Monday, November 30, 2009

Spilled Oats, When the Meat Won't Fry, and a Little Baby Boot Camp

Things I learned today:

-Ground beef fries better when the burner is actually ON. (I'm blaming this one on yesterday's migraine leaving me a bit muddleheaded...)

-One can improvise a meal if one has some meat & potatoes to start with. (I'm blaming this one on lack of planning this week. Time to write out my menu and grocery list...)

-An entire canister of oats covers a large percentage of our kitchen floor. (I'm blaming this one on an impatient 4 yr old who learned why it's important to wait for Mom...)

-Laundry doesn't fold itself, and children don't always fold it without being asked. (This one is due to my slacking off when it come to getting daily lists printed...)

-1 yr olds do not always come when called. (This one is due to lack of training, which is being stepped up this week, due to the whole not coming when called thing, but rather not even acknowledging Mom & Dad's voice(s) and sometimes going so far as turning to run the other direction. Time for that to stop...)

-My children were not born knowing how to clean their rooms. (This could be genetic, as neither my husband nor myself came by it naturally, and might even struggle to this day to set a good example on this one...)

Okay, I pretty much knew all of these things before today, well, except for the oatmeal thing, but I probably could've guessed on that one and still passed the test.

Now is as good a time as any to work on training our toddler, and it wouldn't hurt to include our 3 & 4 yr olds for some reinforcement. Reinforcement helps form good habits, in our children, as well as in ourselves.

Here's an idea of how this looks in our house:

I will usually wait until after the majority of our homeschooling is done for the day, this way if any battles of the will happen, and they usually do, they won't interfere with anything too important, except maybe getting supper on the table, but hopefully it won't come to that.

When the children are all engaged in play of some sort I will call one of them to me. Starting with an older one reminds them that yes, they do still need to come when Mom calls, and it sets an example for younger children to follow. Our children have been taught to not only come when called, but to answer/acknowledge with a "Yes, Ma'am?" or "Yes, Mom?", preferably including some eye contact. They need to come near, not just look up from across the room and grunt "Yeah?" or worse, the disrespectful "What?". Once the beckoned child has come close and responded respectfully, they will be given a small task, "Would you bring that doll back to your room?", or "Please put that book on the floor back where it belongs.", or "Would you go get your baby brother out of the bathroom again?". They are then supposed to return to Mom, or Dad, to see if we have another task to give, or to simply receive a "Thank you!" and maybe even a big squeeze or a little tickle, and then they are free to go back to their play.

I will then move onto one of the younger children, and repeat the process. Everyone 4 and older has been through this several times for several years, and knows the routine enough to quickly comply. In the 4-8 yr old range it's still played out almost like a game. Our current 10 yr old will respectfully comply because he's such a good-natured kid and knows how important, good, and right, it is to set a good example for his younger siblings. Our teenager isn't expected to jump up and come right over, but he is expected to look up from what he is reading (he's almost always reading!), make eye contact, respectfully ask "Yes, Ma'am?" and do what he's asked to do, though he is rarely asked to do things like bring dolls to his room, because, well, yeah, the dolls often found strewn around the house aren't his. With him it's more often "Have you finished your Algebra?" or "Would you please throw away your apple core?".

Our Little Mercy, who just turned 3, will usually come when called now, though we are definitely still working on getting her to do so with a good attitude. She often will make it abundantly clear that she would really rather be doing just about anything right at that moment than practicing obedience to Mom or Dad. This is a very natural expression of her self-centeredness, which is a real problem for every one of us, it's just that at 3 yrs old, she hasn't learned to suck it up and mask her disappointment for the sake of doing right. When she sulks, or worse, whines or cries, she will definitely be given more than one task. If, after 2 or 3 tasks, her attitude isn't any better, or has gotten progressively worse, she will receive a short and sweet reprimand as a last chance to straighten up, and if that fails, she'll be put down for a nap, no matter what time it is. She probably won't sleep, but she needs to be isolated for at least a little while to learn some cause and effect- throw a fit and rebel against Mom or Dad = negative consequence. If she does decide to straighten up and complete a task without a fussy bad attitude, she'll be given at least one more task, for good measure. This is where staying pleasant and not letting frustration show really counts. No toddler or preschooler is going to decide to happily obey a crabby parent who is obviously displeased.

