Friday, April 30, 2004

Chronicles of Narnia

The children are really enjoying the first book of the Narnia series. I've been trying to read them a chapter each day, but some days I miss and some days I read two. I'm trying to use this as a means of educating my children in spiritual truth, as well as vocabulary development and just plain spending time together. One truth I have been able to explain to them centers around the attitude of the Queen of Charn (as well as the attitude of Digory's Uncle Andrew). Both of them thing normal rules do not apply to them because they are great and powerful. But if law is more than an abstract concept, and if law in fact has it's root in God's decrees in the Bible, then law applies to all, both great and small. I think I was reasonably successful in explaining this to my children.

What I didn't explain to them was that if laws do not have a foundation in the decrees of God (as applies to many laws in our society), then the law of the land has become an abstract thing, and there is no moral reason why the high and mighty should not excuse themselves from obeying the laws which apply to the common people. True, there is a corporate idea of fairness within our country, but it's our idea of fairness really just based on Biblical concepts as well. Perhaps this is not blatant, but I believe fairness is just an unspoken and perhaps unconscious expression of Biblical morality. As people seek to work themselves away from Biblical morality, the concept of fairness breaks down, and with it breaks down a safeguard in our society.

Saturday, April 24, 2004

Homeschool Conference and Books

We went to the Homeschool Conference this morning. I managed to last for the morning (with my cold), which meant we went to the main session and did some shopping. As homeschoolers, you often feel a bit isolated. It's one thing to know that tens of thousands of families across Canada school their children at home, but it's another thing to do it yourself. Karen attends a weekly coop, and spends time with other Moms, but other than a few folks at church, it sometimes feels lonely. At the conference you are with several hundred other folks who are all committed to schooling their own children. It's really nice. The only thing I can liken it to is the Annual Easter Conference at our church. The Easter Conference is a more explicitly Christian gathering (although this homeschool conference is put on by a Christian homeschooling support group) and the Easter Conference includes meals, but the Easter Conference lacks the book tables the homeschool conference has.

Anyway, it was nice to spend some time with friends at the conference. I spent some time talking in the hall with a friend from a little town south of Ottawa, which was nice. We completed our curriculum purchases for next year. Our primary curriculum material is from "Sonlight" but today we purchased a Canadian History program, a French language program and some other books. I got the next Mindbenders book for Bethany, a G.A. Henty novel to read to Joel and the Chronicles of Narnia for me to read to both the children. Karen bought the "M.O.T.H." handbook (Managers Of Their Homes). I was tempted to buy "The Well Educated Mind", but I suspect my reading tastes are already eclectic enough.

Speaking of the Chronicles of Narnia, some of the language consists of British coloquialisms from half a century ago. Does anyone know what a "coiner" is? Most of the other ones I understood and was able to explain to the children.

Friday, April 23, 2004

Still have a cold

I'm still under the weather with a cold. If it doesn't get better, I won't be able to go to the homeschool conference tomorrow (which I have really been looking forward to). Interestingly enough, the cold is preventing me from sleeping. Hannah was sleeping on-again off-again last night, but I couldn't get to sleep when she was asleep. I finally conked out about 2:30am. I had a short nap before lunch, but couldn't sleep this afternoon, even though I feel very tired.

Having my Mom here is a big help, and Karen's Mom continues to come by and help. Some friends dropped off a meal for supper today (delicious Indian food). All the help is much appreciated!

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

All is well (sort of)

I have a cold. Other than that, all is well. My Mom is here and is available to help, and Karen is pretty much back to 100%. She wanted to go out to get groceries yesterday, although I carried them into the house. She just got back from the library today.

I've been teaching the children each day this week, and yesterday took them out to the homeschool coop. The special activity yesterday was soap carving. The fellow who was teaching it is very talented at carving. For the most part, I've enjoyed teaching the children. Joel can read quite well, but he isn't much interested in it at this point.

