What is Homeschooling?

March 14th, 2016

by Kristin

A lot of parents, particularly mothers, think “I could never homeschool.”

For them, the idea  of homeschooling evokes visions of perfect, smiling mothers that are divinely gifted with infinite patience, super-human intelligence, and extraordinary organizational skills. These perfect mothers run the equivalent of a high-class private school in their homes, with perfect, quiet, studious children sitting at polished desks from 7:00 in the morning to 4:00 in the afternoon, learning three languages, a dozen musical instruments, trigonometry, physics, advanced grammar, theology, early church history, and economics. After school, this perfect mother simply waves her magic wand, her perfectly obedient children run to do her bidding, and the housework is resolved in minutes while a four course dinner appears on the table at precisely 5:00pm as her husband steps in the door.

I’m half-choked with laughing.

The reality of homeschooling is so vastly different from this. Are homeschooling mothers perfect? No! Are  we infinitely patient? No! Are we super intelligent and organized? Definitely not!

So how do we succeed at this homeschooling business then? What IS homeschooling anyway?

Homeschooling is an act of faith. You read what God says in His Word about raising children, about training them to love Him and to obey His Word (Deut. 6:1-9), and you realize that God is calling you to this, calling you to disciple your children for Him. And how can you disciple them when you are separated from them for the majority of their waking hours almost every day? And how can one to two hours of Sunday school or after-supper devotions compete with 30+ hours of humanist indoctrination every week in public schools?

So you as a parent take a step of faith, and keep your children home.

Homeschooling is a lifestyle. You are not re-creating your home into an institution. Home is still home. It’s where we live, share meals, do chores, play games, laugh, and relax. Now it’s also the place where we learn.

But learning is not restricted to superficial time slots, nor is it limited to lesson plans, workbooks, and test sheets. We are raising people, not computers. Education is about lighting a fire, not filling a database. There’s so much more to life and learning than simply memorizing multiplication tables and the dates of key historical events, important as those things are.

We need to teach the whole child: mind, body, and soul. Involve them in baking to learn fractions. Let them watch a sunflower grow from a seed. Teach them to care for a younger sibling and respect their parents. Bring a tadpole or a butterfly cocoon home for them to observe over time. Give them art and craft supplies. Read them timeless storybooks and stories about real people and places like Little House on the Prairie. Read, read, READ to them. Have them sort laundry by colour and put their toys away into organized bins. Give them puzzles and blocks and other open-ended toys that involve so much imagination and creativity. Teach them to ride a bike. Help them make cookies for an elderly neighbour. Teach them about God and His love for them.

Homeschooling is a vision for the future. Homeschooling is not just a daily exercise. We are giving our time, energy, and resources for the purpose of raising a godly generation to follow after us, for the glory of God. We are laying the foundation for not just our children’s lives as servants of the King, but for, Lord willing, a whole line of faithful descendants!

Such a long-term vision will drastically affect our choices of today. It will influence what curriculum we use, what activities our children are in, what we watch on TV, what books we read to the kids, who we socialize with, etc. We will make distinctions not only between what’s good and bad for our kids, but also between what’s good and what’s excellent. There’s only so much we can do in a day to prepare for the future, and so we need to make careful decisions about what will be the best use of our time and resources, and the best use of our children’s time and resources.

Think of it as building a Cathedral. Cathedrals take decades to build. Only the best materials are chosen and incorporated into the building. The different elements are handcrafted with great care and attention to detail by skilled craftsmen. They are adorned with breathtaking frescoes by gifted artists. They are filled with costly and beautiful objects. The whole Cathedral, inside and out, stands as a monument to the glory of God for centuries.

Homeschooling children is just like that.

However, like some of those who plan, design, and begin to build a Cathedral, we may never see the full fruition of our work. We do not know what our children’s children will do with the godly heritage we are seeking to prepare for them. But we know that we are doing the work that God has called us to, and we know that God promises to bless us when we step out obediently in faith.

And so we move forward with a vision and a hope, with our children in our hearts and in our homes.