With the 1 yr old, while always working on things like "No", and "Don't touch", we're just now starting work on "Come" (and I admit, we may be a bit late in this game, it would've been better to start as soon as he was mobile). He's really not interested. He'd rather do what he'd rather do, plain and simple. While there are times when he's trailing at my feet throughout the day, wanting to be picked up and held while I'm cooking or doing other things requiring two hands, the times when he's contentedly playing are not the times he's interested in coming to Mommy. In fact, at those times, he'd rather not come to Mommy, which makes for perfect training opportunities, as the idea is to train him to conform his will to Mom's or Dad's (an example of a christian conforming his or her will to the will of our Heavenly Father).

I'll call his name, adding a sweet toned "Come here." He may or may not glance my way. I'll call his name again. If he doesn't glance my way, I'll go right over to him, repeat "Come here" and begin to lead him to the spot where I first called him. I go after the 2nd time, because if I keep calling his name and he keeps ignoring me, all I'm doing is training him to ignore the sound of my voice, training him to not respond to me. That can get frustrating, and the goal of training is to avoid the frustration that causes so many issues between parent and child, and frankly is the reason so many parents end up resorting to yelling, or worse. Frustration leads to anger, and it's very hard not to be angry with a child who continues to rebel and disrespect and disobey. Being proactive, and getting up off of one's rear to train (teach) a child what is expected, helps avoid soooo much frustration and makes for both happier parents and happier children. Training is not the same as discipline, in fact, training makes most discipline unnecessary.

Once I've gotten him to the spot that I had called him to, I'll give him some smiley "Good job!", "You came to Mommy!", and various praises for a job well done. If he pulls away and starts fussing a lot, which will happen the first several times, he'll get a firm but gentle "No fit!" and I'll keep bringing him to the spot I called him to. The "No fit" needs to be loud enough for him to hear over his fussing, but definitely not shrill, this is no time to yell or lose one's cool. We don't want to train our children to only obey when we raise our voices, the idea is to train them for 1st time obedience, not to obey the 3rd or 4th or 7th time because the sound of our voice tells them they're about to get it. It's a pretty rare parent who isn't irritated by the 7th ignored request, again, the idea with training is to avoid the irritation, and to raise happy, helpful, obedient children.

Our youngest is 13 months, a newbie 1 yr old, and he's just starting out with his more 'formal' training, hehe, baby boot camp, if you will. It's light-hearted and easy-going right now, with some quick little "No"s when necessary. When he is a bit older, and I am sure that he knows what is expected, if he still resists, then it will be time for some little reinforcement swats. For now though, it's all about training and not discipline- there will be plenty of time for that... though, if we stay diligent with some early training, the ongoing discipline as he ages should be much less, and our parent child relationship much better.

Our children are not perfect. We are not perfect parents, in fact, it seems we are so very far from that most days. Our children are, however, better than average, if average is what is represented most every time we go to Walmart or Target. Our 2 and unders may cry now and then when tired, hungry, and out for too long, but our 4 and ups would never give us the kind of grief we see children giving their exasperated parents most every time we get to town. Now that I've said that, hopefully no one will act up on me the next time we go shopping, but if it were to happen, it would be a very rare thing, probably not to be repeated. Our children usually look up at me with a look of slight horror that says something like "Did you see what that kid just did?!" whenever we witness a tantrum on display in public, and I usually look back at them with a "Oh, my, aren't you glad that isn't you?!"

Ok, enough for now, time for another round with our youngest troops, then time for supper, some stories, some baths, some bedtimes, and then some quiet time for Mom so I can rest up and do it all again tomorrow!

PS- One of my favorite parenting and child training sites is Raising Godly Tomatoes, if you're earnestly looking for Godly advice on raising happy and obedient children, take some time to read on the site or to order the book. I don't think you'll regret it.


