Saturday, July 30, 2011

Cannon Ball!

David spent most of Friday morning looking like this.  He was trying to convince himself to jump off the dock.  We watched him count to 3 several times only to be so mad at himself for losing his courage.  We sat from the shore listening to him talking himself into jumping off, and yelling at himself when he didn't.
Once he convinced himself for the first time, the next 453 jumps yesterday were easy.

Once Daddy showed him the "cannon ball" he was kept busy perfecting the art for the rest of the day.
Grammy thought she'd join him too.
Best picture of my mom e.v.e.r.  (I told her this should be her new Facebook profile.)

Friday, July 29, 2011

Homeschool Portrait - Melissa

One of the purposes of doing this little exercise of peeking into the lives of different homeschool moms is to show you that not all homeschoolers have many children, live on a farm, raise goats, and dress their children alike.

So here's Melissa.  She doesn't dress her children alike.  See?  Different.

As far as many children, living on a farm, and having pet goats, I think that she just might fit the bill.  I love Melissa into a million pieces.  I cannot have a conversation with her without laughing.  I would challenge any to try.  She is such an inspiration to me, and not because she has it all together, or her kids are always well behaved and her house is always clean (which I'm pretty sure she would argue).  She's an inspiration to me because she's one of the most genuine people I know.  There is no pretense with her.  Just honesty and lots of joy.

She has a little blog like me, too.  When I was in the last month or so in my pregnancy with Solveig, she took the trek out to our place brought me food.  3 meals to be exact.  She said everyone always brings meals after the baby is born, but sometimes, the last month is the most painful, and the last thing any woman about to give birth wants to do is stand by a stove.  For that and so many more acts of kindness, she is so so dear to me.

Tell us about your family.  How many kids do you have and what are their ages?
We are expecting our ninth child in November, though we don't know the gender. We do know that so far, we have five boys and three girls. Our children are 15, 13, 10, 8, 5, 4, 2, and 1.

Are all of your children home educated?
Yes, all of our children are home educated. Our oldest two went to government school through 3rd and 1st grade, then we brought them back home. We have been homeschooling since 2005. 

Do you or your husband work?  What work are you into?
My husband is a dairy farmer as well as a Primerica Financial Services representative. I do not work.

(Gretchen's note: this is where I laughed out loud.)

How much education do you have?  If you went to college, what did you major in?
I have an Associate Degree. I was intending to major in Music Education and was heading in that direction when God spoke to my heart and asked me to stop going to college and stay home to raise our children. I was pregnant with our third child when I graduated from a 2 year college.

Which curriculum and/or homeschool philosophy do you follow?
I don't have a set curriculum so much as a "hodge podge" collection. When you have a lot of kids and especially if you homeschool them, you get BOXES of hand-me-down books. BOXES. Since funds are always tight, I try to pull from what I have been given before I buy something new. This does present it's challenges because often it's not something I would have chosen, but if I have such-and-such spelling book on the shelf from someone, for example, and it's serviceable, it wouldn't be the best use of money to purchase what I think is my "ideal" spelling book. As far as my home education philosophy, I believe that more can be learned from a "living book" than a dry old text book. For this reason, we implement a literature-rich education approach.

 I know it's a loaded question, so answer as detailed or brief as you like.  Why did you decide to homeschool?
If you'd like to read the FULL story, feel free to click on the Why We Homeschool Page on my blog. I will give you a (somewhat) brief synopsis here. When I answer this question for someone who is sincerely asking, I tell them that I went from Reactionary to Visionary. What finally "pushed me over the edge" was a bomb threat at our school. Even though my husband had been wanting me to homeschool for a few years, it took a bomb threat to really get my attention. HOWEVER--when I was offered a JOB at the school as a music teacher, I convinced myself that if I was IN THE BUILDING, I could keep my child safe, so I accepted the position. I made it through most of the year, and God was chipping away at my heart to turn it toward my children and my home. I vividly remember the day I finally "gave in": I was standing in front of my 1st grade son's class of 24 kids trying to do music time. I'm not exaggerating when I say that of those 24, THREE were paying attention and doing what was expected. THREE. My son was one of them. As I gazed over the group of children engaged in various pursuits (throwing papers, digging in their desks, changing their shoes, gazing absently out the window, falling off their chair, picking their nose, and generally rowdiness) my eyes landed on my son--my little boy. His bright blue eyes looked straight into mine and I could see in them a desire and a plea. I doubt he could have put it into words, but I could see that he knew to obey. He felt helpless in a sea of children who had chosen to disobey the person in authority--he wanted to learn and accomplish things. The other kids were so busy being busy, they couldn't possibly pay attention. I looked at him...and looked at them...and I knew. I knew. We were going to homeschool. Again, what began as a reaction on my part (to the bomb threats, bad behavior, etc.), God changed to a vision; a vision for what we could accomplish as a family if I pulled my children from the government school and educated them at home. When I use the word "accomplish", I'm not referring to pages handed in or checked off. I want my children to learn within the crucible of the home and family. Homeschooling affords us this opportunity. 

What does a typical school day look like in your home?
HaHa! HA! Hahahahaha! Ahem. Um. Sorry. Typcial day. Right. Uhhh, there are no typical days here. On the days when I am so CERTAIN we are going to get so much school time in, you can about guarantee the cows will get out. Or someone will stop by. Or the well gives out. Or the washing machine gives out. Or someone pukes. I suppose I could TRY to explain how we roll: my husband, the 13 year old and 10 year old go out to start milking by about 7:00 am. (No, we don't milk at 4:00am like dairy farmers of yore.) I am usually standing stupefied in front of the coffee maker at this time, watching the amber liquid drip into the carafe and knowing I will soon be savoring my cup of coffee....ahhhh. (It could be said I have a rather un-healthy affection for coffee.) The 2 and 1 year old are also up and are at the table waiting for breakfast. I wish, well, ok, I don't even wish really, that I could say that it's while I'm cheerfully whipping up scrambled eggs, bacon, toast, freshly-squeezed orange juice, and arranging freshly picked blooms from my large and well-tended flower garden. Reality is, I'm pouring milk over Cheerios (hey--WHOLE GRAIN, though!). I do make oatmeal fairly often, too.

My 8 year old and 5 year old boys are making their way to the table by now and pouring/spilling their own breakfasts. Since the baby girls are finishing up, I leave the boys in charge of the table and I hop through the shower.

About the time I'm ready for the day, my oldest daughter comes in from the barn, washes up and gets herself ready for the day. My four year old runs on a different clock and always sleeps in. I just let him and we get started on a few inside chores and then start school. This would be mostly seatwork. About then, the 4 year old wakes up and has his breakfast. Since my 15 year old son does the night milking and is out in the barn until late, I let him sleep in the morning. So, by about 10:00 am, he's up and going on the day. We try to get as much done as we can until it's time to make dinner. (We call the noon meal "dinner" and the evening meal "supper". Just to clarify.)

We eat at about 12:30 and by 1:30 we are usually doing our read-aloud time. The baby typically falls asleep in her dinner, so she's been peeled off her plate, washed up and is in her bed for her nap. The youngers pick something quiet to do while we read. We often use reading time to fold laundry, too.

