar song (aren't you just GIDDY with excitement waiting to get to the video!?) there are so many options. I nearly picked Love Is A Battlefield, obviously, but this one I seem to remember crying to a bunch as a kid so it stuck.

Wasn't that the most excellent walk down memory lane? Love it. Now what I should do is make you all comment with your age at the times each video was released. I know that We Belong and I Need a Hero were released in 1984. It Must Have Been Love was released in Sweden in 1987 as a Christmas song, but internationally in 1990 (so it really just squeaks in). Any takers? Any memories of listening to these songs?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Long Time No Post

Holidays are like that, yes? All the things you mean to do and want to do get set aside for the urgent. Not that the urgent is bad altogether. Just some things, like blogging, come up a little low on the priority list of church and family.

Allow me then to set a little bit of my current train of thought out here as a intro to 2009.

I intend to read a whole lot more this year. I really love reading all types of books and I often feel guilty for liking it so much. As a busy mom/wife/homeschooler, shouldn't I be doing something "productive" with my time? I shouldn't give myself the luxury of reading. If I enjoy it, isn't it surely wrong?

Fie on that logic!

From here on I will give myself the freedom to see reading as a vital aspect of my spiritual life (so long as my author selections are more often one way than the other: Sophie Kinsella has her place, but not really in the edification department). Our pastor talked on Sunday about the necessity of 'Walking with the wise" through books and I am seeing this as part of what I am missing. Therefore I will be trying to figure out how to include a "books I've read" list on my side bar (no it likely isn't that complicated, but you need to realize my husband just told me today what "ftp" stands for...I'm a little slow on the uptake). If I find a particular book particularly recommendable, I may even just post a review here. Wow. Book reviews. Cool. (Daunting...)

A few themes running continually through my head that will find themselves on these virtual pages are Gratitude, Worship, and Defeating Fear. Stayed tuned!

But of course, I will not disappoint my readers. I will certainly be posting Wow-ful Women Wednesdays regularly. Do forgive my lack of a post last week. CBM assures me that I can be allowed to skip on Christmas Eve, but that I better pick a really good one this week to make up for it :-)

All in all, I hope you are having a peace-filled, hope-full, loved-out Christmas season. And as the New Year stretches out before us, I hope you will join me in looking forward to being a more sold-out, wholehearted, intentional lover of Jesus.

Monday, December 22, 2008


Five and a half years ago we bought our very first house. We were pretty thrilled to be home owners. We knew that as we were just starting out that we didn't want to be crazy and overextend ourselves with a massive mortgage. So we bought a fixer-upper.

And so for the last 5 and 1/2 years we've lived with painted concrete floors waiting for carpet, carpeted floors waiting for laminate, finished floors waiting for baseboards, bathrooms waiting for refinished tubs, ceilings waiting for tiles, doors waiting for casings, doors waiting to be hung, a kitchen waiting for appliances and then cupboards, and an exterior waiting for eaves et al. We are getting there. We still aren't done.

It has been, truthfully, a whole lot of fun. As much as I love the idea of an "Archetecture's Digest meets Martha Stewart" kind of dwelling, I do also love looking around and seeing my husband (and Father-in-law's!) completed handiwork and work in progress side by side. There is something immensely satisfying about living in a space for a long while trying to figure out how it ought to really be used before jumping in a making changes I may regret later.

We picked a house with a good foundation and lots of potential, then shaped and changed it and improved it to meet up with what we needed and wanted out of a house. We are making it work.

And you know what? I'm just seeing the parallel lately that my husband married a fixer-upper too.

Having grown up in a Christian home and making my "decision" at a young age, I figured I was 'always'saved. And I probably was. But my faith made precious little difference in how I lived other than making me feel guilty when I acted in a way that I knew I shouldn't. I'm not even sure I could say that, like my house, I had a good foundation. It became strikingly apparent, once I began attending my new home church while at University, that my foundation was needing some reinforcing in some areas, and some total demolishion in other areas. My hope was built on Jesus Christ, yes. But the pillars of my life were far from the plumb line of His Word and His love and His expectations.

What to do?

