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.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Weekly Report: Week 19
It's all a blur

Long week, but we're settling into the schedule again and even managed to start school on time two days this week.  Last week was NOT like that.

School work is same ol', same ol'.  I'm thinking we need some sort of field trip soon, but those are hard to decide upon in January--I am not hiking around the zoo in freezing weather.  Field trips are supposed to be enjoyable, not make you question your sanity and devotion to your calling as a mother.  Outdoors, right now, will not accomplish that goal.

Bluebird is still working on Little Women (for free on the Kindle!) and Penguin tackled War of the Worlds this week.

They both hate me for choosing War of the Worlds for them to read this year.  If I was a horrible, mean-spirited mother, I'd plop them down in front of the movie.  Hee hee, the exhausted-by-whining part of me cackles over the idea.

We've had fun with math this week, Penguin learned about lines of symmetry:

Junebug is getting the hang of worksheets after her math lessons.  She wasn't quite sure how she felt about it for the first week, but it's somewhat enjoyable for her now because she knows that she'll get to color:

We had a storm come through our area in the past week or so, and I just found pictures from it, so I thought I'd share.  Part of the fun of homeschooling is letting my kids have first crack at the snow in the park while all the other neighborhood kids are at school.  Hee hee.

Another week done!  I'll have to sit down and figure out something fun to do field trip-wise.  Happy weekend to you all!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Weekly Report: Week 18
Rough Start

Well, in case you read nothing on the blog in the past week, I'll let you know that we struggled to get back into the groove of things.  It was mildly insane, and I even halted everything on Wednesday and did some serious art time.  We made it through math lessons, the girls read their assigned books, and there was other fulfillment of educational responsibilities; but, overall, I'm just glad the week is over.

Here's some pictures from our shenanigans:

I have Bluebird reading Little Women, and had Penguin read a children's version of The Time Machine.  There was some snow play thrown in there as well.  Woo hoo.  The week's done!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

What my kitchen table looks like before lunch today...

I loaded up Monkeyboy's Christmas wish list with preschool-friendly art supplies this year.

Of course, I forgot about all the marvelous offering of art supplies he received from his loving relations until today, day three of the new semester.  After my realization, I decided to bring them out, hoping that he would become absorbed in his artistic pursuits and stop playing "I am a zombie" and making his sisters scream when he would start staggering in their direction for his enjoyment.

What I wasn't counting on was how much ALL three of his older sisters wanted to play with the Dot Dots (as they are affectionately referred to in our household).

And then it started to snow, which just makes all of the kids become very, very weird very, very quickly.

So I decided we would take a snow day and play with Dot Dots.

While the snow fell softly outside our kitchen window, we finished up our math lessons and then I declared it "Dot Dots Day" and we spent the rest of the morning happily engaged in making Dot Dots pictures while I tried my best to discuss various school-related topics so that I could assuage my homeschooling mama guilt over letting them spend the morning doing Dot Dots instead of grammar and spelling.  (It's just one day, all will be well.)

Apparently, snow plus new art supplies equals havoc upon written lesson plans. But it also affords a peaceful morning spent together just hanging out and enjoying each other's company, which I'm going to mark down as a successful day,  especially given that I fully intend to hand out a couple of independent reading books after lunch.

And then I'm going to curl up with a craft and enjoy the sight of the snow falling outside my window.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Second Day Back

After a good night of sleep for everybody, and a substantial breakfast for the Brookelets, the day still started off rather horribly.  Getting back into our routine always takes a week or so, and this time around is proving no exception.  We finally got everyone working for the common good right before recess, which is two hours after we start working.

Made it another day.  Woot.

Hopefully the camera cooperates and I'll reward you all with pretty crafty pictures tomorrow.

Monday, January 6, 2014

First Day Back

There are moments of my life that I know I will look back on and just laugh about.  The past twenty four hours will be one of them.

Our public school district started back up on the 2nd, but I wasn't ready to go just yet and said we'd start this Monday.  We lounged, we snacked, we slept in all last week.  No one complained about bedtimes.

Until last night.  Same bedtime as always, total chaos.

Which continued all. night. long.

Penguin had a bad dream and crawled into bed with me.  And then kicked me right in that sore spot of my lower back for the next four hours.  Every time I tried to move away from her, she'd snuggle in closer.  I was too tired to actually wake up and have the thought of just putting her back into her own bed, so half my night was like that.

Which would have been tolerable if the stupid cat hadn't been shut out of the room, and away from her favorite person in the world, which necessitated incessant yowling at the door for her missing beloved Penguin.  Once again, I failed to have the conscious thought of how to just solve the problem.

And then Bluebird got up during the wee hours and crashed through the house in her usual sleepwalking fashion, turning on every light in her vicinity and slamming every door she came into contact with.  Usually she turns off all the lights as she stumbles back to her bed; but, no, not last night.  Of course not.

Junebug ended up crawling into bed with Michael, and Monkeyboy was up bright and early to ask me if he could play Minecraft.  ("What?  It's still dark need to...whatever, just turn the volume off and don't talk.  Mama needs more sleep.  SLEEEEEEEEEEP!")

School went just as peachy as you would have imagined it would have gone, what with three sleep-deprived students, one sleep-deprived teacher, and one boy tot who woke up too early.  Oh yes, it was..."lovely."  I'd have pictures for you; but, alas, even my camera couldn't resist messing with me and presented a dead battery when I tried to capture a particularly "heart-warming" moment.