Assuming I can stay awake, we typically read until about 2:45 or 3:00. By this time, all boys are asking to go outside and "hunt" with their bb guns. Children eat a quick snack and Mom catches a quick nap while kids play outside.

We try to eat supper by 5:30-6:00 and then the 15 year old and 8 year old boys head out with my husband for evening chores. Supper clean-up, baths, and bed time for the remaining children. My husband typically comes in by about 10:00 pm. Sometimes a bit earlier, sometimes much later. Either way, I'm about passed out on the couch or in bed by about 9:30.

 What do you find to be the hardest part about homeschooling?
Balance. And Guilt. Balancing guilt? I'm not sure. For example, I need to make sure that I am treating our homeschooling as a priority. That means that I can't just run around hither and yon, doing this and that. We need to spend most of our time at HOME in order to HOME educate. It's hard enough to fit in school work among the "regular" work of picking up toys, washing clothes, preparing, eating, and cleaning up meals, etc., etc., so if I'm not HOME, it makes it even harder.
But let's say that a family we know could really use a meal brought to them. What lesson am I teaching my children if I see a need like that and decide, "No--long division is MUCH more important than that family's need for a meal. We MUST stay home and do MATH." I want them to learn to SERVE--and in order to learn that, they must see me do so.
And then I have guilt. Guilt because we didn't get done with math AGAIN today! Perhaps yesterday we helped a neighbor, and I was thinking "we'll make SURE to get it done tomorrow." and now today, someone's sick? Or some other thing comes up?
It's very hard to maintain balance. We need to make time for school; however, I can't let "school" rule our lives. All of life is a lesson--there is much to be learned that does not lie within the pages of a textbook. 
Another issue for me is balancing the needs of all of my children.  Their physical needs are great enough (love, affection, clean clothes, meals, a mom who pays attention) but throwing in their educational needs on top of that is a big load.  Since I’m “it” for them, it is a common occurrence that while helping my oldest with Algebra, it is to background sounds of “will somebody come wiiiiiiiiipe meeeeeeeee???” and “Mom, I’m done with my letters, can I go outside?” and “Babe?  Can you run to town for this part?” and “Has anyone seen my spelling notebook?”  Some days it is all I can do not to sit down and cry, feeling so inadequate.  And then there are good days—really good days where my children impress me so much!  Not just with what they know, but with how they are with who they know.  My boys open doors for me, they hold old ladies hands to steady them on the sidewalk.  My boys will hold babies and play with toddlers that aren’t members of our immediate family.  They can handle themselves independently in a store.  My son and daughter can prepare meals for our whole family with little to no help from me.  My children look people in the eye when spoken to and can speak intelligently with people from any age group.  They are friends with each other and always have someone to play with.  Because we are together all the time, and conversation is a huge part of the way I parent, they know they can ask me anything—and they do. Most importantly, my children are walking with the Lord.  These are the things that keep me going on days that are hard.
On top of all that, they are all incredibly smart and breath-takingly good looking.

What do you, personally, do for fun? Do you have any guilty pleasures? 
For fun, I sleep.  I blog and I like to read the blogs of my friends as well as some others.  I like to take pictures of the kids and I like to sit in the sun. As far as guilty pleasures, boy, I’m taking a risk divulging this information since my kids read this blog and mine, but……well, my guilty pleasure is………reading in the bathtub.  I tell them “I’m going to go hop in the tub and get ready for the day” and I am, but I read for awhile, too.  My other guilty pleasure, and this only works while I’m pregnant (which is a substantial part of my life), is to have two of some kind of treat, saying that one is for the baby.  My older kids just smile, but my littles totally buy it.  Should I feel guilty for that?  I’m not sure.  Probably.
What are some of your favorite resources? (e.g websites, stores, books, programs)  Apologia Science, Pathway Readers, Sonlight, Heppner’s Legacy Homeschooling Resources –the only homeschooling store in MN.  Brad is GREAT to order from over the phone!  One of my dreams is go browse through their store.  Probably better for the checkbook if I don’t ever fulfill that dream…
As far as books for Mom, anything by John Taylor Gatto (Dumbing Us Down, The Underground History of American Education), The Three R’s by Ruth Beechick, Things We Wish We’d Known compiled by Diana Waring

  Any advice for those just starting out homeschooling?
If you are just starting out, and your kids have been in public school, it will take time for both you and your kids to “de-school.”  That might means months, and it might mean years.  It may take awhile to find your “groove”.  Home education is not public-school-at-home.
If you are starting to home educate kids having never been to government school, remind yourself that you have been teaching them from the moment they were born.  You taught them to smile, roll over, crawl, walk, eat with a spoon, drink from a cup, talk, play nice, etc., etc.  Reading, writing, and arithmetic are just the next steps.  You are just the one they need.
Know that there will be hard days—and there will be days when you know, you just know, that you are doing the right thing and that you wouldn’t trade these days for anything.
Homeschooling isn’t just an educational option, in my opinion.  It is a way of life.  And it’s a good one.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Our Stay-cation

Since my parents are here, Knut took the week off as it seemed like a slow time on the farm as well.

He's been scraping and painting the summer kitchen (our little 'shed' by the driveway that actually used to be a summer kitchen for the original owners.  Now it's houses the bikes and kids' outside toys and garden stuff.)

Before that he fixed the chimney to the corn stove that needed some work.  Papa's been helping.  He even got a ride on the lawn mower...for a few hours.

I showed my mom how to make yogurt last night.  She seems excited to try it when she gets home.  She likes to pack plain yogurt with frozen berries and Splenda to work every day and eats it at lunch.  Everyday.  (My mom is more of a health nut than me sometimes!)  She said with her busy schedule, it might be something homemade that she can do.

The men are planning on fishing tomorrow.

The kids are loving all the time they get to spend with Grammy and Papa.

The boys ride circles around the men as they work.  Knut took the 2 older ones on a long bike ride the other night.  It's been a fun stay-cation.

Poor Solveig keeps getting her sleep interrupted and did not sleep well last night (thus, I did not sleep well last night) as a result of an "off" schedule I think.  I feel bad that she's kind of forced to "roll with the punches."  The life of the 4th child, I guess.  I think all the snuggles she's getting from Grammy might be making up for it!

She crawled for the first time about 2 days ago.  Grammy and Silje were watching her, and Silje ran to get me.  By the time I got there, she was still crawling.  She's not fast at it yet, and you can tell that she works so hard at it.  Actually, when you take into account that she's working on a brand new skill, she has 2 teeth coming in, she's been terribly constipated, and her schedule has been upset, she's been a very, very happy baby.

Papa has been getting up early every morning and taking Lena on 3 mile long walks along the countryside.  It's been good for Lena.  It's been good for Papa.  Needless to say, she follows him everywhere.

Silje finally got into The Secret Garden and is reading every moment of her free usual.  She keeps trying to get Grammy to give her clues as to how this mystery will turn out.  I never really thought of it as a mystery book, but Silje seems to think it's a great mystery.

