Wednesday, April 30, 2014

How Do You...Restructure When A Child Gives Up a Nap?

also titled Life After Naptime

Neither of my kids takes a nap anymore.  I still need a nap, but my five kids seem to have outgrown them.  Ben (5) required a nap longer than any of the others.  His daily naps lasted until he was over 4 years old. Alaine who is two years younger, gave up her nap before he did. I didn't like the transition but it came down to a choice: would I rather insist on a nap and have the child struggling to sleep at 11 pm because he isn't tired or would I rather he learn to get through the day without a nap and put him to bed early?  I always chose the early bedtime. 

For years, I assumed that when the time came, we would adopt a sort-of Quiet Time in the afternoons to imitate  the restoration that nap time brought to all of our minds and bodies. I imagined the kids would sit on their beds silently reading or doing puzzles in the floor while I got caught up on housework or enjoyed my own book.

Somehow that kind of Quiet Time never happened for us. Instead our afternoons are about physical quiet more than actual quiet.  We still try to complete the majority of our chores and school work during  the morning hours so the afternoon gives us the luxury of downtime.  The house is still noisy, but it is the noise of Legos, Barbie dolls, the back door opening as kids run outside to ride bikes or scooters, the door opening again as kids run back inside for drink of water, the sewing machine, or a movie.

At least one afternoon a week, we leave the house to run errands, visit the library, or attend gym class, things that were much more difficult when we had to work around napping children. The break from our everyday routine is a nice change of pace, but can also leave the kids (and their mama!) a little cranky.  When we return home, we try to carve out at least a few minutes of our special brand of Quiet before diving into the chaos of late afternoon dog walking, dinner and dishes. Those few minutes of refreshing before the rush set the tone for the rest of the day.

My How Do You...? series is back for a limited time.  I'm in need of some fun ideas for topics.  What do you want to know? Leave a comment here or on my Facebook page

In the meantime, you can browse the archived index of past topics.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Things That Surprised Me About Running a Half Marathon

I ran my first half-marathon on Saturday.  Yes, I said first.  There were moments during the race when I thought to myself, "Why am I putting myself through this?!" But now that I've completed it, I know there will be more in my future. I plan to write a full race report (with more details that you'd ever want to know), but I wanted to start with sharing a list of things that I didn't expect on race day.

1) Going to the bathroom is a big deal.  This may be TMI, but I was constantly reminded of runners' need to run with an empty bladder.  Before the start, the line to the porta-potties trailed down much of the parking lot.  It took me 25 minutes to reach the front of the line.  (I passed the time talking to a friend and making a few new friends.) After the race was underway, there were constantly runners-- men and women-- dodging into and out of the woods.  Constantly.  Even within the first few miles.

2) I was amazed at how energizing it was to run with a crowd.  There were 2302 finishers in the half-marathon so you can imagine the mass of people at the starting line.  I literally did not run alone for even a minute of the race, though it did thin out as runners set their own pace.  At the beginning of the race I let myself enjoy the camaraderie and excitement and I didn't need to turn on my iPod for musical entertainment (or distraction, depending on which way you look at it!) until after mile 3.

3) Different road surfaces "grated" on my nerves.  For the first two-thirds of the race, I was unaffected, but around mile 10, I had had enough of running and I was cranky.  When the course took us through a small covered bridge with a wooden plank floor, I couldn't wait to return to pavement.  It was flat and just felt better under my feet.  A little before mile 12, we ran over another bridge.  Looking down through the drawbridge grates were nerve-wracking enough, as you could look at your feet and see straight down to the bay, but the bumpy surface was also irritating. The last half mile was run on the boardwalk and the sound of my feet hitting the wood drove me crazy, too.

