Tuesday, November 30, 2010

For Your Enjoyment

video
I told you.  This kid just makes you laugh. OK...I just got the tail end of his laughing run, and he actually got serious about eating breakfast.  I would just smile at him and he'd burst into laughter.  So, maybe only my mom will enjoy this, so for you Grammy...enjoy and we can't wait for you guys to get here!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Monday Musings

Today I think I'll just write something stream-of-consciousness-MckMama-style.  So brace yourself for randomness.  Today I'm not sure who's more worried about who.  Knut is getting distracted from work and has been debating taking time off to wait on me and take care of the kids to insure I'm off my feet.  Whether this is until December or my due date, I'm unsure.  At any rate, I talked him into at least going to work this morning and helping me out more in the afternoon, since the kids are normally better behaved in the morning.  He's already been in the house to check on me once, though, and it's not even 10am yet.

Yesterday Knut nearly ran himself ragged with leading Sunday School, our evening small group, running me to the grocery store so I wouldn't have to take the kids this week, doing dishes, getting the kids to bed, etc.  He was able to sneak a little nap in, though, which was good. I did really good at sitting down yesterday, with the exception of walking around the grocery store with Knut since he gets pretty lost in there.  It was only 15 minutes of walking, but I paid for it with about 2 hours of regular contractions afterward.  Seriously, I've been feeling so blessed by Knut.  Somehow, knowing that he's worried about me makes me worry less.  I feel so taken care of, and I think guys like him must be few and far between.

This morning I'm sitting at the computer, and keeping Silje going on her schoolwork, and using PBS kids as a babysitter for the boys.  I've been doing very very well at sitting down, but contractions have started coming on every 2-10 minutes, without any regularity at all.  I can still talk through them, so I'm not too concerned yet.  Again, this could go on for days, so I'm in no rush to head out the door.  Yesterday, that was the rate I was getting contractions when walking, so either I'm on my feet more than I realize, or they're just coming closer together.  Seriously I feel like a walking time bomb.  Don't laugh, but we've been bringing my hospital bag with us in the van whenever we leave the house.  I told Knut it was like on the farm...if you rush to get a field done before a storm, the storm passes by.  If you didn't rush, it would have rained.  So having the hospital bag in the van is our superstitious way of making sure that this baby stays a few more days.

This morning Elias has been laughing every time I look at him.  He is seriously the funniest kid I've ever met.  I took a video of him laughing over breakfast, and it's hysterical, but I can't find where the camera cord is so I can put it on the blog.  If I get up and look for it, Knut may come home and catch me and then I'll  be in trouble.  So you'll just have to trust me...it's hysterical.

Silje's just doing spelling, handwriting, and math worksheets, none of which require my help so I'm just sitting here at the computer and am getting bored of the internet.  Last night when I was supposed to be sitting, I got caught up on all of my friends' blogs, which was fun.  I've also been working on finishing this little baby's Christmas stocking which I'm knitting.  I'm just using Red Heart yarn from Walmart which is leftover from some blanket I did in the past.  I figure Christmas stockings don't get a lot of use, so the cheap yarn is perfect for projects like that (and blankets which use a lot of yarn!) however I'm realizing it's not as forgiving of tension issues as wool is.  Not only that, but my wrists feel sore so much faster and I can't knit for as long.  Arcrylic yarn must not have as much "give" to it as wool does, and I've grown too accustomed to wool.

*pause to play trains with Elias all over my belly for a few minutes...ok, he's off and onto something new now.*

Elias has started calling me "Mum" instead of "Maaahhheee" which is so cute.  This morning I also finished up spreadsheets for the next 2 weeks of lesson plans for Silje.  We're planning on giving her a school break through Christmas once the baby comes, but if she feels like doing work (which is very likely) the lessons from the various teacher guides are compiled easily, and all of the worksheets I normally print off the computer are all printed for the next 2 weeks and compiled so that Knut or anyone else watching her can just grab some schoolwork without having to dig for it. 

Silje's complaining of a stomach ache this morning, but it only seems to bother her when she sees her brothers watching t.v. all morning this morning.  Otherwise she's prancing around.  The mean mom that I am, I told her she could have a bucket next to her while she's doing her schoolwork in the dining room.  She seemed satisfied with that. I think she'd like a t.v. day too, and I let them watch t.v. a lot when they're sick because it is sometimes the only thing that keeps them still.

I think after my next bathroom break I'll go sit and knit while I watch her do her work.  However, when I leave the basement, the boys often follow me, and when they're upstairs they often get into trouble, and sitting becomes impossible.  Silje can't do her work down here because the t.v. is on, so I guess she'll have to survive the quiet room upstairs. 

My side of the family used to have sparkling grape juice at Thanksgiving, and I bought some for this year, but ended up forgetting to have it on Thanksgiving.  It's so fun to drink it from fun wine glasses with a yummy dessert.  I think we'll open it up and celebrate making it to December this Wednesday.  I'm trying not to think about whether or not Knut will still make me stay off my feet past then, because in all reality, maybe she'll be here before I have to argue with him over that.  We'll just cross that bridge when we get there!  I'm determined not to worry about it because the reality is I may not have to.

I think it's funny how differently we're approaching the end of pregnancy having some experience behind us.  As a first time mom, you just want to be induced as soon as humanly possible with an epidural at the first contraction.  Now that this is our fourth, and having a late term preemie and an early miscarriage in our past, we know that every single day in the womb is a gift, and sometimes in these cases patience is a virtue, and letting the body do it's thing is often the safest.

That's what I was praying about last night before bed.  I often soak my sore hips in the tub before bed, which often insures me a much better night's rest.  It's then when I pray and bring out my Bible when the whole house is quiet.  I was unburdening myself on the Lord, and he reminded me that every day of this pregnancy is a gift.  There are so many gifts from God that we don't see as gifts, but see as work.  It's a truth that has become more apparent to me over the last few months/years.  We don't see something as a gift, but God says it is.  It's only when we believe him, that we see it too.  It would be so much easier to see it and then believe it, but God doesn't work that way.

I took Lena to a groomers last week for the very first time to get her nails trimmed and a good scrub down before the baby comes and I'm in no condition to do it, and Knut is too chicken to do it because it's easy to cut the nails too short and have a bunch of bleeding.  She came back so fluffy that Knut said she reminded him of a beef steer at the county fair.  Seriously, only a farm boy would come up with a comparison like that. 

I'm probably the first farm wife in the family to take a dog to the groomers, but we're also the first to have an inside dog, so I suppose they go hand in hand.  Knut's been complaining about how much of a pest she is lately, since he has to be the one to feed her and take her out to go potty since he says I need to sit.  However, I caught him sneaking her a biscuit the other day when it wasn't time to feed her, and petting her sweetly, so I think it's all an act.  He's got a soft spot for her, whether or not he'll admit it.

Hmmm...the kids tell me it's snack time.  Pumpkin bread anyone?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Sigh

Well, let's just say it's been an eventful week.  I haven't been blogging much because we haven't been home much.  The night, or I should say early morning of Thanksgiving, contractions started waking me up every few minutes at night.  By 4am Thanksgiving morning, I decided to get up and see if I could get them to stop by soaking in the tub.  It was at that I was able to time them to be about 10 minutes apart.

Thinking I could easily go days like this, I didn't think much of it, but around 5am, it started picking up and getting closer together.  It was at that point that I gave Knut the heads up that we'd probably be headed to the hospital that day instead of his parents house for turkey.  However, when the kids got up, my contractions stopped.  Well, almost stopped.  They slowed down to every half hour or so, which is pretty normal at this point in the pregnancy.

