Friday, January 30, 2009

As Good As It Gets

With Kerry up early and off to a breakfast meeting, and a PTO day stretching in front of us, the boys and I had no reason to hurry this morning. Bear in mind, that to them "sleeping in" means anything after 7am, but still...

Little feet came pitter-pattering into my bedroom. With my cozy flannel sheets, down comforter, and a warm, snuggly little boy on each side of me I said, "It just doesn't get much better than this."

Gunnar sighed. "Nope, it sure doesn't, Mama."

Green "Starfish" ?

You've gotta love green, to live where we live. It's everywhere. I've heard the forests in our state referred to as "a tyranny of chlorophyll".

My parents live in a clearing, in the woods. They're surrounded by firs, cedars, hemlocks, maples and alders. And ferns. Sword ferns are the most common, but there are others... bracken ferns in the spring and summer, licorice ferns growing in the moss on the maples, little deer fern, and more. But the sword ferns are huge - I've seen fronds almost as tall as I am!

So, driving the boys up for their PTO day, I noticed that the forest looked kind of strange - and it took just a minute to realize what was different. All that snow we had crushed the ferns! Oh, they're not dead. They'll grow back just fine. But they're squished nearly flat.

To me, it looked like an underwater scene, with a bunch of green starfish!

But I'm weird like that.

See what you think. The picture above is what they normally look like. But here is what I saw:

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Fine Motor. Again.

Wow. I have to say that I am relieved already by how many of us have similar experiences and frustration(!) whether it be with our kids, or - ahem - with ourselves. (All my elementary report cards had variations on the theme of "Julie needs to slow down and write neatly".)

But, as I've been thinking (and commiserating with some of you!) I remembered a few things that have helped / are helping...

1. I bought pencil grips. Real ones. I think they're about 3 for $5, so not cheap (disposable), but they've lasted through three kids. They work for either right or left hands and they look like this. (Click the picture for a link.)

2. If your kiddo is having trouble isolating their lower arm (and writing by moving their whole arm) have him lay on his stomach and elbows, and write down on the floor.

3. It's worth buying the primary paper with bigger lines, not just wide-ruled notebook paper.

4. Then I found even better paper. It comes in a (non-spiral) notebook by Mead and is lined, with little hatch-marks. Almost like graph paper, but not quite. That helps with the spacing. Put a letter in every space, and leave a blank space between words. They're called "Redispace", and look kind of like this:




5. Think big. Big paper. A big dry erase board to play with. Newsprint to write or draw on. (End rolls are really cheap from our local newspaper. Like, a couple bucks.)

6. Think really big. Chalk on the driveway is always a big hit - even with my 12 year old! I think it seems non-threatening because it's just so big, and it's temporary. My cousin even found some funky 3-D glasses that make the hot/cool colors pop out or recede. When Wyatt was 4 or 5 he took some chalk outside and drew an incredible likeness of the Apollo 13 rocket, complete with all the stages, the command module, and the lunar lander. Right next to a blue camel with 10 humps. I thought there were 12, but apparently those were lips.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Simple Woman #3

FOR TODAY January 26, 2009

Outside My Window... cold clear sunshine, snow on the hills around the lake, and my boys, waiting behind our house for a friend coming home from public school about now.

I am thinking... I can’t think straight. Gunnar is talking my ear off while he waits for his friend to walk over. All my boys were (are?) like this. It’s like having your whole life narrated. Putting a positive spin on it? “We have a language-rich environment.” Yeah.

I am thankful for... a productive school day with good attitudes, today’s work completed (school work, anyway), piano practice already accomplished, and the sound of Gunnar’s voice as he runs downstairs to meet his friend, saying (to me), “I love you! I love you more!”

From the learning rooms... a clean table, meaning the day’s work is done and put away, new artwork on the walls, and the sweet smell of a gingerbread candle.

From the kitchen... elk and barley soup bubbling in the crock-pot, sending a warm rich smell through the house.

I am wearing... “nice” jeans, a blue and gray sweater, thick fuzzy socks, and slippers. (We’re trying to keep the heat down lower than ever.)

I am creating... another quilt. This one is an OCD delight. I’ll explain later.

