Friday, September 30, 2011

Homeschool Friday

(used with permission from The Family Man)

Well, I normally do my lesson plans in 4 week chunks, and we are at the end of our first chunk.  With a month of school under our belts, I feel good about our progress.

I was at a "Mom's Night Out" with our homeschool group last week.  It's a lifesaver to get together with a group of women who deal with the same issues, or are veterans at this homeschool thing and are full of helps, and sometimes it's just a safe place to vent without someone saying, "You really shouldn't be homeschooling if it's that hard."

This last week we listened to a speaker named Andrew Pudewa via c.d. player that someone had bought when they were at a conference.  It was honestly one of the best talks I've heard on homeschooling ever.  I'm not 100% certain it was the best ever, but it's certainly on my top 3 list, and I ordered a copy of the c.d. so I could listen to it again.  The mom who brought it in said she's already listened to it 6 times.

So today I'm going to rattle off all the things that have stuck with me from that session, as I journal what shapes me as a homeschool mom.  I'm not sure how to forward someone onto obtaining a copy of the session, but it would be worth it to find out.  I literally can't wait to hear it again.

It talked about leadership training with your children.  It talked about educational philosophies throughout history, and where we as a culture stand right now in education.  He talked about tracking in public and many private schools and the educational philosophy put forth by Dewey (as in the Dewey decimal system) and how that changed things.  He quoted a book written by a teacher called Dumbing Us Down that has now been added to my reading list.  He quoted several other books that sounded depressing, yet interesting.  That book, however, I might actually read.

Then he talked about the education that people got in history before the time of Dewey.  There were a few different kinds of education: education for the lower classes, and education for leaders.  Learning to read and write were basic.  Future leaders received an education based off of logic and thinking skills.  The peasants were taught what to think, and the leaders were taught how to think.

Bringing it back to modern homeschooling, he talks about his own family and the struggles they faced with their little school.  Specifically, the speaker's wife who did the majority of the nitty gritty teaching.  He said she would hate to go to conventions where there were tables of different curricula.  After taking a few spins around the exhibits, she would feel overwhelmed thinking "I can't do all this!"

As an educational expert, he said that going to homeschool conventions 5+ years ago, he would talk to moms after a session and they would say things like: "Hi, I was homeschooled, my husband was homeschooled, we're so excited to homeschool with our kids..."  Now, after a session moms come up to him and say, "Hi, I have a 7th grader, a 4th grader, and a 1st grader.  We just pulled our kids out of school and we're trying to figure out how to do this and I just want to be sure that we're covering all the bases."

Then he went on to say that covering all the bases is the last thing you want to do.  There is just too much information out there, and if you attempt to cover it all, your kids' knowledge will be a mile wide and an inch deep.  Knowledge like that evaporates with time.  He said phrases like that speak fear and not vision.

We need to stop constantly comparing our little schools to public or private schools as if each needs to keep up with the other.  I don't mean to portray public schools as either evil or good.  They are neutral.  They are not, however, the North star: directing all of us homeschools on what we should be teaching, or how it should be taught.  They are a completely different ideology of education, and unless we agree with that ideology, we should not be trying to emulate it.

So, with his overwhelmed wife, he said they were going to stop having 10 different subjects (reading, handwriting, grammar, math, history etc.)  It was overwhelming.  He said from now on, when we do school, we will choose activities that fit into 3 subjects.  Just 3.  No more.

These subjects are:

He pointed out that when you have only character and knowledge, but no skills, you are ineffective.
When you have only character and skills, but no knowledge, you are not believable.
Lastly, if you have skills and knowledge but no character, you are a president (hardy, har...har).

Therefore, a well rounded education will have these 3 subjects, and these are the subjects to focus on.

He said as they planned their days, they would make sure that whatever they did fit into one of those core subjects.  They didn't stop teaching history, math, grammar, etc.  It was merely a way to evaluate their own school to say, "Does this activity build character?  Does it add to their knowledge?  Does it give them a skill?"

He says we get so focused on making sure our kids have all the same subjects as kids in other types of schools that we lose focus of the potential of our own school.  We get in the "cover all the bases" mentality.  We educate with a fear that we're missing something, instead of a filling our day with depth in study.

When I thought about it, all of our subjects fit into those 3 categories very well.  That was good.  It also gave me some much needed freedom to break out of the box.  The other day, I was filling overwhelmed by the to do list, and so I pushed aside our spreadsheet, and the kids helped me in the kitchen for half the school day.  Silje helped me layer the lasagnas that I was prepping for the freezer.  David and Elias helped me mix the bread dough for the refrigerator.  We talked, did dishes, made food.  It was wonderful.

Not only did they learn about cooking, like yeast and how it works, and how to save time making meals in bulk.  We spent time together just talking about what it means to be a family and to take care of one another.  We've been having a tough time as I've alluded in previous Fridays, of whining and arguing.  I realized listening to this speaker that I've been focusing very heavily on the knowledge and skills part of our school but neglecting the character portion.  So we spent a half of our "school time" that day working on character as a family.

It wasn't a matter of getting behind in the subjects that were more important.  It was a matter of catching up in a subject we were getting behind in.  It wasn't a matter if we were ahead enough to afford a half day off.  I had to ask myself, "Ahead of who?  Ahead by what standard?"

It really was "My kids were behind in one of our essential subjects so we put the other ones aside and tried to work on the subject most needed."  In all reality, other schools do this as well.  Teachers stop and work on listening skills.  Kids there get afternoons off all the time for this or that reason.  But I'm comparing again.  I need to stop doing that. 

What I have been doing that's good, is examining our days in a different light.  When everything on our to do list did not get done, I ask myself, "Did we fill our day working on character, knowledge, and skills?"  When I realize that we had, I realize our day was a success.

There's a freedom to this standard, and I'm excited to work on my next 4 weeks lesson plans with this goal in mind, rather than the idea that we must do it all.  I will see success when my child spends a half hour looking at the diagram of the anatomy of a seed, not when we cross of "read next 5 pages of science book."  So what, we didn't get all 5 pages.  We got deep into the page that we were on.  I don't want my kids to have an education that I designed for them that is a mile wide and an inch deep.  I want it to be very deep, and I must allow us to soak a bit for that to happen.

There still so much for me to learn.

If you made it to the bottom of this post, you must have an interest in reading about these types of things, or writing about these types of things.  I'll put up a little list below here where people can put their current blog posts about what they did this week in their homeschool, or any random thoughts on homeschooling (like I did).  Please be sure to put a link to this blog in your post if you do leave your link.

I'm going to keep putting it up on Fridays indefinitely because selfishly, I've been enjoying getting to read what other people are doing in their homeschool, or to just be encouraged and inspired by others in similar shoes.  

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Third, Fourth, and Fifth plus chickens

I've been trying to remember to bring my camera out with me when I haul the kids out to the field to deliver Knut's meals.  There are so many different points of view to be seen out there.  Last night I missed an amazing shot of a field with bright colorful trees at the end.  I'll try not to miss such an opportunity again!

Yesterday I had the luxury of taking pictures from my front lawn. 

