Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Stepping Away

The emails are beginning to trickle in, wondering what's going on and if we're OK.

We are fine.

When it comes to the time I have scheduled for blogging, I've looked around and seen too many things that still need completing, or things I would just rather DO.  Writing about stuff doesn't actually help the stuff get done, so I've been leaning towards action rather than musing. It's been rewarding.

So I'm going to actively step away from the blogging world to focus on what's in front of me at this time. If I feel the pull to come back, I will, and with enthusiasm. :-)

But, for now, I prefer to keep our doings to ourselves, and to use my spare moments to improve what I can touch.

I wish you all a happy spring!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Not Fabulous.

Anyone else noticing a trend of me starting to get things moving along in my life, and then something else coming along and slamming me back into the ground?  Last year with the running and then the herniated discs.  This February and the attack of the monster cold.  Gettin' mighty sick of this whole yin-and-yang thing.  (Ha ha, pun not intended.  I imagine it's only me who thinks that was hilarious, and only because my brain is so addled by cold medicine.)

My fabulous moment of this week was getting school done despite just wanting to sleep.  Considering my circumstances, I am a flaming over-achiever.

Alright, energy gone.  Must lie down again.  Next week...hopefully we'll get some more awesomeness into our days.

I really, really hope that your weeks were tons better than mine.  Because I like you all, and I want to read about good weeks.  I'll read about bad weeks, don't get me wrong, but the good weeks are so much more fun to read about.  Happy long weekend to all my American friends.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The "Crafting Incident" of Seventh Grade

I've started putting together my lesson plans for the next school year, and this next school year marks Bluebird's first "Logic Stage" year of study.  I'm knee-deep in critical thinking selections, second-year Latin offerings, second foreign language tutoring options, and brainstorming educational activities that can appeal to my far-flung range of ages amongst my students.

It's crazy fun.  And it's going to be crazy hard.  Which is awesome, because it brings to mind my own school days, and how I was always sitting around, waiting for school "to become hard."  I was so bored all the time that I had special permission to bring my crafting supplies into some of my classes and just work on my various projects in my seat because I'd finish my work so quickly and end up staring at the ceiling for the next thirty minutes before we changed subjects.

Simply because I'm in such a nostalgic mood today, I'll tell you about the humiliating crafting incident in the seventh grade.

It started out innocently enough--I was cutting a toothpick for the yarn-wrapped worry doll I was making, and the cut-off end rocketed across the table and pegged a boy square in the forehead.

What's weird about this event is that there was a boy sitting at my table.

Because I was that girl in the seventh grade--the one with the glasses, and the really long, untrimmed and stringy hair, who looked at the floor when she talked to you, and always knew the answers to all the questions the teacher asked, but was so afraid to draw attention to herself that she wouldn't raise her hand in class because she knew she'd start sweating profusely if people started to look at her.

Yep, that girl.

And, in spite of the glasses, and the hair, and the freakishly painful social anxiety, a boy had chosen to sit at my table that day.

And, wouldn't you know, it was the boy.

Of course it was.

I had admired him from afar.  (Very, very afar.)  He was (to my thirteen year old mind) gorgeous, and funny, and popular, and just...sigh, dreamy.  He had the shaggy bowl cut that was so fashionable in the mid-1990's, and the baggy jeans that scandalously showed the elastic waistband of his boxers, which you couldn't see because his oversized shirt hung practically to his knees.  Oh, his fashion sense was just overwhelming.

And there I was, in my woven tribal cloth vest over top my own baggy t-shirt, shaking with nervousness because I was so hyper-aware of this demigod's presence just across the table from ME.  Why on Earth he had chosen to sit at my (otherwise-unoccupied) table is still beyond me.  The most logical explanation is that he knew I was incapable of stringing together a coherent sentence to another person, and he needed to finish some homework, so he chose to sit at the hermit table that would offer him no distractions.

Or so he thought.

There he was, just minding his business and grumbling at a math problem, when WHACK!  He took a splinter to the face at point-blank range.

He yelped, his hand grabbing his forehead.  Instinctively, he brought his hand back down to examine it for signs of blood, and then rubbed at the red ping-mark blossoming on his forehead for a second before starting to settle back down into working on his homework, completely unaware of my deer-in-the-headlights pose as I watched the events unfold.

I almost breathed a sigh of relief.


I was in the act of beginning to breathe a sigh of relief when our teacher screeched at the object of my affection, asking why he thought it was appropriate to yelp like that in a classroom setting.

