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Sunday, May 31, 2009

Irony

Yesterday afternoon I came up with this idea to simplify violin practice for Marissa. She is learning violin the Suz.uki way, which at this point is completely by ear. Currently, we are working on committing songs #17 and #18 to memory, however, we still need to make sure #1-#16 get practiced (some with greater frequency than others) during the span of the week. Inevitably, songs get left out. Sometimes, even weeks will go by and I'll realize we haven't played through "such and such" for awhile. So, I came up with this card system, where each day has the designated scales and songs that need to be played through. The oldest songs that she knows the best will get revisited once a week, some others 2-3 times, and the newest ones daily. And then I made a Saturday card where she gets to play whatever she wants. I was quite pleased with myself and looking forward to trying out the new system.
But then you see, there was a "monkey bar incident" before supper last night. A reach, a slip, a ground-hit, and a certain right elbow--the bow holding arm of course!--found itself dislocated and with a sliver of a fracture. Marissa was a trooper through it all. We had a nice 3 hour one-on-one session at the emergency room yesterday evening, watching some sort of "Wipeout" show and her first glimpse of bull-riding--good times had by all. ;o) But, when speaking with the violin teacher today, he said the little fracture could put playing the violin on hold for possibly the rest of the summer. (Movement of the elbow is essential for drawing the bow across the strings the correct way). We see an orthopedic doctor tomorrow to get the nitty gritty, like if she needs a real cast or if the splint will suffice, and stuff like that. And I'm hoping she won't be sidelined too long, because Grandpa and Grandma's pool is just calling her name. :o( There might be some long weeks ahead when swimming, tree-climbing, roller skating, etc. are removed from the picture.
And it appears--for awhile anyway--my cool little card system will just have to wait. (Although, I don't think Marissa is nearly as devastated as I). ;o)

Friday, May 29, 2009

Like Christmas

Look what arrived today:
It's the new curriculum for our 2009-2010 school year! It's always soooo exciting to open that big ol' box for the first time and see what adventures we will be having. But I'm going to admit, as I looked over everything, I did feel some slight feelings of panic creeping over me. It feels like a big jump from last year. And now I'll have two girls schooling . . . So, I'm kind of nervous. I see some revamping in our daily schedule ahead--I'm not sure if we can get everything done when the boys nap (IF they're still napping come fall . . . PLEASE, PLEASE let them be napping come fall!). And Fridays, which were a very light/if anything day appear to be a thing of the past. There's still a lighter load scheduled for that day, but much more than we have been used to doing. So, changes ahead. Which is always hard on me, sometimes finding a rut and sticking to it is good. ;o) And changes almost always involve my *favorite* word--discipline. Of course I realize this is needed--without discipline there can be no growth. I'm just not sure I was looking to get stretched this fall. ;o) But, it's all good. I'm really excited for what the girls are going to learn about the world, geography vocabulary, animal habitats, and all that jazz. Now we just wait for the back-to-school sales to start and we'll be good to go.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Score!

Emmett has officially peed in the potty for the very first time! Woohoo!!!

Oh, oh--and he did it again!!! (which may or may not be because I rewarded him with m&m's the first time around . . .) ;o)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

'Round these Parts . . .

New signage on the girls' door . . .
(understandable, I think)
Unfortunately, a fact of life when you have two older sisters (just ask my brothers):

A bird situation . . .
One night Jackson asked me to make him a mommy and a baby. Then he needed a nest. The next day another baby, and a daddy. Another nest for the new baby. Then a grandma. Followed by a grandpa. Another baby, and then another nest. Then some little squiggly pipe cleaner worms to feed them with. Then the girls began to get in on the action. Now there are feather particles floating throughout the upstairs. Josh says it's my own fault for buying the stuff and encouraging creativity. Unfortunately he is right.

25 of the 50 beans bags I need to have made by next Tuesday:
Maybe I'll finish closing these today. I'm participating in a preschool activity exchange with 14 others, and my job is to sew bean bags. The coolest part I think is that the house where we will be doing the exchange is the old Rokeby country school. I actually have been there twice before when I was a country school student myself. This family has bought it and made it their home. I have now decided THAT is my dream home. I would LOVE to find myself a little country school to live in, paint it red and put a cupola on top with a bell. Then I'd get some free range chickens, some little goats, and a miniature donkey. That's my dream. Don't laugh.


