Tuesday, November 17, 2009

darndest things

I'm not sure about all the other kids out there, but mine say the oddest, most spectacular things when they are 5, or about to turn 5. Well, no. Sarah started early and hasn't stopped, but that's Sarah for you. Leah is almost 5. Recently I've heard:


"I got it! When I grow up, I can be your girlfriend! Sound good?" me: "oh, yes! It does!"

"Mommy, you need to change your underwear. If you do not put on new underwear, then you need to change it. You really should change your underwear." (What?? I think she's heard this recently, directed to her.)

"Excuse me! I'm not going bananas over here, but I did ask for some cocoa!" (Leah calls warmed soy milk cocoa.)

"Let's turn our house into a museum!"

"This says 'word', right?"

"Oh! 12 take away 7 is 5, and 12 take away 5 is 7!"

"Catch this, Mom!" (Meaning, look at me while I practice a dance step or some other physical feat.)

"If I have enough money when I grow up, I'm going to be a mommy just like you."

Special Day

Special Day is a tradition we are trying out. I got the idea from my brother. Special Day is celebrated on the date of your birthday each month. You get to choose what is served for dinner. You can go somewhere with just Mom or Dad. You can choose a game or activity for the evening. The goal is to carve out a few moments for each child as an individual. So far we've watched movies, gone shopping, played chess and discovered new favorite meals. Simple things really. I think having that bit of guaranteed time does make a difference, however small.

The first thing the kids asked was if Mommy and Daddy got a Special Day too. Perhaps in the future, but not just now. I do want to share my birthday pictures and David's. Our spring and summer simply flew by. The memories did not make it this far. Here they are now.

my 30 year old toes

My birthday falls during our Florida vacation. Although it can be crazy on the beach with four little ones by yourself, (Jesse's working while we're there.) that's just where I wanted to be. (It feels good to pull out some warm summer memories in the cool, soggy fall.)

Leah's Special Day this month is her birthday, so I need to go send those invitations now.

Special Birthday Wishes and Love to my mom today!!

Monday, November 16, 2009

book collection

I collect children's books. Since I am a teacher and have four children, it is not a bad thing to collect. They never get dusty. They make me smile. There is always something new to add. There are my old favorites. I can easily find small gems in the thrift store or at a garage sale. It is the best kind of collection, I think.

With all the extra time I had on my hands, no Internet and all, I went and organized my collection.
There it is. I'm not sure how many there are. I stopped counting years ago. However, I know where everything is - fairy tales, counting, colors, bears, monkeys, dinosaurs, favorite authors, award winning books and authors, social studies, and that's only the top row of picture books. Every drawer is full of books too. Once a month I quickly put everything back where it belongs. Once a year I "touch" every book. This makes a catalog in my mind, and I remove duplicates or what we are ready to pass on.

I'm going to move my yearly book review to November. This is when our church collects books for children at the courthouse. They are read to while their parents are in court and then given the book. Many of them have never owned a book. Sarah is still trying to grasp this thought. I am too. Life without my collection is hard to imagine. Here is our pretty little pile for them.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


Yesterday we started to clean the street. After being cooped-up inside for three days, it felt good to get out and work.

Today we started to clean the house. (Sorry, no pictures.) After being cooped-up inside for three days, it felt stifling. There was crazy follow the leader that left things turned upside-down. The toyroom floor was submerged in, well, toys. Lego ziplines connected every surface in the toyroom. The Playmobil had a party in the bedroom. And the living room saw charades, puppet shows and a museum. Time to clean-up! (Oh! do I love our yard!)

6 month old Anna in just a part of our yard

The Flood

In case you haven't heard, we got some rain. Three days of it. Fifth highest flood lines in fact. There was actually more than 12 inches of rain in our trash can. Every time I tried to post a picture on FaceBook, the power went out. We never lost the electricity for very long. I cooked extra spaghetti, just in case. What we did loose was our phone and Internet connection, for four days. That's long enough to make me realize how much I've come to rely on those particular wires and long enough to put me behind on posting every day. Who knew a Nor'easter and remains of a hurricane would meet in our city and leave all this?

east end of our street
Those lights coming out of the water are along a street across the river.

more east end, an hour before high tide
There's a submerged dock out there.

