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Category Archives: Learning at Home

October 10 on 10

9am:  I bribed the girls with a promise of hot chocolate for breakfast if they would just let me sleep until 8am.  It worked.

10am:  Surveying the homeschool mess from yesterday.

11am:  Power smoothie

12pm:  My cheat sheet to remember that King Philip comes over for good spaghetti.

1pm:  Sneaking a peek at Cedar playing My Little Pony while wearing little boy undies.

2pm:  Flying homemade kites with friends

3pm:  Guinea pigs!

4pm:  Learning about static electricity

5pm:  Introducing two new caterpillars and a chrysalis to our home (hopefully they will live longer than the last ones)

6pm:  Pies ready to go in the oven.  I have two first-time mamas due and it doesn’t hurt to sweeten up my family before I disappear indefinitely.

 

ten on ten button small

End of September Joys

As I try to give myself more margin, I’m noticing much small joy around me.

Is any joy small?

* Cedar’s love of frilly pink things and My Little Ponies.

* Sharing poetry and Shakespeare with Norah.

* Playing iPod shuffle “name that tune” with Scott. I’m really weak at Yacht Rock.

* Silly texting with Noelle even though international texting isn’t free. We’ve always silly texted so even though Skype is free, we continue the practice.

* Learning about the Faroe Islands because they regularly show up in my blog visitor stats and I don’t know about this lovely place. Now I want to visit. Or live there. Hello to my reader(s) in the Faroe Islands!

* Receiving texts about intimate birthy things in the middle of dinner parties. It is like the sweetest slumber party secret.

* Cedar sleeping with 24 My Little Ponies and hearing them fall out of her bed. One at a time. All night long.

* Watching Norah draw.



* The mothercords I wear on my ankles and the families they represent.

* Cedar putting on her “work boots” to help my dad work. I have almost this same picture from when I was a kid.

* Discovering that Keen makes boots. Discovering this tidbit because my sweetest of all husbands ordered a pair for me.

* The last warm days of summer.

* Norah asking me to help her memorize “Be Thou My Vision.”

May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright heav’ns Son.

I hope you’re also finding joy in these fleeting, wispy moments.

Play, Pauses, and Tropical what?

I’m sorry I’ve been absent.

Life, you know.  Busy, but also lazy at times.  Beautiful and messy.  A July filled with birthday parties, sleepovers, camps, backyard snakes black and green, learning, meetups, birthy moments, teaching, a few meltdowns (me) and tantrums (kids).

Norah received her first kayak so we’ve spent some days paddling as a family.

School continues.   We do year-round to allow for slumps when we escape to beaches or mountains or simply spend days eating popcorn and watching movies.

There was a giant pause during the last two weeks when it was possible that I would go to Bangkok, Phnom Penh, or Singapore.  My brother-in-law‘s health was dicey and Noelle needed help.  Her sweet soon-to-be two year old was nursing like a newborn round the clock.  In the end, my mom was chosen to go to Singapore.  Her layover in Hong Kong coincided with Typhoon Vicente and after some delay, she arrived.

I have a bad feeling she’s going to inadvertently break a rule like spit out her gum and she will be  fined or caned.

Right now, it looks like my brother-in-law might have Tropical Sprue.  Have you ever heard of this?  Me neither.  I’m fairly certain it is something Ernest Hemingway coined.   Along the lines of malaise or consumption.  It is old-fashioned and tres missionary-esque.  Thankfully, it is treatable.

In the meantime, I attended a birth at which I was entirely superfluous.  While I want that to be the case, it is still hard to admit when I’m not at all necessary.  You know a birth is amazing when the doula isn’t needed.

Speaking of doulas, there is a local doula who needs to attend a birth in August to complete her certification.  Do you know someone who cannot afford a doula or would be willing to invite a doula to serve?

What else?  I have two spaces remaining for my Aug/Sept Hypnobabies class.

Come see me Saturday at the Blessingway!

Norah for President

A conversation with my five year old:

Norah:  Mom, have you ever heard of a king who did whatever his people wanted him to do?

Me:  No, I don’t think so.

Norah:  I’m pretty sure they exist.

