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.

 

 

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Chemistry for kids

We’ve been loving our science curriculum — Chemistry by REAL Science Odyssey.  I never took chemistry in high school (though it’s on my transcript, go figure), so it’s eye opening to all of us.  Amelie, especially has taken a shine to the elements.  Her birthday gift to me earlier this week was a collection of elements that she had written out and illustrated, it’s pretty darling.

We got this book from the library.  Highly recommend.  I think we need one for our library.

But back to the curriculum.  Frankly, it doesn’t look like much.  The layout is kind of plain.  But the contents are fantastic.  A bit of read aloud (or read to yourself), and then the labs.  I am not much of a project girl – I lose enthusiasm for messes or things that take too long.  But these labs are interesting and just the right size so that none of us (Mommy included) loses interest.  There is a consistent emphasis on observation and data recording.  Scientific method for six (and nine) (and 33) year olds.

Today the girls made muffins for our lab.  Well, the half that we put baking powder in were muffins.  The other half (minus baking powder) were more like hockey pucks.  Carbon dioxide, it’s good for the plants, it’s good for the muffins.  Lucky for us, the hockey pucks still taste good thanks to the (very) liberal sprinkling of cinnamon sugar.

I’m thinking now that we need a gigantic periodic table on our living room wall.

31 days, frozen vegetables, and math

smashball{from a trip to the beach a week ago, because I didn’t think a photo of frozen vegetables would be nearly as endearing}

:: 31 Days

I’ve thought really really hard about joining the 31 Days project – blogging about a topic of choice for the 31 days of October.  As you can tell, I’m either a day late or decided not to.

Option B ruled the day.  Hello, practicality.

There just isn’t enough protected time to commit to something like that.  And by that I mean – unnecessary with a deadline.  Especially the deadline bit.  Try to avoid those whenever possible.

{I just discovered that if I hold two fingers down and click a word, I can have immediate access to a definition and synonyms! My writing life as I know it has just been revolutionized.  <GASP> it works in Pages, too.  Coooool.}

But I am really jazzed about my topic of choice, so I’m actually writing out my series anyways and having a grand old time.  At a pace my life can manage.

I’m writing about “31 Days of Becoming”.  Devo even made me a button in case I decided to venture forth into Deep Commitment.  Truthfully, another reason I decided not to publish it is because it contains a lot of personal stories that I still feel vulnerable about.  There is vulnerable on purpose and there is vulnerable please-don’t-hit-me.  The internet is probably not the wisest place for sallying forth with the latter.

But I may change my mind.  Because I can.

 

:: Frozen Vegetables

Speaking of revolutionary discoveries, let’s talk frozen vegetables.  I grew up putting the frozen vegetables in a pan, covering with water, and heating on the stove.  It took long enough that generally I would either find that there was a frozen mass that had formed when I added the water or they would boil and I’d end up with overcooked color-leached mushiness.  Then we would fish our vegetables out of the water with a slotted spoon.

About a year ago (or maybe two?), I watched my friend Andrea break out her bag of Trader Joe’s peas with some buttery goodness and all she did was put them in the pan, cover it with a lid, and stir occasionally.  Whaaaaaa?  You can do that?

You can.

I don’t know what sparked that memory (maybe I had finally worked through the incredulous, paradigm shifting jolt of the new method), but a month or so ago I tried it for myself.  It’s awesome.  It has revolutionized my life as pertains to frozen vegetables.

I realize that everyone else in the western world has probably been cooking their frozen vegetables this way since the Dark Ages, but in case there is someone else out there like me with an iceberg in their pan, I’d just like to put it out there.  Try it.

 

:: Life of Fred

On the recommendation of a friend, I ordered a new math curriculum for Lia.  She had been ho-humming through Math-U-See, not protesting but not particularly engaged either.  Just putting in her time.

I ordered Life of Fred on the premise that the program is story based.  Maybe a good fit for my voracious reader.  I read that each book should take about a month to work on, so I ordered the first three.  We’ll try it until Christmas, I thought.

She finished the first book within 24 hours, and the first three books within a week.  She can’t wait to get to calculus (I think because there is the promise of learning Fred’s entire history).  She sits every morning (and sometimes in the afternoon) with her little notebook, reading and working her problems.  There are only about five problems to work per chapter.  Just the right amount to feel competent and eager to get to the next chapter.

