Sunday, October 31, 2010

More Halloween Fun

The Badger took this photo of Roo at the "eat the donut off the string without using your hands" booth at the Halloween party. I laughed so hard when I saw it.

This one's almost as good. What fun!

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Rabbit Food

My regular readers are all aware that my Rabbit has a rather strong personality. It was both amusing and terrifying to watch this come out at the church Halloween party. Once she realized that there was pretty much an unlimited supply of treats, she took full advantage of the situation and ate everything she could get her hands on. Especially if it was chocolate. The table where you could dip marshmallows first in melted chocolate and then in various toppings was very popular.

Her absolute favorite thing was the homemade chocolate spiders they had on the tables as edible table decorations. Once she realized she could eat them that was all she wanted to do. No more interest in the carnival games or running around being crazy with the other little kids or even hotdogs and potato chips or anything else. She just wanted to eat more spiders.

She keeps talking about how she ate spiders at the party. Apparently it left a deep impression.

This is why I don't keep very many treats at my house! My kids are just like their mother!
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Additional Fairy Tale Fodder

To help you along with the plot of the fairy tale you are writing for me, here are three pictures:

So, let's think of a title here. "The Bored Princess and the Spastic Knight"? "The Depressed Princess and the Bi-polar Knight"? Or, "Why Did the One Who Came to Rescue Me Have to Have Narcolepsy?"
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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Costumes 2010

Here is our Halloween costume lineup for this year!

I love making new Halloween costumes but I didn't have time this year, so I was very grateful that we were able to use stuff we already had. In particular, a box I discovered in the garage a few days ago came in very handy. It was a bunch of really nice homemade costumes that my niece and nephew wore that had been given to us at least three years ago and then promptly got lost in the shuffle of several trans-state moves. It turned up at just the right time, furnishing a costume for both Fish and also my Badger, who won the adult costume contest at our church Halloween party last night.

Anyone want to write a fairy tale involving a princess, a frog, a knight, a pumpkin... and a football player?
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The Cat Posters

One of my favorite sources of engaging projects for homeschool is the Cub Scouts Academics and Sports program. I bought the book with all the requirements in it (though you can look them all up online) and we have a running list of projects we work on from the requirements. The boys are always excited to work on anything from the book because they earn belt loops and pins for their efforts. Bean has over 20 belt loops and Fish has 12 at this point. They are always bugging me about when they are going to earn more and Bean told me this morning that he wants to earn them all before he moves up to Boy Scouts.

Recently we spent a glorious morning putting together these really nice posters about their cats. The cool thing about this was that it fulfilled the final requirement for each of them to earn three belt loops, so they were very, very motivated. For the photography belt loop they had to take 10 pictures of one subject and share them with their den. We had done the photography a couple of weeks back and they had both chosen their cats as their subject. That was perfect because Requirement Three for the Pet Care belt loop is to make a poster about you pet and share it with your den. The final belt loop they earned was Communicating, which has a requirement to make a poster on any subject that interests you.

We had a lot of fun making the posters. The boys learned a lot about computers as I showed them how they could choose fonts and change the size of the text and the layout of the page. Then we talked about poster layout and how to make it eye-catching. I then gave suggestions but they made their own decisions as to how to put the posters together. I let them use the paper trimmer and they were ecstatic about that. I was really impressed with how nice they looked in the end. After they took them to their den meetings and showed them off I hung them on their bedroom wall.

I love the Cub Scout program and I'm so happy that my boys love it too!
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Friday, October 29, 2010

Hard-Earned Rabbit Love

Several months ago Fish started complaining to me quite often that the little girls didn't seem to love him the way they loved Bean. Bean has a natural gift with small children and he had done a lot to care for them and be kind to them. They would go to him and snuggle him and let him carry them around, but they usually screamed when Fish tried anything similar. It was really hurting his feelings.

I encouraged Fish to try to develop trust with his little sisters. He had been too young to do this before and so they had learned to be wary of him, but I told him it wasn't too late to turn that around. He'd never been really mean to them, he just hadn't known how to interact with them in ways they would enjoy. We talked about ways he could serve them and show love and kindness without scaring them. And he started working on it.