Multitude Monday 51-100

51. soft blankets
52. flannel sheets in a Minnesota Winter
53. bookshelves
54. our big dining room table
55. quiet nights
56. warm pajamas
57. slippers on little feet
58. a 13 month old little boy who still cuddles with Mommy while drinking his milk
59. 1st haircuts for little girls
60. the pile of laundry waiting to be folded (a sign that we have more than enough clothes)
61. a fairly full freezer
62. a fairly stocked pantry
63. a stack of crock-pot recipes
64. seasonal lists of 30 recipes we like
65. late-night grocery shopping trips by myself
66. children who behave in the grocery store the times we need to go by day
67. big batches of oatmeal w/maple syrup & brown sugar
68. fresh veggies for afternoon snacks
69. big bunches of bananas
70. homemade pizza
71. stock pots of soup
72. big batches of pasta
73. a whole family who loves nachos for snackin' and sometimes for supper
74. hearty whole wheat and oatmeal pancakes for breakfast, and sometimes for supper
75. a big black bench found at a local antique show
76. little bodies to fill up the benches in this house
77. an antique cradle from Nanny to keep the girls' dolls contained
78. dolls to fill it and the girls who play with them
79. a 3 yr old learning to be a big helper and a big sister, caring for her little brother
80. children with memories way better than mine who recite silly movie lines with great comedic timing, cracking me up daily
81. sweet fun from classic toys like Slinkies
82. sisters who make room for each other & squeeze together on the rocking chair
83. popcorn, popped on the stove top
84. the smacking as they lick their fingers after eating the fresh popped buttery popcorn
85. dry erase boards and the blank canvas for impromptu art that they are
86. enthusiastic young artists
87. digital cameras to capture picture after picture of their never ending pictures
88. chubby baby feet
89. a small army of helpers when it's time to pick up
90. a teenager who does the dishes without attitude, seriously, I can't even say enough about how thankful I am for that, and for him
91. counting butterflies in a book with the 3 yr old
92. cinnamon crumb coffee cake
93. a warm cup of coffee after waking from a migraine-induced stupor
94. a more than capable husband who handles it all while I'm in bed with a migraine
95. children who do NOT ask for $100 jeans
96. another lovely Thanksgiving with the in-laws
97. another chance to play their incredible antique baby grand piano
98. safety on the roads, 2 hrs, both directions
99. chicken soup on a cold day
100. eternal promises
May I never neglect to be thankful!
If you've never read Ann Voskamp's inspiring writing, you're missing out. There is beauty, inspiration, and challenge in every one of her posts where she never fails to point the reader in the direction of the Savior. I wish she were my neighbor...


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sunday Hymn

Count Your Blessings
Johnson Oatman, Jr., 1856-1922
(#370 in "Great Hymns of the Faith")

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Count your blessings, name them one by one,

Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will keep singing as the days go by.


When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
Count your many blessings money cannot buy
Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high.


So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.


Having just celebrated Thanksgiving here in the States, many of us have spent some time thinking about our many blessings and practicing the habits of thankfulness and gratefulness. My earnest prayer, for myself, for my family, and for anyone who reads this, is that we would make these habits regular habits. Oh, what a change in demeanor we would see in ourselves and in our children, if we could truly keep in the forefront of our minds the many things we have to the thankful for. The 'woe is me' attitudes would drop by the wayside, the 'that's not fair' griping would be seen for the petty thought that it is, the 'if only's and 'I wish I had's would cease, and they would be replaced with a new attitide, a better attitude, one of the best attitudes.

*One of my favorite versions of this song, and the one that still plays in my head every time I hear or we sing this hymn, is from the old Jason & the G-Men album "G" as in Men... of course, it was even better live, back in the day...


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Kids Crack Me Up!

4 yr old Hope found a freshly made paper airplane laying unguarded on the table, "Who made this?" she wondered aloud.
"I did." said 10 yr old big brother Jaron.
Holding up a piece of broken crayon, "Do you want it blue-ish?"
"Um, nope."
-Hmmm, why not? Shouldn't every paper airplane be blue? Excuse me, blue-ish? Judging by the marker in her hand, she was hoping for a little impromptu arts and crafts time, to which I say 'better a paper airplane than her skin, or my walls, or the woodwork surrounding our fireplace...
Another Hope-ism: Sunday, after church, when pulling in to McDonald's (I know, I know, shame on me for not having a lunch prepared, seriously, shame, but...), just turned 7 yr old Grace eagerly begged, as she always does, "Can we go inside?! Can we go inside?!" to which Hope replied, very seriously and without skipping a beat, "Haven't you heard it's flu season?"
-Haha! Yep, they're little parrots, and yep, I've used that excuse a few times the fast couple months...