4) My legs felt pain they've never felt before. I don't know what I expected post-race, but after a regular run, I've never had more than very minor muscle soreness. On Saturday, the second I stopped racing, my legs starting cramping.  It was not like the muscle cramps that can wake you out of a dead sleep at night, but it felt like someone was squeezing or tightening my leg muscles and wouldn't let up. I've read that if that happens, the best remedy is to keep moving so I did.  I kept walking for the next 45 minutes, but the dull, persistent cramping continued, mostly in my left calf and right thigh. Standing still was the worst.  When I finally sat down on a bench to get something out of my bag, the pain did not increase so I continued to alternate walking or sitting for another 30 minutes, but never standing still. 

By Sunday, my pain was downgraded to plain-old muscle soreness. Granted, it was every muscle in my legs and hips, but at least I could walk, sit, stand, and function at a slow normal.  I guess I underestimated what the intensity of the race would temporarily do to my body.

5) Oh, the hunger! I typically don't feel like eating after a long run and the race was no different. However, I know how crucial it is to refuel after putting your body through such rigors so I grabbed a bag of pretzels and some water at the finish line. Once my stomach settled, I ate the free pizza offered to all runners. That's when the floodgates opened.  Pizza never tasted so good. For the rest of the day and all day Sunday, I couldn't get enough to eat. Eating a snack--whether it was a banana, almonds, or a bowl of oatmeal-- only revved up my metabolism and made me even hungrier.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Ordeal By Innocence

{Some of the book links below are Amazon affiliate links}

I got a little OCD about the book challenge this year.  Because Kati put so many intriguing choices on the list (and because I was overwhelmed with wanting to read them all!), I am adding one of Kati's books to my to-read list per month. The book I picked for April was Ordeal by Innocenceby Agatha Christie.

The first book I read off of the Sisters Book Challenge in 2013 was Crooked House (also by Christie).  I mentioned then that since reading the most excellent And Then There Were None in my teenage years, no Agatha Christie book or any "whodunit" for that matter could ever live up to the gold standard. For that reason, I began Ordeal by Innocencewith apprehension, but though it was not as thrilling as And Then There Were None I thoroughly enjoyed it!  It earns it's rank in my mind as 2nd place Agatha Christie thriller. Even the author herself named it as one of her own top ten favorites. 

The book begins with the revelation that the person who was convicted of killing matriarch Rachel Argyle two years prior is actually innocent.  That fact opens up the question of who really did kill her.  Suspicions begin to simmer among the family members who were in the house the evening of the murder. As police begin to re-investigate, new evidence emerges that hints that every member of the house (and a few outside of it) may have had motive to kill. 

Do you read mysteries? Do you have a favorite to recommend?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

How Do You...Keep the House Running While You Are Sick?

How do you keep things going (housework, kids, etc.) when Mom is sick?
  I have three kids and haven't figured it out yet.

submitted by Laura

Right after this question was submitted, I came down with a virus-- sore throat, fever, headache, stuffy nose.  How different it was than when I had babies and toddlers!  My kids are old enough now to step up and do many of the things that I usually do.  They can handle easy meals, load the dishwasher, switch over the laundry, and keep the house picked up. 

It was not long ago that when I got sick, the house seemingly shut down.  Sick days were a cause for me to panic because there was no one at home to take over my work load while Brian was at work.  If I didn't do it, no one did. The best I could do was to keep the kids close to me, gathering them around me on the couch or asking them to stay in the room where I could manage everyone without getting up. There was no easy solution and there is probably no easy solution for you either.  There isn't a magical way to figure out how to run the house when you are down and out. 

The thing I learned over the years, though, is that sick days are a very short season of life.  (Even my months-long bouts of morning sickness were short in the grand scheme of things.)  It is okay to relax the standards for awhile.  

It is okay if you make sandwiches for dinner or ask your husband to bring home take-out. It is okay if everyone stays in their pajamas all day.  It is okay if the kids watch more TV than you usually allow.  It is okay if the crumbs don't get swept.  During periods of sickness, I used to stress about what wasn't getting done and put undue pressure on myself.  It wasn't until I felt well again that I would realize that relaxing the standards for a day or two would have been better for everyone.