As they gave that pretty field a buzz cut, the kids rotated taking rides.  David went out in the tractor with Knut first.  Knut ran the grain cart, and my father-in-law was running one of the combines.

When I took this picture of David sitting with Knut, and my father-in-law in the combine just behind, I thought this is generation 3, 4, and 5 of our family to farm together in the picture.  It was my father-in-law's grandfather who started this family farm (although not on the exact piece of land they are farming here).  I often wonder if Knut's great-grandpa could see the farm now...what would he think?  Farming is so different now than it was then.  I know there is a trend now returning to some old ways, and that's good I think.  Technology in all things needs to be handled judiciously.  Still, I think he would be amazed.

Here's the combine dumping it's load into the grain cart at the edge of the field.  I always like watching this part for the thrill of the speed of seeing so many beans flow so fast!  I remember back to when I first came up to this part of the country when I was in high school.  The year before I met Knut, I was talking with a classmate of mine who was from a farm family.  Someone told me to ask him what a combine was, since I had never heard of one before. 

Here my friend, Doug, tried to explain to this city girl what on earth a combine was.  He started out by saying, "Well, it's got this header on it that..." and I interrupted him and said "What's a header?"  At that point he dropped his head to the cafeteria table.  There was no point of reference that he could explain this farm machinery to me.  Doug should be proud how far I've come.

Silje and Elias both got a turn riding as well.  Near the end Solveig and I went out and just sat on the lawn and watched them all.  It was such a warm day.

I haven't missed all the photo opportunities as we're running around the farm.  I took this one a few days ago as I was walking out to close the chickens in for the night. 

Knut says he's beginning to believe that we've been duped, and chickens don't actually ever lay eggs.  The chickens were hatched near the beginning of May.  They're supposed to start laying between 4-6 months.  We're in the second half of that estimation now and these days waiting are so long.  Every time I go to the grocery store and we need eggs, I get so disgusted that I still have to buy them.  I buy less of them thinking that surely, this week will be the week we're flooded with eggs.  Then we run out because I don't buy enough.

I put little plastic Easter eggs in the nesting boxes because I heard that's a good way to get it in their brain that's where the eggs go.  My heart always leaps when I see the pastel eggs laying there, and then I remember, "O yeah, those are the fakes."  One of the ladies at our homeschool group who also keeps chickens told me that if I add paprika to their food I'll see eggs sooner.  I'm nearly at the point of trying that.

I told the kids that whoever finds the first egg will be paid a dollar.  I want them searching the dog house, and in nooks of trees everyday to be sure the chickens aren't laying out and about and I don't know about it.  David especially is putting some time into the egg hunt each day and is always the first one to run to the coop to look it over.  He wants that dollar bad.

Believe me, that when that first egg is found...the blogging world will hear about it.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Yarn Along

It's yarn and books day.  I look forward to it every week.  I'm once again linking up with Ginny, where she hosts the famous "Yarn Along" party at her blog.

As for reading, we just finished up Red Sails to Capri for Silje's read aloud in school.  It had a very different flavor than other read alouds we have done in the past, but we both enjoyed it just the same.  It was so multi-dementional both culturally and intellectually.  There was adventure, as well as philosophy.  Well, there was an adventure in philosophy which involved legends, secrets, and a mother who talked to her food as it cooked.  I cannot wait for when David will get to read this one, as he will go bonkers.  He drifted into the room when we were reading this one more often than he normally does during Silje's read aloud time.

We finished it, and then we started Ginger Pye.  Since it involves animals, Silje is all over this one and has begged and pleaded with weepy eyes if we could read just one more chapter.  She waits until I'm knee deep into something and distracted and says "Can I read a chapter just by myself?" So I have given in a few times and I hope to actually find out what happens in this book and hopefully Silje won't steal it all for herself.

I also added the basic Primer that is part of the full set I bought at a used book store.  It's the most basic, no frills, old fashioned reading program out there.  Can I just say that David loves it?  It is moving him along so much faster than the Hooked on Phonics that we have been doing.  Although I don't regret using HOP either, because it laid a great foundation for him.  What surprises me is that with all of the cartoon filled, colorful books that we have in our fancy modern readers, he prefers this old one that is so simple and straight to the point.
We're way past this page now, but he's picking up new words every day.  It is really neat how he's getting into this book.  It's making me very happy.

As far as knitting, I'm all over the place.  I mistakenly happened upon another knitwear designer's blog.  She's a mom with kids at home as well.  She had 6 projects or so cast on at that time.  For some reason, I thought that was a free license for me to cast on more projects.  I started working on this "distraction knit" of a wool bonnet for Silje to match the mittens that will follow.  I love bonnets.  Knut thinks it's cheesy, so I said I won't make him one. 

It wasn't on "the list" of things to knit and came in out of order, but that's always fun.  I'm still working on some cowls, and I cast on and frogged a few inches of a cardigan with that dark purple-ish yarn at least 3 times.  It's a design for this Spring, and I didn't like how it was laying.  So I'm modifying my notes and after a week with this lovely yarn, the skein will be set aside. 

I just got my Knit Picks yarn in the mail, for the Dirk sweater sample.  That means I need to finish up the cowls on the needles, wrap up this quicky bonnet, and get down to business with this whole pattern thing.  Time to show these needles who's boss.  That Spring cardigan will be moved right back to that back burner.


It's a sure sign that harvest time has gone into full swing when I get a call from Knut saying "I'm going to be driving past the house in 5 minutes, can you bring my supper out to the road?"

That's soy bean harvest.  I'll know they've finished the beans and have moved onto corn harvest when he says, "Hey, I'm driving by the house in 5 minutes.  Can you bring supper out to the road, and maybe some pop, a thermos of coffee, and a big bag of popcorn and a couple sandwiches because it's going to be a late night..."

Those 5 minute warning phone calls (well...sometimes I get 15 minute warning phone calls, but those always end up being 45 minutes and everything is cold by then) throw the household into a tizzy as the little ones are put in high chairs or play pens, I put on some loud music, and pull things out of the fridge.  The pressure to get supper ready on time increases as even 5 minutes late can mean that Knut won't be able to eat for another few hours.  I wouldn't like having supper hours late, but he rarely complains when that happens.

It's that time of year when we have to make sure that the bikes aren't left on the driveway because semi trucks are often passing through.  The kids are already asking when they can get a combine ride with Grandpa.

It's that time of year when Knut is always present around our house, and needs immediate help when he calls, but I get the evenings to knit or sew for hours without distraction.

The amber waves of grain in front of our house will soon be given a haircut.  The kids and I have been having a lot of fun, as their behavior has finally turned and we can enjoy fun times without all the whining and arguing.  I'm very thankful that we've gotten over that hump for this time.

As I posted on Facebook yesterday, Elias brought me a dandelion turned white yesterday.  He brought it to the back door where I met him, and he handed it to me very solemnly and said, "You're bu-full, Mom."  Then he turned and left.

David's birthday is just around the corner.  Our wild child will soon be 6. 
He wants a racecar-rockstar-crocodile party. 
I'm not sure how to do a cake for that...