I think she’s on book five now, but I’m not really sure.  I can’t keep up.  Every couple of days we sit down together and l catch up on the story (she always wants to share the story) and we take a look at the work in her notebook.

There are definitely some holes in her understanding of the material.  That doesn’t bother me at all because (a) she’s interested and intrigued by math for the first time ever and believes herself to be competent – that in and of itself will give her everything she needs (b) who ever completely understood everything before reaching out for more? and (c) she goes back and rereads the books because they are so much fun.

Amelie can’t wait until she’s ready for Life of Fred.

end of summer, photos and notes

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:: 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.



Eliminate the crazy -and- create an inheritance

It’s that time of year.  The weather hasn’t gotten the “fall” memo, but the sun has, and it’s almost dark when I leave yoga class now.

School is in full swing.  I’ve waded through curriculum choices and internet ordering, identified needs, and sketched out vision and goals for each child.   The daily routine has already undergone three big tweaks.  (Can a tweak be big?)

But really, I only have one big focus for this year.  All the rest are small details.  My big goal?

I don’t want to feel crazy this year.

I’m so over crazy.

I’ve taken a big look at what factors into the recurring feeling that things are spinning out of control.  What things contribute to thin (cough) patience.  What is happening when I feel that things are running smoothly.  What is going on when I feel rooted in the moment and available to whoever or whatever is in front of me.

And I made a list.

clean kitchen

  1. Get enough sleep.  Amen.
  2. Take time for myself first thing in the morning to find some space and a sense of equilibrium.  I had thought that rolling out of bed to do some yoga would be a good thing to do, but it turns out that I prefer to wake up my mind before I wake up my body.  I was so glad to find the idea of Morning Pages.  It’s a practice that fits me just right, clears the cobwebs, orders the day, and sometimes turns into an early morning free counseling session.
  3. Take care of My Things first.  I make my bed, shower, and clean my room before facing the world.
  4. Keep the kitchen clean.  This includes a number of tasks.  Wash the dishes, dry and put them away, clean and clear all the counters.  If my kitchen is clean, I am 89% more likely to cook.  (Hey, hey, another week has passed and I’ve cooked at least four meals that we would have eaten out for in the past.  My shoulder is getting sore from patting myself on the back.)
  5. Keep the Holy Triangle clean.  All the living spaces in our house are open to one another.  The Holy Triangle includes the kitchen, the dining room, and the breakfast nook turned desk/sewing.  If this space is free of clutter with surfaces cleared and chairs pushed in, I feel like I can conquer whatever the day throws at me.  It doesn’t matter if a typhoon has gone through the living room, as long as it all stays outside my Holy Triangle, I’m fine.
  6. Take a break in the middle of the day.  I usually take some time for myself during rest time (the kids rest every day for one hour right after lunch).  I use that time for getting things done, computer work, do errands, or to spend as I choose.  I’ve learned in the last week that working feverishly through this hour does not provide the mental break I need to enter into our afternoon activities fresh and patient.
  7. Grocery shop and meal plan.  Meal planning is, as you know, new to me (still a fan!  revamped plan going well!).  But dang if life isn’t always easier when there is ample food in the pantry.
  8. Do things that feed me.  Practice and take lessons.  Write.  Study.  Sew.  Do something creative.
  9. Clean up everything, every morning and every afternoon.  Eliminates (or, greatly reduces) meltdowns.  Parent or child.
  10. Be faithful to routines.  It’s my current mantra, befaithfulbefaithfulbefaithfull.  If I shift or neglect one thing, it creates a snowball effect and I get effectively crazy.  And we don’t want crazy.

It seems like a lot of things to do, sometimes it seems like I’m asking for the moon, being wildly irresponsible with my demands on myself, my family, and my husband.  But at this point in my life with four small children, free flowing creates unhappy people.  Every time.  It particularly creates Crazy Mama.  And I’m tired of being crazy.  Did I say that already?

School morning have been going remarkably well, everyone settling into their routines.  The first truly smooth day came and I realized that everyone was calm except me.  I’ve felt the crazies for so long that I didn’t know how to NOT be crazy.