And yet another Hope-ism, 4 yr olds are the best for this sort of thing: the family computer has had some issues as of late. It has gotten pickier and pickier and has decided not to play DVDs anymore, ok, fine, whatever. Yesterday, it decided to give attitude about running any of the kids' games. Hope was trying to start the Living Letters game, it wasn't happening. I told her "I think that computer is breaking." She replied, "Maybe it was Daddy, he knows how to break computers."
-This is extra funny in our family, as my husband, her dear Daddy, is an IT Manager and has been known to fix just about any computer related problem ever presented to him. Of course, he has been known to say "You have to break things before you can fix them..."

My husband brought home a new cell phone and 10 yr old Jaron was playing with his old one. 13 month old Joseph started squawking a bit in Jaron's ear, and he turned to his little brother and asked, "What? Haven't you ever seen me texting?"
-For the record, none of my children have working cell phones, and thus, none of them have ever texted. In fact, I have never texted... yet.

What funny antics could you tell about your children this week? You know if you don't write them down, you will very likely forget them by tomorrow morning. My humorously gifted 4 yr old had us snickering again last evening, and I can't for the life of me remember what she said... I didn't write it down (type it) soon enough.

This afternoon's project- I'm planning on printing these out and scrapbooking them along with some current favorite photos of our children, to bring down to the in-laws for Thanksgiving. I plan to keep adding to it- these Kid Quotes will make such a fun addition to our photo albums and scrapbooks. Memories of laughter and good times make this life so much sweeter!


Monday, November 23, 2009

Multitude Monday 1-50

I've thought about and focused on things I am truly thankful for, a bit here and a bit there, a scrap of paper tucked in a Bible, a journal page now and then, the notes section of my planner... This list will be my way of keeping it all in one place, a record of gratitude, to look back on and meditate upon in the moments when it all gets hard, the moments when I could use a reminder-
  1. salvation
  2. a Bible in my language
  3. a loving & patient husband
  4. forgiveness
  5. 7 beautiful children
  6. 8 yr old daughter lost in a good book
  7. the sound of our oldest son playing his violin
  8. cuddly 1 yr old
  9. a good church
  10. 12 years of marriage
  11. godly grandparents for our children
  12. sisters I am blessed to call friends
  13. toothy 1 yr old grins
  14. contagious belly laughs
  15. a good cup of coffee in the morning
  16. a husband who works hard so I can be home with our children
  17. his good job
  18. homeschooling
  19. good friends
  20. precious pictures of my grandmother when she was young, beautiful, & full of life, before the cancer took all of that away
  21. a house full of leftover party balloons and the joy of pure fun that they bring
  22. the freckles on our sweet Gracie
  23. the curls in our blonde girls' hair
  24. lovely thick brown hair on our brunettes
  25. girls who like bonnets
  26. children learning to do laundry
  27. reliable vehicles
  28. chickadees at the feeder year round
  29. the variety of woodpeckers right outside the window
  30. a place in the country
  31. space for a garden
  32. room for children to run and play
  33. unseasonal warmth this Minnesota November, extending our outdoor play season
  34. warm coats, ready for when Winter decides to come...
  35. my knitting needles
  36. classic games like Uno and operation
  37. Jane Austen books for lovely leisure reading
  38. pumpkin bars
  39. sweet games of peek-a-boo
  40. a working vacuum for this house of crumbs
  41. yard sale chairs that have become my favorite
  42. audio books so I can listen & knit at the same time
  43. a piano to play
  44. beautiful music to listen to
  45. ears that can still hear it
  46. a warm home
  47. wood to heat it
  48. food on the table
  49. tasty bread recipe
  50. naps, when needed

May I never forget to be thankful-

Labels: ,

Friday, November 20, 2009

He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not...?

Oh yeah, he loves me.

My husband is not the overly sentimental type. Flowers are rare enough around here to still be very special, the potted fall mums he brought home a couple weeks ago brought me to tears, they were so unexpected, and so beautiful.

A few nights ago he came home with an "I got something for you." and handed me this Ghirardelli Intense Dark Twilight Delight chocolate bar. He has been listening and watching all these years. He does know me better than anyone else on earth. (Okay, I can think of several friends and family members that could've told you I have a deep and abiding love for dark chocolate, but right now I'm gushing on about my husband.)

He works hard. He works a lot. He loves his children, and he loves me, even after getting to know me and living with me all of these years. In this season of Thanks, I'm reminded of how thankful I am for my marriage. It's not perfect, no marriage this side of heaven is, but it's a gift from the Lord and I thank Him for it, I thank Him for him.