Monday, September 26, 2011

I'm Blessed

Today is 2 posts in one.  There wasn't 1 on Saturday, but keep reading and you'll find out why.

There was a moment the other day when I was teaching Silje something at school, and she asked if other 2nd graders had to learn this too.  My heart twinges every time she makes references to her old school, or what she would rather be doing.

I don't mean to give the wrong impression.  Silje loves school.  She always has, and hopefully always will.  She would love learning where ever she went.  It would have been easier to explain to her why we homeschool if we had had a terrible experience at her old school.  What made it hard to decide to homeschool was the fact that we do live in a good school district, and that she did love it there.

I was discussing this with a veteran homeschool mom at a get together last week, and she commented that what my kids were getting to the age where I had to make some tough decisions for them, and they may not always like that.  The more I thought about it, the more I wondered at what age I didn't make tough decisions for my kids that they didn't like.  I knew what she meant, though.

What we are doing for our kids is intended to be a gift.  Parents often want to bless their children, and we all bless our kids in different ways.  Although Silje loves doing school with me, and tells me that, there are times when she's working on grammar that it doesn't feel like a gift.  Let's just say they're not always overflowing with thankfulness.

The same goes for food, too.  Why is it my kids can't stand the homemade macaroni and cheese I make with real cheeses and baked to perfection with bread crumbs playfully sprinkled on top?  No.  They like the little blue box with the fake orange cheese.  I want so badly to give them good things.  Sometimes they get the good things when they'd prefer the bad ones.

Maybe it's because "good" has a connotation of "healthy" or "responsible" that goes with it.  Being a rebel is just that much more fun.  I enjoy it when my kids have fun.  However, them having fun isn't my #1 goal.

Let's move this to the context of God.  How does he like to bless us?  What good things does he give us?  I've been wondering this last week if there aren't some things in my life that God intended as a gift.

I wonder if I, as a Christian, ask God for cookies when he gives me broccoli.
I wonder if I reject the real things God gives me in preference for the fake in the pretty package.
I wonder if I look around at what other people are doing, and ask "why didn't I get that?" like my kids so often do.
I wonder if I get sold on commercials as easily as my kids do, and don't recognize it.
I wonder if I'm letting the world define what I want, and then complain to God when I don't get it.

Those are my thoughts on blessings this last week.

 As for part 2 of this post, it's a huge praise that Silje was kept safe from the night on the bunk bed in the boys' room for their sleepover together last Friday.  They had so much fun.  Around midnight, after they had been asleep for quite some time, Silje somehow fell off the top bunk, and we rushed in there and tried to figure out how hurt she was.  She didn't cry at first, but then she was understandably very scared.  With nothing broken, and not a bruise on her, we decided to put her back in her bed in her room.  About 20 minutes later she started throwing up, and we noticed a rug burn on her face near he temple from where she had fallen.

So Knut stayed home with the other kids, and I took Silje to the emergency room to get checked out around 1am.  We feared she had a concussion, and they observed her for most of the night and released us around 5am.  The throwing up continued almost all night long, and they mostly treated that.

I had always thought that David would be my first bring-a-kid-to-the-emergency-room experience, but Silje surprised me.  Well, Elias has been to the emergency room before, but that was just a formality for being checked into the hospital for breathing issues when he was littler.

She is fine now, and doesn't even have a mild headache.  When I think of how it could have turned out...
I try to stop thinking. 

I told her when we were in the emergency room and she was scared that she should think of something that she really wants when she gets home and we could talk about that.  She really wanted a bubble bath.  (Phew!  That's all?!  Don't ever tell her I felt so bad for her at that moment that I would have given her a kitten had she asked me at that point in time!)

She got 2 bubble baths when we were home on Saturday, and even 2 naps as well.  After her second bath she asked if I would brush her hair, and for once I was unhurried, and just wanted her to relax.  When I was done brushing it, she wanted me to keep playing with it, so I kept playing with it.

I was pretty proud of my play afterward, so I asked her if I could take a picture.

I have a daughter who lets me play with her hair.  I wish I took the time to do it more often.  I'm blessed.

If you want to join in this week and say how you have been blessed, don't worry!  You don't need to be as long winded as me!  Write what you want.  Please include a link to this blog in your post, and put a link to your blog below.  If you don't have a blog, go ahead and just leave a comment sharing with others either what God is teaching you about Himself (the biggest blessing of all!) or how else He is blessing you.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Homeschool Friday

(used with permission from the Family Man)
Life has been tough since the school year started.  I have gotten meal planning a bit better out of control, but it feels like everything else has been different.  

The fact of the matter is, for the last few weeks, our kids have been insane to deal with.  Solveig has just been her normal self, and a normal baby with just a few bad nights here and there.  Silje, David, and Elias have each been pushing Knut and I to our breaking point, though.  Silje has been having an attitude and has been incredibly moody.  When she asks permission for something and if we say "no," or "later," she'll just ask in a different way 2 minutes later.  Then 2 minutes after that.  David tends to be loudly disobedient, but Silje usually does it very quietly.

David has been loudly disobedient.  There has been stomping, withering to the ground and going limp, arguing.  Lots of arguing.  It's like he can't do even a simple request without arguing it to death.

Elias has been whining.  It's as if we can't even remember what his normal voice sounds like.  When he's not whining, he's screaming.  It's been like nails on a chalkboard.

Knut and I both assumed it was because of the adjustment of school starting and pressed on hard.  There were a few days that the babies were sick, but the problem spans a much longer time than that.  We're going to push through, stay on top of it.  At the end of the day we were both exhausted from constant correction, constant discipline, and constant arguing.

So my next thought is we need to turn the tables.  We need to remind all of us that this can be fun.  I plan more activities, and make a huge effort to spend one on one time with each of the kids.  I take just Silje to town with me.  I sit and read more books with Elias.  I give David a back rub.  

It wasn't helping, and even though it was helpful that Knut was home an afternoon here and there to help me get caught up on the housework that was quickly falling apart, that didn't stop Knut and I from feeling frustrated and relieved at the end of the day when they would thankfully be in bed.

I told Knut as we were enjoying our "the kids are in bed!" toast of milk and cookies that something needs to change.  I need to get on top of this because we cannot go on like this forever.  So we sat and brainstormed for over an hour of changes we can make to our household, because honestly, I think the kids were as frustrated with us as we were with them.

For starters, I thought that we could start school an hour earlier.  We normally start at 9am because I'm not a morning person.  What I see happening is the kids get up, have breakfast, change, and then start playing.  It's when they are just getting deep into play that they have to drop everything and start school.  I'm now going to catch them just after they change their clothes and get ready for the day.  This will allow them to play more after school, when they don't have to be interrupted.  

This means that starting school won't coincide with Solveig's naptime, but we'll just have to keep her amused as we start.

Next, give the 2 older kids a To Do list for the day.  I feel like I'm constantly redirecting them, constantly fighting them if I ask them to do the simplest chores, and it feels like I'm herding cats back to work as they each slip away to do whatever they fancy.