I am going... to book-club tonight :0) To be honest, I haven’t enjoyed some of the book selections so far. Heavy, dark, depressing. (The Picture of Dorian Gray, To the Lighthouse…) But we moved to a new church less than a year ago and I am really enjoying getting to know the “girls”. (I know, I know, that’s not very PC.) And I love to read :0)

I am reading... Just starting “Parenting By the Book”. It was a gift, so I have no idea what’s inside yet.

I am hoping... Kerry will get some work. Soon.

I am hearing... tappety tappety tappety. Oh, besides the computer? Chris Rice, “Run the Earth, Watch the Sky”

Around the house... I can see the floor in the boys’ bedroom. Yay, they picked up all the plastic soldiers! The family room, however, is a different story. It looks like a Lego factory exploded. *sigh*

One of my favorite things... Little red-cheeked boys that smell like fresh air. (We haven’t hit the major b.o. age yet. Lord have mercy.)

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: It’s looking like a fairly “routine” week. (Famous last words.) The boys have a PTO day coming up, which we’re all anticipating. And then– of course – we’ll be going to Grandpa and Grandma’s to see the “Super-Ball”. Yeah. Because we’re really sports-savvy like that.

Here is picture thought I am sharing... I may be taking my life into my hands, because my mom does read my blog, but I couldn’t resist. She is the third person in our family to have a shiner… Kerry in November, Tate in December, and Mom in January.


This is a tradition that needs to stop right here.

Love you, Mom!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

No Coincidence

About the Bible reading plan, anyway.

We're still working on our Daily Bible readings. OT at breakfast, NT at lunch, Psalm and Proverb at dinner. As I've mentioned before, the OT reading is the longest. Sometimes I just read it while the boys eat breakfast. This has a benefit I had not anticipated. My boys usually wake up in the morning like they've been shot out of a cannon - rarin' to go and ready to take on the day and just a wee little bit - well - zingy until they've gotten some food in them.

In other words, breakfast is not usually characterized by meaningful conversation.

More like a continuous stream of giggling, poking, reacting to being poked, complaining about being cold (no fuel in their bodies yet), resisting being told to go upstairs and get their slippers, requests for more cerealtoastyogurtmilk, and the usual testosterone-fueled assortment of bodily noises.

And then more giggling. Of course.

But when we read the Bible right through breakfast, it's much quieter.

Much much quieter.

I like it.

And, interestingly, though we are reading from a preset schedule, and not deliberately choosing this or that section, I'm amazed at how often the day's reading has been seemingly connected with what is going on with us.

Of course, there was the funny Psalm we read when Gunnar lost his tooth, but that's not all I'm talking about.

Most recently in our NT readings (Matthew 14 and 15) we saw how Jesus fed the 5000 and then the 4000. So timely.

See, Kerry is a self-employed architect. Self-employed means that if there are no "billable hours", there's no income. And he is out of work. Out.

He's been self-employed for seven years and I've had a hard time with it, in some ways. I like a predictable income. (Lots easier to make and keep a budget.) Mostly, I like security.

But in today's reading from Psalms:

Some trust in chariots and some trust in horses,
but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.

More about Fine Motor...

I, too, had horrible penmanship. My mind was always racing faster than I could (legibly) keep up.

I'm thinking I need to get them a keyboarding program and just teach them to "type".

Actually, I spoke to a specialist who said that "they" (you know, "they", the so-called elite education specialists) used to think that kids needed to write manually for their brains to be wired properly. (Really, and just how did agrarian societies function?)

These are the same people that say that if your baby doesn't crawl he'll have difficulty learning to read, and other such nonsense.

Anyway, now "they" say that it doesn't matter. I mean, yes, they need to learn to write to function in society, but it isn't accomplishing some obscure brain development function. Actually, learning to keyboard (I guess I shouldn't say "type" anymore) has some additional benefits.

When I spell a word wrong, I get immediate feedback. On my computer a misspelled word gets underlined in red, and a grammatical error in green. Right away I know I need to check/fix something. I don't go on spelling the word wrong, over and over. (At least, not usually!)

Also, you get "muscle memory" working for you. Just like I know some friends' phone numbers by 'feel' more than by number, my fingers know the feel of common words. So kids (and adults) can actually have the proper spelling reinforced by the feel of the movements their fingers make in typing - oops - keyboarding, them.

Anybody know a good program for kids? Affordable?!

A Can of Worms

A few days ago Denise left a comment asking about Gunnar's name.

