Thursday, January 31, 2013

Views Around the House

It's cold outside!  I don't know this from first hand experience.  I know this only from my digital thermometer.  The view is white, as all the trees are still thickly burdened with bunches of snow.

I have no intention of venturing out today, but I wonder if some of my mom friends will brave the cold to come to my book study tonight.  At least our driveway is plowed.

and the fire is warm.  We'll have it hopping pretty good today.  I love our fireplace, if I haven't said it before.

 Our library baskets are still brimming, but with last week's books.  It was a snow day when we normally go to the library, and our driveway was not plowed for awhile.  The kids have already read through their books, and I think they'd be doing a bit better if they had a fresh stack again.
Spoiled kids.  Silje said they're not spoiled, I was spoiled because I used to live in walking distance to the library as a kid, and often just walked over to the library whenever I wanted.  To her, that's livin' the dream.  That's true.  Maybe they're not that spoiled.

I think of my family often these winter months.  I pray for each one.  We are so remote out here on the farm.  Sure, we're surrounded by Knut's family, and that's a blessing.  I feel sometimes that it's not just that we live out here with few neighbors, but our life...our lifestyle is so different than anything I ever grew up with.  Not that one is right and one is wrong.  They are each just paths that God has set before us.

I haven't said this to too many people, but I've been missing my dad terribly since Ingrid has been born. She very much has his eyes, and I feel like I'm the only one that sees it.  I'm the only one in my house that remembers those eyes, and I'm the only one to feel the pain of not seeing him.  It was so healing having my sister up here, in my home, able to talk about Dad and feel that pain with me.
Here's Dad and me when I was about 18 months old.  He looks so young here.  Well, I don't look too old either.  ;)  I have his picture up every day to remind me to pray for him.  Relationships with alcoholics are tricky things.

Here's my coffee table as-is this morning.  I came across this verse on some card yesterday that read, "I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever, and with my mouth will I make known your faithfulness to all generations." Psalm 89:1.  I looked it up in my Bible, and saw that "mercies" was translated "great love" in my translation.  Another translation said "lovingkindness."  I knew it was that Hebrew word I did a "word study" on once: "Hesed."  I remember it because it was the name of one of my friends on a mission trip I went on.  There's a few spellings.  For memory sake, I took out my Bible dictionary once again and looked up the Hebrew word.  It's my favorite one to look up.

"Hesed" is used 240 times in the Old Testament.  It has 3 basic meanings.  "strength," "steadfastness," and "love."  It's not just a mushy love word.  It's a word that describes the power of God, and the faithfulness of God.  All 3 of those traits are unseparated in that one word.  I love to dwell on that concept.  It also has some legal connotations, as in the marriage binding.  God is "legally" tying Himself to us through this word.

Common verbs placed with "hesed" are: "doing 'hesed'," "showing 'hesed'," and "keeping 'hesed'."

It's God's mercies, God's faithfulness, God's love, God's strength, God's promise, all wrapped up in one Hebrew word: Hesed.

So as I'm working around the house, I'm looking for some good wall space to put this verse that has been so much on my heart lately, and I think needs to be hand-written on my wall somewhere.  Maybe I'll order some vinyl cut-out-thingy of it.

"I will sing of the LORD's great love [hesed] forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations." Psalm 89:1.

The word there for faithfulness isn't the word 'hesed.'  It's the word 'emunah' which means "firmness, stability, truth, fidelity."

So that is my mission today, as I make some treats for the friends who will brave the cold (hopefully) tonight, as I break up fights with the kids who can't go outside because of the severe temperatures, as I teach them their lessons, and give Silje her state-required assessment test, as I feed Ingrid over and over:

"I will sing of the LORD's great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations."

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Yarn Along

This last week I've been working on a matching bonnet to go with Ingrid's romper that she wears when we go outside to brave the cold.  Puffy snowsuits aren't the rage anymore like when Silje was born.  I think I prefer a good, cozy hand knit wool romper anyway.

She must have been conducting in her sleep, while I was taking these pictures.  Like her biggest sister, Silje, she loves to sleep with her arms everywhere.  Unlike Solveig who is 2 and still likes to be swaddled.

I'm using the Small Things Bonnet, which I've made twice before, and liked it.  Really, the whole ebook of the Small Things patterns is wonderful.  I've made the patterns more than once.  Really I picked up this project because I've been aching to knit and design again, but as I've been working on designs, my brain seems to be stuck.  I normally sort out my brain by knitting, but when designing, it's important to have a plan laid out first.

So I had to take a step back from my sketch/numbers book, and pick up a tried and true pattern that required no planning on my part, and just a bunch of quick knitting.  I realized that I had never made the matching bonnet to go with Ingrid's romper which was made before she was born.  I had the leftover yarn already in my stash.  I had the pattern.  She didn't need another hat, but I needed a project to un-stick my brain and this fit the bill perfectly.  Plus, matching is fun.

Of course, as I'm doing the kitchener stitch in the back, I get to the end, and as I'm straightening out the stitches, I find a bit of a mistake of mine.  I must have missed closing up one of the stitches.  So it won't be perfect.  Ripping out stitches is painful, but ripping out a kitchener stitch is just preparation for suicide, so I'm going to attempt to just secure the random stitch and hide it somehow when I weave in the ends.  The weaving, and an i-cord tie is all that remains to this quicky project.  Pre-baby this project would have taken me an evening.  Post-baby it has been about a week.  We're still working on that.

