Saturday, November 26, 2016

Touring Adventures in ODYSSEY

Going back many months...When we planned the big road trip out west, we knew we had to somehow tour through Colorado and stop in at Focus on the Family Headquarters. How many miles have we spent in the van, listening to Adventures in Odyssey? I don't know- a lot. I also know that it has broken up fights of boys clobbering each other in the back seat of the van and there is a silence and stillness that Adam and I treasure as soon as the familiar Adventure in Odyssey tune starts up.

We almost didn't make it to Focus on the Family with Andrew's accident. We had planned to tour Focus on Monday afternoon and catch the plane ride home on Tuesday morning. On Monday morning, the nurses said Andrew would be discharged from the hospital but we needed a Dr's signature first. The neuro surgeon who had been taking care of Andrew was called into emergency surgery and so we sat and waited. By lunch time our chance of being discharged on time to make it to the Focus on the Family Headquarters before they closed was very slim. Andrew started crying and so did I. This was a huge disappointment. We prayed about it together and then the nurse walked in with the papers. What relief and thankfulness!
At Whits' End we ordered the WADFAMCHOCSOD, tasting better than how they describe it!
We toured through the Town of Odyssey, taking a ride in the Imagination Station.
We hit the Focus on the Family Bookstore where I could of camped for the night.
And then the best thing happened. The staff at Focus, after hearing about Andrew's accident, arranged for us to have a special tour with the producer of Adventures in Odyssey, Nathan Hoobler.
We were led to the back of the building into a medium sized room. Here is where they would make all of the sound effects for each episode of Adventures in Odyssey. The flooring in the room was made up of patches of hardwood, carpet, gravel, brick, and dirt. There was an assortment of squeaky chairs and doors. Nathan spent an hour of his time showing us the different items they use to make the sound effects. Even a simple bag of corn starch was used to make the sound of someone walking on packed snow. It was captivating!
Shake the metal cart and it become the Imagination Station! Behind Tyler are the characters' different shoes. Who do you think wears the cowboy boots?
The small spot of counter where Liam is, makes all of the noise for the café.
Nathan is holding Mr. Whittaker's shoes.

A better glimpse of the "Imagination Station."
A close up of Mr. Whittaker's shoes.
Nathan Hoobler sent us home with a big, thick book of behind the scenes of Odyssey, and many CDs to listen to.
Touring through the Focus on the Family building, spending time at Whit's End, and having this special tour was a huge highlight for our family. We didn't see as much of Colorado as we would of liked to, but we were thankful for this time and very thankful that we had our family all back together again. We were ready to head home.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016


The title of this book is a misnomer but this book is right up there in style and accuracy. The author skillfully weaves many historical stories together creating a master piece detailing the horrible atrocity of the holocaust. The author gives many glimpse into the life of FDR, but he offers so much more with the background to WW2, the behind scenes of his cabinet, and the pulse of the American people during the war. The book doesn't spare the reader with the vileness of the war. At times the absolute horribleness of that time was simply too much to read in one sitting.
A book, I haven't read yet, but enjoyed by Adam. Jon Meacham is a first class author.
This book was bought by my uncle, borrowed by my dad, recommended by my dad to Adam, and Adam heartedly recommends it. Apparently this fascinating, well-written book details the history of Lincoln's time like no-other, and gives a vivid portrait of the character of Lincoln, and his cabinet.
Here is a review from amazon. 
"This book is a good book for any mother who is trying to decide how to implement Bible reading with her children. The author is funny and gives some great ideas on ways to make reading the Bible interesting for your children. Her personal examples are what make the book worth reading. I enjoyed her sense of humor and also liked her simple ideas. Seeing the effect of reading the Bible with your children is the goal the author asks you to set. Although that sounds easy, after reading this book you will understand that it will take some effort on your part. I especially enjoyed the discussion questions available for each chapter. I thought they were well thought out and really made you think about what you had just read."

This easy to read book, is well worth it. I was challenged and encouraged by the author.

I wanted to know a little more about our PM. Trudeau writes about his growing up years, what it was like to be a PM's kid, the death of his brother, his jobs before PM, and how he met his wife. I enjoyed reading about the politics behind the scenes. This book gives some insight into his life, but it is written with "you may be a potential voter" attitude.
"Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World" is one of the best parenting books I have read. In a "me-absorbed" society, this book does a fantastic job helping parents battle against entitlement.
But before we begin the battle with our children, the author addresses the parent..."parents who want to raise more grateful kids need to start by living more grateful lives."
Kristen Welch gives the reader the big picture with the help of practical tips. She outlines smart choices about technology, and she places a big emphasize on service throughout the book. At the end of each chapter she makes suggestions broken in to appropriate stages: toddlers/preschoolers; elementary; tween/teen; and parents. I highly recommend this book.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

scenes of summer part #2

The competitions began early in the week while up north.

