I’d like to thank the Olympics

Hey hey!  A moment to celebrate making it through Wednesday evening.  Wednesday evenings, the night of Children’s Choir then rush home to make a quick meal that has become The NeverEnding Meal and then they get wilder and wilder until I’m wild-eyed and I fling them into their beds.

I’m sitting here feeling happy and peaceful, rather than strung out and exasperated (which is the usual Wednesday evening modus operandi).  Of course, I felt strung out and exasperated for an hour or so around 6pm, so maybe I just got it out of the way earlier.

I’d like to thank the Olympics for sponsoring this unusually calm evening.  In particular, I’d like to thank the women snowboarding half pipers and the pairs figure skaters.  I’d like to commiserate with the snowboarders who didn’t do well, and give a moment of thanks for the face-hiding goggles in their moments of international scrutiny.  I could use a pair of those goggles.

I’d also like to thank the figure skaters for inspiring extended conversations about the itchiness of skating costumes.  Also for inspiring Levi to try to roller skate while lifting a foot.  No small feat when the foot + skate probably weighs half as much as he does.

Advertisements

bedtime drawings

Once the smallest ones are tucked into bed (although not necessarily quiet), it’s time for me and my girls to have a little time together, just the big girls.  Some nights we read.  (Geronimo Stilton and Thea Stilton books are huge favorites these days.)   Or play games.  Or do something fun.

Drawings of ladies with beautiful clothes abound here, being littered around like large snowflakes, pinned or taped onto walls, slid under doorways, stuffed into the recycling bin, carefully preserved by the mama.  So last night inspiration struck and we got out three pieces of paper and each of us drew an item of clothing.  Then all the papers were handed around the circle and another item (or body part) was added.  Collaborative art.  Behold, our creations: ActFond, Rae, and Colette.  Please note the hatpins on ActFond’s page, awaiting the pinning.

night drawings

We’ve decided we’re going to use three little blank books that we will save just for our nighttime drawing.  We’ll put them on the shelf next to the notebook of the plays we’ve written.

 

 

Some Thoughts

I’d really really like to get back to blogging more than 5.3 times per year, but sheesh making that first step forward just seems way bigger than it actually is.  So here we are with Some Thoughts.

Thought #1.  I am out of dark chocolate.  A nibble a day really does keep the grumpies at bay and unfortunately I’ve nibbled until all of my dark chocolate almond clusters are gone.  Woe is me.

Thought #2.  Is almost 7 years old really big or really little?  Amelie is approaching her 7th birthday and she just seems SO BIG.  I’m looking for long view here.  Seven isn’t really a year from 18 and off on her own.  Is it?

Thought #3.  Per my New Year’s Resolution, I have finally succeeded in going to bed earlier.  It has not turned me into Super Mom, up at 5:30 or 4:30AM.  Nope.  I’m just sleeping longer.  And I like it.

Thought #4.  My other New Year’s Resolution — to read whatever Lia is reading — just got harder.  Lia puts the books she has finished on my nightstand and I’ve been mostly keeping the stack down to 5 – 10 books at any given time.  Turns out she thought that I was only going to read the books that we own — she hasn’t been submitting the library books to the nightstand pile.  So the bad news is that I will never ever catch up and the good news is that I get to read the library book she read four or five times through today – The Penderwicks.  She gave it a great review and I’m stoked.  I love children’s lit.

Thought #5.  Per Thought #1, I’m on Day 2 of taking 10 minutes to be calm.  Using the Calm.com app.  Pretty nifty.  Also trying out some of the Saagara pranayama (breathing exercises) apps.  More oxygen to us all!

 

a bed for grandma

bed for grandma

My grandma is flying in tomorrow for a month long visit.  A cozy bed awaits her, and a houseful of people who can’t wait for her to get here.  I either lived with my grandparents or near my grandparents for most of my childhood.  Suffice it to say, our visit to Virginia this summer just wasn’t enough time with my grandma.  I’ve pared down our Christmas schedule of extraneous busy-ness and filled it up with Grandma Plans.  Snuggling, reading, playing games, crocheting and knitting.  It’s just the beginning of the list.

