Why We Deliver Newspapers

Okay, by now you know that I am one of those life is learning and learning is life types of people but I still do firmly believe in the need for structured learning.  Our school day does require a lot of routine – though I do shudder at strict scheduling.  I guess I am still trying to find the happy medium after all these years.  Underneath all of the second guessing and the “planning for success” though, my hubby and I have confidence in our underlying goal as parents for our kids education: it is our desire to raise our children up to be all that God made them to be, vibrant well-educated women who have a passion for God and a love for people and who use their unique gifts and talents to both pursue that passion and love but also to provide for the needs of their own families now and in the future.

So how does that translate into the nitty gritty of the day to day?  Well, of course we want for our kids to learn to read and write and do their ‘rithmetic.  We want them to be versed in sciences and history and geography but we also want more.  We want them to have strong characters, to be able to work hard and to work smart.  We want them to graduate from this homeschool not only with academic skill but with life skills.

Hence the newspaper route, a rather routine part of our week but a key learning time, too.

First, the things that we dislike about it.  The biggest downer is the sheer volume of junk mail!  It is indicative of a society that bases values on what you can get rather than what you have to give, that makes success equal to having more toys.  It is also so wasteful and a horrible travesty in term of the environmental bludgeoning that each newspapers delivers.

Secondly, I live with a house full of readers and players and creators – but not terribly athletic folks.  We love to be outdoors, but for some young souls that doesn’t mean being out doors with a cart full of newspapers.  The work is hard and it isn’t all that much fun.

In comparison to these though there are many great reasons that we have embraced that have helped both parents and children to overcome the negatives of the newspaper route.

We, like many homeschoolers, live on a rather restrictive one-income budget, so we told the kids when they were all very young that when they started to wanting expensive toys that they’d better get themselves a job.  For our oldest that came at nine years of age.  She wanted a video game player and so she got a job delivering newspapers and earned the money she needed for the toys she wanted.

Having a paper route has been a great way to get physical exercise that aspiring cooks, mad scientists and generally non-athletic types have needed.  My kids are getting paid to be physically active rather than me having to pay for them to do so.

It gives a much needed breath of fresh air even on those rainy days when we would have hidden inside.  We only deliver two days a week but it’s nice to know that there are those required days to get out in the most dull weeks when it is easier to just get cooped up.

The kids have spending money that they wouldn’t otherwise have been able to have when mommy and daddy are trying to stay within a missionary budget.

No only that, they have learned first hand about giving, saving and spending, key principles that aren’t as easy to internalize when the money you are giving away has been given to you to give.  They have learned to tenderheartedly share from their own resources and to plan for the future as well.

They have learned work ethic.  We’d rather that our children learn, while they are young, that they need to submit to the authority of a boss than to struggle with the idea later in their adult years when their income is no longer discretionary.  Not only that but they are learning that, even on the days that you don’t want to do it, you still need to get the job done on time.  They are learning stick-to-it-iveness.  They are learning the value of a job well done. 

They are also learning valuable character qualities as they strive to “do all things without arguing or complaining”.  They are learning to work together on tasks and to get along and to help out, to love and to be gentle and to be kind as they work side by side.  They are learning, albeit slowly, to sing a happy song even when their heart feels grumpy.

They are learning to smile and to look adults in the eye rather than to avert their eyes and turn up their iPods as so many young people are apt to do while out and about.

They are also learning to be safe and smart.  As they get older, each of my children earns the ability and privilege to do more in their little business, going from being the youngest, two year old, who gets to take newspapers from our dining area to the front porch and under Mom’s supervision to the front door of each of our next door neighbours, to the oldest who is able to go door to door out of Mom’s sight, walking on the road without supervision.  They are learning how to stay safe when they meet up with people they don’t know.

I guess the minor part of their learning would be the opportunity to think logically about optimizing the walk on their route, the calculating and planning that they do as they earn and save for special purchases, the reading that they do while they should be stuffing fliers. 

Newspapers are much more than a chance to make a buck or two in our house – though that doesn’t hurt either.  Newspapers are a key part of our educational journey.

I hope that you enjoy the ever so routine moments in your days this week Friends!



Busy Days

You know some days I think that I have some sort of mommy superpower.  That happened just yesterday.  I kept all of the juggling balls in the air without flinching.  At one point I was loading a computer programme onto the computer, while cleaning pee off the floor (yes, the toddler is still struggling with this concept) and giving spelling dictation all while discussing the concept of reducing fractions with my oldest student.  I could see my cape fluttering in the breeze behind me though it did of course have little baby boogies on the shoulder and a tear that will wait for years to be mended.  It fit though.  Yesterday.

