Friday, July 31, 2009

Bee Stings

As of this morning, my perfect record is shattered. One of my children was stung by a bee.

Little Lamb, poor thing, was the unlucky recipient of EIGHT bee stings on her right hand this morning at the park. Apparently some wasps were building a nest under one of the picnic tables and she put her hand alongside it and disturbed them.

Thankfully, I was attending our homeschool group's park day because I had NO idea what to do for her. Those homeschool moms know their stuff: Diane immediately went in search of plantain leaves; which, when chewed up into a pulp and applied to the affected area, soothes and numbs stings. Another mom mentioned grinding up an aspirin tablet and applying the paste to the stings, which apparently draws out the poisons and makes it feel better as well. One of the moms actually had aspirin on her and worked at grinding it up on the cement and smearing it onto Little Lamb's hurts. We hovered over Little Lamb, slathering her with plantain poultice and aspirin paste; and within fifteen minutes, tops, Little Lamb had stopped crying and her quickly swollen hand was noticeably less puffy. Within thirty minutes she was playing again, in no way favoring her assaulted hand.

I hang out with the best bunch of moms ever! Thanks so much ladies!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Looking for a Team

A while ago, Bluebird and I were riding on Trax after spending an afternoon in Salt Lake City. Shortly before we were to get off of Trax, a huge crowd of people boarded, all dressed in the same colors. A Real Salt Lake game had just ended and these were the fans finding their way home.

I was slightly jealous. Many of them had handmade (usually knitted) accessories in their team's colors.

It's silly, wanting a "team" in order to have a fall-back color palette...but I do.

Things I Want to Figure Out

  • How to organize the "homeschool room." We've dedicated our upstairs living room to our homeschooling more having to clear the dining room table of curriculum and manipulatives in order to eat lunch!
  • At what point during the day can I exercise? It seems as though I'm always busy with "must-do's"...I really don't want to have to get up earlier in the day to fit it in.
  • How does Bluebird keep ending up with more and more activities on her plate? I am consciously trying to limit them! Seriously, she's five.
  • And on the flipside, how does one curb the intense sibling jealousy that is erupting in Rabbit due to Bluebird's sudden accumulation of fun activities? She's too young for organized sports and clubs and I do not want her holding a sewing needle. What did I do with Bluebird when she was this age? I just can't remember.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Beating the Heat

The temperature generally climbs over one hundred degrees here in Utah, which greatly infringes upon our "outside time." Outside time, to those of you who may not possess young children, is a very big deal and an extremely necessary component of our daily life.

So, Mr. Brooke came up with a great idea: mist.

Swimming pools, no matter how small, always pose the risk of drowning; but misters supply the needed cooling effect of water without the mortality risks associated with kiddie pools. Now we can play outside and stay cool!

Saturday, July 25, 2009


Confession: I feel like I'm lying anytime I state that I'm an American citizen. (I'm an American Citizen Born Abroad.)

I'm not kidding at all, I really feel like I'm telling some sort of a half-lie. I think of my Canadian birth certificate and all of that free healthcare I've received under the socialized healthcare system. I think about how badly I would like to go back to my place of birth and, should I find myself the sole surviving parent of my children, how I'd like to move back and raise them in the Canadian wilderness.

Just thought I'd let you know.

Friday, July 24, 2009

The pattern is good; the yarn...

I bought this particular skein of Noro Kureyon Sock Yarn because the outside of the skein looks like this, which I think is rather pretty. The pattern, Spring Ripple Scarf, looks so good with this yarn!

The problem with Noro yarns is that sometimes the inside of the skein hides other colors; colors you would never have thought any person with working eyesight would choose to go with the colors on the outside of the skein:

I'm thinking this one's going into the frogging pile. Anyone interested in buying a skein of Noro sock yarn from me?

Now what am I going to work on? *sniffle*

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Gardening Pics

I was out in the garden the other morning and thought that everything was just so vibrant and pretty in the morning light...

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Outdoor Hour Challenge #4: Choose an Area of Focus

I asked Bluebird what she would like to focus on for nature study and she exclaimed, "Rocks, fossils and funerals!"

