There IS light at the end of the tunnel

Wow, so are you ready? Ready for a smashing putting together of activities to catch you up on that have been keeping me so busy that I haven’t been blogging much?

First, to answer all of your sweet questions, I am starting to feel better. The fatigue has not totally lifted, and I still feel pretty nauseous, especially in the evenings (a.k.a. my sewing time). However, I am getting bursts of energy here and there this last week, which is a welcome relief from the last couple months, and I feel like my appetite is slowly returning as well…which in turn brings about more energy. Sometime this next week I’ll be passing into the second trimester, and as always, I welcome it with wide open arms.

I went through my photos of when Knut’s brother and company were in town, and found out I had none of the twins. You see, my sister in law, Kristin, has an awesome Canon Rebel (which I’m saving up for with Nerdy Gerdy funds) and when we were with them, I took every opportunity to snap away with that thing. I got some awesome pictures…but they went back home with them.

I do have a picture of the day we went to the zoo near here. It was fun for all of us to get out of the house, and we ended the morning with a carousel ride, which all of my kids enjoyed except Elias. He was terrified of that thing.

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He did like the animals though.

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Silje, in normal fashion, read every sign about the animals before studying them. She needed to know there name, where they were from, what they ate, etc. In case you didn’t know, she’s pretty particular about opening birthday cards and reading every single word carefully before proceeding to the present. Drives David nuts.

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Here’s Knut’s two brothers…Jon and Lars. Aren’t they silly?

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There’s my cutie again.

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Here’s my 2 of my nephews…two other cuties.

It was inevitable, I suppose, that the event we all gathered for would come to pass.

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Lars graduating from high school. Now I suppose that most high school students don’t graduate with 8 nieces/nephews already notched in their belt, but this guy did. We love you Uncle Lars! He graduated with honors, and several awards. Knut and I are so excited for him to experience his first year of college this fall, as we know he will thrive there.

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Knut was finishing planting about the whole time Jon and Kristin were in town, and it was all done just as they left. It was disappointing to him that he didn’t get to spend more time with them. We’re planning on visiting them for the first time this summer for our family road trip, so it shouldn’t be too long before we see them, and our 2 beautiful nephews again. Knut has been enjoying being home a little more, and sleeping a lot more! The whole week that Jon and Kristin were here, he was on a 20 hour day, and would come home to sleep for his 4 hour shift every night. He was able to have his meals at his mom’s house, where we were all gathered, so that did help.

Now Knut is spending time with us more, even though there still is work to be done during the day. He took this, and several other pictures of Silje the other day. What he really liked was when she insisted on a prop.

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Yup. This photo could not be complete without a basketball.

When Jon and Kristin were in town, I tried to bring the kids over to my mother in law’s house about every day so we could spend time with them. However, that left very little time for me to get housework done, as well as tend to my sprouting garden. The entire week I only washed diapers, so by the time the week was done, I had mountains to climb. So did a bizillion loads, and finished up their diaper order as best I could. It was very slow because I was just so tired all the time! I mean extreme fatigue!

This weekend, my mom was in town for her high school reunion, and seeing my struggle to catch up, she and Knut weeded my whole garden (well, I helped a bit) and she and I (mostly her) folded the mountain of clothes, and then she watched the kids so I could put them away in peace. A dirty dish never sat in my kitchen for more than 10 minutes without being cleaned while she was here, and I feel so caught up! I don’t even know if she even grasps what a huge gift she gave me.

It was too short of a visit, and my Papa didn’t come this time, as they saved their money so that he could go to Thailand with my mom next week. She works for an international charity, and they find it’s cheaper, and easier for many of their workers, (many who are citizens in the countries they work in) to have their international meetings in Thailand rather than the U.S. She doesn’t go there every year, but as she’s approaching retirement and unsure how many more times she’ll go, she thought she’d take Papa with her this time. He’s always wanted to go with her.

So with the house not completely clean, but caught up, and a hot sticky day, Knut filled the little pool for the kids and we enjoyed the beautiful hot day.

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We discovered the pool has a leak. So out came the hose.

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So to sum up: I’ve been tired. And busy. And behind. Now I’m caught up, I’m starting to get some energy back, and we are enjoying life returning to normal. Sweet, sweet, normal.

