Sunday, August 21, 2016

Teeth Week


It was a week of teeth (and another birthday and sickness and compromised sleep) at our house.

Macie got her first tooth.  It brought smiles from all of us as we discovered her new milestone.  It's really special to be the youngest of six and have everyone ooh and aah over your every move!



It produced a few tears from her. The tears could probably be more accurately attributed to a cold/fever virus that passed through our house. The cold...or the tooth...or the violent thunderstorms prompted her to wake more often than usual a couple nights.

Yawn!  Brian and I are a little behind on our sleep as Macie was not the only child who woke us with sickness woes this week. 

Alaine lost her first two teeth.  They had both been loose for over a month, and on Thursday morning (my 36th birthday!) the first fell out into her hand with little fanfare and no blood at all.  The tooth fairy came for a visit, but she was out of dollar bills so she borrowed one from Maddie before leaving it under Alaine's pillow! On Friday evening, the second tooth followed, thankfully after the tooth fairy had been been to the bank.





Thursday, August 18, 2016

Our New Little Habit



Between the flurry of extra activity, a plan for science that we shelved before we even started (more on that in a later post), and a summer virus that glued a few of my students to the couch, our school year has not started in a way I had pictured. 

We are implementing a new idea this year, though, a tiny habit that will stick despite the crazies of life. I am reading aloud for pleasure 10 minutes a day.  Inspired by Read Aloud Revival podcast, every day at lunch time I open a book and read to whoever will listen.  I'm only requiring that Ben and Alaine listen, but anyone is welcome, and most of the time, my older kids and teen stay, too.

Ten minutes a day...I can commit to that.  I don't have to finish a chapter or check books off of a list. This isn't working towards our history credit.  I just need to read for ten minutes, then put the book down and go about my day.  (It's worth clicking here to see how many books you could read by devoting just 10 minutes a day.)


We're starting with Little House in the Big Woods because my younger ones have never heard it and I'm planning to move all the way through the series. Ben, who has never loved to sit still and listen, doesn't complains because...ten minutes.  He even says that he is enjoying the book.  He has never said that about reading aloud a chapter book. Today when I read the part about Grandpa, the sled, and the pig, I watched out of the corner of my eye as Ben stopped with his sandwich mid-way to his mouth until he heard what was going to happen!  




Ten minutes.  Want to join me?



Monday, August 15, 2016

Mom Confessional, or Why We Took 2 Days Off on Our 2nd Week of School


I mentioned on the blog's Facebook page that even though we are officially back to school, we were taking two days off for summertime activities.  Years ago, when we began homeschooling, we decided that we wanted to take advantage of Brian's time off in the winter to wind down from the busy-ness of Christmas and enjoy some family time by putting the school books aside for a month. The caveat was that we had to begin school in August to make up for the lost month in the middle of the year.

From the very beginning, our school year has run August through December and then February through May.  Because most of our friends are still fully immersed in summer, we let our August schedule be flexible.  We hit the books but also allow plenty of wiggle room for the fun opportunities and invitations that arise.  

We started the school year mid-week, on August 3, easing into our subjects one at a time.  Then dawned week two of school. Over the weekend, we were asked to come to a Monday evening picnic dinner.  This didn't affect our school day, other than provide great motivation for everyone to finish their work in time for the fun.  We arrived early so the kids could play.  They filled the time outside with pirates, hide-and-seek, and sardines, and guzzled lots of water, even though it was cooler and breezier than the weather on the proceeding days. Our meal was classic summer: hamburgers on the grill, potato salad, fresh tomatoes, and watermelon.  The kids ate on the dock, while the adults (and Macie) sat at the picnic table.  




The men tinkered with a lawn mower after dinner, but when Macie started to get sleepy, we gathered our things to go. The kids led a campaign to all spend the night together.  (I remember doing that as a kid and not understanding why my parents rarely said yes!) Alas, we took our own kids home for showers, bedtime, and a new school day on Tuesday.  

So far, so good, right?  We managed to do school and have fun with our friends.  We even had time to lay around-- drooling, smiling, and playing with a ring stacker, too.  ~wink~  





Over the weekend, though, Gavin, Maddie, and Owen had received another invitation, this time to spend Wednesday at the water park.  My mom and sisters take them every year and it's an annual tradition so I was not about to be the mean mom who said no. The school books were gladly shelved, but we counted their day as P. E. (Really!)