I'm pretty sure I'd feel the same way without the dark chocolates, but we don't need to test that theory this week.

In other news, after Day 3 of our Reading Marathon, our three oldest readers' totals are as follows:

Ian, The Teenager: 465 minutes
Jaron, the 10 yr old: 244 minutes
Liberty, the 8 yr old: 195 minutes

The reading continues today, amidst some cleaning and baking and general party preparations- Today is Grace's 7th birthday! Girlfriend party planned for tomorrow, so I'm scrambling for some party game ideas and supplies, because, you know, it's the day before and that's when I do things. Time to make the last-minute lists and scoot out the door for some shopping...!!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Reach for the Stars!!

Sonrise Scholars Reading Marathon
November 2009

Our marathon program benefits the reader (we have 3 solid readers and an emerging reader or two or three), the reader's family, and the Sonrise Scholars Co-operative that our family is so excited about being a part of this year. Students participate by reading as much as possible (yay!) and finding sponsors to support their efforts through pledges.

Benefit program as follows:
  • 60% of the pledges provide new Usborne Books to the participating student (Yay!)
  • 20% of the pledges provide tuition funds for the participating student's family (every bit helps!)
  • 20% of the pledges provide cash to the Sonrise Scholars Co-op (for expenses like the awards they give the children at field day, etc...)

Participants reading 1,000 minutes or more will receive special recognition and a medal (My oldest 3 are definitely shooting for at least 1,000 minutes, my Teenager actually thinks he'll top 2,000 and I believe him.)

They have two weeks. 1,000 minutes in 14 days means 71.43 minutes a day, which should be easy for my eager readers, especially if they keep up with the pace they started out with last night, which was their Day 1. November 30th is their last reading day, everything gets turned in Tuesday, December 1st.

***If I understood what I just wrote correctly, that means we are within 2 weeks of December. Take a moment to collect yourselves, then continue reading***

Would you consider sponsoring one (or more) of our readers? I'd love to drum up some online support for them! Let us know here in the comments, being sure to include your email address so I can contact you with a Paypal invoice. Any amount will help and encourage our readers, I'm sure!

Our oldest 3 are off to a good start, here are Day 1 totals (they only had a while in the evening to read after we got home from a busy day)-

  • The Teenager, Ian - 90 minutes
  • 10 yr old, Jaron - 60 minutes
  • 8 yr old, Liberty - 30 minutes

Our 6 yr old is finally getting over her reading hump, with some letter sound blending finally 'clicking' the past couple weeks. I'm so very excited about that and can't wait to see her reading take off as she discovers more words she can decode! Maybe watching her siblings get excited about reading, and earning more books to read, she'll cath some excitement herself- a homeschooling Mom can hope...!!!

Day 2 totals are looking good for our oldest 3, that 1,000 minutes looks well within reach!

I'll try to post their daily totals and accumulative totals as we countdown our 14 days of reading- We'd love it if you'd keep checking back and cheering them on!
Thanks, in advance, for all of your encouragement and support!

Wordless Wednesday

Monday, November 16, 2009

Kids Crack Me Up!

(blast from the past photo, our current 8 yr old, formerly 3...)
Recently, our just-turned-3 yr old, Mercy, has decided that everything that has a smell that she can smell, smells like cow poop, or in her toddler dialect, "smells like tow poop". It was pretty much cute and funny, at least it was until she told me I smelled "like tow poop". Yeah, then it got less funny, or at least less cute. This past Sunday afternoon, she was enjoying a very rich piece of dark chocolate cake when she very excitedly declared, "Mom, I like this tow poop take!"

One morning last week, when The Teenager emerged from the bathroom, 4 yr old Hope was apparently impressed with his look as she burst out "You put your hair in style! You put in jellyfish!" (Translation: You styled your hair. You put in gel.) We chuckled while The Teenager was like, "whatever", which made me chuckle some more. I'm sensitive and understanding like that.
A bit later, that same 4 yr old Hope came huffing and puffing (after tearing back and forth across the great room a dizzying number of times), to tell me "Mom, I was running faster than I could, without even shoes on!". No, there are no typos in that quote. My husband asked if she's speaking Engrish now, nope, I don't think it's quite that bad...