The short story is that it's a Scandinavian name that means "bold warrior".

But the long story (kind of opening a can of worms, but I don't mind...) follows.

Actually, I had originally chosen a different name - Boone.

* This is going to seem like random threads - like my thoughts - but be patient, it all comes together :0) *

Okay, if you're a GUBA child and you grew up exposed to the King James Version, you probably have some obscure words in your vocabulary. A boon is the opposite of a bane. A blessing, a benefit, as opposed to a curse. But I would've spelled it with an "e" on the end... kind of western, I guess.

When I met Kerry he was recovering from Hodgkin's Lymphoma and was finishing up chemotherapy and radiation treatments. He's been cancer-free for (15? more?) years - thank you, God - and is considered to have the same risk of getting cancer as the rest of the population, now. But there were some lasting effects... his immunities are pretty rotten, his joints ache, his teeth aren't so great, AND (the biggie) the chemo often impacts fertility. Yup.

Fortunately Kerry knew this, going into it, and was able to take action... which I won't describe in detail :0) And, as a result, we refer to our boys as our "Frozen Assets". They don't know all about this yet, but we will surely tell them eventually.

At any rate, when we first saw a fertility specialist (the G0-To Guy in Seattle), to talk about starting a family, he considered the small amount of "deposits" we had at our disposal, and cautiously predicted that - assuming I had no fertility issues - we could hope to conceive one child, and if we were extremely lucky, maybe two, but we shouldn't hope for any more.

And so, with time, and a certain (limited) amount of medical intervention, along came Wyatt and Tate. Neither Kerry and I wanted to have an only child, and had talked about adopting if things didn't work out biologically. So, with two, Kerry was content and would've been glad to be done. But I was hoping for more.

We prayed about it and decided to proceed with what we could do (well, mostly ME, at that point), and leave it in God's hands... where it always was anyway. And when it came right down to the wire, I became pregnant again :0) (And had a very vivid dream that I was carrying triplets, which - thankfully - was not prophetic!)

I was sure, all along, that we would have another boy. Kerry was hoping for a girl. When I suggested the name Boone he quickly agreed. It sounded kind of 'western', like Wyatt, and I liked the idea of 'his' name proclaiming that 'he' (I was so sure!) was a blessing. I actually had Gunnar at the top of my list, but thought Kerry wouldn't like the name... too ethnic, or something.

Well, he had himself convinced that we were having a girl, so he didn't care what boy name I chose! Then, when we had an ultra-sound at about 5 months, which revealed quite clearly that we had another boy, Kerry quickly got over any disappointment... and told me that he didn't like the name!

Back to the drawing board... I still liked the name Gunnar, but was sure he wouldn't, so I started searching for something else. Meanwhile, Kerry came to me with a short list, and guess what was at the top?

Gunnar :0)

Fine (?) Motor and Writing

I started to write a response to a comment asking if Gunnar likes to write, but thought I'd make a post about it... in sympathy with other moms of boys.

NO, he does not like to write. None of the boys do. At least, not for "school".

Well, to be fair, Wyatt likes to write when the topic is his choice - like journal writing - and I'm not being picky about "GPS" (Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling). But really, it's all about Fine Motor skills.

While they'll play with Legos and build incredibly complex inventions, they have very little patience for doing nit-picky fine motor stuff... like writing. Neatly.

Back when I was getting ready to begin homeschooling , I went and observed/interviewed several of my homeschooling friends. One of my really helpful friends highly recommended a program called "Spell to Write and Read". (Notice the sequence there?)

She explained how it worked, and it all made a lot of sense. Sounded great. Simple. Very organized and sequential. Totally appealed to my brain. And she was having great success with this.

With her three girls.

Thankfully, I thought that through before launching into it, because it would've been a disaster for my boys. That particular program starts with writing and spelling and then progresses to reading.

Well, that is exactly backwards to how my boys have learned. Their comprehension and creative thinking have always been way, way out in front of their fine motor ability - like their ability to write legibly.

So this is my dilemma, almost daily. Of course they need to write, spell, read, and learn grammar. They need adequately neat penmanship. We practice all these things.

But when an idea strikes them, and the light of understanding glows on their faces, and they're bursting with something they want to express, and they have to write it down... frustration hits. Their hands can't possibly keep up with their racing minds.

