Wednesday, April 30, 2014

It Begins:
Rocket Age Quilt for Monkeyboy

We finally broke down and bought a bunk bed for Junebug and Monkeyboy, and I have it perfectly pictured, in my mind's eye, how I want their room to look when it's clean and prettified.  (Hint:  Not like how it looks now!)

Part of that ideal look includes handmade quilts on each of their beds, made by their loving mommy.  Here's the first half of that dream, in progress:


I need to make twelve of these little hexagon blossoms, and so far I've made...nine, I think.  (Writing this post during recess, there's no time for details!)  I am head over heels in love with English Paper Piecing!  It's my new knitting--it's portable!  That's always been my bone of contention with quilting--you can't take it places with you.  BUT NOW I CAN!!!

Isn't the fabric the cutest?  (I adore the little squat robot!)  It's the "Rocket Age" collection distributed by  Riley Blake Designs.  I've also thrown in a few scraps from Riley Blake's "One for the Boys," and scraps from Michael's worn-out work shirts.  I've wanted to make a quilt from his old work shirts for FOREVER.  So happy, happy about this project!


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Saturday, April 26, 2014

Something Beautiful


This is my friend Rachel.  We've been friends for a few years.  She's the friend who "tutored" Bluebird in Latin when we were first starting out two years ago, we embarked on a lofty 72-hour kit creation kick a year ago that she kept up and I did not, and we get to rub elbows a lot in musical pursuits.  I think she is one of the coolest people in the world.  She's funny, she's intelligent, she's...Rachel.

About a year ago we started a short-lived ritual of walking our dogs during my family's morning recess break.  During this ritual walk each school day (for however long we kept up with it) Rachel and I talked.  We talked about religion, briefly visited politics, talked about the books we were reading, and shared childhood memories regarding various subjects that came up.

We also talked about infertility.  My dear friend wanted to become a mother, and was having a hard time realizing that dream.  I listened as she described what tests and procedures were coming up, I listened as she talked through how she felt about the results, I listened as she thought out loud through something I wished I could fix for her.  I had suggested herbs in the very beginning of her struggle to conceive, but it had become apparent through the years that herbs weren't going to fix the issue.  I watched her struggle to control her emotions after a round of fertility drugs; she'd wave it off and shrug, saying, "It's just the hormones."  So much time and effort to bring into creation a child.  Why wasn't it working?!?!

I prayed for her and her husband.  My children prayed for one of their favorite people that she could be a mommy like she wanted.  Our family prayed together, out loud, every morning and night, remembering her alongside our cousins and siblings.  "Please, Heavenly Father, if it be thy will, allow Rachel and her husband to become parents."

I just got home from throwing my friend a baby shower.
She's due to give birth to a sweet little girl in June.


During those walks and talks I made up my mind, should God bless Rachel with a child, that I would throw the biggest, most beautiful baby shower I could muster in celebration of her impending motherhood.  To work so hard for something deserved a huge to-do!  As luck would have it, other ladies in our neighborhood wanted in on the fun as well, so we went all out.

At Rachel's request, we had a tea party baby shower; which is funny, because we're Mormons.  As a collective group, we're not really known for our tea party-throwing skills.  Therefore, all the "teas" offered were herbal:  Lemon Chamomile, Peppermint, and a rooibos-based Tulsi Dosha Chai.  (I made a little announcement at the beginning of the party that there was no actual tea in any of the teapots, and that no one had to worry that I was enticing them to disregard the Word of Wisdom.)

And it was lovely, oh so lovely.  The looks of delight on the ladies' faces as they carried their delicate cups of "tea," the "oohs" and "aahs" over the finger foods...it was pretty, it was refreshing, and it was just wonderful.  I think I'll be pleased with how well this baby shower went for a long time.  It was one of the nicest things I've seen in a while.


Seriously, always throw a party with multiple hostesses.  There were five of us altogether who put the food together, and it went splendidly.  (I didn't have to touch the Egg Salad Sandwiches or be anywhere near them at all!  Score!)  We all made what we each liked to make, and everything was taken care of.  I was in charge of the tea and scones.  That's it.  I also made some macarons on a whim, since I'm obsessed with the recipe from Martha Stewart Living and have been waiting for an excuse to try it out just because.