One Decision Down

Well, I think we’re going to try it. I think Silje will be homeschooled next year. First, I feel the need to do my normal disclaimers. We don’t feel that this was in any way a reaction or statement of the public schools around us. Personally, we think the school she attended was great. It wasn’t a waste, and we are not ruling out public school in the future. Her teacher was first rate. I’m on the curriculum review board in town, and have seen what they study through the years and am not only impressed with the school, the school board, but our very innovative and thoughtful superintendent.

So why the switch? Well, mainly, I think we see more education there right now. A depth of education that logistically cannot be obtained through her school. It doesn’t take an analyst to realize that 1 on 1 teaching might be better than 1 on 25 teaching, or whatever the ratio is now.

We feel led to this right now. I feel like God is putting our kids in front of me and saying “This is your mission field right now.” Worst case scenario is that we hate it and go running back to the public school next year. However, the more we research it, the more excited we get. We spent so much time looking at different websites, and a little bummed that we didn’t start thinking about this during the last homeschool convention near us, where we could page through all of the different curriculums. We did a lot of research both online, and talked with several homeschool families, and those we would consider “homeschool experts.”

Still, we don’t feel as we are addressing this as a moral decision: as though one is Biblical and one is not. I think you could find Biblical grounds for sending your kids to public school as well as homeschooling.

To prepare you for this this lengthy and traditionally long-winded post, I’d like to write a bit about how our minds changed about some things with homeschooling. You see, I never ever saw myself as the homeschooling kinda mom. I’m not nearly fun enough for that. When my older kids were toddlers (really…not that long ago) I remember counting down until they could go to school! Get them out of the house so I can actually go on a bit with my life! I desired nothing more than just a little bit of peace and sanity in my house, and saw the availability of schools to meet that need.

The reality of how fast this time of childhood thing is going is really sinking in.

No one was surprised more by the change than me. Well, maybe Knut. You see, I don’t mean this to come out sounding awful, but I started liking being around my kids more. I mean, I love my kids, and I miss them when they’re gone, but really, I couldn’t wait to hand them off to a teacher.

The idea of Silje being home all day so we could do things together starting sounding more and more fun, and less like a chore. She’s so smart, and so funny, and did I say smart? It’s amazing how her mind works when we sit and talk about anything. Then there’s the struggle that she spends so much of her day at school, that we barely see her. If she were learning or playing or having fun during that time, that would be one thing, but she’s bored a lot.

If we can’t see her, how are we to disciple her? How are we supposed to train her, and coach her through the challenges she’s bound to face? Knut put it well, that we could still do public school, and have no problem. However, with our goals in mind, homeschooling might be easier for us. We think the idea of addressing problems as they come might be easier than waiting for her to come home, making supper, having supper, and having baths, and then maybe scheduling a time to talk to her about something right before bed she may not be interested in talking about anymore…well it sounds easier to just talk to her throughout the day when it’s appropriate.

Don’t get me wrong, I know it will be work. I think I’ll find out exactly how much pretty soon, too! I think we realized it might be more effective, and although time consuming, maybe easier work to be in charge of her schooling. Plus, the curriculums we chose just excite us so much, that I really think Knut and I will enjoy it as well!

So for those who are interested, here is what will be ordered for our classroom for the next school year. It’s probably a bit overboard, and if it is, we’ll just have to roll it into another year.

Sonlight “core 1″ (this will cover literature, history, geography and Bible. Many families wrap this around 2 years, but we’ll see how long it will take us to get it done as Silje is a huge reader!)

Saxon Math (in close second was “Math U See” which we may try another year)

Shurley English

Apologia Science – astronomy

Rosetta Stone Mandarin Chinese (homeschool addition)

We are also planning on signing her up for the children’s choir at the center for the arts in town (which practices once a week I believe), and are debating whether or not it’s too much to have her be in piano lessons and/or ballet lessons this fall as well. Cost, of course, will play a role as well!