I had the youngest three home with me so we went out for ice cream.  (Since I'm still dairy-free, it was sorbet for Macie and me.)  We also read books together.  Ben and I took turns reading out loud and no one even cared that they were technically history books and counted as school!  It was fun to read together without the distraction or noise of the older kids.  Then I let them indulge in some shared Wii time while Macie napped.

On Thursday, we continued the streak and took off from school again.  We went to the library to turn in our final lists for the summer reading program.

I guess we could have waited to go in the afternoon, but we wanted to see the magic show the library was hosting in the morning.




I guess we could have done school in the afternoon when we got home, but we decided to consider the library school for the day in order to spend the afternoon reading (school?) and cleaning the house for Owen's birthday party (life skills!).  Plus, that day was my 15th wedding anniversary so I declared it a family holiday.

And speaking of parties, this full week was sandwiched between two weekends of birthday parties. First we celebrated my dad's 60th with a surprise party.

Dad with all 10 of his grandchildren
Macie took the dinner roll right off of my plate!

Then this weekend we celebrated Owen's 10th on Saturday with a "dress as a movie character" party...



...and on Sunday, we had a family dinner to celebrate the collection of August birthdays, It reminds me of the summer I was pregnant with Alaine...the summer of too many cakes.

I had a friend tell me recently that she plans to start school this week but is only committing to three days a week until after Labor Day.  I like her plan!






Wednesday, August 10, 2016

3 Books I Want To Read in the Fall


I feel like I may have sold my soul.  Maddie asked to try out for a part in a community musical theater production this fall and we told her yes.  We're entering the era a life which involves many hours in the car, back and forth to one thing or another.  With one child in high school and one very social middle schooler, it is not a surprise, but it was out of my comfort zone until we practiced this way of life over the summer!  

Assuming I'll still have spare minutes for leisure amongst the craziness, here are three books I want to read when they are released.

{The links below
are Amazon affiliate links, but no one is asking me to promote these books. All opinions are my own.}

*****

Releasing on September 6, this is a picture book biography of Louis Braille.  We are studying Helen Keller at the beginning of our school year and this book would fit perfectly with that topic. (I'm planning to have my kids try reading/writing Braille, too, for a sensory learning experience.)  This is one of my favorite genre of picture books, a book that tells a true story.  



In the same vein, for older readers, is this illustrated biography about E. B. White.  It releases October 4.  I've read Charlotte's Web aloud to my kids at least three times, but I'm interested to find out more about its author.






{While you are waiting for the above books to release, here are several other true-story books for children I have reviewed in the past.  Go herehere, and here, and here.}


This one isn't a biography and it isn't even a true story, but I've mentioned my love for Mr. Putter and Tabby many times over the years.  A new book in the series is coming out September 13.  We're adding it to our library list!



*****

This last one is a bonus fourth book because I've already read it, but The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman is being made into a movie, and it (the movie) releases on Labor Day weekend.  My sister and I are planning to go see it together in September and several friends who have also read the book plan to join us. 





(If you are local and want to come along, too, let me know!)


Sunday, August 7, 2016

Podcasts for People Who Don't Listen to Podcasts


I am a committed podcast listener, but maybe you are not.  I didn't think I would be either until I listened to a podcast on a run a couple of years ago.  It felt like having a friend along and kept me occupied far longer than music on the long, slow, half-marathon training runs.  I can't do audio books without my mind wandering, but a podcast is different.  It's my way to politely eavesdrop on an interesting conversation.

Now I can scarcely find time to run since between school, laundry, and having a baby, running has slipped to the bottom of my priorities list, but I still keep up with my podcasts in the car, while doing dishes, or while nursing Macie.  

I don't deny that I have OCD tendencies (more accurately, OCPD) so I used to feel that if I listened to one episode of a podcast, I needed to listen to every episode of that particular podcast.  Lately I've been finding joy in sampling a wide variety of podcasts and only listening to the topics that grab my attention.  (Novel idea, huh?)

So maybe you don't think podcasts are for you, but if you are wanting to test the waters, these three episodes were my favorites from the past two weeks.