I’m retraining my automatic reactions, and I’ve been proactive in asking for help for things I need help with.  Sometimes I tell myself that this is a good thing to do because how I feel affects so many people.  If I feel calm and centered, I am so much better at parenting.

And that’s true.

But the truth also is that even if I didn’t have other people depending on me so heavily for so many things, I would still go to such lengths to create a healthy, happy me.  I’m worth it.

………………………………………………………………

I’ve sat here for awhile, wondering about keeping or deleting that last sentence.  “I’m worth it.”  Would that seem self-flaunting, self-ish to my readers?  Would it make me seem like a head-in-the-clouds tra-la-la-ing airhead?  Or worse, a full of myself braggart?

I’ve decided to not ignore that voice, but to address it full on.

How is it that to take care of our basic needs for peace and sanity is considered selfish?  Where did we, as women, inherit these ideas that we are not worthy of feeling good?

Ah, there’s the answer right inside my question.  We inherit them.  We inherit them from the women around us, from the words that are spoken and the examples that are lived.

And as with all things passed down to us, we need to decide — is this something I want to keep, or is it flawed and I choose to uproot it?

I say that this particular idea – the idea that we, as women, are not worthy of peace and happiness – is bogus.  Time to give it the boot.

A woman who has learned to care for herself with gentleness, strength, and faithfulness has a beauty that is irresistible.   I don’t want my children to receive an anemic inheritance.  I desire wholeness for them.  And I desire no less for myself.  Wholeness for all of us.

We’re all worth it.

 

 

Summer

The calendar tells us that summer is approaching.  We have such lovely winter weather here.  A few days of “winter”, a few days of “summer”, and a lot of days of just perfect.  But the sun doesn’t lie, and the days are getting longer.  The kids are going to bed before the sun and we’re starting to wish we could stay outside in the garden just a bit longer.

I’m thinking forward to the dog days of summer and how we hibernate inside for the duration.  Maybe our routine could use a bit of a shift.  Spend time outside in the early morning and the late afternoon.  Do school work and activities through the midday.

Somehow we missed our window for a spring break.  Between the church schedule, the piano schedule, and the charter school schedule, our own personal spring break got scheduled right on out.  Homeschool blogs were talking about needing a break and a lift in February and March.  I’m a late bloomer.  Here in late-April I’m ready to scrap “rejuvenation” altogether and move straight towards our summer routine, with a significant let-up on the “should-dos”.

In the meantime, we’re taking a week off of piano practice and taking (yet another) week easy on school pressures.

Next year we’ll take a spring break.  Promise.

 

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.

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.

bits & pieces turns into story

::reading

Amelie is reading these days.  A lot less sounding out, a lot more easy reading.  Right now we are aiming for reading small, manageable bits, consistently.  This week, One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, in two two-page spreads per day.

We are really enjoying Dick and Jane.  For some reason Dick and Jane have been sorely misaligned.  They are just perfect for my early reader and the classic illustrations keep me entertained, too.

Levi caught the sounding out bug early this year and helped himself to letter-learning and letter-writing and letter-typing.  He often refers to himself as “L-E-V-I”, all spelled out.  Kiri and Lia and Devo, likewise.  Those of us with longer names just get called as usual, no spelling.

I had been watching his skill-building from the corner of my mind as I worked with the others on spelling and reading and writing.  I offered him help and new materials when needed, but it was his thing and he was happy and I was happy.  This week he read his first BOB book.  Not too shabby for a little peanut of a three year old.  He has a knack for remembering the sounds he just sounded out and smooshing them quickly into a word.  Helpful knack, that.

 

:: story

So the other week was communion at church, which means foot-washing.  Which means, in our church, small basins of water and thick paper napkins.

Church day continues to be a rigorous day for me, worthy of marathon status, surely, herding my small flock hither and yon and up and down, to class and muffins and cups of gold fish and the bathroom.   And all in heels.

I really must get flats.  (Side note – don’t think I haven’t tried to get in on this wondrous proliferation of cute flat shoes that fashion has been so kind to bestow on us.  For some reason, my heels slip out of every single ding dang pair of flats, regardless of size.  It doesn’t matter if it’s Target or Nordstrom’s or Clarks.  Pity me.  I do.)

