Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Tidbits

  • Collectively, we've been sick three times in two months, all upper respiratory infections, and this last one has a deep, nasty cough to go along with it.  I just can't wait until it is done. It is oh-so-very unpleasant to miss out on summer with coughing, hacking, and lethargy.
  • Not to mention all the screaming and ill-tempered fighting.  I've kept Eliah in the backpack for a good part of the part two days, mostly to keep him from rooting up turmoil wherever he goes.  He is calmed by being with me and on my person, while I am still able to accomplish my tasks at hand.
  • Speaking of . . . I am feeling somewhat mournful over just that: the endlessness of my tasks at hand: the bulldozer effect that inhibits enjoying my little guys with more leisure.  For the first time, I really understand my mom's admonition that she remembers my younger years much better than my sister's, 11 years younger than me.  Life is a blur with so many needs to meet.  I feel sad about it.  The blur.
 He was so pleased about this tree
  • I am full-bore in the thrust of planning for our little homeschool for 2015-2016.  It has been a lot of fun - I can tell I am getting better at it.  I have a better sense of the rhythm of our days, how to plan it out, what to expect.  I am also very excited for our new material: literature, poetry, nature study, history.  We will be delving into "early modern times" and studying the beginnings of the US, as well as what was going on in the surrounding world at the time.
  • I am totally sold on Festina Lente in my growing philosophy of education, to "make haste slowly" - the idea of not cramming it all in, but letting it slowly settle.  Not trying to conquer or cover everything, but following a slow, well-trodden path.  Saturation vs. sprinkling.  I love it.
 Playdough festival
  • We made playdough the week before last.  Each boy got to pick out his own color and spent hours over the course of a couple of days cutting, rolling, lumping, and bumping.  It was great fun. And a good table-time activity for a menagerie of sickies.
  • Blaine made the boys a tree house in a younger ash in the tree-line along our driveway.  Truen picked it out on a day that Blaine was planting pumpkins in our "front four" acres.  We are carving out a section (currently in alfalfa) as a test-run.  Truen perched himself in a tree to watch and realized it was the perfect spot.  
  • Truby has been talking about tree houses for so long that Blaine decided to bite the bullet and just do it finally.  He cobbled together a nice little platform from scrap lumber.  Three boys can be up there at a time, but we are sticking to a Two Boy rule.  We can just picture them starting a tussle if there were more than two at a time.  
  • And actually, if Diego and Jamie are together alone longer than just a few minutes, sometimes [what feels like] just a few seconds, fights inevitably break out.  They are currently under quarantine from each other and can only play together if udder brudders or friends are involved.  Seriously.  It is bad.
  • I am still working on nailing down time for Mother Culture.  I've found that I can only read Pride and Prejudice before bed, otherwise my mind wanders (and it isn't too long before it shuts down completely at that time of night anyway).  Dakota is best read while I'm eating, otherwise I feel antsy, and Home Education is best in the morning before anyone else is awake. It isn't a daily guarantee, but I am slowly pecking away at them.
  • It has been very interesting to re-read Pride and Prejudice and Dakota as a woman of 37, instead of a girl of 20 (P&P) and a young woman of 27 (Dak).  My sense of insight and understanding is undoubtedly deeper. I love noticing that.
  • I have also started a commonplace book to keep track of myself while I read: thoughts, insight, significant passages, excellent quotes.  It pleases me.  I picked the Pegasus Decomposition Book for added whimsy.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Straight from the horse's mouth

I read the following poem aloud during lunch today --

Hear what the mournful linnets say
Hear what the mournful linnets say:
"We built our nest compact and warm,
But cruel boys came round our way
And took our summerhouse by storm.


"They crushed the eggs so neatly laid;
So now we sit with drooping wing,
And watch the ruin they have made,
Too late to build, too sad to sing."


~ Christina Rossetti
   Ambleside Online: Christina Rossetti Poems 

As I read it, it struck me as a good, subtle teaching moment for my boys.  After I finished, Jamie exclaimed, "Hey! We are in this poem!"

