Thursday, September 16, 2010

We were having lunch the other day and Bluebird was sitting rather silently, which is really odd for her. I gave her a few more minutes before asking her what she was thinking about and she replied, "Toothpaste is like poison for sugarbugs."

Monday, September 13, 2010

I'm Happy Again

While re-reading a new post and checking it for formatting or spelling errors, I decided to click on one of those little "You Might Also Like" boxes that led to a post I wrote shortly before the birth of Junebug. While reading that post, all those feelings of hopelessness and stagnancy came back to me--I even remembered when I wrote that post. I then started thinking about the months following that post...they were dark. So much happened in that time that was so hard to deal with and I had no idea how to deal with it. I sank. And I've felt as though I've been clawing and struggling to get my head above the water ever since. It felt as though I might be achieving that goal last summer...until I got pregnant and sank back into my usual pregnancy-induced gloom.

As I sat here, thinking about those months that turned into two years of my life, I realized that I no longer harbored those feelings...the self-doubt, the hesitancy, the anxiety that my life was too overwhelming. Those inclinations are completely absent. And the void that they should have left is nowhere to be found. I don't even feel guilty that those feelings are gone. I like my life.

That's a big deal for me to openly admit that I like my life and that I'm happy. Somewhere along the way of growing up I "learned" that it was rude and obnoxious to declare that you were happy--that it was like bragging that your life was better than someone else's life. Taking a look at some of the family dynamics I grew up with, thinking that they were normal, I can understand why I internalized that "lesson."

But now I've overwritten that lesson with the realization that happiness is no commentary or judgment on another person's life or's my personal view of my personal world. And we're all entitled to our own opinions, our own feelings and our own contentment, even if it may "offend" another person. If someone is offended that I'm openly happy, it's not my fault or even my problem, it's theirs. And they need to deal with whatever it is that makes them react to another person's happiness in that manner.

So I'll say it again: I am very happy.

I have a great life and I am abundantly blessed. I have a wonderful husband who is completely crazy in that he thinks I am IT. I have absolutely gorgeous, amazing children that I love to be around. I get to spend my entire day with my children because I homeschool them. My husband thinks homeschooling is great. I have friends who love me. I have walls that I can paint any color I wish. I'm obsessed with yarn and my husband is OK with that. I can afford to allow my children to do some of the things I didn't get to do as a child. I wake up in the morning with purpose--I am needed to do things that no one could do as well as me. I'm learning to believe people when they say nice things to/about me.

I'm not overwhelmed as easily by difficult situations as I once was and I sometimes even allow myself some breathing room and the option of not being perfect. (And notice that I said "overwhelmed as easily"--I still get overwhelmed. It just takes a little longer for me to reach that point.) I feel so much calmer about life now. It was a challenging couple of years that sucked pretty bad, but we weathered the dark storm and are now emerging into clearer skies, streaked with rays of sunshine. I'm smiling again; tipping my head back and feeling that sunshine on my face, thankful that I kept rowing against the waves and the wind because I knew it would eventually blow over.

It's good to be "back."

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Weekly Report:
September 6-11, 2010

Week #2, done. Too bad it was only 1.25 days' worth of school.

The girls had gone up to Idaho with Michael for the holiday weekend while I stayed home with a wicked allergy attack and Monkeyboy. They didn't get home until Tuesday evening. Wednesday school went well, but Thursday found every single one of us feeling yucky and extremely tired so I just ended school after Bluebird and I finally slogged our way through her worksheets. Friday is our cleaning and fun day, and Saturday was packed full of obligations and opportunities that made it impossible to have any sort of school--I have to re-think the Saturday school idea.

A highlight from that one full day of school is that we studied hieroglyphs in history. I had previously purchased hieroglyph stencils to accompany the lesson and Bluebird was beyond excited over using them! She spent the rest of the day writing everything in hieroglyphs. I half expected to pick up the papers she was working on and find sweat built up underneath them. It was one of those warm and fuzzy homeschooling moments to see her so excited over something she was learning.

I'm sure I could write more, but I'm suffering from yet another allergy attack and just want to go back to bed so I can have the energy to do school tomorrow.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Soccer Time!

Last autumn, after soccer was over, I made a mental note to NOT sign Bluebird up for the sport the following year. She had spent most of her time on-field complaining about the heat and didn't exactly do much running. However, when I unwittingly announced that soccer sign-ups were happening, she begged to be signed up for soccer again. We had a chat about teamwork and hustling, and it seemed that she understood that spirited participation was necessary if she committed to a sport.