Of course it didn't take long for them to start coming around. And Fish has been so happy about it. (So have I.)

Last night at Bean's football game I saw the most monumental fruit of Fish's efforts to date. The Rabbit climbed up behind Fish in his camp chair and spontaneously threw her arms around him and started hugging him and giggling. I said "Oh, you love your brother!" and she replied, "Yeah, I love Fish!" I have seen the girls react positively to Fish quite a few times now but this was the first time I have seen one of them initiate the affection.

It was such a heartwarming moment for me that I had to take a picture, even though I only had the phone on my camera and I knew the picture would turn out poorly. I was right: it isn't a great picture, but it represents a great memory for me.

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Sunday, October 24, 2010


I'm starting to get more and more excited about our new baby.

Now that I'm 35 weeks pregnant I am starting to prepare for her arrival. It's so much easier to imagine her being here with us when I am sorting through her tiny clothes and shopping for her car seat and swing and such.

I love newborns. I love their soft fuzzy skin. I love their little noses. I love the way their toes curl up when you press on the ball of their feet. I love the little noises they make.

I can't wait to have another one. It does seem a little hard to imagine that I'm going to have FIVE kids (though why that should seem that much different from four I don't know) and it's hard to imagine just how she will fit into (and change!) the well-established dynamic of our family.

But I know she's just going to be absolutely adored by all six of us. The rest of the kids are going to be forever wanting to hold her and I'm going to have to watch her-- and them-- really close. But she is going to get tons of love and attention. And she will bond our already close and loving family even closer together.

Just a few more weeks until we can see her and hold her! In the mean time, I have a ton of things to do. I have a list as long as my arm, but a lot of it is really fun stuff like washing and folding tiny pink clothes.

Oh, my sweet little girl, I know we are very quickly going to wonder how we ever lived without you. And this hard, hard pregnancy only makes you more dear to us. As Thomas Paine said, "What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods."

Judging from the struggles I've had over the last few months heaven has put a pretty high price on this little girl and that makes me all the more excited to meet her. She must be someone very extraordinary. I can't wait to get to know her and watch her grow.

Shopping on Craig's List

When we left Kansas last fall, I had to get rid of all my bulky baby gear. So as the arrival of our fifth child approaches, I am trying to round up what I need from various sources. I have been doing a fair amount of shopping on Craig's List. Yesterday I picked up a very cute swing for only $30.

Everything seemed really great going into the transaction with this swing (and I've learned most of the right questions to ask in advance at this point) but when I pulled up in front of this woman's house I almost pulled away as quickly as I came. The neighborhood looked really run-down and scary (not ghetto, but getting close) and when I pinpointed the house it was small and falling apart and had a heavy iron gate that closed over the front door, as if break-ins were the norm in that neighborhood. If I hadn't had the Badger with me I would not have gotten out of the car.

However, with the Badger watching my back I did get out of the car. The house was surprisingly clean and neat inside and the swing was sitting there looking like it just came out of the box (it was a few months old but her baby daughter hated being in it and hardly used it). The people seemed fairly normal and it only took me a couple of minutes to complete the transaction, load the swing in my van, and get out of the neighborhood. So in the end it turned out fine but I was worried there for a little bit.

It made me reflect, though, on the many transactions I have completed through Craig's List over the last five years or so in five different states. I have met many different people living in many different kinds of dwellings. Sometimes it has been wonderful-- the people friendly, the product in great condition, and the deal sweet. Sometimes I've walked away with a funny feeling that perhaps I've been had. It's always a bit of a risk buying on Craig's List, but it can be very rewarding.

I remember the house from a Craig's List posting that we almost rented sight-unseen in Oregon-- the specs were ideal, the price just right, and the pictures looked great. My sister and I almost cancelled our house-hunting trip because this house was just perfect, but luckily we went anyway because it ended up being scary.

I remember the amazing smell of the Korean food cooking in the small apartment where I bought the baby bathtub for $5 for the Rabbit in Kansas-- I was wishing she would invite me to stay for dinner!