And then the zip line went up. My uncle thoughtfully measured, put all the supplies together and up went a homemade zipline. 

The kids LOVED the zipline.
Whenever I would look out of the front window of our cottage I would see a kid's face go zooming by.

Finally with the kids tuckered out, Adam had his chance to go on the zipline. The faster the better in his mind. On the picture you see my brother in law struggling with a kid's fishing rod on the picnic table beside the zipline.
Adam should of known better than to attempt the zipline with that brother in law in such close proximity.

And here he comes.

 A mighty push.

And Adam goes flying...inches off of the ground.

Zipping into the beautiful arch of a rainbow.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Scenes of Summer part 1

School was hardly out when we arrived at a bus stop late one Friday night, eager to pick up our "American Son", our fresh air boy. We hadn't seen him in a year but it felt like just the other day when we were able to give him a big welcome hug.
Early the next morning, we all loaded up in the van and headed up to the cottage for a week. Cesar hardly had a chance to blink and he was in a totally different surroundings... the Bronx, New York one day and way up north, in the rugged, barren landscape of Northern Ontario.
He fit right in though. Playing with friends and reading when he needed some quiet time.
About half way through the week he went through "I miss technology!" withdrawal, but then he embraced his surroundings, jumped in the boats, and had fun swimming.
An ugly old snapper was caught as he went swimming by. How much more relaxing the lake would be if you didn't have to worry about snappers.
 This week at the cottage had an abundance of teenagers. It was so fun to watch them interact and include all around them.
  We had Cesar at home with us for one more week before he had to go back home. We had friends over to swim and spent a lot of time playing around here at home.
Cesar had never been on a bike ride before so he enjoyed being on the back of Adam's bike and experiencing a bike ride.
In August, we spent a Saturday watching a war re-enactment. Learning history becomes so much more interesting to young boys when they can see it, hear it, and smell it. The actors live on the battle grounds for the weekend totally playing the part, eager to answer any questions and talk about everything they have learned through all of their research.
  Our neighbours. Seriously.
Our neighbour who is Cherokee had a booth set up selling all things boys love; blades, arrow heads, flint, and animal skins. Dangling directly above the boys' heads were cool necklaces with real bear claws. These boys eyed the necklaces with a look of, "if only I could have these..."
Adam, not one to impulsively buy anything, told the boys they could each pick one out. This he reasoned, would support our neighbour who has struggled with grape growing for a number of years. Our neighbour has also been very giving, allowing us to borrow farm equipment from time to time. Buying these bear claws would be a win-win. After the bear claws were carefully chosen by each son, we placed them over their necks. Then it was time to pay.  I saw Adam do a big gulp when he heard the price of the bear claws. Each necklace was $20.00 bucks. It was too late to back out now. We now owned $100.00 worth of bear claws!
It turned out, the youngest boy was too afraid to look at the bear claw and turned the necklace backwards so the claw was hanging down his back. And then a few days later when the fourth son was asked where his necklace was he responded that it "drowned in the pond."
Don't ask me where the other bear claws are but it gave the grandparents a good laugh watching this unfold.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

the story of the chase

See these beautiful limosine cows...well they can run. Fast.

This year, before the drought began in earnest, we decided to plant hundreds of bushes in our back field for cuttings. We spent hours of hard, back hurting labour way out there in the field with the cows and pigs cautiously watching us through the electric wire.
Besides being active with our planting, we soon learned that the pigs in particular wanted to be active as they watched the gate for any chance that it would be open, and they would bolt out of the pasture and on to our lawn.
This happened...too many times...and it would take a great deal of burning in the leg muscles as we ran around in our rubber boots chasing them back. Pigs have the awful habit of scattering once they taste freedom leaving the pursers frustrated with the chasing.

On a beautiful Saturday in June, a family picnic was being held at our home. As we were eating our scrumptious pork on buns, someone shouted, "The pigs are on the beach!" Sure enough right before our eyes were the four pigs happily snouting their way through the sand.
Towards them chased the men and children, and the pigs did what they did best, they scattered.
One even managed to run through a true pig-farmers legs. Eventually we rounded them all up and secured the gate.

