Tuesday, August 28, 2012


I'm on the verge of a complete "throw everything into the wind and kick it in the shins if it tries to come back" kind of day.  Yesterday was like this, and Sunday resembled it a fair amount as well.  There's just so much that needs to be done, and I'm falling behind every second because I don't possess the ability to do seventeen things at once.  (Sometimes, I can swing two or three things at once, but that's my limit.)

Blog-wise, I have about nine different posts that I want to write up, but I'm having a hard time finding the time, and the knowledge that the blog is just sitting here all silent drives me nuts.

So here we go, one big conglomeration of thoughts, so they can get out of my head and let me have a little bit of peace:

  • I didn't write up a weekly report last week, so I'm going to count this as it:  We did school.  We moved ahead in some subjects, mostly stayed on track in all the others, and continued to fall behind in math because I'm so tired by the end of the day that I say, "Whatev."
  • We did a "NOT Back to School" activity last week--we went to Lagoon.  I didn't take my camera because I wanted to actually participate in the activity instead of merely taking pictures of everyone else doing it.
  • Our cat ran away, but then came back.  She was in heat when she ran away.
  • There is a lot of knitting going on around here, but taking pictures and posting them...not so much of that going on.
  • The boys' feet seem to be doing fine.
  • Penguin can't pronounce "r"'s.
  • Last night, for the first night in months, all my kids slept through the night.  So, of course, the fire detector in my room decided to go off for no reason whatsoever, just long enough to rouse me from a very deep sleep and then it stopped.
  • I would like to preserve more food, but I think I'm going to have to admit defeat in this arena due to time constrictions.  I need to be OK with that.
  • I'm planning to buy a whole lot of yarn over the weekend.  Perhaps I'll get to knit with it, too.  That'd be a good weekend.
I think it's awesome that I said I had about nine different posts that I wanted to write, and then had nine bullet points.  I was only estimating nine, but it turned out to be the actual number.  Oh, wait, there's a nature hike post I want to write as well, with pictures and everything, so that's actually ten.  Whatev.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Day in the Life: Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Bluebird 8 years old, Penguin 5 years old, Junebug 4 years old, Monkeyboy 2 years old.

3:52 AM:  I have woken up for no reason and cannot go back to sleep.

5:40: My alarm goes off.  I was still awake.  Not a good way to begin a day!

5:59:  Out of the shower.  Monkeyboy skips into my bedroom.  Also not good--he's up an hour earlier than usual.  What is going on today?

6:10:  I re-start a load of laundry that wasn't moved into the dryer yesterday.

6:20:  I pour a bowl of cereal for Monkeyboy and start breakfast for the girls and me.

6:27:  Penguin is awake!  She presents me with her lost tooth, a penny and a nickel, saying that the Tooth Fairy gave her money, but forgot to take her tooth.  I take the tooth back for safe keeping through the day so we can give the Tooth Fairy another chance to remember the tooth tonight.  (And, for the record, I don't know where that penny and nickel came from...the Tooth Fairy would never be that stingy...)

6:45:  Michael heads out to tend the garden.

7:00:  I start breakfast for the men.

7:10:  I boil some water for some peppermint tea.  I'm going to need the pick-me-up to get me through today.

7:14:  Breakfast and tea are finished, I call for Michael and his uncle to come eat, then plop Monkeyboy into the bathtub and corral the girls into the bathroom to style their hair.  While scrubbing Monkeyboy down, I hear Michael's phone ring--the first "Hi, it's a work day" phone call from the alarm company letting him know that someone has tripped the alarm at his work.  He tells them to disregard, then jokes to his uncle that if they phone again, he's going to ask if they can just disregard any alarm trips in the next hour.

7:27:  The alarm company phones again.  Michael asks if they'll disregard everything until 8:00.  They say they will.

7:35:  Michael and his uncle leave for work.

7:45:  I'm done with getting the kids ready for the day.  I call out a ten-minute warning about school starting, and then fire up the computer to see if I can get some information I need regarding a pattern I'm improvising for Junebug's cardigan.

