Saturday, February 28, 2015

Feathery Dreams

I have lots of thoughts and ideas running through my mind lately that I might be able to sort out if I write them down, so I am planning on writing several rambling, babble-y posts. 

I have always had powerful creative urges, as well as a strong visual sensitivity.   I really appreciate it when the things in my environment look good to me.  Whether or not I feel that my surroundings are beautiful has a profound effect on my mood.   Even small things-- like a pen or a pair of socks-- in my life that I find beautiful or appealing make me very happy.  I don't know if this is a human thing or a woman thing or a genetic family thing, but it's a big deal to me. 

Ever since I became an adult and had power over my own surroundings, I have had an extremely strong desire to live in a space that made me happy because it was an extension of myself, a physical representation of who I am inside.  I love and aspire to deserve the title "homemaker" and to me that means I get to create a haven of love and beauty for my family.  The idea of being able to do this is absolutely thrilling to me. 

I love the William Morris quote: "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful."  YES.  That is the kind of home I want to have. 

But I have learned that having this kind of home is a struggle: something I have striven for over the years and never fully achieved.  Sometimes that has frustrated me and sometimes it has caused me some pain. 

I think I have lived in more houses than average at this point in my life.   Perhaps if we had stayed put all these years I would be much closer to this ideal right now.  As is, every time we move we end up getting rid of so much stuff.   We have never had a lot of extra money for those kinds of things and so when we lose something beautiful we can't just run out and buy a new one.  I have very few items of furniture or decor left at this point that I truly love.

I am really thrilled about the house that we are about to move into.  It is very much Birrd-style-- in many ways it is the most Birrd-ish house we have ever had-- and that makes me so happy.  It is the traditional two-story style that I love and that feels very homey to me.  I don't know how long we will stay there but it looks like it will be a very long time as this will be the most stable job situation we have ever had.  I can see me being happy in that house for years as I raise my children, and that is such a fun thing to think about.  

And so I am dreaming of feathering this new nest.  When I get there I will have no couch, no dining set, not enough dressers, and nowhere near enough bookshelves.   Oh, and no money either.  
I will have to wait and wait and wait and plan and dream and probably put up with an ugly cheap used couch etc. for awhile, but in time, with the little bits of money that I can spare here and there, I want to slowly acquire things that I absolutely love and that I have hand-picked to go in just the right spots in this house.  After all this time and all these experiences with different homes over the years, I have a much better idea of what I want and what is most important to me.  I am having such beautiful dreams right now of how to put each room together over time (and I am having such a wonderful time on Pinterest while I feed babies!)

I don't know why this is so important to me, but it is very very important to me.  Some might say it is wrong to care so much about material things but my surroundings really do have a powerful effect on my mood.  It is not that I want nice, fancy, new, expensive things.  I don't care if they are old and used.  I just need them to be what I consider beautiful.  And then I am comfortable and happy in my home and then that radiates to the rest of the family. 

This house is going to be such a wonderful canvas for my self-expression.  It really is the house I have always wanted, and that is the perfect start. I don't know when I have been so excited about feathering my nest.   I am really looking forward to this next chapter in my life. 

Friday, February 27, 2015

Memorable Meals

Some of our favorite homeschool memories over the years have been the times when we have made special meals as a part of our curriculum.  These have usually come from our Story of the World history curriculum.  I love Story of the World and it is full of all kinds of awesome enrichment projects which we rarely do because I am just not as on the ball as I should be.  But sometimes we do the meals, and I am always glad when we do.  They get talked about for years afterwards.  Back in Oklahoma we did a barbarian feast where we ate with our hands and had bread for plates.  The kids can't stop talking about it.  

Recently we did a couple more special meals.  The first one was a Japanese meal.  I didn't get any pictures of it, but it was a big hit.  The kids loved eating with chopsicks, and they happily gobbled up the tofu chunks I put in the soup.  The sticky rice, teriyaki beef, and green beans in sesame dressing were enjoyed by all.  

The next one we did was a Moorish dinner after reading our chapter on the Moors in Spain during the middle ages.  For this one, we all wore turbans and we ate at a low table sitting on the floor.  I tried to make the food sort of Mediterranean (the chicken and rice was pretty generic, but I served dates and grapes and olives) but the real hit with this one was sitting on pillows on the floor and wearing the turbans.  


This is the kind of thing that really makes learning come alive, and I need to remember that.  I hope in the future we will do more of these kinds of special things with our curricula.  Especially when they involve food!  

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Matchy Matchy

Behold the first time I dressed the twins in matching outfits!




These were a gift from a cousin of my father-in-law's.  Thank you, Janice!

More Rabbit Birthday

In the evening of the Rabbit's birthday we had pizza for dinner at her request.  She wanted to have all her cousins over and we only managed to have one, but one was plenty of fun.  For her dessert, she requested M&M cookie pie from the Six Sister's Stuff cookbook (my girls spend hours looking at that cookbook!)  And then we gave her a Lego set, which she was thrilled with.  




Happy Birthday, little Rabbit!  We sure love you!

The Rabbit's Birthday

My little Rabbit is now Seven years old.  She really is a delight.  She is extremely affectionate and loving.  She makes friends very easily.  She is very active, creative, and intelligent.  It seems like she is always moving and almost always humming or singing.  She loves to play with the twins.  She enjoys drawing and playing the piano.  She is a great companion to take with me on walks.  

For her birthday, we went to the aquarium.  We touched starfish and enjoyed watching sharks and eels and penguins and otters.  We had so much fun!  Thanks, Aunt Crocodile, for making the trip possible for us, and also for these wonderful pictures.  