Last week I was super productive. This week I'm taking it a bit easier. I bought a sheet of plywood to fix Joel's bed, but that's about it.

Monday, April 19, 2004

Cook and Educator

Much as I enjoy roast chicken, I have never cooked one. At least until today. Karen was busy feeding Hannah so I prepared and cooked a roast chicken. It didn't turn out quite as good as Karen's, but nobody seems to have been food poisoned, and the right combination of herbs could make mud mouth watering.

This week, I am also teaching the children. This is to give Karen a bit of a break. Joel's Kindergarten program is quite light, but he's reading well. Bethany's program takes a bit longer. I was so happy to cover the required material that I forgot about the extra work I had planned. The extra work I've planned for Bethany is an introductory logic program. She has done some of the problems already and really enjoyed it, so I would like to complete as much of the book as possible this week.

In other news, my Mom has come for a visit and to help with Hannah and the children. She brought the Christmas present she had been working on, which is a beautiful hand made quilt. Growing up I remember wrapping up in some of the hand made quilts my grandmother had made, so there is a special place in my heart for quilts.

Saturday, April 17, 2004

I see the light

I've now changed 21 lightbulbs in our house to the compact flourescent. This is all of the bulbs that can be changed (unless I start changing light fixtures to accommodate the compact flourescents). I know the stove, fridge, furnace and computer take a lot more electricity, but hopefully this will help.

Friday, April 16, 2004

After a great delay...

... of two days, I'm posting an update. All is well. The past couple nights, Hannah has gone to sleep by about midnight. She wakes a couple of times during the night to feed, but goes back to sleep. Honestly, things are going much more easily with Hannah than with Bethany or Joel.

Being that things are going so smooth, I have have a bit of time for other things. I was able to complete our income taxes, and finish writing the first draft of a small booklet for my Sunday School class on New Testament church principles. I've also been working on a Powerpoint presentation on principles of homiletics. Not sure what I'll ever do with it, but it does help to cement things in my own mind when I write it down. I sent an email to a professor of homiletics at a seminary out west, and got a very prompt, very nice reply. I was also able to put up a shelf for Joel, and write a short article about local church elders (again, not sure what I will do with it).

I also downloaded some videos on theology from the Internet. Stonebriar Community Church in Texas has a program in theology (for anyone in the church who is interested) and the videos and course notes can be downloaded. It's an interesting idea - attempt to provide a solid grounding in theology for most of the people in a local church.

I replaced my UPS (Uninterruptable Power Supply) today. My old one died, and so I got a new one. If the power goes out, I will have 9 minutes to save my work and shut my computer down gracefully. It also has surge protection. You would think that this would be great for situations where the power goes out - if it can power my computer and monitor for 9 minutes, it can probably power a compact flouresent bulb for several hours, right? Well yes, but there is also this beeper in the UPS that beeps when it cuts over to battery. If I want to put up with the loud beeping, it's fine (but I haven't wanted to put up with it in the past during Kanata's many power outages).

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Update on Sleep

Last night, I went to bed at 9pm. Karen stayed up with Hannah until she went to sleep at about 11pm. Other than waking for feedings, she slept really well. I ended up with 8 hours of sleep, then took Hannah out while Karen got a bit more (I think Karen ended up with close to 8 hours as well). No, I don't expect this to be the regular pattern, but it did work out well last night!

Monday, April 12, 2004


Hannah seems to get fussy starting at about 8:30 in the evening. She still hasn't calmed down. I think the transition to getting milk is causing some gas pains for her. I'll take the first shift, and in a couple of hours Karen can take a shift.

More of the best laid plans...

Apparently the previous night was a fluke. Hannah has been awake most of the night. She seems to have a lot of gas, which is hurting her. I think Karen and I have each had about 2 hours sleep so far.

