Tuesday, August 31, 2010

First Day of School!

We kicked off the 2010-2011 school year yesterday. I would have blogged about it yesterday, but I shot myself in the foot with a "no computer during school" rule that I was obligated to observe. I have since amended the rule (computers may be used if all school work is done) and can now use my computer during daylight hours.

We tie-dyed some shirts a few weeks back with the intent of wearing them the first day of school, and the idea was a great success! I expected grumbling children that didn't want out of bed, but when I reminded them of their awesome shirts awaiting them on the couch, there was a significant increase in enthusiasm over getting dressed. I'm thinking that I will implement tie-dye as a tradition each year. (Because really, we all need more reasons to tie-dye. It's so much fun!)

The day went well. Bluebird had to stay in during recess because she wasn't finished with her math and she was upset because she missed out on whatever mystery activity we were doing in the front yard, in plain view. This was actually the intent of implementing a hard and fast "recess" in our schedule;, a last attempt on my part to get Bluebird to stop singing and making up stories all the time when she's supposed to be focusing on her work. (Math went much quicker today...we actually finished early because she sped up her pace so much!)

Bluebird begged for a second grammar lesson, which I denied her; and also a second history lesson, which I also denied her because I was completely worn out. (I was too excited about school starting that I didn't fall asleep until 3am or so...I am SUCH a nerd!)

Penguin is supposed to start with some preschool work this year, but didn't really show any interest. I'll ease her into it a little at a time. She still loves her Kumon worksheets, but didn't want to attempt a math lesson or phonics work. I think I'm going to have to attack this from a different angle.

So we're back in the swing of things! Yay for school! It felt so good to get back to normal...I love our breaks and vacation, but homeschooling is my "zone" in which I feel most comfortable. It's nice to be living normally again. :)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

WIP: Space Blankie

I just realized that I haven't done much reporting on my various creative pursuits in a while. Truth be told, summer doesn't find me doing much crafting simply because we're just so busy with all the various outdoor activities that accompany good weather. Crafting hits its stride in the colder months.

However, when I do find a spare moment, I have been working on this little blanket for Monkeyboy. You may remember that I posted about getting the fabric for it months ago, but actual construction has been very slow. I'm actually taking great pains on this particular project and binding the raw edges instead of my usual sew-the-edges-and-turn-it-right-side-out approach. Binding raw edges requires a once-around with the sewing machine and then a once-around with good old-fashioned hand sewing. I just like how it looks, so I do it that way sometimes. I've been running a timer while working on it to see how long it takes to do it this way and I'm up to five hours so far. I think it will take another six hours of work to finish it. Good luck coming up with that anytime soon!

Friday, August 27, 2010

This Boy Bleeds Blue

My cousin, Ashley, begins her freshman year at BYU next week. A trip to the BYU Bookstore was in order before her arrival so we could shower her with various BYU paraphernalia, and I got sucked into the children's section...enter "BYU Baby!"

I watched "The Blind Side" while at Michael's uncle's house last week, and I think that influenced my desire to start Monkeyboy young in claiming some Cougar pride. Personally, I'm not really much for the whole school/team pride thing anymore, but it seems like an important thing to young boys, so I'm going to side with my alma mater. Especially when it makes him look so darn cute to wear the ol' blue and white!

Go Cougars!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

How Bluebird Earned Her "Courageous & Strong" Daisy Petal

She decided, a few months ago, that this year she would jump off of the diving board all by herself on the last day of swim lessons. We agreed that doing so would be very brave of her and that it would definitely earn her the red "Courageous & Strong" Daisy petal.

Michael was there to witness the death-defying event and I was on-hand for photographic evidence. It took her a while to inch her way out to the end of the diving board, and then it took a while for her to get up the nerve to jump, but she did it!

When she climbed out of the pool, she gave Michael a high-five and then came and stood by me. I asked her if she wanted to jump again, and she shook her head emphatically and said, "No thank you, I only had to jump once to get my petal."

When we got home and looked at the pictures, Michael and I laughed about how frightened she looked while jumping. Michael remarked that, "At the time, it just happened rather quickly and I didn't think much of it...but in slow motion she looks terrified!"

Courageous and strong indeed. Enjoy that petal, babe.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Life Happens

I imagine that many of you thought that, following my farewell to summer vacation, the absence of new posts indicated that we were busily engaged in rigorous homeschooling. Alas, that was not the case. In fact, we haven't even started school yet. Life happened.

