Nov 272016
 

This post contains affiliate links.moving-van-at-gas-station

Recently I took the longest Sunday drive I had ever taken.  The view out the side windows was nice, or at least the part I could take my eyes off the road to look at was nice.  The view out the front? Well, it was nice part of the time, but over 8 hours of being reminded that beautiful things do not last is hard.  The view may have become a bit blurry a few times, which was quickly remedied by a tissue.

Due to a job change, we moved.  This was not an “across town move”, but different zip code, different state, different growing zone move.

No longer are we residence of Zone 5, but now get to experience gardening (and living) in Zone 7.  Actually, my husband moved a few months ago, though I did not want to advertise that fact.  I am sure you can understand why.

This particular Sunday Drive was so the kids and I could join him.  After a few months of parenting solo, finishing up on home remodel and regular home improvement items, decluttering, and putting our house on the market, moving to a rental house sounded like a vacation.  Well, sort of.

Reading the post I linked above, something I posted just over a year ago, reminds me very clearly about how much we have done this past year concerning our house.  When we started that project, we did not think it would take as long as it did.  My thoughts were along the lines of 6 months, not 2  years.  As it turned out, the only reason my husband even saw the hand rails on the stairs was that he came back to help drive the moving truck.

While we saved money (thousands of dollars) in the overall home remodel project by not having someone else act as a general contractor or do all the work within one company, the trade-off was time.  It took longer as we did not have the connections to electricians, drywall installers, insulation installers, etc.  The last step alone took about 6 months to finish as the carpenter was working on other jobs. Once he was able to focus on our house it was finished in just a few weeks.

No, we did not foresee a move coming when it did, or else we would not have taken on such a large change to our house.  If only we all had a magic ball that could see into the future …. Since we do not, we make decisions with the best information we have at the time.  That is all any of us can do.

“The best information we have at the time”, that is also one of the prompts for the move.  My husband graduated with his Masters, after 2.5 years of night classes while working full time, back in May.  While I was looking forward to a year of calm, time where we could spend as a family reconnecting and reassuring, it was not to be so.  At least, it is not going to look like I thought it would.

There were some changes coming down the line at his work, something he had picked up on but which had not been announced by the higher-ups.  In June, his work officially announced the changes. The majority of workers were surprised, being unsure of what this meant for the future. Thankfully we had talked about these possibilities, looking at our options and talking through what-ifs. While things could have turned out better for us, they could have stayed the same or gone worse.  It was a huge unknown with no guarantees.

Even with that emotional preparation on our part, having news like this become ‘official’ makes it all the more real.

Blessing Others decluttered childrens clothes

Going ahead with a job search, moving to a new state and out of Small Town, moving again to where we do not have family or a support network was not easy decision or task.  We have done it before, though this time we have the added challenge of two kids.  Two kids who do not handle changes in routines very well.  Two kids who still struggle with feeling secure some days.  Yes, we took that into account.  We kept coming back to “we can either move now, or wait and potentially have the timing decided for us at some unknown point in the future.”

Knowing that raising of our kids is our responsibility is why we have taken classes, read books, worked as a family to find things that work for us.  We have tried to grow and become the parents they need us to be.  We have tried to find ways to help them grow as people, to become contributing, well balanced adults in the future.  Are we perfect at it?  Oh, gosh, no! I fail just as much as anyone.  Also, I hold myself to a higher standard now, which makes my introverted self-analyzing all the more intense. However, sometimes I get it right, and we all get to take two steps forward.

So, we have moved.  All the blog posts flying through my head, all the possible things I have wanted to share, all the wonderful fall ideas I have taken pictures of to show you and spring-board your inspiration for autumn porch decorating ideas or garden improvements have had to take a back to seat to the knowledge that every day I chose to do something else meant a day longer of parenting by myself, of having my husband live the life of a bachelor in a new place with no supports.