It's been a great week so far, with still more fun (and more work) in store.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Yarn Along

I have 2 pictures this week:


I got the blue ribbon.  I was pretty excited about that.  The prize money was $3, not the $2 I thought it was.  That might upgrade me to a Norwegian chocolate bar.  So many ribbons were given out that I was kicking myself that I didn't submit so much more.  Why didn't I put in some breads and jellies, and sewing?  Next year...I'm going for Godiva.

My mom said that now I need to put something on my store website saying I'm an "award winning knitter."  That made me laugh pretty hard.

I finally cast on (a few different times) the "dirk" little boy sweater prototype.  Now it's time to change colors and I can't find the other color which is a lighter brown.  My parents are here now and I'm getting a chance to go through things, so I'm hoping that as I'm cleaning up my craft space the doe colored dk yarn will show up.

I'm half way through the next reader for Silje as I'm working my way through her book list for this upcoming school year.  It's by the author of the Pippi Longstocking books and this book is about a little group of neighboring children based in Sweden.  The book sounds like she put a little tape recorder in front of a little girl and asked her to talk about her life.  It just chatters on like a little girl which is very funny.

Thanks for stopping by for the Yarn Along and don't forget to say "hi!"  It's always fun seeing others who are participating so stop on by Ginny's blog to see the full list.

Monday, July 25, 2011

I'm Blessed

Happy Monday.  How have you been blessed this last week?  I love reading how God is working these days, so please join the party by leaving a link to your current blog post saying how you have been blessed (instructions here) or at least leave a comment if you don't have a blog.  It's such a treat for me when you do that, and I know a treat for others to read as well.  I have found this to be a great way to retrain my brain from focusing on the complaints, to focusing on praising.

My parents are currently visiting us from across the country.  Need I say more?

If I need to catch you up on the wonderfulness of their visits:

-Knut and my parents get along great.  Probably too great, but I'll settle for great.

-I rarely get a chance to touch dishes while they're here.  From a house without a dishwasher, this is a big deal for me!

-My "Papa" (step-dad) does an amazing job grooming our dog, Lena.  Brushed, de-shed, nails trimmed and rounded, exercised, fed, etc.  He loves dogs and Lena looks forward to his visits like Christmas.

-Knut has the whole week off to spend with us.

-There is always someone around to read the kids a book, and always someone to "oooh" and "aaah" over Lego sculptures.  When they are here we can move back to "man on man defense" if we want because we have the same number as adults in the house as children.

-They asked to see my homeschool books for next year and let me go on...and on....and on about them and all of my plans.

-Once the kids are in bed we get to sit around playing games and discussing theology until the wee hours of the night.

-Papa makes breakfast.

-Mom gives me back rubs.

-My mom was snapping pictures of my fingerless mittens at the country fair with as much enthusiasm as when I had an art project on display in elementary school.  I'm 30 years old and I still love it.  (I'll share the results on Wednesday.)

Well, the week has just begun so I can't say all the blessings that will happen.  I can say that having them here feels like I can breathe a big sigh of relief.  When they're here I can say "Would it be okay if I take a nap?"  and it's arranged.  I don't walk around the house wondering if I'm the only one who notices the trash on the floor.  I walk around wondering if someone just swept it. 

Having them visit is like having a retreat come to us.  What can I say?  We're blessed.

(pssst!  Don't forget to share how you've been recently blessed!)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Garden Tour

Since Knut just caught me up with weeds in the garden and it's all pretty, I thought I'd post some pictures.
I'll start with the bad news.  Our peas are having a bad year.  For some reason, only half of them came up, and we picked a few and halfway through our normal season, they are now all looking like this.  There is no lack of rain lately, and I don't see evidence of any bug taking over.  Normally we eat what we like fresh and then freeze about an ice cream bucket full for winter.  Last year we ate what we liked fresh and had 2 ice cream buckets and 1 full gallon Ziploc bag frozen for winter.  This year we ate some fresh and have none left to freeze.  We're pretty bummed. 
You're looking at our huge lettuce and spinach row on the right.  We've been planting some more of those every few weeks so we have a constant supply.  Further down the row you'll see smaller plants that are coming up.  To the left of that a row of edamame plants that Knut squeezed between 2 rows already planted after the fact because he wanted to try it.  It seems to be growing fine.  Squeezed right next to it is our green bean row which is on the ridge of a huge harvest.  Pretty soon I'll be bringing bucketfuls in every day.
Do you remember our monstrous pie pumpkin vine last year?  I still have about 60 cups of frozen pumpkin in the freezer.  The vine took over every part of the garden as we fought it back.  This year I planted squash and cucumber.  Both died.  So I went to the nursery to pick up some already started vines and they were out of squash so I was left with just cucumber.  So what you're seeing here is the huge space I set aside for vines and the tiny little cucumber plant that is already flowering and is close to as big as it's going to get.  I'm just disgusted with the wasted garden space here.  Urgh!
Here is the beautiful pinot noir bell peppers that we're growing this year.  They are so beautiful cut up.  We're also growing green and red peppers but these ones are showing up first.
Here is the flowering green beans.  It will be a huge harvest this year!
Here are the broccoli plants.  Last year was our first year doing broccoli and I did not know what I was doing and did not harvest them early enough.  Why do I have to learn by messing up so often?  This year I planted twice as many and am excited to harvest the heads right away!  Broccoli is the vegetable that my kids eat the most and if I can wipe it off of my grocery list for the year it will be our biggest money saver in the garden.
Here's our strawberry patch that blew us away this year.  It was so delightful!  Each year I've been trying to figure out how to handle the weeds.  Last year I tried dried grass and it kept blowing away.  This year I tried wood chips and it worked amazingly well.  I'll be doing that again!  I asked a friend of mine in the homeschool group who gets really good strawberries what she does.  She said that each spring she moves them into rows, lays down landscape cloth over them and then covers them with wood chips.  So this next Spring I plan to organize this patch into rows, and do the cloth and chips.  
This has been our best strawberry year, though and that was a big treat for us.
This is what asparagus plants look like when they are past their season.  Our asparagus patch has been growing steadily every year and is the most fought over vegetable at the table.  We harvested every stock we could this year and ate it for supper several nights in a row and had to count out pieces for the kids as they were sure they were going to be swindled from their share.  Right now it's gathering seeds and nutrients for the next year and when it turns brown this fall we'll cut it down for the winter.
Between the strawberries and asparagus I've added raspberries this year, which probably won't do much this year at all.  Knut wonders if we planted it in the best spot this year so we'll see.  Besides the peas, it will be a good year.  The tomatoes are getting close, the peppers and green beans are on the cusp of a huge harvest.  It will keep us busy for some weeks to come still.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Homeschool Portrait- Laura

Laura is a friend of mine from New York.  I met her on an online forum, and she was the friend who first told me to take a look at Sonlight, which we now use for our "school."   Her character shines through so much to me as she gently proclaims Jesus wherever she is.  She has so much experience from homeschooling when it wasn't so popular, and is still so current as to what is out there now.

She has two kids that she homeschooled all the way through high school.  When her kids were teenagers, she and her husband decided they actually didn't want to be near the end of having kids at home. So now she has a little bitty toddler and a little bitty infant.  Starting all over again, she's headed into this round 2 of parenting and schooling with a bit of wisdom under her belt.