So we struggle.

When - which times - should I make them write it "all on their own"? How much help should I give? When are the ideas more important than the mechanics of writing, and I should let them dictate to me? When I do let them dictate, should I make them rewrite it, themselves, for practice? Or just print it out on the computer?


Lost and Found

No. Not the bunny. I wish.

No, what I was going to say is that I really hate to lose things. My organization-loving brain just gets derailed when I lose something. (Dare I say I get obsessed? It's possible.)

A while ago I "lost" a website. Couldn't find it. I don't know if I deleted the bookmark, or maybe they changed their web address. Whatever.

Found it today! And I'm telling you (all three of my loyal readers!), because you might like this one.

I'm not very artistic, and have a hard time thinking of fun projects to do with the boys. Oh, sure, I've bought a book I like (How to Teach Are to Children, Evan-Moore), and our history curriculum has some fun suggestions, but I'm always looking for more inspiration.

Found it. The Art Kids. I'm thinking it was put up by an art teacher in Kansas, because there are a lot of projects like this one:

She has them categorized by age/grade (K-6), and by a few themes; patriotic, multi-cultural, prairie/cowboy (lots of these), and literature- based. (You know, read a Clifford book and do a Clifford project.)

A lot of them are for the littler littles, but I've found several fun ideas, like the Magnified Bugs, and Anansi the Spider (mis-labeled on the site as "Anasazi"... isn't that an Indian group?). I have to say that the Tornado Collage really is a uniquely Kansas project :0)

Anway, something lost is found, and I'm happy.

And I bookmarked it. Again.

Another daily day

Well, it's Saturday, and we actually began the day with school.

, I know, but we did take Monday, Tuesday, and half of Wednesday off, so we had some history and science to finish up. (But no math... and there was much rejoicing.)

We've been using a very creatively named book called "The Geology Book" by John D. Morris (part of the Wonders of Creation series) as a springboard for our earth science unit. Love it. Yes, it's somewhat above Gunnar's 1st grade understanding, but I'm amazed what he "gets". We're making a chart to compare Uniformity to Catastrophe. Today we talked about three different kinds of rocks (igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic).

We made a sedimentary "rock" turn into a metamorphic "rock" with crayon shavings. And in spite of what I thought were adequate precautionary measures, I now need a new ironing board cover.

Heat and pressure do have dramatic effects. Yeah.

Down in the kitchen we're growing "rock" crystals. Sugar. Refined white sugar. Ya gotta love science you can eat :0)

And - wrapping up last week's history lesson on China - we made paper. I think I managed to fix the blender, but I'm not in a hurry to make any more!

Next Friday is a PTO day :0)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

"wa-WAH!", from the Domestically Impaired

That's how Gunnar says voila!

Here's Luau Lulu...

This pic shows the colors better,

While this one shows the wrinkly, crinkly, quilty love.

You can click on the pics to make them bigger... but you knew that.

It finished at 36" square, with shrinkage. The backing is a mottled red.

I'm pleased with it.

Honestly, I considered naming the blog "Domestically Impaired", but that name had been taken. I never learned to sew until after I was married. I had always wanted to learn to quilt "after the boys were all in school"... you know, when I'd have all that free time! (LOL)

And now we're homeschooling.

But I have my good friend Ginny to thank for dragging me to a short, introductory quilt class a couple of years ago. I'm still too intimidated to try anything much larger than a baby quilt, or lap quilt, but I love playing with the colors and patterns. Still keeping it very simple... because that's where I am :0)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


We took most of yesterday off for MLK day. Then took most of today off for errands, and - frankly - for sunshine and playing outside. (Was that bad?!)

In fact, we may be doing a bit of school on Saturday.

High probability.

Very high.

So today, between the orthodontist, the library, the grocery store, forgetting the gas station, and remembering the piano lesson, I took the kids out to lunch. Gunnar got this in his fortune cookie:

You have a charming way with words. Write a letter this week.

An Immigrant

I've heard it said that in the Tech World, there are natives and there are immigrants.

I'm an immigrant.

Yes, I confess to graduating from college without a computer. (I even owned a typewriter.)