Worse, what to do now when I look at my life and realize I'm still a work in progress? And somedays it is hard to see any improvement at all. Somedays the facade is spotless. You know, just like the lovely, seamless wallpaper that, when you remove it, reveals chipping, moulding plaster waiting to crumble in to an impossible mess. Yes, somedays are like that.

Not to say that the Lord isn't working in me. Not to say I am a hopeless case bound to be declared condemmed and uninhabitable. Not at all. More like that horrible moment when, in the middle of a project, every surface in the house is covered in drywall dust, the table is full of painted baseboard waiting to dry, the painted plywood floor is giving you slivers and now the baby needs a diaper change and supper needs to be cooked and you wonder if these "home improvements" are really helping anything. Progress? Really?

But then the next morning when the mudded walls are painted, the baseboards are hung, and the laminate has been laid, then, well, then you could host a party for 45, including Martha Stewart, while nursing the baby and toilet training the toddler, and somehow in the middle of it, feel the weight of the world floating off into the distance. Sigh. All is right with the world.

And this is where I am lately. In my rational moments, I do see that the Lord is making progress in my heart. And in my actions. Without giving an itemized list here, suffice it to say that there are layers of sin that I have felt scraped off like so many layers of ugly vinyl floor. There are attitudes that have been chipped away like so many ugly shower tiles. I have experienced freedom in many areas that I had previously assumed impossible to unchain. That comes from time in the Word and a focus on Christ with eyes looking to the Cross.

However, the closer I get there to the Light of His Word, and the more I turn my face to His, the more clearly I see the areas still needing attention. The "Honey Do List" of my heart is still as long as it once was as I add to it new revelations of spaces that need renovation.

The "done date" of our house is in the not too distant future. We can see our list of projects shrinking, and one day our house will be ready to sell. Not to an editor from "House and Home" but to a family who does not want a fixer-upper.

I, however, will be a work in progress until I die. I often hoped that I would get slightly more perfect every day of my life until one day the Lord would look on me and say "Well, tomorrow she will be perfect so we better have her breathe her last tonight so perfection stays in Heaven only".

Pretty sure that is not how it works.

So for now, if you know me for real, allow me to put out the same disclaimer I might give if you came to my home:

"Pardon the mess. There are a few things being rearranged. I see that messy bit over there too and I'm working on it. And those items out of place? Well, I'm just trying to decide if they fit in here or if I need to put them out to the curb. I have a really excellent Craftsman working on that bit over there, and I'm sure that soon it will be a more useful, workable piece. While the work is being done and things are kind of in upheaval, I will try to keep you as safe and comfortable here as possible. If you get hurt because of some of the projects on the go here, I really am sorry. And I'm trying to get it all cleaned up as quick as possible. In the meantime, let me serve you and welcome you into my life as best as I can. I do hope you don't mind spending some time here, even if it is a fixer-upper."

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Wow-ful Women Wednesdays

I am horrible to go to concerts with. I mean, a nice Steve Bell quiet acoustic concert: that I can do. I know to sit quietly and not wreck the moment for everyone around me. But get me to a loud, light show, lots of guitars kind of concert...bad news. It's like I'm in my university apartment all over again with the stereo too loud singing into a hairbrush.


Ask Sheryl. I wonder if she remembers me loudly singing along to at the Steven Curtis Chapman concert...still feel badly about that one.

See the trick is I think it is so loud that no one will hear me singing the harmonies or the great hook in the chorus. However, if you wanted to hear me butcher Avalon you could just come to my house and listen to me wail.

So in that vein (or is it 'vain'?), let me put out a general apology related to today's Wow-ful woman. If you attended the Sarah McLachlin concert at the Western Fair in 1994 (I think?) I am sorry for singing so loudly. One lady sitting near me actually said to me "Wow. It's like hearing the concert in stereo" which was not a complement to me, I think.

I kept hoping that Sarah's background vocalist would fall off the platform or get electricuted by a bad wire and then Sarah would look out into the crowd for someone who knew all the words and all the parts. And of course the lady I just deafened beside me would say "Well this girl sure knows it all". And then I could drop out of university and fulfill my dream of being a background vocalist.