7:55:  Yeah, I can't crunch numbers that fast.  I close the computer and turn around to sit at the homeschool table and begin reading the scriptures while the kids color or play with LEGOs.  We read 1 Nephi 19-20, and then sing "I'm Trying to Be Like Jesus" before having family prayer.  Penguin reminds me beforehand that we need to remember to pray for our bishop, who was just diagnosed with cancer a couple of weeks ago.  We pray very hard for Bishop, because he is one of the most wonderful men walking the earth these days.  We love him very much.

8:10:  I send Bluebird off to practice piano while I help Penguin with her spelling lesson.  Junebug and Monkeyboy color and play with LEGOs.  (Monkeyboy comes over now and then to check on Penguin and her very interesting-looking, colorful tiles...)

8:30:  The timers goes off, Bluebird turns on "Shaun the Sheep" for Monkeyboy.

8:37:  Penguin starts her penmanship while I assist Bluebird with her spelling lesson.  Both Junebug and Monkeyboy have fallen prey to the glow of the television downstairs.  Bluebird tells me that, "I'm not feeling fit for school today.  School is feeling really unnatural."  I tell her that it will be well for her in her adult life if she learns early on how to still do her work despite having such feelings.  She frowns and grumpily begins alphabetizing her word tiles.

8:55:  Timer goes off.  Bluebird starts on her penmanship while I help Penguin with her phonics lesson.

9:05:  Penguin finishes her two pages of phonics, and we review "The Caterpillar," her poem that she is memorizing as part of her grammar lessons.  Bluebird is still working on her penmanship.

9:10:  I read the following passage from Joseph Bruchac's Pocahontas to Penguin:
     But as we went on discoursing, I was struck by an arrow on my right thigh.  It did me little harm and I turned to espy two Indians drawing their bows, which I prevented in discharging a French pistol.  By the time I had charged again, three or four more Indians had done the like, taking the place of the first who had fallend down and fled.  At my next discharge, they also fell and fled.  Now my guide I made my barricado, who offered not to strive but allowed me touse him as my buckler,  The aim of the salvages was such that not a single arrow struck him, and his bulk was so much greater than mine that he made a fine shield.  Twenty or thirty arrows were shot against me, but fell short or stuck in my clothes with no great hurt.
     Three or four more times I discharged his pistol ere the King of Pamaunkee, called Opechancanough, with two hundred men environed me.  At his command, each drew their bows and then laid them upon the ground without shot.  My guide then treated betwixt them and me conditions of peace. (129-130)
I explain what "discoursing," "espy,""barricado," and "environed" mean, then she gives me the following narration:
John Smith was talking to his guide and an arrow struck his right leg.  He got out his pistol and shot the Indians.
Bluebird is still working on her penmanship.

9:15:  Penguin moves on to do her XtraMath.  Bluebird starts complaining loudly about having to work when she doesn't want to work and I tell her that she needs to do her work no matter what, barring a natural disaster, vomitting or something else as grave.

9:33:  Bluebird  finally finishes her penmanship, and we sit down to do her grammar lesson.  Penguin has finished her XtraMath and has asked for a break so she can play with Play-Doh, which I have granted her.

9:36:  Screaming erupts from downstairs, where Junebug and Monkeyboy are fighting over the controller.  I put out the fire.

9:50:  Bluebird is done with her writing lesson, which was writing the following sentence from dictation:
With great care, the priests made their circles of cornmeal about the fire.  (Pocahontas, 136)
 We begin her Latin lesson.  Junebug meanders back upstairs to play with Play-Doh.

9:55:  Bluebird goes to Time-Out for not singing the song in our opening exercises for her Latin lesson.  We were going to sing it together, but then she said she wouldn't sing without the CD playing, which is not happening today because we are trying to get through stuff quickly because she took so long on completing her penmanship.

10:00:  I call her back over, she still won't sing, so she goes back to Time-Out.