I picked out 2 cool looking composition notebook from my stash of overbuying supplies last year.  One is for David, the other for Silje.  Each of them have schoolwork on the top part of the page, and chores on the bottom part.  When school started an hour earlier on Thursday, I gave each of the kids their lists and said they could not play until everything on their list was done.  If I was busy with the other kid, they could move onto something on their list that they could do by themselves without asking me.  I had the master list before that they saw, but this is their own list that they can mark up if they like.  This list was more simple, and just for that day.

Silje loves to check things off of lists, so she loved this idea.  David has never dealt with lists before, but he liked the idea of his own notebook.  The kids worked all morning on their lists, and David even asked me to add more to his list, so I had him wash the windows in the kitchen and organize the shoe closet...2 of his favorite chores.  He loved the feeling of putting a check mark next to it.

Third, I could tell that Silje's sad face that's been coming out might be related to lack of creative outlet.  She's a very creative person, and I haven't been on top of that.  I wasn't sure if it was time to teach her to knit, or give her bits of fabric, but I knew she needed something easy that would make her eyes sparkle a bit.

Lastly, we unplugged the t.v. again.  Elias won't be able to watch any during his shows to keep quiet during grammar, and will have to play near us.  We'll just have to get used to the noise.  However, the kids won't see it as an option that they're left out of, and Elias won't have the "I'm crabby because I've been watching t.v." whine.

So it hasn't been long, but it was the first day of school that we got everything done, didn't have to rotate at all what we left out,   There were no huffs, no stomping, no going limp, no sassy words.  We only had one discipline issue with David early on but it was quick.  Silje wandered off and played once, but was redirected to her list once, and then it wasn't a problem.  Even Elias loved being with us and happily made things with Legos for most of the morning.  He even sat in my lap while I was reading Silje her read-aloud book.

Halfway through the day, Silje was getting her sad face back on, and I wondered if it was all a bust.  So I threw into the mix the idea of planning a sleepover with David, since there has been a lot of fighting about someone going into the other person's room.  There's a top bunk in the boys room that no one sleeps in, and I set a date that was far enough in advance that Silje could spend lots of time planning all the fun things they can do.  She's a party planner.  It's her bliss.  

So now Silje and David are planning a fun night together on the bunk beds, and it is consuming their play instead of arguing. 

We'll get this.  It's looking up.  I'm so encouraged that we had a good day this week after our brainstorming.  It's not perfect. It did not strike all sin from my children.  Our house is still loud.  It's a more organized noise though, and I have to believe that is improvement.

Join along and link up with your current post about homeschooling.  It can be what you've done, what you think, what you dream.  Put a link to this blog in your post, and leave your blog link in the list below.  Thanks for participating!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

For Kicks

I've been a little bummed that since my domain changed awhile back that the "Link Within" widget doesn't work on my blog anymore.  In English, that means the little boxes on the bottom of the post that say "You May Also Enjoy" and then a link to an old post with similar tags.  Have you seen those before?  Whenever I try to install that feature on my blog, it links back to the old blog, which is of course, a broken link.  I've contacted the LinkWithin people, and they haven't gotten back to me in the last few months.

So I thought I'd bring that to you today.  A blast from the past, a trip down memory late, a post just for kicks.

Here's the post my kids most request to see.  I'll admit, that even though the picture is sideways, I could watch this all day long.  David and Silje laugh their head off, and Elias keeps telling us it's him.  He doesn't understand David used to be his size.

Here was my first controversial post.  It's a big moment in the life of a blogger when you realize that your opinion may be attacked or questioned and you post it anyway.  You just say what you need to say.  It's when the rebel comes out.

Here's the post that gets the most hits on this blog, although it will soon be passed up with the Clara Cowl pattern page.  No, the quilt is still not finished.  Maybe in time for Silje's wedding at this point...

Here's a fight Silje and David had a long time ago, but I still remember.

This's fun stuff.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Yarn Along

As always, today I'm going to post about what I'm knitting and reading.  If you like knitting and reading, you will probably enjoy the master list or as I prefer "party" over at Ginny's Blog.  Thank you, Ginny, once again, for hosting this party.  I hope you didn't clean for us.

So, I know all of you with impeccable memories are thinking "wasn't the body of that sweater done last week?"  Yes, yes it was.  The body was finished and the sleeves were not working out correctly as many times as I tried.  I had followed my notes and calculations from the last "Dirk" sweater I made, and they should be correct.  I checked my math over and over again.  I was beginning to think I was losing my mind.  I finally decided to measure the armholes one more time, and sure enough, I looked at my notes and they were correct.  The sweater was wrong.  I had measured the size of the armholes from the beginning of the orange yarn, and not from the top of the armhole (the navy part) like I was supposed to.  The armhole was inches too big due to user error, not math-notes error.  No wonder the sleeve wasn't fitting.

So what choice did I have but to unravel the whole sweater back up to the armholes and unravel the added inches.  It was painful.  Really. Painful.

The sweater is on the road to healing, though, and for that I'm grateful.

On a very happy note involving this sweater, my submission for the "Dirk Sweater" to be distributed with KnitPicks has been accepted, and so as soon as I'm finished with the details of the written pattern, they're going to send me some more yarn to make them a sample of it.  They do want the sample to be different colors than the one David chose.  For some reason the orange and blue doesn't tickle them like it does my 5 year old.  ;)

So I need to pick a new color combination.  Any advice for those who are familiar with their swish dk yarn?  Knut thinks it should be a solid color like Lemongrass heather, but I told him the idea was for a 2 toned sweater.  I'm thinking maybe camo colors like Lemongrass or moss for the shoulders and sleeves, and them doe or squirrel heather for the body.  Or blues, or greens...what would you do?

I'm also making another Clara Cowl, though this one for a customer.  ;)  It's a nice occasional break from re-doing the sweater. 

I just got the book "Artisan Bread in Just 5 Minutes a Day" because my old cheerleading coach/current friend recommended it highly on her blog.  Yes, I was a cheerleader.  That fact still surprises me sometimes.

I've been annoyed with my bread maker lately.  No particular reason other than it's become boring.  I wasn't in search of any particular solution, just inspiration.  Paging through this book, I wish that it had more pictures, but I really like their method of making bread.  It's the most inspiring reason I've had in weeks to clean out my fridge.


Soy beans.  As you can see, we are on the edge of harvest.

The wind is changing, and we are getting some cold nights.  We had our first fire in the fireplace of the season.

It was luxurious.  How amazing is a fire in the fireplace, really?  It's like therapy through hypnosis.  It draws your attention and you can just stare for hours.

Maybe this will be the year our fireplace will be finished.  I told Knut that if he's going to do the mantle this winter, it'd be awfully nice to have it done for Christmas so I can decorate it.  I've been sucked into looking for mantel decoration ideas.  One thing that I saw on there are chalkboards with writing on it that you can change whenever.  Then I remembered we have some salvaged slate boards from the walls of the one room schoolhouse that used to be around here, and they're just sitting in our summer kitchen.  So we'll have to see if the size is right, or if it looks awful. 

Knut loves my idea, but that's not surprising since almost everything about our fireplace (besides the actual fireplace) is salvaged from the rocks from our fields, to the white posts on either side that used to be the old porch posts of our house when it was first built 110 years ago.  Even the wood framing out the wood box is leftover from a renovation project that happened when Knut was growing up here.  We love things with history.  Fortunately for us, (and sometimes unfortunately) the previous owners never threw anything away.