Thought you'd find it as amusing as I did and still do.

We've (or really, I've) decided that we'll pursue the study of geological specimens this autumn when it matches up with our earth science curriculum, partly due to the inescapable fact that digging up rocks in the Utah desert during July and August is just not that enjoyable. The compromise: Let's stay cool and study water!

I awoke the girls this morning with "Rise and shine, let's go see a waterfall!" It elicited the desired response--we were ready to go in under twenty minutes.

The location: Bridal Veil Falls

A friend, after hearing about our nature hikes, once said that I was an amazing mother. I thought about that comment as I snapped this picture...

But then I get shots like these of my girls and I'm so glad I'm willing to venture into harmless flood zones:

We threw rocks and we watched sticks float down the river; and then, inevitably...

On our way back to the car, we also found a great tree for climbing:

It was an enjoyable way to spend a beautiful summer morning.

No journal entries as of's summer, just enjoy it.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Weekly Report: July 13-18, 2009

There's not much to update upon. We had the last week of swim lessons, and I got tired of trying to make everything fit in around them, so we basically took the week off. I think we'll take next week off as well--why waste this beautiful weather working on things that really don't need to be done right now?

I will try to get a Nature Walk in this coming week...I think we'll study water, that way we'll be able to stay a little bit cool in this warm weather.

This next week is also Fiesta Days, so we'll be busy with watching parades and riding carnival rides and all the fun things that accompany such festivities.

July has been incredibly hit-and-miss with school; I wonder if doing school next year during this month is a wise idea! Perhaps it will be different when school is something that actually "needs" to be done...everything we're doing now is "not required," so I think it's easier to sweep it under the rug on some days.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Christmas in July

Anyone else's thoughts turning that way?

In my ideal existence, I would lovingly and peacefully handcraft meaningful gifts for everyone on my list.

In my practical reality, I think I'm up to my nose with daily life and committing to any handmade items would result in them being made in a very un-lovingly and un-peacefully mindset.

I have three daughters, five nieces and a myriad of other female relatives and friends who would love aprons and hats and scarves. I'm aware of some knitted masculine pieces for the guys. It would be so fun to have a "100% Handmade Christmas."

But, alas, I have chosen the path of the homeschooler and have thus demoted my crafting hobbies to a very low spot on the priority list.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Saxon Placement Test: Upper Grades Math

One of the most-quoted phrases of the Thomas Jefferson Education philosophy is "Inspire, not require." This is generally quoted in reference to the need for parents to model learning behaviors for their children. If you're not willing to do it, you shouldn't expect your kids to be doing it. You need to be the person that you want your child to become.

Bluebird is having a little bit of a hard time transitioning to the newer way of doing math in Saxon 1--she doesn't like the sitting concentrating part of it versus the Saxon K "playing" approach. I'm not saying that learning should be devoid of fun, but I think math is just one of those serious subjects that requires a bit of sitting and thinking at times. I think it's time I model that behavior for her.

I headed on over to the Saxon website and printed me off an Upper Grades placement test. I went through Pre-Calculus in high school and scored high enough on the math portion of the SAT to waive my math requirements in college, so I figured I'd do rather well.

The first part of the test (Readiness for Algebra 1) went smoothly. I was flying through that thing and scored 100%. Woo-hoo!

The second part of the test (Readiness for Algebra 2)...what? What in the world? WHAT DOES ANY OF THIS MEAN?!?! I've seen this before, but I cannot for the life of me figure out what it means in english. Ugh, my brain...hurting. so. bad. I KNOW THIS...come on, remember...keep trying...losing steam...*whimper*. I scored an awesome 30%.

I looked at Part Three (Advanced Mathematics) and Part Four (Calculus), and just shook my head and turned the pages over. Why can't I remember the quadratic equation? Moreover, I remember studying functions, but I couldn't tell you now what they mean. At all.

So, apparently, I rock at Pre-Algebra and then I completely stink. Algebra 1 it is. My college degree means nothing.