Today was a different mess all together.  I found myself wondering what my little cherubs must be destroying in the basement when they should have been listening to good books on the couch.  The reason why they were on their own covert operations: I was sequestered in my room trying to make my own clandestine moves and schedule a dentist appointment that one daughter in particular is terrified to deal with.  Because I didn’t want her to hear what atrocities I was planning for her, something that looked like a nuclear bomb was in the midst of going off in the basement.

It occurred to me then that not only are days like this not ideal school days but they are so counter productive.  In those 10 minutes yesterday when I was supermom, in tights (that of course didn’t accentuate the curves that were out of place) and a cape, we probably got about an hour and a half’s worth of work done as everyone industriously multitasked, all working in coordination, all doing their part and contributing to the family unit as a whole and to health and well being of us all.  Five people, each working away for a good fifteen minutes, and all was bliss. 

Then today – not only did they not get the science fair project worked on nor the chapter of Robin Hood read to them nor the last story told in the book on New France, but, in the time that they should have, I also didn’t make any lunch and someone made a huge mess in the basement.  Yesterday, 10 minutes got 90 minutes of work tucked away and today 10 minutes charted out enough work to do for the rest of the day – now there is a mess to clean, assignments that aren’t done, and the usual gamut of tidyings and helpings out that had been neglected.  Oh yeah, and all that after the squabbling pair has to take the time to expresses their love for one another and their horrible regret at what was said and done while Mamma was on the phone.

Sigh, some days are better than others, aren’t they?  I really do love my job – partly because of days like this.  It is good to be learning right along side of my girlies like this.  They are a forgiving group.  Tomorrow, I hope for a better day.  Knowing that God is good is good enough.  All the rest will work itself out in the wash (even if I am eight loads behind.)

May the Lord bless you with Peace, dear Friends, as you seek quite moments in your busy days.


The Evening News

Tonight, as my hubby and I sat watching the evening news and flicking through the few channels that our antenna gets, it seemed that a sad theme was jumping out at us… 

*Click*  We heard about the deadly toll that the recycling of electronics takes on workers in India.  We watched both adults and children working away to provide for their families by investing both their time and health into dismantling toxic waste that we, as Canadians, ship to them as recyclable electronic waste. 

Then, *Click*, there was the story about whether we should really be using that harsh “C” word at this time of year…  Christmas!  The marketers weighed in arguing that Canada is a multi-cultural country and so “Christmas” just isn’t relevant anymore for this “Winter Holiday Season”.

Just before the news came on *Click* we caught a few minutes of a documentary about life in the mid to late 1800’s.  What a stark contrast to today!  People then has so much less, wasted so much less, threw out so much less.  These were the people who raised and taught our grandparents and great-grandparents.  They laid down the foundation for the life and families and country that we now have. 

And yet, *Click*, the commercials point out the gluttonous buying frenzy that the corporate world would encourage us to indulge in at this time of year.  This is thought of as progress. 

This is the kind of progress that has brought us other interesting phenomena like the show that friends discussed with us over dinner tonight…  *Click*: “Extreme Couponing”.  I know, I don’t have cable or a satellite so I haven’t seen a whole episode but watching short snippets on YouTube has just made me cringe. 

Now, don’t get me wrong – I am about the most frugal girl there is around…  If I can get around buying something I will.  I love borrowing and lending.  Bartering is awesome and from time to time I’ve been known to clip a coupon here and there. 

But tonight I saw clips of people who had stockpiled 150 years worth of deodourant just because the coupon made it nearly free.  Do they ever wonder what they are going to do with 150 years worth of deodourant?  Or who ends up paying the real price when they are clearing out the stores for next to free?  The prices will go up!  What about the cost of devoting so much of your valuable time to shopping when you could save the same amount by growing your own food.  You get double the value by saving the money and getting fresh, organic food over processed, packaged food.  Don’t we all lose when our focus is on getting stuff and not on saving money or even better on enjoying the life that God has given us.

Of course there is a time and place for couponing but we need to make the distinction between wisely investing our money and hording.  Looking over stockpiles of cake mixes, deodourants and dishwasher detergents just makes me imagine all that is invested in these items that a cash register receipt doesn’t tally.  There’s the cost, in time, of searching and planning for these purchases – often without regard for the need for the items.  There is the cost of finding storage space for all of the stuff, buying shelving, heating garages that would otherwise be cold, mortgage payments for larger homes with extra storage space that might otherwise not be needed.  I think of the extra gas in the car as I would drive out the store again and again to get that one more deal.  Then I think long and hard of all of the impulse buys that we really get caught on when we go out to buy these treasures.  The stores rely on those!  Extreme couponing may work for some but there are certainly more costs involved.

