Friday, June 11, 2010

once there was a boy and a girl...

They met.
The boy was nearly 13.
The girl had just turned 11.
They were both taught at home. The boy for his entire life. The girl for two years, going on eight.
The girl's family came to the boy's family farm for a homeschool evaluation.
The boy's family traversed the state doing evaluations and testing for homeschool families.
The girl was struck by the boy's free spirit, knowledge and strength.
She thought for sure he had a girlfriend in every county.
He thought for sure she was too sophisticated for him.
The boy was struck by the girl's wanting to watch him cut a log. Although many people came to the farm, few stopped to watch wood cutting. "The log was maple. The saw wasn't very sharp. The girl was cute."
Although that tree house never did get finished, something else got started that day, 20 years ago. A friendship that grew to a spark that grew to a love that grew to life lived together.

Can't wait to continue growing with you dearest! Who knows what the next 20, 40, 60 years will bring? I love you!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

today - a decade

Today is March 30th, 2010. I've been waiting for this day for some time. Now it is here, and I better write it down before I forget. Today is the day I can say, "I rock!" (or at least my body does) and really mean it. Today is a day I want to celebrate me and my motherhood journey, so bare with me folks. On this day 10 years ago my journey began. Every day since then (except for the five I was in France) my body has grown, fed and comforted little people. That's 3,645 days of service. The most tiring, exhausting, rewarding, nourishing service I can imagine.

For the last decade my body's been:
pregnant (9 months)
nursing (19 months)
pregnant and nursing (9 months)
tandem nursing (10 months)
pregnant and tandem nursing (3 months)
pregnant and nursing (6 months)
tandem nursing (34.5 months)
nursing (7.5 months)
pregnant and nursing (9 months)
nursing (13 months)

Now I'm going to go take some vitamins! and I think a bubble bath is in order tonight.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The good and not so good adventure

Tonight we had a little adventure. All day was an adventure of sorts. But tonight we were in the back of a police car and the baby had to nurse, so I can chalk that one up on "where have you fed your baby?" Some parts were good. Other parts were not so good. This makes for good adventure. Right? Well, the kids will remember, and it may become one of those family stories that everyone laughs and sighs over decades down the road.

We sell almost 100 boxes of Girl Scout cookies! ~ good
I am dead tired. ~ not so good
I take the kids out to dinner. ~ good
We have to wait and wait for our meal. ~ not so good
But we have our favorite waitress. ~ good
One of the senior gentlemen at the table next to ours hollers over to me. ~ not so good
He hollers: "What's your secret?" ~ good
My response: "Me??" in total shock. ~ not so good
His reply: "Yes! What's your secret? I see a mom walk in with four kids and I cringe. Yours are delightful! You must be doing something right! Whatever it is, keep doing it. You must be doing something right!" ~ good, no, great.
That gentleman will never know how much I needed to hear that tonight. My mind's been spinning in negative circles lately about how I'm not doing something right somewhere or some such stuff, but he's right. I have delightful children (most of the time) and need to work on those negative thought cycles.
Back to the story:
I forget to give the waitress our coupon and have to wait for her to re-figure our check. ~ not so good
She returns to tell me that the gentlemen have left money to buy each of the kids a scoop of ice cream. ~ good Excuse me?! I am floored and almost choke-up.
The kids are allergic to everything on the desert menu. ~ not so good
They can get something else she says, to take home with them. ~ good
They can't decide what they want. ~ not so good
They pick something, then change their minds, and the order can still be changed. ~ good
We have to wait another 30 minutes for their treat. ~ not so good
We finally leave at 9 pm. ~ good
The van suddenly stalls on our way home. ~ not so good
I manage to steer it into a turning space on the median. ~ good
We are out of gas. ~ not so good
We can see a gas station from where we are. ~ good
We walk the two blocks to the station to find that the service area is closed and locked and they do not have a gas container. ~ not so good
We walk to the pizza shop to use their phone. ~ good
oops! I forgot. I don't have my cell phone. ~ not so good
I cannot find my roadside assistance card to call for help. ~ not so good
The pizza delivery man offers to give us a ride. ~ good
I have too many car seats. ~ not so good
There is a fire station a block in the other direction. ~ good
We walk there and ask for help. They too do not have a gasoline canister. ~ not so good
They offer us a warm place to sit, turn on the Disney channel for the kids and call for roadside assistance. ~ good, no, a God-send
A police officer comes instead, also without gas. ~ not so good
He offers to take me to a different gas station, but agrees to take me home instead since that is closer. I have gas at home! ~ good
We all get in the back of the officers vehicle. ~ I did not feel so good about the five of us back there without a single car seat, although the officer assured me we would not need them.
He asks on the way if my gas gage is broken. ~ not so good
No. I pulled up to a station, but due to a fussy babe, decided to go get dinner first. "I bet you won't make that decision again." No. I won't. Thank you.
We arrive home safe. ~ good
Jesse arrives home just as I retrieve gas from our garage. ~ double good
It is Thursday. Jesse teaches late. He usually gets home at 10:30 pm but was a bit early tonight. Perfect timing.
Jesse goes back with the officer to retrieve our stranded vehicle. ~ very good
Jesse fills up the van's gas tank. ~ also good
And all the children quickly go to bed and fall asleep. ~ so good, so very, very, good

And that is our good and not so good adventure, and how we got stranded and brought home in the back of a police car, and why I was nursing in said car, but how it all turned out well in
the end.