I feel as if I have made this excuse before, but really, is this not the story of all of our lives.  None of us can do it all, there is only so much time in the day.  There are things you need to say “no” to in order to say “yes” to others.

sun light through autumn tree leaves

We now live in the equivalent of former Big Town.  It is not a Huge City, but large enough to make me uncomfortable and feeling crowded after our years in Small Town and having grown up in the country where you could not see your neighbors due to the hills and trees.  It has taken me time to start feeling upbeat about this move, to be honest.  From former moves, I know that I can live in a Huge City and still survive.  I have already started mental lists about all the positives of our new location, which helps begin to see the beauty of the place.  This always helps with attitudes of gratefulness rather than murmuring and strife.

So, this is the big project I have been up to lately.  This is what has prompted several posts on change and saying good-bye.

Thank you all for sticking with me through these odd times, where I would post for a week, then disappear.  Or where gardening posts were sparse while other things were on my mind.  I hope you continue to stop by and see what this new adventure brings for our family, and my (hopefully) beautiful garden.

A Wise Woman Builds Her Home
Nov 122016
 

This post contains affiliate links.

finished truck bird feeder

Guest post by George.  George is an 8 year old who loves animals and going to his friends’ houses.

My mom gave this bird feeder to me for Christmas*. I liked it. I was very surprised when she gave it to me, because it was awesome because I like birds.

It was not put together, because it was a kit.  It was hard to put together.  We needed a screwdriver because it had a lot of screws.  The hood and the back and all the wheels are kept on by screws.

taking apart unfinished truck bird house collage

Since it was already built at Christmas time with Grandpa and Dad, we had to take it apart again.  It was easier to take apart than it was to put together, because I had help from my mom.  We had to take it apart because my mom did not want to paint over the screws.  (Actually, it was so that we could get all the parts painted on all sides.)

painting truck bird feeder collage

I used a pink spray paint (Watermelon Splash) on everything first.  It was easier to paint the whole thing one color first.  When the first two coast were dry I picked some pieces to paint blue.

hanging truck bird feeder collage

The bird feed came with my bird feeder. (It was part of his Christmas gift.) After we hung it up, we used a cup to put it in my bird feeder.

One day mom saw a European starling at the feeder.  I saw a blue jay flying past another day.

truck bird feeder collage

*I found this bird feeder at a consignment store, in a box, looking almost brand new.  In case you are wondering, it came in at less that $10.

Text written in italics were comments made by me to help clarify what he was trying to say.

Nov 042016
 

no-batteries-required-sidewalk-chalk-hockey

Received as a Christmas gift, Crayola’s Chalk Grab ‘n Go Games Foot Hockey sat way too long in our basement because “we do not have a large area in which to play.”  As it turns out, that was a bad excuse which kept the kids from playing this fun game all summer long.

One day, as I was clearing out the basement and garage, I came across the game again.  This time I decided to go for it, to play it in the setting we had – the width of a sidewalk that is about 80 feet long.  I was greatly relieved to find all the items needed were included in the game – instruction with illustrations, sidewalk chalk, and a puck. So far, it was turning out to be my kind of game.

Unfortunately for my “you do not need directions, they take too long” kid, this mama loves to read directions before beginning anything new.  However, toward the end, I summarized the rules, adjusted them to our narrow setting, and off we went.

There was not a lot we had to alter in the rules, though we added a few of our own – the grass was out of bounds, though only after so long.  Also, you had to ‘hit’ the puck into the rectangle marked as the goal; if it went around it then an out-of-bounds was called.  Also, you had to stand back two squared when someone got to kick it back into play.

sidewalk-chalk-hockey

After the first trial run with Jack during a brain break (i.e. PE time), I was not sure how taken he was with it.  He seemed to think there were too many rules … he wanted to be able to kick it into the street.

When George got home, my doubts were proven wrong.  The first thing Jack wanted to do was to show George the new Foot Hockey game, explain the rules, and play!  They played multiple games that day, trying to work out the kinks in how each thought the other should play the game. :)

Since that time they have gotten out the materials on their own several times, drawn their own field, clarified our family’s version of the rules and played! with limited disagreements.  The kids like having a ‘real’ puck, which has held up well to kicks and being thrown, as well as getting to create their own field/court.