I remember the peculiar smell in the house where we bought the green couch in Kansas-- like really caustic hairstyling products-- and how it lingered in the couch for a couple of weeks after we bought it.

I remember the very kind family who sold me an extremely sturdy and nice bunk bed for a good price and then when we realized it wouldn't fit in my van they loaded it up in their truck and drove it 10 miles to my house and unloaded it for me.

I remember the time the Badger put the trailer on the van and drove fifteen miles to get a load of free firewood only to find that it was actually unusable scraggly brush.

I remember the double stroller that I bought from a daycare at a Hare Krishna temple. It smelled like incense and it turned out to be really hard to push (wheels too small) so I promptly gave it away.

I remember the time we posted an old treadmill for free and had many people email us about it. I chose to call the one who said she was an amputee and a single mom and really needed it for such and such reason. When she showed up there was no evidence that she'd ever had anything amputated (though the single mom part was true.) She may have taken advantage of my kind feelings, but I got rid of the treadmill and that was the important thing.

Any of you readers have any Craig's List stories you want to share?
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Friday, October 22, 2010

Waffles, Anyone?

We've found a new waffle recipe that we love:

Buttermilk Waffles

3 1/2 C flour (I use part white and part wheat)
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
4 C buttermilk
2/3 C oil
4 large eggs

Mix all ingredients on low until blended, then bake in waffle iron according to manufacturer's directions.

This will make a lot of waffles. Sometimes even all six of us can't eat them all, but let me tell you what to do with the leftovers: butter both sides and heat them on a frying pan one side at a time until they're crisp again. They're almost better that way than at first, which is saying something!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Fall Break

Homeschool has been going really well lately.

Let me give you a little overview of our school routine: we start out our school day with opening exercises as soon as breakfast has been cleaned up. We sing a hymn, have a prayer, and recite a scripture together. Then we look at my big wall calendar display and talk about what day it is. This has evolved into Bean informing us of the month and date, Fish telling us what day of the week it is, Roo chiming in that it is "2010!" and the Rabbit giving a weather report ("Sunny!" or "Rainy!") After that we often go down the alphabet strip that's hanging on the wall and review the name and sound for each letter (this is mostly for Roo's benefit, but it helps Fish too.) Then we often name states on the US map. A laser pointer really helps with this.

Then I hand out the Daily Work folders. Or, rather, the Rabbit hands out the daily work folders because she is just dying to be in charge.

The daily work folders currently hold only math and thinking skills worksheets. We recently got to the end of our handwriting workbooks and while I found them beneficial I do not see a need to continue with handwriting exercises at this time. I have sometimes put in some language arts worksheets, but only when they are actually helpful to my kids and are not just busywork. I am really trying to avoid busywork.

The boys have gotten really good at working independently on their daily work and getting it done fairly quickly, at least most of the time. Then we can work on other stuff.

I've been trying to implement a schedule where we do science one day and art another day, etc., but it's still falling into place. In the mean time, we work on whatever happens to fit into that day. Often there is a need to go shopping or on some sort of a field trip so we do small things but on days where we have the rest of the morning we'll get into something bigger.

It is pretty typical lately to get into some project or topic and end up spending the entire rest of the morning creating/discussing/etc. I love it when we get into stuff like this and the time just flies-- I really enjoy myself and the boys do too (though often it is only Bean that sticks around for all of it.) But then I have to make lunch for everyone and after it's prepared/eaten/cleaned up I need a nap. After I get the rest I need there's usually not much time left before I need to make dinner and then we're off to football or soccer or Scouts or whatever, followed by Family Devotional, baths, and bed.

I love getting lost in learning with the kids, but the problem is that there are other things I need to do that are just not getting done. I get the basic housecleaning done, but there just isn't any time for any big project. Right now, there are several major big projects that need my attention. I've never really finished getting this house totally organized after the move and that's starting to be a problem.

So I decided that this week will be Fall Break. No formal sit-down school in the mornings so that I have a chance to address some of these issues.

Three days down and I have gotten some good things done. I have done some major arranging/organizing upstairs in our bedrooms-- I'm especially pleased that I brought order to the terrifying chaos in the boys' closet.

