What?! Another post?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Yes, I know I'm usually a once a week poster gal (or...once every two weeks....once a month?) but I've just got something big on the brain that I wanted to get down on paper, er, screen.

I don't remember quite when I started hearing about City Kidz. I recall that someone from City Kidz came to our church on their big promotional day, called Miracle Sunday, last year. That might have been in February. And I remember that a little girl down the road that was coming over to play frequently for a while there talked about going to City Kidz. I was really surprised when she came to MountainKids with us and when we started our songs, she knew most of them. She learned them at City Kidz.
So slowly I picked up impressions here and there and had an idea of what they were about. I've been thinking for a number of months that I wanted to get over (down, actually) and see the program they run on Saturday mornings, but since September, Saturday mornings have been taken up with KinderSing.
Last Saturday and today however, have been a bit of an extended break for KinderSing until their 3rd season starts so last week I emailed City Kidz to see if they were running their program and if I could come observe.

I got a very perky email back with a very organized sounding response, pdf invitation attached, about their official tours. I was intrigued...but hoped that I'd get to see alot of the actual program in action. I was most interested in seeing how they did their singing and stage stuff, lighting, sound, that sort of thing.

So this morning we got ourselves up and ready and left the house around 9:30. City Kidz runs their big Saturday program out of an old-style theatre on Sherman Avenue, near Barton. A small room above the theatre at the back (maybe the old projection room?) served as the meeting place for the start of the tour. Two very energetic and enthusiastic women began with a bit of history and mission/goals/why we're doing this kind of information. Soon the program started and we could hear the booming sound system and the start of a praise and worship song that I recognized.
After this, we were led down to their parking lot where 6 vibrant red school buses were carefully finding their places. These buses go out to (I think) 24 neighbourhoods to pick up children and bring them back to the theatre. They run 3 of these service/programs on Saturday and are seeing a total of over 1000 children attend.
Then we came in the main doors and learned some more about the building and how they manage the program. I later asked how many volunteers they need to run their Saturdays and was told about 200. Wowsers.
We spent about 20 minutes actually sitting in the theatre and observing the program. I hadn't been 100% sure what their program consisted of before today--I figured it was some kind of kids club/Sunday School/VBS hybrid. I wasn't far off.

In a nutshell (my nutshell), City Kidz is a program aimed at inner-city kids to connect them with a safe, fun place, and with people that care about them. Their social goal is to break the cycle of poverty, which for some reason is especially high in Hamilton--specifically these children. Apparently the national statistic says that 1 in 9 children live at or below the poverty line. In Hamilton, this is much worse; about 1 in 4 (although maybe I misheard or the tour guides misspoke because their website info says 1/4 nationally and 1/3 in Hamilton). Still, it's worse here, a very curious situation.
They do all this through 2 main services: The vibrant, exciting and active Saturday programs, and a dedicated system of volunteers that are matched up with every kid and go visit them in their homes every week. It's a Sunday School administrators follow-up dream.

So, like I said before, the Saturday program was what I was really interested in seeing. Every Sunday, we (James and I) put together the MountainKids program. This is just a 1/2 hour and we've got it to the point where the preparation of it is fairly streamlined. I pick out about 5 praise and worship songs. I used to have to find/type out all the lyrics for my small team of kid leaders (I call them JP Crew), but I wizened up and last summer made a master list of all the songs from all the CD/DVD's we use and pre-prepared all the lyric sheets. So now I just have to pull it up from the file. AND, I've been trying to have a big rehearsal with JP Crew once every 2 months or thereabouts and then usually only sing from what we rehearsed until the next big rehearsal. But I'm getting off topic.
We plug in announcements, the taking up of offering, recognition of birthdays, a scripture presentation and that's pretty much it. Time to send the kiddies off to their classes.

The City Kidz program has the songs, complete with 3 media screens and lots of additional power point-type stuff flashing across. Each segment of the program has it's own title screen and slides identifying who's up there doing what. They've got a pretty significant sound and lighting system--just enough bells and whistles to make it bright and exciting for the kids. Some of the leaders wore mics on headbands (I could just ask James for the right terminology but he's elsewhere in the house at the moment) which I was very jealous of.