Everything is out of the garden, and it has been tilled.  Now that it's nice and black, we're thinking of taking all of the mulch and "fertilizer" from the chicken coop and working it into the freshly tilled soil for next Spring.  I need to add some mulch to the hydrangea bushes before snow falls, and I think that will come from the chicken's bedding as well.

I now have close to 8 ice cream pails of tomatoes, peppers, and beets sitting in my garage waiting for me to decide what to do with them.  It's mostly tomatoes.  Seeing the black patch where the garden once was is like a big sigh of relief to me.  It has been a very satisfying year.

I just love Fall.

Monday, September 19, 2011

I'm Blessed

Today I think I'll keep things simple.  I'm afraid I don't have anything too deep or well thought out today.  Solveig has not been sleeping well at night for the past few nights and my brain is a bit like Jello right now.

-I'm blessed with Autumn.  The landscape is so different now as there have been a few nights of frost.  The trees seem to have woken up to Fall, and the fields have changed from lush green to a tan-ish gold.  I love the fresh air, and the smell of Fall.

-I get to eat homemade double chocolate brownies as I write this.  Don't be jealous.

-I finally figured out what was going wrong with my "Dirk" sweater pattern.  Now that it's figured out, it's just a matter of busy work: finishing it up.  The brain block has been pushed through and I can move on.

-I got to see a lot of sweet family and sweet friends this last weekend.

-I'm blessed that a financial burden, and I mean burden has been lifted off of the shoulders of someone I love recently.  A settlement with a large debt was reached and this is another answer to prayer.

-My kids continue to grow and be healthy.  I don't want to take one day of that for granted.

-A really fun first day of Sunday School.  I'm not sure what possessed me, but I offered to teach a 2nd/3rd grade Sunday school class and I had so much fun.  It's been awhile since I've seen some little people experience things like John 3:16 or learning to look up Bible verses, or seeing someone hear the story of "The Good Samaritan" for the first time.  It's easy to start to believe that these things you always just know.  No, they are taught just like everything else.  It's fun to experience that for the first time...again.

Please share how God has been blessing you.  To join this particular event either leave a comment, and/or leave a link to your own "I'm Blessed" post.  Further instructions/guidelines like linking back to this blog can be found by clicking the "I'm Blessed" button on the right hand column. 
Do you have a prayer request that has been answered?  Is there something you never want to forget to say thanks for?  We are all blessed, and in so many different and custom fit ways.  Our God is amazing like that. 

Friday, September 16, 2011

Homeschool Friday

(used with permission from The Family Man)

I had a completely different post ready to post today, and I chickened out as I reread it and thought, " that what I really think?"  It was one of those ramble-y ones that no one ever reads anyway.  This will be much more interesting... I hope.

I'll be honest and say that homeschooling 2 is harder than 1.  I know...shocking.  I feel somedays like I'm an air traffic controller or the head chef at some high energy, big city kitchen.

Normally with the garden, I burn out at the end of July, or beginning of August.  I actually made it to September, but unfortunately, my burn out is coinciding with school starting.  I'm trying not to blame school for my burnt out feeling.

Walking in on scenes like this keep me going:

Before I start another rambling post, I'll organize my thoughts into praises and prayers.

Praise: Silje is loving every subject.  She's getting into the flow a bit more each day.  Her handwriting is improving very fast, and she's asking very perceptive questions.  She's using her time very efficiently as she's caught on that doing things sloppy means she has to do them again, and getting done quickly means she has more free time.

Prayer: She's seemed a bit sad lately.  I talked to her about it yesterday, and she said she's sad she doesn't have as much play time as she did this summer.  She said she misses just sitting and reading a book from cover to cover in one day.  Now she has to read only a few chapters when she can fit it in.  Actually, I'm pretty sure this is what students across the country are struggling with: lack of free time.  Really, she gets 3+ hours a day to herself when there are no chores, no requests, and no schoolwork.  I have no solution for her.  I think wanting to do a lot and not enough time to do it all is a hereditary problem that she will hopefully find a solution to and tell me about.  I'm trying to talk to her about it, though, and I think that's helping a bit.

Praise: David's reading is improving way faster than expected.  He's even surprising himself.  He's learning so much more than either of us expected him to in just a few days.  He's starting to "accidentally" listen to the history lessons I do with Silje and is starting to ask questions or rush over to see a picture. 

Prayer: He asks to watch t.v. 5,687 times an hour, if that's even possible.  Sometimes he mixes it up and asks for food, even if he had a snack 15 minutes earlier.  He doesn't want to play outside, with his puzzles, Legos or anything.  He just wants t.v.  Saying "no" is getting really old.  I need to think of some way to get through to him that he cannot watch school in the mornings anymore.  Ever.  I may have to take it away completely again so he can relax.  I don't know why I do this "t.v." thing to myself.

He does great when he has my full attention.  However, Silje needs my attention too, and whenever I set him up with something and go to the other side of the table or room to help Silje with something, the "Can I watch t.v.?" non-stop questions start.  O, and he hates Stuart Little, the book I picked to read aloud to him.  I'm bribing him by saying we can watch the movie when we're done with it.  The whining is getting worse too.  That's normal for him when he's adjusting to a big change.  I just wish the adjustment period was over.

On Tuesday we started choir for the 2 older kids.  They broke up the K-3rd grade choir and divided it into K-1st grade and 2nd-3rd grade choir.  So they each have their own choir this year.  What that really means is I have to spend 1 hour in the lobby with Elias and Solveig and one of the older kids instead of 30 minutes.  Sorry, that sounded whiny.  The upside is the kids really liked it, and I have some ideas of little activities to do next time with the little ones.  Next time I will be more prepared.

Hmmm...I think I should have written the prayers and then the praises.  Get the "bad news" over with and leave the good news taste in my mouth.  Things are really going well.  Even homeschool moms need to vent every now and then.

That is our week, how was yours?  I just thought I'd put another Linky on this post to see if anyone wants to link up this week.  If you want to put a link to this blog in your post, and then leave a link to your blog post about homeschooling, whether rambling and philosophical (just no bashing), or day by day synopsis, just leave the link in the box below.  It will make great reading for me this weekend when I should be folding laundry.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Just Stuff

We've been busy with school.  O, so busy.  I can't seem to fit in 100% of my plans every day, so I've been rotating subjects that get left out each day so we don't get overwhelmed.  Fridays are really open days, so maybe I just need to wait until tomorrow where we can catch up.  I don't want to burn out this early in the year. 

Speaking of homeschooling, tomorrow is Homeschool Friday, and I think I might add to the bottom a little linky list like on the "I'm Blessed" Mondays to see if anyone else wants to link up with their posts on homeschooling, or what their homeschool is up to.  We'll just see how that goes.  If no one ever participates, I may take it down again.  There's been interest, though.