Tell us about your family. How many kids do you have, and what are their ages.
I have 4 far. A daughter, Stephanie, 20. A Son Robert Jr., 19. A daughter , Sarah 2-1/2 and a new son, David 5 weeks old.

Are all of your children home educated?
Yes, my older two children were home schooled through high school and both are in college now. My younger two, I'm planning on home schooling, if it's in God's plan for me.

Do you or your husband work? What work are you into?

My husband works, he's an Applications Specialist. He works on computers. I am a SAHM who is now a WAHM. I have a small business making cloth diapers, but I'm now expanding that to include diaper making supplies. Specifically laminated minky for diapers.

How much education do you have? If you went to college, what did you major in?

I have some college, although no degree. My major was Accounting. 

Which curriculum, and/or homeschool philosophy do you follow?
I don't follow a certain curriculum, although I like and plan on using My Father's World with my younger two. I guess if I had to describe my style it would be "Charlotte Mason" type.

I know it’s a loaded question, so answer as briefly or detailed as you like. Why did you decide to homeschool?

When my older daughter started kindergarten, I saw many things I didn't like. We teach our children from birth and then when they turn 5, we drop them off at school and all of sudden we become idiots? I remember her kindergarten teacher saying, "ok Mommies and Daddies, you'll see them later." in a very condescending voice and I remember thinking, "When did I become an idiot?". I didn't like what was being taught and at that time there were some very controversial subjects being introduced to our district. At that point, I started getting more involved in our local school board. One thing led to another (This is the short version), I ended up running and being elected onto our local school board. As I was on this board, I realized that there was very little power and it was just another political stepping stone for the other people on the board. Once I realized that it was a joke, I resigned and at that point wasn't sure what we were going to do about educating out children. We moved out of the city and upstate and that is when I decided to home school. I really felt the Lord leading me and as scared as I was...I took a chance and I'm so glad I did. I never looked back.

What does a typical school day look like in your home?
This depends on the ages I'm teaching. With my older kids when I taught them, I had them up at a certain time and we started at a certain time. With my younger ones, we've not started any formal education but I am teaching them sign language and as a result my 2-1/2 y/o knows colors, shapes, ABC's , 123's and other preschool lessons. She will be three in August and now what I'm doing is keeping us busy with coloring, arts and crafts, reading to her and we are still learning ASL together. We also work a lot on our character, Bible and learning about and worshiping the Lord.

What do you find is the hardest part about home educating?
I would say the hardest part is staying focused and making them finish projects. I'm terrible about starting a project with them and not finishing it. I love Science projects but if it's something they know or they picked up on quickly.  I'll let the project go.

What do you, personally, do for fun? Do you have any guilty pleasures?

I love sewing...I love buying fabric. Finding time to sew with a new baby is tough, but this is a short season however, anytime I can steal away to my sewing room, it's like heaven on earth for me.

What are some of your favorite resources? (e.g websites, stores, books, programs)

I love all the free preschool sites on the web. All you have to do is "google" Free Preschool curriculum and you'll get tons of great websites with printables and projects. This was not around with my older two children. Even if you don't home school, you can still use these sites to help with your children's weak area's. There's a great wealth on the internet.

Any advice for those just starting out homeschooling?
My advice would be to remember that home schooling isn't "Schooling at home". Focus on Character and enjoying your children. Focus on them enjoying the learning process. If your child loves learning then you'll never have a problem teaching them. One of the biggest problems I see parents having is getting their children to honor them...teach your children respect, obedience and focus on character..the rest is just gravy after that...Oh. And don't worry about your children measuring up with tests. They're going to do great.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Feathers for Princess

It's been awhile since I've posted about our chickens.  I thought I'd let you know how they were all doing since whenever I run into someone who reads my blog the first question out of their mouth is in regard to the chickens.

In the last chapter of the chicken saga, our chicken "Princess" was being bullied by the other chickens.  Her neck was bleeding and she was uncontrollably scratching and the other chickens were pecking on her chickens do.
 I don't know why they all crowd on the top 2 perching spots.  There are other places to perch.  
They prefer to sit 3-5 across here.  Normally the white ones are on top.  You can see Ursula at the bottom of the picture.  She's not in her spot yet and will move everyone out of her way to get there.  
It's something to watch!

We understand that chickens have their pecking order, but we don't want to see any of them die because of it.  We started out with 20 chickens and after 2 losses, we are down to 18.  (One never came back from the woods...a black one, and one was attacked by are dog, was recovering well for 2 weeks and then died.)  In all honesty, I wasn't planning on as many as 18 making it this far when I heard how easily chicks die. 
This isn't Princess (although she does have a stylin' Princess Di look to her!)  This is Amara.  I wanted to name her Goldy.  Silje had already had her name in stone, though.

We had the dog kennel for awhile in the coop to seclude Princess from the rest of the flock while she healed.  This wasn't working for 2 reasons: she wasn't eating and drinking while in the kennel even though food and water were available to her, and she scratched herself terribly when in confinement that it wasn't getting better even a little bit.  I wondered if the eating and drinking had to do with being separated from her little chicken friend I now call Ruthie who always tried to protect her.  Whenever I'd let her out to examine her she would run to the water and just stand there and drink and drink.  The water and food in her kennel were always untouched.

So we took some advice from our chicken book, and poured vinegar on her wound every day for a few days to at least make sure that any chickens who pecked at her open ugly neck got punished with a terrible taste in their beak.  Well, it must have worked because almost immediately the wound started to heal.  Then the feathers started growing back.
Here's Princess.  Isn't she looking good!  Imagine that for the width of her neck and about 3 inches lengthwise there was a big bare spot and a bulging, bleeding scab.  Scab is now gone.  Bulging/bleeding is gone.  Feathers are 90% regrown. 

As of today, her neck feathers are almost completely back. (Just be glad you're seeing the "after" pictures!) It's getting to the point where I have trouble distinguishing her from the other brown chickens were it not for the fact that she always runs to me now on sight.  She still doesn't like to be caught, but I feel like there's some trust there.  She knows I normally make her feel better and bring her treats.  So when I'm refilling the food and water, she's never far from my boots.  She and Amara are always at my heals and following me around the yard, or back to the house.

We bought a bigger water dispenser.  There were several old ones down in our old barn, but upon inspection every one of them leaked terribly and were beyond repair.  There was a feeder found, though that got put to work.  Our chickens are no longer chicks and can't get their big heads into the little chick feeder anymore.

For awhile I was putting the food in an open trough so they could reach it, and their food bill nearly doubled at that.  They wouldn't leave the coop but just sat and ate food.  So I stopped refilling the food in the morning and only refilled it in the evening to force them to go outside and look for food.  That part worked but they were still eating a ton when they got back.

With the "new" (found in the barn) feeder, the food comes as they eat it.  So they have access all the time but only see a bit of it.  This has dramatically cut the amount of food that they eat, and yet it is always available to them so they're not starving.  I don't mind full chickens, I just mind lazy ones.  Well...I mind their $40/month food bill that is now shrinking back to a comfortable $25.  I'm not even think how much they'll need this winter.  I'm not even going to let my mind go there right now.