* * * * *

If you are interested in giving homeschooling a try, or understand that God is calling you to disciple your children in this way, I would encourage you to check out the books below:

Educating the Wholehearted Child, Clay and Sally Clarkson

A Charlotte Mason Companion, Karen Andreola

Home Grown Kids, Dr. Raymond Moore

I would also mention that Montessori materials and the Montessori approach of hands-on learning are also wonderful for teaching young children. The math materials in particular, in my experience, provide a solid foundation for young minds to comprehend this abstract subject.

 

 

Keeping Your Children Home

March 13th, 2016

by Kristin

I’m in the middle of reading a book by Dr. Raymond Moore (namely, Home Grown Kids). Dr. Moore is a developmental psychologist and a strong advocate of homeschooling and of delaying formal education (see School Can Wait and Better Late Than Early by Dr. Moore). He stresses again and again the psychological benefits of young children staying at home under the loving care of their parents.

I find it deeply saddening to see so many parents following the popular culture in sending their precious children off to school at an increasingly younger age.

Granted, some families are in a position such that they have little choice but to enlist childcare outside the home. However, at the same time, there are many parents who do have a choice but don’t seem to realize that their personal love and care and training is far more important to their child’s development than anything the best preschool or daycare could provide.

Having said this, I realize that many mothers and fathers lack confidence to keep their children at home. We have been brainwashed as a culture into thinking that everything needs to be done by experts, most especially the delicate business of raising children. We have pediatricians, child psychologists, early childhood educators, teachers, school nurses, child psychiatrists, etc., etc. From the moment the child is born until the time he reaches adulthood, we have someone with a degree telling us when he should sleep, what he should eat, how he should play, who he should socialize with, what he should learn and when, and on and on and on, ad infinitum.

But is this really necessary? Did Abraham Lincoln have a child psychologist? Did Mozart need an early childhood educator? Did Thomas Edison need a school teacher?

The point is, No, you as a parent do not need a panel of experts to help you raise your child. This is a modern development, and quite frankly, it’s had more of a negative impact than a positive one. For example, simply compare the level of education today with what a child received 100 to 200 years ago, and you’ll see what I mean. For all their “expertise,” today’s experts don’t have much to show for their efforts.

This may be true, you say, but where is a parent to begin? How will a parent know what to do? What about specialized areas?

[Granted, there are times when you as a parent need specialized help, for example, when your child is very sick, when he has a disorder, when he needs more specialized training/education, etc.].

First questions first. Where do you begin? How will you know what to do?

Start with the Bible. Learn all of what God says about raising children. He made them after all, so He knows how they tick.

Then find solid Christian child training resources that are based on God’s Word (e.g. Shepherding a Child’s Heart, by Tedd Tripp). Remember, your first priority as a parent is always moral instruction: shaping your child’s character, teaching obedience to God, etc. This is the foundation for all other education.

Don’t believe me? Try teaching arithmetic to a child having a temper tantrum.

See what I mean? The moral training is necessary before any other training or instruction can take place. Even if you find ways to get around this, you won’t score any points in the end when you produce evil geniuses of your offspring. (Note: you’ll observe that schools nowadays are woefully lacking in any moral training [or rather, they’re excelling in immoral training], which is another good reason to teach your kids at home!).

Furthermore, this moral training — or “soul training” if you will — is foundational because it is the eternal aspect of parenting. One day your child will stand before God. Preparing him for that moment is infinitely more important than preparing him for highschool, or college, or his first job, etc. We must be so careful as Christian parents not to put on the same narrow blinders that the secular parents around us are wearing. This life is not all there is, as our secular counterparts so naively believe. We need to prepare our children first and foremost for their eternal future, and equip them to do the eternal work Jesus has prepared for them to do on this earth.

If you are interested to learn more, check out my small sample of resources below, and stay tuned for my next post, “What is Homeschooling?