So. I've been tagged to find the 6th picture in my computer album and write about it. This is more challenging than you might realize, so I'm defaulting. Here is the FIRST picture I posted on the blog:

We were invited to a costume party for New Year's Eve. Inspired by Gary Larson and "The Far Side", we went as cockroaches at a Ball. You can't see the shells we made for our backs - which were pretty good - but we didn't coordinate our "arms" (legs?) very well. Plus it was cold and there was a lot of snow, so I was wearing my stained white Sorels with the Ball Gown.


I think that was my aunt's prom dress or something :0)

Project Update

I finished the baby quilt. Far from perfect, but probably not a candidate for the Worst Quilt in the World contest either, so I'm okay with it.

I'll try to put up a picture tomorrow. Can't do it now. The quilt is in the dryer getting that wrinkly, crinkly, quilty effect.

Meanwhile, I'm coveting this, from the Fat Quarter Shop. (And I'm using their pic, but giving them credit. Okay?)

They also have a Christmas themed pack coming out in May that is tempting. Very tempting.

Now all I need is time...

Just Hemorrhaging Money...

I took Shark Boy to the orthodontist last week. We've been kind of in a holding pattern for over a year, knowing that Wyatt will need braces eventually, but waiting for his baby teeth to all come out and for him to hit that adolescent growth spurt. So, last Monday, Dr. V said the time has come. Wyatt needs a tooth pulled (one baby tooth is clinging tenaciously to his jawbone), after which he'll begin with head-gear, while we wait for the rest of his "big teeth". Apparently his upper jaw is out in front of his lower jaw, and the head-gear should correct that.

Then on Tuesday (last week) I got all three to the dentist for check-ups and cleaning, and scheduled the extraction for early next month. Great. So Mr. "High Anxiety" has a month to stew about that. I was hoping to beg them to just pull it that very day, but no such luck.

And then I got thinking that although Tate is 2 and a half years younger, he has lost more baby teeth and has a noticeable overbite. So he saw the the ortho, Dr. V, this morning.

Yeah. Good thing, too. Not as much crowding as Shark Boy, but his upper jaw is apparently offset from the lower jaw by an entire "tooth's worth". (Does that make sense???)

So we'll have TWO boys starting in head-gear in March. Then moving into full braces.

25% down, and let the payments begin...

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Bunny

I mentioned below that the bunny is missing. And - unlike last time - we didn't find him enjoying having free run of Kerry's office. He's really missing.

And to make it worse, he didn't escape, he had to have been taken.

We were gone all day Sunday and came home after 8pm to see several police cars down the street, and prowling the neighborhood. Apparently there were two burglaries. I don't know if the bunny's disappearance is connected in any way. Certainly he's not valuable - not something someone would steal.

But if there were delinquents out making mischief (and burglarizing the neighbors), they might have just taken him out and tossed him. (He's not very clever. Completely defenseless. Easy pickings for a coyote or dog.) Or, if my theoretical delinquents had a cruel streak... we're not talking about that possibility.

Gunnar is heart-broken, and the older boys are sad, too.

Gunnar-isms #4

Since I'm on a "Gunnar theme"...

Explaining to me why he wanted ME to pray in church, but HE didn't want to:

Mama, since I've been little, I'm shy.

(And, before that?)

After yet another discussion where I attempted to help him understand the difference between fixed directions, like North, South, East, and West, and relative directions, like Right and Left, the light bulb came on:

Oh, I get it! Right and left turn with you!

Yes. That's what I've been saying, though apparently not in those exact words.

More about Gunnar

Okay. I'm not trying to play favorites. Gunnar just seems to be popping up on the blog lately, more than his brothers.

So, I was bragging on his reading recently, because I'm really proud of him :0) And my bloggy friend Deborah commented something to the effect that her 1st grader hasn't got the memo that "reading is cool" yet. (And has older sibs to read TO her :0) ) And I was thinking that I should mention that Gunnar may be blossoming in reading, AND may have just finished his first grade math (!), but - just keeping it real - he can't/won't ride a bike yet. And he's seven and a half.

I think he's spent too much time 'reading' Calvin and Hobbes. (If you read that comic, you know that Calvin's bike is his nemesis. It's out to kill him.) Gunnar finds that hilarious. And he's a just a wee bit dramatic about one little spill he took on the gravel in the alley, for which he blames his dad because he let go. But I digress...

We've had a breakthrough. Thanks to the helpful persistence of our neighbor Dave.

Kerry says, "I got there just in time to take the pictures and the credit."