So we didn't miss Thanksgiving, but I tried to take it easy.  By evening, the contractions quickened to every 10 minutes again, but at least they were mild enough that I could sleep through them, and slept very good that night.  Yesterday morning Knut let me sleep in until 9am since he knew I was still so tired from the night before.  I headed downstairs to get some cereal, and half way through my bowl, intense pain took over, and I thought I had instantly been thrown into the transition point of labor (just before pushing).

The pain was stabbing, and strange.  I got scared because I was worried something was terribly wrong, which didn't really help matters.  I had a regular appointment with my OB scheduled that morning, and after calling the hospital first, they told us to go to our appointment, so we could see the OB before headed into labor and delivery.

My doctor barely had to look at me before sending me over to the hospital, where I was immediately prepped for labor.  The contractions were intense and 1-2 minutes apart for and the nurses started prepping the room for the new baby who we all assumed was rushing her way out.

Then things changed after about 2 hours of this.  I got so tired and wanted to lay down for just a moment.  When I did, the contractions slowed, and I was able to shut my eyes for about 30 minutes, and then the contractions stopped all together.  Well, that baffled us all, so I decided to start walking the hallways to get things going again.  I got them back to about every 5 minutes, but not nearly the intensity that it was before.

So by evening, with absolutely no change, they sent me home.  I usually deliver so fast that we try to get into the hospital when contractions are every 5 minutes, so being sent home when contractions were that far apart made us feel a bit confused as to when we were supposed to come back, but I think I'll just have to follow my gut on that one.

Realistically, these contractions could go on for quite some time.  I know our goal was to make it to December, and Knut is taking this opportunity of coming back home to see to it that that happens.  He (Knut, not my OB) has debated about confining me to bed until December, but has allowed me to get up and sit around the house.  I am full term now, so the baby can come without very much worry, but realistically, the closer to the due date the better.  That's still 3 weeks away.  If walking at the hospital brought on contractions, than walking at home is exactly what Knut doesn't want me to do.

I'm not disappointed that she's not here yet, because obviously the timing isn't right quite yet.  However, I'm discouraged that I went through all of that intense labor and have no baby to show for it.  You tell yourself things to help you get through it.  You tell yourself that soon you'll be holding the baby.  You imagine what she will look like and if she'll have lots of hair or be bald as ball.  I feel like I made myself all sorts of promises yesterday, and then I felt lied to...by myself.  Does that make sense?  O, the complicated emotions of a pregnant lady!

So now "laying low" which is what I've been trying to do the last few weeks, Knut has taken to a whole new level (which is quite unusual for him, as he normally is the one to push me).  No one instructed him to do this, but he has it in his mind that if I can stay off my feet we'll make it to December, and that has been our collective goal.  Fortunately for me, that's just a few days away, and then he'll let me resume normal activities.  Right now, as soon as I get up and start doing things, contractions start coming every 5 minutes again.  I sit down and they go away.  So I guess I'll be sitting.

Yesterday we were planning on decorating for Christmas, so I was hoping that we could do that today.  I just LOVE decorating for Christmas and think it's just what I need to raise my spirits.  Knut thinks that will be too much for me, and after thinking about it, said maybe he'll let me do one box and see how it goes from there.  At least the Christmas music is blasting.  That helps a little.

I guess I'll get a lot of knitting done in the next few days!  Now there's a bright side!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Point

I got to thinking after we had some friends over the other night.  They're the type of friends who remind me of Thanksgivings in my childhood: full of theological debate and discussions.  Conversations always run deep, and Bibles get whipped out as we reference and cross reference.  I love it. 

Anyway, the topic of evangelism was breezed upon, and it reminded me of something God has been teaching me over the past year.  Or years, really if I think about it.

I don't know if many of you know this, but growing up, I had always wanted to be a missionary.  I think I made it official when I was 6.  As I got older, I started going on short term mission trips.  I started learning about mission organizations, and applied to colleges with great mission programs.

You see, I didn't want to just be a missionary.  I wanted to be one of those kinds of missionaries who lived in a hut and witnessed to people who had never seen a white person.  I thought the area I'd probably go into was Bible translation.

That's where I think the Bible college I chose really changed my life.  You'd think that of all places that a wanna-be missionary could get all fired up and prepared to go on the mission field would be Bible school, and you're right.  Moody Bible Institute is about the best they come, which is why I wanted to go there.  I thought all of those Thanksgiving dinners and one on one confirmation lessons, and being the granddaughter of missionaries and daughter of a Sunday school teacher would have prepared me for studying the Bible, but I had never felt so ignorant as I did my first week there.  It's like the Harvard of Bible schools.  I remember when my roommate found out that I was Lutheran, she looked at me in shock and said "You baptize babies, don't you!"  My first meal in the cafeteria, the boy next to me at the table turned to me and said "How about you?  Do you go along more with the Northern Galatian theory or the Southern?"  It must not have been that important, because I don't even remember the relevance of that question, besides to scare poor freshman.

Anyway, I learned a lot about missions while I was there.  Actually, I learned a lot about God there.  I made a commitment to spend more time with God in either prayer or His Word than doing homework for the first year, which was a tricky commitment to make.  If I spent 3 hours doing homework one night, that meant that I had to spend more than 3 hours having devotions.  Surprisingly, my grades that year were my all time best.  It was about the most intense year of my life thus far.

I wrestled with God that year.  There was something He was trying to show me that I just couldn't wrap my brain around.  You see, I was going to be a missionary.  And not some European-city dwelling missionary, but a getting dirty and going places no one else wants to go kind of missionary.  I knew the facts.  I knew that there was a shortage of missionaries in the 10/40 window.  I knew how God was calling people to the harvest.  There were people dying every second without hearing about Jesus and I was going to go out there and fix that.  I was going to single-handedly fix missions, save people, be a hero.

What I learned that year was that God didn't need a hero.  God didn't need a savior.  I did.

I found out that year through all of my classes, and studies, and prayer is that God cares more about MY relationship with him, than what I can do FOR Him.  It felt so selfish to put my relationship with Him first.  To deal with my issues first.  I was honestly shocked that God did not need me on the mission field.  The fact that God did not need me to do anything, and I needed Him to do everything gave me a terrible identity crisis.

Over time, I realized that my job was to follow Christ.  If that meant to Jerusalem (my city), Judea (my region), or the ends of the earth, that was totally up to Him.  If I got to participate in any ministry, it was truly a blessing that God bestows upon me, and not something that I do for Him...cause He needs the help and all.

There's a book "10 Spiritual Disciplines of the Christian Life" which somehow got into my hands that year, and was one of the many books I mulled over.  It talks in one of the chapters of the spiritual discipline of evangelism.  It was partially through this that I was first exposed to the idea that God gave us evangelism as a part of our Christian walk, and not so that we can put notches in our belt.

Let me explain.  When we go into a conversation with someone with the intent to convert them, and we walk away with them still not believing in Christ, we feel like a failure.  However, this is not true.  Sharing Christ is a command.  Disciplining and baptizing as well.  Following that command is part of our spiritual walk.  But why?  I mean, shouldn't you be gifted in this area in order to be effective?  And if you're not gifted, should you let someone who is kinda, do their thing?

Ironically, this is the one spiritual discipline that people feel they need to be specially gifted to do.  True, there is such a thing as the gift of evangelism, but evangelism isn't a commandment for those few.  Just like you read your Bible, pray, mediate, memorize, you should be evangelizing as a way to know God better.  It's not just a gift, it's also a spiritual discipline.

It's been in this last year that the truth of what I read a few years ago has really sunk in deeper.  Some lessons that God teaches me comes in layers.  Waves.  There's a deeper realization on some things every once in awhile.

I think I was starting to become complacent.  For awhile, it felt like God started stripping away any ministry I tried to get involved with.  I tried volunteering at a crisis pregnancy center, until babysitters became harder and harder to come by.  I figured I'd always have the other families at the public school that Silje went to that we could get to know and disciple.  The fact that I'm now a homeschooling stay at home mom on a farm without even another house in view is in fact, incredibly humorous to me at times.  God continually sets my children in front of me and says: "This is your mission field.  These children are your disciples."

