Monday, January 26, 2015

An Ordinary Day

Every evening my phone reminds me to write in my diary app, so I write a brief summary of my day.  Lately it seems that most of my days are pretty much the same: breakfast, homeschool, lunch, nap, walk, dinner, bedtime.  Today was one of those very ordinary, yet very lovely days.  I thought I would post what I wrote in my Diaro app this evening, with a little more detail added:

It was a beautiful sunny day today with mild temperatures in the 50s.  Only an inversion to spoil things: the air looks terrible.   My dad found out this morning that he has pneumonia again, and the doctor told him not to go out of the house unless he has to until the air clears up.

I am walking about two miles now.  I love my afternoon walks.  Today the Badger went with me and we had a good talk. 

Homeschool keeps getting started late and then spilling over into the afternoon and evening.   I don't like that.  I do not like trying to correct Bean's grammar workbook and find Fish's missing language book while trying to put the little kids to bed.  But until I can get up early myself I may be stuck with the situation.   And until the babies are letting me sleep well at night I will continue to sleep in as late as I need to in the morning.  I am grateful for the extra help I am getting while we are living here that allows me to do this. 

I was able to get out for an hour and run a few errands late this afternoon.   I went to the bank and the post office and the grocery store.  Woo hoo!  I took Roo and Rabbit with me.  We bought several rewards for halfway prizes for homeschool, some of which have been earned and some of which are about to be earned, and nearly all of which were Lindt chocolate (I am glad my kids have good taste!)  We also bought some supplies for the Japanese dinner we're going to make soon to supplement learning about Japan in our history curriculum.   I still need to go to two other stores though to get the stuff I need and I wonder if I can pull this off... am I being too ambitious?  I figure we have to have dinner anyway though. 

Bean burritos for dinner tonight, and I didn't help much.  The Badger made homemade tortillas with part cornmeal.   They were delicious but fell apart more easily than the regular flour tortillas we usually make. 

We actually had one of our better family home evenings.  Roo had an activity from her scripture curriculum where we had to guess the character from the New Testament.   Everyone really got into it.  There might be hope for our family home evenings after all, though the little kids still seem to think it's the time to be as disruptive as possible.   I need to work on teaching them to sit still and listen.  

I am lying here in bed with Prince Charming, who is playing with my hair.  He used to do that all the time: it was his self-soothing technique to get himself to sleep.   But after we moved here he stopped and for several weeks he has not been very close to me.  This is the first time he has played with my hair in ages.  I like it.  I hope this means he's getting over the disruptions that have happened in his life as of late.  I hope he knows how much we all love him, even with baby twins around taking up so much of our attention.  

Thank goodness for ordinary days.  What a blessing they are.  I have a lot to be grateful for right now. 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Sunday Morning

It's a beautiful sunny Sunday morning here in Utah and I feel like posting some random thoughts and updates. 

I got a decent amount of sleep last night.   The babies have both been sleeping from 11 pm to 3 or 4 am for a couple of weeks now,  but now they are slowly getting better at eating efficiently and going back to sleep for another good stretch after that.  We are on our way to a good routine. 

I like routines.  I like order.  I like making order out of chaos.  I crave being able to make the world a more happy and beautiful place by making order out of chaos, by creating.  Joy comes through creation. 

I am aching to have my sewing machine out again and to have time to play with it.  I have to keep telling myself to be patient, that there will be plenty of time for that eventually.  In the mean time, my time is almost completely consumed with a most important job. 

Today I will just go to Sacrament Meeting and the Badger will stay home with the twins and a couple other kids who have caught a virus.  It is nice that we live so close to the church that I can leave the babies for an hour and know that if they really need me I can be reached via text and then quietly slip out of the meeting and be home in two minutes.  

I am so not ready to take the twins to church.  I use the excuse that RSV and influenza are raging around here at the moment, but my kids bring germs home so that's just an excuse.  I really can't handle the idea of trying to get everyone ready and out the door with tiny twins in the mix.  When they are a little older and less unpredictable it won't seem so daunting.   In the mean time, we take turns going to church and staying home with the twins.  

Our halfway challenge for homeschool is going pretty well.  Three or four awards have been earned.  We are on track to earn several more, but not quite as many as we could or perhaps I would like... some kids are still having trouble being motivated on some subjects. I am particularly having trouble getting the Rabbit to do much school work at all. Since she is only six years old I am not too worried about it but I want her to do some, so I do what I can.  

We are still not carrying a full load of school work.  I was thinking we were doing pretty well (and we sure are plenty busy!) until I saw the full schedule I made up last fall.  There are still quite a few things we are not doing, though most of them are what I call secondary subjects like art and civics.   We have added history back in for Fish and Roo, though my grand plans for all the fun projects in the curriculum are just dreams at this point.  We enjoy the reading and the map work and coloring pages.  I will probably add Bean's history back in this coming week.  