I'm also dabbling in a little bit of Emmett potty training today. I go about this process the "John Rose.mond way" so I have no good news to report at this point. We are currently just working on awareness, as in "Oh, I did THAT!!" This is why we own a carpet cleaner . . .


AND I found a recipe for "Baked Potato Soup." I think it may be the best potato soup recipe ever. All I can think about is eating another bowl of it. And it's good soup weather, don't you think? So, if you too are craving some potato soup, let me know and I'll get that recipe typed up.


So, there you have it, what we've been up to. ;o)

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Coping

Thanks for all of the encouraging and sympathizing comments after my last post. ;o) The last two days have gone a bit better. Jackson continues to remain in some sort of attitude funk, but at least the mess-making has slowed down. I have been noticing he likes to argue with me over nearly everything I say, for instance:
Jackson--"That's a lizard."
Me--"Yes, that's called a gecko."
Jackson--"No, it's a LIZARD!!!"
And so forth. Hopefully we get this curtailed soon. Can you imagine trying to homeschool him?!?!
Me--"This is a Q."
Jackson--"No, that's an O!"
Me--"2+2=4"
Jackson--"NO! It's 5!!"
Yeah. That might not be so much fun.

After all the craziness, I've found that a nice soothing cup of tea just isn't what I need to unwind at night. I've had to upgrade to the harder stuff--in the form of generous-sized root beer floats. Now THAT hits the spot. ;o) It's probably not the best nightly habit to develop, and I don't recommend getting yourself going on that. But when you have a 2 liter of root beer sitting in the fridge and a 5 quart pail of vanilla ice cream, really, what options do you have? (In fact, I'm sipping one right now. Delicious.) ;o) So there you have it, my crutch.

We have no crazy Memorial Day plans, most likely just sticking around home. I have a lot of projects I need to start on, sewing projects, painting projects, devising some sort of sandbox for my back porch or garage projects. I just need the motivation to get going. Perhaps this long weekend will find me ambitious. Or perhaps I'll just sit alone, in the dark and quiet, peacefully sipping my root beer float, and feeling all is right with the world. Perhaps. ;o)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Messes, Moths, and Managing Mutiny

So. Yesterday. There was some sort of inspection scheduled on my home for the afternoon (we rent, and I guess they do this yearly or something), and of course I was spending my morning cleaning. My morning went something like this: I make my bed. Emmett climbs up, throws the pillows off, and burrows in. I gather the laundry still awaiting sorting and dump it on my bed so I can get the floor vacuumed. Jackson comes in and throws it back off. I work on cleaning my bathroom up. I discover Jackson in the process of squeezing a brand new bottle of shampoo all over the floor of the kids' bathroom. And him slipping and sliding in it (did I mention he was already wearing outfit #2 of the day?). I head downstairs to do more laundry. Emmett manages to get a hold of the laundry detergent when I turn my back and dump a lot of that on the floor. While down there, Jackson decides to practice his t-ball. Emmett gets a bat to the eyebrow. I head back upstairs to finish up a few things. Jackson floods the downstairs bathroom with another near full soap dispenser, lots of bubbles, and water. And this was before lunch time. Thankfully, Josh had a gap of free time that coincided well with my breaking point, and gathered up my four sweet ones for lunch at McDonald's and some time in the play area. I had a whole hour and a half to myself--to finish cleaning. Bliss. And then would you believe--after all of that--Mr. Inspector had the audacity to pull a no-show?!?!? It's true.