Our newly-turned-1 yr old son was put in a box, which was attached to 2 other boxes with string, all three of which were being pulled around the room by the 4, 6, & 8 yr old girls. He wasn't convinced it should be fun, in fact, he was starting to protest greatly, when 4 yr old Hope tried to reassure him with a tender and loving "Don't worry, you'll understand it when you're older." I really don't know if he will, honey.

You know how children say funny things, and we laugh until we're crying (it really can't only be my Mom and I that do that, right?) and then we say that famous line- "I really should write that one down."? Only, really, maybe one out of 10 of us, or worse, ever does? I have a few written down, in random places, always intending to start that kid-quote journal, but never actually doing it... Well, I'm at the computer a lot, and it's pretty quick to type them out, so lately I've been doing just that, and I think I'll try to make a regular thing out of it. Those could be famous last words, but we'll see. Our 4 yr old's been on a roll lately, and the newly-turned-3 yr old is coming into her own in the funny department, there is a lot of material here!

What funny things have your kids said lately?


Sunday, November 15, 2009

itty-bitty fun

Another busy week for us- 4-H on Tuesday, violin lessons on Wednesday, an evening at the orchestra (what a fun treat!) on Thursday, a homeschool field trip to our favorite historical farm on Friday, and in true no-rest-for-the-weary fashion, a Mommy afternoon at a yarn shop, meeting Susan B. Anderson, on Saturday. Whew! Kinda tired just typing that (could be from staying up a bit late last night, but we'll all pretend I didn't just admit that).
My Dear Husband was home all day on Saturday. Not only was he home, but he was perfectly willing to oversee the entire brood for some hours in the afternoon so I could have some of that elusive 'me time'. For the record, I would've dragged all of my children to the yarn shop if he wasn't going to be home, well, okay, my two oldest boys could have stayed home and twiddled their thumbs for a couple hours... I was truly thankful that he was home, not only so I could have some Mommy time, but so he could have some Daddy time (notice how that works out opposite- my Mommy time is getting out sans children, his Daddy time is being home avec children...), and because my youngest little guy is just getting over a bit of croup, and he's a wee bit clingy and cranky, and may not have been the sweetest little companion around- unlike my sister's wee one, who was the perfect sweet pea!

Shepherd's Choice is so much more than a yarn shop, and I count myself blessed to consider it's owner, Kathy, a friend.

She makes the most wonderful natural soaps and moisturizing lotions- I just cannot say enough good things about them. Seriously. I told several perfect strangers about how Kathy's lanolin rich moisturizer cured my daughters severe eczema and psoriasis- she had what appeared to be both at the time, it was awful, cracked, bleeding, weepy, scaley, itchy, burning, no fun at all for a 2 yr old! We had a doctor prescribe an ointment (after we had tried every 'good' and 'natural' lotion on the market, Eucerin, Neutogena, Aveeno, you name it, we tried it, all to no avail- and they would sting, poor baby), an ointment we never used. After reading the insert, and learning that this ointment had been shown to cause benign and malignant growths, I refused to even try. Were they serious?! They actually wanted me to rub this stuff on my 2 yr old's precious baby soft skin, okay, baby soft except for where the eczema and psoriasis was taking it's toll... Anyhoo, I stopped by the shop one day, and brought in my 2 yr old for Kathy to see. She gave me a tub of her unscented lanolin rich moisturizer to try, and folks, I'm not even kidding, in a week there was marked improvement, in 2 weeks, she was almost clear, by the 3rd week we were just using a touch here and there for some dryness that threatened to get sore but never got the chance. I was amazed, and thankful, and have bought more of that wonder stuff since.

If you have skin problems, please give it a try, and give it time to work. Kathy is a wonderfully prompt shipper. While you're at it, order a bar of her cinnamon with lanolin soap, because, I mean, cinnamon soap!! I could almost eat it. Who doesn't love the smell of cinnamon? Especially this time of year?! Makes wonderful gifts as well!! Knit a washcloth, give with some of this luscious soap, seriously, the recipient will thank you.

Back to the main point of this post- meeting Susan was like meeting up with an old friend. After reading her blog for some years, tweeting back and forth for some months, listening to her podcasts and hearing her interviewed on others, even her voice was familiar. Just in case you're wondering, yes, she really is every bit as sweet as she seems. It was so fun to finally meet her.

My sister came, with munchkin in tow, and then my Mom stopped by too, so we had to get a couple shots of our designing family with Susan. There is another sister, my Little sister, but she's too cool to knit, or way too busy with her amazing job and her adorable Little guy. She's an amazing person, but she's the odd one out when it comes to the knitting and designing (and the sewing!) in this family. She's young, there's still time...

