Apr 252017
 

Alexander Hamilton book

It is Tuesday.  Not Monday.  Yes, I am aware of that and gave myself enough guilt about it yesterday.  However, it is Tuesday and not Wednesday, so that is saying something.  Right?

This past weekend included a llloooooooooooooonnnngggggggggg gggg  ggggg drive (do I need more g’s to make the point?) to a homeschool conference.  The original plan was to leave Thursday morning, with my husband taking two days off work, drop the kids off at my parents, and allowing my husband and I to have a restful weekend away together.

What happened was, and I promise there is a point to this beyond whining:

  • my husband’s job moved a meeting to a week and a day which it was not originally planned for
  • resulting in us not leaving Thursday morning, but Thursday evening instead.
  • I drove, which is not our norm on long trips, because I knew my husband had worked a full day and was tired. (He did drive the last few hours.)
  • We met up with my parents several hours past the kids’ bedtime, with the last point making the trip a very hard one along the way.
  • By the time we got to our hotel, it was past midnight.

I was able to get about 4 hours of sleep that night, resulting in the realization that my body was not past the point of being stressed.*  Yet.  I felt icky Friday (tired and nauseous), but had a day of talks ahead of me.  Knowing the reason for feelings helped me address them.  What it did not do was take away the feelings themselves.

Friday night I slept horribly, being awake from about 3 am – 5 am, then sleeping fitfully for 2 hours.  So much for getting a good night’s sleep.

Saturday came, I kept going, knowing that moving, eat small snack throughout the day, and not dwelling would help getting past the physical reactions.  This allowed me to figure out if I was actually feeling tired or hungry; I am amazed at how they can feel the same if you are both very tired and very hungry.  Taking the edge off really helped.

Saturday night, I had another plan:

  • I passed visiting with my  husband’s former college roommate (and new baby) in order to rest
  • reduced the nauseous feelings
  • and ate something high in protein, thereby setting myself up for a solid night sleep.

It worked!

By Sunday morning I was feeling … better.  I could not wait to get home though.

We still had a 7+ hour drive home, including picking up the kids and visiting a bit with my parents.

The drive home was actually one of the best ever with the kids.

We had no electronics – partly planned (no personal devices were packed), partly not (both of the dvd players, our “half-way there” treat, decided not to work).  What we did have were books on tape, audio dramas, snacks, and activity bags.  We also had kids who were tired from 3 fun filled days at the grandparents.

It was while listening to one of our books on tape, Parables From Nature by Margaret Gatty, that I realized I too have room to learn. Chapter 7, called “Waiting”, is specifically what I am speaking about.

In this chapter, Mole tells the House Crickets that sitting around bemoaning their issues do no good.

Every animal has a purpose. Yours is to wait for the sun to rise.  That is what you should be doing.  Anticipating the sun rise.  Once it goes down, then you find a snug place to stay till it is time to do your job again.

(quote not word for word)

Add that to something my husband shared from learning at the conference, that worry is feeling tomorrow’s emotions today.

I had been bemoaning and worrying, even if I thought perhaps I had not been.  This also goes to show why I feel better when I would get up and actually do something, taking my mind of how I was feeling and focusing on something else (walking, birds, gardening, solar lights, garden layouts, starting a garden … you get the idea).

Once we were home, a new board game was set up (Risk: Star Wars edition) and the boys, big and little, played while I tried to create some kind of order out of the chaos which comes from cleaning out the car from a long weekend away.

Monday morning came, I enjoyed a cup of tea on the back deck while listening to the morning birds.  My bemoaning and worry began to wash away, reminding me of the purpose and job I have to do right now … not the potential feelings of tomorrow or wonderings of why things for us are not like they are for others.

bird scared away from feeders waiting to return

The giveaway for Alexander Hamilton’s Guide to Life has closed.  Anita Yancy’s name was selected by Random.org as the winner.  

*After a while of contemplating, part of me began to wonder if the stress my body was feeling was not only due to being tired and the change of traveling, but also remembering our trip to this conference last year.  On that particular trip, we had a foster child with us, one who had not gone on trips with us before and was only a year younger then Jack.  It was a lesson for everyone involved.  We learned that a larger age gap is needed, due to the emotional needs of our kids, if we ever choose to foster again.

 

This post contains some affiliate links.  If you click on them and purchase something, I will receive a small percent back.

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.

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.