 

Resources:

See this website for a list of great men and women of history who were homeschooled: http://www.homeschoolacademy.com/a/famoushomeschoolers/

Repairing the Ruins, ed. Douglas Wilson

On Secular Education, R. L. Dabney

The Abolition of Man, C. S. Lewis

Shepherding a Child’s Heart, Tedd Tripp

Home Grown Kids, School Can Wait, and Better Late Than Early by Raymond Moore

 

A Belated Christmas Announcement

March 12th, 2016

by Kristin

We had a little Christmas surprise (or rather, a big one) that we wanted to share with you.

We’re having another baby! Baby Kidd #5 is due June 6, 2016.

However, we have been facing some complications with the pregnancy, and there’s a significant risk that the baby could come prematurely. We would appreciate your prayers for this little one at this time.

~The Kidds~

How Can I Keep From Singing?

December 18th, 2015

I love the beautiful old hymns, and this one which I stumbled across recently is a real treasure. Enjoy.  -Kristin

Hymn by Robert Lowry

My life flows on in endless song;
Above earth’s lamentation,
I catch the sweet, though far-off hymn
That hails a new creation.

Refrain:
No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that Rock I’m clinging.
Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth,
How can I keep from singing?

Through all the tumult and the strife,
I hear that music ringing.
It finds an echo in my soul.
How can I keep from singing? [Refrain]

What though my joys and comforts die?
I know my Savior liveth.
What though the darkness gather round?
Songs in the night He giveth. [Refrain]

The peace of Christ makes fresh my heart,
A fountain ever springing!
All things are mine since I am His!
How can I keep from singing? [Refrain]

Christmas Newsletter 2015

December 9th, 2015

Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year!

Time flies when you’re having fun. God has been very good to us again this year. Some of the highlights of 2015 include:

Spending the holidays with family.

Camping and cottaging with family.

Two family weddings (Kristin’s cousins).

Lots of weekends spent enjoying and improving our new property up north.

Assembling tandem bikes with the kids for Ryan’s hobby business.

Having a 10′ inflatable pool in the backyard and teaching the kids to be comfortable in the water.

Enjoying our new little daughter and sister, Melinda Joy, who arrived late in December of 2014.

Homeschooling the boys; learning about ancient and medieval time periods together.

Birthday parties for the kids.

Reading lots of exciting books as a family.

And the list could go on….

The kids are growing fast.

Justin is six years old now, outgoing, enthusiastic, a little precocious and a little scattered. He has a caring heart, a bright mind, a boundless imagination, and a restless energy about him. He loves Lego, play-acting, dress-up (soldiers, knights, etc.), and drawing.

Patrick is five years old, sensitive, thoughtful, and a little headstrong at times. He’s a real homebody, and tends to be quiet and shy when around other people. Like Justin, he too loves Lego, play-acting and dress-up, but Patrick gets especially excited about working with Daddy, and talking about tools, machinery, and heavy equipment.

Oliver is two and a half years old. He is funny, energetic, enthusiastic, and into everything like a dirty shirt! If his older brothers can do it, so can he, whether it be drawing, play-acting, building Lego, doing school, building forts, climbing dirt piles and boulders, etc., etc. There’s no holding this little guy back. He smiles almost all the time, and he’s like a ray of sunshine in the family.

Melinda is the new girl on the block. She’s learning how to survive with three older brothers, and how to fend for herself. She is beginning to cruise the furniture, and can wiggle across the floor like a fish in water. Melinda loves oranges, her toy cat, and playtime with her brothers, mommy, and daddy. She likes to listen to us sing hymns and read stories. The boys are pretty thrilled to have a little sister, and it’s clear that she loves them all too.

A very Merry Christmas from our family to yours. May God bless you richly in the coming year.

 

What Do You Read?

November 17th, 2015

by Kristin

Are you a reader? You should be. My life and thought has been vastly shaped by books I have read. Here follows a list of different books I would recommend to others, and I hope you will take the time to read them too if you can.