But on communion day, it was cold, so I was wearing my Uggs and tromping around lithely and blithely and warmly.

(Really, you can’t imagine how much extra effort heels and a skirt requires over the course of a morning/afternoon at church.  Or maybe you can.)

I thought we could swing foot washing with three big kids and one toddler and one experienced mother.

Things did proceed fairly smoothly, right until I took off my own shoes (lead by example, right?) and was standing in the church with one sock on and one sock off.  Diddle diddle dumpling, my son John.

It must have been then when Kiri dumped over the basin of water as I vainly grabbed for her, because I distinctly remember that my toes were cold and wet, and I couldn’t figure out if it was more important to put my shoes back on (I know some people have a serious problem with bare feet in church) or make a barefooted dash to the table with all the paper napkins to mop up the water beneath my partially stockinged feet.

And then Kiri took a look at her handiwork and plopped herself down in the middle of the spreading sea.  (How can an inch of water in a small basin make such a large puddle?)

This was a first for me, I realized.  Eight years and no one has ever dumped out the foot-washing water.  With our odds, that’s rather remarkable, I’d say.

Cue out-of-body experience.  I see myself mopping on my hands and knees (in skirt) and trying to keep hold of wet child and coaching the bigger ones through the drying of feet and the donning of (frilly) socks and shiny shoes.  Some hissing of orders to take the other basin, navigate crowd, and empty it. Carefully!

And I see the other people around me, so very very close in proximity.  Are they oblivious to the small but desperate drama happening two feet away?  Or are they politely not seeing?  It’s too bad if they are being polite, it’s definitely worth a chuckle.  And maybe a napkin.

There was no pious post-foot washing prayer that day.  It was more like a rout and dripping retreat.  In bare, wet feet.

Notes

I’m just popping in to make some notes here.

We’re in the midst of a full weekend/week/weekend.  Lots of celebrations (and prepping for said celebrations) this week.  Most notably, Lia’s 8th birthday and all the celebrations that go along with this great occasion.

I bought a resource this morning that I think some of you might be interested in.  It’s an e-book bundle entitled Learning Through Play.  It’s chockfull of ideas and projects for toddlers through middle childhood.  I am especially appreciative of the art, gardening, and writing activities.  We already did one this morning and my kitchen is overrun with drying mono prints a la Munsch’s The Scream.

It’s only $9.99 this weekend, and well worth the money.

Also, as I am looking forward to the holiday season and sketching out some ideas and plans, I’d just like to remind myself here that ::

Hurry is a form of violence practiced on children.

(My own paraphrase of Eugene Peterson’s, Hurry is a form of violence practiced on time.)

Been mulling over this one quite a bit.  It seems to be universally true.  True all the time and in all situations.

 

 

Garden beds and Shakespeare

:: garden beds

I bought four 4×4 raised garden beds yesterday.  They are on clearance at Lowe’s – great price and good reviews.  Will I regret not getting six?

Ooh, I’m all ready to plant them – kale, swiss chard, more carrots (Amelie picked and ate all of our current crop), broccoli (we want to see it flower).  But first we have to dig up grass, rearrange sprinklers, and save up to buy the dirt to fill them with.  Kind of dampens the enthusiasm.  Where’s that spoonful of sugar?

Or better yet, a twitch of the nose.  Healthier.

:: Shakespeare, etc.

Book recommendations.  Marcia Williams’ Tales From Shakespeare and More Tales From Shakespeare.  Shakespeare plays – comic book style.  Brilliant and hilarious.  We own one and it is dog-eared and tattered from repeated readings.  The other one is at the library – one year we checked it out for three months.

Marcia Williams has a wonderful list of books – Canterbury Tales, Greek Myths, the Iliad and the Odyssey, King Arthur, Oliver Twist, Robin Hood.  We’re adding to our collection slowly but surely.

On a related note, we have discovered the graphic novel (comics) section of the library and they are so much fun.  Benny and Penny, Pigling: A Korean Cinderella Story, The Collected Allison Dare (Little Miss Adventures).  

 

 

Minutiae

:: waxing philosophical for a moment

I believe in minutiae.

Minutiae happens.  Minutiae is important.  Minutiae is revealing.

A lot of minutiae tells a story.