Whatever, Camera, you don't know my life.

And then they had piano lessons and I thought I could get one measly little hour's worth of quiet...until the piano teacher phoned me to ask for advice in treating Penguin's gushing bloody nose that wouldn't stop.  (Which is normal for her.)  And then Michael texted me from work to say how he felt sick, right before Junebug and Monkeyboy lost complete control of their wits and started hitting each other with whatever they could get their hands on.

I stood there, in my kitchen, phone in hand, observing the chaos of my life in that moment, and decided that something had to be done.

So I started to cook.  Because that's a concrete step to take in the direction of improving things.  I put together a nice, healthy dinner for us all, hoping that it would buoy our spirits.  I think it simply managed to give us a long enough diversion to keep us all from punching things.  Which I'm going to mark down as "successful."

Michael went to bed at 6:30, and I cleaned up the kitchen, gave the little Brookelets their baths, and then told everyone to go to bed and not come out.

And then I sewed.

I feel better now.  I can actually chuckle about all this craziness that has been today.

Makes one excited about what tomorrow has to bring, doesn't it?

Oh, wait...nope, that's apathetic resignation.

But that usually gets better with a good night's rest, so there's still hope for a brighter tomorrow.

Onward, stalwart parents!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


So, according to Facebook, I have twenty "most memorable" moments of 2013.  Which, of course, I had to click on to see what they were.

The highlights of 2013, according to Facebook, and listed in chronological order:

1.  Bluebird's birthday party.

That should be on the list.  It was an epic undertaking, and it turned out so awesome.  I've informed all the Brookelets that we're only doing birthday parties in odd years because I just cannot begin to muster the emotional and physical energy needed to do this four times a year.

2.  Bluebird's proposal to the City Council.
3.  Bluebird singing "My Heavenly Father Loves Me" all by herself in Sacrament Meeting in April.
4.  My back got better.
5.  I read "The Hobbit" out loud to Bluebird and Penguin.
6.  Bluebird tried teaching Monkeyboy how to play chess.
7.  We went on a nature walk to Bridal Veil Falls.

8.  Penguin and I dressed alike for church.

9.  Shaun, Carly, and Baby Bear visited us in August.  (And Granny and Sandra, too.)
10. Bluebird learned to play "All Things Bright and Beautiful" on the piano after hearing our ward choir perform it.
11.  I lost a lot of weight.
12.  I published my first pattern.
13.  Someone purchased that pattern.
14.  I gave away five garbage bags of clothes that were too big for me.

15.  I wore size 8 pants for the first time since before getting pregnant with Bluebird.
16.  I lost enough weight to officially be deemed "healthy" on the BMI scale.

17.  Bluebird took on the responsibility of making the green bean casserole for Thanksgiving.
18.  My second pattern was downloaded 1274 times in its first week of publication.

19.  We took an awesome five generations photo at the family Christmas party.

Copyright 2002, Photographic Images/Quentin Gardner Jr.
20.  Michael and I celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary, and I re-posted one of our wedding photos.  It cracks me up how different, yet how much the same, we look now.

So, basically, 2013 can be summed up as a family-oriented, "getting healthy" year filled with knitting.

Which is pretty accurate.

Can't say I'd change much about it.  The whole herniated-discs thing was pretty bad, but we weathered it really well; and, were it not for that eye-opening experience of pain and chaos, I wouldn't have committed to seriously losing weight.  I am truly thankful that it was "just" an injured back that got me moving in the right direction, rather than a heart attack or diabetes.

I'm sorry Facebook, but there were other memorable moments that I'd like to remember as well, like Junebug's Snow White birthday party:

And fun homeschool activities:

But I guess my Facebook friends were birthday-ed out after Bluebird's party (Junebug's was two weeks later...oy), and very few of my IRL friends homeschool their kids, so that kind of thing doesn't get a lot of attention in regards to "likes" and comments.  No biggie, it just is what it is.  (That's why I have you, oh wonderful homeschool blogging network.)

So yeah, done with another year.  At the beginning of it, I sat down and came up with a word of the year that would serve as a mantra of sorts, choosing the word REALIZE for its definition of "to bring to fruition."  As I look back on 2013, I've come to the conclusion that "realize" was code for "action."  I needed to start taking action again, rather than letting things happen and dealing with those outcomes.  I really wanted to realize my goal of improved health, and started the year running, literally.  I ended up with my massive back injury in February, and didn't see any improvements until I committed to losing weight in May.  As the weight came off, my back healed up.  As my pain decreased and my energy increased, I set my sights on other things--I finally realized my dream of publishing my own patterns, I took action to do more musical performances, I volunteered to help with our homeschool group's girls' club and taught the girls various crafting skills, and I really buckled down in regards to homeschooling.  It's been a fantastically productive year, even with the three months of bed rest in the spring.  I realized many, many things this past year, some bad, most good.  We did well.

2014 boasts some potential.  Bluebird, Penguin, and I auditioned for a musical that's set to perform this coming summer, and we were all invited to keep coming back.  (I'm actually waiting to hear if I got a part, or will just be performing as a member of the chorus.)  I'm looking forward to all that.  There's other stuff brewing as well, but not enough plans have been made to start counting on them as concrete.  I guess we're just going to wait and see what comes our way, which is ironic given that this past year has been all about making things happen.

Next up:  Picking a word for 2014.  And crafting goals.  Mwa ha ha ha.