May 312016
 

This post contains affiliate links.

nature center tree bird pond

Though it is summer, we are continuing certain parts of our school days.  This includes reading a poem of the day, an aspect whose impact I had underestimated.  I had put off adding this as part of our morning routine for so long, assuming I would have to force the kids to listen to the poems.  As it turns out Jack really loves to hear them, usually.

Recently we finished the The Child’s Garden of Verses and moved onto the Oxford’s Book of Children’s Verse in America.  That is where we came across the following:

Robert Of Lincoln – Poem by William Cullen Bryant
Merrily swinging on briar and weed,
Near to the nest of his little dame,
Over the mountain-side or mead,
Robert of Lincoln is telling his name;
Bob-o’-link, bob-o’-link,
Spink, spank, spink;
Snug and safe in that nest of ours,
Hidden among the summer flowers.
Chee, chee, chee.
Robert of Lincoln is gayly dressed.
Wearing a bright black wedding-coat;
White are his shoulders and white his crest,
Hear him calling his merry note:
Bob-o’-link, bob-o’-link,
Spink, spank, spink;
Look, what a nice new coat is mine,
Sure there was never a bird so fine.
Chee, chee, chee.
Robert of Lincoln’s Quaker wife,
Pretty and quiet, with plain brown wings,
Passing at home a quiet life,
Broods in the grass while her husband sings:
Bob-o’-l ink, bob-o’-link,
Spink, spank, spink;
Brood, kind creatures; you need not fear
Thieves and robbers while I am here.
Chee, chee, chee.
Modest and shy as a nun is she,
One weak chirp is her only note,
Braggart and prince of braggarts is he,
Pouring boasts from his little throat:
Bob-o’-link, bob-o’-link,
Spink, spank, spink;
Never was I afraid of man;
Catch me, cowardly knaves, if you can.
Chee, chee, chee.
Six white eggs on a bed of hay,
Flecked with purple, a pretty sight!
There as the mother sits all day,
Robert is singing with all his might:
Bob-o’-link, bob-o’-link,
Spink, spank, spink;
Nice good wife, that never goes out,
Keeping house while I frolic about.
Chee, chee, chee.
Soon as the-little ones chip the shell
Six wide mouths are open for food;
Robert of Lincoln bestirs him well,
Gathering seed for the hungry brood.
Bob-o’-link, bob-o’-link,
Spink, spank, spink;
This new life is likely to be
Hard for a gay young fellow like me.
Chee, chee, chee.
Robert of Lincoln at length is made
Sober with work, and silent with care;
Off is his holiday garment laid,
Half forgotten that merry air,
Bob-o’-link, bob-o’-link,
Spink, spank, spink;
Nobody knows but my mate and I
Where our nest and our nestlings lie.
Chee, chee, chee.
Summer wanes; the children are grown;
Fun and frolic no more he knows;
Robert of Lincoln’s a humdrum crone;
Off he flies, and we sing as he goes:
Bob-o’-link, bob-o’-link,
Spink, spank, spink;
When you can pipe that merry old strain,
Robert of Lincoln, come back again.
Chee, chee, chee. 

(source: poemhunter.com)

I loved the mental imagery, as well as the inclusion of the various calls of the bobolink bird.  Learning bird calls makes knowing which birds are around a lot easier, as often they are hidden from sight or too far away to see clearly.  The children have learned a few birds, but there are many more to go.  Even I do not know as many as I should.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has a great site to hear the different calls of the Bobolink. They contain samples from the east, central, and west birds, as well as the ‘pink’, ‘buzz’, ‘see-yoo’, ‘zeep’, ‘quip’, and ‘chunk’ sounds.  They also have a flight song and a complex countersinging round.

Librivox’s recording of Chapter 25 of Through Fairy Halls of My Bookhouse also contains the first two stanzas of the much longer poem.

 

Mar 282016
 

2 snowy seats and table

Recently I shared 3 projects I would love to make for my garden from wood pallets.  While searching for idea, I came across a few more that would work great for the yard.  These are also projects in which I can involve the kids. 

How about this great porch swing, but turned into a tree swing? I know the perfect limb ….

A shelf to tuck in along a porch corner? Sold. Finding furniture I can leave out rain or shine, or snow, is hard to find. The screened in section of our porch is usually protected, but still is prone to moisture and lots of wind.  There is a section of wall perfect for a shelving unit. It would be a great place to store outside toys, games, and items for entertaining. A much better idea than the low table we currently have which has become a dumping ground.  This is also a project that could be worked on at any point in the year.