She has definitely improved in the "go get 'em" aspect of the game. I think she kicked the ball more in the first game alone than in the entire last season put together. It's a shame that it is so hot outside...low 90's for each game so far. But she's out there, running as much as she can and actually getting into the scrapping for the ball. I'm so proud of her!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Hello Old...Friend?

I haven't touched my hand spindle in years; but Kirsten, with her lovely recent hand spinning, has re-kindled my interest in the craft of turning fleece into yarn.

I still stink at it.

But, I have faith in the redemptive miracle of practice, so I soldier forward in my quest to become a proficient spinner.

Or, perhaps, Michael will get tired of hearing me scream, "This is so much easier with a spinning wheel!!!!" and just buy me a spinning wheel to shut me up.

A girl can dream...

Monday, September 6, 2010

Penguin Loves the Water

Penguin, who turned four years old at the beginning of the month, was officially old enough to do swim lessons "by herself" for the very last session of the season. I did Mommy & Me with her last summer and had a feeling that she was going to be my Water Baby. I think that inclination is proving true as I watch her, boldly splashing and trying to stay underwater for as long as she can. (I think she's also been bumped up into the same level of swimming lessons as her older sister...)

She had her last day of lessons this past Friday, which meant time on the waterslide and allowed for parents to snap pictures poolside. After watching her these past two weeks, I've decided to make family trips to the pool a higher priority--it's apparent that she has a significant bent towards swimming. This winter will definitely see us spending more time at the pool.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Weekly Report: August 30-September 4, 2010

Week #1 of the 2010-2011 School Year! We made it!

Oh, does it ever feel good to be back in the swing of things again. I love homeschooling and I love having a predictable schedule for my family!

Math: Bluebird is about halfway through the Saxon 1 Math book and we're trying to complete a lesson per day. She's lost a little on her addition and subtraction facts, but I imagine it won't take long to recover. She had a little meltdown on Thursday because she was jealous of her younger sisters getting to play with the math manipulatives while she had to "do all of this work!" I could tell that she was deeply upset (the tears were a big hint), so I decided to institute a "Math Game" day and we spent the rest of the time playing with math toys. I think it would be wise to set aside a day each week for "fun" math activities...I'm going to look into it over the next few weeks.

Phonics: We have got to finish this book. I'm no longer just having her do the front and back of a page, but insisting that we spend the entire fifteen minutes that's scheduled for phonics working through the book. She was able to finish five pages one of the days. It's easy work for her now, but I don't want to "miss" anything, so we will continue to work through the end of the book.

Penmanship: Meh, same ol', same ol'.

Grammar: We started First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind this year and she begs to do extra lessons each time. This makes me so happy! We've learned what nouns are and have started memorizing Christina Rosetti's poem "The Caterpillar." She drew an illustration of the poem, which I really should scan or something to add to this report. Hmmm...improvements to think of for the next report.

Spelling: We started Spelling Workout A and she's completed two lessons easily. It's my hope that we will finish the workbook by Christmas.

Literature: We read books about early humans, such as One Small Blue Bead and The First Dog; and books about the Nile River, such as Bill and Pete Go Down the Nile River. She did narration for One Small Blue Bead. I need to check out about four times as many books as I originally thought I needed from the library in order to have enough to get us through the week. Everyone comes and sits on the couch with me for reading time, it's such a heart-warming event for me to sit with all four of my babies and read to them. One of homeschooling's special luxuries! Even Monkeyboy gets to participate and coo at the pictures.

History: We breezed through Chapters One and Two in The Story of the World. The original plan was to spend a week on each chapter, but I'm trying to catch up to our schedule after having to start school two weeks late. Bluebird really enjoys history, especially the map work. She now knows words such as "nomad," "Osiris," and "shaduf." She's pretty good at locating the Fertile Crescent on the globe and can usually pick out the Nile River as well. I am loving The Story of the World; it's written well and it keeps Bluebird's interest easily. I want to purchase the audio CD's so we can listen to them in the car to reinforce what's already been taught.