"Assigned Versus Free Reading", episode 46 of Read Aloud Revival

The highlights for me:

  • a surprising thing that often happens with late readers
  • What is light versus difficult reading?



"Crushing Misconceptions About Homelessness", episode 59 of Sorta Awesome

3 questions that were addressed:

  • What are the best ways to help?
  • Should people who help the homeless earn a salary?
  • Is refusing to give money to someone on the street the "wise" thing to do?



"Resolving Sibling Conflict", episode 126 of God Centered Mom

Convicting words:

  • As parents, we should focus on relationships and true reconciliation rather than simply squelching arguments.
  • We need to model correct attitudes for our children before we can expect them to have proper attitudes.


Do you listen to podcasts?  Where?  In the car? Around the house?

Do you listen to audio books?


Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Day 1


This was our first day of school: 


We started the day grumpy with not enough sleep, but we smoothed it over with peanut butter oatmeal for breakfast.  We organized our school binders, colored another square on the Bible coloring pages we started this summer, handed out new books, and discussed our schedule.  We even made a quick drive to the library to pick up some holds.


These are my students: 

Alaine will be 6 in a few weeks and is starting first grade.  She loves school and is looking forward to math and writing.  She also loves when I read aloud.





Ben will be 8 in October and he is starting third grade.  He is most excited about math, and I'm excited that he became a fluent and speedy reader over the summer so I can assign more complex books for history. 




Owen will be 10 next week and is entering fifth grade.  He is also looking forward to math and loves when the school day involves art or cooking. 




Maddie is 12 and starting seventh grade.  She is looking forward to learning Japanese this year and also excited about science and journaling. 




Gavin will be 14 in December and beginning his high school journey!  He asked to study art history this year, and he accumulated enough hours this summer to be well on his way to earning a  P. E. credit. 



And this is our tiny pre- pre- pre- pre- pre-schooler.  I had intentions to make and color Macie a sign, too, but instead we took her photo with this inflatable flamingo... as you do. 


Monday, August 1, 2016

Check Up and Check In



Life was a tad crazy in July.  Normally,  a busy schedule is out of my comfort zone and I crave days at home with quiet and order, but the kids and I have loved this summer of friends, outings, food, and activity.  We found a happy balance between fun and keeping the house (and our minds) in order.

Brian has had one of the busiest summer seasons on record which is a good thing for business but tiring at the same time.  He has managed to squeeze in some time for fun, though.

Some things were put on the back burner for a time and we declared it okay.  We ate a lot of sandwiches and meals on the go.  (One night we ate BLTs and everyone raved over it!  Go figure.) We ate out more than usual.  We read in the car instead of the couch. Macie learned to sleep in the ring sling. Blogging sort of stopped altogether.

This summer was about relationships, not rules and routine.  Here are some of things we did while I was away from the blog:

Macie had her 6-month check-up. 
She turned 6 months on July 10, but her appointment was scheduled later in the month.  She weighs 16 pounds 9.5 ounces, which places her in the 53rd percentile.  After struggling with weight gain as a newborn and then stabilizing around the 5th percentile for months, this is monumental! 

She is scooting forward and trying to crawl, but she can't figure out how to push up onto her hands and her knees at the same time. 

She started solid foods at 6 months, too.  We practice baby-led weaning so most of what she eats, she feeds herself, but I help if we are out or if it's going to be super messy.  For example, I let her eat homemade pasta sauce off of my finger rather than let her go at it with her own fingers.  Her favorite foods so far are broccoli and tomatoes.  


She wasn't impressed with cucumber, but from the looks of that photo, neither was I!





We took the kids to see The Secret Life of Pets at the theater.
My mom and sisters watched Macie so we didn't have to keep a baby happy...in the dark... in a seat... at nap time!  I love a movie theater experience.  Even movies I'd never watch at home (I'm a party pooper with animated movies.) are fun on the big screen!  







We spent a week of mornings at VBS. 
The kids had a blast!  They sang and crafted their way through the week.  They bonded with friends and made new ones.  The theme was "Submerged," featuring submarines and sea animals, and it focused on diving deep into God's word. 



Gavin assisted during recreational time.  He was part of a team of two adults and three teen guys. During their break, they had a time of Bible study and fellowship together.