So, I woke up today, hoping to put yesterday behind me. But before 9:00 a.m. :
--Emmett managed to break into the refrigerator, steal the milk and dump it over the coffee table in the living room
--Jackson helped himself to a yogurt, ate a few bites, dumped the rest on the window ledge and drove trains through it
--In the kids' bathroom I discovered this:
At which point, we hightailed it over to my sister's to spend the morning outdoors on their new--and very cool--swing set/activity gym they got for the backyard. A wee bit of sanity restored. But I'm going to say it . . . I'm a bit discouraged today. What is wrong with these boys?!?!? Is this just what boys do or are mine abnormal? My girls NEVER did stuff like this. Honestly, they were complete and utter angels when I start to think about everything these little boys have come up with. And people have mentioned removing from the vicinity the things causing problems (like all writing utensils), but they're using stuff we NEED like toothpaste, or yogurt, or oatmeal to wreck havoc in the home. So, I'm kind of frustrated.

But, on an entirely different note, check out what my mother-in-law found in her yard:
With a little bit of research we discovered it is a polyphemus moth, and most likely a female one. Did you know most moths don't have mouths? They only live about a week, just long enough to reproduce, and then they die. Those might be eggs in the bottom of the container. We'll see if they hatch. So, that's our current excitement at home. Other than the excitement that the boys have been generating, that is. (Updated--okay, I may be mistaken, it's probably a male--based on the antennae, and I'm guessing that most likely, ummm, those aren't "eggs" . . .) ;o)
Anyway. I'm off--I'm sure whilst I sat here reminiscing the good times of the last few days more memories have been made somewhere else in the house . . .

Monday, May 18, 2009

Around the House

Lack of a sandbox got you down? Never fear, I'm sure something in the pantry will suffice. Like a whole container of oatmeal for instance:

In case you didn't believe me when I stated that nothing in our house was safe from Emmett's artistic prowess . . . Now you know. I really wasn't lying when I said if you sat still long enough YOU would be the next target! Not only did he get the plate and dishwasher door, but what the picture doesn't show as well is the drawn on blender to the left and the metal bowl behind it--all doodled in blue.
And my dear Isabella, beside herself because her bathing suit STILL fits from last year--therefore not warranting the purchase of a new one--has asked for extra chores to do so she could get a suit *just like* Marissa's new one (It came with a separate SKIRT you see). So, this morning I gave her a list of four things she could do to earn a $1. The first item on the list, ORGANIZE UNDER YOUR BED. Now, if I told you to do this, I'm thinking you would pull everything out, sort through it, put it in the under-the-bed-tubs you have, etc. Right?
Apparently Isabella took that to mean "All the stuff under the bed? Arrange it in a pleasing and attractive fashion." When I went back to check how she had done, I lifted up the bed skirt and burst out laughing. Only Isabella.
Among other news I am seriously contemplating attempting to make my own fitted slipcover for my couch and cushions. Contemplating. Our sofa is five years old. Which I think in "kid years" means it's about 100. BUT it is still a very sturdy, firm, comfortable couch. The fabric however, is trashed. Last fall we slipcovered it with a ready-made we found at a store. While this does cover the gaping hole in the arm fabric, it has been another headache for me. It doesn't stay "tucked" like the picture on the package shows. Basically, once you sit down, the aesthetics are done for. I have felt rather murderous toward it upon occasion. While a new living room set would be nice--if it were in the budget--I must admit I wonder at the sensibility of it when you are raising a bunch of messy monkeys (and I mean that endearingly). Because when somebody decided to leap upon it with dirty shoes, or wipe off their peanut-butter smeared face, I might really struggle with having loving feelings. So, buying a new set just doesn't make logical sense anyway. But then again, slaving over a slipcover for who-knows-how-long-it-would-take and have that eventually get trashed may not make a whole lot of sense either. You see my predicament. Part of me really wants to try something tricky like that and see if I could pull it off. Part of me thinks I'm crazy. Hmmmm.

That about sums up life right now. Hope you all have a great Monday and fabulous week!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

My Week in Numbers

287 feet of new pen, marker, and sidewalk chalk drawings on the wall (well, *approximately*)

4 brand new magic erasers ready for business

2--the number of times I've washed my sheets in 5 days (apparently Jackson still occasionally wets at naptime, particularly when finishing out his nap in Mommy's bed on clean sheets)

3 glasses broken in 4 days leaving me with a grand total of 2 remaining of the original 12

2 inches shy is Marissa's last year bathing suit of covering what it needs to

6 loads of laundry done today, but so far only 2 folded/put away

2 weeks left has Isabella at speech therapy and then this 2 year phase of our lives come to an end (Yay Bella!)