I mean, sure they run around naked sometimes and speak in words I can't understand, but it's not quite what I had envisioned as my mission field.

I'm not disappointed in the least.  In fact, I feel incredibly blessed beyond description.  I don't know why God has bestowed on me this wonderful, amazing life.  I'm not disappointed, but I am sometimes baffled by the blessing of it.

In the last year or so, I've actually had some very unusual opportunities online on various sites/communities to witness to people.  It was not something I set out to do, or went in at all thinking that's what would happen.  I don't go looking for it, is what I'm trying to say.  People have asked me questions, and I try to answer the best I can.  Well, this very quickly spirals into debates and I tend to shy away from a debate with a non-Christian, because I figure what's the point?  Their heart is definitely not in a search mode, or prepared to hear the Word, and they have their mind set, and there's nothing I can say to change their mind.

So what's the point, of sharing Christ with a world that doesn't understand absolutes, or the thought that not only is there only one God, but that one God HAS in fact made Himself known.  The first thing that always seems to be attacked is the authority of Scripture.  How can we know it's really God's Word, and why is it okay for Christians to pick and choose what to follow in Scripture (Levitical laws are most often pointed out here) and it's not okay for non-Christians to pick and choose which parts to believe are the most common arguments to overcome.

Now, with all of these discussions that I've gotten myself into, have I brought anyone to the Lord?  Not that I know of, and I'd probably guess no.  Proclaiming God's truth in this venue has brought me pretty much nothing in terms of flooding the church with converts.  However, it has been exactly what my faith has needed this last year.  The act of looking up verses, defending my beliefs, arguing a point, has solidified in my mind my own doubts.  It's like I understand these truths that I had to defend on a totally different level because I engaged in this activity of evangelism.  I've heard from other Christians, that they have been encouraged through it as well.

So here's my point.  Let's just say "what if?"  What if God commanded us to evangelize for the purpose of grounding our own faith, and encouraging other believers, and converting people was just a sprinkled bonus?  What if he commanded us to evangelize because he knew that's what WE needed, and not because it's what others needed.

Well first off, the results you would be looking for would be different.  Our goals would be different.  Maybe we get so discouraged because we're trying to be a savior, and fall short because we are not the savior.  We're the messengers.  We have a message to give, and we like to twist it, spin it, and make it really pretty so that people will like it.  Or maybe so that they'll like us.  I don't know...it gets blurry.

I think this especially important for Christians who have been Christians their whole lives and don't know much else different.  When all you have believed in was God and the Bible, it's easy to take certain truths for granted without thinking totally through them.  Evangelism means you need to dig your claws into these truths in order to defend them, and know why you believe what you believe.  It's incredibly edifying, and I'll admit, terrifying at times.

Maybe God has us experience rejection so that we may understand the rejection He faced better, and share in that suffering with him as a mode of Spiritual growth.  I'm not making excuses here, I'm asking some real questions.  Why did God tell us to evangelize?  Does He need us to, or do we get to?  If we don't do it, will He really let all those people burn in hell as He stands by helpless because we won't do it. We've all heard stories of people coming to Christ through dreams and visions, even in our modern world.  God is fully capable of drawing people to Himself.  The fact that God wants us to be involved in this process is an amazing blessing that should not be passed up on! 

Although it's not a replacement for personal evangelism, supporting missionaries through prayer and finances is a great way to encourage other believers, and be able to stand witness to God in action.  Maybe that's another reason God wants us to evangelize: so that we can witness over and over again His saving grace, and worship Him for that.  Evangelism should draw us to worship because the mere concept of what He is doing is amazing.

There's more I'd love to go into on the topic of evangelism, but as libraries of books have been written on it, I'll stop here, and just encourage those Christian readers out there to pray over this, and begin asking God if He would give you an opportunity to share in this blessing as well.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Cleaning Out

On a day when all the talk is around this glorious snow outside, or the fact that our head football coach was just fired this morning before the season is even over, we are cozy inside doing a bit of school and a bit of laundry.

Knut had a successful trip to the ski swap he drove 3 hours away to with David.  He picked up some used boots and polls for me to go with the skis he got me last year.  He also got some more kids' skis, which I'm sure will be put to good use no later than this afternoon.  We got some good snow this morning and I don't think it's going anywhere!

I've been having this mental checklist of things that need to get done before the baby comes.  As I'm days away from finally being term (although not due!  Let's not be too hasty!) I've been using spurts of energy to get some things done that will help me feel more prepared to bring another baby home.

This morning, I cleaned off the cradle and put fresh bedding on it, and picked a few cute swaddling blankets to have nearby.  My hospital bag is basically packed, but I went through it to double check.  I still need to clean the carseat from being in storage, as well as the baby swing.  I'm thinking carseat today.  Baby swing later.  I'm debating bringing out the swing at all this time around.  I've used it so much in the past, but I'm wondering if it will be less work to have the little girl in the Moby wrap close to me rather than policing the boys not to swing the baby crazy high.  Yes, I'll have to carry her, but would it be less work?  I did pick up a new(used) vibrating bouncing chair which I've always used more than the swing anyway and the one used by the other 3 kids has bit the dust.  Thinking...thinking...

Last night I got a really big project done that I try to do twice a year.  I'm so relieved to have this done before the baby comes!


Photobucket
(Never mind the boys in their pajamas, and no, I will not tell you what time of day this picture was taken.)

Every year in June before Silje's birthday, and just before Christmas, I do a major toy purge.  I go through every toy in the house and toss anything that is broken into one bag, and have another big bag of toys that have a lot of use left to them, but my kids no longer show interest in that will go to Goodwill.  Sometimes I have a storage bag too, where I keep toys with sentimental value but the kids don't have much interest in, or toys that are no longer age appropriate but may see use in the future.  Not this time.  This time I filled 2 large kitchen trash bags full of toys that are leaving my house.  One is going to the dump, the other to Goodwill.

How all these toys get to my house, I'll never figure out.  However, I find that mid summer, when Silje has a birthday, and garage sale finds that the kids spend their pennies on seem to trickle into the house.  We need a big toy purge before that season.  Then there's Christmas.  We really don't buy a lot for our kids for Christmas.  They each get a book picked out by Knut, an ornament picked out by me, a new pair of p.j.s usually made by me, and one toy that's somewhere in the $15-20 range.  (Although I think the 2 little ones won't get p.j.s this year as they have so many.  If not getting p.j.s for Christmas when they are newborn and 2 years old puts them in therapy down the road, we'll have to deal with that when we get there.)

However, toys just seem to appear during this season.  As courteous as the grandparents and aunts and uncles are in asking what the kids may want/need ahead of time, little toys just appear.  It needs constant management to prevent it overtaking the whole house.  This time I safety pinned little felt labels for the older 2 kids to read what is on the inside of each toy tub.  That's been a huge challenge for them in picking up their toys.  David just doesn't know which bin is supposed to hold which and has no patience to look inside each bin, and they tend to take a bin out and put it back in a different spot each time.

Now to make an I-cord for one more newborn bonnet...clean the carseat...finish a few more Christmas presents...make some decisions for her baptism soon after birth...really the list is getting short!  What a good feeling!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Homeschool Friday

It's one of those weeks weeks where I feel the need to quote Dickens and say "It was the best of times.  It was the worst of times." However, that seems a bit overly-dramatic.

We had a tough day on Monday.  Silje didn't want to finish an assignment I had given her, and she was willing to put up a fight about it.  It was a silly word search that I normally give her just for fun.  However, this time, for the sake of perseverance, I told her when I gave her the worksheet that I wanted her to find each and every word.  She had to do the whole thing.