I am really liking the idea of this Ottoman for the porch. It would fulfil various needs as time arose – storage for toys or cushions, an extra seat, IR an ottoman. There is the slight detail that this is made from a crate instead if a pallet, but it is a great idea to go from.

Feb 252016
 

greenhouse speaker empty tablesOne of the field trips Jack and I went on in January was to a greenhouse.  The original plan did not have this as a stop, but sometimes you have to go with the flow and I think this turned out really well.  The person showing us around had about an hour’s notice that 50+ home schoolers and their families were wanting to come visit.  He did great!  His own kids, toddlers, were even there.  I suspect it was more of a “let’s go see what Daddy does at work” sort of thing, but I thought it was a perfect addition.  He also was fairly relaxed, which I suspect comes with getting to be in a greenhouse all day, I would be fairly relaxed too.

The photo above shows part of one room that was awaiting trays of plants.  The amount of space they  have to fill is several times the size of my house.  A few of the greenhouses could have fit my house twice and still had extra space.  This greenhouse complex is one belonging to a nation wide brand. The amount of plants coming out of this one set of greenhouses is amazing.

greenhouse tray filling station collage

Here is where it all begins: filling trays with seed starting mix (top left), making holes and dropping in seeds (lower left), adding a covering (bottom right), and watering the appropriate amount (top right).  Everything runs like clockwork.

The soil mix is added to the large hopper in bags that are as tall as me.  These bags come from somewhere off site and are delivered, each on top of their own pallet.  Yes, BIG bags of soil mix.

The trays are labeled with the type of plants to be started in them.  Someone in the office prints these off and attaches them.  Once they are wheeled out on a cart to this station, the workers do not need to count or thing much about what is to be going in them.

greenhouse seeds started

greenhouse seed starting trays

This is one of but many ‘arms’ of the greenhouses.  Each contains plants needing similar growing environments.  While it was cold enough for the ponds to be frozen outside, many of us had to strip off our coats and pull up our sleeves while here.  In warmer months, there are vents that can be opened.  Each end also held a fan to aid in air circulation.

greenhouse potted plants cutting source

Some plants do better propagating via cuttings.  There was a room for that, too.  These lovely ladies get to spend their day being pampered with food and individual drinks.  Later, they are the source for hundreds of new plants.

greenhouse cuttings taking root

Some plants will get too big for a table and are placed directly on the gravel floor to grow.  These cuttings have already rooted and were transplanted into pots to grow more.  They will not be ready to ship out for quite some time. which makes it important to get them started early.

greenhouse hanging baskets

Pots, pots, and more pots.  Everywhere we looked there were hanging baskets above our heads.  It seemed like any space they could put them, they did.  If you look close, you can see they are hooked onto a chain of sorts.  This is actually a conveyor belts, making it possible for a person to stand at one end and hook the hanging baskets on from one location.  It also aids in their removal. Due to the amount of light that enters these greenhouses, having hanging baskets above other growing plants is not an issue.  Actually it is a great use of space.

greenhouse floor childrens feet

By the end of the tour, the kids were tired.  It had been a long day.  I, however, was re-energized; a good thing as I was the one who had to drive back almost 2 hours.  In all, I think it was a great change to the schedule and would do this again.

Feb 032016
 

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valentines

At the beginning of the year, I made it a point to start celebrating the various holidays throughout the year.  I had Easter, Christmas, and Thanksgiving pretty well down.  For activities related all the other holidays, though, I rarely did much, often forgetting about them until a day or two before.

Let me give you an example using the next holiday that will be coming up soon.  Valentines Day is a holiday my husband and I often forget about.  For example, the first year we were married we were doing our taxes when we realized the date, February 14.  Yup, we were spending our first Valentines Day as a married couple doing our taxes.  Romantic, eh?

With it already being into the month of February and Valentine’s Day once again approaching, I need to get on the ball and actually implement the thoughts I have going through my head in regards to activities with the kids.  In years past, I have had them make cards for school, or color hearts and attach them to pencils.  That was as far as I went.  And for the record, making home made cards with your Kindergartner for their class of 20-something kids may sound like a great skill building activity, but it is over rated.  The only skill you end up working on is your patience.