3 forts built in the living room, complete with curtains, flower gardens, and tea parties inside (Bet you can't guess who was doing the building) ;o)

11 cups of tea I have enjoyed . . .

The number of times Emmett removed 3 shelves of MY books from their carefully organized place on my bookcase--3 (and there they sit, because really I'm not THAT foolish to organize them all again, we'll wait for this phase to pass too--there's been a lot of regression lately . . .)

23 times I have pulled out the vacuum

0 closets organized ;o(

4 cups of rhubarb cut up for a crisp. Yum.

26 hours of driving--the trip we are in planning mode for, and that's just one way . . .

Opportunities that have presented themselves for me to get out for some alone time at the fabric store doing some "pattern perusing"--0

Minutes left until bedtime--19 ;o)

Monday, May 11, 2009

May 11th

Three years ago this morning I was sitting on a bed in Los Angeles, with my Bible in my lap, desperate to read something that I needed to hear at that moment, a few hours away from brain surgery. I sent up a little prayer, and did one of those let-your-Bible-fall-open-to-wherever things, in hopes that God would direct me to what I needed to see. On that morning, I opened to Psalm 138, and my eyes were immediately drawn to a verse I had underlined years back.

Psalm 138:8
The Lord will accomplish what concerns me;
Thy lovingkindness, O Lord, is everlasting.
Do not forsake the works of Thy hands.
It was exactly what I needed. The two months leading up to surgery, from the initial diagnosis of a brain tumor, up until that morning, I had struggled. I was scared. My biggest fear that the little 4 1/2 year old, 2 1/2 year old, and 8 month old I had left back at home with grandparents wouldn't have a Mommy anymore. All I wanted at that moment was a simple and uncomplicated life, where I could care for them, take them to the zoo, play in our backyard, and basically just live. And even though the statistics said I would come out of this surgery just fine, "What ifs" had loomed in my heart bigger than life. But that morning, that verse gave me peace. I realized everything had already been decided. God would do what He had planned to do, in his great mercy, what was best for me.
And after six hours of surgery, I remember the first moment of realization that I was alive. I was in a dark, private, ICU room with a "guard nurse" as Josh likes to remember. The room was a total blur and I was completely and utterly exhausted, it seriously hurt to think. But little thoughts of survival flitted through my head thrillingly. The next few days would bring with them extreme fatigue--it took incredible effort to even carry on a conversation with anyone, extreme nausea, and a lot of sleeping. When I got out of the ICU, I had to begin physical therapy to retrain the remaining balance nerve to takeover. Getting from my bed to the bathroom involved gripping walls, and anything sturdy to get there without falling over. ;o) And there was the whole deaf right ear to deal with.
While recovering out in Los Angeles I didn't think too much about the fact I had lost the hearing in that ear. It hit me more when I got home, and everything sounded different--higher-- or something, my kids' voices, my pastor at church, and music just didn't have the same dimension it once did. I couldn't locate people in my house. I was sad and I was frustrated. Josh reminded me that instead of focusing on what I had lost, to focus on what I HAD--I could still hear. And those words have been my perspective ever since.
Last week, I taught my first grade Girls of Grace girls about grumbling and complaining, or rather NOT grumbling and complaining. ;o) As I prepared the lesson, I thought to myself, "What can I tell them to replace grumbling and complaining with?" And the answer hit me solidly, THANKFULNESS. I shared with them about my ear, how I could complain and feel sorry for myself that I can't hear like I used to. Instead, I choose to focus on how thankful I am that God has still blessed me with the ability to hear. And not only that, but the thankfulness extends out, and makes me thankful for all the senses I possess, I can SEE my little kids grow and change, I can WALK and HOLD the people I love in my arms, I can DO the things I love still, sewing/reading/etc. I have found over and over that the more God strips down and pares away the unimportant in my life, the more thankful I have learned to be for what I still have. I am so very blessed.
And so I sit here this morning, a bit teary but with a full heart, so thankful for the life God has given me, so thankful for second chances. I'm listening to "How Deep the Father's Love for Us" my "theme song" from that time, and staring at the date written in my Bible next to Psalm 138:8--May 11, 2006.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

I Love To Be a Mother

Some houses try to hide the fact

that children shelter there.