west end

west end at high tide
The river took over the parking lot.

west end the next morning
Needless to say, we were stuck. The water rose on either side of us and in front of us, but our house stayed dry. We are grateful.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

GUESS Science Fair 2009

What an amazing experience for all of us! My only wish is that there was more time to see all the projects. There was some spectacular work in the building and all executed by homeschoolers! Sarah's only wish is for more science fairs! "Why do we have to wait all the way until next year?" Because the mama needs a break? Nope. The girl's talkin' plasma and electricity folks.
She loved the demonstrationand enjoyed the program,
but please do not ask about the I-MAX film.

with the judges

The answer was pretty clear - no. There was some variance, but not enough to sway the results. She did find a substantial difference in agreeableness. After sugar, kids willingly picked up (and were more pleasant.)

We ate lunch outside and ran. Note the weather. Gorgeous!
The homeschool families in our area are so lucky to have Lydia and Shez - two great minds and wonderful women teaming up to help provide this experience for our children. Thank you!

Monday, November 9, 2009

made for each other

I want to remember our amazing day at Sarah's first science fair, but I also want to get to bed. I teach tomorrow, and I need rest. So here is a little conversation between Jess and I. Class is on the states of matter, specifically water. I was looking for books in our vast children's collection, hoping not to have to run to the library.

me: "Do we have any books with igloos?"
J: "That polar bear one. They live in an igloo."
me: "Well, a den in the ice. But it's cute, and we made dens last week."
me: "Do we have any books on ice?"
J: "What about that one where the boy puts ice in his pocket and it melts? Ezra Jack Keats."
me: "Snowy Day. Yeah. We have it."

The best part? He knows what's on the shelves better than I do. I forget. There's too many. However, I know exactly where every book is and could grab these as soon as he described them. He doesn't have a clue. Together, we're complete.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

worth it!

Ta-dahh! Today Sarah and I made THIS:

Jesse took some pictures for me.

From 1:45pm-9:45pm we worked. She dictated. I typed. She chose colors and fonts. I formatted. I cut. She glued. She planned. I glued. (There's 2.5 glue sticks of glue on that thing, and over 100 dots of craft glue.) We love it. The presentation board is complete!

Want to know what she had to say while we were working on it? "You're wonderful Mom! I mean, you're working with me on my poster, and that's not easy. You are a wonderful teacher. You are so patient! No wonder people want you to teach young children."

Talk about a still heart moment! And that was just what I needed to hear, after working with her for hours on end with mastitis. I'm so proud of all she's done and love her so.

Saturday, November 7, 2009


Well, yesterday got so full, I couldn't even blog about it. I sat down to do so, and Leah stumbled into the office crying that no one was cuddling with her. After cuddling, I rolled into bed.

I think that is what happened to the blog here. Life got so full my thoughts were all mush by the end of the day. Having a goal to write everyday helps me to retain a few bits of what I want to get out. I think it would also help to have a laptop to carry around the house and some wireless going on, or at least another computer for the kids, but none of that is going to happen any time soon. And having a theme keeps eating away at me. Maybe that would help. I know some blogs do, some don't. The fact that mine doesn't shows that I started it to keep in touch with family, perhaps build some community, but more a space to remember things. The fact that that is bothering me (lack of coherence here) shows that its time to get focused. But on what??

  • homeschooling
  • present parenting
  • natural living
  • living frugally
  • allergies
  • breastfeeding
  • knitting

Now is when I get stumped and decided to just keep writing about life and perhaps a common thread will appear, somewhere.

Yesterday began with Anna's "Aaiaheeeee!" She always wakes with a smile. If I'm already up, she'll lay and talk to herself for some time, just like Leah did. If I'm still in bed, like yesterday, she'll wake me up to nurse. What a joy-filled way to start the day! (I just love the family bed! [well, most days.])

2 month old Anna

I went to Bible study with Anna. Jesse stayed home with the others. We're reading Scott Hahn's A Father Who Keeps His Promises. Yesterday there was a guest speaker who shared a bit of Hahn's history with us and her ministry. You could feel the Spirit flow from her. It was nice to feel that again, and come home excited rather than drained.