Michael's stepfather, Jim, passed away last week in Idaho. Michael had gone up with the girls to visit him in the hospital over the weekend, leaving me and Monkeyboy at home to finish up all the last-minute "back to school" items that needed tending to and to avoid me getting sick. (I'm allergic to Idaho.) However, Saturday morning found Jim doing very poorly and by that afternoon the decision had been made to discontinue medical intervention for his condition. I packed up Monkeyboy and drove us up to Idaho that night. Jim passed away early the next morning.

The funeral was scheduled for Friday, so we stayed the entire week and enjoyed the company of family. (Well, actually, Michael and the girls enjoyed the company of family...as expected, I had my usual allergic meltdown and spent most of the week in bed.)

I'd love to write about Jim, the funeral, my thoughts and feelings about it all...but it's just too personal and too near to my heart to share in so public a place as the blog. I would have liked to have taken pictures at his service, but once again...too personal. The feeling that surrounds death is an eery and reflective one, as evidenced by many occurences that have happened throughout and since the week of Jim's passing.

So we were busy last week with family affairs and I do not regret it at all. Ten years from now it will not matter that we started this school year late, but it will matter that we spent that time with family.

Since arriving home we've been sick. Really sick. So we're taking this week off as well. I figure our bodies need some rest after all the stress, late bedtimes, fast food and resulting immunity failures. We're keeping busy with napping, drinking Gatorade and various doctor appointments that I'm procurring as new symptoms surface. I'm exhausted.

Life can be so overwhelming. But, in light of the past week's events, even the most overwhelming moments are such a blessing and need to be counted as a gift.

We miss you very much, Grandpa Jim, and we look forward to seeing you in the next life...it will be a happy moment when we meet once again.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Roar! #2

Pattern: "Roar! A Dinosaur Hat," by Kate Oates
Yarn: Knit Picks' Shine Worsted in Green Apple & Grass
Needles: US 7

Even though Penguin is modeling the hat, I made it as a 4th birthday present for her future fiance, Will. He's big into dinosaurs right now and his mom made a random comment after seeing Monkeyboy's Roar hat that Will would totally love a dinosaur hat of his own. And seeing how she was able to deliver that comment without exuding any pressure upon me to actually make one for her son, I decided to make one because I wanted to make it.

I totally love this hat and I totally love this yarn.

Click here to view this project's Ravelry page.

Penguin and Will have been intended for each other since before they were born, when Denise found out she was having a boy and I found out I was having a girl, due at the same time. (I went into labor a week early, she went into labor a week late...) I was thinking about this blog post when I stumbled across some archived photos from the first version of this blog (long since deleted), and found the following:

Holding hands:

This is from when we referred to the two of them as "Tank and Tink":

And this happened one random day when Denise and I were messing around with her camera:
I'm a little concerned over how forward she was in kissing him first...

Totally meant for each other. I will make their boy babies lots of dinosaur hats. :)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Hello Next School Year

You know, I remember sitting in my bed holding my super brand new baby boy back in April and mulling over the idea of not doing any more school until the next school year. And I remember sitting on the couch amidst screaming girls and a screaming one month old baby boy in May and deciding to put school on hold until the next school year. At the time, it seemed like "the next school year" was lightyears away, and yet here I sit on the last Friday of summer/new baby vacation...the next school year starts in three days. Where exactly did that summer vacation disappear to?

I think we're ready for school to start again. The girls have seemed uncommonly antsy for the past two weeks, as if they're tired of these carefree summer days and anticipating the structure and focus found on school days in our home. Monkeyboy is essentially sleeping through the night and is pretty established with his own little eating and napping schedule...I can actually plan around his naps now, which is a huge boon to figuring out how to work a school day. Magically, our household has managed to settle into another comfortable way to live daily life...it happens every time after the chaos and upheaval of adding another person to our family, but when I'm wading through the confusion it seems like Order will never arrive upon our doorstep ever, ever again. But it always does. I'm incredibly grateful for the effects of time and patience.

I'm rather emotional right now. I could blame it on the post-partum stuff, but with Monkeyboy turning four months old tomorrow, that excuse is starting to get a little old. Truthfully, I'm experiencing the bittersweet realization that another season of our lives has come and gone. Summer 2010 is almost over. Everyone is a little older; no one is remaining as they were. Michael and I are constantly evolving in our parenting tactics to keep up with the children, and the children are just plain growing up and finding new things to keep them busy and interested in life. We no longer have any "baby" girls. We no longer have a "newborn" baby boy. Those days came and went, and are captive to the past. Did I live each day of this summer break to its fullest? It's a sobering question.