I instantly re-assumed my deer-in-the-headlights stance.

The boy looked up to answer, and in that act we made eye contact.  Sweet, terrifying eye contact.  His eyes held mine a moment before noticing my frozen hands clutching my scissors and various crafting paraphernalia.  And that's when it happened--that was the moment when he figured out what had hit him.  In horrible slow motion, I watched the furrow of his brow give way to widened eyes filled first with surprise, and then understanding, and then confusion.

And then...oh, heart...the boy, the one I had spent so much time stealing glances towards for the past seven months, the boy...proceeded to throw me under the bus.

He raised his arm, pointed his finger at me, and bellowed, "SHE THREW A BEAD AT ME!!!"

I forgot how to breathe.

Not only was the demigod looking at me through narrowed eyes, but now the entire classroom of students had pivoted in their chairs to stare at me with all the grace that pre-adolescents possess, AND my teacher was staring at me in bewilderment.  To a socially anxious tween, that's the equivalent of the second-to-last worst circle of Hell.

The adrenaline kicked in.  I gasped for air, my body released the sweatgates, and I'm quite sure my pimples enlarged themselves by 25%.


My mind was racing, trying to come up with something clever, something to say that would exonerate me from this nightmarish debacle that was brewing into some lethal reputation-destroyer, which I knew I desperately needed to avoid because...well, look at me.  My brain, frantically grasping at anything resembling a straw, finally unearthed a truth that I could use to my advantage.  Elation!  Jubiliation!  I am saved!

I drew myself up to half my height, and exclaimed, "I didn't even BRING my beads to school today!"


Oh, YES, I did.



No, no, no...wait...oh no.

Oh my gosh, Cara, you did not just defend yourself by reminding everyone of another weird hobby of yours!  Ohhhhh, myyyyyy, YOU DID!!!  You stupid, stupid, stupid girl!  WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?!?!

Quick, come up with something clever to say!

Whoa, whoa, whoa, we already tried that and it didn't work so well.

Oh, true.  But we can't just sit here after that.

But saying something will probably make it worse...

So let's just sit here and hope everyone forgets...

Yes, sitting.  Quietly.

Yes, let's do that.

Quick, stop looking at him.  Look at your hands!

Oh.  Right.  [Pivoted my head down to stare at my hands.  Like a de-commissioned robot.]

.....he actively avoided me after that.

I mean, really, who could blame him?  Dude was just trying to finish some homework when he's attacked in the face by the eerily quiet girl with lots of scissors in her backpack.  And then, when he tried to proclaim his innocence, she rallied back with the maturity of a second grader, and then sat there and stared at him with wild eyes like some sociopath that wanted to peel off his skin, and use it to sew a beaded dress.  ("Remember the bead I threw at your head?  I was trying to see how the color went with your skin tone...")  And then she abruptly broke eye contact and stared at her hands for the next twenty minutes.  Yeah, who wouldn't want to get friendly with that?

So I let him go.  Sent my dreams of flirtation and adoration into the night, never to dream them again.

And I never took my crafting supplies to school again.  I had enough problems with trying to pass myself off as a functioning human being without risking maiming my classmates again.

Morals of the Story:

  • Don't craft in the vicinity of your crush.  There's too much at stake and you could do something clutzy because you're nervous and fine-motor skills don't work well under nervous conditions.
  • Don't cut toothpicks in public.  It's dangerous.  (Why couldn't I have actually been working on beadwork that day?!?!)
  • It's probably wise to wear protective eye gear when cutting toothpicks.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Fabulously Fun-Filled February Week #1
(And Weekly Report Week #22)

  • Field Trip & Fine Arts:  I took the Brookelets up to BYU to see a theatrical production of Shakespeare's "Cymbeline" specially created for young audiences.
  • Food:  We made milkshakes.
  • Fun:  We watched "Tangled."
  Of course, my phone died right before I could take pictures at the play, so there are none.  Which is too bad because Bluebird was pulled out of the audience to be the "doctor"--complete with that weird little muffin-looking hat and big black smock, and Junebug was chosen to be "Helen" (the princess's lady-in-waiting) and she was so stinking cute in her little pinafore while she trailed behind Princess Imogen.