Now, the trick to "inspring" the girl will be NOT screaming at the textbook and slamming it shut and telling it to go to Hades. I must be strong; mathematical enthusiasm is at stake!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Weekly Report: July 6-10, 2009

Math: Bluebird started "the green book" (Saxon 1) this week. I'm not sure how we're liking it, but I'll wait to make any permanent changes until we've been working with it for at least a month. Saxon K was very hands-on, Saxon 1 plunges you into the workbook and gives hardly any hands-on for the lesson--but we are just counting and coloring at this point in time. Maybe I should just skip ahead to where we're not reviewing stuff we worked on months ago in Saxon K. (Don't you just hate that about most texts--all the review in the beginning?) She loves the Meeting part of the lesson, of course. (Are there any parents out there who like the Meeting portion? It drives me nuts.)

Phonics: A mini-breakthrough. I stopped using MY finger to point at the words and insisted she used her OWN finger. Shocking, but her ability to de-code stuff improved dramatically. Super.

Writing: We're not technically pursuing any writing program right now, but she's had to write on her math worksheets...the first day was rather irritating for her, but the next day she just settled into it.

PE: Swim lessons! This is Bluebird's first year doing swim lessons on her own, and I'm with Rabbit in the "Mommy & Me" group. We're having lots of fun!

Music: Violins are headin' back to the store due to lack of interest (Bluebird) or avenues for performing (myself). Bluebird has told me that she's going to play the cello next, but I'm thinking about waiting on pursuing any more instruments for a while. Perhaps we can do basic theory and piano skills. No special equipment needed.

We've just done bare minimum stuff this week and probably will continue with the trend for the rest of the summer. I did more planning this week for the upcoming school year and have pretty much nailed down what we'll be doing field trip-wise through December. I just need to decide what memorization pieces I'd like for us to do and then I think we're all set to go. I also need to buy a rock hammer. :)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Possible Earth Science Field Trips in Utah

I've been scheming.

Here's the list so far:

We're smack dab in the middle of things here in Utah. I would love to visit Yellowstone after we study volcanoes and geysers, and I would love to go to the Grand Canyon after we study it as well. I'm pleasantly surprised at the amount of things there really are to be done around here.

(And I totally didn't know that I look at the Wasatch Fault Line every time I look out my back door! I feel so geologically-savvy now.)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

What's Happening in this House when it's "Too Quiet..."

I was finishing up planning meals for the week and realized that it was just a touch too quiet in our home, so I went looking for them and found them thus engaged:

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Back to Business

Yesterday marked our return to normal life as homeschoolers. When Bluebird finished up her Saxon K earlier than expected, I decided to take a little longer break, so it's been two weeks since we've done school. It looks like we'll pick up where we left off rather easily.

We'll go full-blown schedule sometime in August when our new-to-homeschooling neighbors are ready to join us. We'll be doing science and history together. Until then, we'll keep going with math, phonics and reading.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The World is not Good for my Nerves

ANOTHER attempted abduction of a child.


The target was a young girl this time--a man pulled up, jumped out of his car and grabbed her, but her two friends that were with her started screaming and running at him and he put her down and sped off alone.

Let's face it, I am an anxious person. Anyone who knows me will readily attest to that fact. I'm a worrier.

And I worry a lot about my girls' safety, and I had been making progress in telling myself that bad things weren't going to happen to them if they were out of my sight for a second in the front yard. That self-talk is gone.

I have a neighbor that's an ex-Marine and he was wondering aloud if it would be better for a child abducter to be caught by a person such as himself or a pack of "Mormon Mamas"...and he decided that such a sicko would get off much easier in the hands of an ex-Marine than in the hands of some LDS mothers. I liked that thought.

Seriously, you DON'T STEAL CHILDREN. You DON'T HURT CHILDREN. I'm so upset about this that I could just...ugh, I don't even know.