What are your family adventure stories?

eta: I haven't asked him yet, but another layer to this story is "What was Jesse thinking when he rode up on his bike at 10:20pm to find a police car parked in front of the house with three of our children inside?" good? or not so good?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Fair, Brown & Trembling

Only one story this week. This gave us more time to actually discuss it and ask questions. Questions are my favorite!

What is a henwife? If the henwife cut a piece from Trembling's dress, wouldn't her sisters notice? Why could she not go in the church? Is a mare a horse? Where is Zulu?

Characters: Fair, Brown, Trembling, father, henwife, many princes
Trouble Makers: two sisters
Helpers: henwife
Magical Events: changes dress and provides horse
Ending: married after fighting, 14 children, sisters out to sea
Special Item: blue slipper
Food: ham, potatoes and peas
Dress: elegant, colorful, with head coverings
Architecture: castle, church
Value: beauty, kindness, children, horses

This is a traditional Cinderella tale from Ireland, with a twist or two. There are no step-sisters or a step-mother. Her own two sisters are the mean ones. The henwife provides an exquisite dress and mare for Trembling to go to church on three different Sundays. There is no party or ball. After they find and identify her with a shoe that is "neither too large nor too small", multiple princes from all over the world (hence Zulu) fight for Trembling's hand in marriage. The winner marries her, they have 14 children and the sisters are "put out to sea in a barrel with provisions for seven years - and were never seen again!"

Everyone did so well filling in their graph! Even the little ones were writing their great big letters and adding values to our list. This is something I did not expect to see. What great thinkers!

Culture Food: ham and potatoes.
While Trembling is at church, the henwife prepares the family meal for her. This is what she serves. (Note: Tasting is always optional.)

Culture Music: Dancing Willow's demo CD.
Children were dancing to this one!

Culture Craft: What kind of horse would you like the henwife to bring you? Milky white? Glossy black? White with blue and gold diamonds? Everyone got a horse to decorate, and decorate they did! I saw unicorns and wings, saddles and bridles, stirrups and sparkles. The creative juices were flowing!
Here is a sampling:

organic gold potatoes and nitrate, hormone, chemical, everything but delicious flavor free ham

Cinderella and Cendrillon

I teach on Tuesdays. Every Tuesday from now 'til May. All day Tuesday I'm running and teaching and guiding and playing and doing what I love best. Anyhow, I plan to blog about my older classes here. Follow the link if you want to see what we've done in Play and Learn, my younger class.

This semester I'm venturing into the world of 6-8 year olds. Well, I live with children who are 6 and 9, (and 5 and almost 1) but I had not yet taught this age range at our co-op. I love it! The ideas and thoughts and speculations that are shared in my class are amazing.

I teach Cinderkids. The goal is to read Cinderella stories from around the world, (I've found more than 20!) analyze and compare the stories, determine what the elements of the story tell us about the culture in which it was told, experience bits of that culture and have fun! We may even write our own stories at the end, using our favorite parts from the tales we hear.

In our first class I read two stories: Cinderella by Barbara McCintock and Cendrillon by Robert D. San Souci. I wanted to start with a "traditional" Cinderella tale. McCintock's did not disappoint. I chose this one for its illustrations, 17th century France, and its story line - Cinderella goes to the ball twice and forgives her sisters in the end.

The children have a graph to fill out for each story. We will use the graphs to help us compare the stories and for when we write our own. The class is evenly split. I have four older students who should fill out the graphs completely. There are four younger ones for whom the graph is not as important. They can write what they want, where they want or draw pictures. They are still using their critical thinking and reading skills. (For parents: I will keep the graphs with me so you do not need to worry about finding them each week.)

Here is the graph information for Cinderella:
Characters: Cinderella, mother, father, step-mother, two step-sisters, fairy godmother, prince Trouble Makers: step mother, two step sisters
Helpers: fairy godmother
Magical Events: changes pumpkin, four mice, rat, four lizards and clothes
Ending: married, finds husband for each sister
Special Item: glass slipper
Food: oranges
Dress: gowns, hair up and fancy
Architecture: grand palace, large homes
Value: beauty, silent suffering, small feet, kindness, forgiveness

As I said, traditional. We only discuss the characters and values. The children can record them if they wish.