First, she asked half way through if she could be done.  No.  Then came the every 2 minute excuses and off the wall questions.  I had to finally leave the room and tell her she could not come and get me until she was done.  With only half of it done, she came to me 2 minutes later with it "done."  Now, I'm not a simpleton.  I knew she couldn't finish the second half in 2 minutes, so I said, "Great!  Let's check your work together!"  Ironically, the first word on the list couldn't be found circled.  Neither could the second.  Or third.  In fact, there were several letters in the word search that were circled but didn't actually make up a word.

Silje played it cool.  She tried to have an innocent "oops" look upon her face, but I wasn't falling for it.  The point to me wasn't that her entire education hung on the fact that she could find vocabulary words from her Bible lesson mixed in with random letters.  I really couldn't care less about that.  Silje enjoyed these types of worksheets, and that's usually the only reason we do them.  The point was, I had pointed out at the very start that the expectation was that she finish an assignment from start to finish, and push over the hump of boredom, or difficulty.  To me, it was a lesson I had set up in perseverance.

What came of it?  She tried to get out of it.  Then she lied/cheated about finishing it, which had to have it's own set of consequences.  For the worksheet, I erased all of the incorrect marks on the page and made her finish.  For real this time.  O, she was mad.  She probably stared at that stupid, stupid word search for over an hour with a clenched fist around her pink pencil.  She wasn't doing it, but she was staring at it because she thought that was somehow obeying me this time.  Her attitude plummeted, and we had to work through that anger for hours afterward.

I suppose now that I think about it, if that's our worst day of homeschooling thus far, as far as behavior/attitude problems, then I'd say we're doing fantastic!  Lessons were learned.  I don't plan on doing another word search for a little while.  The rest of the week we had great school times.  As amazing as Silje is, and as much as she blows us away with her maturity and intellect, and just plain awesomeness, she's still just a kid.  We have to remind ourselves of that sometimes.

Silje, Knut and I are still in the process of adjusting to the expectations of what homeschooling is like.

For Silje, it's easy to focus on the negative, (although I don't mean for this to come out making her look awful.  She handles things usually WAY better than I ever would).  Maybe I should say, when any of us are put in any given situation, it's natural to focus on the hard part of it, and how people on the other side of the fence have it so much better.

You see, the one thing I didn't get at first when looking into homeschooling is the time on the hands of homeschool students.  Last year, she spent 2 hours a day just on her school bus.  2 hours.  Now that's a pretty typical school day!  That's not counting recess, standing in lines, lunch breaks, etc.  She was basically gone from 7am to 4:30pm for kindergarten 3 days a week.  The idea of losing our Tuesdays and Thursdays terrified me.  When on earth would she have time to be apart of our family?  We would just have to add one activity like piano lessons or ballet for our whole family to rarely be together for supper.  What would happen with multiple kids having multiple activities...it was like watching my children's childhood flash before my eyes.

Homeschooling is different in the aspect that Silje can get more learning done in 2 hours one on one with me than all day at "real school."  It makes sense.  One on one just goes faster.  However, that leaves her with more time on her hands than the typical 1st grader.  For that reason, there are 2 things (well, I'm sure more than that, but 2 things relative to this post) that Silje does more of than the average 1st grader: chores and play.

Silje helps me out a lot.  A lot.  She helps me pick up.  She tells me when disaster is about to strike with one of the boys and I'm distracted.  She does dishes sometimes (although she's supposed to do them every day and I usually only have her do them 1-2 times a week).  She takes care of Lena more than any other family member.

Before you have labor people knocking down my door, I'll add that she gets to play more than the average 1st grader too.  She will often build a couch cushion fort, have a tea party, or pretend she's a butterfly before school starts in the morning.  She has declared Thursdays "pretend I'm a cat day" in which she likes to pretend she's a cat all day.  I mean, it usually only lasts about an hour or so, but she tries to be consistent about it.

She has so much time to play!  We had the "best of times" last Wednesday putting together felt Christmas ornaments in preparation for the upcoming season.  We used cookie cutters as templates, and traced and cut out shapes.  Then I let her sew on little crystal seed beads all over the front of the ornament.  (This was her first "real" sewing project as she got to use a traditional needle and thread and tiny little seed beads from my own stash.) We were both in heaven, and I was so excited to see her trace, cut, embellish and sew the fabric with her own hands! Then I taught her the basic running stitch and she pieced together the front and back and then stuffed it full of polyfill.

It was a blast, and we'll be doing a lot more of these ornaments before Christmas comes.  I decided not to show pictures yet for 2 reasons: the ones I have taken haven't turned out that well, and because some of them may turn into fabulous Christmas gifts.

I try to explain to her when she complains about her chore load that sure...she does a lot of work around the house.  She does have chores.  Every kid has (or should have!) chores.  However, she gets a lot of things that other kids don't get either: time.  I'm sure if she came off the bus at 4:30, tired, cranky, hungry, I would not make her do the dishes before supper.  On the flip side of the day, when she had to meet the bus at 7am and we rushed to get her a good breakfast, hair brushed and mittens on, we didn't have time to make sure that Silje let the dog out to go potty and got food and water.

I'm beginning to realize that her complaining a bit more about doing chores is just that: a kid complaining about doing chores.  She doesn't have too much on her plate and the majority of her day is free play time/free learning time.  While I do admit, she probably does more than if she went to school, she does play way more at home too.  So I guess if she were being as overly dramatic as her mother, she would refer to it as "the best of times and worst of times" as well!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Therapy

I'll admit, I've been a grump this morning.  Well, it hasn't just been this morning.  Lately, I've been a hormonal mess.  I hate the feeling that I can't trust my own judgment or emotions.  I hate that I flip over something and only recognize afterward that my reaction probably wasn't rational.  I'm so tired.  I didn't sleep well last night.  By about supper time every night, every muscle in my body hurts.  Feeling this baby move, while always a joy and good thing, is becoming more painful as she's stretching me to the max.

I decided a little while ago to order myself some therapy.  Some pampering, if you will.  One of the things I did when I was pregnant with Elias was get myself some brand new adorable slippers for when I'm in the hospital.  There's just something about being so tired and sore, and being able to put something on that's so comfortable and special at such a time.  I wore those slippers out!  You moms may know how incredibly difficult it is to spend money on ourselves, as that's usually the first thing to get cut to get our kids something.

So on my incredibly grumpy morning, my therapy made a most timely arrival.  In the mailbox, I got these:
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Chunky, and may I add super duper soft 85% wool 15% alpaca yarn!  I bought this yarn without feeling it first, which is very very very unlike me.  However, the pattern recommended this specific brand, and as I read other reviews of it, plus the fact that it's quite inexpensive, I thought I'd give it a try.  On first touch, I'm impressed.

and this:

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I just can't wait to get started!

What is it, you ask?  What could it possible be for?  Well, if you guess the obvious: new slippers for me, you'd be correct.  The yarn is chunky weight, so you probably won't have to wait too long to see the end result.  That other stuff?  It's unspun merino top wool.  Never have I felt something that has made me long to know how to spin so much before, but this won't be for spinning.  Seriously, I'm just sitting here at the computer petting it in my lap.  Wool therapy always lowers the blood pressure, you know.  So how does this heavenly buttery soft stuff play into my project? I guess, you'll just have to see.

Party

Well, so far, I only have one party to report.  The surprise one has been postponed until next week, until Knut realized that next week will be Thanksgiving, so it's been delayed indefinitely.  More planning time for the kids, I guess!