There is indication, however, that our lives may take another sudden turn sometime soon.  The Badger has some interesting job prospects.   That is all I will say for now except to say that this is all the more reason for us to reach those halfway goals in homeschool.... if we have another moving break in February it would be good if we weren't too far behind going into it. 

I am glad it is a nice mild sunny day.  It will make for a very pleasant afternoon walk.  I have been very much enjoying my daily walks, and I am up to going at least a mile and a half each day, if not more.  It feels so, so good. 

It may be a constant fight, but I am determined to become the person I know I can become.  

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Affirmations

As part of my quest for self- improvement, I have written some affirmations to say to myself every day.  I believe in the power of positive thinking, the law of attraction,  the as-if principle, and all that good stuff.  I want to tap into these things more.  So I wrote three basic affirmations to help me achieve my goals and become the kind of person I want to become.   I thought I would share them on here. 

1. I am a valiant disciple of Christ who actively teaches the Gospel to her children. 

2. I am healthy and fit and I enjoy being active. 

3. I go through my days with a positive, cheerful attitude.  

We did a family home evening on affirmations and I am helping the kids write some now. 

All Bean has come up with so far is "I am patient."  This is a good start.  I hope we can come up with a couple more for him. 

Fish has "I am a good example to others.  I am physically fit." 

Roo came up with "I am kind and cheerful." 

The Rabbit's affirmation is "I make the world a more beautiful place." 

I plan on hanging all our affirmations up by the bathroom mirror where we will all see them several times a day when we wash our hands.  I am looking forward to seeing the results.  

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Pathway Readers

This year we are using Pathway readers for our homeschool.   I have really been liking them.   

In the past I haven't used readers; I figured just checking out lots of books from the library and having the kids read a lot would be sufficient.   But this year I decided to buy these, maybe because I thought it would be a good idea if we were going back and forth between public school and homeschool.   I don't know if that really makes any sense,  but anyway, I bought them and I am glad I did.   

Pathway readers are used by Amish schools.  The books are simple, with black and white drawings, and this simplicity makes them very affordable.   But the stories are interesting and full of the good old fashioned values you'd expect from the Amish.  

The Rabbit has done great with the first grade readers.  They have been perfect for her.  She really enjoys the stories about the children in an Amish family and their pets.  

Roo enjoys hers too.  Yesterday she read me a couple of poems out of it that she liked.  In the past she has memorized a couple of them, completely of her own volition.   

Fish is the only kid that doesn't like them, to be honest.   He doesn't hate them, but recently he groaned when I told him to read, saying grumpily, "all the stories have a lesson."  Yes, Fish, that's kind of the point.  They teach good values and strong character.   

This is evidenced by an experience I had with Bean yesterday that made me very happy.   I was sitting in the living room rocking a baby after dinner when he came in, cleared his throat, and began to read a poem from a sheet of computer paper.  It was Edgar A. Guest's "It Couldn't Be Done" and he read it with great relish.  When he was finished I asked him where he had gotten it.  He told me he had read it in his Pathway reader and he had liked it so much he had gone and typed it up on the computer (?!!??!!?!) "I'm going to memorize it!" he told me with enthusiasm.   I was thrilled.  This is not exactly typical Bean behavior.   Thank you, Pathway reader!   

I intend to purchase the entire set.  I think they will be a valuable addition to our homeschool library.   

Twig





Twig is becoming well-known for her wide, alert eyes.  When you hold her she will peer up at you intently.  More and more she smiles at you.  I hope to be able to capture that on camera soon, though the early smiles are so fleeting that by the time you snap the shutter they're gone.  

Leaf smiles too (in fact, they both smiled for the first time on the same day, when they were about 5 weeks old.)  And Leaf looks at us too.  But not with near the frequency and intensity that Twig does.  In fact, I don't remember any of my young babies being like this to this extent.  I really enjoy sitting and holding Twig, looking at each other, and having a little conversation.   It's exceedingly delightful.

A Few Snapshots

Here are some random pictures from my camera.  

A big Saturday morning breakfast where the Badger decided to go all out.  He loves big breakfasts.  I am one of those people who grabs a quick piece of toast and then dives into my day, so I never think to make a huge breakfast.  I should do it sometimes for him, though he does seem to enjoy the cooking of it as well as the eating of it and his breakfasts are scrumptious.


Fish playing outside with a young cousin.  Fish is becoming the favorite of the little cousins.  He does magic tricks and plays with them and they adore him.  I have memories of my fun older cousins being awesome when I was a little kid, so it's fun to see my son being *that* cousin.  


You're probably going to see a lot of pictures like this over the next few months. 


And probably a lot of pictures like this as well.