The kids have been having fun thinking they are not doing "school" when in reality I have tricked them. Yesterday we went to the library and I checked out some new classics on CD which they have been devouring, unaware of their educational value. The boys have rediscovered their electronics kit and are spending blissful carefree hours learning about circuits on their bedroom floor. They also spend hours playing chess, sometimes with the Badger. Today we went on a fantastic field trip to a great local museum and tomorrow Fish's Tiger den is visiting the local TV station. Bean has set a goal to earn his Bear badge by the next pack meeting, so he keeps coming to me and saying "what else can we do to work on my Bear?" I found out about a really neat opportunity for him to earn one of his achievements through a special class at a local educational center so he's going to be doing that Saturday afternoon. We're so busy with all these special activities that I may need to stretch our fall break out a few more days so I can get to everything on my project list.

But I don't want it to go on too long because I have so many fun and interesting things I want to work on during our school sessions!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

In the Pumpkin Patch

(Note: the farm people said this was a bad year for pumpkins and they were going to have to import some from other states to meet their needs. Out in the patch I saw some evidence of squash bug destruction as well as some squash bugs themselves. I wonder: was it a bad year because of the squash bugs or because of the weather? And how much insecticide did they use? The farm workers out in the patch couldn't answer those questions for me, but whatever their answers I'm heartened by the obvious fact that it IS possible to grow pumpkins in Oklahoma, somehow!)
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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Farmusement Park

One of the things I look forward to in the fall is visiting a pumpkin patch with my kids. When we lived in Idaho we used to go to the Berry Ranch and we loved it. It was simple and uncluttered, yet fun. I became aware of the growing trend for farms to add all kinds of other activities for kids like inflatable jumping things and pedal cars-- and then charge out the nose for admission, but I liked keeping it simple. I wanted the focus to be on getting the pumpkin-- maybe we could pet a couple of animals and play in a small hay-bale maze, but we were visiting a farm, not an amusement park.

As I researched pumpkin patches in my part of Oklahoma all I could find were the "farmusement park" types. So I decided we would just go to the nearest one and see what all the fuss was about. I budgeted a little extra (though it didn't end up being much more expensive than the Berry Ranch) and off we went.

There were so many things to do-- it was crazy! And of course the kids had an absolute blast. We ran from one thing to another all morning-- they could have stayed at each one for hours but there was always something else to go do.

The tire swings shaped like horses in the (huge!) playground were great. Sorry this isn't a great picture of the swing itself, but it is such a great picture of Rabbit and Fish!

They had a climbing platform for the goats in the petting barn and then there was a conveyor belt that you could use to crank food up to them. I'm not sure who has more fun with that-- the goats or the children!

Check out this giant slide-- wow! All four of my kids thought it was a scream.

The hay bale "mountain" with tunnels and slides was another huge hit.

And then there was the maze and the train and the inflatable jumping thing.... I couldn't believe all the things there were to do, and even then half of them were closed down because it was a weekday (they charge a lot more on weekends).

At the end, almost as an afterthought, we rode the wagon out to the pumpkin patch and selected our pumpkins. I was glad to see that my kids really enjoyed this and appreciated their pumpkins, even though picking a pumpkin isn't as exciting as all those other activities.

So we had a great time. I think overall I would prefer something a little bit simpler, but the kids sure enjoyed themselves and it was all good wholesome fun.
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Jolly Times at Toad Hall

We have this fabulous neighbor who is trying to declutter and downsize and he keeps giving us really cool stuff. A couple weeks ago he said "Here, you can have our trampoline." !!!!! Check one more item off my list of things I was trying to figure out how I was ever going to have the money to buy! It doesn't have a net, so we've set a one-at-a-time rule and the kids are obeying that very well.

I'm not sure who is happier about the trampoline: the Badger or the boys. The Badger is on it almost as much as they are. And one night they slept out on it with their sleeping bags (they said it was great except the cat kept jumping on them all night!)

Then a couple of days ago our same neighbor gave us a really nice Radio Flyer little red wagon. If you've got little kids, you need a little red wagon! We had one back in Idaho but it was old and it fell apart and I've missed it. So, yay!