The content of the program was what surprised me a little. The songs I knew--Shout Praises Kids stuff, Hillsongs--popular, contemporary praise and worship. The rest of the program was comprised mainly of game show style games where volunteers were chosen from the audience to come up and do something fun/silly/wacky. The stage has two large tree sets, complete with spiraling yellow slides coming out of them. I noticed two "junior" leaders up at the top of each one, no doubt keeping an eye on any kid who had earned the right to go for a ride. Kids seemed to be randomly running up and having a turn on the slides, but I figured some system was in place or else they'd all be running up there at once. Two smaller blue slides also connected the 3-4 foot high stage to the floor, making the trip back to your seat even more fun.

They divided the room into two groups (with much screaming and yelling to prove team spirit) and the rest of the morning was spent in competition through the various crazy games the leaders had put together. Once in a while a serious moment was encouraged and the current theme was emphasized; this week being "Dream big Dreams". I heard about the "Memory Moment" that is usually slipped in at a moment when the kids are especially apt to be paying attention. The thing that surprised me was that it wasn't scripture. Perhaps sometimes it is. But today it was not. And somehow that niggled at me a bit.

I'm often reminded of something my mom said when I once remarked that after seeing a favourite Christian artist in concert a number of times, he seemed to be spending less time doing his funny comedy routines and more time doing the serious, contemplative material. Mom suggested that perhaps as he matured and got older, he was becoming more sensitive to how much he was entertaining his audiences rather than providing the truths of scripture.

I'm not making any judgement calls on City Kidz. It was just an observation. I mentioned it to the tour guide afterwards and she was happy to chat a bit about it. A couple things were made clear: They are not a church and don't operate like one. While alot of their leaders are Christians, they welcome anyone who passes the usual tests (police check, etc). Their goal is not to have a bunch of leaders who could walk a kid down the Roman's Road but rather who can build a relationship--a strong one. One that will stick in a kids life for a very long time. There's alot on their website about the process of building relationships and the long term aspects of that. She also made a couple good points I'll mention here: programs do not make a difference in a persons life, relationships do. This is a hard hitting one that I think I'll be musing about for a while. On the practical side, City Kidz specifically makes their program very fun because alot of the children come from situations where fun is not happening. I'm quite familiar with kids who've taken on adult responsibilities, even caring for their troubled parents and bypass their childhood altogether. At City Kidz, they can leave that all behind for an hour and a half every Saturday morning.
I have a feeling that City Kidz have been able to garner so much community support and corporate sponsors because of their child poverty goal. If they had gone out into the community telling one and all that they were established to see children won over to Christ, you can bet Canadian Tire wouldn't have touched them with a ten foot pole. But child poverty....that's a really hot button. I'm sounding cynical I know, but I'm really not. I think it's brilliant. It's, I guess, a little like the apostle Paul and tentmaking. He had to do something to bring in the money, while meanwhile his heart was chasing after people for the Kingdom.

The bottom line is I'm not sure why the Lord perked my interest in this organization. Maybe it was just to get some ideas for MountainKids. Maybe sometime in the future, I/we may be involved more with City Kidz. I just don't know.


Friday, March 19, 2010

Funny to read my last post, which I wrote on Monday and just finished editing now and posted.

Yep, VBS 2010 is DONE. Well, all except the final program. We did manage to do a few other things this week, and some were rather fun! So here's a taste....

K, first thing, not so much fun. Honour finally had her allergist appointment to be tested. Turns out (as you can tell by her arm) that she does indeed have some allergies. Grass, dust, dust mites, blah, blah. While she was waiting for the test spots to show up, I let her pass the time with my cell phone camera. Behold my eldest daughters photographic skills....

The kids were yammering all week to get their bikes out, so we caved and headed over to the school parking lot on Wednesday night. I tell you, I'm in for elevated blood pressure this summer for sure. Verity figured out how to ride without training wheels, and we pulled out a tricycle for Afton. She's a wee bit small for it yet, but I think she'll get the hang of it by summer. Jairus is still happy with his training wheels, but as the oldest, I'm hoping we can get him off them this summer. This all means that any request for bike riding immediately causes my heart rate to increase, unless James is home and we take them over to the school together. I tried to let them go out on the sidewalk with just me, but I was a wreck trying to help Verity keep her balance, keep Afton off the road and out of Honour's way and keep a corner of an eye at least on Jairus. At least he's happy to cruise in a rather docile fashion up and down the flat section of sidewalk out the side of our house....Honour and Verity enjoy using the part that has an incline so that they can break some sound barriers. Sigh. I was awfully proud of Verity though. It took all of 10 minutes for her to get the hang of a two wheeler. I hope Honour doesn't figure out that Verity is a year ahead of her schedule.