Ours boasts of it quite openly,

the signs are everywhere.

For smears are on the windows,

little smudges on the doors,

I should apologize, I guess,

for toys strewn on the floor.

But I sat down with the children

and we played and laughed and read;

And if the doorbell doesn't shine,

their eyes will shine instead.

For when at times I'm forced to choose

the one job or the other;

I like to be a housewife but

I love to be a mother.

(Author Unknown)

Happy Mother's Day to all the mamas out there, especially my own mother, and my mother-in-law too. Chances are, if you are a mommy out there reading this, you have in some way impacted my life for the better, perhaps an encouraging conversation, a recipe shared, advice given, or knowledge imparted--I'm thankful for all the "mothers" in my life and the vast stores of experiences they represent. I hope each and every one of you enjoy a blessed day with your families.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Finding a Groove

For anyone curious, we did finish up our school year last week. Truly it is a good feeling and a tremendous sense of accomplishment, for me in particular, as in "Yay, I've homeschooled for 2 years now!!!!" I use My Father's World for our curriculum. I like it because it does the planning for me and we function under a theme for the year. This year we covered American history, in kind of an overview fashion and then "toured" the 50 states, putting together a "United States Notebook." The girls LOVED learning about the states. I am amazed at what they learned and remembered, and all the travel plans they now have. ;o) Next year we'll be doing "Exploring Countries and Cultures" which I will admit, I was having a hard time getting excited for (I REALLY love American history myself and next year didn't sound as fun to me) BUT after seeing what this year did for my girls as far as their love of geography and learning about different places, I have a feeling they will love next year just as much. We should have a nice little world tour. And next year Isabella "officially" starts. This has me a bit nervous too, but I have a summer to ready myself.

So since school is out, I feel like I have been wandering about my house aimlessly. I know I need to get moving on my organization plans. But first I must come up with a plan . . . I am seeing that I function the best when I tell myself "This is the time I __________" and then I just do it. When I approach my day in a carefree sort of manner I only end up getting to the dishes and some laundry--things I MUST do daily. ;o) And so I'm thinking I must revisit fly.lady's principles and get myself going on a routine again. When the house seems to stay perpetually messy I find myself perpetually grumpy. This summer should be a good time to hone the framework for a nice cleaning routine that will hopefully stick when school starts back up. (yes, I'm giggling just a little, the thought of me having a cleaning routine that sticks . . . I must be delirious). Did I mention Emmett started drawing on the walls again?

So, that's where I am right now, rather lost, with a lot of messes to attend to. What a great way to kick off our school break, eh? ;o)

Saturday, May 2, 2009

A Beautiful Day . . .

We had a lovely afternoon at Ma.honey State Park today. We decided to get a park pass this year, and we have used it twice, so we're off to a good start. The kids got to climb the tower for the first time, which I admit, leaves me a basket case. You know as a kid, I don't recall a fear of heights, but as I get older it seems to get worse. I've been blaming it on the fact one of my balance nerves "got snipped" and things feel kind of swirly when I get high. But I think it goes beyond that. I think it has to do with being a mother and imagining all kinds of horrible deaths for my children and ACK!!! there's four of them to keep track of . . . So I clenched the railing and Jackson's hand the whole way up. *blush* We also had fun paddle boating for the first time. Now Emmett, he is all kinds of crazy! Josh pedaled out with the four kids, and there's Emmett in the back trying to hang off the edge and touch the water (they were all wearing life jackets!) and Jackson hanging on to one of Emmett's legs for fear of losing his brother screaming about Emmett falling in the water. Emmett was never actually in danger. But Emmett's shenanigans constantly cause major anxiety for Jackson, edges, ledges, bridges, etc. all bring out this irrational fear in him . . . Hmmm, wonder who he could have possibly gotten that from . . . All in all we had a very fun day and I got some good pictures--I'm especially loving my girls in the crabapple trees, so pretty. ;o)