Not that Jamie is a particular menace to bird nests at this point in the game, but he is being schooled by a chronic, reoccurring case of I-can't-resist-itis in his biggest brudder.  Truen is intrigued by baby birds, but no one is driven by the desire to ransack bird nests like Diego. 

I could see a look of recognition in Diego's face. It will be interesting to see if this new idea, so beautifully written, bears any fruit in his thoughts or actions.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Tidbits

  • We had an expander installed into Diego's mouth last week to widen his palate and make room for all his teeth to grow in.  The reason for it: Can we be well fed, but malnourished? The teeth tell the tale.  His appliance looks identical to the one pictured.  I am convinced that this is the crux of the issue for all of us.
  • Our garden looks absolutely magnificent, much more prolific and successful than we've ever experienced.  Or at least that is what we are crowing to each other.  There are always some losses, but this year seems to be 100% success.  Thus far.  (Fingers crossed!)  It feels terrific to have it back.
Jamie with a gosling in mid-May
  • Our half-grown chicks and goslings are also "the best ever!".  They put themselves into the coops by themselves at night, something that has never happened this early or smoothly.  We have had to physically catch-and-place half-grown chicks into the coop for what felt like weeks (and attempt to "teach them" how to use the roost until they finally get it into their pea-brains) and have always had to herd the geese up into their coop every. single. night in years' past.  It is such a relief to do nothing more take a pleasant walk to latch the door every night. The chicks even figured out the roost by themselves this year.  Smart bunch.
  • An interesting side-note on keeping geese: we've noticed that the grass in our orchard has grown stronger in the three years we have kept geese.  It was pretty much a weed-pit when we first moved in, but keeping grazing animals on it has improved the space dramatically.  The grass is thick and it looks like a pleasant place to walk vs. a place to avoid.
They are just so cute

And friendly and endearing and hardy.
(Until they are grown, then they hiss and menace)

  • You'll noticed I put two new side-bars up: Mother Culture and Favorite Podcasts.  The latter is self-explanatory.  My SIL sent me her old iPod and the rest is history.  I am so grateful to have the break and thoughtfulness to keep me company while I work in the kitchen.
  • Mother Culture is a concept I've been familiar with, but have just recently decided to get serious about in my own life.  This season of life does not afford the leisure of reading for pleasure unless it goes on The List and is made room for.  So make room for it I will.  Brandy's posts have been a great inspiration.
  • So with that in mind, I picked three books that I am working through at a snail's pace.  It does make sense to have three in the running, because the snippets of time available to read are not always conducive to one particular book; it is better to have something to pick from based on my frame of mind and availability.  Two of the books I've already read, but have wanted to re-read (Pride and Prejudice and Dakota) and I've also already read a portion of the third (Home Education).  Baby steps.
  • This week is Kid Chore Boot Camp at our house (inspired by Mystie at Simply Convivial, et al).  Same song, new verse: I am amping up chores at our house.  With hindsight, I see that this has been a several year process and it is paying off richly.  It is so nice to have the responsibility spread across the divide, rather than drowning in endless duty and sheer mess created by four active boys.  They are getting used to it and while they do still moan, most days they do their chores without much complaint or even many reminders to stay on track.  I am thankful.
  • They are now responsible for an expanded set of Morning Chores: in addition to pre-breakfast chores and clearing their spot, they are expected to rinse and put dishes into the dishwasher, sweep, and have one big morning chore each day of the week: fold/put away laundry, vacuuming, vacuuming, vacuuming, and cleaning the bathroom.  I am having them team up on the vacuuming jobs, but have separated bathroom duty: Diego cleans the toilet, Truen cleans the sink and mirror, Jamie has the bathtub.
  • I also assigned Diego to solo dishwasher duty.  Truen is now doing cat litters daily, including litter-bucket dumping and sweeping (something that Blaine was still doing on weekends up until this week).  Awesome.