It's a cel-phone picture, but you get the idea.

We're very proud :0)

All he really needed was the confidence.

Simple Woman #2

FOR TODAY January 19, 2009

Outside My Window... SUNSHINE! A welcome sight after a long string of dark, rainy, gray days. And we've had a few. Street lights on at 3pm.
I am thinking... about our bunny – he’s missing. More later.
I am thankful for... three healthy active boys, out playing with friends in the sunshine.
From the learning rooms... silence today. We took a holiday, along with public schools (MLK Day) so the boys could play with their friends.
From the kitchen... not much activity today. I’m distracted with finishing a project.
I am wearing... oooo, two weeks in a row… sweats. I may have to pay more attention on Monday. Honestly, I've been trying to 'raise my game' a bit - at least when I'm going to be leaving the house. But forgot about MIT when I chose these clothes... oh well. :0)
I am creating... a baby quilt, for a friend expecting a girl.
I am going... to my Moms In Touch prayer group today. Sweet.
I am reading... quilting pattern books.
I am hoping... Kerry will get paid soon. (Oh the joys of being self-employed.)
I am hearing... Los Angeles Guitar Quartet. Pachelbel's "Loose Cannon" is a favorite around our house.
Around the house... unfinished work. This happens when I get into a project. *sigh*
One of my favorite things... neighbors. The ones my kids play with. They run back and forth, down the alley, to each other’s houses. We share rides to AWANA, obsessions with Legos, and peanut butter sandwiches.
A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: getting back into the groove of school, with another boy to the orthodontist (!), piano, AWANA, and book-club all on the agenda.
Here is picture thought I am sharing... (which I did not take)

Friday, January 16, 2009

PTO Day Project... Luau Lulu

PTO = Personal Time Off.

When we started homeschooling I begged and pleaded down on my knees calmly asked my parents if they would take the boys for a whole day once in awhile. The boys think that PTO Days are a reward for all their hard work. Yeah.

News flash: PTO Days are for ME. Turns out I actually "need" quiet, uninterrupted time every so often just so I don't completely lose my mind in order to be the calm, efficient, organized person I imagine myself to be :0)

Hurray for Grandpa and Grandma! I'm not sure if they love PTO days quite as much as the boys do, but they're very gracious about it.

And a PTO day for the boys is a Project Day for me!

This is "Luau Lulu". My neighbor recently gave up quilting and gifted me with a box of fabric. The good news is that she knows I like bright colors, and there is a lot of good stuff in there!

The bad news is, she had already cut it, without pre-washing, into ??? shapes. Some squares, some rectangles, and some bizarre remnants - apparently with little regard for the pattern printed on the fabric.


It's been a logistical challenge to use some of the fabrics. But I couldn't resist Luau Lulu :0) And with a friend expecting a girl any day now...

I'm making a very simple baby quilt with the red Luau Lulu and a bright, sunny yellow. Very simple. Six-inch squares, to show off the bathing beauty.

A whole lot more fun than "Wade's Ice Cubes"

Gunnar and I were reading last night. He chose the books.

First he read to me - "Hello, This is Your Penguin Speaking", nearly perfectly.

Then I read to him - "A Zoo in the Sky".

He finished by reading one of our favorite books to me, "Stand Tall, Lou Melon".

And I only had to help him with a very few words, like alongside, fumble-fingered and bucky-tooth beaver.

Not exactly first grade words :0)

Tomorrow, "Hamlet and the Enormous Chinese Dragon Kite".

Yes. The pig is named Hamlet.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Gunnar-isms #3

I took Wyatt to his first piano lesson yesterday. He's supposed to practice a half hour, five days a week, but he's really self-conscious about anyone being around and hearing him. Apparently Tate and Gunnar were "banished" to the play room while he practiced today. (I was grocery shopping.)

As I drove Gunnar to AWANA tonight he asked me, "So, Mama, how was Wyatt's piano lesson?"

I told him I thought it went really well.

"Well, yeah, Mama. I heard him practicin' today and I was impressed that he could make such musical notes."

Monday, January 12, 2009

Simple Woman #1

Trying something new... a Monday posting called "The Simple Woman's Daybook"

You can find out more by clicking on the picture below, though I may or may not add my posts to her site.