We're having a lot of fun playing in the yard these lovely mild days. Thank you, nice neighbor!
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Monday, October 18, 2010

The Chicken Captain

When we got the chickens, we appointed Bean to be the Chicken Captain. He has done a fine job so far. He is now an expert chicken wrangler. You should see him catch them, hold them by their feet, and gently toss them back into their pen when they escape. He locks their coop every night and unlocks it first thing every morning. He feeds and waters them. He checks for eggs. I don't do anything with them-- he does it all! They are molting right now so we're not getting many eggs, but they seem to be doing well and we haven't lost any of them yet.

Today the Badger moved the portable coop and cleaned it out. He found a giant black widow living under it (fun!)

So then Fish was upset that Bean got to be a "Captain" and he didn't. (This is so typical of Fish and his middle-child issues. When we first talked about how the boys were going to have to do all this extra work to take care of the chickens he came completely unglued and cried and said it was too hard, but then when we gave the whole responsibility to Bean he was upset. It's so rough being a younger brother.) So we have decided that Fish is the Cat Captain and he is responsible for making sure the cats get their food and water. And he's doing a great job!

Of course Roo then wanted to be a Captain too, so we appointed her Dollhouse Captain-- in charge of making sure the dollhouse paraphernalia is picked up every day.

And the Rabbit? She is the Chaos Captain, of course!
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The Perfect Garden For Me

I've decided that the squash bugs did me a favor. I was so bummed out at first about my decimated garden, but I've realized that I'm so incredibly maxxed out right now that if I was having to deal with a bountiful garden harvest it would put me over the edge. As is, my gestating condition only gives me enough energy each day to do about 3/4 of the stuff I have to do and about 1/10 of the stuff I really ought to do (and that's not even considering what I'd like to do!) Canning just isn't in the picture.

So this is the perfect garden for me. And it's not a total loss. It loves Oklahoma in October. Every day has been in the mid-80's and the nights have been mild.

All through August I couldn't figure out why my tomato and pepper plants were growing and healthy but not producing any fruit. After all, we had 100-degree heat in Idaho and the tomatoes loved it. Well, in mid-September the tomatoes and peppers suddenly remembered their duty and started flowering. Now, a month later, my plants are covered with green tomatoes and ripening peppers:

I really don't know if they'll make it to maturity before the cold finally does set in, but at least I know I can ripen the tomatoes inside if I need to.

The pests did a lot of damage to the cukes but I am still getting a few here and there, enough for snacking.

Again, if I hadn't lost most of the vines I'd be having to can pickles and while I adore home-canned pickles, it's just beyond me right now.

So, thank you, squash bugs, but please don't come back next year!
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Saturday, October 16, 2010

Memorial Visit

One day recently we had some business in downtown Oklahoma City. While we were there I wanted to go see the bombing memorial. I remember very well the news coverage of the event. I was fifteen years old at the time it made quite an impression on me, so I really wanted to visit the memorial.

I'm glad we went, even though it made for a long day in the end. It's very beautiful and very peaceful. The kids were very intrigued by the chairs representing each person who died:

But the boys were most interested in the mementos left by visitors on the chain link fence outside the complex.

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On a typical Saturday these days I find myself running from this:

To this:

And trying to keep little people entertained all the while (this hose coil chair did a nice job at this particular game!)

I love to watch my boys play! All the games and practices get very tiring sometimes, but it's worth it. It's so good for them and it gets me out of the house!

Bean's team (the ones in blue) continue to clearly be the runts of the league-- smaller team, smaller boys. They've been getting completely creamed every single game (40 to nothing the last two). But they are trying hard and the coaches have stopped getting upset. They're resigned to us losing now because of our size handicaps and so they're being much more encouraging of the things the boys do good (and they do a lot of good things, really, especially on defense.) They've made practices more fun too, with candy bar rewards and stuff.