I don't have a picture with the mom-to-be, but I do have this one with my fellow hostesses.


I told her that I needed a picture of her
with all her swag, and she obliged me so fittingly.
Love her!
There was a good attendance, and we had fun with the various (non-annoying) shower games.  Rachel received some lovely gifts for herself and her daughter, and I saw her make multiple trips to refresh her tea cup.

I took pictures of everything.  I knew I would write a blog post about this awesome party that I helped throw, and I wanted some beauty shots to accompany the play-by-play.  But as I look through the photos, I'm disappointed because they don't capture the true beauty of the occasion.


Because what is beautiful about all this, after all the tea and finger foods are gone, is that we're celebrating a miracle.  We've watched a heart-wrenching struggle turn into something so joyful that it makes our hearts hurt with happiness, like when you've smiled for too long and your cheeks ache.

We gathered together today to bask in the glory of our friend's answered prayer, to sit together as women and cheer on another one of us who will soon enter the ranks of motherhood.  We thought of our own miracles at home; far, far away from the breakable china we balanced in our hands, while laughing at the realization that we celebrate the arrival of motherhood with delicate servingware and dainty foods when the realities of motherhood dictate that we eat PB&J and drink from plastic cups soon after we are initiated.

We hugged each other, placed hands upon each other's shoulders in concern, smiled, laughed, and nodded our understanding.  We shared stories of our experiences--stories about our fears of motherhood, our disappointment with some of our parenting choices, amusement over what children say, gratitude for the help we receive and the lessons we've learned, and love for our families and friends.  And amidst the clinking of tea cups upon saucers and tearing of wrapping paper, we shared one more thing:  A quiet sense of excitement for Rachel.  She got her wish, her prayer, her love:  She's going to be a mother.

Which is one of the most beautiful things that this world has to offer.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Weekly Report: Week #37


Only three weeks left of school!  I am so giddy over that fact.

I'm torn between trying to report on the past twelve weeks of school, or just throwing that to the wind and focusing on this week.  Seeing that I don't have a lot of photos from this week, I think I'll go with a general re-cap, kid by kid.

Bluebird

We're nearing the end of the fourth grade, and I've been trying to give her a little more independence in order to prepare for the slightly more independent nature of fifth grade.  The idea has its successful days and its not-so-successful days.  I teach very few lessons to her anymore, just math and spelling for the most part.  She finished her fourth grade grammar book on her own, with the exercises done very well, and she does well on her Latin tests each week.  (Thank you!)  It's working; I just have to check in on her a lot during the day to make sure she's not daydreaming or working on something not related to school.

We do her math lesson first thing in the morning, and when that's done we sit down and I write down all the things she needs to do throughout the day, including notes about whether or not she needs to do that particular assignment with me.

Reading-wise, she's finished Little Women, Little Men, Black Beauty, and A Little Princess.  She will start The Secret Garden next.

She's also started some athletic endeavors, after I got fed up with the kids lolling about and playing video games non-stop whenever they could.  She's now attending a gymnastics class once a week, and she's signed up to be on a fastpitch team this summer, which is currently holding practices twice a week.


Penguin


She's my little trucker.  She shows up, she gets through her work, she goes off to play.  Such an easy student to teach.

She's read abridged versions of Little Women, Little Men, Black Beauty, and The Secret Garden.  She'll start her abridged version of A Little Princess next.  I walked in on her reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix a month ago; I hadn't realized she'd even read the first four books of the series, but she has.  It's so rewarding to see them enjoying their free reading.

She's busy with gymnastics, too; and she's in the last weeks of spring soccer.  It was her first time playing soccer, and she was blessed with an awesome coach.  She went from kind of not being able to kick the ball at her first practice, to a perfectly acceptable player in these past few games.  She's become a little more aggressive during the games, and she's even "attacking" the ball sometimes, which is a far cry from the girl who would step out of the approaching team's way as they kicked towards the goal.  Sweet girl.  Her coach says he loves it when she has a chance to kick the ball because it's a full body action on her part, and it's true--every muscle from her face to her toes is involved in kicking the ball.  It's adorable.

