Saturday, 30 April 2011

Up North


 Once a year we pack up all the kids and drive for 12 really long hours to New Hampshire so we can visit Auntie Weez -who makes being 96 seem like a cake walk- and Cousin Tony - the coolest uncle in the universe-just ask the kids-.  Unbelievably there was a lot of sleeping and quietness on the ride and it wasn't horrible.  I actually think I was the biggest whiner and I'm positive that I needed the most bathroom breaks.  
  After a quick initial visit we headed to the hotel for the night and the kids swam while James and I slumped in chairs and pretended to watch.
  And the big event of the night - kids in beds with bags of candy and television till they fall asleep in their sugar drool. 
  Can't wait for tomorrow! 

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Stay-Run-Finish-Quit

  
  Our new puppy mill rescue dog, Maddie Lue, is settling in nicely. She quickly figured out that we like her to use the bathroom outside instead of on the couch cushion.  She allows most people to pet her now and she loves me entirely, going wherever I go and happily sleeping in her cage at night.
  I'm not feeling as settled as Maddie. I can almost taste the end of the school year and it's all I can do to keep from leaping up and running out.  We are on Unit 33 of 35 and I should be pouring on the coals to get done but instead I want to sit outside in the sun and plant flowers and.....play.  I really do love homeschooling. Keep going.  Keep going.  

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Pretending to Know Stuff is Risky

  Tonight was the second photography class that Lane and I signed up for.  We had to choose between  the beginner and advance class and we were sure we were more the latter.  Ha!  Wrong.  Art, the teacher, knows pretty much everything there is to know about f-stops and shutter speed and depth of field and assumed we did too.  We didn't.  So I have to learn really really fast and it's like gulping down an entire mackerel without chewing.  
  So here's my depth of field shot.  And don't ask me what the aperture was.  

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Eggs and Stuff



  Easter day was perfect with family, an egg hunt for the little grandkids, egg throws for the brave and a long walk to Lane's new house.  And my boys once again allowed me to dress them in shirts and ties - lovely aren't they?

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Just Be Here

  
Having my daughter Kirsten and family next door for over a year now has been amazing.  Sure, the other grandparents spoil the kids a lot more and can take them one at a time to special places and get them treats, but I have them right here.  They have been part of the crazy fabric of every day life - in and out of the house, sleeping over, getting in trouble and waving goodbye to me each morning when they get on the bus.  And once again, God has called them away back into ministry and they will be moving to Florida this summer.  
  I'd barely had time to get used to the idea of missing them when my daughter Lane and family bought a house in the neighborhood.  And already Layla and Lauren are here, playing with the kids, swinging on the swings and just being part of the day.  I'm sure they'll get in some trouble in no time and I'm happy like only a Grandma can be happy.

Friday, 22 April 2011

What We're Thinking About

Between a communion fellowship at church on Maundy Thursday and waiting the celebration of Resurrection on Sunday we took some time to dye eggs.  
  The kids have so many questions. "Where did Jesus go during the 3 days before he came out of the grave and did He see Satan?"  "Could Jesus have taken the thorns off his head?"    "What kind of juice is in the communion cup and can I take the empty cup home?" "If Adam and Eve didn't sin would Jesus have to die for us?"  
  I love that our family's thoughts are so intensely on our Savior during Easter. 

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Looking Up

  
  I have lived within an hour and a half of Washington D.C. for the majority of my life and have taken countless field trips there growing up and again with my kids.  And every time I'm there it amazes me.  Buildings and memorials honoring ideas and men whose legacies are larger even then the monuments themselves.  Museums with floor after floor of carefully collected things that tell the story of our world.  And people from every where doing everything.  Energy and power and all that is America.
  
  Today we took Corinne, our exchange student, to see the sights before she heads back to China.  Everyone's favorite was the Washington Monument.  You can't help but wonder at it's magnitude.  We have a great country - just ask Corinne.
  

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Around the Rink

  This week is Spring Break for the public schoolers here so the homeschoolers invited them to join them for our twice a month roller skating day.  Toby Mac blaring, wheels spinning, landing on your butt - what's better than that?

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Tatts for Tots


I'm not cool one little bit.  I hate tattoos. And they're so in.  Everyone has them including old ladies, young kids not to mention anyone reentering society from jail.  I don't like the cute butterflies or understand the Indian symbols.  
Just not cool at all.
My boys however dream of the day when they can permanently scar their bodies with black ink.  
So what could be better than the package from Aunt Sonia with 2 packs/40 each of super hero tattoos?
And happily, they actually came off in the bathtub unlike the ones they brought home from school that lasted almost 4 months.
Doesn't everyone want a tattoo of Iron Man on their stomach?
Not me.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Sure - go ahead.




Why do my children feel compelled to swim in the middle of April when the water is a brisk 47 degrees even though they know -
that the water is freezing
and it'll hurt when they jump in
and they won't be able to warm up for about an hour afterwards?