Without further ado, here is Sarah McLachlin (who I think looks remarkably like my friend Kate, actually). And I will sing as loud as I want watching this because no one but my kids have to suffer through hearing me today.

Monday, December 15, 2008

So Much to Say

Well, it is Monday. I have so.many.things. to blog about and yet my thoughts are still so muddy that I need a little time to straighten out what I want to say in a way that will make sense to more people than just the other tired moms out there.

In the meantime, while I process here is something that I think is entirely funny. Now you must realize I'm going out on a limb here. This is true vulnerability. A person's sense of humour says alot about them, and what if after you see this you think "Wow. That girl is seriously warped".

Or maybe, just maybe, you will be so glad you woke up this morning and checked my blog because I have just introduced you to a whole category of humourous videos you never knew existed. Now I should as a disclaimer say that I cannot vouch for whatever related videos pop up here. These two guy are named Rhett and Link and they have multiple songs that crack me up. Really not intending on defiling anyone today with some link gone bad...yikes.

What makes these guys funny to me is that they are actually writing catchy songs, with excellent harmonies. The subject matter is bizarre which is the funny bit. If they weren't talented, this would likely just be annoying.

Alright too much lead up. Must stop talking and just let you laugh. (oh please tell me you laughed....)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Learning to Read

Shockingly, my post on spelling curriculum garnered 4 whole comments. Really? Barbra Streisand only got 2. So there.

My friend Lindy asked if I had any opinions on teaching a pre-schooler how to read. Well, of course I have opinions! What's a homeschool mom without opinions :-)

Having said that, I do hope you know that I don't believe there is one and only one way to teach your child to read. This is what I have done and maybe it will work for others too. But perhaps you'll find a different resource that I'll have wished I knew about.

Okay, enough disclaimer-ing. Here is what we have used.

Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons

In 20 minutes a day you can work through simple phonics lessons to teach your child to read. By the end of the 100 lessons, your child is supposed to be reading at a Grade 2 level. I started this with my oldest 2 when they were around 4 respectively. The 1st born never finished the book because she "just got it" one day and was indeed reading at a grade two level. My 2nd born didin't finish the book either. She also "got it" but was reading more at a grade one level. Good enough for me. Both are doing great with their reading still.

My 3rd and 4th borns liked this book a bit less. Maybe I started them too early for their personality or maybe I had just lost my patience a few too many times.

So I switched to these little gems:

I must say I was awfully skeptical when I first saw these. They are so ridiculously simple (illustrations included) but the tag line on the book says "Your child will be amazed and say "I read a whole book all by myself"."


So I finally cave in and buy them and sit down with my then 6 year old. She picks up the first book in the set of 12 per box...reads the whole thing....looks at me with pride all over her face and says "I read a whole book all by myself".


So we are liking them despite my desire to not like them (I get like that sometimes).

Once they are underway in the reading department I get them to read Pathway Readers.

These start out as simple as Dick and Jane readers but are not nearly as annoying. They are put out by an Amish company and so the tales are all lovely and moral and agrarian. Plus they have workbooks to go with them to work on comprehension, spelling, and more phonics rules. Overall pretty nice. We quit this series by grade 3or so because by then the kids want something 'real' to read.

How helpful is that? Plus what I would say to all the moms out there who are ready to sign up for the "worst mother in the world" award: Relax. Not every child will read at age 3. I did. My kids have not. Does that mean I stink as an educator? No. Read lots to your children. Have lots of books around. And let your kids know that if they read the stop sign that counts as real reading! Two of my girls thought they 'couldn't read' because they couldn't just pick up any book in the house and read it cover to cover. Praise them for the little words they recognize. Let them know that beginner readers are "real books" and help them to slowly expand their library.

And nothing, NOTHING is better than the first time you hear them read the Bible. My April one day sat at Family Worship and read part of the Genesis account of creation. I was bawling and she looks at me with tears of joy in her eyes and says "Wow, I guess I can read!" Only the most important thing in the World... incredible.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wow-ful Women Wednesdays


Oh my stars. A couple weeks ago I gave you some homework: remind me of the Wow-ful Women I haven't posted yet but should. My dear friend Jessica commented reminding me of this dynamic duo. She and I used to sing a pretty brilliant rendition of this ourselves while driving in the cool girl van up to Teen Ranch. Yes I was the geeky youth leader and she was the cool teenager, so I tried to win the kids over with my knowledge of angst ridden chick music. (stay tuned for a post on Jewel...).