  Monkeyboy loved the play.  They had big floor pillows set on the floor so the children could lounge while they watched, and he squirmed and rolled all over his pillow through the entire play, all while keeping his attention firmly fixed upon what was happening on-stage.  There's a point in the play where the Brits are chasing the Roman soldiers, and they're all going round and round the set, knocking props and backdrops over and yelling, and Monkeyboy was squealing with laughter over it--he could not sit up, all he could do was lay on his stomach and laugh.  Totally worth it.  The show runs through this Saturday if any of my local friends want to see it.  I definitely recommend it--the evil stepmother cracked me up.  (We saw the "fairy tale" version, but they're also offering a "Film Noir" version as well.)

  This week is weird because a bunch of important people in Michael's company are all in town (from Australia), and so he has barely been home.  It was tough getting the car so I could take the kids to the play, but he figured out how to make it work, and all the other days we've been completely without a car so he can shuttle visitors at work.  (Read:  Why yes, I'm feeling the effects of cabin fever this very moment.)

As a result of this home-bound predicament, I couldn't venture out to the grocery story for fun food, so I had to work with what I had on-hand, and there is was an almost-full gallon bucket of vanilla ice cream in my freezer, left over from summer.  At first I was a little put off by the freezer-burn potential of said ice cream, but after we dug through that layer, it tasted fine.  Woo-hoo!  Milkshakes in February!  The kids were fall-down excited.  Sometimes we just need to keep it simple, don't we?  They spent some time being "milkshake pirates" afterwards...it was hilarious and very odd.

  It feels lame to say that we watched "Tangled" as our fulfillment of the "Fun(ny)" category, but it was truly fun(ny) for them.  I popped lots of popcorn, the kids were excited to fill rest time with a movie, and we laughed.  It was good, I'm glad we went with that option.

  I'm amazed at how simple it is to make February fun.

  Yes, school got done as well.  Bluebird's almost done with Little Women, and Penguin's still working through The Blue Fairy Book.

Penguin finished her 2C penmanship book this week, and started working in the second workbook for math.  (The excitement over the math is mostly mine--she was all, "But I still have to do math, why does it matter if it's in a different book?"  Dear Penguin, your mama needs that little reminder that we're halfway through the book.  After months of lessons, it gladdens my heart immensely to have tangible evidence that we are indeed getting somewhere.)

Three more weeks of fun to keep the Winter Grays away!  I'm looking forward to seeing what you've all be up to in your homes!

Linking up with:

 Entertaining & Educational Link-up @ Highhill Homeschool

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Fabulously Fun-Filled February!

All us homeschoolers know that February is the most dreaded month of the entire year.  (And, if you didn't, a veteran homeschooler probably alerted you to the fact early on in your research of the idea.)  "Don't make any decisions in February!" is a common mantra emitted by the schooling-at-home crowd, and it's true--how I feel about homeschooling in February is generally the exact opposite from how I feel about in any other given month.

"How can I conquer this tendency to despondency in February?" I asked myself throughout January, "What can I do to avoid that burn out and that hatred of all things educational?"

And then it hit me:  Have fun.  It's hard to hate what you're doing when you're deliberately doing the best parts of it.  February brings the grays, and I'm gonna fight back with glittery rainbows.  BAM.

I invite you to play along, homeschooler or not.  Let's make February fun.  The entire month.

Here's what I'm going to do, and you're free to steal my ideas:

I really like alliteration, so I came up with four categories to work with during the month.  They are:

  • Field Trips
  • Fine Arts
  • Food
  • Fun(ny) (this is my catch-all category)
And, because I'm that mom that goes a little crazy when a good idea falls into my lap, I'm challenging myself to do something in each of those four categories every week of February.  That's sixteen fabulously fun things to look forward for this month.  Can we say excited?!?!

Let me tell you, once I decided that we were going to have some fun this month, all these ideas of all these different things came to mind--all those things that I always say, "Hey, that'd make a good field trip someday...", or "I need to remember that for when we're studying [insert whatever here]...", only to completely forget about it two years later when we do in fact study that topic.  When your only criteria is that is has to be fun, the possibilities of what you allow yourself to do multiplies exponentially!

I will report on my endeavors to bring sunshine and rainbows into our school days all this month, and I totally want to hear what you decide to do as well.  Come on back on Friday and I'll have a linky-up post where you can share your activities.  Perhaps you'll inspire someone else (like me!) with some more fun ideas.

Go forth, and have fun!