I needed that excitement for the rest of the day. We had the second and final sugar experiment play date. I cleaned the kids room for the occasion. Well, as clean as 20 minutes with three helpers and a baby could get it. After the day's observations, it was very clear that if you want kids to help pick up, give them candy. Seriously. The house looked better when they left than when they arrived. I joked that I was doing it for the sake of Sarah, not Science. But we had a great time! Every single one of the 13 kids here was awesome. The moms were pretty awesome too! Thank you again for coming out and subjecting your children to sugar for the sake of Science (and Sarah.)

Then it was off to Sarah's dance class, dinner and shopping in the evening. ToysRUs had a few items on sale, namely a Razor scooter, and now my holiday shopping is done! I got Anna to sleep on our bed before I left. At bedtime Leah told Jesse that since Anna was sleeping in his bed, that he could sleep in hers. so sweet and thoughtful...

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Missing Kitty

We lost our cat today. I missed her. (We keep calling it a her, but I still need to take it to the vet to know for sure. Seriously. I even had a friend who is really good with cats take a look, and she couldn't tell. Whatever it is, it is most likely fixed.) I thought about sharing the story here and realized I hadn't shared her story yet. I've mentioned that we have a cat, but never how this came to be.

We, the allergic mama and papa, the severely allergic although she screams if you suggest it four year old - we have a cat. We thought this would never be, could never be, and never became too attached to all the sweet kitties who crossed our path. Somehow, we were waiting for Kitty-Kitty, (Yes, the kids named her.) and Kitty-Kitty was waiting for us.

She was waiting at a rest-stop on I-95. Yes, this beautiful cat was there. She looked healthy, young and thin. She was friendly, cautious and hungry. We fed her. Our dog travels with us on vacation, and she liked dog food. We all felt an attachment. She got in the van easily enough. I did not want her left at the rest stop. We decided to take her with us to the family farm in PA.

We stopped at a WalMart on the way and bought a cat carrier. Moe rides on his bed, but he does not bound between seats and children's laps when children are supposed to be asleep. She did not like the carrier. She cried a bit. She slept. We let her out at the farm. She left through a window for the night. She came back. We took pictures. We put a notice on Richmond's Craig's List in case she escaped from someones car. No response.

Surprise! We have a new cat for the farm. Right? Wrong. The cat was not allowed to stay. We brought her back to Norfolk thinking, "We'll find a good home for her here." We did just that. The deal was this: She had to work as an outside kitty in the city, get along with Moe and not scratch kids in order for her to stay with us. She did!

She stays in our yard. She keeps all other cats out of our yard and from wandering down the street. She comes to the door to be fed. We found a pink lined cat bed and small bowl that someone was throwing out. They are in the loft of the playhouse. She hissed at Moe at first, but now they sniff. She lets Anna pet her. She's caught three rats, two squirrels and three birds. (I don't like the bird part, but am grateful for fewer rats in our house and not so many squirrels eating our garden and being shot [with a BB gun] by our neighbor. Also, she hunts for food, not recreation.) She does not even use the sandbox as a litter box if we forget to put the lid on. She is the perfect cat for us.

I did not see her all day yesterday. I did not see her this morning. I was worried. Maybe someone picked her up. Maybe someone else was keeping her, despite her pretty piano collar. I had the strong feeling last night that she was trapped. I looked in the garage. I called for her. I called Jesse at work. He suggested the van. There she was, asleep on Leah's booster. She must have jumped in when we left the door open Tuesday evening. She was fine. She ate, drank, used the yard and nuzzled Anna's feet. Surprisingly, I could not find a mess or scratch in the van. Now that's a perfect cat.

I'm glad we found each other.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Sweet Science

Does sugar make kids hyper? This is Sarah's question for her GUESS science fair project. Big one. Last year she wanted to invent a telaportation device or a horizontal elevator. Needless to say, we did not participate. This year, sweet success! We agreed on a project. We have a notebook with notes. We made charts together. Graphs and poster boards loom in our future. This has not been a smooth sail, but we're keeping at it.

The conversations we've had, the things she's thought of are simply amazing. She wanted various ages. She listed the variables she could think of. She listed what she wanted to use to identify "hyper". She also explained to me in detail why she did not want to use children who were actively nursing in the study. They may like their breast milk more than the candy. The breast milk may interfere with their behavior. (Makes an LLL leader proud!)