There was a grand bed switcharoo a few months ago when the girls moved into a bunk bed.  Their double bed moved into the guest room and the extra twin bed moved into Levi and Kiri’s room.  Levi is now like the Princess and the Pea, sleeping on multiple mattresses.  He’s sleeping on two mattresses and two box springs while we enjoy the last few months of the crib rails keeping Kiri confined.  When she graduates to her big girl bed, Levi will have to come down out of the rafters.

The double bed needed all new bedding.  The hand me down sheet that the girls had been using had degenerated into a ripped, threadbare, paint spill dotted, silly putty spotted, piece of sadness.  I chucked it.

I have been stepping (mostly) boldly out into a brand new world of buying things that I love, when we need them.  I am loving, loving it.  For the first time since becoming an adult, I love my home.  It feels so good.  Confession: I take pictures of my house, just for the joy of it.

When we needed sheets and blankets, I didn’t want to go the threadbare hand me down route again.  This bed is settled in its space and purpose now.  So I did some shopping.  Namely, Ikea.

Classic white sheets.  A duvet comforter that can be three different levels of warmth, depending on which pieces you use (the layers snap together).  Lace edged pillowcases I picked up years ago at Ross.  And the Alvine Kvist duvet cover.  I’m really, really trying to not go wild with my current love of gray.  But a bit of gray with flowers?  On white?  Can’t resist.  It looks cozy for winter and light for summer.

The girls and I made the bed this evening, a little ceremony of expectation.  Levi carefully wrote “Ruby” on Grandma’s glass.  The “y” gave him a lot of trouble, but he persevered.

swimsuits

IMG_1286I calculated that we are buying the girls about three swimsuits per summer at $20 a pop so I thought I’d try my hand at sewing swimsuits and see if it’s a viable option.  It’s fun to sew things that get used all the time.
IMG_1287Raglan sleeves and simple shorts with snazzy silver polka dots.  It was a cinch.   Fun and easy.  (No elastic!)

IMG_1288

Except that my sewing machine doesn’t work.  It tries to but it’s just pretending, mocking me with its illusion of competency.  Skipped stitches, tangled bobbin threads.  Much veggie swearing.  Also, much seam ripping.  (When I said it was easy and fun, I’m kind of talking about how I envision it would be without mechanical errors).
IMG_1173I have my eye on a new machine.  A real machine.  The Bernina 1008 that a surprising number of my favorite sewing bloggers use comes well recommended.  It’s pretty pricey.  Pretty and pricey.  My birthday is not until February–it’ll take at least that long to save up.

IMG_0601

But I just got the Cambie dress pattern in the mail and I’m dying to make it.  I’ve had a vintage sheet (white with yellow flowers, so pretty!) squirreled away for just such a dress as this.  But am I going to make it with a machine that sews a faulty seam?  Am I?

IMG_0609

Of course, I need to buy a new bra before fitting the Cambie.  Bra shopping could very well  take me four months.  IMG_0475HA! Look at Kiri!  Diving in head first when no one’s watching!

IMG_0620She does it when people are watching, too.  Pretty much any chance she gets, she’s jumping into the water.

IMG_0469

I’m pretty sure she was just trying out one of Levi’s tricks.  She can keep up with this guy.  She’s gutsy and adventurous.  All in an understated way (see above photo of unobserved dive).

IMG_0463

King of Tricks.
IMG_0458He wants a swimsuit, too.

 

end of summer, photos and notes

IMG_1017

IMG_0524

IMG_0851

IMG_0418

IMG_0139
IMG_0336
IMG_0443

IMG_0200

IMG_0285


:: Friday night supper on the back porch, blueberry cornbread and a strawberry smoothie.