And I have picked up some reading.  I decided to lead a little mom's book study at my house Thursday evenings, as I've heard so much about this book: Desperate.  It's a book of encouragement "for moms who need to breathe."  What attracted me to the book was the depth I read in in on the author's blog.  It talks about struggling with sin and selfishness as a mother, failing to reach expectations, etc.  I also liked that it's co-authored by an older mom who has grown kids who comes alongside this "desperate" author and breathes into her grace and encouragement, and reminding her of God's faithfulness.  So far I've found the introduction very real and honest, the first chapter a tiny bit cheesy and "like every other mom book" but by the 2nd chapter this book grabbed me again with both the reminder of who God is, as well as some practical ways and insights to not isolate ourselves, find a mentor and support group.  There's nothing Satan would like more than to make us feel alone in our sufferings, like we were the only ones, and the chapter I'm on gives some practical advice in fighting loneliness.

So I have some friends coming over tomorrow night (if they decide to brave the cold, cold temps) to chat about this book and our lives, and mothering, etc.  I'm really looking forward to it.

Linking up with Ginny.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


...and the skiers of the house rejoiced.  I think it's been a year or two since we've had a snow this good!

Monday, January 28, 2013

I'm Blessed

 Today will be a very, very busy day.  This week is scheduled to be a very, very busy week.  I'm attempting some more chore organization with the kids among other things.  David is so excited to vacuum today.  Silje is old enough to see these color coded charts as more work.  She is glad that every other week she gets to switch her dishes job with David, who will be trained in.  I look forward to the additional help.  I do not look forward to the time (days...months...) until they will actually be more helpful.  They are helpful now, but only in the things I've trained them to do.  I have a few months ahead of me of having them ask the same questions over and over, or do a sloppy job, or tears and tantrums over not wanting to do chores.

I've got it in my head that the kids are capable of doing 30-45 minutes of "family chores" a day.  (Family chores meaning not their own rooms/messes etc.)  It's just a matter of training them to do enough chores to fill that time, and training them to have the diligence to work non-stop for that amount of time.  It's no small task.

I'm blessed with the help they are now, in the things we have worked on in the past though.
Let's just focus on that.

I'm also very excited that I got rid of 2 large black trash bags of toys out of the basement/playroom and out of the house.  Ironically, the kids haven't even noticed, but feel very accomplished that they are cleaning their toy room so quickly.

I'm blessed to have a date this last weekend with my hubby.  We went to a pizzeria called "Ole and Lena's" and they claim to have the best Norwegian-Italian cuisine around.  We've been there before so we knew this to be true.  He asked how my character work in school has been doing, and I told him I didn't feel we were making much progress.  So we brainstormed a few ideas for developing the skill of "attention" a little more, and I'm really pleased with some of the ideas we came up with.  I'm so blessed to have someone to brainstorm with to get me unstuck.  I was blessed with a date night.

I'm blessed with coos and smiles these days.

This little one has brought so much joy into the house.  It's tough to explain, but she's brought almost a unity to the other kids.  As they fight like cats and dogs somedays, they are all mellow and loving and quiet around her, and exchange such sweet glances.  It's funny...the affect of a baby.

A neighbor of ours died quickly and unexpectedly this last week.  It was very sad, as he was one of our closest neighbors, he was about our parents' age or younger, and Knut has known him pretty much his whole life.  We were blessed with this quirky neighbor who took pictures of his cows dressed up in costumes, and had funny/'pun'-ny captions for each picture.

Sometimes when an event like this happens, you just thank God so much for loved ones.  There's something about the occasional awakening to how fragile life is, to make you hug everyone in your house a bit longer and say...

I'm so blessed.  Each day is a gift.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Teacher Notes

Just in case anyone was wondering, Solveig does not like being left out of lessons.  We've learned to keep an old notebook and crayons and things like that handy so that she can be at the table with us.  If I put her and Elias in another area with a game, she will not be satisfied.  She must be where the action is.  All the time.

Here are the kids working.  My knitting is on the table, as I was working on blocking the mittens out this day.  David is just a couple of days away from finishing his 1st grade math.  It may seem like he's ahead, but I was planning on him being done with it by Christmas, so I feel a bit behind.  It's all about expectations, I guess.

It was a good week, I guess.  I wasn't on top of our history lessons as much, and I let Silje and David do their own thing a few mornings, and started school late.  I like to do this and I hate it too.  One morning when it was time to start our lessons, David was up to his neck working on building a rocket out of boxes from the garage.  He was putting all these inventions on it, and cutting and coloring and taping like a madman.  I was so pleased with what he was doing, I let him finish...which took a few hours.

Likewise, Silje was really had picked up a bunch of books on the Great Depression at the library as it's her new obsession.  She was reading book after book, after book.  We're studying in our curriculum the founding of the United States government right now, so we're not exactly studying what she was reading.  However, she was so into it and learning so much, that I just let it ride out for awhile and we started our real lessons later.