 

For Homeschoolers

Educating the WholeHearted Child, Clay and Sally Clarkson

On Secular Education, R. L. Dabney, edited by Douglas Wilson

Repairing the Ruins, Douglas Wilson

A Charlotte Mason Companion, Karen Andreola

Teaching the Trivium, Harvey Bluedorn

The Well-Educated Mind, Susan Wise Bauer

 

For Moms/Parents

Loving the Little Years: Motherhood in the Trenches, Rachel Jankovic

Fit to Burst, Rachel Jankovic

Queen of the Home, Jennifer McBride

Seasons of a Mother’s Heart, Sally Clarkson

Large Family Logistics, Kim Brenneman

The Hidden Art of Homemaking, Edith Schaeffer

Raising Real Men, Hal and Melanie Young

Future Men, Douglas Wilson

 

For Wives

For Women Only, Shaunti Feldhahn

The Fruit of Her Hands, Nancy Wilson

 

Other

Amusing Ourselves to Death, Neil Postman

The Closing of the American Mind, Allan Bloom

New Evidence that Demands a Verdict, Josh McDowell

Refuting Evolution and Refuting Evolution 2, Jonathan Sarfati

 

 

Happy Reading!

 

 

Cloth Diapering: My Experience

November 16th, 2015

Given my interest in old fashioned skills and natural living, when my baby daughter arrived, I thought I would give cloth diapering a try.

I had attempted cloth diapering once before, with my first baby, when he was about seven months old or so, but due to circumstances that arose, misconceptions I had, and mistakes I made, I quit after only a month.

But I was determined even then that it wasn’t going to be my last attempt.

So in 2015, with my fourth baby, I decided to give it a better trial. Here follows my experience with cloth diapering!

 

USING CLOTH DIAPERS

Capacity

When I was researching the subject, one of the biggest uncertainties I had was how long you could reasonably go between diaper changes. Some blogs I read suggested three to four hours, while others insisted on religiously changing cloth diapers every two hours. The latter just about scared me off of cloth diapering entirely! As a busy homeschooling mom, the thought of changing diapers every two hours religiously was overwhelming and impractical. What if I’m busy teaching for two hours, and then when I manage to slip away for a diaper change, I find the baby has fallen asleep? Do I then have to wake the baby for a diaper change? What if I don’t, and the baby sleeps for two hours? Would the cloth diaper have the capacity to last the four hours?

When I got the diapers, I experimented for the first week to determine the capacity. Happily, I found that the diapers I had purchased could manage up to six hours between changes if needed. I did do changes more often than that, but it was a welcome relief to discover that the diapers had the capacity in a pinch!

Fit

I used the Bummis Cotton Prefolds coupled with Thirsties diaper covers. The extra leg gusset on the Thirsties’ covers was a real improvement over the Bummis covers I used with my first baby.

I bought both kinds of Thirsties covers, velcro and snaps, and found that I much preferred the snaps. They were quick and easy enough for me, and didn’t require the guesswork I had with velcro in determining whether I had put the cover on too tight or loose.  (I also found that the velcro had a bit of a rough edge which would rub against the baby’s abdomen when she was sitting/bending over.)

The diaper’s good fit meant few leaks, and as an added bonus, I discovered that I had almost no blowouts with cloth, as opposed to the numerous blowouts I experienced with disposables. Score!

The one complication that arose was that the cloth diaper’s added bulk over slim disposables meant that it didn’t fit under some of the outfits I had. Carter’s brand was especially a problem, a brand which I otherwise love because of the good fit on my (relatively) slim babies.

Time Commitment

Another concern of mine that arose when I was toying with the idea of using cloth was whether individual diaper changes would take more time then a typical disposable diaper change. I couldn’t afford to spend an extra 5+ minutes for every diaper change.

This concern was quickly abated. I would fold the prefolds in advance (quick and easy job), and have them sitting ready in a basket on my diaper change table. The covers were close at hand in a dresser drawer. The cloth diaper pail with washable liner was right next to the change table.

When it came time for a change, the soiled prefold was removed and dropped straight into the diaper pail. The cover went there too if it was dirty; if only damp, it was hung to dry on a hook above the diaper change table. The clean prefold was placed on the clean cover, tucked under and over baby like a normal diaper, snapped in place, and we were good to go.