10:05:  Ditto

10:10:  Ditto

10:15:  She sings.  (And yes, I realize that this ended up taking much longer than had I just played the stupid CD, but it had become an issue of me asking her to do something and she refusing to do it, so I needed to stand my ground.)  Monkeyboy goes into Time-Out for...something that I've written down in haste that I cannot interpret now.

10:25:  We finish Bluebird's Latin lesson, I throw some Pillsbury Break-and-Bake cookies into the oven for a snack.  (They have Minnie Mouse on them, so I bought them out of compassion for Junebug, who is obsessed with Minnie Mouse.)

10:35:  Cookie break  :)

10:55:  I sit down with the girls to read the last bit of Pocahontas.

11:20:  We finish reading, I send Penguin off to change into her bathing suit.  I get Junebug dressed and style her hair.

11:35:  I send the kids to get their shoes on.  After a few minutes I hear Monkeyboy laughing maniacally while the girls screech at him to hold still so they put on his shoes.

11:45:  We leave for Penguin's swim lessons

12:00 PM:  Penguin starts her swim lesson, I take the remaining children and we go sit under a tree to wait it out.  Bluebird leads Junebug and Monkeyboy in some sort of game where they're discoverers finding things that have trees in their names.  I knit away on Junebug's cardigan and remind Monkeyboy to stay away from the street.

12:30:  We load up into the van and head home.

12:45:  We arrive home and head inside to make lunch.

1:10:  Lunch!

1:30:  I change Monkeyboy's diaper and get him and Junebug situated in their beds for rest time.

1:40:  I ask the older girls to clean up the Play-Doh in the schoolroom.

1:45:  We go sit in my bed to read Sarah Morton's Day.

2:00:  We finish reading and they draw pictures for their narrations of the book.

2:10:  Junebug comes out of her room because Monkeyboy has fallen asleep.  I have her stay in her bed until he falls asleep because she still sometimes needs to take a nap, and Monkeyboy gets very angry if he's left by himself in his room and he can hear the girls having all sorts of fun out in the schoolroom.  I start Penguin's Math lesson.

2:25:  I start Bluebird's Math lesson.

2:58:  Bluebird does her Math drill.  She answers four questions in the time allotted to answer twenty five.

3:12:  Bluebird is almost done with her math worksheet.  She's supposed to write down three different ways to show a division problem, but she cannot remember what they are and tells me that I taught her division badly. 

3:30:  Math is done, and seeing that it is Wednesday, we pop some popcorn and get ready for "Movie Afternoon."  This week's selection is "Mary Poppins," which is one of Bluebird's favorite movies.  (Finally, something is going her way.)

And at this point I decide to stop keeping track of the day because I am so stinking tired.

If I remember correctly, we watched the movie (I fell asleep twice), had dinner and then bummed around doing nothing in particular until bedtime.  (Which is how you're supposed to spend a sunny summer day, right?)  After the kids went to bed, I sat down and tried to figure out the numbers for Junebug's cardigan.

Michael and his uncle returned home about 10 PM, and I went to bed.

Enjoyed this peek into our lives?
Read the previous "Day in the Life" from Monday, October 31, 2011.
The next Day in the Life post is scheduled for:  Friday, November 9, 2012.
(And let's be honest, when I say "scheduled," I really mean "will be done around this date.")

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Things were obviously getting too quiet around here

Thank you, Swimming Lesson Trampoline.

The x-rays show no broken bone, but there's a chance that the growth plated above his knee may have been affected, so he'll be in a splint for a week to give a chance to rest (in case it's just a really bad bruise).  If it still hurts in a week, the growth plate is probably to blame.

While we were at the doctor's office, Michael texted me to tell me that he had injured his foot at work.  What is going on with the Brooke boys today?  Y'all are staying home tonight!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

County Fair Results

Penguin is officially a BLUE RIBBON Knitting Rock Star!

She's so proud of herself:
"I won a blue ribbon on my very first try!"