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

E-yi-ya is two


Our Eliah is two years old.  He still feels like our baby.  He's so little by comparison.  So we carry him around on our hips, baby-talk him, cuddle him close, and refer to him as "the baby".

This little rascal usually refuses to eat during most mealtimes and instead insists on nursing, something Baby Truen did as well.  His frame is small like Truen's too, though he is taller than Truby was at this age.  He's got the most beautiful {milk} chocolate brown curls.  He has his daddy's hair.  And I don't think these are just baby curls . . . I'm pretty sure they are here to stay.  They are so much tighter than either Diego or Truen's baby curls.


He asks, "Jamie?", "Truby?", "Dada?" every morning, wondering where they are.  "They're asleep (or at work)," I tell him.  (He can say "Daygo" too, but never wonders where he is in the mornings for whatever reason.)  Yi-ya gets up at the crack of dawn, usually right around 6:43 AM, sometimes earlier, rarely later.  We snuggle and nurse and read books - it is the only time of the day where I am able to be 100% focused on him and him alone, such precious time for us.

His favorite books are Babies by Gyo Fujikawa, Here We Go! (a vintage 1982 board book), My Little Word Book (a gift from "the Hotdogs" for Baby Diego) and all the "Babyfaces" board books like Smile!, Peek-a-boo!, and Hugs & Kisses.

And this kid, with gum, is amazing.  Blaine gave him a piece last week in the mid-afternoon; I blanched, but didn't fight it, figuring it was just one tiny piece.  Heck, it seems like Jamie was eating gum just last year.  But this guy took to chewing gum like he had always done it.  He chewed that sucker until we went to bed that night and took it out while he ate.  Un-un-un-un.



His favorite game is Hide!, where he likes to cover our heads with his chickie blankie and whisper "Hide! Hide! Hide!" excitedly.  He loves the slide at the park (and at home) and goes down fearlessly.  He'll even play the older brudders' slide game, where they crash into each other and writhe all over the slide in a giant, giggling mass.

He loves his chickie blankie, the one made by Gramma S.  He will go and get it, hand it to one of us, then turn around and expect to be wrapped up in it to snuggle.  This has been our morning ritual for months now, but he also does it when he is sleepy or needs a cuddle.


He likes to "write" like his big brudders, but his artwork extends to the table, walls, or any other flat surface.  He also like to eat the erasers and chomp on the lead.  Needless to say, the pencils are out of his reach unless a'nudder brudders leaves one down (which happens often) and I often have rescue it from his little chomper.  No pencil is safe in his little hands. He even requested to have one this weekend, asking for a "fen-ho".  I had to have him show me to even understand what he wanted.

He is fully potty-trained and has moved to being out into public settings without a diaper.  I'm not sure if he was the easiest to potty-train or if it was just my experience level that made it seem that way, but he did great.  His little buns are so cute.  I love that diaper-less butt.  (And I love. love. LOVE. not having to wrangle diapers anymore. I was so done.)  He's waking up dry from naptime and most mornings too.


He's starting to be interested in big boy games and toys.  He likes to build with Duplo and Mega blocks and has the same loud soundtrack as all his brudders while he plays.

He has also replaced Jamie as the super-pest when it comes to getting into his brudders' set-ups and scenery as they play.  He wants to do everything that they do, right that very second.  Most fights with Jamie end in screaming, with Eliah being pushed down hard, or Yi-ya biting Jamie's head.  The bigger brudders usually just carry him to another room or drop him off with me.


He loves "washing dishes", balls, snuggling, running around with his brudders, kitties, our baby chickies and goslings, horses ("hohshies!) and cows viewed as we drive along, and his "Bupas".  (He refers to both sets of grandparents as a unit. Not "Bupa and Bupa", but simply "Bupa".)

And of course, he is obsessed with "helping" in the kitchen, especially if a big brudder is there.