We pulled off all the tomatoes and peppers from the garden last night before the freeze.  My oven ran all day yesterday baking banana breads, roasting tomatoes, and I had beef stock going on the stove as well.  I think I'm not so much burning out from homeschooling, but burning out from garden preserving.  Thank you Jesus for the blessings.  I'm glad to move onto other things now.  The chest freezer, upright freezer back up, as well as the freezer above the fridge are all packed to the brim.  It's a good, but exhausting feeling.  I'm glad that all that is left is what we pulled out of the garden last night.

Elias finally figured out how to use the potty chair yesterday for the first time.  He did it once and sees no reason to do it again.  I have zero ambition to potty train that little boy but I suppose I should get to that sometime.  I think all that he and I can handle right now is occasional sitting on the potty, but I'm not sure if that will screw him up in his thinking.  If I learned anything from potty training the older two, it's that pushing backfires in this department.  He's so laid back, though, that if I don't push a little, he may wear a diaper for years to come.  What to do...what to do...

He also moved out of his crib and into a big boy bed 3 days ago.  Maybe he's full to capacity on new things right now.  He is sitting on the potty chair of his own volition as I write this.  Maybe I'll just wait and see what happens.

Silje's attitude isn't what it was last year.  I'm thinking the source is her adjustment to sharing Mommy during school time.  I think I'll have to start up our tea parties on Fridays again for our "just talk" time.  She's loving every subject though.  Well, except in English she's learning to look up words in the dictionary, and I think she despises that activity.  It's better if I don't leave her side, but she'd rather me just tell her what a word means. 

I've moved her into the kitchen while I am working there, and she does much better if I'm there with her the whole time.  She's the type where she likes to understand things right away or not at all.  So this whole spending 5 minutes to look up a word is really annoying to her.  She just wants me to tell her so she can memorize it.

That's what's going on here.  Knut's brother and family are coming from New Jersey this weekend, so we're excited to see them, and of course our little nephews.  Knut and I are trying to get lots of little things done before harvest starts in a very short time.  I want to take a new picture for the header so you can see how much things have changed outside.

My brain hasn't been screwed on all the way as there has been so much to juggle.  I had supper at a girls night out at our favorite coffee shop the other night (it was very needed!) and I came back feeling so refreshed.  It was like I was a new woman.  Then I saw in my hand my ticket to pay for my food.  I realized I left without paying, to my horror. 

I still can't believe I was that absentminded to just leave, but I was talking to someone on the way out and just forgot.  I called them when they opened the next morning, and they laughed and said I could just pay the next time I was in.  It's a small town, and they know me.  ;)  I actually didn't know they knew me, but the lady on the phone said "Gretchen, you don't need to make a special trip to town (did I say I lived out of town on the phone?) and we know we'll see you again, (do we go in there that often?) so just bring in the ticket next time you come in."  They're nice people, there.

Actually, they're really smart people for making me come in instead of just paying over the phone.  You know I'm not going to go in there to pay and smell all the wonderful aromas in there and not come out with a steaming mocha. 

But I'm at the point where the house is getting a little more caught up each day, even if it's just baby steps, and the preserving now has an end in sight.  Fall decorations are slowly going up.  I'm no longer behind on laundry, and get to see and sit on the actual couch that laundry gets dumped on every day.  Even bathrooms are being cleaned and sheets being changed.  The upside of all of this kitchen work (besides the yumminess) is that my house is being kept warm as the temperature drops.  We haven't had to start any heaters yet due to the oven getting so much use.

And that's my daily writing.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Yarn Along

I'll be honest and say I'm not pleased with my progress this last week.  I've been crunching the numbers on the sleeves on this sweater so many times.  It should have been done by now, but I'm still adjusting to life with school.  I'm finding that the toughest thing to get done is meals.  In all of my school planning, I left out the meal planning and when meals aren't planned, the right groceries aren't in the fridge, and I'm staring at 4 pails of tomatoes from the garden and my family has no desire to have fresh tomato soup...again.

So I've got my meal planning back in order, and I'm starting to adjust to school, and hope my kids will soon make the adjustment as well.  Hopefully now that the chaos of "what's for dinner" is under control, I can get this sweater and subsequent pattern writing complete.

I've just so barely started another book up for review.  This is a Timberdoodle review, though so a bit different.  I set my goal on finishing it sometime before Christmas.  It's about raising boys (obviously) and is written by the parents of 6 boys (and 2 girls) and specifically addresses homeschooling boys as well, which perked my interest.

Their philosophy is a bit Duggar-ish for lack of a better term.  I like the Duggar family, so that's okay with me.  What I like from it so far is it talks about not trying to change your boy because his masculinity is difficult to deal with.  Is your boy aggressive?  Don't make him passive.  God might have made him aggressive so that he can be a soldier, or police officer.  Talk to him about defending the helpless, being the hero, etc.  Funnel that aggression into a way he can honor God.

So far I'm liking it more than Dobson's Bringing Up Boys because it's less quoting psychological studies, and more practical approaches with sons.  I nearly welled up reading the first chapter when I read about how important it is to see the gift in your child, and how often your child's gift is also what is often the most annoying to the parent.  We fight so hard to mold them into these agreeable little yes-men and God designed them for something bigger and greater. I felt like someone else understood my David (especially).  He's so passionate, and so physical, and so strong willed, so loud, and I see that so much as his potential, or his gift but I feel pressure from all over sometimes that it's a sign that I can't control him well enough.  I know I have more than one boy, but he's the one coming up in school and I'm going to need all the help I can get.

I can't say much more, because I'm not that far into it yet.  I'll let you know if it's any good. 

To see more knitting inspiration and good book ideas, head on over to the party at Ginny's Blog.

Solveig - 9 months

This last Sunday, our little Solveig turned 9 months.  I haven't given a big update on her in awhile, so here it goes.  I don't have recent measurements, so I'll just stick to the important stuff.

Solveig is so smiley.  She loves laughing.  She loves moving .  This last week she started "cruising."  (That means walking around furniture.)  She's been crawling for ages, and has pulled up to a stand for awhile.  Here's a recap of my kids' walking schedule:

Silje-walked at 13 months.
David-walked at 13 months.
Elias-walked at 15 months.

Solveig-9 months and very close.  That's coming out of left field, huh?

She's also very chatty.  She loves to have "conversations" with people.

She still hates baby food of any kind: homemade and store bought.   However, she's eating food that we eat all. the. time.  She loves Cheerios, noodles, ground beef, vegis, etc.  Like Elias was, if it's on our plate, she'll eat it.  We still have to be overly cautious about the size of the pieces we give her, and sometimes the pieces are so small we put them in her mouth for her.  She opens up like a little birdy being fed.  It's so cute.  Then she pounds her tray until the next piece comes.

We can't decide if she's a mommy's girl or daddy's girl, because she loves being with both of us and can work us each pretty well.  We're both smitten beyond comprehension.
She's the doll of the family as the kids also love to dote on her.  She'll probably be spoiled rotten, but we're too blinded right now to see it.  Even Lena shadows her crawling everywhere, and lays down when Solveig stops to look at something, and gets up and follows her when she starts moving again.  I'm pretty sure that's because Lena gets some good table scraps under the high chair.  She's no dummy.