I liked the ease in setting up the game; an adult is not needed.  The ability to adapt the game to almost any setting makes it a much more flexible game, meaning it is more likely to be played.  One of the aspects I believe could be worked in is the softness of the chalk.  The first color we used was to make the goals and middle markings; by the third game it was used up and colors were switched.

This games seems to do well with a couple of people. I believe that if there were a lot of kids playing this would either get out of hand, or you would end up with several of the kids being bored.

A gift which I was unsure of, has turned out to be a great addition to our outdoor games and activities.sidewalk-hockey-boys-running-collage

All opinions are my own.  I did not receive this item for review or at a discount; this is a game we received as a gift from someone in our lives.  

This post contains affiliate links.  Thank you for helping support this blog.

Oct 272016
 

This post contains affiliate links.

me-a-compendium

When looking something to add to our school day, Me: A Compendium: A Fill-in Journal For Kids caught my attention.  It looked fun, the picture on the cover intrigued me, and the idea seemed silly enough to hold the attention of my kids.

George has several variations of books such as this one, he tends towards the artistic thinking.  Jack, however, does not have any such books.  He is usually a black and white thinker, taking to artistic things only if it suits his fancy.  I was not sure how he would react to this book, though was hoping for something unexpected that he could do during the day when he was bored.  It would also act as a journal of his life at this point in time.

Me: A Compendium was picked with Jack in mind.

When the book came, I called him into the living room, handing him the book without saying anything.  The look in his eye was one of excitement, “Is this for me?!”  Seems it was going to be a hit with my practical child.  (George was a bit jealous, till I reminded him that he already had two books like this.  He still wanted to ‘help’ fill in some of the pages.)

As with any new book, I encouraged Jack to get to know the book before doing anything with it.  Starting at the most obvious place, the cover, he asked why it was blank.  “That is for you to fill in.  You write your name in the blank rectangle, either only your first or any combination of your names you choose. This is your book.”

Turning it over to the back cover, the questions continue.  The child is asked for favorites, descriptions of various body parts, and other information about likes/dislikes.

me-compendium-book-2-collage

The biggest surprise, though, was the inside of the cover.   “Super Secret Stuff” was a hit with this 7 year old.  He did not even want me to tell George or Dad about it.  “Mom, it is secret!  That is what secret means; others do not know about it.”  We had not even cracked the cover yet and he was already smitten with the book and the notion of filling it in as he saw fit.

me-compendium-book-inside-cover

Several pages were filled in the first day.  One of them surprised me, “This is what I’ll be doing when I grow up…”  Up till this point, he has always wanted to be a construction worker, or a constructions worker who works part time as a policeman.  This was the first time he said he wanted to, solely, be a policeman, “to help keep people safe”.  Being safe is a common thing he worries about, so this was not so surprising.

“As long as you do not want to be the person the police are chasing, I think it is a great idea”, a comment of mine that resulted in the oh so cute, “Mooooommmm” with the accompanying eye roll.

me-compendium-book-collageThe second picture took a bit of interpretation on his part before I understood what was going on – playing Frisbee with Dad.  Again, not a surprise, as this was drawn at a time where my husband was busy and not able to play with them as much as he, and they, would have liked.

Knowing Jack is not a huge drawer, I was very surprised and pleased to see how quickly he wanted to pick up drawing utensil and get to work filling in the paper pages.  If this is what it takes for my fine-motor activity adverse kid to draw, I will buy these books all day long.

I have no doubt Me: A Compendium will last us quite a while.  The cover is hard back and the pages are a heavy paper.  The drawing and fill-in-the-blank prompts are diverse, helping keep it interesting through the whole book.

Since drawing in it the first time, Jack has asked several times where this book was, as he wanted to work on it more.  This fact alone makes it a five-star book in my opinion, especially as it is not a particular cartoon construction worker and his builders, nor an alien race that can morph into various vehicle forms to fight other bad mechanical alien here on Earth.  This is a book that makes him stop or slow down, think, and transfer those thoughts to something outside of himself.  There are no right or wrong answers, and no grades.  So, if your police car looks more like a lump of coal, that is okay. 😉

I thought I would give Jack a chance to share his thoughts, in his own words.  Here is what I got:

Me: Jack, what did you think of this book?