All in all, it was a matter of additional seconds per change, not additional minutes.

Other Notes

One additional aspect of using cloth diapers which I’ll mention is the issue of diaper rashes. Many cloth diaper sites will warn you not to use common diaper rash creams or ointments because the ingredients will coat your cloth diapers, causing issues with urine repelling, loss of capacity, etc., which in turn will lead to leaks or other problems for you and your baby. They recommend buying rash creams made specifically for use with cloth diapers. However, these tend to be hard to find, and rather expensive compared to commercial creams.

I then stumbled across this chart on pinstripesandpolkadots.com, which was super helpful. It listed a lot of diaper creams and their ingredients, then rated them for use with cloth diapers. Since I already had a few of the natural creams on the chart, I was able to just use what I had instead of buying some new cream. Also, I discovered that coconut oil by itself can make a decent barrier cream, with some added benefits for the skin, and it doesn’t cause problems with cloth diapers, as far as I know.

 

LAUNDERING CLOTH DIAPERS

Now for the tricky part. It’s easy enough to toss a soiled cotton prefold in a pail, but how do you clean it?

Brace yourselves….

I used my washing machine.

Yes, that’s what I said. No scraping, no dunking in the toilet, nothing. For a breastfed/bottle fed baby, the poop is water-soluble, and will wash away in your machine without leaving residue. Once the baby starts solids, then it’s a different story, but up until that point, your washing machine will do all the work for you.

Here’s what I did:

Every two days or so, I would dump the prefolds out of the pail liner into my top-loading machine, and if I needed to distribute them around more evenly, I would just grab a (relatively) clean corner of a prefold and toss it to the other side of the machine. The washable pail liner was thrown in too.

Typically it was a small load. I would let the diapers soak in cold water for about 30 minutes, then run a cold pre-wash (if I was in a hurry, I would skip the soak and just run a pre-wash). After that I would add Nature Clean laundry detergent (which I found recommended online as an economical, easy to obtain, and cloth diaper friendly laundry soap option), and run a hot wash with two rinses. The diapers would come out clean and fresh. I would hang them to dry. If I could, I would line dry them outside. The sun performed marvels in bleaching out the stains, and the diapers would typically be dry by the end of the afternoon.

 

CONCLUSION

So what’s the conclusion of the whole story? Well, I rather enjoyed the experience. The prints on the diaper covers were really cute, and I felt I had accomplished something good for my baby by putting her in cloth instead of wrapping her in some paper contraption with strange chemicals of some unknown toxicity.

However, the summer was really busy, and cloth diapering eventually fell by the wayside. I hadn’t purchased as many prefolds as I should have, and so laundering the diapers became a bit of a burden as I had to rush to wash them so I could have clean diapers for the next day.

Would I do it again? Yes. My hope is that with the next baby I’ll purchase a few more cloth diapers to make the laundry burden easier, and I’ll use cloth from the time I’m fully recovered from the birth (about 6 weeks) to about 6 months, Lord willing. I’m not quite feeling brave enough to continue cloth diapering past the point of introducing solids, as dealing with the “output” at that point will require a few more steps which would cost more time than I have to devote to the project. But you never know. We’ll have to see what the future holds and cross those hurdles once we get to them.

Best,

Kristin

 

The Best Job Ever

January 30th, 2015

You know what?

I love having children. I love being able to stay at home to raise them. I love homeschooling them.

To look with awe at the tiny hands and the delicate features of my newborn’s face…

To playfully chase my toddler around the room and hear him giggle uncontrollably…

To watch my preschooler working enthusiastically alongside his daddy building a snowman…

To see my five-year-old’s face light up as he reads a little book all on his own…

Yes, being a homeschool mom of four has its challenges. Sleep deprivation, laundry piling up, clutter stacked here and there, and toys and socks scattered everywhere. Dirt and grime building up on floors and walls. Making meals while juggling a crying baby and correcting a disobedient toddler. Breaking up fights and settling disputes. Dealing with a student who’s struggling with a subject or growing disinterested in schoolwork.

It’s certainly not all glorious.