Baby proofing things is more difficult than I remember because the older kids undo things to get through, or open doors to the stairs and don't close them.  They forget that doors are closed, gates are up, and cupboards are tied shut for a reason.  So we get the panicky rescues from time to time.

It's been a sweet 9 months and has gone way, way too fast!

Monday, September 12, 2011

I'm Blessed

I want to start out my post today by thanking all of you who have participated at one time or another.  I wasn't going to do a post last week because it was a holiday and I felt like I was the only one at this blog party, or there just wasn't enough interest to make it worth it.  Knut talked me into writing one anyway because it doesn't matter how many people comment or leave their blog link.  It's the practice of praising, and that is most important.  So I did it anyway, and there were more comments and links than I had in awhile and that was like yummy frosting to a good cake.

It's been a somber past week.  Very recently a high school friend of ours lost one of her babies.  Her son was just a hair younger than Solveig and he had some health issues since before he was born.  She has other children at home, and thinking of what it would be like to lose one of my children as well as be there for my other children as they grieve the loss of their sibling...can one describe the feeling?  I keep thinking of what people have said about dealing with such painful losses like that, and that is that God's grace is poured out abundantly.  Yes, it hurts very deeply.  We wonder how they manage.  We forget that we don't understand their strength because God is giving them the portion of grace they need, and that is something else we cannot fathom.

Add to that all the memories of 9/11 as they were all brought up again yesterday...I guess I'm saying that I've been hugging my family a lot lately.  The snuggles have been a little longer.

The question brought up all the time is "why them?"  Why did my friend's son have to die, and all of my children are healthy?  Why do some people endure suffering, and others do not?  Why do bad things happen to good people?

I'll be honest that occasionally, my mind goes there.  Quite a bit more often, though, I wonder why good things happen at all.  That is the question I never hear asked in the media.

Besides my early miscarriage, all of my children are healthy, beautiful, and happy (most of the time.)

The fields are quickly changing colors and harvest is just around the corner.  It's an exciting time.  As we prepare for the event of harvest, I think of other places where they can't seem to scrape a crop from the dirt.  Why are we so blessed?

Knut's younger cousin just had her 2nd baby.  During the whole pregnancy she was dealing with her husband having (from what I can tell) an aggressive cancer.  He recently finished his first round of chemo.  This week, on the day they brought their little girl home from the hospital, they got a phone call that his scans did not detect any cancer in his body.  None.  He's been at the top of our prayer list for awhile.  It's amazing news. 

I was shocked really, that their news was so good.  It's the kind of news you sit down for.  Why in the world would we be shocked that God heals?  That God answers prayers?  Is my faith so little that I'm surprised when something amazing like that happens?

Perhaps.  Maybe even: most likely.  I am not one who believes that love is something someone deserves.  That's an awful thing to say.  I want everyone to have love, and be loved.  I'm all for love. 

To put it plainly, I'm baffled by love.  I'm baffled by grace.  I understand the theology of it.  If anything, understanding it more just puts me more in awe.  We are so undeserving.  I spend late hours shaking my head in wonderment that good things happen.  Am I that much a pessimist?  Maybe.

I do know I may never understand the depths of God's love.  That information does not squeeze itself into my brain.  The infinite does not fit into my finite thoughts.

Thank you, Jesus, for healing B.  Thank you for their little girl.
Thank you for sending comfort to K and R and their little ones as they mourn the loss of their son/brother.
Thank you for all the ways you continue to move in this country that seems to turn its back on your name.  Your name was spoken and prayed so freely 10 years ago.  We remember the tragedy, and forget the source of all healing.  Yet you still allow us to be one of the most blessed nations on earth. 
Thank you for my family that I do not deserve.
Thank you for love.

I am blessed.

If you want to leave a link to your own "I'm Blessed" post, do so just below here.  Don't forget to link up in your post.  You can find instructions on that when you click the "I'm Blessed" button on the right hand column of this blog.  If you'd rather, leave a comment to say how you are blessed.  It can be simple, and short, or drawn out and wordy like me.  Either way, I can at least speak for myself and say that it encourages me.  I know that it encourages others too.

Saturday, September 10, 2011


As the person most behind the camera, I don't make it into many pictures.  When we first got the camera, Knut shot one picture of me, and that was the one in the "About Us" page.  I was determined to replace it, though.

The other night I had to go to a meeting, so I was showered with my hair sort of done in a "daring" side pony, and was actually wearing make up and clean clothes.  Solveig was in a cute little outfit, too.  So before Solveig and I ran out to the meeting, and while Knut was starting to dish the kids up for supper, I pulled him away and said: "Can you take a picture of me for the blog?  I actually have clean clothes and make up and my hair is done!  Quick, take a picture!"

Anyone relate?
I kept Solveig in the portrait so I wouldn't feel so cheesy.  Having her on my hip helped it feel normal.

We didn't notice until later that Solveig had pulled out some of my ponytail, forming a little hair fuzz just before this picture was taken.  I decided to use it anyway, because you know what?  That's reality.  I can shower and put on a clean dress every Sunday morning, and yet I have not arrived clean to church in nearly 7 years.  I can try to get my picture taken, and race from the mirror to the porch (our room with the most light) and in that millisecond before the picture is taken, someone messes it up.

That is life.  I am a mommy.  I wear my hair poof proudly.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Homeschool Friday

I'm so excited to be back in school!

Mothers out there who sent their kids off to school this week may wonder what in the world we are thinking.
Just so you know, we do the same thing.

Mothers out there may get a little teary eyed and sentimental at the idea of letting go of their children into the hands of others.
We also do the same thing.

It's funny to me that all the same emotions and lack of patience, and desire for time, both with and without our children is the same for both homeschooling, public and private schooling mommies.  The only thing that is different between us is our individual decisions about what we feel is best for our kids.

For the first day of school, we decided to take pictures to help us document where each student is.  I'm not to pleased with how the photographs turned out but I'm in love with the subjects in them.
Silje the 2nd grader.

David the kindergartener.

Elias (in potty school)

 although, that is news to him...

Solveig will learn how to walk this school year, as well as drink from a cup.  We'll also work on the fine art of wearing pants, and try to squeeze in a speech class.  She had more fun crumpling her sign, though.

The year is off to a good start.  Actually, it went better than I had anticipated. The first 2 days with the kids were a breeze as everything was new and exciting.  Thursday, for some reason I had to repeat myself a lot, getting louder and more forceful each time.  On Thursday I had so many (2) students at the dining room table that I introduced the "raise your hand if you want to say something" rule to our school.  

Last year I was hoping to get David reading and writing.  He did a fair amount, but this year we will be working on those 2 subjects, as well as math every day...whether or not he feels like it.  That's the new part this year.  Those 3 things put together take us around 30 minutes total, but he's wanting to do more so somedays we spend more time on a subject if he doesn't want to be done.  So he's been in our "schoolroom" (dining room) with us all morning working on stuff.   Also, I've brought out some huge Walmart/Target "Kindergarten" workbooks for our activity side of the table and let him just work his way through there if he doesn't want school to be done yet and needs something to do while I work with Silje.  