This next school year looms ahead of us. Our first "real" year of homeschooling; as in, it actually counts now. I've turned in my notarized homeschool exemption certificate to the school district and it has been returned to me with the necessary signatures. In the eyes of the State of Utah, we are OFFICIALLY homeschoolers. I experience some mildly cold feet if I think about it too hard. My father emailed me and asked the simple question of, "Are you ready for the next school year?" I looked at his question on my computer screen and felt my mind just go blank. Honestly, I don't know! I have curriculum, I have art supplies, I have first grade lined paper and a pretty firm notion of how to structure our school days. I guess that's just going to have to be enough, because we are jumping into the water this coming Monday.

Am I scared? No, not really. We've been warming up to this for a long time now. I'm pretty excited, and very curious as to how this is all going to play out. If I had to say I was afraid of anything, I would confess that I mostly fear the demise of my own self-discipline. Homeschooling demands intense self-discipline. If I slack off, things turn south very quickly. I've pencilled in some breaks for me and I've been very realistic about my tolerances and abilities when it came to working out our school year schedule. I hate facing the fact that I'm not perfect, but if I attempt perfection in homeschooling I will most likely descend into a state of mental and emotional fatigue at the speed of a shot-down fighter jet. That kind of a crash is something I'd like to avoid, so I went with "realistic" and "practical" when drawing up my homeschool plans. It's probably a good idea to use those guidelines in all areas of life, actually.

Alright, let's do this...

Good bye, last week of summer...I'm looking forward to our weekend together.

Hello "Next School Year," we'll meet you on Monday.

Michael's Belgian Solicitation

Michael had to go to Belgium for ten days last week for work. While he was there, he tried to fit in a little shopping and sight-seeing. He took this picture one afternoon, and when he was done a woman sitting underneath that yellow cafe umbrella began talking to him.

Recognizing that she was speaking another language, Michael stood up and walked over to her to inform her that he only spoke English, and then asked whether or not she spoke English herself. She replied that she only spoke a little, but that she spoke his language.

Figuring that she misunderstand him, he asked her what language that was. "Your language," she replied.

"But my language is English," said Michael.

"I still speak your language," she told him.

Frustrated, he retorted with, "But I speak English."

She replied once again with, "I speak your language."

They went back and forth with this dialogue a few more times before Michael finally asked, "Well, what language do you speak?!?!"

"I speak the language of love."

It was then that he realized that she was giving him a rather seductive smile, and shimmying her shoulders each time she said "your language."

She was a prostitute.

Realizing his precarious situation, he simply said "Ohhhh...uhhhh...no thank you...I'm going to go now," and quickly got away from her and her two giggling comrades.

I laughed and laughed when he told me about his encounter and pointed out that his experience showed yet another perk to learning another language--you'd know if you were being solicited by a foreign prostitute!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Happy Birthday Penguin!

My sweet girl is officially four years old, joining the ranks of big kids who are no longer required to take naps and beginning preschool work this next school year.

She spent a fun day with Dad and her sisters up in Salt Lake City, playing in the Gateway water fountain, riding TRAX, and seeing the penguin exhibit at The Living Planet Aquarium. I stayed home in order to give Monkeyboy a chance to take his naps and also to decorate the dining room, make cupcakes and wrap presents.

With her sisters right before the commencement of her party:

Baby brother, looking on at his crazy sisters as they posed for the above photograph:

Getting ready to blow out her birthday candle:

Excited about Monkeyboy's gift to her--101 Cookie Cutters:

Bluebird gave her a kids' baking cookbook. (Penguin is my go-to for helping in the kitchen. She loves to don her apron and measure ingredients and crack eggs. I figure it's a great interest to encourage!)
*sigh* They just keep growing up, it doesn't slow down at all. I just keep thinking back to the day when we brought her home from the hospital and how she was such a huge deal in turning us into a "multiple kid" family. Now she's my big helper in taking care of her baby brother, she's waking up in the morning to help me cook breakfast and we're spending a little time each day working on phonics. She's getting so big, so fast. My sweet little Penguin Girl. Don't grow up too fast...

Monday, August 9, 2010

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Baby Burrito

I've been blessed with rather great sleepers for children, and I owe it mostly to the wonderful advice from my granny to keep them swaddled when they're sleeping. All four of them have gotten to the point where they prefer to be swaddled and laid down in their cribs rather than being rocked in my arms, which is a little sore on my heart, but great for teaching them to fall asleep on their own.

It brings a sweet smile to my face to watch my little Monkeyboy sleeping peacefully in his little burrito wrapping...I wonder what he's dreaming in that brand new little mind of his.