On the other hand, there is much to be thankful for. I seem to have the stamina to look after Hannah in the night, so Karen can get some sleep. I'm able to sleep in the daytime. We made it out to church yesterday. Hannah's crying isn't waking the other children. All are healthy. I have several weeks off work. The meals Karen froze ahead of time are working out great. And we treated ourselves to Quiznos subs yesterday. Yes, there is much to be thankful for.

Saturday, April 10, 2004

The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men

Even though its a wee bit chilly, today I decided to take out the barbeque and grill some steaks. I bought some really nice sirloin steaks, and just before supper wheeled out the barbeque. Mouth watering, I lit it up. Moments later, smoke began curling from the side of the grill. Since this was the first time using it this season, I assumed it was some grease left over from last fall. Then I noticed it was grass. Using the long fork, I tried to get it out of the barbeque. Then a small mouse jumped out of the barbeque, onto the grill for the briefest of moments, and then down to the ground. The last I saw it was running off towards the neighbours house, seeking more congenial lodgings. He must have been in there for about a minute after I lit the burner. I ended up frying the steaks in a pan. Using the barbeque will have to wait until I can clean out any mouse droppings. My plans for a barbequed steak fell apart, but look at it from the mouse's point of view... his house burned down.

More on Sleep

Hannah slept from 1am to 3am, had a feed, and then slept until 5am. Karen found that she sleeps better in the bassinet than in the crib, so bassinet it is!

Friday, April 09, 2004

Good Memories and Bad Memories

Karen is in much better shape after this birth than after her previous two pregnancies. Karen's Mom is coming over during the mornings and helping out with cooking and laundry and child care and... well pretty much everything. My Mom is coming in a week or so for a visit to also help out. It's also nice to know we have some many good friends who want to help. These are the kinds of friends who not only offer to help, but who would be mad at you if you needed help and didn't ask them!

All of this brings back a lot of memories of when Joel was born, both good and bad memories. When Karen was expecting Joel, her parents were living in Florida for the winters. Her Mom offered to come back for the birth, but we thought we could handle it. In fact, we were in way over our heads. Karen had a very difficult delivery with Joel and it was too much for us. I remember phoning my parents one morning and asking if they could come help. They threw some stuff in their van and arrived in time to help with supper. It was a difficult time, but the help we received is a good and precious memory. This time around, things are going better, but the help we are receiving from Karen's Mom and (soon to come) my Mom is also a good memory.

Good Friday

Last night was much like the previous one - not a lot of sleep. I think Karen got a bit more than me during the night, but I took a 2 hour nap right before lunch (so I probably got more). Hannah is sleeping a bit now (i.e. when she is in her crib. She's always slept when people are holding her). Karen's Mom was over in the morning and made lunch. I cooked one of Karen's frozen meals for supper and a friend provided some chocolate muffins for dessert. I don't think we'll be out to any sessions of the Easter Conference, but plan to go to church on Sunday and try to get back to normal next week.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Lots of Sleep

Lots of sleep. That's what I intend to get when Hannah is older. For now it's a luxury. I did my best to look after Hannah in the night, so Karen could get some sleep. I did get a few hours while Karen was up, but for the most part I was downstairs on the sofa with Hannah in her bassinet. She wasn't really awake, but just would cry for a couple of seconds once every 10 minutes. So taking her downstairs was the best option. Karen did manage to get about 6 hours sleep, which doesn't quite make up for the total lack of sleep the night before. I was able to nap this morning after Karen's Mom came over.

The midwives came by this afternoon, and stayed about an hour. I would say the level of care was really great. If it's a routine pregnancy, a midwife is the way to go.

Not sure what tonight will be like. Hannah is now getting used to being alive (yes, she's been alive for the last 9 months, but this is now a whole different experience for her). Karen is now able to climb the stairs, so our taking turns looking after Hannah might work a bit better tonight. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

More on Hannah

Hannah has only slept for a few minutes here and there, but just a few minutes ago woke up from about a half hour nap. I don't know what kind of night we are in for, but I intend to go to sleep real soon so that I can get in a few hours over the course of the full night. Karen did not sleep at all last night, but is really doing well (even better than me). She has good colour and a lot of strength. She is on bed rest for the next 24 hours.