And what kind of mom am I that I let them swim-
pretty much whenever they ask
knowing that it's not normal
and expecting disapproval from the neighborhood moms?


I think the answer to all these questions is-
because why not?


Splash.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

I Like You Better Today



  Having 9 girls and 9 boys you'd think I'd have a preference as to which of the two is easier to raise but I find that they are equally as delightful and equally not so.  I appreciate that girls don't feel compelled to jump on-tear apart-break up and generally misuse every item in our home.  Girls on the whole seem to talk more than boys but it generally stays under the harmful to your ears decibels.  I love that girls are tuned in to how things are done around the house, so that in your absence the dog still gets fed, the milk is placed back into the refrigerator after being used and nobody is allowed to bring their bike inside for a tune up.  On the other hand, boys have that sweet and extremely useful desire to help carry and lift and fix whatever I need and by the age of 14 are taller and stronger then I am.  It's refreshing to have a boy get upset with his brother and after a quick punch or kick the air is cleared as opposed to the sisters that are still in a mood over something that happened between them 10 days before.  Although my boys don't often sit still they are constantly thinking and inventing and scheming and amusing me.  And in an instant the girls are grown and the boys are men and I really liked it all - or most of it.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Saturday Confessions

I decided to link with Melissa this week because Saturday morning is as good a time as any to 'fess up.

#1  I missed taking a picture and posting yesterday for the first time since January 1st. I decided to not do it and it was both horrible and as good as forbidden food on a diet.

Haven't killed this one yet
#2  Last week my daughter Lane and I started our advanced photography class and realized within seconds that there's a reason you start at the beginning and not pretend you have a clue about the relationship between shutter speed and f-stops.

#3  I kill plants.  Not on purpose - it just happens.  Which is why my husband has full custody of the watering can.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Can You Read It On the Couch?


  Since coming from public school to home learning, Samuel's reading has been our priority and it's paying off.  He has zoomed through 'Frog and Toad" and told me he knows why it's called a 'Treasury" - cause it's like a special book and it has good stories in it.  When this little guy came to visit for the day, Samuel offered to read to him to make him happy.  I know I'm thrilled!

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Seeds to Grow

 
 Our rainy spring day project was planting wheat seeds in these brown egg shells we've been saving.  We'll be waiting patiently for some sprouts. Our classroom needs some outside in.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Who Brought Them to North America? I'm mad at you.

 I don't know if you have America's newest pest in your neck of the neighborhood, but here in mine, the Stink Bug is invasive.  They were around last summer but apparently spent the winter renewing their vow to take over the world and have come out strong already this spring.
  At first glance, they're not that bad.  They don't sting or carry malaria or eat the wood boards holding up your house.  Unlike ticks they don't cohort with deer and burrow under your skin and make your joints ache nor are they rude enough to steal your food or leave their excrement on the walls.  
  They do have an odor - hence their name.  But truthfully the smell isn't really all that "stink".  It's not like a "your kid stepped in a pile of dog poop" smell.  It's more like a strange mixture of mint toothpaste, hair dye and toilet bowel cleaner and they only employ their stink weapon when threatened, which unfortunately around here is often.
  They seem to have an extremely strong exoskeleton as evidenced by the fact that when you flick them as hard as you can and their body makes that satisfying crack when it hits the wall, they pause only a moment before they brush it off and walk away.  And they're so stupid/docile that they don't have the sense to run from you.
  So what is it that makes people hate them so intensely?  Could it be that horrific prehistoric body?  If you enlarged them by about 1,000 percent you could easily superimpose them into a Jurassic Park scene and have people screaming and running from them as they advanced and devoured everything in their path.  But could ugliness alone make them detestable?
  Maybe it's their sheer number.  Apparently the only social networking the stink bug engages in is not on facebook but in the bedroom.  If you have one today, you will have 100 tomorrow.
  I really don't know what I hate so much about this bug but I do.  Really.  Do you?
  

Monday, 11 April 2011

Less Junk

One of my children is in the nymph stage of hoarding.  Although he is young now, he is well on the way to collecting the kind of debris that will earn him a segment on "Hoarders-Buried Alive".  This is a teensy portion of the broken, useless stuff that was cleaned out of his room.  I hauled out three large garbage bags of this kind of junk stored in boxes and bags and cases.  And it hasn't been so long since I did this once before.
  Even before uncovering this crazy mess I had been thinking about the toys in our home.  After a zillion years and a half a zillion kids there were a lot of them. More than half the toys were missing pieces and weren't played with.  Some of them were just stupid - no real value.
  Time to pare down.  Throwing/giving away most of them.  The only toys we will keep have to be sturdy, not from a 
happy meal and will promote creative play.  Legos and Playmobil will stay and the Connects get the nod.  All the sports equipment are keepers along with the white erase/magnetic board with the paints and markers.  I'm feeling some trips to Goodwill coming on!