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Six Weeks

I had my six-week postpartum check up yesterday, which is a big milestone.  My body is back to normal.  Physically,  I really do feel good other than not getting enough sleep at times.   It's amazing to contrast where I am at right now versus a few short weeks ago.   This has been a good recovery for me.  I feel like in terms of my physical health I totally have my feet back under me. The only thing now limiting my ability to care for my family the way I would like to is the incredible amount of time the twins take, so that my life still revolves around feeding them round the clock and trying to catch up on sleep round the clock.  

The twins are doing well though.  They are both now in the 8 lb range, which is wonderful after those stressful weeks when I was so worried and obsessed over every ounce of weight gain. 

I am still giving them a little bit of supplement most nights at bedtime, but for the most part I am meeting their nutritional needs.  My milk supply still isn't quite where I would like it to be but it's close and it's heading in the right direction.   I think the fenugreek and other stuff has helped a lot. 

The babies settle down every night by 11 pm and sleep until 3 or 4.  After that, I still never know how things are going to go and how much sleep they are going to let me get.  But I am grateful for that big chunk of sleep and I am hopeful that we can develop a good routine very soon.

They are not colicky, thank goodness, and for the most part they are sweet, easy-going infants.  I attribute this in part to taking them to the chiropractor when they were a week old, which is something I would highly recommend.   If you can find a chiropractor that does the upper cervical technique it is more gentle. 

But there are TWO of them and that still blows my mind.  Sometimes it is mind-blowingly overwhelming,  but more and more often now it is mind-blowingly wonderful.   They are each so unique and beautiful.  I can't wait to see how their personalities develop.  I think there are a lot of good times ahead.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

2015 Goals

I like setting goals.  I think I am pretty good at setting realistic ones that I can actually follow through on.   

This year it's a little tricky trying to set goals because I don't know when we will be moving and where we will be living and what life will be like there.  

So my goals this year are mostly focused on me, on things I can do for myself no matter where I am and how chaotic things are around me.  

My main goal is to lose 50 pounds.  I am going to do this by limiting my sugar intake to one treat per week, reducing my portions of carbs, and exercising five times per week.  

My second goal goes along with the exercise: to complete a 5K by the end of the summer.  I know a 5K isn't much for a lot of people but it's huge for me because I have never been in very good shape.  However, over the last few weeks I have been enjoying a walk every afternoon and each day I walk a little further and faster.  I went nearly 2 miles today and it felt great.  So I think the 5K is a good goal for me.  

I also am setting a goal to help my kids develop healthy habits.  I want to do the 28 day goal plan with them again.  

I also want to make sure the kids are progressing with things like the Faith in God booklets and scouting.   I came up with a brilliant idea for that awhile back and it worked great until I got pregnant and everything crashed and burned.  I think I will write about it in another blog post.  

I will continue my habits of daily prayer and scriptures.  I am sure I will get all the way through the Book of Mormon at least once, even with the tiny amounts of time I have most days for personal study.

My last goal is to cut back on my use of social media.  I spent an appalling amount of time on Facebook and Pinterest last year because I was in bed feeling horrid and couldn't do much else. But it wasn't setting a good example to my children, nor was it terribly productive (though I try to use Facebook as productively as possible.)  So I am committing to not get on Facebook,  Feedly, or Pinterest on weekdays from when the kids get up until after my nap. Hopefully this will cause me to be more present for them, especially during homeschool time.  

I am excited about my goals.  I am excited to be able to tackle life again after all those months of  just trying to survive.  Great things are going to happen!

Friday, January 2, 2015

The January Halfway Challenge

So, I came up with a brilliant plan for homeschool in January.  
We still need to keep things light and not take on more than I can handle right now.  But I don't want things to slow down either. 
Last fall I made each child a list of all their curriculum and told them that this was what they needed to finish in order to "graduate" from their grade.  I told them if it took until April that was fine but if it took until next August that was fine too-- it was up to them how much summer break they got by how dilligently they worked.  This was supposed to encourage them to be more independent.  
With all the interruptions we have had, it was starting to look like we were going to all have a full load of schooling through the summer.  We have done homeschool during the summer in the past and it's not a bad thing, but it's harder in the summer because there is so much going on, so it's good if you don't have to have a full load.  Therefore I really would like to wrap most things up by the first part of June.  Which would mean we ought to be at least halfway through with stuff by the end of January.
And January is a great time to focus on school work because there isn't much else going on. 
Here's what I came up with.  I took a look at all of their books and determined where the halfway point is.  For the most part we are 1/4 to 1/3 of the way through stuff.  But a lot of it is not that hard or time-consuming, and most of it can be done independently.  
I am offering a reward, good only for the month of January.   For every subject that they reach the halfway point in this month they get a treat. 
They are very motivated!  All of them want to get as many as they can.  It is so nice to see them doing extra work for once, instead of the bare minimum. 
I think January is going to be a good month for our homeschool.   This plan has also got me thinking about the idea of having one special thing to focus on each month-- a unit study or another kind of challenge or something.   Some things might be easier to teach more intensely for a short period of time than spread out over a year.  I will let you know how all of this goes!