:: And we’ve discovered Monopoly.  Any game with play money is of utmost interest.  Today’s school (actually, today’s dayconsisted entirely of games with money.  (Or, as we discovered with the new-to-us Bibleopoly, it’s not money, it’s offering.  Whoever made up that particular knock off certainly had a sense of humor.  At least, I hope they weren’t serious.)  Lunch and supper were not eaten at the dining table, as it was holding the ongoing Game of Life.  Fascinating to see how acing worksheets of place value exercises don’t seem to make the jump to understanding the difference between $5,000 and $50,000.  They understand now, now that it matters.  I particularly loved how they love to acquire children in Life.  Children, I am informed, are what make them rich.  Indeed.

:: We did our first one-night camping trip.  (Did you see the deer?) I wasn’t sure if it would be worth the effort packing and unpacking for just one night.  It was! It was!  I loved packing only one day’s worth of clothes and one day’s worth of food.  It took us two hours to pack up and go, and everything was clean and put away by bedtime after we got back.  Without monumental effort.  Our next trip is already reserved – Joshua Tree in October.

::  I’ve picked up a total of three pairs of roller skates for $2 a piece over the last several months.  Our church’s thrift store is a gold mine of treasures with golden-hearted people who do the pricing.  Roller skates are an excellent way to get from your bedroom to breakfast.  Most days our house resembles a roller derby.  Even Kiri can put one foot in a skate and hop along to get where she wants to go.

:: We made an awesome geoboard using this tutorial.  We eventually filled in the entire pegboard with the screws.  The geometric exercise often shifts into rubber band shooting sprees (I’m sure shooting rubber bands is teaching them scientific principles).  It’s big enough that several of us can play at the same time.

:: A “This is How We Roll” photo to add to my collection.  Home Depot has awesome new car carts.

:: A photo of a lovely, lovely moment during the school day.

:: The obligatory, traditional First Day of School photo.  We go to the same lake and take a picture on the same stump every year.  After our stint as tourists this summer, we’ve taken to trying to strike some sort of pose other than Stand and Smile.  I like to think of this one as “I’m Going Somewhere”.

:: I love the last photo of me and my True Love.  Love.  Warm.  Kind of smooshed.  Happy.



baby years and Amelie’s 6th birthday

1981_10151393599227535_801901187_n

Where have I been all these days?  Crying my eyes out, that’s where.

Kiri and I came to the end of our breastfeeding journey last week.  We had moved from on demand (demand being the key word here) to three times a day, Daniel style (morning noon and night).  Noon dropped out.  Then Devo started taking her out and distracting her in the mornings.  Then one evening I came home from yoga and they had read Goodnight Gorilla together and he’d tucked her into bed with her baby and her giraffe and she’d gone to sleep.

I was ready, she was ready, it was time.  I was ready to end breastfeeding a 20 month old.

But I wasn’t ready to end the baby years.  And that is what apparently just came to an end.  My inner self knew it before my outer self did.  I’ve gone into mourning, grieving hard over the end of something very beautiful and precious.

I have been creating and nurturing life with my body, in my body, for a little over nine years.  That’s over a quarter of my entire life.  And while, yes, I’m glad to be returning to a place of sanity and productivity and the joys of middle childhood, I am heart broken to leave the baby years.

Pregnancy, baby kicks and squirms, labor and birth, the miraculous first days and weeks, the sweetnesses of babies, plump cheeks, fat legs, cuddles under the blanket, nursing, kisses, every day something new, nurturing, our very own baby.

In many ways I feel very alone in this grief.  I think that is because, while others can empathize and support and understand, these experiences are uniquely mine.  They are physical memories.  These years have rent open my heart, my soul, my mind, and my body.  Oh, there’s nothing like it.