Today was the first of two experimental playdates. 6 kids, ages 3-9. 2 bowls of candy, one full of sugar, the other sugar free. 2 hours of observation. Sarah was so excited! So excited in fact, she was the most hyper kid in the house! Volume, Activeness, Agreeableness all were duly noted. She hasn't drawn any conclusions yet, so I cannot say much more. However, I did make some observations of my own. My favorite was that before the sugar/sugar free was introduced there was a tussle. The children involved held discussions with their mothers, but were not ready to interact with each other. Soon after the candy, they apologized, heard each other out, dialogued, etc. "I'm sorry. I did it to get your attention. I just wanted to play with you." "But that doesn't make me want to play with you! It makes me want to play with you less!" "Oh, OK." That was between 9 and 6 year old boys, and was enough for them to go on playing for another two hours.

With those kind of results, I may just serve sugar at all future playdates!

A great big THANK YOU! to the mamas who brought their little ones over today.
Sarah couldn't do this without them, or you.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Growing Girls

Anna started to scoot herself backwards today. She does not like it in the least. She sees something she wants, goes for it, but only ends up further away. The poor thing just puts her head down and cries in frustration.

Yesterday Leah read the entire first book, the A book, in the Sing Spell Read and Write series. I used a process to teach Sarah and David how to read. Leah taught herself when she was three. Now she yells at me, "I want to read!"

Sarah peeked in the older Presidential class at co-op today. She was invited in and loved it. The teacher sought me out to let me know that she's always welcome, in a class geared towards the 13 and up crowd. (Now I want to take the class!)

My girls are growing up! (David too. I promise to post about him later this week.)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Dress-up Day

I think this is what we should call Halloween 'round here. That is what it is all about for us - dressing up. Not that my children mind walking door to door and having candy fill their buckets and bags, but they love to dress up. Without further adieu, I present:
the cutest pumpkin ever!

a pink cowgirl with a pink horse

the knight who was a cowboy earlier in the day

a beautiful butterfly

stopping for sugar on the way home

crossing the bridge

We ate dinner after collecting buckets of loot that were so heavy they couldn't carry them home. I pushed it back in the stroller. Everyone agreed to get some good food in their tummies before diving into the pools of sweetness. We don't set any limits. A few times a year they can have all the sugar they want. Also, there is no chocolate in this house. We're all allergic to it. The kids sell their chocolate to us, and Jesse hands it out to his college students. The going rate is 5 cents a piece. They each made around $3.00 this year, but I gave them $5 since that's what I had. Everyone ran to put their bills in their banks, so I guess it's being saved this year.
Speaking of savings, I spent not one penny on costumes this year. Anna wore a sweat-suit I bought Leah four years ago. Leah wore the pink cowgirl hat I bought for her dance recital last year - $3 thrift store. I know the horse was a Goodwill find as well, but that was more than six years ago. David was going to be this knight last year. The sword in sheath (that is barely visible) was his treat from Busch Gardens two summers ago. Helmet - 75 cents. Breastplate - 99 cents. Sarah was going to wear butterfly wings I found at a garage sale for $1. Those were not working in the morning, so ones that we received as a Leah birthday gift last year made a fine substitute. Jesse wore a kimono his mother gave us years ago and a hat he got while in China. I wore his cowboy hat and my suede, lace-up, skinny boots. What a fun Dress-up Day!


How do you do it? So, if anyone is still out there, (I know a few are.) and you are anything like me or know someone like me, how do you do it? The whole four kids, homeschooling, teaching outside the home, cooking, cleaning, knitting, planning, blogging part? Maybe I'm forgetting something? Oh yeah, add nursing, volunteering, socializing, partnering, sleeping and chauffeuring to the list. I'll let you know if I think of anything else.

I have a bunch of balls up in the air right now. I dropped the house one. It shattered. I spent two weekends picking up the pieces and have that one back together. I dropped the blog one. You all know what happened here. My one year anniversary went by. My 100th post was back in May. I know by the numbers that others were visiting more frequently than I was. *sheesh*

In an attempt to get myself back in gear here I've joined NaBloPoMo. Some of my friends are writing novels in 30 days. I'm going to post here every day, maybe.

And please leave a comment if you have any blogging tips!