A lot of stories make up a life.

{Has anyone written a “This I Believe” based on minutiae?  I’ll have to google it.}

I’m really starting to embrace the validity and importance of minutiae.  Especially here on this blog.  I think I’ve finally closed the door on the everlasting search for a “message” or a “theme” or a “topic” that successful bloggers are supposed to have.

This blog is about my story and my story is made up of, you guessed it, minutiae.

Maybe I should create a button to pin on my lapel.  (Do I have any clothes with a lapel?)

I LOVE MINUTIAE!

<smile>

:: fussy baby

Kiri has been very fussy.  She has big big lumps on her gums – the molars are coming.  She can be heard squalling most of the time.  (What must the neighbor’s think?)

Her favorite squalling word is “owww-oooooooo!”.

Not because anything is owie.  It’s just a good word for howling when somebody takes your toy.  Or somebody touches you.  Or somebody looks at you.  Or somebody doesn’t look at you.

She kind of sounds like a wolf, “ow-ooooooooo!”.

Poor baby.

:: what a pain in the … head

I’ve had a recurrence of the weird headaches I had last year.  I am entirely unable to think about anything remotely confusing or requiring concentration.  Anything with eye movement (Facebook, triominoes, grocery shopping) makes me motion sick.  It’s so weird to get car sick when reading to the kids, but it makes total sense.  Wiggle, bump.

Anyhow, I’m pretty sure it’s thyroid.  Again.  (The only other time I had this was when I had swung to hyperthyroid).  We’ll find out tomorrow.

Between Kiri and the perpetual headache, I’ve been taking things very very slowly and carefully.  Nothing taxing.  We may or may not get all of our practicing in this week before piano lessons.  C’est la vie.  Or, rather, que sera sera.

:: bug catching

For science today, we kitted out our hiking backpacks with a bunch of loot from our awesome Young Naturalist and Insect Collector Backpacks.  Binoculars, magnifying glass, specimen bags and vials, field notebook, and bug-catching net.

The young naturalists let Mommy have a go at the net.  I dashed about the backyard, swooping the net and stalking winged things.  It was hot and I was barefoot in the wet grass with a sleeping baby on my back and an inquisitive explorer by my side.  We finally caught two insects – we think one is a moth.  Bug catching is harder than it seems, but a ton of fun.  (Thanks, girls, for sharing!  I had so much fun!)

Next up, learn to use the flower press.

Maybe I should start titling these posts by coming up with a sentence that uses the main concepts from each section.  Like “Fussy Baby Catches Philosophical Bug.”  Or “Bug Catches Headache and Philosophical Fussy Baby”.  Or “Philosophical Headache – Bug or Baby?”.  

Then again, maybe not.

 

Early Days

I’d like to announce that I am writing today from my own, brand spanking, long-awaited (with groanings that cannot be uttered), new computer!

Ahhhhh.  

I do believe this is my first moment of Ahhhh with my new technology.  We’ve made it through the transferring and consolidating that comes with going from four devices into one (thanks, love!).  And now there’s a quiet moment, and I have everything at my fingertips.  Laaaaaaa.

Devo and I have been being more intentional about making time for me to be alone during the day to work or accomplish something or recharge and refresh.  Alone time after 8pm doesn’t count as alone time–that would be lick my wounds time.  Or dead as a doornail time.  Or, make like a marathon runner and collapse at the end of the race time.

I think it’s been three weeks or so now, and we seem to manage about three days a week (give or take) where Devo takes the kids swimming and I indulge in introverted revelry.

These pockets of time have gone a long, long way towards bringing me back to sanity, to happiness and joy, to a sense of accomplishment and purpose, to expansion and fortitude.

We started school this week.  A hike on Monday, our annual trek to the mountains to start off the year in the world’s best classroom.

And now, with two days of “school work” under our belts, I’m already assessing and reassessing and am thinking seriously of making some changes.

First off, a two hour morning nap for Kiri.  To commence as soon as Liana moves to the dorm (and out of Kiri’s room), if I can hold out that long.  Mischief this morning includes digging the Jamba Juice cups out of the recycling and helping herself and the floor to the residual yumminess. Throwing my school notebook onto the floor, where it popped open and all the pages came out.  Hollering during the time when everyone else was settled with coloring and ready to listen to this week’s chapter in Story of the World.