So want to hear details about what we picked? Feel free to leave now if you’re not! You’ve been warned! First, I’ll start with the core 1 from Sonlight. This was so different from other programs we saw in that it is completely literature based. There’s not a textbook or workbook in sight. The program comes with a box of amazing books. (I mean, my jaw dropped at some of the titles. From a literature perspective, I love their book list.) There are books both for Silje to read independently and for us to read aloud to the family, a teacher’s guide with too many activities to possibly do, a map, and a timeline, etc. From what we gather, we have daily readings, and then we discuss what we’ve read to insure comprehension, and then we mark all the places we read about on the map, mark all the dates we read about on the timeline, and do supporting activities. Core 1 covers creation to the fall of Rome. The Bible elective that comes with it has memory verses, which we will incorporate into our handwriting, and every memory verse is also set to music.

For the Sonlight, all the activities are ready to go, and require little to no preparation. All the lesson plans are laid out daily depending on how fast we plan on getting through it. We really loved their teaching philosophies as far as how we want to introduce our children to the world, rather than protecting them from the world. The worldview it teaches from is stellar. Not only that, it is taught in the old one-room schoolhouse style option, so that, let’s say David starts next year, we’ll just go onto core 2, and there will be activities for both Silje and David’s level, while using the same books. There are a few modifications that would have to be made, but from our understanding, that’s all laid out very well in the teacher’s handbook. I think this system works well when there is less than a 4 year gap between students.

Next on the list is Saxon math. This is different because it has workbooks for Silje to do, and then manipulatives to work with more hands on. There are weekly tests with this curriculum, (whereas “core 1″ only has oral review) including things like drills and timed tests. The main deciding factor for choosing this was that this is the curriculum my sister taught at her super elite private school, and she highly recommended it to us. We drool over the school that she taught at, and her husband still teaches at down in Arizona. However, several homeschool families recommended “Math U See” and said it is very much preferred to Saxon math when you get into the upper grades. So we’ll keep that one in mind as well.

Shurley English is next. While I know some people use the Sonlight’s program for English, and still other families recommended Abeka for several subjects, one “homeschool expert” (aka Knut’s cousin;) ) told us to look into Shurley English. As an English major, all I have to say is WOW. Abeka was totally workbook, which was going to be my next choice, but I looked into Shurley English and again, WOW.

It does use a workbook, but the depth of things studied astounded me. You basically start off learning grammar and such by dissecting sentences, and labeling each word SN (subject/noun) verb, etc. Sounds dry, right? O no! Every grammar rule has a song to go to it. Can you tell I love the idea of learning through song? What a great way to embed something into your mind painlessly! So there are songs with actions, and workbooks with application, and of course, the daily lessons. I’m pretty excited about this one as well.

When it came to science, we got a lot of conflicting feelings from our pool of advisers. Not only that, not a whole lot of options were available for the 1st grade. Why? Because science isn’t a huge part of most school’s curriculum until 3rd grade. It gets entered here and there where it makes sense, but nothing formal. Several families said that they just studied nature together, gardened together, and checked out interesting books at the library.

We chose to go with an Apologia textbook on science because Knut especially (along with my Papa!) was horrified at the thought of doing science so laid back. The thought was there should be a plan, and it should be part of the routine. Apologia has amazing science textbooks, recommended by about everyone we talked to for all grades. For elementary school, it has 6 textbooks for 1st through 6th grade: one representing each day of creation. So we’ll start there. The first textbook starts with astronomy (God made the heavens and the earth.) There are 2-20 minute science activities to do with Silje (but most likely all the kids) a week. I’m guessing it will be things like studying the moon, constellations, etc. Apologia sounded in their philosophy to not be “preachy” as some Christian curriculums can be, but rather just grounded in solid science.

Lastly, we both felt very strongly, that if we were given the opportunity to homeschool, we would introduce a foreign language as early as possible. Why schools wait until high school to introduce a foreign language, I’ll never know. Language is most easily picked up and very young ages.

The question might be “why in the world Chinese?” Well, Spanish was a close second. There are a few reasons Chinese came out on top. First, Knut really wanted to learn it in college, but it wouldn’t fit in his schedule. Not only Silje, but Knut could work on it as well. I have an uncle living and working in China, and Knut has a cousin doing the same. Silje’s ability to Skype and speak to either of those would be within reach. We both feel that Chinese is the language to be learned in the future business world.