Without further ado, Tell Him by Celine and Barbra. Celine gets bonus points for being Canadian, but Babs loses a few for poor name spelling. Still they blow most vocalists out of the water so they deserve to be here. Enjoy!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Heard At My House: The Husband Edition

Setting: Chris laying on the couch being sat upon by our 10 and 8 year olds. The question of 'where to put our Christmas orange peels' is asked.

Chris: Right here. (patting his belly)

Me: Yes, on Daddy's Washboard Abs

Chris: (chortling) Yes, there is a Washboard there somewhere....Underneath all that laundry.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Wow-ful Women Wednesdays

I'm sure you've all seen this before. It has circulated quite a bit, but I felt like it was time to bring it out again.

So for all of you who are a mom, or if you've ever had a mom of your own, here is the Mom Song:

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

a Brilliant Homeschool Spelling Curriculum

I am in love.

Any moms out there who enjoy teaching spelling?

(insert crickets chirping)

I loved spelling in school because it was so easy. No one needed to teach me the rules and exceptions regarding vowel sounds and consonant doubling. It just made sense to me. I just 'got it'.

Fast forward to today: I assumed that since my kids are good readers that spelling would just come naturally to them too. And in the basics they have. But some bits were eluding them. So I decide to "teach spelling".

Oh poor me.

I had a few old "real school" spelling text books that seemed like a good place to start. What I found were a bunch of randomly chosen words that did not connect to each other in anyway except that they all contained a combination of letters that my children knew.

I also thought I'd try to make vocabulary lists from books we were reading but again, besides being relevant to our current study topic, they were just random words. I still like to do this for vocabulary building and dictionary skills, but as a means of learning how to spell in general, it was useless.

So then I thought we would re-emphasize some of the phonics rules as laid out in their reading program. So many rules to memorize with not enough practice on them ...highly frustrating for the kids. Too many tears.

Then (insert clouds parting and angels singing) I heard about AVKO Sequential Spelling.

What a breath of fresh air! This program teaches spelling by word families instead of random rules or lists. It starts so painfully simply which is encouraging to the children but by focusing on the word family and adding certain suffixes and prefixes, one advances quite quickly.

Today we began Level One. I started with my 3 oldest girls (10, 8, and 7). The 10 year old is an excellent reader and a decent speller; the 8 year old is a bit of a reluctant reader and a pretty good speller actually; the 7 year old is a new reader and has very limited spelling skills. (wow. That was somewhat humbling to type. Tell me I'm not alone...)

The first "spelling test" the book administers is the spelling of their name on the top of the page. And everyone gets a gold star :-) The girls thought that was funny and instantly wanted to do more.

The second thing they had to do was spell "Beginning". I didn't tell them if they had it right or wrong. I told them that apparently only 60% of 8th graders can spell it correctly. I do really hope that is a false statistic.

Then their first lesson began. They had 4 words to spell.


That was it. The older two laughed at how ridiculously easy that was. The 7 year old struggled with spin for a bit, but then quickly figured it out. She said "Even *I* can do this test".

Then they all begged to do another lesson. So we did. 8 words: I, pins, win, sins, spins, kin, skin, twin.

My 7 year old posed the intelligent question "I wonder if kin starts with a k or a c, because sometimes they both make that sound". Very clever. She guessed right.

The words continue to build like this so that by lesson 5 they should be able to spell beginning properly and see how far they have come already.

Then they all begged to do another lesson. The book is laid out to be used once a day for the year. Or for those who want to fast track they say you can do up to 4 lessons a day and finish 4 levels a year. There are 7 levels to the program in all. I'm guessing we will be fast tracking to some extent.

Now granted, this is our first day using it, but it is so clear and fun and incremental and useful and quickly advancing and....we love it! If I change my mind I'll let you know.

But I can't imagine.

You can also purchase it through my favourite Canadian Supplier: The Learning House.