FOR TODAY... January 12, 2009
Outside My Window... Rain, rain, and more rain
I am thinking... about the boy who wants me to come snuggle him tonight
I am thankful for... my family :0)
From the learning rooms... quietness, waiting for a bustle of activitiy tomorrow morning
From the kitchen... the hum of the dishwasher
I am wearing... comfy (but dumpy!) old sweats and a turtleneck... it's cold and damp here
I am creating... lesson plans for geography
I am going... to bed. Soon.
I am reading... "Family-Integrated Church" by J. Mark Fox (my choice) and "The Picture of Dorian Gray" (for book-club... like the book club, don't like this book!) by Oscar Wilde
I am hoping... for good attitudes tomorrow
I am hearing... rain dripping
Around the house... clean surfaces, with Christmas decorations recently packed away
One of my favorite things... little boys who like to be snuggled
A few plans for the rest of the week... Wyatt is starting piano lessons, friends are moving back to Africa, and we are praying for a friend (child) to come home from the hospital and recover... may God be glorified
Here is picture thought I am sharing...

Friday, January 9, 2009

A Small Field

We had company tonight - new friends we're getting to know. The kids all played nicely (as far as I know!), dinner was a bit of happy chaos, and we talked and talked and talked, and found lots of good relational 'points of contact'. Like, we're home-bodies.

I never thought I would be, but I am. Not anti-social, but happy. With my family. At home.

And it reminded me of this:

We cultivate a very small field for Christ but we love it, knowing that God does not require great achievements, but a heart that holds back nothing for self.
St. Philippine Duchesne

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Dick and Jane

You can tell your kids are not only reading, but comprehending, when they begin to realize just how dorky basal readers really are.

We do the vast majority of our reading from REAL books, but I sometimes have Gunnar read aloud from a set of basal readers I was given, because the content is related to different reading strategies we’re working on.

The books are chock-full of exciting, scintillating stories like, “The Fat Cat”, “The Red Hen”, “Slice the Cake!”, and “The Old Lamp”. (Eyes rolling.)

Today he read the engrossing tale of “Wade’s Ice Cubes”.

Wade made ice cubes.
He will use them in his glass.
He is sure that the ice cubes will make his drink cold.

At this point, even Gunnar couldn’t take any more. He looked at me, raised one eyebrow, and said, “Gee… do ya think?”

Yeah. I think we're ready to move on.

It's Raining, It's Pouring...

So, it’s a bit rainy.

Hello, it’s the Pacific Northwest. Rain is a constant.

But today public schools were closed because of rain. Rain!

Well, okay, flooding. Whatever.

We did school anyway. Yeah, I know; I'm so mean and unreasonable! Because, really, they were going to go outside and play?

We’re used to rain. We get rain all the time. Which is why these pictures baffle me.

From the inside of the house, looking out. Notice how much water the glass slider is holding back? He’s setting up a sump pump. To pump the water where, exactly? Or maybe he’s loading the plastic furniture into the Barbie Jeep and trying to escape.

Oh look! The creeks on both side of the street are overflowing, and muddy, ice-cold water is rushing over the roadway! Quick, get little Suzie out of the car so I can get her in the picture!

But this is my favorite. She’s (no kidding) telling the tow-truck driver, “I thought I could make it.”

Saturday, January 3, 2009

It's About Time

Pay no attention to the yellow date.
(I took this picture this afternoon.)

The boys each received their very own digital cameras,
from a very generous Aunt Tami and Uncle Dave :0)
(And we haven't remembered to turn the date stamp off. Oops.)

I've spent the better part of today "digging out" my office
while the boys tried to kill each other amused themselves downstairs.
While I was in the middle of a frenzy of organizing and filing,
Gunnar appeared in my office with blood on his lip
and the tooth in his hand.

"Mama, Wyatt and I were wrestlin' and I thought I had a bloody nose
and then Tate found my tooth on the floor!"

And there was much rejoicing.

But it gets better...

We were reading today's Psalm and Proverbs after dinner and (no kidding)
came to this, from Psalm 3:

Arise, O Lord!
Deliver me, O my God!
Strike all my enemies on the jaw;
break the teeth of the wicked.

It took a little reassuring,
but even Gunnar saw the humor.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Socialization... breaking news

Australian Homeschooling Family Finds Ways to Adopt a Public School 'Socialization' Program

"When my wife and I mention we are strongly considering home schooling our children, we are without fail asked, 'But what about socialization?--' Fortunately, we found a way our kids can receive the same socialization that government schools provide.