Elias had a great party, thanks to all the family that helped out!  Elias snuck in and was born exactly a week before his cousin Isaac who was actually due before him.  These pseudo-twins had a combined party this year and my only job was to provide the house, and my dear sister in law provided the cake and favors.  I got most of the house ready on Saturday, but after doing a few last minute things on Monday before everyone came over, I started getting some extremely hard contractions about an hour before this intended party.  Like a good girl, I stopped preparing and put my feet up and drank some water.  It was so hard to sit there and look around at all the last minute things to get into place.  However, I learned that people understand when you don't get up to greet them at the door.  They are fully capable of getting their own drinks and there are plenty of hands available to cut cake and serve the older generation.

As you can probably guess, though, everything slowed down for me, and other than some growing discomfort, everything is going very well.  Now onto the party!

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My sister in law made little party hats for everyone.  She didn't even leave out the unborn as there was a little baby hat with a ribbon long enough to wear all the way around my tummy!  I got a good laugh out of that!

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Everyone got a hat, and I must say that grandpa and great-grandpa looked quite dashing in them.

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The girls (Silje and my niece) sported pink and purple.
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The cake was soooooo yummy, complete with dirt, worms, and bugs.

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In the midst of party planning, Rondi and I were trying to figure out if the boys should each have a cake, or if we should combine everything.  She had the idea that she could take just a pinch of extra cake batter and make 2 cupcakes so that the boys could each have their own "cake."

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Grandma brought dozens of balloons left over from a Veterans' Day celebration she had gone to and they were quite a hit!

Other than dealing with some emotions from the older kids who were not to pleased that Elias and Isaac got new presents and they did not, it was a raging success and I'm so grateful for all the help in pulling it off! 

Monday, November 15, 2010

My Birthday Boy

Happy Birthday Elias!
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O third child of mine. You were the only one of my children thus far who was cloth diapered from the very beginning. You have just your name written in your baby book, and have spent more time in p.j.s than either of your siblings.


You were the only one of my kids so far, not born in the Twin Cities. With you, I wore you in a sling all the time instead of being wary of you getting too used to being held. With you I never timed contractions and tried to figure out if I was in labor. My water broke, and then we just went to the hospital.

You were a bit sick when you were born, but we weren't worried. We knew you'd be fine after a little while. We were more tired than worried! You took a helicopter ride a few hours after your birth, and I cried when my room vibrated as you took off and I couldn't be with you. You are still the only one in our family to have been on a helicopter ride!
 (Here's the picture Daddy took of you before you went into the helicopter.)


Here's you chillin' in the NICU

I got to you as soon as I could, and soon became a thorn in your nurse's side. With your lung issues, I didn't like how she smelled a bit like cigarette smoke. I didn't like how she wouldn't give you enough time to eat and would just put milk in your feeding tube without asking me.  She wouldn't budge on any rule, and I had to ask her to hold you, and she didn't like you held too often.

After 4 days of being on oxygen, your lungs were better, but it was 3 more days before we could get out of the hospital due to the strict guidelines that the NICU required for us to leave.  You simply couldn't latch on instantly, as many newborns don't.  Since you couldn't manage eating a full meal for 20 minutes every 3 hours, and I was stubborn in not letting you have a bottle in the day, they didn't let us go home.

So after we had arguments and meetings with the dr.s and lactation consultants, and nurses, and social workers, I was finally allowed to feed you when you were hungry, for as long as you wanted.  The next day, you met their standard, and we got to go home.  Not before one last scare from one last doctor who thought you had a hip issue, which required a fiddly brace and more follow up doctor's appointments.



Fortunately, once we got home, not one doctor we saw could see what the other doctor saw, and we decided to get rid of the fiddly brace after you were in it for almost 2 weeks.

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As we wondered before your birth whether you would be more like your sister, or more like your brother, we soon found out that you were neither.  You were our third different.  Your hair grew in like a mohawk, and you giggled yourself to sleep instead of crying.  Everything to you was, and still is funny.  You walked late, talked late, did pretty much everything late, but none of that ever bothered you.  You feel fulfilled as long as you can wiggle a smile out of somebody.

You were back in the hospital after a few months with RSV, and a year later with a cold that caused breathing problems due to the episode of RSV the year before.  It's been an eventful 2 years, but about the most joyful we have ever had.  You keep everyone in the family laughing at supper time.  You snuggle more than any baby I've ever known.  Last night, when I got up to change your diaper and give you a sip of water, you looked at me and gave me a big kiss, and then wedged your head into my neck.  The number of heartwarming moments like that with you have been overwhelming.


You now say new words every day.  You run to keep up with your siblings, and you love being around babies.  While your brother body slammed Silje's dolls, you give them kisses.  When you're in the bathtub, you make the 2 rubber duckies kiss too.  You tell the little girls in the nursery that they're pretty and you love to stomp around the house growling.  You look people right in the eye when you talk to them and are completely a daddy's boy.  You follow him everywhere and love to eat whatever is on his plate no matter how spicy.  There is no food you're afraid of...yet.  You have our dog wrapped around your little finger as she does whatever she thinks you might like.  At the age of 2, you have already mastered the art of teasing your siblings.

Yes, Elias, everything was different with you, and it will always be that way.  God made you so special and you bring Him, and us so much joy.

Happy 2nd Birthday Elias!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Surprise Party

Today we're getting the house ready for Elias's birthday party next Monday.  Can you believe he'll be 2 years old?  He hasn't been acting quite himself yesterday and today and is mildly warm with crusty eyes and nose, so I hope whatever he's fighting will be gone by then.  Our plan for his party is pretty simple.  Grandparents and great-grandparents are coming over, along with Knut's sister and family.  Our nephew will be celebrating his 2nd birthday too just a week after Elias, so we decided for simplicity's sake this year to combine their parties.  I'm trying to keep things simple and I really don't have much to do besides make a cake and try to get my laundry all folded before then.

However, this blog post is not about Elias' birthday party on Monday.  It's about my surprise party on Wednesday. 

It was about a week ago when David and Silje informed me that they were going to throw me a surprise party.  It's not my birthday or anything.  They just wanted to throw me a surprise party.  I told them if they wanted to throw me a surprise party they better work it out with Daddy, because it wouldn't be right for me to help them throw me a surprise party.

Anyone who knows Silje knows that we can't have anyone over for a little supper without her making specially designed place cards and centerpieces.  For her, the ideas just started flowing and David got swept away with the whole plan.

We haven't been paying much attention to their scheming, and for the most part, have just let them have their secret meetings, as they plan.  It was when I was picking up homeschool paperwork this last week when I found their list for plans for my party that I was getting concerned.  The sheer volume of food and guests was a bit overwhelming.  Then there's the ponies and bumper cars.  I asked Knut if he knew about this party they were planning.  He said yeah, he was just letting them go to town with it.  I said he should probably check in with them on it.

The next morning, he commented to me that he had attended the most recent of Silje and David's meetings and realized just how "to town" they had gone.  He talked them down from serving 10 different kinds of juice to maybe one.  He also talked them down from inviting the entire family and our entire church, to just inviting the "farm families" (Knut's parents, uncles and cousin who work on the farm and their families.)  This party is planned for next Wednesday, and he also told them he couldn't take the whole day off work for the all day party planned, and talked them into just a little dessert after supper.

What keeps cracking me up is the way David keeps running to me throughout the day and asks me things like what is my favorite kind of cake.  I tell him, chocolate and then he asks me to make one for my surprise party.  I remind him that I can't help him throw me a surprise party, and he can't make a cake by himself, so he should talk to Daddy about it.  He then thinks about it, and then grins from ear to ear and says "Mommy!  Are you going to be really surprised?" (I wish you could see his jazz hands pop out for this question, and the sparkle in his eyes and his voice softens as he is in awe of the magic of such a celebration.)  What exactly we're celebrating, I'm unsure. 