For now, there's free food for them outside and I'm going to make sure they go and get it.  I love how our tick sightings this year have been only 2.  (That was our daily count last year.)  Now if I could train them to eat mosquitoes...
 Look how big Selina is getting!  (The white one who was stunted with 'pasty butt')  
She's nearly as big as the other Hamburgs now.

I love watching these girls.  They are so funny.  The relationships between themselves are hilarious.  Every night after I put the children to bed, I go out to the coop, check their food and water.  Every night they gather from the woods and all over the yard and have found their perches and are happily waiting for me to come and shut the door for their safety.  They really do come back to roost for the night.

Well, except one time David shut the coop door midday without thinking.  By the time I went out to make sure they were all accounted for and in for the night, I saw that 6 of them had been locked outside the coop and had found comfortable perches in the bush behind the coop.  I was afraid of them making a habit of it, and when the door was opened they stubbornly wouldn't leave their perch on the bush.  So, one by one I had to carry them from the bush to the inside of the coop.  It wouldn't be such a chore but the mosquitos were out like crazy and I got close to 20 bites because I couldn't swat them because you need both hands to carry a chicken.

Sometimes I bring them choice slops from the day.  I sit and watch them for awhile as a lazy "behavior check" to be sure all is well with all of them.  Then I do the count: "1,2,3...1,2,3,4....1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11...OK girls, sleep well!"  Then I lock them in for the night.  (We have 3 yellow/whitish birds, 4 black birds, and 11 brown birds of various breeds.)

I'm starting to get impatient for eggs.  Knut finished the nesting boxes, with a few months to spare.  I think it was theraputic for him to do a woodworking job that in no way had to be exact or pretty. It gave him some relief from the mantle on the fireplace that has been having his brain all worked up.  He even let David use his drill and put several of the screws which David really loved!  We're told they will start laying between 4-6 months, depending on breed.  They are still only 2.5 months old.  It feels like eggs are still so far away.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Yarn Along

Welcome to Wednesday's Yarn Along where all participating blogs talk about what they are knitting and reading.  I love both, so I participate.  I've met some incredible women in the process.  If you'd like to meet them, you see their blogs listed at the central hub: Ginny's blog.

The fingerless mitts are done and this morning I'll be dropping them off at the fair.  I'm a little nervous for a few reasons.  1: While I don't care if I don't win the grand prize $2 prize money (although I have a serious chocolate bar picked out if it comes to that) I'm worried that I'll do poorly.  2: We haven't been getting the paper for some strange reason, even though I called, and so I don't know which code for the category it is in that I need to use in filling out my form.  I looked online and I'm able to download the form, but the guide to the form is a broken link.

The form says to bring the entry to the fair on the 20th.  I'm bringing the kids this morning with a blank form and I'm hoping there will be someone there to help me put the proper codes on it, and the kids will all behave well as I do that.  I'm also hoping there's no time frame that I'm not making.  I'll probably be there around 9am and I have visions of showing up then and someone saying "Sorry...all entries are closed.  You missed it by 1 hour."  I know I'm a little ridiculous but this whole concept of turning something in to the county fair for judging is so completely foreign to me (like 4-H) that I have questions that don't even make sense to people.  Will there be someone there to help me?  Do I just show up and set it on the table? 

I'm already planning on looking back and laughing at my ignorance.  I'm sure it is much more simple than I have it played up in my head.

I keep telling myself that worst case scenario: I foul up entering it and am stuck with enjoying the fingerless mittens all to myself this fall.  That's not so scary.

I'm reading More Stories From Grandma's Attic which is part of Silje's 2nd grade curriculum this next year.  It's just delightful.  I think she'll enjoy it a lot, and I think it will be one that she pulls off the bookshelf throughout the school year to read again and again just for fun.

I've been spending a little bit of time each day preparing for the upcoming school year.  I think I'm going to have to pick a start date soon, but haven't settled into that yet.  I was thinking of starting in August again like last year but then I realized that's just 2 weeks or so away.  Ahhhhh!  Then I rationalized that I started early last year to make up for an extended time off when Solveig was born.  Since there is no new baby this winter, I think I can push off school for a few more weeks yet.

I'm finding too many fun things to do for school next year.  There is so many free resources online for what we will be studying this next year: Vikings, Reformation, Renaissance, Medieval times, etc.  I'm finding so many fun, free things that isn't even a part of our regular curriculum that it's coming out my ears.  I'm going to have to resign myself that we simply cannot do it all.  My plan so far is to keep a list of these activities and if the kids need something to do and are bored one day, I'll print some of it off and let them have at it.  I keep reminding myself that these are just supplements and they don't need any of them. 

So I'm just organizing my lists of resources, and reading through Silje's readers.  The read aloud books I plan on reading for the first time with her just like last year.  However the school year gets so hectic that I can't keep up with her independent reading along with my other jobs, so it's nice to have her readers under my belt so we can discuss them easily without me doing last-minute-night-before-cramming of what she is supposed to read.

I'm actually getting a bit giddy about school starting soon.  David will be starting kindergarten, and like Ginny, I asked him what he would like to study this next year.  He said he want's to learn how to fly on a trapeze.  That makes me a little nervous that he's going to be bitterly disappointed with kindergarten this next year, but we'll just have to make the most of it.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Beans, Beans

the magical fruit...I'll stop there.

So I've been working on soaking and cooking up dried beans as prescribed in the Everything Beans book by my friend, Katie.  (I like to call her my if I were as cool as she is.)  I've been soaking them for about a day, then cooking them up, draining them, and then freezing them in one cup portions in Ziploc bags for everyday use.  I'm hoping that I will not have to buy canned beans anymore using her method of cooking up big batches and freezing them for when you need them.  It is a fraction of the cost of canned beans, and not surprisingly, more nutritional.

The first recipe that I'm trying is the "Pasta with White Bean Sauce" from the Everything Beans cookbook. (Since I'm an affiliate with Katie, I thought I'd blog about what our family thinks of these new recipes.) She rates her recipes for time to prepare, kid-friendliness, and cost effectiveness.  This one was a 1 out of 3 for time, 3 out of 3 for kid-friendliness, and 2 out of 3 for cost effectiveness.

Here's an ingredient list for those who wonder what goes into a bean sauce:
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 chopped jalepeno (she lists other types of peppers that would work)
2 Tbs butter
2 cloves garlic
2 Tbs whole wheat flour
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 cup whole milk (we used 2%)
1 1/2 cup shredded cheese (we used a combo of Colby jack and mozzarella...just what we had on hand)
2 cups cooked dried white beans (or 1 can)
salt to taste
linguine noodles cooked

We also let the kids sprinkle on Parmesan cheese because that seems to be the magic fairy dust that makes them try any sauce with an open mind.

The recipe called for jalapeno peppers, which I had on hand in my freezer.  However, I was a little nervous about the heat factor and the kids eating it, so I substituted some chopped purple bell peppers fresh from our garden.  I cool are purple bell peppers.  They're called "pinot noir."  They don't taste like wine.

Using my prepped white beans from the freezer, the sauce came together pretty fast.  I used whole wheat linguine noodles, but Knut pointed out this recipe would be spectacular with a spinach noodle.  I hardily agree but there are only so many hours in the day.  Maybe next time I'll figure out how to make spinach linguine noodles as I have no idea if they are sold near me.