Last year, I helped in the kindergarten class which was okay.  This year I worked at registration and loved every minute of it.  It satisfied all of my organizational needs. I was also surprised at how much I enjoyed greeting all the kids and parents each day, getting to know them, and learning their names. Macie was a trooper and napped in the sling each morning, sleeping through all the commotion around us.  When she woke up mid-morning, she smiled and visited with a variety of people and became special friends with anyone who would give her Cheerios.

I was particularly happy she kept up with naps because we had several afternoon/evening activities that week, too.  One day we went swimming at a friend's pool with a large group of friends.  Some of us continued the party at a new local pizza shop for dinner. Another evening, a friend grilled hot dogs and the rest of us brought sides.  The kids played basketball and hide-and-seek outside while the adults chatted on the deck. 

On the Sunday following VBS, we had a church picnic with a 14-foot water slide and snow cones.  It was 95 degrees, but we had a fantastic time.  Two of my kids ate four snow cones apiece and I didn't mind a bit.  Maybe that's because I ate three myself!  

I neglected to get any photos of the event, but Brian got this one of the teenagers helping to roll the air out of the water slide when the picnic was over.



We're watching the third season of
The Great British Baking Show on our local PBS channel. 
There hasn't much extra time for TV, but we got hooked when season 1 was still available on Prime.  It's been a fun way to unwind once a week.   It's renewed the kids' interest in the kitchen, too.  Owen wants to be a baker when he grows up so he and Maddie made starfish sugar cookies for their class at VBS and chocolate chip cookies for movie night at church.


Gavin went to 3-D Printing camp.
All my boys have been fascinated with 3-D printing since they learned that Lego prototypes are often printed this way. When we found out about a local camp...and when Gavin received a scholarship to attend...he jumped at the chance. Gavin is a man of few words these days, but we chatted about it every day on the drive home. Some people say the best time to talk with teenagers is late at night, but our sweet spot is while we're riding


Maddie turned 12! 
Birthday season has begun at our house.  We have 4 birthdays and an anniversary in a 5-week span. 


Maddie didn't have a party to celebrate, but our friends' 15th wedding anniversary was the same day so we invited their kids to eat with us so they could go out to dinner alone.



We put candles on our ice cream dessert and the kids played a very loud and competitive game of hot potato so I think we turned it into a party after all.

Other highlights of our summer:
  • several birthday parties
  • a library event where every kids who attended took home a bagged lunch  (My homeschool children were beyond thrilled at the typical school lunch fare.)
  • a community theater production of Mary Poppins which has inspired Maddie to try out for a fall show
  • a minor league baseball game
  • a cool, rainy 4th of July cookout where the kids got to play in the rain
  • a fireworks show on the warmer, sunnier 5th of July


We start school on Wednesday and I am sad to say good-bye to our carefree summer.  It's taking a lot of discipline to buckle down and not extend our summer by a few weeks, but I always keep August flexible anyway and I'll be thanking myself in January when we are able to take the month off. 



Monday, July 11, 2016

Why Having a Baby Is Hard...(and that's okay!)



I'm a sixth-time mom, but experience does not make it easy.  I still worry about why my baby won't sleep or why my boys can't get through day without picking on each other.  I'm also not immune to other people's opinions, looks, and comments.  

I do feel like I have the benefit of perspective this go-round, though.  I know every stage and every trial only lasts for  a short season. Baby days turn into toddler days.  Arguing boys transform into teenagers with a new set of cares.



My advice to new or young moms (or older moms, like me) is to choose whatever sleep situation allows everyone to the get the most sleep.  Trying to force something that isn't working just leaves everyone miserable.  They won't always be waking up, won't always be in your room, won't always be needing you all night.  

Smile at the people in the grocery store who tell you your hands are full or who ask nosy questions or who glare when your child is whining in the juice aisle.

Don't worry about the days when the kids...or you!...watch too much TV.  Everyone can be more productive tomorrow.

Some days, maybe many days, will be lonely and you'll long to talk to someone besides the baby. Loneliness is a real thing, but kids grow up and you'll realize the monotonous days were worth it.