552152_10151393585912535_1739959595_n

In other news, we have been celebrating Amelie’s sixth birthday this last week with a small party on Friday.  The theme was an old-fashioned garden party (of sorts).  We ordered umbrellas and fans for the girls.  The boys got plastic top hats and handmade bow ties.  I was hoping to make some new dresses for the girls, but contented myself with dressing up their old ones with bright new sashes.  Levi forsook his bow tie and came as Robin Hood.  Kiri wore one of Amelie’s baby dresses, like a little fairy child.

We had set up a stage curtain (which kept blowing over in the afternoon wind), and the littlest girls performed the most darling plays for us.  I always love being reminded how little Amelie still is, sometimes I forget.

Today was her birth day.  It’s kind of nice, because the kids talk about their birthdays so much and for so long before the actual day, that I become accustomed to thinking of them as the next year older before it actually happens.

So now she is officially six and outfitted with a new ballet ensemble, a selection of books, a big butterfly balloon, and a dozen cream colored roses.

According to family tradition, we watched the video of her birth.  The wild, noisy, fast, intense, hard two hours of labor.  The beauty of a home water birth.  The instant recognition and love.  Her first cry.  (I cried.)

We made spring-themed chocolate lollipops for Easter. (Molds in the shape of the desired traditional bunny are apparently impossible to find in-store during the Easter season.  Next year, order online.)

We also went to buy another butterfly balloon when the first butterfly flew away.  (It’s so nice to be able to easily mend a broken heart.)

We fed ducks with the left-over tea sandwich crusts from the party.

The birthday “cake” was a pumpkin pie.  Amelie whipped the cream all by herself.

This week the kids have started sewing their own designs, using the machine, and we had another sewing session today.  Lia can reach the pedal on her own, but all three are having a blast doing the sewing on their own.  I made a few fabric eggs when the machine was free, stuffed with rice they make enchanting hacky sacks.

We laughed through this “duck-umentary” over supper.  Highly recommend.

Edited to add the link for the duck-umentary, sorry!

IMG_5675

Tuesday is Dress-Up Day.  Medieval Princess practices the piano in beauty and grace, swathed in a sumptuous red velvet cape lined with golden satin over a hoop-skirted ball gown.

Please note: the cape is made out of an old pair of curtains, the dress out of an old pair of sheets.  And bless those sheets.  It was a risk to make a play dress out of white fabric, but everything seems comes out of it.  So far.  I did note a spot of blue food coloring from the celery experiment today, we’ll see how the magic sheets deal with that one.

Our days are filled with excitement due to Amelie’s upcoming 6th birthday.  She has planned about a year’s worth of celebrations so far.  She brings up the subject, oh, 8 or 10 or 18 times a day.

Today’s big plans include balloons, water balloons, and candy corn.  With umbrellas and fans.

It will be a medieval party!  No, let’s do a 40s party with hair and makeup!  

She went to make herself an umbrella today.  And as she told me later, “It was harder than I thought it would be.”  As I peeled Umbrella Prototype A off of the comforter upon which -and to which- she had glued it.

Tomorrow morning she and I are going out for Mommy-and-Amelie breakfast.

(This week’s breakfast is not with Levi, as I had said last week during a brief (ha, brief, she says) mental lapse.  We do things in order around here.  In this case, age-order.)

We plan on taking a paper and a pen and making some real decisions about this celebration over our smoothies and pastries.

I’m a little nervous.

………………………………………………………………

In other news, Lia and I made this gluten/seitan today.  (Lia is a vegemeat fiend).  It’s so easy and uber delicious.  So glad we doubled it.  And cheap – holy cow, that much vegemeat from the store would cost upwards of $12 – I think I probably made it for $3.  I hope hope hope I get around to making pot pies tomorrow.  Yum.

mess ‘fess

messy bookcaseConfession time.

I’ve been on a total freak-out about messes.  Like, I really struggle with this.  Really.

The usual angst has snowballed after too many Sundays where it took all day to simply put things (hundreds of little things) back where they belong.

I fall prey to the impulse to lecture before, during, and after every clean up session.