And here's my girl....

Today was an exciting day for my kiddies. Remember the God Rocks concert a few weeks ago? The one we couldn't stay and meet the band because Verity was sick? Well....I had seen on their schedule that they were doing an event at the Burlington Christian Bookstore this afternoon. They were showing the God Rocks Live in Miami movie, and then two of the band members, "Gem" and "Chip" were going to make an appearance to meet and sign autographs. It sounded like a great March Break activity and I knew Honour especially would be up for it.
I broke one of my cardinal "event" rules and actually told the kids what we were planning to do as we were leaving the church to go home and grab lunch before leaving again. This nearly came back to bite me.
We arrived at the bookstore just as it was beginning only to hear that the advertising had not been accurate and tickets were actually required to get in. When I came up to the front counter, another mom had just been told the same thing and was really annoyed as she had driven from Brantford (or maybe Brampton?). The God Rocks website had definitely said it was Free Admission, but the women at the counter insisted that all their advertising had indicated that tickets were 3$. In any case, the room was full and they would not let anyone in. I thought my heart was going to break as Honour took this in and her face just crumbled....

Well, they had been bugging me this week to go to the beach. Yes, the beach. In March. Uhuh, just shut up. So, I pulled that card out and little faces brightened at the promise of going over to our fav beach spot there in Burlington. I was still rather annoyed about the whole thing.
Even more annoying was that I had invited my friend Jenn and her two girls who are good friends of my four. She hadn't arrived so I waited out front to break the bad news. She came along shortly, having brought another friend with her two kids, plus as we were waiting, a truck pulled up and out popped a little guy who to my great surprise started excitedly calling Jairus' name. It was a friend from school. His mom and two brothers plus a friend of hers with 3 kids were about to head in and I cut them off at the pass. I didn't want their poor kiddies to have to be even more disappointed after actually getting into the store. Annoyance was rampant all around.
After some discussion however, we all decided to head into the bookstore and do some looking around anyway. The kids headed right for the play corner, with a Veggie Tales movie playing on the little TV. I went over to the audio/video section to see how much the Live in Miami movie cost, thinking about picking it up and perhaps heading home after beaching to have our own little God Rocks event. Then Jenn got a great idea; she talked the store manager into opening up a copy of the God Rocks movie and playing it in the play corner. There was a pretty good sized crew of kiddies there at this point. By now, it was quarter/twenty after 2pm (when the event started) and the God Rocks members were going to be arriving at 3pm for the meet and greet. Perhaps this would turn out after all....


And then we went to the beach. Yes, the beach. Shut up I tell ya.

A Plethora of Thoughts

Monday, March 15, 2010

That's my version of the oft-used "Random thoughts" post title.

Sigh. So, it's March Break. I was debating with myself earlier today about whether I'd keep doing school with Honour this week. I'd say the girls, but really, Verity is not so much doing anything pressing. I really should keep up with Honour, as we're behind one week I think in the total curriculum and many pages behind in reading. She finished her first Math-U-See book last week and I thought I had ordered the new one in plenty of time, but it hasn't arrived yet.

The other consideration is that we're doing VBS. By "doing" I mean the kids are attending and I am running one of the four stations. The music, of course. I think this is about the 14th or 15th March Break VBS I've done in my life. There's always a bit of a love/hate relationship with VBS. I love the kids. I love teaching them the songs. I love that I get a great response, as opposed to the response I normally get most Sundays in MountainKids, which is rather dismal. I hate that I have to bundle four kids out the door all 5 mornings of March break, so my "break" from getting Jairus to school is nullified. I hate that I expend about 125% of my daily ration of energy all in 3 hours of the morning, leaving me useless and yearning for a nap all afternoon. I hate that this also makes me rather resistant to doing anything special with the kids for the rest of each day. I am planning to take them to the GodRocks event on Friday at the Burlington Christian Bookstore though. Honour was especially bummed that we couldn't stay the night of the concert a few weeks ago to get an autograph because Verity was sick.

Honour is sitting at the top of the family room steps (actually lying on her back at this moment), talking to one of her little friends on the phone. 6 going on 16 I'm tellin' ya.