My impression: very good.  filling.  quick prep time.  I had supper on the table in about 30 minutes.  I'm thinking the jalapeno would have been good.  Knut said while he was eating: "You know what would be good in this?  Some jalapeno, or something like it with a bit more kick."  I asked him if he was reading the recipe and he had know idea what I was talking about.

Knut's impression: "way better than any white sauce you've ever made, and way better than any Alfredo sauce I've had."  Um...thanks?  It doesn't taste like an Alfredo sauce but if you like that kind of sauce like me, you'll most likely like this.  It's just way healthier and has more varied flavors going on that keep it interesting.  He said next time I need the jalapeno.

Silje: in her defense, she hates ALL white sauces or gravy of any kind.  However, she ate it with little complaint and said if I would have left out the bell pepper and onion (2 more things she hates...only if she sees them) it would be one of her favorite meals.  I think if I would have pureed those two ingredients it would have gotten 2 thumbs up.

Silje gives it:
one thumb up and one down. 

David: he is my pickiest eater and it's really, really hard to get him to eat meat, anything with color, or potatoes.  He will eat noodles, though, and cheese pizza, oatmeal, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and macaroni and cheese (the blue box kind.  For some reason none of my kids like the homemade kind.)  For this meal he took thirds.

David gives it:
2 thumbs way up.

Elias: he basically eats anything as long as it comes from Knut's plate, or looks just like Knut's plate.  We've never had trouble getting him to try food.  His only request is that he eats what Daddy eats.  Elias asked for seconds and then stopped eating because Daddy left the table.

Elias gives it:
2 fingers up
(He really had no clue what we were doing with the pictures.  He did like it and ate it well, though!)

If you want more details, check out Katie's cookbooks here, or see my overview of all of her cookbooks here.  In hindsight, I should have thrown together a green salad but we were headed out the door and I just wanted supper on the table.  I think a green salad would have been perfect on the side to this.

Monday, July 18, 2011

I'm Blessed

I was walking out to my mailbox last week and thinking.  The breeze was beautiful.  The barn made my yard look like a scene in a postcard.  I walked back to the house the really long way so I could walk past my chickens.  Stepping over toys in the driveway, I went back inside.  Through that mini walk by myself that I attempt to take every day, I wished that our life was as charmed as it looked.

I wished having lots of space made life easier.

I wished living simply would make the messy parts of life go away.

The truth of the matter is, in the beautiful place, at this precious time, I have never ached for Jesus to come and take us all home as much as I have now.  When I was younger, I would pray the night before a chemistry test that Jesus would return before I had to take the test.  I was certain I was going to do badly.  As much as I studied, I was certain I was going to fail.

That feeling is so familiar right now.  I've been struggling.  I cannot say what about as sharing it so publicly would be wrong for so many reasons.  Those closest to me know, and I have attempted to reach out to the wisest people I know.

I've been finding it difficult to count my blessings when my brain feels overloaded with the problem at hand.  One loved one told me when the burden felt so heavy that I needed to set my sights on heaven, and not on the difficulty of this world.

--This week, I'm blessed by the hope of Heaven. It has given me freedom.

--I'm blessed to have the Word of God.  Just think about that a moment.  Think about it a moment more.  The Word of God to help us figure everything out. I'm not trying to be sappy with this.  I'm hitting some lows here, and God's Word has cut so deep and healed so much and stretched my faith more than I felt comfortable.  It pushed me out of my comfort zone, and into a place of obedience. 

Sadly, when do we ever spend significant time reading God's Word...I mean really digging deep.  When do we surround ourselves with Greek dictionaries, concordances, believers, and then throw prayer on top of that?  At that point, everything that I start reading and praying and calling out for--God answers!  All of a sudden, it seems every text I run across speaks straight to my heart.  From the Scripture reading at church to the devotional thought on the radio.  Suddenly the Holy Spirit's gentle whispers are so clear that you can't even hide from it.

Unfortunately, it's during times of unrest when life is put on hold and we seek God earnestly.  I wish it were all the time.  I still wish for heaven.

--I'm blessed Knut has been so gentle and understanding as I have frequently started staring into space while I'm supposed to be watching the kids, or washing dishes.  I am not lonely.  He's so supportive of the direction I'm leaning, but not in a bossy, pushy way.  He's been picking up some of my slack as I'm spending more time searching God, meditating with the Holy Spirit and spending time in prayer during this tough time.  I hope that when he needs the same from me I'll be there for him to lean on.

--I'm blessed to live in the fellowship of many believers to pray for me and help me discern.

--I'm blessed that God covers me and all of my mistakes.

--I'm blessed that the Creator of the universe...the One who carved the Grand Canyon, the God who designed the peacock, the One who gives the sun its energy...He cares enough for me to convict me of my sin, and dares to make my life messy for His purposes.  He never leaves me, knows every fear, has seen every tear fall.  He could have ignored me, or left me to the fantasy in my head of what happiness looks like.  He is redefining my goals.  He takes an interest in me.

--I'm so blessed that God is gentle.  I'm so blessed He is patient.

I'm blessed.

I would love it if you left your "I'm Blessed" post.  Sometimes you don't feel blessed until you sit down and study it for a minute.  Other times it just bubbles out over everything.  Blessings come custom made.  How have you been blessed this last week?

If you need a code for an "I'm Blessed" button that links back to this blog, it can be found here.  Some simple guidelines for leaving your link can be found there too, so it's worth a quick click to get all the fun "I'm Blessed" stuff to join the blog party.

I want you all to know how much participating in this has meant to me, and the emails that I've received communicating how this event has meant so much to various people.  I'd also like to tell you that 1/3 of my readers are now from "Top Mommy Blogs" thanks to your consistency in clicking the voting button every day.  What a great witness of God's goodness, and an encouragement this can be.  So please, if you can't link up, leave a comment.  People are reading and being very blessed by it.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Coming Up From Behind

Where has the time gone.  Solveig turned 7 months old a few days ago.  She has not wasted a single day of any of those months but has worked her body tirelessly in attempt to keep up with her brothers and sister.  She's way more mobile than any of the other kids were at this age.  It's a bit scary, but what do you do.  I've told her to stop growing quite so fast and she is rebelling.
She's not actually crawling yet.  She gets up on her hands and knees over and over and falls forward over and over again.  I have seen this trick before, and therefore I know with my infinite experience that it's just a matter of time.  ;)  I was surprised that she is doing so well in this department, and yet does not even sit up by herself yet.  She must have heard me say that, because about 2 days later, she was sitting unassisted for a few minutes.  We've been practicing every day, and now she can sit unassisted for several minutes.  She's getting down the "falling with grace" thing down too.

As you can see from this picture, 
there are still some in the family who watch out for her stability in this area.

Elias is very protective of his little sister.  Very. 