Junebug


She's progressing nicely.  She's ahead in math and penmanship, and reading is becoming a little easier for her.  She doesn't like to read, so it's coming along slowly.  Fortunately, I've already raised two daughters who didn't like to read either, so I'm not worried.  Looks like I need to prepare another read aloud-heavy summer.  That's always solved the problem in the past.  You just gotta hook 'em onto reading something extremely enjoyable, and it all grows off of that.

She's not doing any sports right now because she was absolutely convinced that doing a sport meant that she wouldn't be able to attend art camp this summer, and I couldn't make her see reason.  Whatever, she's only six; we'll do sports after art camp ends.

Monkeyboy


I try, I really do.  His "school" gets pushed to the back burner a lot, simply because it's preschool and I've never been that big a fan of structured school for kids as young as him.  Fortunately, I have a handful of little girls who love to show off their reading skills to their younger brother, so I'm taking advantage of that.  He starts off each morning doing some form of art while listening to our devotional, and we try to do a math lesson twice a week.  I feel pressured to do some phonics work with him, and I'm trying to find time for it.

He's signed up for tiny tots baseball later this spring, and Michael has been scouting around for wrestling clubs that accept boys this young.  I guess we'll see.  Monkeyboy is really excited about playing baseball--he asks me at every single one of Penguin's soccer games if he has his baseball game after her game ends.  Oh, my boy, you are so precious!

Me

I've ordered their end-of-year tests and scheduled time for testing at the end of May.  That extra long summer vacation we took last year has really caused problems in regards to finishing up on time.  I think we'll have a couple of weeks of schooling during our summer break.  I'm kind of bummed about that, but it is what it is.  I took this year's summer break already...last summer.  We'll survive.

I've flirted heavily with the idea of sending them to public school next year.  I love the idea of a sabbatical year, and next year will be the seventh year of schooling.  We toured a local charter school, but I just couldn't bring myself to fill out the final application forms; and now my eye is upon the regular public school all the kids in our neighborhood attend.  However, I do not like the math curriculum.  At all.  And the literature selections are far below, and far less, than what I'm giving my children already.  I can either just shrug my shoulders and say, "It's just for a year," or put my head down and continue on with the way we've been doing it.

Ironically, as I've been casting my gaze upon the public school system, five different mothers in my neighborhood approached me to gather information about homeschooling their own children.  My thoughts are a blog post in itself; I generally lean towards discouraging taking that step because so many people who pulled their kids after talking to me just don't do school, and end up sending their kids back the next year, then a year behind.  I refuse to encourage anything of the sort, so I tend to focus on the rough parts because almost everyone else focuses on the warm and fuzzies.  It's a lot of consistent work, by yourself, every day, with "reward moments" sprinkled in few and far between.  If you're not the kind of person who can get out of bed each morning, then it's probably not a wise choice.

Interestingly enough, one of those mothers agrees with me, and she was thinking about homeschooling because she can't stand the math curriculum either.  And then she paid me the best compliment I've received in a long, long while:  She asked if I would educate her child.  Because my kids are turning out well, and she wants that for her child, too.  I walked on a cloud for almost a week after that.

Why can't she just do it herself?  Well, she runs an at-home preschool, which needs to keep running.  As a result, she has suggested a trade:  I school her fourth grade (next year) child, and she'll do preschool for Monkeyboy.  It may not seem like a fair trade to most people, but it's an answer to my prayers--plus, Monkeyboy could hang out with one of his favorite kids from church, who also attends the preschool.  I've decided to do a trial run over the summer and see if it works out for all involved.  (And don't worry, I'm aware of State Law on this facet of homeschooling, and it's legal to educate another person's kid in our state...in fact, it's even easier now that Utah passed some awesome homeschool legislation!)

So my head is just chock-full of homeschooling-related topics.  I've missed being able to talk about them here.  Even though I haven't blogged in many weeks, my brain still keeps "writing" posts throughout the day--I keep trying to figure out how to word something later on for a post.  It doesn't stop, which is slightly maddening.  It's good to be back.

If you could find some time in your prayers to remember me and my family, I would appreciate it.  We've got lots of big decisions weighing on us, and I just want to make the best decisions possible.  Thanks, and happy spring to you all!

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