County Fair Suspense

Penguin is a nervous mess.  We submitted her little knit hat to the County Fair on Monday, judging was yesterday, and we're hoping to go sometime today to see if she won a ribbon.

She planned her outfit for today last night, and has repeatedly asked me if she looks "County Fair-ish" enough.  She's gone back and forth on her choice of earrings.  She thinks I should do her hair...but then she doesn't, because it's just going to get messed up when she rides ALL the rides.

She asks me how much longer until the Fair opens, once every twenty minutes or so.

Bluebird, in her funny little way, is trying to prep Penguin for the reality that she may not win a blue ribbon by saying confidence-boosting things such as , "You know, a third place ribbon is better than no ribbon at all."*

Whenever someone wishes Penguin good luck on her entry, she beams and says, "Thank you!  And remember to keep hoping that I win the blue ribbon!"  She is dreaming big and there is no squashing of her dream.

We've driven past the Fairgrounds twice today already.  (The first drive-by granted us the memorable experience of witnessing two Carnies beating each other up with pipes in the parking lot.)  Junebug and Monkeyboy will not settle down for their naps.

Oh, I hope this girl wins a ribbon...

*  Bluebird has also been offering me sage advice in the attempt of keeping my hopes diminished as well, with such gems as "I bet you MIGHT win third place with that one," and, in response to my statement that I did not know how many ribbons I would win because I knew who I was going up against and they were very good:  "Yeah, especially if you're going up against Kit!  She knits waaaaaay prettier stuff than you!"

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Penguin's First Knit!

She's done it!  The first Brookelet to begin and complete a knitted project!  She's been working away on it diligently while listening to read alouds, and while we're driving in the car.  It's supposed to be a hat for Monkeyboy; but, figuring she'd be a loose knitter like Bluebird, I miscalculated how many stitches she'd need because she's turned out to be an extremely tight knitter.  (It's now a Christmas present for a soon-to-arrive baby in the extended family--sssshhhh, don't tell!)

The yarn is that Lion Brand Hometown...something, in colors...something green and something red.

She's going to enter it into the Utah County Fair tomorrow, and she has big dreams for winning first place, even though first place does not come with a trophy...or a green ribbon.  She'll settle for blue.

Her next project?  I'm thinking she's going to take the plunge and try out a Knitted Monster.  I've had the pattern book for ages now, and she and her sisters actually read it as a bedtime story.  They pine for knitted monsters of their very own.

Good job, Penguin!  You're a knitting rock star!

Friday, August 10, 2012

2012-2013 Weekly Report: Week 5

Not a lot of school done this week.  We were just busy with lots of stuff each day (Penguin's birthday, canning peach butter, other stuff not nearly as exciting) or recovering from being too busy the day before.  :)  We've gotten ahead in numerous subjects, so it's not a big deal that we kind of blew this week off.  (Except in math--we're starting to fall behind in that subject.)

Should I have pressed forward a little more and tried to get more done?  Yeah, probably.  However, I also discovered an interesting little tidbit:  I don't want to do school on the weeks where we don't have a fun activity planned.  I dreaded putting the girls through their paces, knowing that there wouldn't be anything to necessarily look forward to or use as encouragement to get through difficult tasks.  The activities seem to be just as much for my benefit as they are for their benefit.  Interesting.

We read The Pilgrims of Plimoth and Three Young Pilgrims this week, continuing with the original plan to study the Pilgrims a little more in-depth.  If I could do it over again, I wouldn't have used both of these books, as they were redundant.  I liked The Pilgrims of Plimoth for its information, and I preferred Three Young Pilgrims for its illustrations.  (Note:  Three Young Pilgrims mentions the death of the three children's mother and baby, just in case you have kids who are sensitive to that sort of topic.)

I'm going to try to incorporate some formal "preschooling" into our days because I feel like I'm not spending enough time with Junebug and Monkeyboy.  We read Ladybug Girl at the Beach today (totally last minute) and then we drew pictures of the ocean:

We're taking a break next week due to some insane scheduling of swim lessons for all three girls (at three different times...oi, I'm going to live in my car).  Hopefully I can put together some sort of preschool lesson plan during that time as well.