I’ve been doing some serious thinking about this recently.

I thought that maybe I could give up Cleaning Lectures for Lent.  Ha, what a joke!

Please note :

(a) You can’t get rid of a bad habit without replacing it with a good habit

(b) tongue biting generally only results in a sore tongue

For once, decluttering isn’t the answer.  (boo)

Okay, so the problem is me.

First thoughts :

(a) Allow more mess.  Raise that Mess Threshold.

(b) Spend more time cleaning.  (“But I don’t want to spend another entire Sunday putting away minutiae,” she sobs.)

Meh.

(c) Therapy?

(d) Hypnosis?

I tried to imagine myself showing up in my counselor’s office for the sole purpose of discussing the mess my children make.  Why can’t they just leave the toothpaste in the drawerrrrr?

I’m feeling my way towards an answer, towards something good to drive out the bad.

Name the gifts.

Not surprising.  One of the techniques I used during labor with Lia was to listen to the sounds close to me, the sounds farther away, the sounds beyond the window.  It kept me calm and grounded.  Noticing and naming the things around me seems to work in the same way.  I can’t maintain the anxiety and the noticing at the same time.

Embrace the mess.

So far this has meant acknowledging that there are six people here, living out their lives. Anything times six is fairly significant.  Just remember that.

On the whimsical side, I’m thinking that we should believe that our homes (as are our bodies) are beautiful as is.

Wouldn’t it be hilarious (and freeing) if we all posted photos of our houses as they usually look?  Even funnier if we took care to take a really good photograph – as though we had carefully staged everything?  Quick, take a picture right now!

this morning

lia breakfast

Today was Mommy-and-Lia breakfast out.  Wednesday mornings, Jamba Juice.  Order anything you want.  Devo and I switch back and forth taking the kids–  one-on-one has to be scheduled in around here.  Next week, Mommy-and-Levi.

Chatter, chatter, our boots match!, with freckles sprinkled across her nose.

We squeezed in a trip to the used book section of the thrift store and added a like-new copy of Ramona the Pest to our permanent collection of favorites.

Back in time for Devo to leave for work, and school to start.  (Showers, breakfast, practicing, all done on time today!)

Kiri is entertaining herself.  Her activity of choice is to push a dining chair to a destination of her choice, climb, and get in to something purposely kept above the high-water line.  I’m keeping up with my exercise by lifting chairs up to the table, getting them down when the school kids need them, realizing the chairs have been abandoned and Kiri has requisitioned one for her own use, then racing around trying to put them all back up before she runs off with another one.

As Levi sounds out words, and Amelie dashes off a page of math problems, and Lia types away.

A lesson on chloroplasts leads to a study of Seurat, pointillism, and the color wheel, painting with dots of color.  And, of course, we have to try it out for ourselves with paint and Q-tips.  (Does anyone actually call them “cotton buds”?  Devo calls them earbuds, but he’s not from around here.)

Lots of roasted broccoli with garlic spaghetti and fresh parmesan for lunch.  With sauteed, salty mushrooms if you’re so inclined.

The kids and I tried out a friend’s soymilk maker to make almond milk.  Generally, we use the vitamix and a bag to strain out the solids.  Neither Devo nor I care for the zen-like process of squeezing the milk out in the midst of the bustling morning routine.  It’s fun for occasionally, exasperating for routine.  I think what we really need is a salad spinner-like apparatus that spins the milk out.

Almond milk for dessert, in fancy glasses and teacups.

An after-lunch, before-rest, clean up session.  I, again, contemplate therapy, seek a release from the daily freak-out (mild today).

Resting time is in full swing for the older three, and the Mama.  Devo works from home and keeps an eye on Kiri.  (A new and blessed commitment this year).  Always an hour rest after lunch.

 

misc.

photobooth

 

:: We went to the Living Desert today for one last time before our passes run out.  My favorite animal there is the serval, maybe because it reminds me of Lia, our long-legged, graceful, beautiful girl.