I like having that flexibility, but on the other hand, on those days when I let them do their own projects in the morning, they are just terrible at doing their "schoolwork" in the afternoon.  It's when I get the most whining, the most "I CAN'T DO IT!!" and the sloppiest work.  It's really frustrating.  I wish we could have both constructive play time  and constructive work time.

So I know I need to seize their mornings so that I can work with them on the things I want to get done, but then in the afternoon they end up grumpy about their play.  They don't know what to do, and their imaginations are done, and they beg to just watch t.v. or play on the computer.  Blah.  I want them to have fantastic play as well, because I think they learn so much through "good" play.

So basically, the lesson I'm learning is that afternoons are frustrating, whether we do school or play then.

However, my writing things out a month ahead of time has worked really well.  Both the kids and I have really benefited from having their daily list ready for them when they wake up, so that they understand what we need to get done that day.  I'm realizing it's soon February, and I need to write out February's lists A.S.A.P.  The only subject that we couldn't keep up with on their assignment sheets was David's reading.  I had written in the 3rd grade schedule, and forgotten we were doing to do it more at a 1st grade pace.  We can read a chapter a day, but the 3rd grade schedule occasionally had 2 chapter days, and we just can't do that.  So I'll have to adjust his future lessons accordingly.

Today, however, it's all my substitute teacher's problem.  Principal Knut is stepping in as I get the morning off with Ingrid for my very last midwife appointment.  It's hard to believe that my time with her is complete.

Tonight the kids get to participate in a "variety" or talent show with their homeschool group.  David is still planning on a magic trick.  Silje was going to do a piano piece, but then decided all of her friends there already play the piano, and so there's nothing unique about that.  I tried to tell her every song was unique, but she decided to bake a bunch of goodies to bring for her talent.  Since that means I don't have to bake anything to bring, I'm supporting this choice.

I might bring a few of her piano books too.  Just in case.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Love is in the Air

The writing on the slate this season is a quote from our school devotional that we're using this year: The Jesus Storybook Bible (which is by far my favorite children's bible storybook).  It repeats over and over that God has this "Never stopping, never giving up, always and forever love" for us.  I'm thinking between now and Valentine's Day, the kids and I will work on memorizing 1 Corinthians 13: "the love chapter."  We are always teaching the kids to love each other, but it's good to know how love is actually defined, and why it is so important.  As I've been pondering what we should focus on in our character instruction this year, this topic came to mind.  How  do we love each other?

The kids do better some days than others in the loving department.  Isn't that the way with all of us?  It's easy to love Ingrid.  We all do.  Knut learned this nifty trick that when David is having a tough time sitting in church and is wiggling around and asking to get a drink of water 20 times, Knut just asks him to hold Ingrid and David turns into this gentle, quiet boy.  He's so smitten over her.  We all are.

Silje loves to give piggy back rides to Solveig, and Elias loves to sit and "read" books to his little sisters.  There are still days when I climb the walls.  I have to admit, though, that many days are getting easier, or at least parts of them are getting easier.  It's like some of this work is starting to pay off.  There are so many thoughts in my head right now about love and what it is, and what it means.  There's not enough organization t these thoughts yet to write a good post...yet.

Our family is getting so big, both in size and number.  Life is crazy these days.  Crazy--busy, messy, loud, and beautiful.  So beautiful.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Yarn Along

I am very, very happy to announce: they are done!

So they didn't get done for Christmas.  Technically I had planned enough time to get them done for Christmas, but I had not factored in how opinionated my husband is.  I mean that in the most respectful way.  He has good taste, and hates settling, and thinks I can do magical things with knitting needles.  While I take all of that as a compliment, there is reality to consider.

I love this pattern, and have made it a few times.  In fact, I'm wanting a pair for myself now.  Although I would follow the pattern exactly.  Because it's a good pattern.  However, for Knut's mittens, there were several modifications to the pattern.  He picked a pointy pattern, and then asked me to make it less pointy.  So after doing lots of planning on paper, I made it less pointy.  I ended up knitting the main portion longer, making the decrease section shorter, and then cast off the main pattern stitches leaving the 3 dark red side stitches on either end, and then took the edge portions of dark red and knit those further, to line the top edge, kitchener stitched them together to form a loop over the top edge, and then sewed the top edge down to the patterned cast off stitches so that the pattern flows more seamlessly.

Reading over that, even I don't understand what I just wrote.  Let's just say I made it less pointy and it was more complicated than it looks.

The most annoying part was that created so many more ends to weave in.  I hate weaving in ends with a passion.  However, I really liked how this turned out.

He wanted me to make the thumbs less pointy too, but at that point of the project, I told him he'd have to live with pointy thumbs.  He smiled and said he'd be happy to.  I may or may not have been holding a knitting needle aggressively at the time.

The other modification was with the lining.  The pattern has this great attached liner.  I made a full attached liner for one of the mittens, but when Knut tried the completed mitten on, he said it was too hot and he was afraid they wouldn't get much use.  This confused me because he had chosen the pattern because of the liner, and now he didn't want it.  He explained that sometimes it would be nice to have a liner, and sometimes it wouldn't.  So I ripped out the whole complete liner, and made the liners detachable.