But I wouldn’t trade it for any other job.

God made me for this. He gave me, as a woman, the ability to conceive and bear children. He uniquely wired me, as a woman, with the nurturing spirit to meet the needs of these children. Everyday, He grants me a certain measure of strength and wisdom for the job of raising these precious souls.

And I love it.

-Kristin

Melinda Joy Kidd

January 2nd, 2015

Update Jan 17, 2015: Baptism Day Photos (picasa)

———-

With deepest joy and gratitude to God for the safe arrival

of our precious baby, we would like to announce

the birth of our fourth child (and first daughter),

Melinda Joy Kidd

born at 6:40pm on Monday, December 29, 2014

weighing 6 lbs 9 oz.

_________________________________________________

Baptism

Melinda will be baptized at

2:30pm, on Sunday, January 11, 2015

at the New Horizon Church in Scarborough.

See www.newhorizonchurch.ca/wp/map for directions.

All are welcome to attend.

_________________________

Melinda with brother Justin, 5 days old

_________________________

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What are the baby’s birth specifications? A: weight: 6 lb. 9 oz. (2.7kg);  length: 20.5inches (51.5cm), dark hair, blue eyes.
  2. How long was Kristin’s labour? A: 2 hours from start of established labour to birth.
  3. Were there any complications? A: due to a pregnancy-induced liver function disorder, the OB considered it best to induce labour 2 weeks early.  Apart from breaking the waters to induce labour, we’re thankful that the birth was all natural without complications.
  4. Where was the birth? A: The baby was born at Scarborough Grace Hospital due to having to be induced on account of Kristin’s liver function problem.
  5. How is breastfeeding? A: Melinda is feeding very well and is thriving.
  6. Why did you name the baby Melinda Joy?  A:  The name Melinda means “Gentle” or “Sweet.” The name Joy means, well, “Joy.” [You could say she’s our “Sweet little bundle of joy.” 🙂 ]  The proximity of her birth to Christmas had an influence on the choice of names. Christmas is a time of joy, of rejoicing, a season to celebrate the coming of our Saviour. Hence the middle name Joy. Furthermore, it is our prayer that our daughter, as she grows and matures, will aspire after the mother of Christ, Mary, a young woman who found favour with God, who humbly trusted His word, and who offered herself as a willing servant to the Lord (Luke 1:30, 38).
  7. What is the baby’s theme verse? A: The theme verse is taken from Mary’s song, the Magnificat: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; for behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed. For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name. And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation” (Luke 1:46-50).  
  8. Why are you choosing to baptize your baby? A: We do not believe baptism will make the baby go to heaven automatically.  But just as male babies received the covenant sign of circumcision in the Old Testament, we believe that God requires us to put His mark of ownership on our children, and in baptism He promises to save our children as they grow up to receive the covenant promises, repenting of their sins personally and learning to love and obey the Lord Jesus.
  9. Do you need meals or anything for the baby? A:  We are fairly well supplied with meals at the moment, thanks to family and friends. However, we would gladly accept donations of hand-me-down baby and toddler girl clothes, so Melinda doesn’t have to wear her brothers’ baby clothes. 🙂
  10. Donations in honour of? If you want to give a gift in honour of Melinda, we might suggest sending a donation to the Christian Blind Mission.   CBM provides eye operations and life impacting treatments to children in the third world who are truly in need.   International Justice Mission also does good work and it accepts international donations.

Thank you all for your love and prayers for us at this precious time!

Christmas Newsletter 2014

November 13th, 2014

Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year to all our friends and family!

The year went so fast. It’s hard to believe it’s the Christmas season again already.

It was a long, cold winter. The ice storm that hit the GTA a few days before Christmas in 2013 knocked out our power for two days. Thankfully, between a large kerosine heater and some generators we borrowed from Ryan’s brother Joel on the second day, we were able to manage the inconveniences of no electricity with little discomfort.

Come the new year, the weather was bitterly cold at times and the winter seemed to last forever. Needless to say, we stayed indoors a lot. Ryan and I tried to keep the boys busy with some preschool and woodworking activities.