:: I’m having a food/cooking crisis of sorts.  Apparently it’s time to (a) grocery shop and (b) try some new recipes.

:: According to Amelie, she only likes fruit, macaroni and cheese, and sweets.  After long deliberation and much discussion, we have compiled a list of other foods that she deems edible.  Not surprisingly, this list contains sweet potatoes, sweet red bell peppers, sweet carrots… sweets for the sweet!

:: Devo and I went on our first completely successful date in recent months.  Levi did fall out of bed  while we were gone (no injuries), but was content to snuggle on his auntie’s lap and go back to sleep.  I’m thinking that we have gone on more dates in the last year than in the previous nine.

:: I haven’t watched the most recent Downton Abbey episode.  But everyone else has and has made scathing remarks in my presence.  Now I’m scared.  I’m trying to remember that these aren’t real people and that nobody really dies, it’s all pretend.

:: Devo knows what happens.

:: In other news, after about three weeks of a fussy, clingy, I-am-the-coconut-tree-to-her-monkey Kiri, she is returning to her cheerful and independent self.  Oh, the relief.  There’s something so uniquely insane about caring for a fussy baby – I am sure there isn’t anything like it in any other job.  You start to think that maybe you’re a weakling, blowing things out of proportion, just get a grip wouldja?

And then your husband takes over for an hour and affirms the crazy.  (Bless him both for taking over as much as possible and for affirming the crazy.  Both were balms for a storm-tossed psyche.)

A friend who had worked (and worked hard) in the corporate world for five years before having children told me this weekend that staying at home with her children is by far the hardest thing she’s ever done.  That soothed me.

If it’s not bolted down

:: we live on a ship

I have long said that our house is like a ship.

If it’s not bolted down, it’s going to move.

Less stuff! is my usual battle cry.  But we are in a pretty sweet spot with our possessions right now.  We use and love pretty much everything we have.  (Mostly.  Mostly love, mostly use.)  I look around and the things scattered hither and yon are not clutter, they are useful and frequently used items.  That have been removed from their place of repose.

We seem to be very good at “a place for everything” and not very good at “and everything in it’s place”.

I get a little morose and wonder if they are ever going to get the message.  Then I remind myself that two of them do sleep through the night, and that two of them (almost, almost three) do not throw temper tantrums, and that three of them take their dishes to the kitchen after every meal.  And maybe this pick up and drop tendency is also only a matter of persistence and time.

Oh, dear me, I do hope so.  If my facebook feed were left up to un-judicious posting, it would contain mostly professions of yoga love and food cravings.  If this blog were left up to un-judicious posting, it would all be about dealing with the mess.  I have a continual need for mess-therapy.

Right now we just need people to leave things where they belong.  Heed the word, people.

And if that’s not going to work (obviously, obviously that’s expecting too much from a family of adventurous explorers and curious investigators, despite my best strenuous efforts to quell the impulse to pick up something and discard it in another part of the house or yard), then we need safety locks and safety latches.  Lots and lots of them.

You know how restaurants (like, say, Panera) have their artsy pictures bolted to the walls?  I covet.

 

:: fear

There’s a manhunt on in our area for a cop-killer.  Everybody is on lock down.  And I didn’t get the memo until after we had backed out of the driveway to go to the library.  And because I wasn’t smart enough to figure our how to announce hahajustkiddinglet’sgobackinsideafterittookusfiveminutestogetinthecar with any reasonable sort of a reason, I told them why.

And fear entered our home.  Lia closed and locked the doors.  And through the day there were many, many manifestations of her fear.  “I’m scared and it makes my tummy feel funny”.  “What about Ramon?  (Our gardener who we see all the time) Is he not working outside today?”  “Let’s look out for helicopters.”  It came up again and again and again.

I watched this from a quiet place, amidst the more-than-usual chaos of feeling stuck in the house.