Jack: (glancing over, sees the book on the screen, and gives a sly, shy smile, goes back to building his Lego creation.)

Me: Well, what did you think?

Jack: I don’t know.  I haven’t finished it yet.  I can’t tell you what I think of it till I finish it.

Me: Well, up till now, what have been your thoughts?

Jack: (silence, but smiling.)

And there you have it.  He liked it but was unwilling to put it into words, the normally accepted form of communication for creatures of our species, yet a form that Jack often does not like to use.  Hey, at least he did not spell it out in the air, as he is inclined to do at times.  That would have been harder to transcribe.

********************

As I was writing this review, I had another thought, “This would be great for a kid in Foster Care.”

Why? It would help create a scrap book of sorts, a place to write things down and store memories at a time where other forms may not be available.  At times there are gaps in a child’s photographic history or “This is Me in Grade ___” papers from school are lost.  Giving them a sturdy place to record various facts from their life at this moment, a way to possibly even share them with the adults in their lives, is a great way to encourage emotional connects, a connection with their personal story, and a record of this time in their life.

Me: A Compendium does not require batteries, is gender neutral, and easy to transport.  As the holiday season approaches, if you are considering being a part of a gift-giving effort, even if not for Foster Care specifically, this would be a great gift option to keep in mind.

 

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Aug 202016
 

school lessons learned again

A new school year brings new lessons, even if it is something you have done several times before.  Situations change. People change.  The phase of the mood moon changes. There is always a lesson or two waiting in to be learned.  Here are a few from our first day of school(s) yesterday.

In preparation:

1. Do not ladle hot pudding into plastic containers. They will melt.

2. Donut holes covered in honey is a yummy breakfast.

3. The habit of a morning routine is great.  No, they had not gotten it down, without reminders, all summer long even though you did it Every. Single. Morning.  No, they will not miraculously suddenly start doing it just because you now have a 5-times weekly appointment to get to at 8 a.m. (any opinions on this book?)

melted plastic containers

Actual school day:

1. You do reach a point where you do not cry when leaving your child at school, for better or worse. Maybe on a day where you feel less stressed (cast iron tub issues, home remodel, kids’ trauma issues and ADHD clashing, and more anyone?) you will remember exactly what it is you have done, making up for the lack of tears. For now, though, it’s all good. Your social bug is excited/nervous to be back in the throng of so many people to talk to. Constantly. Even with a speech issue, though most do not notice it now.  Boy oh boy, God sure did make this one a talker. He must have some sort of plan for him, or else this is one big double-edged thorn in his side. Love him to pieces.

2. On the way home you realize that you did yourself a favor by starting your home school year 1.5 weeks early (the first few days will be light days) and including a walk to the library on the first day of school.

3. Timers are wonderful things. You work till it goes off, then switch to the next thing.

4. Putting off the start of the school day till after the floors are swept and vacuumed makes you feel less of a failure as a homemaker when you look up between lessons.

5. Tests are not evil things. It is okay to see where your child is in order to know what you need to focus on. That does NOT have to mean bubble sheets and hour long sitting sessions. FYI: part if our tests involved markers and oral descriptions. I had to sigh at the addition of Light Sabers to the map.

6. Remember your clip boards?  Yeah, remember your clip boards and get them out to use. 😉

Afterwards:

1. (leftover) Donut holes are a great after school snack for the ever hungry kid.

2. At bedtime, kids will still be nervous for the second day of school, even if the first day went well.

3. It is okay to only mow 1/4 of the yard at a time.  You do what you can when you can.  However, next time, remember to put the downspouts back on so you do not have to get out of bed and run out in a downpour at 10 p.m. to put them back on.  It may be said that washing you hair with rainwater is a good thing, but I really could have done without the soaking wet clothes that went along with the experience.

4. Remember the “timers are wonderful things” mentioned above?  Well, that goes for setting your alarm to pick up your kid from public school as well.  Especially on the first day of school when they had early release.

In all, this was a great first day of school.  Even with a light school day at home I was reminded of the need for sensory input, mainly along the deep muscle and vestibular kind.