In March and April, we celebrated Justin’s 5th birthday and Oliver’s 1st. During those early spring months, Ryan and I made some plans and began transforming two small rooms in our basement into one large playroom for the boys. Ryan took out the partition wall, added some new drywall and pot lights, and painted the room a beautiful sky blue. Together with my sister Danielle, I painted some big fluffy white clouds on the walls and painted the doors and trim white. Over the course of the year, I added a toy organizer and a small table and chairs. Later in the year, Ryan built a jungle gym for the playroom with two towers and monkey bars for the boys to climb and swing on. If another harsh winter strikes, we are well prepared!

In May, we were thankful and joyful to discover that we were expecting another child. Baby Kidd #4 is due to arrive in January 2015!

Summer brought a buzz of activity. I was gardening again this year, as well as spending hours preparing for homeschooling Justin in the fall. On top of that, I volunteered to help my sister Danielle prepare for her wedding, as she had only a few months to get ready. Many hours of planning and crafting went into making it a beautiful event. I also took the kids and their cousins to the Reptile Zoo in Vaughn for a field trip in June.

Over July and August we attended three weddings and a wedding shower and went camping/cottaging with both sides of the family. What an exciting summer!

In September, we celebrated Patrick’s 4th birthday. We also acquired a 50 acre parcel near the Beaver Valley in Grey County, about a 20 minute drive from Ryan’s parents’ house. Over the next few months, we spent many weekends there, camping out in the cabin and, with the help of family and friends, doing a lot of work in the fields and bush, cutting back the growth at the edges in preparation for a neighbouring farmer to come and cultivate the land for us.

The boys and I have been enjoying homeschooling for the most part. Some days they are excited for school and other days, well, they are not-so-excited about their work.

Justin is my star math student. He loves math, and really has a head for numbers, surprising me at times with his understanding. He is obsessed with Legos, and can disappear for hours at a time behind those little blocks and minifigures in the playroom. He is also becoming quite a help with little tasks around the house, such as washing dishes, caring for Oliver, fetching things for me, and cleaning up toys. He is a bright and happy boy, whose smile and giggle can really light up a room. He likes to ask a lot of questions, and can really test the extent of my knowledge with his insatiable curiousity.

Patrick is more quiet and sensitive than his older brother, but nonetheless a sweet little boy who loves time and attention from Daddy and Mommy. He has faithfully remembered the new little baby in his prayers during the course of the pregnancy. One of Patrick’s favourite things to do is spend time with Daddy working on some project or machine. He also loves tigers, and likes to dress up in a tiger costume whenever he has the opportunity at Grandma’s house.

Oliver is our resident cutie-pie. Now 18 months old, he is energetic and enthusiastic to be involved in what everyone else is doing. Whether it’s washing dishes or sweeping the floor with Mommy, playing Legos or colouring pictures with his big brothers, or hitting keys on Daddy’s laptop while Ryan is typing, Oliver is an irresistible companion — in more than one sense! His infectious giggle would cause anyone to break out in a smile. He loves his teddy bears and stuffed animals, and can’t go to bed without them.

Between three lively boys, a pregnant wife, volunteer positions, and hobbies, Ryan has been keeping very busy once again this year. He had the boys helping him with the tandem bike business again this summer. Though he did not participate in any long distance bike rides this year, he took all of us on a number of rides down the Don Valley trail. We attracted a lot of attention from passerby with our bike for five (kangaroo baby seat + tandem bike + tandem bike trailer = 5 riders). The conundrum he has yet to solve, however, is where to add on a seat for a sixth passenger once the baby graduates from riding inside Mommy!

We are thankful to God for all His many blessings, and for the strength He gives us to face the trials and challenges of each day. We rest in peace, knowing that God guides and governs the future,  and that even in the midst of troubles and distress, we can trust Him to see us through dark days and over a difficult path. Not in our time, but in His time. Not by our plans, but by His wisdom.

A Blessed Christmas to all of you,

Ryan & Kristin, Justin, Patrick, Oliver, and Baby