Eliah is two.  What a little fella. ♥

Friday, May 29, 2015

A lovely rhubarb sauce

We've been enjoying eating out of the garden again: lettuce, spinach, scallions, parsnips, cilantro, dill, rhubarb.  It has been so delicious and quite refreshing, such a nice change of pace from the winter's cabbage salads and sauerkraut.

My favorite treat this spring has been rhubarb sauce, sweetened with raisins and dates.

Rhubarb Sauce
  • 1-1.5 lbs of rhubarb
  • A big handful of raisins, chopped
  • A small handful of pitted dates, chopped
  • 3 cloves
  • 2-ish cups boiling water

:: Chop the rhubarb and combine everything in a pot that "just fits", pouring boiling water up to the half-way point.

:: Bring to a boil, then let simmer 10-15 minutes or until the rhubarb has broken down into a saucy consistency.

:: Enjoy warm or cool, with butter and maple syrup or coconut oil and honey.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Contingency plan the thousandth

I thought more about my What a diff post and realized that, duh, I now have FOUR children, ages ranging from 2 years old to almost 10 years old. 

In 2009, I "only" had two children, an almost 4 year old and a two year old.  Wow.  Double the laundry, double the food prep, quadruple the clean up and fighting.

No wonder.  One would have thought that was obvious.

Not to mention that they are all boys, energy abounding, with a preference for wrestling and racing all around, led by the oldest boy who has freely admitted that he stirs things up to a frenzied pitch on purpose if and when he gets "bored".

Or the fact that I am trying to keep up with a preschooler and a toddler while simultaneously trying to stay on top of a homeschooling schedule for a 9 and 7 year old.

Goodness.

The one thing I have to remember, always remember, please please please remember, is that life is constantly changing; and with that, I have to be continually adapting to keep the pace.  It is hard, as I usually feel like I am adjusting woefully late in the game.  I need to get better at that: the continual re-address and problem-solving part of parenting.  It never ends, but somehow it slips off my radar on a semi-regular basis.

Furthermore, as a homeschooling mama of four, everything depends on me.  There is no outside structure.  It is all me.

This is good and bad.  Good, in that I prefer autonomy.  Bad, in the fact that I tend to be a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants, inspired-to-action kind of gal.  I can do routines, but the day always seems like it gets away from me.  And I think it is making life harder.

It feels like we are all floundering, particularly in the morning hours.  I have a skeleton outline for the day, but reeling in the boys for our various tasks and assignments can be arduous.  Set expectations make everything easier.  I know this. An established, daily structure makes everything easier too.  Instead of having to think about it or question "what's next?", we flow.  Like a stream. 

And with all that, I need to actively impose further order to my life, for all of us.

My plan is to start parsing out the day with a timer.  Seriously.  I am going to use it as practice to divide up our hours into manageable chunks, giving the boys an understanding of what to expect so it isn't pulling teeth to move to the next phase of the day, or for me, to wonder what we should be tackling next.  I will do this until it becomes normalized.

I need to identify hot spots, hone in on our routine, and make sure that I have plenty of down-time with the little guys to be able to give them my full attention.

And now . . . I post.  Speaking of the devil, I've got a little four year old wiggling all over me who obviously needs my attention. ♥

Sunday, May 10, 2015

What a diff

I try to re-read posts from each particular month from years' past on my blog.  I like to reminisce, compare notes, remember phases and stages, and gain a bit of perspective every time.

Tonight it was the months of May.  I came across this post from 2009 called "What I've been thinking about recently..." and felt amazed I had enough space in my mind to contemplate that long of a list.

My mind is clogged with trying to stay on track with schoolwork, chore routines, housework, attitudes and unruly behavior, mitigating fights, and all the endless problem-solving that goes with all of it.

Things have changed.  There's no doubt about it. I've been feeling as much, but wasn't quite sure if it was just a sense of overwhelm or if I honestly have less space in my life for . . . what? Fancy? Extras? Contemplation? Freedom of thought?

Whatever it is, the difference from May 2009 to May 2015 is distinct.