Not only that, it’s the language Silje wants to know most. She’s always had a fascination with China in general. She scours anything at the library on the country, and loves talking with people back from working there, and loves to talk with any Chinese people. She prays for China often. If there were one language she would be obsessed with, it would be Chinese.

Rosetta stone has the best program hands down. Really, nothing else came close. This class will be done completely on the computer. We’ll pop in her lesson for the day, and she’ll sit there with her headset and microphone, and do her lesson. At the end of the lesson, we’ll get a report as to how she did so that we can track her progress.

It’s done on the computer, but it’s not done online. There’s no instructor she’s working with. We’re planning on setting aside our old computer in the office that is not connected to the internet, and have that be the “school computer.”

As far as David goes, I’m not planning anything so formal, but there are some plans. He misses the cutoff for public kindergarten this fall, and I would agree, he’s not ready for that yet. Still, I think with Silje doing school at home, he’ll want something to do as well. He’s in the process of teaching himself how to read just as Silje did. He already reads most traffic signs, in church tries to sound out words in the bulletin, and he loves learning every word on a cereal box. I think I’ll do the basic “hooked on phonics” (I only have the first part I got at a consignment store.) with him just to get him started.

Also, he hates writing, and needs the most work there. My goal for the year is to get him to write his name well. I’m planning on getting hims some “Kumon” workbooks that Silje liked so much for learning to write letters, and maybe some fun dot to dot sheets to help him handle a pencil a bit better. We’re thinking he might be a lefty, although he uses both hands very well, so I’m a little apprehensive as to how to teach him writing. Then of course, he’ll be apart of the read aloud books in Silje’s core 1, and he’ll love being a part of the science projects as well, I’m sure.

As for Elias, our goal for the year is to get him talking! We may regret that, but I think it might be a necessity!

It’s a shame…

that I don’t have any pictures ready for this post, because there has been an overwhelming amount of cuteness around me this week! I’ve been hanging out with my sister in law and brother in law who are visiting from New Jersey with their twin boys. My sister in law and brother in law who live in town have come to hang out with their 2 boys and newborn girl as well!

It’s been quite a fun week, and will soon come to an end. I will admit, it’s been bittersweet for me too, because I feel so bad for having fun with Knut’s family, and he can’t be there. He stops in for meals, but that’s about it. The weather has been gorgeous this week, which required Knut and his dad to finish planting the soy beans instead of hanging out with all of us. O the life of a farmer!

Yesterday we went to a small zoo, and it was so so much fun. The kids did really well, but melted down pretty quickly after we got back for lunch. Today Silje’s at school, Elias is once again taking a morning nap, and David is kicking his basketball around the basement.

My brother in law, Lars, is graduating from high school tonight, the event that has brought together so much family from across the country. Knut’s dad will go, of course, but Knut may have to stay on the farm to enable that, and for that, it’s bittersweet as well. Still, who knows what will be decided last minute. I think it’s been kinda hard on him this week.

Not only that, but they’ve been working around the clock to get the beans in before the forcasted rain this weekend. Last night Knut got home at 11pm, and headed back out to work at 3am…the usual 4 hour sleep allotment during the busy times. It’s been like that most of the week, and he’s running on fumes and hanging on for Sunday. I love that they take Sunday’s off no matter what. It gives a consistent rest to look forward to. They’re one of the few farms around here that still do that. Honestly, I don’t know how he or our family for that matter, would survive without them during the busy seasons!

I’ve been slacking on the housework big time as I’ve been gone, and when I’ve been home I’ve been working frantically on finishing up the twin’s diapers before they leave. The pocket diapers are basically done. The inserts are not, and may need to be mailed with them. They’re pretty bulky though, because I’m making the inserts in multiple sizes, so maybe they’ll want them mailed anyway. This project I was attempting to get done a few weeks ago, but I’ve not been feeling well, so my sewing has kind of taken the back burner. At the very most, I’ve only been able to handle a fraction of sewing time a day that I normally have done.

On the up side, I’m at 10 weeks, which means that this nausea and fatigue will soon be lifted. I hope! I’ve gotten my garden finally planted, and am adding some flowers to the front flower bed here very soon. The tomatoes and peppers still need to be moved from the pots to garden, but there’s still plenty of time for that.