It's pretty easy to be so protective of someone who lights up every time you enter the room.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Homeschool Portrait - Diane

For today's portrait of a mom who teaches at home, I'd like to introduce Diane.  She's a part of the homeschool group our family goes to, and we have known each other through a previous church.  She was one of the women I was privileged to carpool with and attend the homeschool convention together last Spring.  I always feel smarter walking away from conversations with her, especially when the previous 20 conversations I've had that day have been with preschoolers and covers the topic of "Lightening McQueen."  I've always thought she is so smart and has such a generous spirit

Tell us about your family.  How many kids do you have, and what are their ages?
We have six kids, David (14), Mary (10), Elizabeth (9), Thomas (7), Sarah (5), Alexandra (3).

Are all of your children home educated?
The oldest four are "school age" and are educated at home. Sarah is really preschool age but I do some kindergarten and 1st grade work with her.

Do you or your husband work?  What sort of work are you into?
My husband, Clark works at The Rental Store and Central Lakes Cycle. I worked part time evenings at Home Depot but finished around mid May so it probably doesn't even count. 

 How much of an education do you have?  If you went to college, what did you major in?
I have a BA in Missions and Theology from Bethany College of Missions, a BA in Philosophy and Music from Boston College, and a JD from the University of Minnesota law School 

 Which curriculum or homeschool philosophy do you follow?
I follow The Well Trained Mind for my curriculum. The book is really a classical approach to education with many options for curriculum. I use most of this top picks. Along with the regular subjects we study Latin, Logic, Art, Music, and Spanish (Rosetta Stone) My oldest son takes pre-calculus online at Potter's School.  

 I know that it's a loaded question, so answer as briefly or detailed as you like.  Why did you decide to homeschool?
We sent David to school for kindergarten and first grade. I really didn't like having him away so long but it was what everyone did (or so I thought). We begin to notice that he was advanced and thought he would do better at his own pace. We also noticed that some of the philosophy of the school seemed a bit anti-boy. This made us very uncomfortable. Lastly, there seemed a real separation between parents and teachers. I guess ultimately, I wanted to be more involved in his life. I wanted to be there and watch him learn and teach him our values all day long. Once we started, it all made sense.

What does a typical school day look like in your home?
We try to start around 8:15 all together in the living room. We have an opening time which includes prayer, Latin songs, scripture recitation, poetry reading and memory. We then go where our schedule tells us to go. We have a schedule we try to follow but are flexible if need be. Our days can be long because we do a lot of reading. I try to have the kids read 1 hour a day and some days I read to them.

What do you find is the hardest part about home educating?
I guess the hardest part is keeping it all together -- or at least attempting. I prioritize school which means the house can get messy which drives me crazy and makes it hard to to school. This makes me frustrated and unhappy. Not a good place for a homeschool mom to be.

What do you personally for fun?  Do you have any guilty pleasures?
For fun we like to take the kids places -- biking in Itasca Park is our favorite. I also like to read.

 What are some of your favorite resources?  
The book The Well Trained Mind has been my best resource combined with the library.

 Any advice for those just starting out homeschooling?
My advice would be, if God has called you to homeschool, commit yourself to it, find a support group of people to help you with questions, and trust God to give you the ability to do it. The benefits are so amazing.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

For Crying Out Loud

I'm not sure if our grandmothers in "days of your yore" (I'm not exactly sure when exactly "the days of your yore" were) dealt with different "camps" of mothering as we do today.  When I read literature, I see that there were certain hard-held beliefs that even crossed women then.  Nursing, and the lowness of it as seen by a culture comes up in literature.  In the last book I read, there was a lot of questioning the judgment of a woman went to a hospital to give birth after her previous 11 births had delivered stillborns.  Maybe there is nothing knew under the sun.  Maybe we mothers have always judged each other.  Modern science has sure not helped the judgment issue with mothers.  Mothers expect each other to be up on the latest research, and modify themselves to do what the research says, or you must not want what is best for your child, and therefore, you don't love your child enough.  This is why I hate "studies say..." comments.  The sheer volume and ability to get this research over the internet doesn't help matters either.

I feel isolated sometimes, with my lack of ability to fit neatly in any of these camps.  Take for example the Cry-It-Out (CIO) camp, and the (I'm not sure what to call it) Attachment Parenting (AP) camp.  The mothers who let their kids cry to sleep, and the parents who will not.  You'd think with it being that black and white I'd fit somewhere pretty easily.  Well, maybe I do, but my kids don't.

Silje got to a point where she needed to CIO as a baby.  I would rock her until she was drowsy, and then gently lay her down.  Just like the book said.  Maybe it was because she stopped nursing around 6 months.  She didn't mind formula, or a pacifier.  However, it got to a point where rocking her made her mad.  Her paci made her mad.  She wasn't sleeping and she was mad about it.  At that point my belly was beginning to grow David inside.  Sometimes I was able to get her to nap in my arms, but then I would be held prisoner in the rocking chair for almost 3 hours a day because if I dared to lay her down, she would wake up and I would pay for my selfishness for the rest of the day.

It reached a point, where Knut and I decided something needed to change.  I was struggling with PPD at the time.  The very sight of the rocking chair got her screaming.  I couldn't nurse her because my milk dried up due to me getting a terrible bout of the stomach flu for a few days.  She liked the paci, but felt tricked by it at naptime.

It took 3 days of CIO and then we had a sleeper.  Each of the 3 days got easier, and naps became quiet.  She was happier.  I was happier.  Neither one of us looked hazed and exhausted at each other.  In my mind, my daughter needed something, and I gave it to her as difficult as it was.

Then there's David.  He was colicky.  I was not about to lay down and let a baby cry who was in pain.  After we discovered gas drops, our world changed and he began to sleep.  I got into the practice of laying him down and letting him "fuss" at a younger age than I started with Silje.  He didn't scream his lungs out, and never cried past 30 minutes or so in the beginning, and then he didn't cry at all when I laid him down.  He more just laid and complained for a few minutes and then he was done.

Then Elias.  He was a whole 'nother story.  2 major things were different with Elias: hospital stays and baby-wearing.  First, he was a preemie.  We were separated from birth for a very long time.  After birth I did not get to hold him, and I only got to see him after 3 hours.  After we had our meeting and he was stable, he left in a helicopter for a bigger city with a NICU unit in their hospital.  I stayed overnight in the hospital we gave birth in, and cried my eyes out to the nurses.  Meeting him again in the NICU unit, he felt so foreign to me, but I still felt so almost violently protective of him.  The poor NICU nurse who had to deal with me and how I wanted things...

Pretty much I didn't like anything she did and we had to get mediators...more than once.

Mama bear showed up.

At night I did so much research online to try and figure out how Elias and I could recover from our separation at birth that was very evidently (to me) having an affect on me.  It didn't feel like it did with the other kids.  I learned a lot about kangaroo care, which led to some research on baby wearing.  I made myself a ring sling and took him with me everywhere once we were home.  Where I was, he was.  We were inseparable.

Not only that, but as he was getting bigger, a simple cold would put him in the hospital for a few days.  His lungs were still weak, and he would need oxygen and monitoring until a cold passed.  It wasn't until he was 2 years old that he was strong enough to handle a cold outside the hospital.

We had our fair share (Elias and I) trying to fall asleep in strange-jail-looking-metal-bars cribs in the hospital, and I got a system down quick.  It worked great except when I would spend 45 minutes getting him to sleep and then 5 minutes into his nap a nurse would come in, flick on the light and say "time for a blood draw!"  Ugh.  I've learned to hate hospital protocols.  I mean, I like what hospitals do and all, but I've seen the dark side of chucking reason out the window and making your legal butt covered.