We made it on time for George in the morning.  Earlier this week we had gone to the school and found his homeroom, as well as another class he will frequent, and his locker.  This simple step make a world of difference to him, taking away one unneeded worry.  At bedtime, he told me, in his Grown-Up-3rd-Grader voice, that I would not need to walk him in for the second day; he knew where everything was and could find it.  (I think he has a fear of being lost and not knowing how to get where he is going.)

So, I will let go on this one and allow him to do it himself.  Of course, on day 3/4/5/115 he might change his mind and I will be there to offer the support he needs.  After all, is that not why we are here?  To help them grow into confident, independent, knowledgeable adults?  Well, that is our hope at least.

This post contains affiliate links.

Aug 192016
 

fly

Just to clarify, we did not take advantage of the offer advertised above, but it seems my husband was considering it.

As part of our new school year, I am making it a point to celebrate various holidays (official or not) throughout the year.  As it so happens, the second day of school finds us celebrating the first one on the list – National Aviation Day.  It also happens to be the 145th birthday of a famous aviator.  Even if your knowledge of aviation history is left wanting, the name Orville Wright may ring a few bells.

Born on August 19, 1871, Orville and his brother Wilbur created the first flying machine.  While hot air balloons were already in use, these flying machines were “heavier than air, self-propelled, and controllable.

As one who has used the very handy machines to travel to the other parts of the world several times, I am thankful for their dedication and persistence in finding solutions to the challenges of flight for us wingless creatures.

If you are finding yourself at a loss for ideas to help Orville celebrate his birthday, NASA put together a list last year of 10 ways they like to celebrate National Aviation Day.  Perhaps one of them will give you an idea.

As today is our second day of school, a field trip to a local aviation museum was planned. What better way to start the new school year?  Jack suggested we wait a day so the whole family could go together.  I guess we will be sending belated birthday wishes.

In the mean time, I think an introduction to model building is in order.  These kits look like they could be good places to start. We have done brick building before, with Legos and other brands, so I am thinking we will try a wooden model this time.  However, the Lego kit looks awfully tempting.

                    

Another idea are paper airplanes.  These are easy to make, can be made anywhere with limited supplies, yet require a sense of flight and aerodynamics that comes with practice.  When the kids were younger I found a copy of The World Record Paper Airplane Book at a garage sale. It served us well during a few trips which found us waiting for periods of time in open spaces.  Some of the folds were complicated, even for us adults.  This is not a book for you to hand you little ones and walk off.  However, flying the various planes was fun and enlightening.

What are some ways you will be celebrating today?  If you do take a picture of yourself, either with arms spread catching the breeze or in a glider high above the ground, please share it with us over on our Facebook page.  We would love to see how you have chosen to share in this day of wonder.

This post contains affiliate links.

 

Jun 172016
 

child sitting in corner

Charlotte Mason encourages math using everyday situations. Our home school math curriculum encourages mental math. I sometimes struggle to find examples the kids actually care about.

Today, the kids found their own examples while having a consequence.

Here is how it all went down:

I am tired of them telling me their rooms were picked up and ready for inspection when they really were not ready for me to do so.

Expectations were set before hand, reminders were even given for areas I knew they often forget to address. (George even has a list posted on his wall for things to check. It is not hard.)

I explained to them that it was a waste of my time to check out a room they knew was not ready for me to check. I would then have to call them back, listen to their whining, and delay me moving on to my next job while they did what they were supposed to have done the first time. Therefore, if they called me for inspection before it was actually completed they would owe me wasted time of their own – 1 minute for each item you did not do. (make bed, pick up clothes, turn off radio, etc.)

Surprise!

They both had to sit for several minutes while I picked up my room. AND it was for the things I had specifically reminded them to address.

Here is where the math appeared.

Jack: George, I have to sit for 7 minutes, while you have 6 minutes. That means I have 1 minute more than you.

…a few minutes later…

Jack: If it has been 4 minutes that means … George you have two more minutes and I have 3 more.

And here I was worried about him knowing his math facts. He seems to have it down when it involves something personally relevant. :)