Next we traveled to the Caribbean for Cendrillon. There are many similarities. The author even refers to France and uses some French in the text.
Characters: Cendrillon, mother, father, step-mother, step-sister, godmother, Paul
Trouble Makers: step-mother,
Helpers: godmother with a magic stick
Magical Events: changes breadfruit, six agoutis, (guinea pigs), opossum, five lizards and clothes
Ending: three day long wedding
Special Item: pink slipper
Food: punch, chocolate sherbet
Dress: satin, velvet, colorful, shift for servants
Architecture: large homes/manors
Value: silent suffering, true love

This is the only Cinderella tale I've found so far that is told from a different view point. The godmother tells the story, and she is not a fairy. She is given a magic stick from her mother, to use only for someone she truly loves. Everyone in class noticed the different narration right away. They also quickly found the similarities and differences between the two stories.

Culture Food: In Cinderella, she shares her plate of oranges with her sisters. The godmother raves about the chocolate sherbet served in Cendrillon. So we ate oranges and enjoyed chocolate, soy ice cream, (vanilla mango for those with allergies.)

Culture Music: Oboe Concerto - Adante by Marcello and Parfum Des Iles by Kali. The children picked out the different instruments they heard in each. (Note: I was beyond thrilled when I found Parfum Des Iles. It is from the exact same island that the story Cendrillon is told from, Martinique.)

Culture Craft: none this week. We ran over an hour as it was. Too busy with multiple servings of oranges and ice cream. =)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

One Thing Leads to Another

Today was hard. Every Thursday is now. Jesse leaves before 9am. He does not get home until after 10pm. He teaches all day. I'm a wreck all day and do not get in my "I can do this by myself" groove until 9pm or so. We're working on this, together, but it ain't easy.

Here are the highlights of my day. I just realized that if I share these it may show how low the day was. Tough bricks. I'll share them anyhow.

I hung two loads of laundry on the line! The wind is doing most of the drying and nothing is coming in frozen. I got a load out yesterday. I have two more loads ready for tomorrow, before MORE SNOW falls over the weekend.

Jess called. From work. Enough said.

Anna took two naps. Each was one hour long. In my arms. She's weaning down to one nap. I'm not ready for that yet.

Anna fed me for the first time.

And she said "book" three or four times. She first said this earlier in the week, but now she's using it frequently. That's word #16!

Leah picked up her Legos. David cleaned off his bed so I could put clean sheets on it. Sarah helped with Anna. All after 9pm. That's when I got in my groove. Remember?

I caught up on the few blogs I'm following. I fell off the blogging wagon, in case you haven't noticed. I think? one of the best ways to get traffic and make friends (my goals) is to find a niche, (working on that) comment on others' blogs, (failing. I'm back to lurking.) and write. Write? Oh yes. That.

One of my new favorite places to lurk is at Apron Thrift Girl. I feel really good there, like I fit in. I want to keep going back. Today she wrote about getting good food cheap. I followed the link at the bottom to see if there were any discount groceries near us. Nope. But we may stop by one the next time we are in Richmond. Well, in that Salvage Grocery article there is a link to folks spending $50 or less each week on all of their food. I was instantly intrigued. Could we? How much for the kids? What about all the specialty foods we have to buy due to allergies? How many exceptions would I have to make? Could we still do lots of organic?

The rules are as follows: $50 each week for each adult. One of the writers has a 3 year old. He gets an extra $25 each week. Alcohol is not counted. Caffeine is. Eating out is.

I record all our expenses. I have for almost ten years. It's easy to look at 2009 and see... our monthly average for groceries and eating out, including alcohol, was $653.99. Excuse me?? To meet the challenge we have to spend less than $700 each month. We did it last year without even trying! And the number was even more impressive before I added in what we ate when we traveled. There. The highest moment of my day. (I will disclose that for the two months after Anna was born, the bills were higher. We bought more processed food. I was always eating, to the tune of $825 and $770. Cheap months helped to balance those out.)

I've had numerous friends ask me recently about living frugally. How do we do it? I think that will be my first niche. My goal for 2010 now is to get our monthly grocery bill even lower. How does $500 sound? I'll be back, promise, and let you know how it goes.

And speaking of one thing leading to another: After my last post there was a wonderful 5 year old's birthday party. On that day, Sarah started coughing. 6 days later, I started coughing. Jesse was coughing 6 days after that. This was near the now 9 year old's party, that had to be re-scheduled due to two sick parents. The cough did not spare a single one. I'll do the math for you. David got it on Christmas Eve. Anna started around New Years. Did I mention it came with two days of fever and aches and stayed for two weeks? No? And we traveled for over two weeks smack dab in the middle of hacking and aching? No wonder I fell off the wagon.