Happy weekend!

Whomping Willow

Penguin came rushing, breathlessly, into the house and screeched, "Mama, Monkeyboy's playing 'Whomping Willow!'"

Me:  "'Whomping Willow?'  What?  Oh, wait, that's not good."

Just then, Junebug came careening up the stairs, screaming, "Noooooo, Monkeyboy!"

I stepped outside just as Monkeyboy rounded around the top of the stairs, waving a sunflower stalk above his head crazily.  I quickly snatched his "branch" from him and told him "no more 'Whomping Willow.'"

The girls breathed a sigh of relief and made their way to the stairs again, as I watched Monkeyboy stare after them with a frown on his face.  I had just begun to turn around to step back into the house when I saw him reach behind the water table and carefully pull out the baseball bat...

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Such a peach

Peaches were on sale for seventy-nine cents a pound on Monday, so I bought about ten pounds.  They were a little on the hard side, so I put them into a big paper grocery sack.  Tuesday found us stomping about the zoo, and Wednesday saw us vegging out due to a bad night's sleep thanks to numerous Brookelets who would not leave me alone during the night.

I woke up today (late again, due to another night of bed-phobic Brookelets) and remembered that I had ten pounds of peaches sitting on the back counter and that I should go take a peek at them to see how the ripening process was coming along.  As I stepped near the bag, I could smell that beautiful ripe peach smell hanging in the air.  It was time to can 'em up.

Bluebird, my usual jam-making helper, had her piano lesson to get off to; so I asked Penguin if she wanted to help me out with making some peach butter.  She enthusiastically volunteered for the task, remarking that "I'm so glad that I'm six and can finally help make the jam!"  She skinned peaches, added the sugar and spices, and stirred until it started to spit.  Then she kept me company until it was all cooked up, jarred, and set into its water bath.

That's one gallon (plus one half-pint) of peach butter!

We went big this year, and doubled our usual recipe so we could can up the peach butter in pint jars instead of half-pint jars (that little guy hiding in the middle back in the above picture).  A full batch of peach butter lasts about three weeks in Brooketopia, so I'm hoping this will be enough for 6-8 weeks.  The recipe is my usual, which I now read off of the blog because I've lost my paper copy.  (Yay Blog!)

Just look at the golden-spiced goodness.  It's good on so many things--it's a great sauce for various meats, a good base for any type of sweet sauce, and just good straight out of the jar on toast or pancakes...or a spoon.

When you walk into our house, you are greeted with the warm fragrance of peaches and spices, and you can hear the little plinkety-plinks of the lids popping.  Ah, the smells and sounds of late summer!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Yarn Along: Raspberry Ropes & No Idle Hands

The sunflowers are in bloom as the temperatures stay high, and I'm knitting away on a wool sweater for my Junebug.  I've picked up the stitches along the cabled "scarf" portion of the yoke, did the arm increases and now I'm just motoring away on the body.  That's about 7.25 inches of body there, and I'm going to keep going until 9.5 inches or so, when I'll start on 2 inches are ribbing.

I'm a little anxious over the yoke and its fit.  I was smart this time and added a few inches to the measurements so that there would be some "give" in the garment, but the cabled yoke on this may not have needed any such give.  We'll see.  Don't make fun of me if this ends up fitting Bluebird better than Junebug.  (It would get more wear that way...but then I'd have to turn right around and knit up another sweater to fit Junebug because that just would not be fair to the poor girl!)

The book this week is No Idle Hands: The Social History of American Knitting, which I've been working on since last summer.

I love this book, as it combines two of my favorite things:  history and knitting.  It starts off with the Colonial Era and guides you through American history via the knitting habits of the times.