Again, I hate having this beautiful time of year, when we anticipate the coming of our Lord at Christmas, overshadowed by so much commercialism.  *Click* (Off goes the TV.)  Someone who wisely explained the stuff monster is Annie Leonard on her short videos at www.storyofstuff.com.  Interestingly, she points out that, while we have more stuff and more luxuries than any time before in history, we aren’t happier.

One way that we like to combat the Stuff Monster at this time of year and to refocus the giving onto the guy whose birthday we are actually celebrating is by giving gifts to him.  These gifts are the ones that get to the poor and hungry since he said,

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’”  Matthew 25:35-40

We love Christmas in our home so we don’t want to miss out on the food, the parties, the gifts, and the happy crooning of Bing Crosby in the background, but it must be that – background music to accompany gifts that Jesus actually gets.  Here are some places that we have bought our birthday gifts for Jesus in the past.


Happy hunting folks, as you seek to honor Him whose birthday we celebrate.

Peace and Joy!


Thank you

Thank you for you many words of encouragement and your prayers for our little girl and for our whole family.  We wait and pray and try to keep all things in perspective – really, so much worse could happen!  For now, our daughter is well and we are continuing the daily struggle of fitting it all in: school and play, hiking in the woods and tidying the house, preparing for Christmas and enjoying visits from friends. 

As such, I am behind on my blogging.  I want specifically to get my next blog out on our virtual Mother Culture meeting.  This past meeting was on nurturing and discipling our kids.  We also talked practically about language arts and came up with a great resource list.

As we slog away, rather distractedly, at our reading and math lessons this fall I am constantly reminded to keep worthy goals in mind and am thankful for God’s grace which I know will sustain us.  We are also focusing on giving our kids the skills to fill in the gaps for themselves which are bound to come in any education let alone one with so much humanity interspersed into it as our little one room school house has. 

Yes, there will be ways that a licensed teacher would far surpass me in her teaching skills and knowledge – I am acutely aware of this as I, the Math Mama, am teaching an art class to a group of elementary schoolers.  On the other hand, in our home we can focus on helping our kids to learn work ethic while they are cleaning a bathroom, or to learn problem solving skills when they need to help their sister find her missing pair of runners, or logic when they have to decide how to arrange the plates on the table for the guests that are coming.  Our lessons may not always be formal but always we are teaching and our children are learningThe rest will fall into line.  I pray for that everyday.

Blessings Friends,



Dear Friends,

I have been silent for a while.  Waiting.  Trying to find peace in the middle of a storm. 

In the quietest moments I put my ear up to my little daughter’s chest and listen to the bump-bump of her little heart as it keeps time.  It’s not the thrum of her rhythmic living that I am listening for.  I wait for the silence in between, holding my breath.  It seems like it is only in those tiny little snippets, those fractions of a second when I can hear the still small voice of my creator whispering to me that he is the one that keeps the rhythm of life moving, that I don’t need time to stop to hear him.  I get so caught up in the noise, in the busyness of all that is going on around me but he is there keeping the planets in motion and this mother’s heart from bursting.

I don’t know about you but it seems that when one thing goes wrong, everything seems to go wrong.  I get caught up in the frustrations that don’t matter and can’t see all that is still going well, all that is still functioning to the rhythm that God set it in motion with.  So I’m agitated that my daughter lost her iPod.  (Thank you Lord that they called from the bookstore to say they’d found it.)  I wonder why the bills are so much more regular than the paycheques.  I am bugged that the plate for the microwave got smashed on that merciless ceramic floor that seemed like a good idea at the time.  I am irritated that that horrible big box retailer is stalling at getting me my money back because they sent me a light cover instead of a turntable plate.  “So very sorry, ma’am.  That’s our mistake but I don’t deal with returns and yes, their phone lines are down again today.”  It almost seems therapeutic that the dishwasher went caput and it was so comforting that a kind acquaintance offered to try to fix it but it wasn’t worth the cost of the parts.

On the other hand, my children are happy, we have food and clothes and a warm home.  We have a hope and a future.  And even in all of my grumpiness we have been able to help a friend to find a much needed bed.  I count my blessings realizing that I’ve never wanted for a bed and yet need of a bed hasn’t made this friend nearly as grumpy and sullen as I.  Self pity is exhausting.