I feel bad a bit for Elias who actually has a reason to celebrate this next week, and wonder what in the world this party for me on Wednesday will look like.  Whatever it is, I guess I'm supposed to be surprised.  I'm actually very curious how it will all turn out.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Everyone is Nesting

Here I was thinking that "nesting" was a term applied to pregnant women like myself when we do silly things like pack a hospital bag one month before we actually plan on going to the hospital, or stay awake and night thinking that all of the toys should be cleaned out under the furniture before the baby comes home.

Nesting, apparently, is simply a fall activity.  It's storing up all of your bounty from the summer growing season and packing in for the cold winter that is as sure as labor pains.  It's having constant aromas of apples, pumpkins, beets, and stews coming from the kitchen

Nesting is something that mice have been doing in abundance in our house this fall.  We've found their nests in the toy boxes, and behind pillows on the couch, and my personal favorite, my laundry pile that has only been sitting there for less than one day.  Twice now I've found one of their "storing up" in sheets or towels that have been on my couch for a matter of hours.  O, the joys of fall on a farm!

It's not just me, and it's not just the mice.  The men in this house have been doing their own nesting as well.
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With winter upon us, it's time to finish up the huge project of getting wood ready for the fireplace.

Lena looks on. Of course, she doesn't have much nesting to do.

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And it's tough for a farmer to get along without his sidekick.
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I have to admit, I've grown to look forward to the winters. As Knut's Uncle Rolf so poetically told me last year, the first good snowfall feels like tucking a rowdy child into bed. In the winter, Knut doesn't stack wood. He puts a log on the fire while taking a break from playing a board game with the kids. It's a time of some work (it never completely disappears!), and some skiing, some sipping hot chocolate, some Christmas music, some family, some travel. But first, we must all finish building our nests for the lovely season of rest that is soon upon us.

Homeschool Friday

Well, I already told you about our fun day on Monday.  Although, I haven't been blogging as much as I usually like to, I feel like all I've been blogging about is homeschooling, and I've tried to limit that to once a week.  This week I'll have to make an exception.

On Tuesday the 3 kids and I went on a field trip with the homeschool group to the local county historical museum.  Silje went there last year with her kindergarten class, but it was a first for David and Elias.  It was fun, though exhausting, and ended quite a bit earlier than I expected.  Fortunately, Knut's mom called me up and drove the boys back to her house for the rest of the afternoon while Silje and I stayed in town for her choir practice.  Both the boys were in meltdown mode by the time she called and I was more than willing to let Elias take a nap there and David have some down time.  God was totally watching out for me and this little baby that day!

I find myself feeling guilty over things that should not be felt guilty about.  I'm told that with the curriculum we've chosen, it's a common feeling because there's just so many options as to what we can do.  It's set up where we pick and choose which activities to do, and I'm finding I feel bad when I don't choose some.  I'm modifying things, and then feel guilty that I didn't "stay the course."

For instance, we're supposed to read from our read-aloud book about a chapter a day.  Since we normally do this at odd times of the day, it can often get dismissed, or if we have an unusually scheduled day, it often gets forgotten.  However, Silje has been whipping through her advanced 2nd grade readers that came with her program to the point that I'm having to add books to keep her busy.  (That was the highest reading level available for the history program that I wanted her to start with, however her reading level is much higher than that.)  Her read aloud books are 4-5 grade reading level, which she can also read with ease, however the program instructs me to read these books aloud to her.  So sometimes when we get behind in this area, I give her an assignment to read a chapter or two of her read-aloud book to herself (instead of me reading it to her) and then I ask her the normal questions afterward and we discuss it.

Now either way, she's reading the book.  I'm testing her comprehension both ways.  However, when I get busy, and have her read it to herself instead of me reading it to her just to catch us up, I feel so guilty about it.  I mean, several families who do this program don't do the read aloud books at all during the year, and just have them be their "summer reading" books.  There are no hard and fast rules here that I'm dealing with.

When the spectrum of what to teach is so wide open, it's difficult to allow myself to be satisfied with the fact that she's learning, and not be down on myself that she didn't learn it a certain way, or I didn't make it more fun, or go all 9 yards.  There are very few rules to homeschooling, which is why we purchased complete curriculums this year to give us some structure in an area we're so unfamiliar with.  All of the structure that we have in place is all self-imposed, and I don't regret having it there!

Sometimes I love the freedom of being able to manipulate the lessons to fit our family, and other times I feel like it's cheating.  For instance, Silje learned a new concept in English this week.  We added 2 more jingles about prepositions and objects of prepositions.  We also learned to label these 2 new parts of speech in sentences, as well as recognizing the prepositional phrase.  I picked a bunch of practice sentences because I was anticipating this being a very difficult concept for her to grasp.  I mean, come on...she's in 1st grade.  Many grown ups I know don't know this stuff. 

As we started the lesson, though, she picked up the concept of both instantly.  I mean, at least in regard to how to label these 2 in a sentence.  We're going to practice different angles of these concepts in the next few weeks, but for the particular kinds of sentences that we were working on...she had it.  So half way through the practice sentences that we were doing on our white board, when it was clear that she had done it correctly over and over again, I just skipped the last sentences and had her move onto her journal writing.  Afterward, I felt so guilty and questioned myself for not making her finish each and every question.  How silly!  I was the one that picked that many to begin with and had obviously picked too many, and had adjusted on a whim.  That should be a good thing, right?

So anyway, today we'll hopefully be doing an scavenger hunt in English before her test where she'll get a pile of prepositional phrases as clues for the hunt.  Things like "under the table," or "in the cupboard."  I think I'll have an actual prize at the end...something from my Target $1 aisle stash that she doesn't know about.

I've been very very busy this week getting the last of the garden produce that is now in our garage into a more permanent place for the winter.  I used to be able to roast about 4 pumpkins a day, but I bought a new big sheet pan and can now handle 11 pumpkins a day easily (and in less time!) so I'm almost done!  However, the apples are already starting to soften, and I still have a few beets to cook and freeze up. I would really like to have all of this set for winter before the new baby comes.

Silje's been begging for a "cooking class" but I've been nervous to let her too near the stove or knives.  So I've put her to work washing beets, or taking out the insides of pumpkins along with me.  I feel bad making her "work" like this during school time when most little girls are at school with their friends, but she's having the time of her life and begs for more to do, so again...needless guilt.


There's no particular conclusion to this blog post, other than to reveal the range of emotions that this homeschool mom deals with.  One day I feel such freedom, and then the other I feel guilty for using that freedom.  Maybe that's just a pregnant homeschool mom...heavy on the pregnant.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

To Do

To Do Today:

-school with Silje

-roast and puree as many pumpkins as humanly possible

-make something with some of the apples piled up in the garage

-only 2-3 loads of laundry

-change sheets upstairs

-finish packing hospital bag

-put finishing touches adorable diaper bag on sewing table and decide whether to keep it or sell it in store...(I might have a tough time letting go of this one.)

-start some bread in breadmaker

-make something yummy for supper tonight...we're out of leftovers

-work on Christmas presents with Silje

-try to keep David away from the t.v. and keep him productive doing something else

-pick up all of the disasters that our soon to be 2 year old Tazmanian devil is sure to make around the house throughout the day

-take a shower?? (please?)

- write something on the blog while eating donuts and drinking coffee

-call my sister and talk for way too long while ignoring my children


Well, at least one thing is done so far today. Hmmm...I wonder if my sister is up yet...

Monday, November 8, 2010

Lovely Day

This lovely past weekend the guys finished harvest and Knut got to come home.  They still have work to do, but the stress of the harvest is off his shoulders and it shows.  We had some family of mine come through town on Saturday night and stay with us and we stayed up late drinking coffee and just catching up.  What fun!  Stewart is my mother's cousin, and I was the flower girl in Pam and his wedding 22 years ago.  I must admit, that made me feel a bit dated.  It was just the 2 of them at our house this time, and they were telling us of the busy-ness and rapid growth going on in the oil fields of North Dakota where they live.