To do that, I just made regular mittens, using the original pattern.  I cast on a few less stitches than the pattern calls for (for the liner) and did a few inches for a cuff (another thing on his wish list), then increased to the regular # of stitches that the pattern says, and in stockinette stitch continued on with no modifications.  Easy peasy there...except the whole ripping out a whole liner part.

The best part about this whole project is how excited Knut is about them.  He thinks they're awesome, and tells me that quite often.  He wants to wear them outside all the time.  He has been showing them to people when they come to our house, even when they were in progress.  Whenever I've picked up any other project, he's been giving me these puppy eyes like "aren't you going to work on my mittens?"

So I'm glad that I can now work on all other knitting projects guilty free.  Part of the reason I usually have so many projects going is I get bored, and like to move from project to project to project.  I always circle back, but I like the variety.  Although this was a very pleasing knit, I'm glad that I am not tied to it anymore.

I'm linking up with Ginny again for her knitting/reading blog party.  I'll not forget to write about reading next week.  I promise.  I'll be good and throw a good book in the picture.  I may even get some modeling pictures of Knut and the mittens.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


These boys make me smile.  Especially when they are like this.  The other day, David rushed to finish his schoolwork so that he could go ski with Elias in the yard before Elias' nap time.  He helped Elias get on his snow pants and skis and off they went.

This is Elias' first year of "real skiing" as last year he just got the skis on, and Knut had to hold/drag him along.  He wants so badly to keep up with David, who skis like a fish swims.  David has been giving him "lessons" and teaching him tricks of keeping his balance.

Then David got it in his head that they needed to shovel the driveway for Daddy while he was at work.  They're learning that the more they help out, the more time we have to play with them.

Elias shouted to David that he needed his skis off to shovel, and David ran to his rescue.

David got to work...

And Elias found a hill to climb instead.

It was good fun.  I love these boys so much.  They are growing up crazy-fast.

Monday, January 21, 2013

I'm Blessed

I am blessed every time someone does the dishes for me.  Seriously, I was the daughter growing up who did dishes.  Now I have a daughter that does dishes.  I only make her do one sink load a day, which is only about a 1/3 of what needs to get done, unless I'm really having a baking day and then it's more.  Still, I'm grateful she does enough to take the edge off my load.

I'm blessed with baby fingers...

and soft baby cheeks, all things baby.

I'm blessed with homemade goodness, and the smell of cooking returned to the house.  I've been feeling really good.  I'm getting back on a cooking/baking schedule.  I'm starting to put meals in the freezer again instead of only taking from the freezer.  I made a triple batch of chili the other night, and we ate 1 batch for supper and the other 2 went in the freezer.  It was an easy one, which is a good way to just get my feet wet again.  Plus, kneading homemade bread is a huge stress reliever which I welcome back to my day.

I'm blessed with these huge amaryllis blooms that we've been much over a month to see.  Winter has such a lack of color in these parts.  We don't see grass, leaves, flowers, etc. for a very long time. So color like this, this time of year, just knocks you over.  It's happy.

We're finding eggs again.  Well, since they haven't laid since October, and their food and water only needs to be refilled every few days, we've only been checking every few days.  One day, there were 3 eggs there.  One was broken, one was frozen solid, and one was edible.  They were all the same color egg, so it's possible that only one chicken is laying every day.  So now we get to go back to checking on them daily for eggs and we're so excited!!  It's been really hard buying eggs at the store.  I get depressed just putting them in my cart.

Sigh.  And this.  Just this.

By the way, Knut's growing a beard.  It's cute.  Ahem.  It's so manly.

I am so blessed.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

How Does Your Garden Grow?

It's that time of year when seed catalogs start coming in the mail, and the craving for some fresh vegis seems to overtake me.  Our stock in the freezer is dwindling, and I'm dreaming of the asparagus coming up in a few short months...the first in our garden to appear.

So when the ground is covered with snow, and we forget what it's like to see color outside the window, it must be time to start letting the mind wander to the next year's garden.

I'll remind everyone that even though my husband grows corn and soy beans on literally thousands of acres, I'm really bad at making plants grow.  I feel it's my shame to be a farm wife who is so bad at gardening.  You have no idea how many times I've thought of throwing in the towel and joining our local co-op where fresh vegis will be delivered to my house.  It sounds lovely.

However, I feel it would be a waste of the garden space I have.  Plus, isn't it good (in theory) to teach my kids this stuff?  Isn't it good for them to see where food comes from, and how it grows?  If we didn't live on this farm, I'd go the co-op route in a heartbeat.  However, here I feel it's wise to work with what is already in front of me: land.

Since I have no idea what I'm doing, I try every year to mix it up.  I like to try new things, and I do a lot of reading on the subject.  Knut's parents had their garden down to a science when they lived here, and they planted what they knew would grow, and they had a beautiful crop pretty much every year.  Me?  Well I'm all over the place.  I want to try new seeds, I ask questions that don't make sense to anyone.  I think growing weird vegis that you can't buy at the store sounds fun.  I like to experiment, and that usually means I fall on my face a lot.