Me (homeschool mom trying to insert a lesson in government):  What if you had some yummy lemonade and I wanted your lemonade.  What would the king do then?  How would he decide who would get the lemonade?

Norah (without hesitation):  He would make more lemonade!

Portrait of this stay-at-home-mom

6:45:  Wake to sounds of husband in the shower

Cedar crawls in bed with me.  I feel mauled by a grizzly bear by the time she’s finished wallowing on me.

Make coffee.  Kiss husband.  Wave good-bye from the window with naked 2-year old by my side.  Norah wanders in.  Grumpy.  Much like me in the mornings, this one.

Cancel my 10am playdate.  Bummed about it but I have some sniffles starting and I don’t want to spread them.  We were supposed to make homemade hair conditioner.

Breakfasts consumed by two small children over the next three hours (4 boiled eggs, two blueberry pancakes, 1 orange, 2 peaches, 4 spoons of peanut butter, 1 piece of toast, 1 chunk of cheese, 1 yogurt).  Yes, really.

3 cups of coffee and a secret cupcake consumed by me.

Sounds of Elizabeth Mitchell on Pandora.

Save Cedar from a puppy attack.  Clean up puppy mess.  Find a library book shredded by puppy.  Put puppy in crate.

Shower.  It is a good day.  And I have new soap.

While in shower, Cedar brings me her diaper.  She has removed it.  It contains poop.  I try to lure her to the shower so I can clean her butt.

Learning with Norah:  She reads to me.  I read to her.  We read about amazing heroines of the American War.  Turns out that while Paul Revere rode 16 miles, a sixteen year old girl rode 40 miles at night.  In the rain.  Where is her poem?  Ahem.  (Oh wait!  I found one!)

Back to learning.  I drink coffee while she does addition with coffee beans.  She reviews her timeline cards and we giggle over pronunciation of “Hammurabi,” “Amenhotep” and “Tutankhamun.”

We break so Norah can play with My Little Ponies.

I clean up potty messes made by both Cedar and puppy.  Answer work emails.  A friend wants to know about natural birth of twins.  A woman tries to decide between VBAC at the hospital or at home.  A lactation question.  A contract confirmed.  A private class arranged.

Norah and I worked on memorizing “The Bones Song.”  It is so much fun to sing.  Our motivation is to sing it for Aunt Noelle in December.  The skeleton Dr. Stafford loaned us has been a fantastic visual aid.

Lunch.  A triumph and a fail.  Triumph:  I finally convinced one of my children to eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  Thank you Cedar for branching out.  Fail:  Norah wanted a lettuce and plain wheat bread sandwich.  Which she didn’t eat.  She ended up with celery and peanut butter.

Cedar napped.  Norah worked/played on her computer.  I ate lunch and read a book.  (I will be happy to finish this book 5 from Game of Thrones.  Madness.  Should have never started the hefty series.  But I must finish.  How many thousands of pages have I read?)

Phone call from a client with maternity leave ending.  Daycare looming Monday.  Anxieties.  I push the girls on the backyard swings so I can talk without fighting in the background.

The 5 year old yells “stupid phone call.  I hate your phone.”  Um, it was the only phone call all day.  Time for physical play!  With much dread, I dress them in old underwear and we walk to the neighbors’ backyard renovation project.  I unleash them with cookie cutters and buckets in a giant mudbath.  My neighbor and I (and baby Elisha) talk about slings and wool diapers while my children make mud angels.

 

 ****Pictures deleted because creepy people keep searching “children playing in the mud naked.”  Um, gross!****

Hose children.  Bathe children.  Fill and empty tub three times to get rid of mud.  The girls use all my new soap.

Pack children and drive to my parent’s house.  Time it perfectly for uninvited dinner.  While eating, Cedar has an allergic reaction to either red pepper or tilapia.  Swollen lips, red bumpy cheek (“it hurts, mama!”), sneezing, coughing.  For a couple of hours.  Norah entertains with a magic show involving a hat and the requirement that we all close our eyes each time she needs to make something disappear.

We look at constellations using an iPad app.

On the way back home, we listen to the unabridged Anne of Green Gables on CD.  Norah asks “what is the depths of despair?”  Oh child.  My mind races to events that will take her there someday.  I hold back tears as we continue to listen to Marilla Cuthbert and Anne Shirley with an “e” talk of what tomorrow might hold.