They left Sunday morning, and Knut and I enjoyed a lovely morning at church, and then a lovely long nap in the afternoon.  Elias slept too, and Silje and David watch a movie quietly in the basement.  It was so peaceful.  Lovely.

This morning was "A Little Break" when traditionally I bring the kids to a local church once a month where they have a great program where you can drop off your babies through preschoolers for 2.5 hours and just leave and have some alone time, or get some errands done.  What's even better is I can tell when I pick them up that they haven't been attention deprived in the least!  It's non-stop activities, almost like a once a month VBS.  They read books and sing songs and learn actions, and do crafts and have open play time.  They always come home exhausted!  I haven't done it since we've started homeschooling Silje, so I was debating whether or not I should send the boys.  You see, we have a field trip tomorrow to the museum with our homeschool group.  Usually on homeschool group days we don't get as much "school work" done in the mornings, and I thought if we missed school this morning, and didn't do as much tomorrow we'd be starting 2 days in a row of bad habits.

I didn't have that many errands to run in town...just a necessary trip to the post office. I was debating out loud to Knut if I should just run into town quick with all the kids to the post office, and then come back for school, or if I should drop the boys off for the morning, and find something to do with Silje in town and miss school this morning.  He then suggested that we bring our work along, and do school in a coffee shop this morning.  I thought that was a very fun idea, so that's what we did!


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I had a mocha and coffee cake, and Silje ordered herself some gingerbread spice tea and a chocolate brownie, and we sat and went through all of our science, history, geography, read alouds and math for the day.  That only left her English, Chinese, and a little more independent reading when she got home.

We had so much fun, and I think this will be a monthly occurrence.   I don't remember the last time I had so much fun with her! 

This was the first time however, that I noticed people noticing us.  Besides the very sweet older man who came up to us there and was so pleased to see a mother reading to her daughter and spending quality time with her  (he went into this long tangent about how he feels hope for the world or something.  It was so sweet!) we got several other comments as we were at the post office, and a few other places. 

Silje is now big enough that she looks like she belongs in school.  People asked us if school was out today, or asked how old she was and were confused when she said "6."  It was even funnier when she told people, yes, she does go to school and today it was at a coffee shop.  Some would persist and ask what she learned in the coffee shop, to which she would say something like "I learned that Venus is the hottest planet.  And did you know that on Venus, a day is longer than a year?  There are volcanoes erupting all the time, but there is never any ash because there is nothing there to burn up except rock!  So it just melts and cools and melts and cools, but never any ash like our fireplace!"

Yes, yes, my daughter is a genius.  Today was a lovely morning, and we've had so much fun so far today.  What's even better is that Knut will be home tonight.  Probably even for supper.  (Well, I think he might have a meeting in town...but he'll come home first!)  It's the little things that bring so much joy.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Homeschool Friday

This week of homeschooling has been mirroring the laid back attitude that I've been trying to have with things lately. Silje is still getting her work done, of course. We've been working on Egypt some more for the first part of the week, and moved onto the ancient civilization on the island of Crete on the latter part of the week. I believe we will go back to Egypt, but first do a brief overview of the various ancient civilizations. I believe we're supposed to hit the Indus Valley ancient civilization next.

The neatest thing that we finally are getting into is our timeline book. It's just a large blank timeline that's in book form. You can make notes about the things you study and write when they happened as you learn them. It helps set some context to know things like who ruled different countries at the same time. She caught on really quickly to what B.C. and A.D. means, and knows that B.C. dates count down to the birth of Christ, and A.D. counts up after the birth of Christ. I don't think I learned that until 5th grade? Maybe? Anyway, she gets it, and won't let me pass a single date given in our textbook without writing it down in our time line book.

In math, she's learning how to tell time on a regular clock. Right now we're just getting the hour hand down, and I think I actually expected her to know some of this better, but it all seemed to be new information for her. She's also getting into odds and evens.

English grammar I actually haven't been on top of as much as I should be. We're still about 2 weeks ahead of schedule, and I think it's been bad that I sometimes skip it on crazy busy days since we are so far ahead. The last half of this week I've been doing a bit better with that. Thursday was really good, though, because she's been working on writing her own sentences and she desires so much to create stories and fill her journal.

Her desire to create has really shone in other subjects as well. While practicing the piano this last week, she said "Mommy, I want to learn all the notes so well that I can write my own songs!" For afternoon activities this week, I let her sculpt with some play dough while I got supper ready (something I don't let her do nearly enough) and she just went to town making the most creative things.

Knut just recently refilled the bird feeder outside our kitchen window, which has drawn some birds I've actually never seen by our house before. We've seen a blue jay and a red-headed woodpecker (that was really cool!) Silje has begun to take a pencil and blank notebook over to the kitchen table, and sits and sketches the birds that she sees. It was her own idea, and she did it completely independently.

I feel bad I haven't been doing the crafts that I've been planning to do with her that somehow got dropped with other electives when I was sick a few weeks ago. I really ought to add those back in. Her desire to create things is just oozing from her lately!

She's starting to prefer to do her work on the couch in the living room in front of the fireplace as opposed to the dining room table. I've let her do that, until I saw a big slide in her handwriting again, so we're back to the table at least for the writing assignments.

Going over the curriculums, I see that we're soon approaching the half year mark in 2 subjects. What? Didn't we just start?

I've reorganized the day from what I had originally scheduled it out to be. So far it's working well for me, but I haven't asked Silje's opinion on it yet. Basically before I was planning on alternating subjects that she could do independently with subjects that she needed one on one time with. I've changed that into 2 clumps now.

We start the day together doing our devotions/Bible reading and then I hand her a stack of her worksheets that she needs to complete that day. (This includes her Bible coloring pages, which she LOVES, a piece of handwriting paper to write out her memory verse, her spelling words worksheet, and sometimes her math worksheets [although sometimes we need to "do" a teaching math lesson first, and then I do it later in the day.])

During that independent work time, I start the house off for the day. If we need bread, I start some in the breadmaker. Almost always a load of laundry needs to be started. I clean up the kitchen for the morning, check my email, attempt to get dressed, and get the boys set up with some fun activity. When she's done with her independent work, we go over it together and discuss things that she may have gotten wrong, or finally figured out. Then we sit and read through her history/geography lesson, and do the activities which usually involves searching our map, writing on the timeline, but most often she has so many questions, and I do my best to answer them. If she stumps me too many times, we schedule a trip to the library as soon as I can manage it that week.

Grammar is also a subject that we do together, as well as the read alouds, which normally, or not so normally gets put somewhere into the day, but not necessarily the "school" portion of the day.

I think I'm happy to be falling into some kind of routine after being sickish for a month or so. My goals for this next week will include getting back on top of some of our electives like Chinese and sewing, as well as relying less on the t.v. for the boys. Usually the time I spend with Silje one on one, is less than an hour, and often I feel left with no choice but to hypnotize the boys with some show, which 95% of the time is PBS kids.

However, the more I rely on the t.v. the more difficult they all are to handle throughout the rest of the day, and they're just wearing me out! It's almost as if they forget how to just play after watching t.v. at some point in the morning, and follow me around and whine once it gets turned off. A few times this week, I've left the one on one work until Elias' afternoon nap time, so I only have to worry about keeping David occupied while I work with Silje. (Which is much much easier!) I could go into a whole post about this struggle, but I think it seeps out of a homeschool topic and into a straight parenting topic, so I'll save it for another day.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

My Little Girls' Closet

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Here's the promised picture of my little girl in her new sweater and headband.  She picked out sparkly diamond-like buttons, and we had one extra in the pack, so I put it right in the middle of her flower, which delighted her to no end.