I'm also really bad at weeding.  I have not figured out how to kill weeds and keep my kids alive simultaneously.  The episode where Elias was playing in the grass next to the garden as a toddler and ate a handful of mushrooms he found growing there is still burned in my brain.  Poison control was very helpful to me that day.

Mixing up my garden every year and trying new things keeps me interested.  I keeps it exciting and less chore-like.  So this year, I'm adding a few new plants.  I'll be squeezing more rows into the space, which Knut assures me will help with my weeding problems.  As a family we're eating so much more every year, that I think it might be necessary to plant more.

So this year I'm planting mostly heirlooms...just to be wild and crazy.  Maybe I'm opening my garden to diseases, but I like that when I have leftover seeds, I will be able to use them easier the next year.  I think teaching the kids how to harvest seeds will be a good science lesson.  I've been reading that heirloom seeds last at least 5 years when they are not refrigerated, and longer if they are.  So I have 5 years to figure out how to harvest the seeds.  Plus, I read that heirloom plants have a ton of flavor.  If I'm doing the work of the garden, I like the maximize on the rewards: flavor!

So here's my list this year, if anyone is interested.
*means that this plant is already in my garden and grows back every Spring automatically.
** means I've never grown this in the garden before

*strawberries (3 rows)
peas (3 rows)
green beans
tomatoes (3 varieties...still undecided)
peppers (2 colors of bell (green and pinot noir or a red, 1 jalepeno)
green beans (bush)
**red cabbage
**carrots (1 row, 3 varieties: nantes, dragon, and paris market)
**cauliflower (white)
**cauliflower (purple)

Silje's really excited about the carrots we're growing.  The nantes are a traditional carrot, the dragon is a purple skinned carrot, with orange inside, and the paris market is a round, ball shaped carrot that's supposed to grow well in heavy soil, which is what we have.  I'm hoping the kids will really have fun with those.

I had no idea you could grow heirloom purple cauliflower either, so I just have to try it.  It feels like a $2 seed packet of wild and crazy.  ;)

I'm also going to be planting more herbs, which Knut and I decided will go into our flower bed: camomile, dill and thyme.

Except my daughter, Silje, just told me that dill is supposed to be planted next to tomatoes, because the tomato bugs hate it.  Then she got a library book and showed me her reference.  So, um, yeah, I'm doing this so the KIDS will learn something.  (Seriously, this girl has a photographic memory and keeps correcting me and is right.  It's sometimes annoying.)  I love you, Silje.

So the dill is back on the vegi garden to the tomatoes.

I'm also debating over growing some onions, and perhaps some sweet potatoes.  I'm going to cook up some sweet potato fries this week, and see if my kids like them before I grow them.  I have room for either some butternut squash or pie pumpkins and I need to decide between the 2.  Knut loves squash, but none of the kids do, and we grew them last year.  Last time I grew 1 plant of pie pumpkins I ended up with 90+ of them.  I gave away dozens, but now 3 years later my freezer only has a few of them left (cooked and ready to use in pies/breads of course).  It might be time to restock my freezer with that.

I took some of my knitting pattern profits and just bought myself a sweet, HUGE food processor that came this week, so I'm planning on making salsa this year.  I'm also almost out of jams as I skipped making that last year.  Silje and I want to try pickles too, hence the cucumber and dill.  It should be a busy canning season this year.

I'm also planning on putting some zinneas and perhaps some marigolds in the vegi garden, and we NEED to get a fence around the garden this year.  Last year deer and rabbits took almost my whole crop of strawberries, raspberries, and peas and I will not allow that again.  Knut is not happy about it, but I'm insisting on a fence.  I've heard adding marigolds to the vegi garden detours deer.  I figure if they don't, at least it will be pretty, so there's not a huge risk to test that theory.

We also might be getting 2 beef steers this spring, and fencing off the lower yard for them to eat up.  I think Knut wants them equally for the meat, and their ability to cut his mowing time in half.  That's not really garden talk, but it's under the sustainable-living conversation, so I thought I'd throw that in.  We also might get a moveable A-frame trailer and do a ton of meat chickens with Knut's cousin.  Well, we'll see how much time we get this spring.  Maybe we'll only do 1 of those ideas.  Maybe we won't do either.  We'll see.

I think the kids and I will be busy this summer!  Will I get it all done?  Probably not.  It's fun to dream, though!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Teacher Notes

It may shock and surprise you, but we had a fabulous week of school this week!  Monday was our "Heidi Holiday" when my sister was still in town.  Tuesday was back to work, and boy did the kids go at it hard!  All the dragging the kids through school of the week before, and discipline on my part seemed to pay off, and they kept on task throughout the day.  Silje did dishes because it was on her daily list, and not because I asked her to do them 15 times.  David also did an amazing job of staying on task, and working first, and then playing.

Silje is starting to sound really good on the piano!  I really enjoy hearing he practice.  I think she's officially passed me in knowledge in this subject, which isn't saying much.

Their play too, this week went so well.  Silje and David are really into playing "knight and princess."  He dresses up as a knight, and draws his sword, and Silje dresses up as a princess and is rescued over and over again.  It totally steals my heart.  I've always been a big believer in the necessity of good imaginative play in the education of kids.  (Excuse the playroom which is this messy and worse 99% of the time.)