I've been musing recently about a pet peeve. Maybe you can relate to this one....

I hate it when other people parent my child in public. It's especially irksome if they are strangers. It seems to have happened a couple times recently which is probably why I'm complaining about it.
Every once in a while, it's merited. Like a couple weeks ago I had the opportunity to get some ballet tickets at a great discount, so I took the girls to see Hansel and Gretal at Hamilton Place. Our seats were down on the left wing of the first balcony. We sat down and I was looking through the program. There weren't many people sitting near us and no one in our row. I was somewhat engrossed in reading the program and didn't notice that Verity had snuck over to the inside end of the row, which looked over the balcony towards the centre of the auditorium. As Verity is prone to doing these days, she hiked herself up on her tummy, under the railing, to peak over the edge. The wall she was peaking over was quite thick, probably 2-2.5 feet wide. Suddenly I hear a woman a few rows up speaking sharply to Verity and looked over. Truly, it was probably a good thing that she noticed, although I'd like to think her actions would have caught my eye shortly after anyways. She barked something fierce though and Verity scurried back to me like a wounded kitten, nearly starting to cry. She crawled on my lap and stayed there nearly the rest of the performance and started complaining not long after about an upset tummy.

I'll admit, I give my kids probably more leaway than alot of parents. I positively despise the supermarket check-out workers reprimanding my kids (mostly Verity) for spinning and climbing on the chrome bars that separate the check-out lines. I was just like Verity and bars like that were just a siren song to me to climb and turn somersaults on. I don't see anything wrong with letting her do it after a long grocery trip. I figure they are probably just concerned about liability and that if Verity should fall and clunk or head or worse, break a bone, that I would go screaming to a lawyer. That's pathetic. If my kid is climbing on something and I've allowed her to, and she falls and hurts herself, it's no ones fault but my own. Ridiculous. And she's not going to fall. Like I said, I was just like her as a kid, turning cartwheels where ever I went, climbing anything that had footholds....I never fell in those situations and I'm pretty confident she won't either.

I said above that it was especially irksome if the person "helping" me parent was a stranger, but I take that back. It's more irksome if they are someone I know. This is differentiated by a very good friend speaking to my kids. I have a few friends that I'm close enough with that I don't mind them reprimanding my kids when I'm around. But there's not many. So what gets my goat is when an acquaintance or casual friend tries to discipline my kids, especially when I'm right there in the room. Um, hello? Parent right here?

Now, this can turn on me as I know I've been in situations where some kid is acting up and the parent is in the room but not doing anything about it. It's always a hard call because you don't know if the parent is just ignoring it...not noticing it....not bothered by it. Afterall, like I just said, my parenting standards are looser than alot in some ways. If my kid is being hurt I would for sure speak up, parent in the room or not. But I'd like to think that otherwise, I let parents be parents and mind my own business. Anyway, have I complained enough?

This is the way WE homeschool......

Friday, March 5, 2010

Ohhh, I'm just kiddin'. :)
Notice the break-dance-ish attempts courtesy of the GodRocks concert we attended last Saturday. It was really great!

Hello Friday, I'm glad to see you here. Although, I don't know why. My weekends usually bring just as much, if not more, work. Honour has ballet tonight, the girls have KinderSing all tomorrow morning and than of course MountainKids on Sunday.

I have to tell you though, something quite miraculous has happened around our house. It's now been about 3.5 weeks since I last nursed Afton. Maybe 4.5. And in that time....she has started sleeping through the night. That's right!!! A complete miracle!! (Here's where all you non or yet-to-be parents kinda shake your head and roll your eyes slightly) For a bit she was still waking up 2-3 times a night but James took night duty (well after 21 months I would say so) and within a week or 2 she had figured out that 'moyee' was not forthcoming. She kept asking me during the day about every other day and that's probably spread out just this past week. I thought I'd be kinda sad, what with her being my last and all, but....not so much. I'm just starting to enjoy not being pregnant or nursing for the first time in more than seven years. And sleeping through the night for the first time in about as long. (Jairus was a great sleeper, so I can't say almost 9 years) I wonder how long it takes for a body to recover from that kind of sleep deprivation?

Speaking of sleep, I've just got Afton down for a nap (and she appears to be actually staying down for it) so it's lunch for me and then reading with Honour.