I've made my way to the beginning of the Second World War, and all this reading about women rallying their domestic skills to support the troops just invokes a strange nostalgia in me.  I don't want war--it's the idea that a generally feminine vocation was needed during those times.  (Well, not as much by WWII, but definitely during earlier wars.)  Knitting has been all but relegated to the world of hobbies and amusement, and it used to hold such an important place in the daily lives of women.

It's hard to explain the pull of wearing clothes you made yourself, or eating food that you grew in your backyard, or just fixing something without having to pay a professional to fix it for you.

Personal satisfaction with a job done well?

A feeling of success?

Whatever its name, I like to do things myself, and I find myself yearning for a time when people truly understood the significance of knitting sweaters for your children, instead of quipping, "You know you could buy that at Wal-Mart for way less, right?"  A time when everything wasn't going so fast and you could attend quilting bees with your friends and talk to your neighbor over the back fence before heading in to fix dinner.  I love having a washer and dryer, and a dishwasher and all those modern-day conveniences; but I sometimes wonder...

Maybe Little House in the Big Woods is a dangerous book for young children to read, as it fills their heads with the idea of personal industry and self-reliance.  I am so interested in that lifestyle and I totally blame Laura Ingalls Wilder for planting the idea in my heart!

Regardless of which century I'm living in, I can always knit and it will make me happy.  I'm very excited about how this cardigan will turn out!  Who can resist such a happy tweed?  (Actually, that would be me.  It seems I've done a lot of knitting with very bright pink yarn in the past year.  I have a secret little hope that the girls will branch out in their color preferences over the next few years, despite pink being one of my favorite colors.  It's a whole lot of pink.)

Reading about interesting times and knitting for a spunky little girl--there aren't a whole lot of other ways to pass one's time more pleasurably.

Join the Yarn Along at Small Things.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Penguin's 6th Birthday

She's a big six-year-old now!  She wanted to go to the zoo as her birthday activity, so we loaded up the van and spent the entire day out and about.  We stopped by the toy store so she could spend a little bit of her birthday money (Rapunzel doll), and then we had lunch at a restaurant of her choosing (Applebee's...I don't know why my kids like that place so much!), and then we drove up to the zoo and spent many an hour pulling the wagon and pushing the stroller so they could see all the animals.

I was going to post a bunch of the shots of the animals, but then I got to thinking that we've all seen pictures of animals at the zoo a million times, so I'm going to mostly post my favorite photographic subjects:  The Brookelets.

OK, those aren't my offspring, but it was pretty awesome to watch tigers pounce on a huge ball in the water.

It was a good day!

Wish big!

Friday, August 3, 2012

2012-2013 Weekly Report: Week 4
Pilgrims & Swim Lessons

Another week is complete.  Some of us have battled a little stomach bug throughout the week, and Penguin had swim lessons at 12:00 noon each day, which provided a nice little hiccup to our plans.  (Once again, the registration completed while I was planning on still being on break at this point.)  However, despite all the difficulties, we have survived and are completely on-track in every subject except Math (two lessons behind).

There aren't a lot of pictures to show for this week, as I was consumed with cleaning up sick messes and getting Penguin to lessons on time.

Quesnel continues to stare at Penguin during school.

Bluebird continues to enjoy All About Spelling.

We learned about the Pilgrims and the Dutch in North America in history, and we read a few extra books to go along with the topic, If You Sailed on the Mayflower in 1620 and Sarah Morton's Day.  (The girls liked Sarah Morton's Day the most.)

I cracked up as I read Bluebird's narration on the Dutch in the New World:
"The Dutch went to the New World so they could have a trading post there.  But then they had too many pubs and kept getting drunk and let their houses break.  Peter Stuyvesant came to the trading post and made laws that the people didn't like, but kept them from getting drunk.  The English came and conquered the settlement and re-named it New York."
Oh, those drunk Dutchmen and their shenanigans! 

We finished reading Pocahontas.  That was a big book for us, so we're proud of ourselves for following through on that goal.

I had great plans for activities this week, but between shuttling Penguin to lessons and not feeling well, they were abandoned for the time being.  Oh well, perhaps next time...