I feed bedtime snacks of yogurt.  I risk giving Cedar some Benadryl.  She’s still reacting to the pesky food.  Benadryl usually causes her to go hyper-wild.  Do I risk it?  She seems pretty tired.  I risk it.  Put Cedar to bed.  Norah to bed.  Craving salt, I sit down with bean sprouts and tamari sauce.  Bam!  Cedar fell out of bed.  Put child back in bed.

Talk briefly with my husband before he puts a kayak into the ocean at night.  Turn on his Pandora station, “GruzFrahBah”.

Search for the perfect poem for a friend’s blessingway tomorrow.  Settle on this one.

Play on Pinterest.

I fret over my poor neglected blog and decide to blog something.  But what?

It is 1am as I finish this post.  And I gasp as I remember that Norah still has red mud in her scalp and we have to leave at 8:30 in the morning for her science lab.  Shoot.

Run my mind over all the events and expectations of tomorrow.  It is going to be a doozy.

Small Space Homeschooling

Space is a hot commodity in our house.  Some of our poor hall closets have been repurposed five times in as many years.   One was Cedar’s “nursery” since we knew she’d sleep in our room for at least the first year.  And one even got absorbed into a recent room remodel.  So when it came time to commit to a homeschool space, of course, I was scoping out the weary closets.  I imagined a rolling cart of some sort that would appear during the day and disappear when we were finished. 

Then I remember a time when Scott and I were first married and had the tiniest kitchen space ever.  It was when we lived in the haunted farmhouse.  Have I ever mentioned that place?  No matter.  We needed a place for two to eat.  And we needed compact storage.  On a crazy impulse, I bought a china hutch that had a murphy-bed-ish table.  It seemed the perfect solution.  And it was.  Only it turned into our first REALLY awful, REALLY big marital argument.  Something about making big purchases without talking to the other person first.  Yada, yada. 

It would not be our last argument.

As time passed, the table was removed from the hutch, the chairs went to other rooms, and the hutch became merely a hutch. 

Until. 

I repurposed as my homeschool hideaway.

I think it will suit.  I can fold the table up when we’re not using the space to keep the destructive curious two-year old out.

Don’t think I don’t hear you veteran homeschool moms laughing.  Of course, I realize that soon my hideaway will spill out into the house and yard.  I know my house will reek of homeschool when guests come over for dinner.  But a girl can try, right?

Play

Do you remember imaginative play?  I do.  I remember it with such envy.  I remember getting lost for hours playing with my button collection.  I still remember how I played and the names of certain families buttons.  And I sometimes bring my buttons down from the attic and hold them in my hands. 

I suppose that is why I can’t take enough pictures of imaginative play.  I might have more pictures of abandoned toy set-ups than pics of my children! 

 

“The adult has various means at his disposal of coming to terms with the whole range of his environment…but the path of children is and remains that of play.  Simply by a staircase of games, children have reached the world of adults from time immemorial.  Each step is made up of the games of a particular age-group.”  –Children at Play (Heidi Britz-Crecelius)

I struggle some days with Norah’s “schooling.”  She’s a December baby so she would not begin kindergarten until this fall.  We homeschool.  Which, at this point, mostly means she has unrestricted free play.  That is the bulk of her school.  I remember the year I went to kindergarten.  It was half-day then.  And I remember playing.  It seemed like that is all we did.  Sometimes we made peanut butter on saltine crackers.  I don’t think kindergarten is like that anymore.   

Re-centering involves reassuring yourself that you have made a good choice, that you have recognized that the true center of childhood is play, not work.  After all, play is the primary way children were designed to learn…research shows that a child’s intellectual awakening takes place during the normal adult-child interactions that occur in everyday, purposeful activities…playful environments and spontaneous learning opportunities hold the keys for a happy, emotionally healthy, and intelligent child–and for a fulfilled parent.  –Einstein Never Used Flashcards (Hirsh-Pasek and Golinkoff)

I hope I can stay relaxed and trust she is climbing the staircase.  I need to find ways to play more, too.