The thing that's still bothering me a little bit at Bean's games is that the parents still aren't being very supportive. At his last game you could hear the other team's cheering section yelling constantly on the other side of the field. When it became clear very early on that we were in for the usual beating our side became totally silent. I looked around at the parents-- they were all just sitting there dead quiet-- many of them playing with their cell phones or doing other activities. I started thinking, "you know, we could at least encourage these kids a little bit." I am typically very reserved in public though and usually only cheer when everyone else is cheering. Especially since I don't know football very well and I'm nervous that I'll yell "YAY!" when something bad actually happened.

So I sat there along with everyone else and said nothing. I was even tempted to pull out my book, but I'm glad I didn't. Somewhere along in the third quarter Bean came to the sidelines and said "Mom, you know what would cheer these boys up? If you would cheer for them."

And so I tried. I started yelling "Go team!" before every play and "Good job, team!" after every play. I felt like a fish out of water-- not only because it's not my personality to do that, but because I was the only spectator on our side yelling. I thought maybe I would start a trend but I never really did. But I left feeling good that I had supported my boy.

Fish's team has lost their next two games but they have been loudly cheered by our entire half of the crowd through every move they make on the field. It makes such a difference. I guess I need to keep trying to start the same trend on Bean's team.
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At the Fireside

We're sure having a good time with our fire pit. Last night the weather was utterly perfect and the Badger got home from work on time, so we had another family campfire. This time we roasted these little gourmet mini sausages we found at Sam's Club: they had herbs and cheese in them and were very tasty.

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Friday, October 8, 2010

Protocoligorically Correct

One thing the Badger and I have really enjoyed together over the years is watching old musicals. Today I would like to share with you what is probably my favorite song in a musical ever. The first time I saw it I laughed so hard I about fell out of my seat. You must watch the whole thing because the choreography gets better and better.

You know, I could make this our homeschool theme song.... : )

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

How I Get My Kids to Practice the Piano

For a long time, I felt like my boys just couldn't handle money at all. I wanted them to learn how to earn and manage money, but they just weren't ready. That's a big reason we came up with the "Badger Bucks" system: so they could earn "money" without me having the hassle of having to deal with them losing, wasting, or fighting over it.

This summer when I started paying them a tiny bit of money to catch squash bugs in the garden I noticed that they were finally old enough to handle it pretty well. I also noticed how excited they were to have it and what a powerful motivator it was for them.

About this same time, I was trying to figure out a way to motivate them to practice the piano. I was wanting to start lessons going for both of them but I knew they needed to have a really good incentive or they were just going to fizzle out. When Mom is your teacher and she's busy and tired it's easy to slither out of piano diligence.

I remembered reading in one of Linda and Richard Eyre's books (which are wonderful and which I have several of) that they actually paid their kids to practice the piano. When I first read that I dismissed it thinking it wouldn't work for our family, but now....

The more I thought about it, the more perfect it seemed. And I came up with a system that is sufficiently motivating for my boys but won't make me go broke.

  • They are expected to practice five days a week. They get Sunday off and one other day of their choice. And I am allowing one make-up day per week when they can do double practice.
  • I have to sign off their practice so they have to do a good job and not just fool around.
  • Bean gets 20 cents per day of practice (30 min). That would only be a dollar a week, but if he does all five, I give him double that.
  • Fish gets half as much as Bean because he's just starting out and only has to practice 15 minutes. So he can earn up to a dollar a week with the double incentive.
  • They get a raise every time they move to a new piano book. Fish is just starting the first book and Bean left off at the beginning of the second book, so if Fish wants to earn as much as Bean he just has to get to where Bean is. If they practice extra they don't get paid more but they will move through the book sooner and be that much closer to their "raise."
We're on our fourth week now and it's been working so well. Because this is the only source of money in their lives right now they are so motivated to make sure they earn the full amount. I still need to remind them to practice, but I don't have to nag and they don't complain and roll their eyes because they know they're getting paid for it and they're the ones that lose if they don't do it.

I can't believe how fast they are progressing in their piano books.

I started out specifying that I would have a formal "lesson" with each one of them on Tuesday morning. However, I am finding that it is working better for me to just periodically guide them in their practice. Sometimes after just a couple of days they have mastered something and are ready to move on and need me to work through something new with them. Sometimes they get really stuck and need me to walk them through a song several times. And always my mornings are too disorganized to plan on always being able to do a Tuesday morning lesson.