They've also started playing games like "hide and seek" in Chinese.  I'm hearing the Chinese numbers being counted all over the house.  They're both loving to go through the Rosetta Stone program, and I'm open to any ideas on how to improve them in this subject, since I know nothing about Chinese.  We are now entering a situation where they say little Chinese phrases to each other and it's their secret language.  I wonder if this will also happen when David joins Silje in Latin next year.

My kids will be smarter than me by 5th grade.

Speaking of Latin, we just got the next year's program for Latin in the mail, since Silje's almost done with this year's.  This year and last year we've just done a slow introduction to some basic words, but this next year will start to get into the nitty-gritty of it.  David's 2nd grade math worksheets came too, as he has about a week and a half left of 1st grade math, and I'm not giving him a free pass until this Fall to start it.

David is really enjoying reading, but it's been taking a lot of patience on my part.  I'm glad I made it through that part of the week.  Our reading time sounds like this:

David: "'One...night...a hatch...' what's a hatch?"
Me: "Remember to ask questions after the period.  Finish the sentence and you might find out.  If you don't, I'll tell you."
David: "OK.  'hatch...was unlocked.  What's a hatch?"
Me: "A door on a ship that's on the floor.  It goes to the bottom part of the ship."
David: "And they locked them?"
Me: "Just during that storm."
David: "Oh.  '"
Me: "Try again."
David: "Oops, '  He was carrying a little...'"
Me: "Read the word.  Don't guess."
David: "'small...bundle.'  What's a bundle?"
Me: "We're about to find out."
David: "'The...ship's bell rang.'  (long pause) Why did the ship's bell ring?"
Me: "We're about to find out.  Keep reading."
David: "'"What is it?" asked Carl Erik.' Hey!  Carl Erik doesn't know why the bell rang either.  It must be a mystery!"
(David slides off the couch for the umpteenth time.)
Me: "Is there butter on your butt?  You keep slipping off the couch onto the floor.  Now either sit or stand, or we can get out the exercise ball to sit on.  You can't keep sliding off like this.  You can't even see the page.  Here.  Sit.  Keep reading."
David: (giggling about the butter on his butt comment.)  "If there was butter on my butt, it would be slippery!  That's funny, Mommy!"
Me: "Sorry.  Keep reading."
David: "'Someone...' hey!  That's a compound word!  It's 2 words smushed together!"
Me: "That's right!  Good job in noticing, but let's finish the sentence.  We can talk about it after you see a period."
David: "'"... has died," w...wise...p...
Me: "Good, sound out each letter."
David:"I CAN'T DO IT!!!!!" (falls on floor with drama)
Me: "I'll help you.  Here, I'll point at the phonogram, and you say the sound.  Get up.  I'll point; you read."
David: (letting out long sigh) "  Whispered Pappa."  Oh.  That's so sad.  Why did someone die?  This is the sad part of the book.  What happens next?"

It literally takes 45 minutes to get through reading 1 small chapter with him because he stops every 10 seconds to ask a bunch of questions that pop into his head, or have a small meltdown over an unknown word that he could figure out if he just focused for 2 seconds.  This part of my day takes every ounce of my patience, as he needs me to be positive every step or he just shuts down.  I can only tell you it's better since he's gotten reading glasses!

We've been doing it, though!  Neither he nor I have avoided it and have made it through a chapter every day.  He's understanding what he's reading even.  Many times I feel like we're practicing concentration and finishing what we start more than practicing reading.  Each day has been easier than the last.  I keep telling myself, he's doing great for a 1st grader. He's just so barely 7, and each month his maturity seems to be elevating and his concentration comes a bit easier.  Not every day, though.

We're really trying to practice the habit of attention, and noticing the details.  It takes work.  I'm trying to restrict him to asking questions only at the end of a sentence.  Some days he can read wonderfully, and other days his mind is somewhere else, and he can't handle simple words like "the", "and", or "man."  It's frustrating, but we push through.  I wonder all the time how he would get along in a classroom when he seems to need so much one on one time from me.  I'm so glad that he gets to learn this way.  However, whenever we are done with a lesson, it seems that the other kids are always needing me and there's little time for breaks.

Knut and I have also been noticing Elias needing us more.  So much of our mental energy is devoted to  the "big kids" and so much physical attention from diaper changes to saving them from dangers is given to the "little girls" and Elias is...well the middle child.  He's so close to being a big kid, but he's still sort of a little kid.  He can't keep up with school, but he doesn't want to play with the babies.  He's not old enough to be in choir or chess club, but he's doesn't see himself as the diaper wearing baby like the little girls anymore.  He's rarely the squeaky wheel in the family, and is not very demanding.  I think he's been reaching out for some attention, though.  So we're planning some special activities this winter for just him, and some special one on one time with just Knut or I.  I think he's been needing it, poor guy.  Knut's been really good at reading to him one on one lately, and I'm thinking an outing with just him is in order.

I've been so pleased overall, with the attitude and work ethic shown in my kids this week.  We had one bad day, but I think that was more to do with me having a long night with Ingrid and a headache the next day, and less to do with the kids.  Once I drank lots of water, coffee, and had some Ibuprofen and chocolate, the day magically got better for everyone.