I was writing a blog post about starting to pack for the hospital this afternoon that somehow erased as soon as I pushed publish.  Our internet connection is sometimes sketchy, and apparently it wasn't automatically saving as it normally does.  Anyway, I took it as a sign that it was terribly boring, and since I don't feel like writing it again, I'm moving on.

I have to share a tiny bit more of my super fun virtual baby shower that has been coming in the mail from my online friends.  Ironically, my sister showed up to this virtual shower as well, since she sent me a sweet fleece outfit in the mail as a surprise by chance the same week I seem to be getting all of these sweet presents.  I thought that was cool, and ironic.  My poor mailman probably is wondering what in the world is going on as I'm getting at least one package every day, but usually multiple ones.

Today, I got this adorable present in the mail:
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It's a little black handknit wool sweater with hand embroidered pink flowers along the bottom.
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She sent along the full skein leftover from the embroidery in case I felt inspired to make something matching.
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(Which is also ironic, because I happen to have a great baby bootie pattern that uses this exact weight of yarn.  Now I need to repeat to myself over and over again: "You must finish at least 2 projects before you start a new one.")

I haven't shown pictures yet of the little fleece set my sister sent me, or yet another diva gift, a sweet little swaddling/burp cloth set.  Those have already been put away in my little girls' closet and the older girl is sleeping in there right now while the younger is sleeping away inside me still.  So maybe another time.  For now, though, I'll enjoy the quiet.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

I "Finished" Something!

Well, except the buttons!  Silje and I will be picking some out while we're in town today.  I've been making so many things for this baby, I saw that Silje was feeling a bit left out.  That surprised me because she normally doesn't care whether or not something is homemade, and she has plenty of nice clothes.  Still, I wanted to make something special for her, so as another diversion from what I should be working on for Christmas, I took another small break to make this for her:
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I don't think the picture is quite the right red, and looks more pink in the lighting.  It's actually called "cherry red" and uses the same kind/brand of yarn that I used for her little sister's sweater here.  However, this yarn must have been from a different batch because it's not nearly as soft as the other yarn, and I actually talked with my local yarn store about it.  They said that their employees have noticed it, but I was the first customer to point it out.  That, and the fact that I'm on a first name basis with most of the employees there might be a sign that I spend too much time there.
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I used a pattern called the "tea leaves cardigan" although the mini version, as the original is for adults.  What attracted me to it?  What else...it's knitted all in one piece with little finishing.  No seaming at all.  As you can tell, it still needs buttons.  I motified the pattern to have buttons all the way down, instead of just 3 at the yoke and open at the bottom.  I just think it looks nicer that way. Also, I made full length sleeves instead of the 3/4 length ones that the pattern calls for, and I made the body a bit longer because she's so long.

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When I had Silje try it on as it progressed to make sure that the sleeves were long enough, I could tell her holding back in saying something.  I think she was expecting something flashier, or something.  I picked cherry red because I thought it would be festive for the upcoming season, and she said she liked it, but her face didn't light up like I hoped.  Then I got an idea to make a matching headband for it.  I didn't have a pattern for the headband.  I just did a circular band of stretchy ribbing on my needles, and attached this crocheted flower that I whipped up while watching t.v. last night.

That did the trick.  She loves matching and accessorizing, and this huge trendy flower headband made her swoon over the whole set like I was hoping.

(Side note...I got the flower pattern from one of my newest reference books in my sewing library:
Here's one more plug in...I got this book, and the other reference books that I'm trying to build up for a great crafting room library for free by using "swagbucks."  It's basically using a specific search engine like you normally use and you earn points by using the swagbuck search engine instead of whatever else you normally use.  You can buy tons of things with these points, but I like to buy amazon.com giftcards.  Since I signed up a few months ago, I've gotten about $60+ in giftcards.  It's not a lot, but it's less guilt when buying something just for me!  I've gotten about 4 great new crafting books through it so far.  I get points if I refer people, so here's a picture link if you're interested:

Search & Win

(I don't intend on putting a bunch of ads on the blog...I just figure is something is relevant I'll post it.)

After I get the buttons on, I'll post pictures of Silje wearing it.  I picked the color cherry red and the pattern, so I figured I'd let her pick out the buttons.  It seemed so huge to me that I thought she would be swimming in it.  I kept measuring her, checking my gauge, shaking my head, but in the end, she tried it on and it fit like a glove.  I just can't believe that she's that big!

I was kicking myself a bit too, because this project wasn't as quick as I was thinking it would be.  Don't get me wrong, it just took a few weeks, and not even working non-stop.  It's just it's getting down to crunch time for making handmade gifts for Christmas and I don't have a lot of "diversion crafts" time left.  After making a run of infant things though, I forgot how long bigger sweaters take!  Not quite the instant gratification.  However, I DO plan on doing this pattern again in the future because it was so well written, and the finished product turned out so well.  My only regret is going ahead with this yarn, as I'm worried it will pill pretty bad, so I'll just have to take extra care when washing it to see if I can avoid that.  In the future I think I'll opt for a higher quality yarn.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Baby Shower

Well, from time to time I refer to my mommy friends online called the Diaper Sewing Divas.  These women have become my friends ever since I joined this community when I was pregnant with Elias.  They have this fun program that you work your way into once you've been on the board for awhile.  (For security reasons of course.  I mean, it's not like I just put my address out there for people to send me stuff.  They have a system to securely get packages to people without just posting an address list.)  Through this gifting program, they've been on a rampage lately to give little baby showers to all the expectant mamas, and I guess, today was my day to open up my mailbox, and find 4 packages in there of homemade goodness.  They work really hard to coordinate the packages to arrive on the same day so the mama is "showered" with baby gifts.

Want to see what I got?

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This adorable handmade felt ornament.  It's it beautiful?

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A little handmade baby outfit.  Handmade knit top, fleece pants, and babylegs converted from children's knee-highs.  I've never had baby legs before so this is quite exciting for me!

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A tiny little flannel bib and matching burp cloth...

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A small diaper cover with a minky exterior.  It's like super furry soft fabric.  Blue is my favorite color, so it better be this little girl's as well!
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See?  Diva made!

And last but not least...
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2 medium sized diaper covers and a corn filled warm/cold therapy pack for after birth. 

I'm very happy to get little notes and gifts from these sweet women, and I'm very happy that I can cross "Make a few extra diaper covers" off my to-do list!  I was hoping for 2-3 more covers than I had last time around, and I guess I got my wish!

Not shown is one more gift that I feel like I should mention because it's so darling, but I'm going to resist the urge to go up 2 flights of stairs to get it in the baby's room and take pictures of it.  (I'm typing in the basement.)  When I made it to the second trimester, one of the divas sent me a teeny little newborn fitted diaper and sock monkey PUL cover to help me celebrate making it to the second trimester.  She knew after losing the previous pregnancy, making it to the second trimester was a big deal for me.  These ladies are so sweet, and I'm so happy to know them!

The Thing to Do

I'm a little disappointed with myself for not remembering to get a picture of the kids in their costumes before we headed out trick or treating.  During and after doesn't give you the best pictures.

Since it's the thing to do, though, to post pictures of your kids in costumes, I'll post what I have.

May I introduce a butterfly:

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(Notice she picked out her blue wings this year to match her winter coat?  This midwestern girl is getting smart!)  The outfit needed a little something, so I pulled out the face paint and a bunch of face glitter and we gave the costume a bit of pizazz!

Spiderman:
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You may remember, this is his costume from 2 years ago.  The cheap plastic mask that went to it broke ages ago, but as we were going through our old costumes, he declared this his costume this year...mask or no mask.

Yoda:
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Thank you to cousin Jack for this sweet hand-me-down!  I have to say, it kept me smiling all night long!  Elias was an AWESOME Yoda.