But the gate was not secure enough and the pigs knew it. We have heard pigs are smart animals and it proved to be true.
Three days later as the boys and myself were driving home, we came upon our driveway. Past the driveway, almost on the road, stood our 3 cows, a long distance from the field and the wide open gate.
I am ashamed to say but a word that I had put out of vocabulary years ago, (because its just better not say anything about poop), came squirting out of my mouth. I sped the van into the second driveway and yelled for the boys to get out.
With my dress and flimsy footflops on, and the boys in bare feet, we chased the alert cows through the tall prickly weeds.
Finally we reached the gate but to our great dismay our unsmart dog came upon the scene barking and growling away. The cows took off in a loud gallop.
The next few minutes are a bit blurry with my panic at the highest level. I made it back to the van and tore down the road hoping to catch up to these cows.
Around that time I had the horrible realization that the pigs must be out there somewhere too.
Even though math is a very weak subject, I quickly calculated the cows were worth far more money than the pigs. They had to be hunted down first. On top of that, with a busier road near by, it was absolutely crucial to catch the cows first before they caused an accident.
I drove up and down our road like a mad woman, staring down the long rows of grapes and orchard trees desperately hoping to catch a glimpse of these cows.
It was around this time I had the sudden realization I didn't know where any of my children were. Inside of the jerking van I yelled, into the air, "where are the boys?!!!"
"Here I am" came a small little voice from the back seat. And there was Caleb, trying to hold onto the roof handle, with white drool sliding down the corners of his mouth. He had gotten into my purse, stuffing every candy he could find into his mouth.
At this point, I forced the van at full speed into the neighbours fruit farm, along the rutted driveway. I pressed the horn with all my might, hoping they would all pop out of the barn ready to see what the great emergency was and totally ready to help with the chase.
Instead there was no one in sight.
I pulled out my cell phone and after numerous tries (shaky hands) I managed to get hold of Adam.
He heard loud breathing, a strangled and hoarse voice..."the cows....the cows...they escaped....HELP...come home!"
Now it was Adam's turn to speed down the roads.
It wasn't just the loss of the cost of the cows, it was the delicious beef that fed our family all year long, the full freezer, the realization that these cows could cause an accident. It was all overwhelming.
At this time I started to drive our van like an off road vehicle tearing down through the orchard lanes, hitting every pothole with loud thumps. Each bump would cause the pig food I had grabbed to come pouring out of its container covering the passenger side of the van.
I caught a glance of the pigs way out in a back field, eating the neighbours soy beans but still no cows, no kids except the kid in the back holding on to the handle for dear life.
I found myself back on the road again and spotted our Jamaican migrant neighbour out in the field with the tractor.
I jumped out of the van and furiously waved and jumped up and down. Finally some help. Spouting out something about cows escaping, I realized how crumpled and cooky I must look.
To my disbelief, the Jamaican refused to help telling me something about his boss being nearby. This was an emergency! I was so mad at him. I gave him a haughty look, and jumped back into my van/off road vehicle and took off to the other neighbours. I sped into their driveway with my horn blasting again.
The neighbour came running out, with a friend close behind him. "The cows!" I gasped. "The cows..I need help."
These men, in a calm demeanour got into their van and followed me.
I was frantic searching for cows and kids I couldn't find.
We decided to go back to homebase and met Adam also arriving at our driveway.
As we ran breathless to the back field, there stood Liam, calmly. The cows were in front of him, waiting to be led into the gate.
It was a sight to behold.
As I was panicked, running around chasing after cows I couldn't find, Liam had managed to round up the cows and lead them to the back gate.
Andrew came running up to us, "I was mooing my lungs out on that hill! It was my loud mooing sounds that made the cows come back!"
What relief!
Now for the pigs.
We jumped back into the vans and headed to the fields where I had last seen them.
With a scoop of food, Adam led the pigs through the back fields and along the rows of grapes while we used a stick or shovel or whatever happened to be long and sturdy and walked beside the pigs keeping them in line.
We walked through the back yard of my parents thinking that if the were home and saw this sight they would never stop laughing.
By this time I was toast, our neighbour and his friend had sweat chasing down their faces, but we were on our way home.
After the gate closed and we gave our sincere appreciation to our neighbour and his friend,
I headed back inside and fell flat onto the couch where I remained for the next two hours. Recovering.