So with the first trimester soon behind me, and planting season coming to a close possibly this week, things are looking up on the horizon! My mom is coming next week for a super short visit, and I need to catch up on all the things that should have been done this week but haven’t. I think when Knut actually spends time at home again, he may like it a bit cleaner than it is now!

There are so many things I want to blog about too, that I don’t have time to quite yet. From some of our homeschooling ideas, to plans for the birth of our next child. There is so much going on and Knut and I have been having so much fun planning and researching, and we have been blessed with being on the same page for so many of these decisions. It gives such a peace to be like-minded on a decision! Well actually, no decisions have been made, but plans are being made. Subtle difference. The planning process for anything is so much fun with dreaming and thinking and talking!

So as Knut finishes this marathon of a week, I’d like to ask for prayers for endurance for him and the other guys on the farm. We’re praying that all of it gets done before the rain too, so that there will not be lingering worries, and we can all breathe a sigh of relief. Pray I can somehow manage to prioritize what needs to get done as each day seems to have 5 days worth of work in them lately. Well, that’s maybe an exaggeration. Each day has more like 3 days worth of work in them. Still, I can quickly become overwhelmed and just sit down out of confusion in what I should do first! We can all relax in knowing, though, that Sunday is not that far away!

Awesome Stuff

Sooooooooo much has been going on here, and I’ve neglected to post the most important one:

Micaila Kay, our newest niece, was born this last Saturday, weighing in at 8lbs 2oz, and 20 inches long. Of the 5 nieces/nephews born to Knut and I this year, she was the first one we actually got to HOLD!!!

Knut Micaila

Gretchen Micaila
Silje took this one. Not bad for a 5 year old!


The hospital room was packed with visitors, so we didn’t stay long. This next weekend, though, Jon and Kristin are flying out with Micaiah and Gunnar, and we’ll all be celebrating Knut’s brother Lars’ graduation. Lots of good family time! I have a batch of cloth diapers I’ve been working on for them, that I’m hoping will be done soon! With me feeling sick in the evenings during my normal sewing time, it’s been tricky, but they’re coming along.

You think it’d be easy to get the diapers done with Knut being home so much when it’s raining on the fields. However, he’s home saying “You want to watch a movie?” “Let’s have people over tonight!” “Are you sure you don’t want to sit down?” So needless to say, as much fun as it’s been having him home, it hasn’t been that productive! Sewing-wise, that is. My house is cleaner, and he does the dishes for me often, so that’s really nice!

The other awesome thing about Knut being home, is he’s been able to work with David so much more, and spend time with him, which David has been needing! David has been acting up so much and being so rebellious, that Knut and I have been throwing our hands up in knowing how to handle him.

Knut’s been working with him so much this last week. It’s almost like David is a different boy! He talks so nicely to me all day, and is so helpful. I don’t spend most of my day arguing or disciplining, or just being frustrated because of his will of iron. It’s been a lot of discipline, a lot of talks, a lot of hugs, and a lot of fun. I thought I’d post the fun pictures, because who really wants pictures of the other stuff? Sometimes, a boy just needs his daddy.



And then there’s this guy!

He’s on the move, and ALL THE TIME!!! He loves to walk everywhere, and get into everything. He loves to wrestle with David, and tries to tackle us with a grin from ear to ear. Very few things wipe off the smile on his face. It’s just always there!

He’s thinning out a bit now too, with all of that exercise.
There gets a point in all of my kids diapering days when you wonder if you should make a bigger size diaper. Even the one-sized ones get snug around the thighs (always the thighs! Their waists are skinny, and their thighs are pudgy!) and I wonder if they’ll need a bigger stash. Then they start walking, and those diapers start getting snapped tighter and tighter as the flub comes off. Elias was so there just a week ago, where I was wondering how much longer his diapers would make it! Then just this week, the loosest setting is too loose, and I have to make the diaper tighter. He’s not getting lighter by any means, just sprouting up and starting too look more and more like a little boy every day, and less like my little baby!


I’ll say it again…this little boy has me laughing all day long!