My kids have been making me proud.  Really proud.  I feel like they're finally working without complaining, and tackling their daily duties with such pleasure.  It was a good week.  A good, but exhausting week.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Why Caroline Ingalls is My Hero

Whenever I read The Little House series to my kids, especially the 1st two books when the kids are little, I love noting the mom.  I love the mom in these books so much.  When I think of the pioneer woman, and wonder how she did it, I read between the lines of these books and see the answer to my question.  Here are some things that I really admire about Caroline.

She was always teaching her children and she had rules.  She also had good expectation of herself.
I sometimes feel guilty that I'm not a "fun mom."  OK, I feel guilty about that a lot.  I feel like I should be creating these huge events for my children, and setting up this amazing life of imagination and blessings on them.  Things Caroline is quoted saying are things like "put on your sunbonnet" and "set the table" and "bring in some wood."  She managed her household and parented her children, and recognized that kids can find fun easily by themselves.  You don't hear her say "Let's do this fun art project using 423 pieces" or directing games for the kids.  She's always working.  She gives her kids responsibility, and doesn't feel guilty about it.

I don't see Caroline feeling like she's a bad mom because she doesn't have huge birthday parties for the kids, or lamenting over not ever making those cupcakes as cool as the ones on Pinterest.  She's quite content with just making sure everyone is fed and clothed everyday.

She lets her kids get dirty.
Mary and Laura are playing in rivers, climbing trees and tossing around a pig's bladder like a balloon.  Sure, she's sometimes helping Mary with her nine-patch quilt, but she doesn't mind Laura making mud pies in the background.  To her, kids getting dirty is just a part of childhood.

She's openly in love with her husband and honors him in front of her children.  Ma and Pa are mushy together in front of the girls all the time.  Caroline puts her handprint on each corn cake she makes, because Pa says that just having her handprint on it means he doesn't need to add any other sweetener.  She's seen playing with his hair when he's resting in the grass.  She laughs when he's being silly, and she lifts him up in status when she talks about him to the girls.  He's the hero of the family, and she speaks of him to the girls that way.  She doesn't act jealous that the girls seem to love his jolly attitude and violin playing when her time with the kids consisted of saying "take a nap" and "watch Baby Carrie."  It almost seems that she sets it up that way.  She gets the girls excited to see Pa come home, and pumps them up for the fun they'll have when he gets back from hunting rabbits.  She just loves seeing her family enjoy each other.

She's levelheaded and strong.
When Indians come to the house, she feeds them, and shows no fear in front of her girls.  She knows what needs to be done from the dangerous to the practical, and she faces the challenges before her with such logic, but also with lots of honesty.  She has no shame in saying when she's afraid, but she doesn't let that fear rule her...all when her girls are watching.  She's their role model.

She makes everything beautiful, and is content to work with what she has.
She puts the china doll on the fireplace mantel, and lets the family admire it.  You don't hear her whining to the family, though, that she wishes she had a whole china doll collection.  When Pa builds a house, she encourages him to rest instead of be too ambitious.  She doesn't feel entitled to things, but when things come her way, she uses them to bless her whole family with the gift of beauty.  She takes care of what she has rather than sulking over what she doesn't have.  She takes the little ingredients she has, and makes meals special.  She is happy when they have sugar and makes a party of it, but when they don't, she makes the lack of sugar not seem so bad.

She's a total pragmatist.  It's hard to argue with that.  However, even though her life is full of practical things, and doing things the right way, and working hard, she still appreciates a violin playing at the end of the day.  She doesn't just make blankets to keep warm, she makes them beautiful just because.  Beauty and art are as important to her as practicality.  She doesn't let either of them dominate.

She is not controlled by clutter.
I used to wonder how a pioneer woman made it without a washer and drier.  Well, when people only have 1 old set of clothes to wear on laundry day, and 1 new set of clothes, there's not much to wash once a week.  Laundry for her took an hour or two once a week.  She laid everything out on the grass to dry and went about her day.  You don't see them hauling everything but the kitchen sink across the prairie.  No, she's the master of "make it work."  She makes do with so little, and actually THRIVES on little.

She doesn't have a baby book for each of the kids, and she doesn't stay up late writing in there which tooth they lost on which date.  She doesn't take pictures, or feel bad when she misses taking a video of first steps.  She's in the moment all the time.  Her mind thinks about what they will eat, making sure everyone has bedding for the night and has what they need.  There's not a long list of "things good mothers do" in her head, from blogging to scrapbooking, playdates and date nights.  Nope, her life isn't controlled by the clutter of things, nor the clutter of activities.  She keeps it simple, and does a few things well.

She doesn't read books on parenting.
I'm not saying reading them is bad.  I hope not, because I have a whole shelf of them on my bookshelf. I love to read articles on the subject.  However, I envy her just doing what needs to be done.  Maybe she did agonize over what sort of life her kids would have not going to the library every week, or if her kids would end up in therapy.  It doesn't seem so, though.  Maybe she wonders if they're ruining her kids' lives by putting so much responsibility on them and isolating them from their peers.  There's no hint of that, though either.  She doesn't agonize over how to discipline, or their self esteem.  She knows who she is, and what she's about, and she doesn't need any expert to help her figure that out.  She teaches them about life, about work, and she teaches them manners.  Those 3 things are the theme of her quotes.  Almost all of her quotes from the books are commands.