On Mondays and Wednesdays, I will personally corner my son in the bathroom, give him a wedgie and take his lunch money.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, my wife will make sure to tease our children for not being in the 'in' crowd, taking special care to poke fun at any physical abnormalities.

Fridays will be 'Fad and Peer Pressure Day.' We will all compete to see who has the coolest toys, the most expensive clothes, and the loudest, fastest, and most dangerous car.

Every day, my wife and I will adhere to a routine of cursing and swearing in the hall, and mentioning our weekend exploits with alcohol and immorality. And we have asked the children to report us to the authorities in the event we mention faith, religion, or try to bring up morals and values."

Note to my in-laws: Apparently this came from an Australian homeschooling journal. It's been sitting in my queue for a few weeks because it cracks me up, and isn't intended to insult you. :0)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year

Confession? I'm not much for New Year's Resolutions.

What with the holidays and the snow, I'm enjoying being home, cozy, and relaxed waaay too much to try to implement big changes. And, honestly, September feels a lot more like a new beginning.

But, having just finished (and enjoyed) three series of daily devotions with the boys - for All Saints Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas - I wanted to continue with something structured. (Something I will not be reporting on daily.) And I have a couple things in mind.

Have you ever read "Ten P's in a Pod"? The Arnold Pent family were not your typical neighbors. Traveling evangelists, who lived by faith, they put a high priority on God's Word.

How high?

Well, if I remember right, they all read the Bible individually for an hour before breakfast (starting at 15 minutes when they first learned to read, and working up to an hour), and then aloud together for half an hour after every meal. That's 2 1/2 hours. Every. Single. Day. Turns out they memorized huge portions... whole books. If you started a verse, one of them could finish it.

I was inspired.

And overwhelmed.

So we're not doing that. But I really liked the idea of reading after a meal. Food for the body, food for the soul.

Enter The One-Year Bible. For every day there is an OT reading, a NT reading, a Psalm, and a few verses from Proverbs. It goes through the whole Bible in a year, doing the Psalms and Proverbs twice. (It's been around awhile.)

So my grand idea is to do the OT reading (the longest one - maybe 10 minutes, reading aloud), after breakfast, the NT reading after lunch, and the Psalms/Proverbs after dinner. Together. Aloud. I'm sure we'll miss some, and get behind. But, really, it's do-able.

I debated doing the Chronological Bible (also in 365 readings) instead, because that appeals more to me, the linear, sequential type. But then again, we could easily get bogged down in the long sections on Jewish Law, genealogies, etc. I'm hoping that reading from different parts of the Bible during the same day will help keep the boys' interest up.

I'm really hoping that their minds will be saturated with God's Word. I know they aren't going to understand everything we read. Me neither. Good grief. It's like drinking from a fire hydrant!

So that's one idea.

Here's my other one, "Our 24 Family Ways". I've read a few of the Clarksons books and love the way they live out their faith as a family. I'm thinking of using this book as our family devotion time. 24 themes, 24 weeks, so it will about match up with the end of our school year... but not exactly. This is where we'll be doing more teaching, while the reading time will be mostly just ... reading.

So what are you doing for the New Year?

Snow Creations

With all the snow we had, I would've loved a row of cheerful snowmen across the front of my yard. But I have a hard time convincing the boys to build snowmen at our house. Where's the thrill in that?! Sledding down the big hill is just so much more fun.

I finally got them excited about making a huge pile of snow in the front yard for a project, but we had to let it sit overnight to settle, and that was when it warmed up and began to rain.

So much for the 'dig-loo'.

But, when they had an overnight at Aunty Tami's (who lives in a very flat space), making snow sculptures had more appeal!

The traditional snow man requires a lot of snow and a lot of work.

This little snow sentry, "with a leaf-pike, Mama", is guarding the house, behind him.

What would Christmas be without a snow tank?

To the right of Tate is his snow alien. See the eye, on a stalk, on the top of his head?

He is holding a blaster and has just shot the snow man on the left. See his head, on the ground behind him?

I think Tate has been reading a lot of Calvin and Hobbes...

Then they needed to warm up inside, and give some attention to their Webkinz friends.