Next up, reduce, reduce, reduce!  I am aiming for three good, solid hours of “school work” in the mornings (with other learning in the afternoon, just not “official”).  I have a lovely schedule with assignments and activities laid out for each child (including Levi).

Apparently said schedule actually takes six hours instead of three.  Oops.

I’m fairly positive that after a week or so of settling in, my schedule would indeed fit into three hours.  But… I suspect that does not include any leeway for sticky Jamba juice babies or trips to timeout or any questions/conversation amongst learners.

It’s time to revisit the true goals and purposes we’ve identified for this year and whittle away the extraneous items.

I suppose I’ll click over on my handy dandy computer here and make up a new, revised schedule to try out on the morrow.

 

 

Kiri crawls, We acquire a house, etc., etc.

Okay, don’t fall out of your chair with the shock that I’m finally here. I really intended to write, I wanted to write, I needed to write…but apparently blogging falls lower on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Yes, I’ve definitely been groveling abiding in the lowest parts of the pyramid.

Did you enjoy all the blog posts I’ve written in my head the past few weeks?

Me too.

They were remarkably entertaining, informative, anecdotal. And thanks to a few notes jotted down while doing dishes, they weren’t all immediately lost. No, I jotted them down, and then lost them.

(Did you ever hear that old joke about the preacher visiting the old woman? He said, “Ma’am, do you ever think about the here after?”

She replied, “Oh, I think about it all the time. I go into a room and think, ‘What am I here after?'”

I resonate.)

:: Kiri is Crawling

Kiri is in that short-lived but delightful stage where the messes she makes are still just so cute. She spent a number of weeks getting ready to crawl, having has mastered the art of going from her stomach into a sitting position and back again. And in doing so she became quite mobile, getting many places….unfortunately just not usually in the direction she wished to go.

I’m pleased to say she finally figured it all out just before her 9th ‘month-day’ just the cutest little crawling bug. She’s working on her distance crawling now.

:: BIG NEWS!!

Hey, we’re buying a house! Or, we’ve bought a house! Or, we’re supposed to get the keys this week! Or, apparently I can’t sign my name in a consistent manner because the escrow officer had to ask me to keep my signature the same from paper to paper. And it freaked me out, because apparently the more attention you put to your signature, the more unpredictable it becomes. Twitch here, cross a t here but not there. Ai.

Yes, I think we’ve been actively looking for almost four years. Anyone need a realtor? We can vouch for ours, she’s amazing. And very patient.

Now I’m fighting off apprehension. At this point in our family history, I can’t accomplish anything more than caring for the children and very basic house cleaning (or should I say, picking up, the word cleaning would be misleading). Painting, cleaning, moving. I canna do none of it.

Actually, I thought that the burst of energy would somehow sweep aside the current reality of baby + toddler and I would become an Accomplishing Machine.

Let us all now laugh.

Actually, I didn’t laugh. More like gnashing of teeth. With a bit of indigestion. (Sunday we started working on projects — well, Devo worked like an Accomplishing Machine. It took me an hour to get the breakfast dishes done, and it all went downhill from there.)

Devo and I have a game plan. He’s going to do all the work to make the move happen while I care for the children and help for the five minutes here and five minutes there (never actually finishing a task). Then he’s going to care for the children while I do all the unpacking and settling in.

It’s a good plan.

The only buyer’s remorse I’ve experienced so far about our new house is that it is on the small side. But we like the layout and hey, less cleaning, less room to fill with unneeded stuff. We spent a couple of hours there on Monday during the home inspection and it feels just right. Cozy and sweet.

So, yay. Little jump of excitement. (Sorry, too tired to muster a wahoo and a leap for joy).

:: School News
Lia is taking her first standardized tests this week. Yes, we homeschool, but it’s a state requirement for our charter school. (And, by the way, I looooove Sky Mountain Charter School.)

I’ve spent a few weeks working through that uncomfortable place where my philosophy and my psychology meet.

She hasn’t learned a number of the concepts that were on the math test today.

Philosophically, that’s totally cool with me. We’re on a different curriculum. It’s very important that she masters each step before plunging into the next. The tests only test if you know what they ask, it doesn’t actually test your body of knowledge, etc.