I'm going to repeat something I wrote on the blog seven years ago because it is still true today:

In [our] inner struggle to determine cloth or disposable, 
homeschool or public, organic or not, my bed or his own, have I put too much merit in trivialities?  In deciding whether to expose my little ones to vaccines or food dyes or television, have I remembered the crux of the matter?

Does Gavin know Jesus?  Is Maddie living for Him?  Will Owen and Benjamin [and Alaine and Macie] spend eternity in Heaven? 


In the end, that's what matters.





http://from-my-life.blogspot.com/search/label/Life%20With%20a%20Baby%20series
(Click here for other posts in this series.)

Thursday, July 7, 2016

The Evening Walk


I'll start off by clarifying that Macie is a "good" sleeper.  She loves her afternoon nap in a cool room, with a fan blowing for air and noise.  Most nights she sleeps all the way through or wakes to nurse once, going back to her bed as soon as she's done.  She went through a brief phase (thankfully!) when she thought 5 am was an acceptable wake time, but we're back to a more workable 6:30 or 7. However, bedtime is our kryponite.  

She gets tired and falls asleep by 7:30, but then she wakes up and wants to stay awake until we go to bed.  She's often cranky, and it's frustrating to a mama and daddy who are also tired at the end of the day. We've tried cutting her afternoon nap short, giving her a quick power nap in the early evening, or postponing her bedtime until a little later.  None of it has solved the problem.  We're still working on finding a pleasing scenario...one that gives all of us the rest and down time we need in the evenings.  

Until then, we're choosing another way to combat the frustrations without twiddling our thumbs and counting the minutes until we can attempt to put her to bed again.  

It started one Saturday evening.  The older kids had settled into watching a movie... and Macie woke up, raring to go for another couple of hours.  The humidity was low, the temperature was mild, and there was a light breeze so Brian and I put on our shoes and I popped Macie into the sling for a walk.

We walked and walked and talked and talked.  We covered three slow leisurely miles as we discussed jobs, parenting, movies, the past, the future, church, and the scenery.   Macie hummed as we strolled.  We took a phone call from the kids wondering why we were still outside.  When we returned home, Macie snuggled into bed with zero issues, and both Brian and I benefited from the fresh air and felt renewed from the conversation and exercise.

A few nights later, Brian was working late, and Macie repeated her late nap ritual.  Ben was feeling discouraged from an argument with a sibling so this time I asked him to put on his shoes and take a walk with me.  We didn't go as far, but the walk opened him up to conversation.  He shared his hurt and moved on to happy topics, too, like the birds he could see and the objects discarded along the road.  (A fork?!) 

Now everyone is waiting for their chance to be asked to take the evening walk. 


Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Picture Books Aren't Just For Toddlers


{This post contains Amazon affiliate links.}

Alaine and I have developed a happy routine of reading books together after our family morning viewing is done. I've been surprising her by having whole stack of books waiting via the hold shelf when we visit the library weekly. Each morning, she chooses several and we read together until Macie gets bored and can't be distracted from grabbing and chewing the pages. 

I've been sharing some of our favorites in quick blips on the blog's Facebook page, but several of you expressed interest in an occasional list on the blog, too.

The three I'm featuring today are picture books that not only appeal to older kids, but are actually better suited for the older set.


Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11  by Brian Floca



This book is unique in that it shares facts about this famous flight in a flowing, almost-poetic style.  I almost wish I waited to read it when we study the era in school this coming school year, but Gavin and I were enticed so we went for it. We learned the names of the three astronauts aboard and wondered why only two are household names.  We read about how the astronauts sleep and eat...and use the bathroom!... in space. I don't think Alaine (5) appreciated the book nearly as much as Gavin (13) and I did. 




Chopsticks by Amy Rosenthal



It's usually Maddie (11) who peeks over my shoulder when I read to Alaine, but Gavin shared this one with us, too.  It is technically written for young children, but they surely do not understand all the wordplay and inside jokes like someone a bit more mature.  









The Hole Story of the Doughnut by Pat Miller



This one might be a cheat because I already mentioned it on the Facebook page, but it's too fun to miss. Also along the food theme, this book is the story of the invention of the donut.  There are various tall tales detailing the creation of this confection, but this is supposedly the true version. Either way, it's a entertaining book, especially if you indulge in a donut before or after you read. (Don't miss the author's note in the back of the book!) 









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