So I got a lot of practice putting a sick fussy baby to sleep without upsetting him as much as possible.  When he was home, he was in the sling pretty much all the time.

Ironically, he was my first baby who never needed to cry it out.  It got to the point where I could lay him down at nap time when he wasn't even rubbing his eyes, and he would giggle to himself as he fell asleep.  The world was funny and sunny to Elias.  He loved naps.  I'd get a good hug and snuggle from him, an enormous smile, I'd lay him down, and he'd draw from some funny memory of the day, and giggle himself to sleep.  I'd never seen anything like it.

His naps were legendary.  They still are.  He'd take a 4 hour afternoon nap, and be ready for bed at 8 with the other kids.  Now that he's almost 3, his naps are sometimes as short as 2 hours.

With Solveig, she had a normal, term birth, however I had really gotten attached to the idea of "wearing your baby."  It was so much easier!  My collection of baby carriers grew to include a faux-Moby wrap and an Ergo, which I pretty much use all the time.  I wondered to myself if Elias slept so well  because he was held all day, and not in spite of it.  I wonder if I was feeling up to the brim a baby's need to be touched and loved, and therefore anxiety about being left in the crib weren't an issue.

I don't know if my theory is correct, but Solveig has not had a problem sleeping either.  Well, she's not quite as easy going as Elias.  I have had her "fuss" for a few minutes when she's all swaddled up and doesn't want to lay down.  It's never exceeded 10 minutes, though, and it's often less than 3 and even more often...not at all.  She also fusses only when she's been overstimulated by being out of the house and at a party or some other get together for an extended amount of time.  So basically, she "fusses" every few weeks or days, depending on the busy-ness of our family, and even then, for 2 minutes or so.  She doesn't laugh herself to sleep like Elias.  I often nurse her to sleep, and no longer care if it's "the right thing to do." 

So what am I?  Am I in the CIO camp, believing that you have to let a baby figure it out for themselves and cry bloody murder, and just get over that hump?  Do I believe you should rock your baby to sleep and avoid crying at all costs, because it raises the stress hormones in their bodies which has an impact on brain development, and therefore I should always wear my babies and never put them down because crying is the worst possible scenario?

See?  I don't fit in the camp.  Here is what I's my own camp:

I am my kids' mother.  I see their needs and find solutions.  

I'm in the "Silje, David, Elias, and Solveig's mother camp."

When You Have Brothers...

and your only sister is not yet crawling...

you have to make do with the playmates you have on hand...
even if brothers don't quite understand the game...

and don't quite get the whole tu-tu concept.  (Well, at least he tried.)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Yarn Along

Once again, I'm joining in on Ginny's Yarn Along.  I love reading, and love knitting, and love hanging out with other people with similar interests and sharing what we're doing.  It's like a taste of a "knit night" and "book club" gathering of girlfriends.

I have a lot to show off this week because of our extended leisure time last week.  I finished A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and absolutely loved it.  It was so beautiful in so many ways.  It's been awhile since I've read such a "meaty" book in every literary sense and it was like all my classes in college on English Literature came flooding back to me with all of the fond memories of late night study sessions and discussions in the literary theory class all came back.  When I finished reading it, I wished so much that I had my old classmates around me so I could discuss various elements of the book, because Elias sure didn't get what I was talking about.  Maybe we'll wait for him to be in kindergarten to start literary discussions.  (Ha!)  I don't think I've had this much satisfaction in reading since I read Reading Lolita in Tehran about 2 years ago.  I didn't have anyone to discuss that book with either.  Maybe I just like memoir/biography type books, I guess.

Also, as school supplies are starting to appear in local stores, I was reminded that I was intending to read all of Silje's "readers" for this upcoming school years so that I would have one less thing to do during the school year, and could discuss those books with her without doing daily reading alongside her.  So I started and finished The Whipping Boy which is on her reading list this upcoming year.

My impression was "eh..." but I really think she is going to love it a lot!  Apparently, this really happened back in medieval times.  Several rulers/kings really would keep a servant called a "whipping boy" to take the spankings/beatings of the prince, because the prince was to high of a person to be punished.  It was shocking to me, and will hopefully lead to so many interesting discussions with Silje.  When the king got mad at his son, he would beat the whipping boy in front of the prince so that the prince would suffer no physical injury.  With such a heavy subject matter, it's written in a very light, almost silly sort of way that it becomes very childlike.  The silliness annoyed me for some reason, but I think Silje would really get it.

I'm very interested to hear Silje's thoughts on this book.

I also threw in the picture of of Silje's book.  She has been reading a few hours every day by her own ambition...following in her mother's footsteps as a child of shying away from being outside in the warm weather and sitting comfortably inside in the cool with no bugs.  She's working her way through both the "Little House on the Prairie" series, and the "Sisters in Time" series.  The "Sisters in Time" books are from various Christian perspectives and take place in various times of history.  This is her second book read from the series and she adored it.  It was about a freed slave during the civil war hunting for her parents.  She said it had a lot of adventure, so naturally, she couldn't put it down.

We're also finally getting our science for the older two done for the summer, which was the plan.   I've decided that the best way to hold their attention for this book is to read it aloud to them during snack time.  This has been so much fun!  Yesterday we talked about a planet's matter and mass and how that effects gravity.  We've also read about the various atmospheres of the planets and how that effects the temperature, and how earth has the perfect rotation, gravity, and atmosphere for our survival (and of course what in theory it would look like if the earth had a faster/slower rotation, more or less gravity, and differing types of atmosphere)  At last, David is really getting into it, which is what I was expecting last fall and is actually happening right now.  The only change I made was reading it to them while they eat their snack at the table instead of reading with them on the couch.  (Mental note, when David is fidgety during read aloud time...move read aloud to snack time.)

Lastly...the knitting.

These are the fingerless gloves I'm working on for myself that will hopefully be ready for showing at the county fair.  I've never submitted anything to the county fair, and am a bit nervous.  I picked this project because I thought I could get it done with one skein that I had on hand (without the label...although I could have looked it up.  It's Frog Tree Meriboo.)

I was excited to have just one skein for the project so I wouldn't have to join any yarn ends mid project, but half way through the second mitten, I ran out of yarn.  I had to send Knut to the yarn store last time he was in town because I wouldn't have a chance to get there for awhile.  He was a bit concerned that the ladies there knew him at first glance even though he'd only been in there once before, and asked what it was he was picking up for me.  Uh...I guess they kinda know who I am over there.  (Or it could be that last time he was in there he bought me my really nice interchangable needle sets for Christmas.)

Anyway, I did my best to join it without using a knot, as I know that is a crucial part of the judging process at the fair, but I'm not 100% sure I did it correctly on the technical that has me a bit nervous.  I'm going to look at that in further detail when I spend the time doing flawless finishing work.  That's the part I often rush through, and it will be good discipline for me to do this well.

This one just needs a thumb and the picot edges hemmed.  How's it look?  Any advice from those who have submitted things to a county fair before?  I hear it's all in the finishing work.  I'd love to get any tips!

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