Psychologically, I love knowing stuff on tests and getting good grades. And I’m thinking forward to that little meeting where our ES is going to (kindly and non-judgmentally) go over the test scores and how I can very possibly feel like a failure. Feel, being the operative word. Get over it, Leilani, says I.

Lia’s loving the test days, and I’m all agog at all the other homeschool families. Guess what, a lot of people have four or five children! And they all look like nice, normal, put together people!

:: Growing Up
Birthdays. Amelie is five, Levi is three. We now have added trains and a nerf basketball hoop to our possessions. I’m on a geometry kick, so it’s all about pattern blocks and tangrams right now.

Amelie started piano lessons. After her first lesson (she was so excited-nervous/nervous-excited) I asked her what was the easiest part of the lesson.

She said, “The exercises.”

What was the hardest part?

“Talking.”

Ohhhh, my shy little girl. She’s starting to enter the world bravely, bit by bit. I think it’s so important to honor her shyness (she who hid behind her hands for the first few years of her life) and let her come forth as she is ready. She was very very excited/nervous at her first few lessons, but not scared. It’s the right time.

She’s learned “Beethoven’s Ninth” for her first group class next week. She hasn’t said yet whether she will be performing in the end of the year recital.

:: Big Picture Needed
I’m feeling the need to take some time to envision what I want our family life to look like right now. I’ve kind of lost the big picture.

I’m feeling that life here has way too much cacophony and chaos recently. But I can’t tell if I’m just being over-sensitive or if there really do need to be some changes. Or both?

I do best when I have a clear picture of my ‘ideal world’. Then I can help the bits and pieces fall in line with that goodness.

It’s a funny thing. These days have definitely had that element of survival to them, just hang on and make it through. But at the same time there is also so much living in the moment, enjoying the sweet and amazing moments.

Hanging on and holding on, all at once.

feng shui, lent, birds

:: Today we carted off a pile of stuff from the garage floor.  It was a gigantic pile.  It was seriously messing up my feng shui.

We made three or four personal deliveries, and a whole trunk load for charity.

It’s the first time I’m not saving stuff “for the next baby”, so we are experiencing the joy of passing things on to others.  Freely we have received, freely give.

:: If I had been really brave, we would have carted off half of our furniture, too.  So tired of our tired old couch.  But as we like to sit all together snuggled and scrunched up, I kept it and managed to round up some goodwill towards it.

(Do you know how many ugly couches there are on craigslist?  Do you?)

:: My grandpa has been in and out of the hospital the last two months or so.  It’s hard being so far away.

:: Lent has started and I’ve decided to mark these days with prayer.  Didn’t start on time, don’t always remember, sometimes don’t even have a clear idea why I’m doing what (in more ways than one, haha), but still moving forward towards Holy Week and Easter.

:: My Whole Foods Online Workshop is in it’s fourth week now.  Truthfully, I’m feeling discouraged about how little I’ve been able to do with it.  I haven’t gotten to try hardly any of the recipes (haven’t been to the grocery store where we buy our fruits and vegetables…apparently in a month), haven’t gotten to really soak in the modules.  I haven’t even gotten to watch any of the videos all the way through.  (The kids have, though.)

This week I’m aiming to move past my discouragement and cultivate gratefulness to the box of fruits and veggies that arrives on my doorstep every Friday.  I may not have all the ingredients to make new and tantalizing recipes, but I do have good, healthy, organic food to cook with.  Lots of leafy greens this week.

:: We are continuing our study of birds for another week.  The girls and I are LOVING The Trumpet of the Swan.  It’s living up to all my childhood memories.  What a delightful story, and so fun to read aloud.

We’ve discovered a house sparrow’s nest in our neighbor’s eaves, and we can see it from our upstairs windows.

We’ve identified that the birds in our backyard are white crowned sparrows, winter visitors to the Inland Empire.

Most exciting, we saw a hummingbird’s courting display.  Up it zooms, high into the air, then swoops down.  Again and again.

I’m liking bird courtship study as an antidote to princess stories (in which the boy does the choosing).  In the bird world, the boys do acrobatics and sing beautiful songs, and the girls do the choosing.  No passive acceptance of fate here.