I had to have "the conversation" with Bluebird and Rabbit about how there are people who want to steal them and hurt them...I hate having to scare my kids like that. And it really unnerved them when I started crying as I explained it to them...just the thought of someone trying to take them from me upset me so much. (And maybe I shouldn't have let them in on it, but there was/is a very real threat to their safety roaming our very neighborhood and I can't risk it to keep them in ignorance, despite that they're 5 and 2 years old.)

Sick, sick, sick. Nauseating. This is a time where decent language just does not portray the extent of my fury.

I remember when I was pregnant with Bluebird, just a few months into it; and I saw something on television about something happening to a child and I was so overcome with the "What in the world am I doing, bringing a child into this world?" line of thinking. I got over it, but some days I still feel that way.

It feels as though hyper-vigilance is the calling of mothers today.

There really are people out there who want to hurt our precious children. It's not just something you see on TV.

I'd like a transfer to a different world, please.

(I could so never let my kids wait for the bus.)

Fun at Yuba Lake

Our Fourth of July plans seemed to change every two days for the last three weeks. First we were planning on visiting Mr. Brooke's parents, then maybe not, then yes, then no...then a definite no when work demanded Mr. Brooke for the entire holiday weekend. So I made plans with our neighbors to go to Yuba Lake on Saturday so the girls and I would have something to do. Then, miracles of miracles, Mr. Brooke ended up with Saturday off (a supplier didn't come through on time with some materials) and decided to come along.

We played so hard! It was a beautiful day! When we left, the girls were seeming very tired, and I turned around as we drove off of the Yuba Lake property to see this:

They didn't even wake up when I started laughing. Cute girls.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Self Education, 2009-2010 School Year

I realized that I have no plans for my own education for the next school year! Me, with no plan for myself! The horrors!

I so wish I could be like so many other mamas who can get up at 4am and study for two hours and then study another 2 hours after the kiddos go to bed! I am constantly reminding myself that I am the mother of three young children and that my self-education time is extremely limited in that I am the primary "do just about everything-er" for my girls while they're so young. (The fact that Bluebird can dress herself almost makes me giddy on some mornings...finally, something she can do on her own!)

In trying to decide my self-education goals, I'm taking into account what kind of example I want to set for my girls as well. Mr. Brooke and I would like it if each child studied a musical instrument and participated in some sort of physical activity (sports teams, dance, etc.) at all times, so I figure I should try to model that for them. The fun part: Which instrument and which sport?

And then there's the actual learning stuff--you know, the things that require reading and studying and thinking. (I know music falls into this category in some regards!) I know I'll be acquiring a ton of knowledge just by going through history and science with Bluebird this coming year, but I still want to formally pursue some topic(s) of interest. What topic(s)? And I'm thinking that it's wise to pursue one science-related and one humanties-related area.

The Brainstorm:
Music: Voice (my primary instrument), Violin (started learning a couple months ago), Recorder (some experience), Piano (would love to be good at it), Guitar (always had an interest). Ideally, I'd pick one and focus on it for the entire year, instead of flitting back and forth between a few of them.

Sport: Volleyball, Running, Swing Dancing (which carries the added bonus of having something to do on date night!)

Humanities Areas: Italian, Latin, Drawing

Sciences Areas: Astronomy...and...uh...maybe Geology? (I guess my decision is already made in this category...)

Hmm, brainstorming is fun. Now to stew...

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Lazy Day Hat

You know how you'll sometimes wake up in the morning and say to yourself, "I'm going to accomplish something today"? I awoke today in such a mood and now Rabbit has a hat to show for it.

Pattern: Make It Perfect's "Lazy Day Hat"
Fabric: I know it's still available in stores, but my particular cuts of both do not have the fabric information printed on them. Sorry!

There is a mistake in the pattern at the end--turn fabric B RIGHT SIDE OUT in order to match it up with the brim when you're making the huge hat sandwich.

A quick project that is reversible and downright cute! There are moments where you just have to trust the pattern and go with's gets a little "Wha...?" at times.

Bluebird now wants a hat made from the sock monkey fabric and some random American Flag print I've got in the stash. I told her she needs to wait until I make an apron and a shoulder bag for myself. It's time to reward myself for all this sewing I've been doing for everyone in the past week.