Friday, January 31, 2014

Weekly Report: Weeks 20 & 21

Did you miss us?  :)

We got hit by a bitty germ last week that made us feel just...tired.  Blogging wasn't too terribly high on my list of priorities after all the energy I had to exert to get through my regular daily duties.

Last week wasn't too terribly fun at all, just getting through the work.  This week, with being happy about only getting a little bit sick and recovering quickly from it, I felt the need to seek out some fun moments just because I could.

As luck would have it, one of Penguin's math lessons this week was on reading and following a recipe, with all the fun of 1/2 cups and 1/2 teaspoons.  I'll admit it:  In the past, I've skipped these lessons a lot because they take so much time.  But it's January, people are cranky, it's cold outside--we needed some baking time.  It was a good choice, and it didn't even hamper the rest of the school day...much.  :)

In case any of you are coming up on this Apple Jack Cookies recipe in Saxon 2 Math, I changed it a little bit.  Instead of 1 teaspoon of nutmeg (oh my gosh, EW!), I put in 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg.  It messes with the whole 1/2 and 1 thing the recipe had going for it, but there was no way my kids were going to eat something that nutmeg-happy.  My variation turned out splendidly.

Junebug asked me when she was going to be in the second grade so she could make cookies for math, too.  ("I can't WAIT to do second grade math!!!")  Ha ha.  She has to settle for first grade math right now, helped along by the companionship of her Enderman stuffie.

The Brookelets have found time to work on various art kits they received for Christmas:

Bluebird's enjoying the bit of independence I'm granting her by letting her work on her work by herself at the "buffet table" (read: bottom half of a desk) in the kitchen:

As a fellow introvert, I understand the need to separate one's self from the crowd, and how much faster an introverted person can work when there aren't people nearby.

She finished her cursive "mastery" penmanship book this week.  She was hoping it meant that she'd be done with penmanship for good, but I think I'm going to get her the next level "maintenance" book.  Until then her penmanship time is spent doing the copywork in her Latin copywork book.  I have to throw in some calligraphy instruction, too, because that was the deal I made last year--finish the Grade 4 cursive book and I'll teach you calligraphy.  I picked up calligraphy in the fourth grade (for my Girl Guide "Calligraphy" badge...good times), and my penmanship drastically improved.  I'm hoping for the same results with Bluebird.

Flip side of the "I'll teach you calligraphy deal" is that she now has to do all her writing in cursive.  Buh-bye manuscript print.  The transition is going better than I thought it would; probably because she had fourteen months' worth of warning.  Kids like to know what's going to happen.  I like not fighting over change.  A little warning is win-win.

I think Bluebird's had a good week.  I introduced her to the concept of drinking a warm beverage while doing her reading:

She's an apple cider junkie.  She loves to read.  A harmonious melding.

And, for what it's worth, I am not a fan of having them read digital versions of their books.  It's cool to have the digital available when we're out and about, but it so rarely happens that I use them in those situations.  Paper copies are just more accessible (and you can just bring them with you when you leave the house as well), and lend to re-reading so much more readily.  She's still working through "Little Women," and I love that it was free on the Kindle, but there's just something missing from her reading through of it.  I also think it might be giving her headaches to read it on a screen.

Penguin's working on The Blue Fairy Book now, just having to read through two stories a day.  She likes the tales.

Junebug has been practicing her non-violent resistance to all educational instruction.  It wouldn't be so hard to diffuse if it didn't make her older sisters laugh so much.  That's January for you.

Picking up on the beginnings of winter-induced apathy, I took them to the pool on Wednesday, after finishing their math lessons.  There were some really confused-looking mommies of toddlers there while my 9, 7, & quite tall 5 year old splashed through the place.  Hee hee.

Thursday's school went rather well.

We all need a little fun when the work gets tedious.

I've decided that February is going to be fun-filled and fabulous, instead of gray and never-ending.
Anyone else want to join me for a
Fabulous February Full of Fun?
(I love alliteration!)

Post a comment indicating your interest, then check back--I'll post more thoughts over the weekend.

Linking up with:

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Cookies & Cocoa

One of my Wise Mama bits of advice:  When you send your (young) children out to play in the snow, set a timer for 30 minutes when the youngest goes out the door.  When the timer goes off, start the kettle.  It usually works out that I've just finished mixing up everyone's cocoa when some of them start heading back in, pink-cheeked and in need of some refreshment.  So much easier than having them clamoring around my knees and telling me how cold they are while we're waiting for the water to boil.