My How Do You...? series is back for a limited time.  If you have an idea for a topic, leave a comment here or on my Facebook page.  In the meantime, you can browse the archived index of past topics.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Photos On Easter


L to R: Alaine (3), Owen (7), Maddie (9), Ben (5), and Gavin (11)


Brian and me (photo by Owen)


happy family

Friday, April 18, 2014

Via Dolorosa
written by Jack Anthony Mooring, Leeland Mooring, and Edmond Martin Cas

He traded His crown for a crown of thorns,
He picked up His cross and laid down His sword.
He stumbled down the road, bruised and beaten for me,
Jesus walked the way of grief, Hallelujah.

For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:2 (NIV)


Looking for more music as you prepare your heart for Easter?

"Glorious Day" ~ posted in 2011
"The Wonderful Cross ~ posted in 2010

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

How Do You... Expose Your Kids to Great Ideas?

alternately titled: Teaching Your Kids Without Telling Them It's School

So how do I expose my kids to a variety of topics that I don't plan to formally teach during our school day? I'm a sucker for books.  I am constantly picking up books at the library that pique my interest and bringing them home to peruse...and hope my children will want to peruse them, too.  Rather than assign them as required reading, I've started leaving a variety of books in a stack on the coffee table.  We spend a lot of time in our living room so the books are sure to be seen.

Sometimes I'll read part or all of a book to my kids in the evening as they're settling down for bed and  sometimes I simply leave the books there for my kids to discover on their own.

Here's a small sampling of the books that have rotated on and off of our coffee table this year:

{The following contains affiliate links.}

A Beatrix Potter Treasury
and Beatrix Potter(biography) by John Malam
100 Great Poems for Girlsedited by Celia Johnson
100 Great Poems for Boysedited by Leslie Pockell
Toilet: How It Worksby David Macaulay
The American Story: 100 True Tales from American Historyby Jennifer Armstrong
My Mommy And Me Story Bibleby Tracy Harrast
Top 10 Dogs for Kidsby Ann Graham Gaines
Thomas Jefferson: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Everythingby Maira Kalman
Illustration School: Let's Draw Happy Peopleby Sachiko Umoto   
Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verseby Marilyn Singer
13 Buildings Children Should Know
by Annette Roeder

The variety of subjects, reading levels, and styles introduces variety that might not be found in our school curriculum, plus providing snippets of various history, science, literature, or art topics may just spur a desire in one of my kids for additional independent learning.

During certain seasons of the year, I'll also place a stack of themed books out to help us celebrate.


My How Do You...? series is back for a limited time.  If you have an idea for a topic, leave a comment here or on my Facebook page.  In the meantime, you can browse the archived index of past topics.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Easter Eggs

Our family makes a yearly event of dyeing eggs for Easter.  Last year, we invited a group of friends to share in our tradition with us, but this year we worked on our project alone.  We scaled back acadmics to the very basics one day last week and devoted our school day to "art" instead.  

We began with shaving cream eggs. Aside from a few messy fingers, it was an easy variation to traditional dyeing.   We filled a 11x8 baking pan with shaving cream and 8-10 drops of food coloring. Then we used a toothpick to swirl (but not blend) the colors. 

After rolling the eggs through the rainbow mix, we set the eggs on an old towel to dry before wiping off the shaving cream to see the results.  (I didn't get an individual "after" photo, but you can see a few of the tie-dye eggs in the vase below. 

After dyeing a few shaving cream eggs, we moved on to egg dyeing with a twist.  The dyeing part was the same as usual (boiling water, a splash of vinegar, food coloring), but we used an Easter egg color chart to achieve specific colors with names like lime, cantaloupe, maize, and raspberry

The other difference this year was that we inserted the eggs in a whisk before dipping into the hot water.  It saved us from worrying about burned fingers or splashes of water all over the table from dropping the eggs into the cups. 