So, I bring myself back to the silent moment with my ear up against my little girl’s chest.  If only I could count the blessing of every heart beat knowing that the Lord doesn’t owe me a single one more than he has already given.  It isn’t the beats that I am listening for but the silence in between because at a routine check up a few weeks ago the pediatrician mentioned something about a murmur and a cardiologist.  A few days later the cardiologist said things like heart block and pacemaker and it seemed as though my own heart had stopped.  How could such a happy and healthy little girl as my own princess be broken hearted?

Over the next few days we learned that he had decided that the need for the pacemaker wasn’t as immediate as he had prepared us for.  He does expect her heart to deteriorate and then they will tear my heart open even deeper as they operate to repair hers.  Until then I am striving to live each moment thanking God for the rhythym, not waiting for the silence even though I know that he will still be whispering to me in those moments…

“When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, your consolations delight my soul.” –Psalm 94:19

Wishing you Peace in all of your moments Friends.


The Race

*In follow up to my last post, I’m glad to share that poem which was so impactful to me.  I am not sure of the source but found that the author is D.H. Groberg.*

Quit, give up, you’re beaten,
they shout at me and plead.
There’s just too much against you now,
this time you can’t succeed

And as I start to hang my head
in front of failures face
My downward fall is broken
by the memory of a race

And hope refills my weakened will
as I recall that scene.
for just the thought of that short race
rejuvenates my being.

A children’s race, young boys, young men,
how I remember well
Excitement sure, but also fear
It wasn’t hard to tell

They all lined up so full of hope
each thought to win the race
or tie for first, or if not that
at least take second place

And fathers watched from off the side,
each cheering for his son.
and each boy hoped to show his dad
that he would be the one

The whistles blew, and off they went
young hearts and hopes afire.
To win, to be the hero there
was each young boys desire.

And one boy in particular
whose dad was in the crowd,
was running in the lead and thought,
my dad will be so proud.

But as they speeded down the field
across a shallow dip
the little boy who thought to win,
lost his step and slipped.

Trying hard to catch himself
his hands flew out in brace
and mid the laughter of the crowd,
he fell flat on his face.

So down he fell and with him hope,
he couldn’t win, not now.
Embarrassed, sad, he only wished
to disappear somehow.

But as he fell, his dad stood up,
and showed his anxious face,
which to the boy so clearly said;
get up and win the race.

He quickly rose, no damage done,
behind a bit that’s all,
and ran with all his might and mind
to make up for the fall.

So anxious to restore himself,
to catch up and to win,
his mind went faster than his legs,
he slipped and fell again.

He wished then he had quit before,
with only one disgrace.
I’m hopeless as a runner now,
I shouldn’t try to race.

Buy in the laughing crowd he searched,
and found his father’s face.
That steady look that said again,
get up and win the race.

So he jumped to try again,
Ten yards behind the last.
If I’m going to gain those yards,
I’ve gotta move real fast

Exerting everything he had
he regained eight or ten.
but trying so hard to catch the lead
he slipped and fell again.

Defeat! He lay there silently,
all hope had fled away
so far behind, so error prone
I can’t make it all the way

I’ve lost, so what’s the use he thought
I’ll live with the disgrace
But then, he thought about his dad
who soon, he’d have to face.

Get up, an echo sounded low,
get up and take your place.
you weren’t meant for failure here,
get up and win the race.

with borrowed will, get up it said
you haven’t lost at all
for winning is no more than this;
to rise each time you fall.

So up he rose to run once more,
and with anew commit.
He resolved that win or loose,
at least he wouldn’t quit.

three times he’d fallen, stumbling,
three times he rose again,
Now he gave it all he had
and ran as though to win.

they cheered the winning runner
as he crossed the line first place
head high, and proud and happy
no falling, no disgrace

But when the fallen youngster
crossed the line last place,
the crowd gave him the greater cheer
for finishing the race

and even though he came in last
with head bowed low, unproud,
you would have thought he won the race
to listen to the crowd

And to his dad he sadly said
I didn’t do so well.
To me you won, his father said
you rose each time you fell.

And now when things seem dark and hard
and difficult to face,
the memory of that little boy
helps me in my race.

For all of life is like that race
with ups and downs and all,
and all you have to do to win
is rise each time you fall.

quit, give up, your beaten,
they still shout in my face,
But another voice within me says,
Get up and win the race.

-D. H. Groberg

A righteous man falls seven times and rises again.  Proverbs 24:16

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses,
let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles,
let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.
Hebrews 12:1,2

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