The sun came out for some moments and I ran over to the window to soak up some rays, cause I'm desperate like that, and then it got warm in the shop. I peeled off my Drops Jacket, 'cause, have you worn Blue Sky Alpacas' Worsted? So warm and cozy. I pulled out my water bottle, which I promptly left on the table so if there's a stainless steel water bottle doing crazy things with the flash in any of your pictures, sorry about that! Winters in the Frozen Tundra (I know it's not frozen yet, but Minnesota is always the Frozen Tundra in my mind) are so dry, my water bottle becomes my best friend, specially when the room suddenly gets warm, and I'm not even in my menopause years...

After mulling around for most if the afternoon, and after stocking up on more yummy soaps, some for me, some for gifts, I headed out to a local cafe with my dear friend, The Blonde Knitter. Avant Garden is a very cozy spot in the old historic downtown Anoka, serving the most wonderful paninis- we split a Roma- tomatoes, artichoke hearts, feta cheese, and I don't know what else, but let's just say it's taking some significant self-control to not hop back in the van to grab another for lunch today. Oh, and in a rare non-latte drink order for me, I went with a hot caramel apple cider, and I have no regrets, yummo!

All in all, a fabulous Saturday, and would you believe, I didn't even knit a stitch?
I'll be back with pictures of children and stories of some of the learning adventures around here soon.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A Night at the Orchestra

Thursday evening we had an excuse to get prettied up. Not that my girls need an excuse, I mean they could use, oh, I don't know, being awake, as an excuse to get prettied up, but it does make it just a tad bit more precious when there's another purpose than 'because I'm a girl'.
A night out, a night at the orchestra. We got word of a FREE event at a local college, a children's concert, featuring some wonderful music, including a performance of Peter and the Wolf. I've always wanted to see that one done.
What was even more fantabulous, was the pre-concert activities and refreshments (can't forget the cookies.) They had tables set up full of crafty supplies for the children to make themselves some theatrical masks, and they had many a table set up with performers and their instruments for a 'Musical Petting Zoo' where any child patience enough (and brave enough to tough it through the crowds) could try out the instruments.
When I say crowds, um, totally not kidding. Popular attraction, narrow hallway, tables taking up half of the hallway, and hundreds of people- oh, my, after the french horn I reasoned with my children that they could play Daddy's trombone, my flute & clarinet, their own violins, either Dad's or my cello, we've had a harp in the past (and would love one again someday!) and there's always the piano- we have a fairly musical home, we didn't need to fight the crowds.
I don't know how many of you have ever tried to get through some serious throngs with 5 young and fairly short people holding on... (Our Teenager stayed home with our coughing baby. have I mentioned how handy teenagers can be?!)
There was a point when the crowds moving in both directions just sort of stopped, we were all at an impasse, and it only took me a few seconds of that before I told my children to "Just back-up!" and the people behind us seemed glad to lean to the side so we could get by and they could take our place...
Yeah, that was the less-than-fun part, but the rest of the evening was great. Well, until it was time for the concert to start and the extremely unhappy toddler behind us decided to start wailing and thrashing about- oh, that poor mother, how mortifying. I felt bad for her, and then later I felt more empathy than sympathy when my little Merciful, who just turned 3, was wiggling much too much, and did a sudden face plant on her seat. I knew right away that one hurt- and I've known for some time now (about 3 years) that this child cries loud and long. Fortunately it was at a rather loud point in the music, and I think only the people relatively close to us knew what was going on. I pulled her in very close, hugging her little face to muffle things a bit, and I felt the warm drool near her mouth, only it wasn't just crying-too-much-drool, there was blood. She had split her lip- not too bad, but bad enough to be upset for several moments. That was another less-than-fun part.
Aside from the less-than-fun moments, it was fantabulously fun to have an evening out with most of my children, and a FREE evening at that! What a blessing!!


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Slower Learning, Ups & Downs

We have always homeschooled, and while it hasn't always been what I would call easy, it has never really been what I would call hard. I always knew I wanted to homeschool, from the moment I heard there was such a thing, I knew that was what I would want to do with my children. I was young and idealistic, and while I didn't know all the hows nor all the whys of homeschooling, I did intuitively know that it had, in my opinion, the greatest potential for excellence in learning, in just about any and every area of life, so much more than academics alone.