Science: I really, really dropped the ball here. I didn't want to follow a curriculum because, honestly, I don't like any of them. So I figured I'd just use science as a bonus in teaching library and research skills and we'd just check out books from the library and learn that way. Yeah, we need to check out a whole lot more books next time. I'm amazed at how many books you can read out loud to a child in an hour. We're studying ocean animals for this seven five week session of school and we started with whales and dolphins this week. We own two animal encyclopedias, but I want to get another...larger in size and more detailed. We did, however, find some whale songs and sounds on the internet and the girls really enjoyed listening to those, especially the Beluga Whales and the Sperm Whales. (Have you ever actually studied about Sperm Whales? They're scary!)
Unfortunately, all this studying fit into about 3/4 of one science session. As in, we didn't do science on Thursday because I had NOTHING to show them. I do own the Blue Planet series on DVD and I was going to have them watch something from it, but I couldn't find any time to preview the episode I thought would work and I've learned from experience that you do not show un-previewed wildlife documentaries to young children! (Penguin was devastated when the baby penguin got eaten up in The March of the Penguins...) I will have to try harder.

Extracurriculars: Penguin was finishing up her swimming lessons, which occurred at the same time as extracurriculars were supposed to happen. We'll start up with the extras next week. We will be doing Baking, Art, Girl Scouts, Music Appreciation and Nature Study.

Religion/Character: We're reading through Stories of the New Testament and reading selections from The Book of Virtues. We're memorizing the last half of Omni 1:26, which has been selected as our ward's theme for this year. Once they memorize the verse, they will recite it to a member of the Primary Presidency, and if they recite it correctly they get to go to the Bishop and he'll give them a prize or something. Bluebird is all over this, she wants her prize. Penguin's not too terribly interested, but I also promised them a chocolate bar once they can do it. A bit over the top on my part, but it's got them motivated and I think once they realize that they can actually memorize a scripture verse that it won't be as hard to get them to do it in the future. (And really, I don't see the harm in giving them a chocolate bar.) Even Junebug is starting to recite back bits and pieces of the verse. Exciting!

Physical Education: I'm trying to get us outside and running around for recess. If the sprinklers wouldn't keep turning on and forcing us back inside, we'd have more success with this aspiration. Penguin finished up swim lessons and Bluebird is doing soccer right now. I'm on the look-out for other physical activities for our family because we are far too sedentary.

Overall Observations: I need more stuff to do. School's not taking up too much of the day, despite adding in four new subjects this year. Some homeschoolers would say to just go with it; but I think Bluebird's the kind of kid who thrives on intellectual stimulation, so I need to find more things to keep her brain busy instead of turning her loose to rot it out with playing on the computer or watching the Netflix Instant Queue. (Ideally, there'd be no media at all during the day, but I haven't figured out how to survive my day-to-day life without the computer and I can't be a hypocrite, so until I figure that one out, computer gets to remain in the living room.)
Math is taking a long time to complete. There are so many worksheets! But Saxon is big on repetition and memorization, which I totally stand behind, so I guess we're just going to have slog our way through it. I'm thinking about breaking up the worksheets and having her complete the last one at a different time during the day, thus making her review it again and better solidifying it in her mind.
I've got to incorporate Penguin into the mix. More pondering will be done on the subject.

One week down. Thirty-something more to go!

Friday, September 3, 2010

It's Fun Having a Cousin Nearby

We are so, so, so proud of my cousin Ashley, who started her freshman year at BYU this week!

Ashley and her mom drove down last week to get her settled into her dorm room, which meant they got to spend some time with us as well. These shots were taken at Bluebird's soccer game. (Sometimes it's a good thing that we haven't moved too far away from good ol' BYU.)

The girls all hope that Ashley will visit us EVERY DAY, but having once been a college freshman myself, living for the first time on my own in the dorms...I know not to expect her anytime soon! Oh, to be 18 and just starting out on your own...what a special time. She's a good girl and she's destined for great things.

It's nice having you "nearby" dear cousin...we're excited for all the new experiences that await you this year! Good luck!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

WIP: Circus of Colors Scarf

While frolicking about during Yarn Quest, I saw a Linen Stitch Scarf made from luscious Koigu Painter's Palette Premium Merino on display at Blazing Needles. I decided that I needed; yes, NEEDED, one for myself. I bought a crazy combination of colors and cast on that very week. Six weeks later finds me with this much progress.

While choosing my colors, I decided to take a risk and go for an all-out color cacophony that would scream, "Cheerful!" amidst the drab winter months. I think this scarf will do a fantastic job of executing my intent.

Many have complained that this scarf takes FOREVER to complete and blame it on the fact that it's knit from end to end instead of your usual side to side. The actual reason why this scarf takes forever to knit is because it's knit from a fingering weight yarn. Any scarf made from fingering weight yarn is going to take forever to complete, regardless of what direction you're knitting! But, oh, is it going to be worth the effort! (Anything that can make you feel cheerful on a gray day is worth the effort!)

My original goal date for completion is the end of September...we'll see how that goes.