We chose to displaying our array of eggs in a vase on the kitchen table.  After using food dyes and shaving cream on our eggs and then leaving them out at room temperature, they are no good for eating, but buying 18 eggs is far less expensive than many craft supplies.

We ended our day with one last egg decorating project: Minion eggs.  Recreating these little creatures from Despicable Me was super easy.  All we needed were a few cheap plastic Easter eggs, electrical tape, googly eyes, and a permanent marker.  The kids created their Minions in secret so that each one could be different.  Then they did a big reveal to each other when they were done.

Not up for boiling water, food dyes, or googly eyes? My kids have also had fun coloring these free Easter egg printables this year.

What about you?  Have you done an Easter crafting?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

How Do You...Revive an Old Blog Series?

Between February 2012 and March 2013, I regularly wrote "How Do You...?"as a weekly series for my blog. I answered questions such as How do you grocery shop with kids? How do you keep track of library books?, How do you keep a toddler in bed?, and How do you keep the bathroom clean?

I let the series fizzle because I ran out of ideas and reader questions dwindled, but I'd love to revive the series on a short-term basis!  This go-round, I'm setting aside Wednesdays to answer your questions.

To make this work, I need your input!  What do you want to know?  Leave a comment here or on my Facebook page.  I can't wait to hear from you.


Monday, April 7, 2014

Coming to a Theater Near You

This is part 5 of my Based on the Book series. First I talked about 4 books that I thought were superior to their movie counterparts.  The following week it was 2 movies that I liked better than the original books.  I also shared a few choices that were too close to call  and wrote a book review.

During February and March, I read three books that are are being released as movies in the theater this year.  I came to very different conclusions about each one!
Books I've Read in Anticipation of Movies Coming Out This Year
{All book and movie titles are Amazon affiliate links.}

I had heard great things about The Fault in Our Starsby John Green.  I'm not one to jump on a bandwagon.  In fact, if a book or movie gets a lot of hype, the rebel in me resists reading or watching it. I eventually broke down, though, when I read a synopsis of the plot.

The Fault in Our Stars is the story of two teenagers who meet at a cancer support group and the book follows their emotional friendship and the events of their lives over the portion of a year.  I thoroughly enjoyed the story.  It was authentic without being sappy.  However, it had a moderate amount of language (maybe a PG-13 rating) and many of the characters' beliefs about death and what happens when we die were in opposition to how I believe. 

Now I know why the book got rave reviews, but I had enough reservations that I can't give it my  wholehearted recommendation.

I was excited to begin Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trailby Cheryl Strayed, but I almost quit before the second chapter. I probably should have.

I was fascinated by the story of a woman who set off alone to hike the Pacific Crest Trail (the more rugged West Coast sister to the Appalachian Trail).  It was interesting to read of the people she met and how she survived. I was amazed at how little she ate and the tremendous load she carried, and I was sickly fascinated by the descriptions of her bruises, blisters, and missing toenails.

Now for the downside. The language was horrible (definitely beyond a PG-13 rating). The author's lifestyle choices were morally lacking. The need for a Savior was obvious. I could only recommend this book with a long list of warnings.

Now I can talk about my favorite.  The girls and I read A Bear Called Paddingtonby Michael Bond together.  I had never read Paddington as a child and had no idea what to expect. For some reason, I thought it might be dull,  but I adored it!  I loved the writing style.  I loved the story.  I loved the illustrations. My girls did, too. 

The book follows the story of Paddington, a Peruvian bear who ends up at a train station in England.  It follows his story as the Browns bring him home with them and he settles into life with the family. It is witty and funny but heartwarming, too. 

No warnings or hesitations needed on this one.  It's a gem!

Have you read either of these books?  What did you think? 

Next up in the series I'll talk about some book-movie combos that are worth mentioning but don't fit into any category! 

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