She likes a good adventure, and she dreams.
I've read other books like Giants in the Earth where women crossing the prairie didn't do as well as Caroline.  Some women literally went insane.  Some women complained every mile of the way westward.  Not Caroline, though.  Her husband proposed an adventure that required leaving her home and family and everything she had ever known.  It was hard, but she did it.  You see her cry when she leaves her parents, but you never hear her complain.  She doesn't puff up or make light of the challenges to her children, but when her husband is there, she is a tower of sense and open-mindedness.  Sure, let's build the fireplace this way.  Um...let's put the well over here.  She seems to welcome this life interruption of moving West with such grace, that I admire her.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Yarn Along

I hate to say it, but here are Knut's Christmas mittens...again.  I'm down to just the thumbs now.  I was planning on finishing the thumbs last night, but Ingrid had some other plans for me.  So 2 thumbs for the mittens, and 2 thumbs for the lining.  I'm hoping that will be an easy finish today, and tonight they will be blocked.  I'm hoping at least.

The good news is that Ingrid finally took a pacifier for the first time last night.  It's been 3 kids ago since I've had a baby who didn't think they were getting death-by-Nuk, so I'm excited about the prospect of having that tool available with this child.  Well, we'll see if she sticks with it.  If not, we'll just deal with it I guess.  Elias took the pacifier I think for awhile but he never learned to hold it in himself so I took it away because I didn't think it was helping anyone.  Silje was the only one of my kids who took it for about 9 months.

Back to knitting news, though.  You may remember that super soft cardigan I'm working on.  I was hoping to have the pattern out sometime this month.  That's certainly not happening now, because as I'm working on finishing up the collar, and I've been enjoying this little baby-moon of mine, I've been dwelling on the design of it.  I'm not digging the design down the side, and I'd really like to tweak it.  However, in order to tweak it, I'll have to rip up most of the body, and in order to get to the body, I'll have to rip up the collar.  After much debate, I'm just going to rip.  I know the cardigan is almost done, but it's gotten to the point where I'm annoyed whenever I look at it, and that was not the point at all.  I want to be delighted when I look at it, not annoyed.  So it's about to get frogged.  It's about 3 weeks worth of knitting gone, and that's a bit depressing.  I'm proud of myself for making this choice, though. The event should take place sometime during nap today.

And just because my mom is probably aching for another picture:

Little Ingrid is chunking up in a hurry!  Her legs are now getting rolls, and her cheeks are starting to get even more kissable...if that's even possible.  She's starting to smile from time to time, and her awake time is getting more and more.  She's such a little sweetheart.

Linking up with Ginny.  She's the home base for this whole Yarn Along party.

Monday, January 14, 2013

I'm Blessed

My sister is still in town, at least until about supper time tonight.  It has been such a wonderful weekend.  Seriously, I feel like my soul got fed.  I love my husband, and I love my children, but none of them give me "girl time" and the best kind of "girl time" is time with my sister.  Being with someone who has known you your whole life, and knows what you mean when you can't say it right.

There was a lot of staying up late, sleeping in, and waking up to coffee that Knut left out for us as he was taking care of the kids.  He's golden.  Big brownie points for him this weekend.
(Our morning coffee, being kept warm with plates on top, until we finally roll out of bed.)

It's been years since I've had this kind of time with my sister, and I've been selfishly taking it.  I feel bad that the kids really wanted to spend more time with her, but I felt she came here to see me, and to spend time with the kids on the side.  I didn't realize how much I needed her until she got here, and it's been so good.

She is an amazing organizer, so when she asked how she could help, I pointed to my closet with mountains of clothes on the floor, and said I needed help going through my clothes.  So now a trash bag full of clothes is removed from the closet, and what remains is organized "in rainbow order."  It made getting dressed yesterday very happy.

It was so helpful to have someone go through the clothes with me and say, " really need to get rid of this shirt...badly."  I don't feel like I have the best handle on fashion all the time, and having someone help me figure out which colors look good on me, and which shirts are terribly out of style (and have been for awhile) was the best gift ever.

As I type this, she's putting together a handful of fun outfits for me, and taking pictures of them so I have a reference of some fun ideas that I may not have thought of before.  She's obsessed with fashion as I am with knitting, and I feel really giddy about her doing this for me!  She's the person I call when I'm trying to do a photo shoot for a pattern of mine, and she'll tell me what the model should be wearing, and some styling ideas, etc.  She's gold.

It will be tough to drop her off at the airport tonight already, but I feel so refreshed from our girls' weekend, and so lucky to have her as my sister.  Growing up we fought like crazy, so it gives me hope for my kids that someday they will be best friends too.

In other happy news, my amaryllis that I started forcing indoors nearly 2 months ago is nearly ready to bloom.  We are watching it daily in anticipation now.

Also, Ingrid had a visit from the midwife last Thursday for her last Vitamin K supplement treatment, and when we weighed her we found out she has gained nearly 2 pounds since birth...1 month ago.  This girl is chunking up in a hurry.  She's getting some good cheeks on her.  That is indeed a blessing!