I've set the dining room table up with an "Activity Side" and "Work Side."  When they're at the work side, they do the work I tell them to, and I work with them to get it done.  They can go to the activity side to pick an activity to do when I'm busy working with their sibling, and they're waiting for their turn, or if they're done and have nothing else to do because the t.v. is off limits.  They have been choosing to hang around the table where I'm at, so it's nice to have something for them to do.  The activity side has puzzles, workbooks, Mighty Mind, painting, drawing, and math manipulatives.

The favorites "work" activity so far: Geography Songs.  They LOVE this C.D. and the maps that go with it.  Even Elias sprints to my lap for this portion and sings along too. 

Silje is completely in love with Latin.  I was a little worried about introducing that subject this year, and I shouldn't have been.  She's her mother's daughter with her love for languages and she's picking it up too quickly, and finishing her work too easily so I'm having to look online for more supplements so we don't race through the curriculum like she always prefers to do.  Sometimes it's good to slow down and let the information simmer and soak for awhile.

The crazy time of day is when we're all working on handwriting together.  I did not intend to work with them both on handwriting at the same time.  However, when one of them starts the other one bugs me until they can do it too, so it's become a group activity.  The complex part is working on separate letters at the same time.  I intended to introduce one letter a day to David, and he's pushed 9 out of me this week.  I wanted to review the whole alphabet in lowercase with Silje this week, which we did.  Next we'll move onto multiple letter phonograms for review and continuation from last year.

But enough with the boring stuff.

I let Elias watch PBS kids for about an hour each day when he was really in the way and I needed to work with one of the older ones.  I hated doing that, and I am determined to find a new solution.  Coming off a holiday weekend with cranky kids, I decided to cut myself some slack.  We get most of our morning work done while Solveig takes her morning nap, and I try to get most everything done by afternoon naps, although sometimes we have some reading on the couch left to do then.

I think things will run even smoother when the garden is finally done.  However, next week we begin piano lessons for Silje and choir for both David and Silje.  That will throw a loop into the schedule. 

It has begun.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Laboring On

This past long weekend we squeezed so much in, that I just have to share a taste. 

When Knut, Elias, Solveig and I arrived at the lake Monday morning, we found Grandpa and David fishing.  It was a lovely morning.  I made pumpkin scones for the brunch/potluck as it felt as fall was almost upon us.  It was very strange having only 2 kids with us for the night.  Knut kept commenting on how it felt like we were just starting over.  Elias kept looking at us.  Most likely because we kept looking at him.  When Solveig was asleep he was the only one to look after, and he thought that was so funny.  He giggled a lot.

He's so tall these days.  It seemed to have happened just recently.

Knut's 93(?) year old grandpa took himself out rowing.  I think he gets frustrated sometimes getting an escort everywhere he wants to go.  He's lost most of his sight but is determined to stay active.

After the lake we headed straight out to visit some old friends.
The horses Knut had in high school are living out their retirement with some church friends of ours.  They let us come over to ride them which we don't do nearly enough to Silje's liking.  Well, really we went out there because they were butchering their chickens and Knut wanted to help them so he could learn how to do it.

And I took pictures of the horses.

Okay, I did look.  I wasn't going to look, but when I heard that the chicken (actually a rooster) was running around with its head cut off I just had to look. 

It was weird.

I have to say that watching the whole butchering process was more on the educational and less on the gross side than I was anticipating.  See how far I've come?

Silje didn't want to look, so we didn't make her.  David and Elias were very curious.  They didn't laugh or anything, but they did look a lot.  They dictated to me a lot what was happening as their own way of processing.  "The chicken doesn't want to die, but it doesn't have a choice."  We talk about choices a lot.  Elias didn't like it if anyone touched the chicken after it was dead.  He would furrow his brow and say, "No, chicken's gone."  They asked a lot of questions and got a lot of answers.

Some nicer views to remember the afternoon:
David's face at full gallop.
Elias playing cowboy.
Seeing Silje with horses.  I think she'd rather ride a horse than go to Disneyland, honestly.
And of course, the constant view of Solveig whenever I looked down.

P.S. We're not butchering our chickens.  They should start laying any time now.  That's not to say we're not contemplating having meat chickens in the future.

Slow Love Review

              “Slow Love” was a pleasure to read.  Browning is descriptive, honest, and human.

                It should come with a big fat warning that her unemployment is not typical. Normally job loss equals financial struggle.  Her worst case scenario involved selling one of her houses.
                I think that those who have retired might relate a bit better.  Regardless of money, when your life is suddenly changed, it’s human to feel lost.
                It is about someone who is lost and how she tries to find her way back. 
                She spends a lot of time talking about a guy. The foil to this relationship where he has no real respect for her is her constant claim that she’s a feminist.  I laughed when she repeatedly wrote it, because her behavior is the opposite of what I imagine the modern definition of “feminist” is.  She is obviously a very powerful woman, and all she wants is to be rescued by prince charming...something she can't make him do. 
                What broke my heart, was her search for God.  In one of her low times when she is struck with insomnia, she goes to her doctor, and then her astrologer.  She looks into Buddhist teaching and still nothing.  In the middle of the night she finds a Bible.
                Her impression is enlightening.  Throughout, she sees people tremble before God, and she tries to understand why.  It was fascinating. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Yarn Along

I love putting together the Yarn Along each week.  Thank you, Ginny for continuing to host the party each week where you can find lots of inspiration for knitting and reading.

This week week I've been working on 2 knitting projects at once.  I've been working on that handspun BFL Clara Cowl for Nerdy Gerdy Boutique, and I've been continuing on with the Dirk sweater.  I continue to push back the release of that pattern, but who want's a pattern that's put together haphazardly anyway?  I may as well take my time.  Both of these are very simple knits, so I've been able to knit and have a conversation, knit and watch a movie, knit and teach my kids.  It's been nice.

I'm reading a book through the BlogHer book program, and this is my first time doing a formal, paid book review.  Through the ad network for my blog I signed up to do book reviews, and have already got a few offers to read and review books.  This is the first time I took them up on it since the book looked interesting and I was in need of a new book to read. (That might be stretching the truth.  There is never a shortage of books in this house, but I am always on the lookout for a good book.)

It's about a New York executive who is basically forced into early retirement and has to re-learn how to live without her face paced former life.  She examines her choices in life, and learns how to slow down and notice things.  So they sent me the book, and my review is due on Thursday.  I love it when Knut says to me "Don't you have some reading you have to do?"  I love that reading has been moved to the "have to" section of my life.

By the way, I don't like the "tag line" of the book: "How I lost my job, put on my pajamas and found happiness" because it makes the book sound so flippant and cheesy, which it's not.

It's been ages since I've taken notes as I've read a book.  It's been ages since I've written critically about what I read.  I'm 100% loving the process.  This book is full of elements to write about that I'm having a tough time narrowing it down.  I was chatting Knut's head off about it on the way to the lake last Monday.  

I'm hoping I won't go overboard with my review and my part of the massive blog discussion that will be going on that day as part of the publicity of this new book.  I'm having a tough time writing concisely.  Forgive me if I'm not.