The first bump in my road came when I started to try to teach my oldest son the concept of subtraction. Addition had been a breeze, but this new angle on numbers just didn't click as naturally. To him, 3-2=5, you know, because there was a 3 and a 2, and they make 5. The symbols and even the words minus or subtract meant nothing, at first. I spent what seemed like hours, playing with manipulatives of all kinds- crayons, Lego's, counting bears, blocks, pretzels, candy- you name it, we did math with it.

I could put 3 bears on the table and say "now, if we have 3 bears and then we take away 2 bears, how many bears do we have left?" and he would say "5", despite there being only 1 bear on the table. I was in a mild state of shock, and a total state of perplexed. How can you look at 3 things on the table, see 2 of them taken away, and think there are 5, when you see 1 left?
I was beginning to lose my patience, and worry about what I had gotten myself into; and then it occurred to me- before I knew how to subtract, I didn't know how to subtract.

Brilliant observation, I know. I don't remember learning how to add & subtract. I must have either learned fairly young and just don't remember, or it was a traumatic experience and I have suppressed all of those memories... (Kidding!) Seeing as I was one of those 'math nerds' in high school, and even earned varsity letters (for the varsity jacket I never got) on the Math Team, twice. Yep, there are such things as Math Teams, and I solved many a stumper of a math problem to win points for my school. Cool, I know.

Back to my observation, at some point in time, even simple things like adding & subtracting were new concepts to me. What would've happened if I didn't 'get it' the first time a new concept was presented to me and my presenter (be it my mother or my school teacher) had written me off as 'slow' or 'learning disabled' or even worse, just plain 'dumb'?

I've been thinking about this a lot lately as my 2nd son has struggled some with his math fact recall. He gets it. He gets addition, he gets subtraction, and now he gets multiplication, but he doesn't have that instant recall most of us have after seeing 3 & 7 enough times to just blurt out 21 without even thinking. You can see the wheels start to turn in his head, and you can almost hear the inner dialogue, "let's see, 7 times 1 is 7 and 7 times 2 is, um, lemme think, 14, and then 7 times 3 is let's see, 14 plus 7 more, that would be, um, 21! Yep, 3x7 is 21!".

Math is work for him, and that's okay, I know we're not all wired the same. Some kids can memorize a fact after hearing it once or twice, others need to review it several times, and still others, this child included, just need the repetition of hundreds of times. Yep, I said hundreds. There is no way he would succeed at math without the 1 on 1 tutoring we can do at home and without the hours and hours of repetition he needs. Math lessons, math flash cards, math speed drills, math games, it all takes time, it all takes work, but that's just what we do.

I totally admit it- I went into homeschooling thinking I would produce a whole gaggle of those genius kids you hear about winning spelling and geography bees and math & science competitions. I've learned that doesn't happen in every homeschool family (not many, actually...), and that has been kind of a painful lesson for me to learn; painful in that it can sometimes hurt my pride, but, well, one way to keep that pesky pride in check is to wound it now and then...

My most recent challenge has been with my 6 yr old, who is very close to turning 7, while being nowhere close to reading. I'm no longer one to panic about delayed reading. I've read enough stories and studies and met enough people with late readers to know that most late readers catch up to 'average', and many even surpass those bright & early readers, somewhere around age 12... That being said, this child is pushing me closer to that worry point with the fact that she cannot seem to even remember all of her letters yet. She's close, but then there are some letters that just bring blank stares, even after seeming to have it down pat the day before.

I've got some sandpaper to make letters, some embroidered alphabet bean bags under construction, some tiles to paint letters onto, and about 101 other ideas to make learning to read a fun adventure for her, and who knows, maybe the 3 & 4 yr olds will be reading soon too, with all of the phonics going on around here... it could happen.

Teaching our own children is an awesome responsibility, it can be hard, and it can be tiring, and frankly, it can be quite thankless work- but seeing the glimmer in the eyes of a child who makes a connection, who has something click, who is learning, is so rewarding. Teaching a child how to learn and then setting them loose to explore the world through many great books is an adventure I'm really getting excited about as my 2nd & 3rd children are now fluently reading and beginning to devour books and tell me all kinds of things, sometimes things new to me- now that's the stuff good homeschooling days are made of!

Related Posts with Thumbnails