You can’t meet big stuff head on with Lia.  You have to come around it, and let her come around it.

Of course, I have no answers.  That, perhaps, is the hardest part.

 

:: sickies

Other news from this side is that everyone seems to be on the mend.  I lost my voice, but that’s to be expected after days and nights of being coughed on and snotted on and spoon shared.

I’m bone-hungry all the time.  Kiri’s still nursing a bit, and I’m not getting enough of something.  Legumes and grains and green leafy vegetables in large, continuous quantities are just not cutting it.

Lia is loving Read, Write, Type.  I love it, too.  Phonics, spelling, reading, and typing all at the same time!

I found that the library has Magic Tree House books on CD.  Awesome.  We’ve been flying through them, and finally Amelie gets to hear all the stories, instead of just looking at the pictures.

This week we planted half of our garden beds.  My dream is coming true.  Oh, they’re so pretty.  And we had such a good time planting them.  I hope they survive the cold weather coming tonight.  And if they do, I hope they survive Kiri.

We made a paper mache dome for our Hagia Sophia today.

I’m having a problem with apostrophes.  They are continually cropping up in the wrong places as I type.  I don’t know whether to blame this on the auto-correct function or the “obviously I’m texting, so I am not required to use proper grammar” syndrome or just another random manifestation of Mommy Brain.

cleanliness, sleep, Downton, and my birthday

:: cleanliness is next to godliness

My computer is looking cleaner after a face wash with a wipee.  It had been bearing splatters from a (failed, nasty) experiment with broccoli soup.  And a random sticky spot that I think might have been honey.  My computer gets around.

:: sleep, or the lack thereof

Kiri is snoring next to me.  She had a fever over the weekend with lots of night wakings, completely blowing our “sleep through the night” routines out of the water.  We have fairly good results with her through the cry it out method…after several very long nights with hours of crying.  But every time something disrupts the routine, we have to start again.

The stick in the proverbial spokes this time around is that she has started a habit of pooping in the middle of the night.  I’d let her sit in it, but she gets terrible diaper rash and hollers out “owwwww!”, poor baby.  How on earth do you teach a baby to stop doing that?

But let’s veer away from that subject because I’m getting perilously close to whining.  Or crying.

:: Downton Abbey

So is anybody watching Downton Abbey?  Apparently nobody in my facebook feed is, because last week came and went without a mention.  Unless everyone was, like me, too traumatized to even mention it.  I’m loving Rachel’s weekly recaps and think she summed up last week just perfectly:

Boo to the ever loving hoo.

Take that, Downton Abbey.

:: birthday

My birthday ended up being a very nice day, in spite of it all.  We went to Indian food buffet for brunch (our new favorite thing to do, beat the crowd!  Don’t have breakfast dishes to wash!)

Then we went and picked up our long awaited, much desired, beloved trampoline.  The dream has come true.  Pictures are coming, if I can convince the kids to keep clothes on despite the broiling (they protest) 75 degree weather.

Devo and I spent the afternoon putting the trampoline together (my arms are like jello today) and the kids jumped until well past sundown and then again after dinner and then again before bed.  They were out there first thing this morning.  This is a good, good investment.

I got to talk to my Grandma, my cousin Emily, my dad Jim, my Mom, and my Mother-in-Law.  A feat which spans the country and the world.  More impressive is the fact that there was enough peace and quiet on this side to actually hold conversations.  A rare treat, indeed.

My sister, Liana, came over to babysit for our scheduled every-other-Sunday date night.  I thought it was a big joke, expecting everyone to sleep for two hours, bwa-HA.  So we bypassed the Cheesecake Factory plans and went down the road to Subway.  Then we parked our van in front of our house and ate our sandwiches and watched Downton Abbey on the laptop.  Romantic and exciting, all at the same time.

Yes, we pay our babysitter so that we can sit in front of our house all by ourselves.

And guess what?  Nobody woke up.