Sunday, 10 April 2011

The 7th Day



Sunday afternoons were made for relaxing - literally. 
But my busy weeks want to ooze out and run all over the weekend.  
My family needs to do nothing at least once a week.  
No visiting.
No cleaning.
No meetings - especially no meetings.
No accomplishing anything.
Just swinging and thinking and wasting time.
Perfect rest and I'm guarding it.


  

Saturday, 9 April 2011

It's Such a Strange Coincidence

  On the left of this picture is Elijah James, my grandson,  in the Christmas pajamas my daughter picked for him.  On the right is Elijah James, my son, in the Christmas pajamas that I picked for him.  Tonight they're having a sleepover like they do pretty much every weekend.  They're names were chosen seven years before I adopted my Elijah and we didn't pick the pajamas to match and we didn't plan it so that this uncle and nephew would be best of friends.  It was all just God arranged. - well maybe not the pajamas unless God has a deal going with the buyer for Kmart.

Friday, 8 April 2011

The Mom with the Big Yellow Hat

  Some of my kids have a hard time making it through the day without falling apart.  Anger and attachment stuff spill out of them, starting first thing in the morning over their choice of cereal.  Afternoons are often a series of fights with siblings, rage over being disciplined and thinking the whole world hates them.
  Jeremiah had one of those days today and I was relieved to see it was almost bedtime.  When I went in to tuck him he was sitting with his favorite Curious George book, waiting for me to read to him.  I was tired and not delighted with him at the moment, but I had promised.

  Amazing how a story and some snuggling in bed together can poke little holes in our hearts and let all the hardness out-his and mine. 
  And I can't help but love a child that looks like Curious George.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Safe at Home

  What do teenage homeschoolers do after their science class?
Jump rope.
Beats dope.



Wednesday, 6 April 2011

This Year's Fools


 Quite a few fools showed up for our annual "fools in the pool" day.  There were goose bumps on all the white winter skin and on the countdown they all jumped in the very very very cold water.
And the biggest fools of all? (they insisted they were actually the winners)  Eleanor, Emma and their friend Kullen stayed in the water for 25 minutes.  Hypothermia is not for the faint of heart.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Warming Up to Ice Cream

Going to our local Cone Zone for a treat seemed like such a good idea a few hot days ago when we planned it.  Tonight we sat huddled on the picnic tables, frozen faces, eating our ice cream, our hair whipping and dipping in the chocolate, stubbornly refusing to waste one spoonful.  Spring may have abandoned us, but are undaunted.  Here's to hot sunny days ahead!

Monday, 4 April 2011

Stay a Little While

  Tomorrow is Emma and Samuel's birthday and I took a long look at them before I tucked them into bed.   Growing them up is what we signed up for but it seems to be slipping by at an ever increasing speed.  And for this last hurrah family, maybe I don't want it to go so fast.  I find myself reluctant to correct Samuel's funny words and when I kissed Emma good night she was more happy than I for her to wake up a teen. Savoring them like a good cup of coffee.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

I'm either late or early

I realized today that something had to give.


The kids watched anxiously as James opened the pool for tomorrow's annual "fools in the pool" swim.






Meanwhile their snow pants were still
hanging in the mud room.  And with this
fickle weather I don't know which of the
two is inappropriate.
Boots or bathing suits?-it's anyone's guess.


Saturday, 2 April 2011

Light at the End of the Tunnel

  While getting a first grader settled in at home, on the other end of the spectrum is AnnaClaire.  Today in the mail she got her acceptance letter to college!  Exciting!  AnnaClaire has been homeschooled since 6th grade - shortly after she came to be our daughter and her academic progress has been remarkable.  The biggest struggle we had was convincing her that she really could know stuff.  And now she has an acceptance letter to prove it.  So as Samuel begins - AnnaClaire is stepping out and I couldn't be more proud of her.  And that is her graduation gown she was trying on when the letter arrived!

Friday, 1 April 2011

You Can Jump and Learn at the Same Time

  
  I've never been a militant homeschooler.  You know the kind that hates everything about public school.  I've had kids that have started public school in Kindergarten and never missed a year through 12th.  Some have spent most of their years learning at home. This year our three "littles" are in public schools and the other six are being educated at home.  With two graduating this year I didn't think I could listen to three learning to sound out words while helping my oldest write their research paper.  And it was all going so smoothly.
  But then I started getting reports from the teacher that Samuel wasn't sitting still and listening well enough.  He wanted to play and move around.  Imagine that from a six year old boy.  She felt he wasn't learning to read as quickly as he should.  And then last week he was sent to the principal's office because while walking down the hall, he jumped up and tried to touch the Cat in the Hat artwork that was hanging there.  Here's the real truth.  Samuel likes to jump.  And he likes to play.  And that's okay with me.
  After a few conversations with his, really great but under pressure to produce 6 year old boys that can pass the end of the year tests, teacher, I withdrew Samuel from public school.
  This is Samuel coming home from his last day of being educated before he's ready.  He'll probably jump for joy.