One of my favorite things about Valentines Day are those little heart candies.  They hold no nutritional value, they are a bit corny, but there is something about them I have a hard time refusing.  This year, one of my planned activities is to buy a bag of them and give one to each kid every day.  It will not be anything big, but will make a great quick moment to stop and remember to say, “I love you” every day.

Not only will I be able to find these wonderful little hearts at the store, but Swagbucks has also cooked up a batch that is sure to make you feel great.  They call them SwagHearts!

Collect all 5 candy heart-themed Collector Bills and you will earn a 20 SB bonus!

For those of you who are wondering what Collector Bills are, let me explain.

How Do I Get Collector Bills?

It is simple.  Search the web through the Swagbucks Search Engine through Friday, February 12th at 11:59 pm PT/Saturday, February 13th 2:59 am ET, and when you get a search win, you may get a special Collector Bill valued at either:

  • 8 SB
  • 14 SB
  • 25 SB
  • 32 SB
  • 39 SB

 

What happen when I get a Collector Bill?

When you win a limited edition Collector Bill you will receive the value of the bill and the bill will be added to your “Collector’s Bill” ledger.  Collect all 5 bills an you will instantly earn a 20 SB bonus!

Is it possible to collect the same Collector Bills multiple times?

Yes, you could collect any of the Collector Bills multiple times by February 12th, and you receive the value of the bill each time.  After all, who does not love candy!

Pro-tip: Default your search engine on your browser to Swagbucks to get collectors Bills and SB every time you google “What time is the Super Bowl?” without even thinking about it.

Happy Searching!

Jan 092016
 


Children at work cutting with scissorsWhat’s Going On Inside The Brain Of A Curious Child – Ah ha!  This is so Jack. 1,001 questions every day. I have learned to ignore some, as they are him thinking out loud, and answer others.  So many questions, it is often hard to stay on track.  He tends toward ADHD or autistic type behaviors (cumpulsion at times, trouble transitioning always), so that does not help with all the questions either.  He sure impressed our HVAC person with his knowledge (and questions) yesterday.  Perhaps there is something to curiosity and retaining knowledge.  I will have to keep that in mind when looking to teach some of the ‘boring’ subjects.

Rich Children And Poor Ones Are Raised Very Differently  – interesting read. The findings were not quite what I thought they would be.  I expected more of the “preschool is great, screen time is bad, spend time with your kids” rhetoric. Instead, they actually looked at the differences, both a young kids and as adults. Seems we all love our kids and want what is best for them, even if we try to achieve it in different ways.

We very much used to, and still at times do, parent out of fear – not that they will be shot, but that they will grow up lacking skills to learn; that they will be so far behind academically and skill wise that they will give up, that there would be no striving to gain knowledge.

From almost the first day they lived with us it was Enrichment 101 at our house, or so it felt. They were both about a year behind on many skills, this at a point where 1 year was a significant portion if their lived, so we focused on those needing the most work. We didn’t know how long they would be with us, so we made the most of the assumed limited time.

A few years later it was actually hard to realize that they had caught up in some areas, others were almost there, and the ones that were not would get there with maturity and time. Yes, consistent work still needed to be done, but we did not need to fear anymore. Now the goal is to relax some, but still provide tool to encourage learning.

This past month our home school routine has been more relaxed as I was focusing more time on the house. The result? Jack began understanding some math concepts he had been struggling with before.  It was like they needed to simmer for a time before becoming ingrained.

In public school, George finally latched on to the idea of adding. He went from not understanding at all over the summer and having nothing memorized, to now being able to subtract. There are other areas of struggle, especially where memorization is involved, but that is something with which he will always struggle. I am growing to acceptance of that reality. We still work hard to get him to fix these things in his memory, while knowing that Time has its place, too.

IMG_20160108_095034309

Dear Moms, Jesus Wants You To Chill Out – A great reminder that we do not need to be Martha (as in Mary and Martha) about everything.  It is a great reminder and encouragement, as I often ‘fail’ to achieve the do-everything-perfect-mom which I have set for myself.  I have relaxed more, both in parenting and homemaking, but have a ways to go.

Here Are 7 Sky Watching Events In 2016 You Don’t Want To Miss – late Autumn through early Spring is my preferred sky watching time. Yes, it may be cold outside, but you do not have to be up late waiting for the sun to set.  Not only does it allow me to get some sleep, it also increases the likelihood that I say “Yes” to letting the kids observe the event.