I particularly find it helpful with Fish to sit down with him during his practice several days a week and coach him a bit. He gets easily overwhelmed by new things and I can help him work through that. In this way he is moving ahead very quickly.

I really like how this system is so much like a job in the real world. If you don't work you don't get paid. Those who have more skill/experience get paid more. Etc.

Yes, I may be out $12/month, but that's far cheaper than paying for someone else to teach my kids who may or may not instill in them this same sense of discipline and accountability that this system is giving them. I'd say everyone is winning here.

Ok-la-whhhho-ma (cough cough)

I have learned that Oklahoma is absolutely infamous for wreaking havoc with people's asthma, especially in the fall.

I developed asthma when I was pregnant with Roo. I had a couple of attacks, so they prescribed me an Albuterol inhaler and a few puffs on that took care of the problem. Since then I have used my inhaler about six times a year, if that. If I get a really bad cold or the pollen count gets really bad in the fall I have to use it a couple of times and that's about it.

About six or eight weeks ago I started having asthma trouble like I'd never had it before. Suddenly I was using my inhaler six times a day. No one told me this was really bad until I was talking with my brother a couple of weeks ago. He is a doctor and the only person in our family who has chronic asthma. He said I needed to get on a daily steroid inhaler. "Steroids???" I said. "I don't want to inhale steroids!" "It's much better for you than Albuterol six times a day," he told me.

A few days ago I saw a really awesome nurse-practitioner about my asthma. It was most helpful. I discovered there was a lot I didn't know-- I wasn't even using my inhaler correctly. No one had ever really trained me on how to manage asthma because my previous problem with it was so minor. So now I know a lot more. And I'm on a daily steroid inhaler. And it's helping tons. I love being able to breathe again. The last couple of months have been really rough, mostly because I have had so much trouble breathing.

Another thing I learned was that uncontrolled asthma can cause poor fetal growth, premature birth, and low birth weight because the baby isn't getting enough oxygen. At my last visit my belly was measuring a little bit small, so they did another ultrasound to see if my asthma had slowed down Baby's growth. Luckily, everything looked exactly right in the ultrasound and the baby was just the right size. I'm so glad she's okay.

I also know, though, that I need to eat better. I know that certain things in my diet make everything worse, including my asthma. Ice cream, for instance, is a really bad idea for me. The only problem is that I crave ice cream like you wouldn't believe. There's this creature deep inside me that looks kind of like Cookie Monster-- he has big googly eyes and lots of fur-- and he sits there and yells "ICE CREAM!!!!!" all day long. He's kind of hard to ignore, especially when Braum's runs a special on their ice cream cartons. (And Braum's cows are hormone-free, which makes it okay, right?) But he will be easier to ignore now that I'm a full-blown asthmatic and I know I need to take better care of myself.

Maybe this asthma business will keep me from gaining quite so much weight. That would almost make it worth it. But I really hope it goes away once the baby comes.

Monday, October 4, 2010

With Proper Motivation

I try to keep a cup full of good sharp pencils with good erasers in my teacher's desk for homeschool. School always goes better when we have plenty of good pencils on hand. Somehow, however, the pencils always end up walking off and disappearing completely. About a week ago I got out ten brand-new green pencils, sharpened them, and put them in the school pencil cup. "THESE STAY HERE," I told the kids firmly.

This morning I opened my desk and saw this:

(Notice none of them are green.) I asked the kids where all the pencils went and I got blank stares. I know the boys take them for drawing and writing projects, but you'd think a few of them would turn up when they cleaned their room or swept the floor thoroughly.

Then I got an idea: I said, "I'll give you a Badger Buck for each pencil that you find lying around the house that's supposed to be in this cup." An hour later, I had this:

"See, kids? This is the way the pencil cup is supposed to look." Note that only one of the pencils in the above photo is one of the ten new green ones I got out a week ago. I still have no idea what happened to all of those, but at least I have a full pencil cup again.

It's amazing what kids can cough up when they have motivation! Hooray for Badger Bucks!
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