 

school days

I’ve changed up the flow of our school days over the last two weeks.  I’ve broken the bonds of curricular slavery and relegated excellent curriculum to its rightful place – that of serving us and our educational journey.  We don’t serve our curriculum, it serves us.

I’ve divided our mornings of concentrated school work into three sections.  I even came up with fancy names for them.

Tools, Breadth, and Depth.

Tools are math and language arts.  A bit of math, a bit of whatever area in language arts needs the most focus.  For Lia, it is currently spelling.  For Amelie, sight words and reading practice.  For Levi, reading and letters.

Breadth is history and science.  History for two weeks, science for two weeks.  (I love this schedule, it gives us a real chance to dig in to what we’re learning).  History is still the amazing, awesome, perfection that is Story of the World.

investigative

I had been searching for several years for a science curriculum I liked.  I’m not keen on the Christian science curricula.  Finally landed on R.E.A.L Science Odyssey, thanks to our enterprising Educational Specialist from our charter school.  It fits in with our classical education leanings (yay, I don’t have to pull next year’s chemistry out of thin air!).  And also, it’s brief and interesting and fun.  The layout isn’t snazzy, but the labs draw the kids in and give them a basic understanding of the material at hand and a firm foundation in the scientific method.  I’m tickled about this.  This week we dissected flowers, with much concentration and excitement and intensity.

Depth is a new area for our official school time.  It’s time for the kids to work on a long-term project of their interest and choice.  Inspired by Project-Based Homeschooling, I am present to mentor (not plan, not guide) and enable.  I have a little notebook where I take notes of all their chatterings and plans and knowledge.

The girls chose for their first project the Hagia Sophia.  No, I had no idea what it was either until we read about it in Story of the World.  The Hagia Sophia is the ancient church of the Byzantine empire.  Large, beautiful, ornate.  And apparently it’s captured their attention, because they have spent many happy hours painting and designing and planning to sell the finished Hagia for $10.  $5 for Lia, $5 for Amelie (who plans to keep $3 for herself and give $2 to Levi–math!).

Devo and I have spent over an hour of last week’s time scrubbing paint off of hands and clothes and walls and floors.  (And, I’d like to say, we did it without freaking out.  We also, however, are working our way towards reduced-mess painting sessions.  Suggestions beyond paint smock and plastic tablecloth welcome).

And here she is, the Hagia Sophia in progress.

hagia sophia

A couple of months ago, I put a small table in the corner of the living room for their projects and activities.  Usually it has a pink thrifted wingback chair (now bearing paint smudges from the Hagia Sophia) and I often find someone sitting there drawing or reading or playing with toys they want to keep out of the hands of a small little miss.  Nowadays it serves the same function, but it is also a place to keep their long-term project out (in sight and in mind) and not have to put it away at the end of the day.

(Side note : I picked up the roller skates at a thrift store for $2 last week.  Hours of fun.)

corner table

I’m so excited about this.  They often center in on something and it infiltrates their play and reading and watching.  But now, with me on hand during an open and scheduled time to support their venture, it’s deepening the experience for all of us.

…………………………………………………………..

flying Levi

kiri and me

baby in a tree top

In other news, it was deliciously warm here this week and we have almost finished installing our four new raised beds.  And now it’s raining, wondrous rain.  The kids have spent entire days outside, but I have a hard time getting shareable photos due to disrobing.  Unless, of course, they are gorgeously arrayed in dress-up clothes.  And using their pajamas to make baby cradles in the lilac tree.  Rock-a-bye baby…

pancake stack

Pancakes for dinner tonight.  I finally found a whole wheat pancake recipe I like. (The blueberry syrup is pretty tasty, too).   I use almond milk with vinegar for the buttermilk, and sometimes I make flax eggs instead of the real ones.  The pancakes are nice and thin, just like I like them, and cook fast enough that I can feed my hungry nestlings without standing over a griddle for an hour.  The stack pictured is a double recipe, plus funny girl.