The mid-wives did a really great job. They were really supportive of Karen (and took a lot of burdens off me), and really encouraged Karen to get through it without any medication (which was Karen's goal). In the end, we had a mid-wife, a student mid-wife and a R.N. the midwives use for backup. This kind of support really made the difference for us.

Anyway, baby is crying so I've got to go!

Welcome to the world Hannah

Karen went into labour at 12:30am on April 7th. At 6:00am the contractions were about 5 minutes apart and we phoned the midwife. We went to the hospital for 7:30am, with the contractions about 3 minutes apart. Karen spent some time in the Jacuzzi tub, which really helped her. At 10:30am, Hannah was born. Karen did it without any sort of pain medication. At 1:30pm we left the hospital and returned home. Hannah seems a bit fussy right now, but has started to feed. May I also toot my own horn by pointing out that Dad didn’t pass out (this time). Bethany and Joel are quite excited, with Joel walking around the house saying, "This is absolutely incredible."

Saturday, April 03, 2004

A Palm Sunday Many Years Ago

Tonight, Bethany pointed out that tomorrow is Palm Sunday. This reminds me of an event many years ago. The church I grew up in gave out palm crosses to the children on Palm Sunday. Somewhere along the line, my friend Jamie and I got the idea that we were supposed to burn the palm crosses 40 days after Easter. We weren't sure of the religious significance of this, and to be honest I'm now sure there was no religious significance. It is a dangerous thing to tell a couple of pre-teens that it is their religious duty to start burning things. We put the palm crosses on a foil pie plate in the sink (which I think was what saved the house from the coming conflagration). In an excess of religious zeal we sprayed Lysol on the crosses until they were sitting in a puddle of flammable liquid. One match was all it took. The flames leaped higher than the top of the sink. When things started to get out of control we turned on the tap. If we had been showing our devotion in the living room the results would have been disasterous. Yes, we were a couple of pyros, but at that age I guess most of us were.

Other Viewpoints

I try to keep myself well informed. One way is to read online newspapers from a variety of countries. Ha'artz from Israel, and the Arab News from Saudi Arabia, The Times of India and newspapers from Singapore, Taiwan and others, are all among my sources. Occasionally I end up more entertained than well informed. Take for instance today's issue of the "Arab News". The author of an article was making an interesting (and perhaps valid) point about journalistic sensationalism in the United States. Then he went on to complain that less than 50% of Americans read newspapers and less than 50% vote in Presidential elections. Perhaps this is true, but what percentage of Saudis vote in their executive elections? Oh wait! Their country is not a democracy! The percentage is zero. Western democracies are not perfect, and we have much to learn, but lessons in democracy will not come from absolute monarchies.

Friday, April 02, 2004

A Close Encounter

I was walking into work today and another fellow was searching through his bag looking for his security badge to swipe in. It was one of those awkward moments. Do I let him in? Part of me wants to be the typical friendly Canadian. The other part wonders if he is someone who doesn't actually belong in the building. He straightens up and looks at me. I look at him. At that point I realize it is the President of the company, so I say (as gracefully as I can), "Well, I guess I can trust you." I swiped him in and we chatted for a few minutes. It was an interesting encounter.

Still no baby

For those who are curious, Karen is still expecting. Actually the due date is April 7th, so this isn't surprising, but she is feeling very ready. We're all very excited, and would like the baby to come sooner rather than later.

I'm currently reading Eusebius and his history of the first 300 years of the church (he wrote it about 300 A.D.). It is interesting for many reasons. In some regards it is a beautiful picture of the faith of early Christians in the face of severe persecution. In other regards, it shows how quickly the church fell away from the simplicity of the New Testament teaching on the local church.