Figuring out how to take my brood to the aquarium so that we could all have an enjoyable time and not be too stressed.... well, it took some planning.  You may notice that Prince Charming is not in any of these pictures.  That is because I left him with my mother.  Not having a two-year-old made everything so much easier.  With a leash for Peanut I only had to bring one stroller for the twins.  I fed the twins in the car right before we went in, and so they were good as gold in the stroller for over two hours.  Then since my sister was with me to supervise the older kids, I was able to slip into the mother's room and comfortably feed the twins.  We left not long after that and had a late lunch in the car before heading home.  It was a highly successful outing thanks to my sister's and my mom's help. 

I have to say something about Peanut's leash.  I have used leashes on my toddlers in busy public places like zoos over the years.  Some of my kids really hated them and would only tolerate them for a little while before pitching a huge fit.  Peanut loved wearing the leash.   She thought it was the bee's knees.  The only problem that we had with it was the older kids would argue about who got to hold the end of the leash.  "It's my turn now!  He's had it for ages!" etc.  Tedious, but also kind of funny.     





Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Meanwhile

February has been a busy month at our house.  

First, Roo had a birthday.  It was on a Sunday, and because the Badger was probably going to be leaving soon we decided to have the twins' baby blessing that day.  Even on such short notice we had quite a few family members that came, and we had them all over to our house afterwards for way too much food, including Roo Birthday Cake.  That made for a very busy but very very wonderful day.  

I really don't know how to put into words the feeling in my heart during the baby blessings.  To look around the chapel and see several pews worth of dear family members who were so happy to be there and then to hear such beautiful blessings pronounced upon my two sweet daughters... my heart was full.  Family really is what it's all about.

Here are a couple of pictures of the twins in their special blessing dresses.  Leaf wore the beautiful handmade dress that each of my older three daughters wore.  It was a gift for my sister's daughter from a generous friend who was a genius with smocking.  My sister passed it on to me and I have loved having each of my daughters wear it in turn.  Then for Twig I was able to borrow a dress from the Badger's sister that her daughters wore.  It was made by another of the Badger's sisters who is a very talented clothing designer.  Both of the dresses were gorgeous, meaningful, and completely different style-wise, which I thought was perfect.  





Roo was thrilled to have so many people over to celebrate her birthday.  The house was packed with cousins, and it was fun to have both sides of the family together.  Here are some pictures that my sister Crocodile took:


Me and my two sisters with the twins.


Everyone was excited about the cake!


Roo had a big audience when she opened her presents.  Money is tight so she didn't get anything fancy, but she was thrilled anyway.  



Little kiddos everywhere!  They had so much fun.  


I absolutely love this candid shot of me talking to my older brother out on the deck.  (The day was gorgeous and unseasonably warm.)




And I also love this shot of my sister with Twig.  

I think I will share the Rabbit's birthday pictures in a separate post.  Which I will hopefully write tomorrow and not three weeks from now.  

Changes Ahead

A lot has been happening around here and I have been very busy but things have finally calmed down to the point where I can update my blog.  

The Badger has a new job!  It is such a good job for him and it is a stable job that he could stay at forever.  We have so been wanting to settle down and stop this madness of moving every couple of years, so we're excited about that.  It's just that we wanted to settle down near our family and the mountains-- so, somewhere out west.  This awesome job is in Kansas.  

Yes, we have lived in Kansas before.  So we know about all the good things there, as well as the mighty fine people.  That makes this transition a lot easier.  Lots of people are very excited to see us again, and we're excited to see them!  

I won't deny that I had a hard time with this for the first little while, since I have so loved being here near my family and I was hoping to make that permanent (especially since the first job offer the Badger received was in Idaho-- the location was perfect, but the job had some serious concerns so we turned it down.)  I prayed that I would be able to see the good in moving back to Kansas and I started counting my blessings.  It still took a few days to turn my thinking around.  My internal conversations with myself went like this:  "Okay... good things about Kansas... We get to hang out with my awesome cousins a lot and there's that really neat museum and... oh, grrrr!  Why did it have to be so far away?  This is awful!  No, it's not awful, it's wonderful, dang it!  We're going to be happy there.  But it's so flaaaaaat!  Waaaah!"  Etc. 

But then once the Badger got there to start training and that was going well, and then people started to say "yay! Birrd is coming back!" and then we lined up a house that I am going to love living in and now I am really excited for real.  

It's going to be fabulous, people.  Really.  There will even be fireflies.  

Friday, February 6, 2015

My 5K Goal

I set a goal this year to run a 5k race.  To many people that would not seem like a big deal at all but to me it is huge.  Running is not something that has ever been a part of my life, at least not in a positive way.   As a child, I was made to run in school and I hated it.  As a teen I was in such bad shape and so overweight that any form of exercising was abhorent.  But as an adult I became intrigued by runners and running: the health benefits are obvious and the mental/spiritual benefits are compelling.   I met several people over the years who were not thin or particularly athletic but who had run at least one 5k.  And I decided it sounded fun.  And I wanted to do one. 

Oh, but I was always in the middle of having a baby or moving or something.   So I kept saying "someday."  Now I have decided that "someday" is 2015.  I have until the end of the summer to complete my goal.

I have been going on walks every day, longer and longer ones.  Several days recently I have walked 5 kilometers on my afternoon walk.  So now I know I can at least walk it.   It takes me most of an hour, but I can do it.  Now I need to add in the running. 

The other day I came home from one of these 5k walks, feeling pumped up and energized, and I got on the computer and looked up 5k races that I might be able to sign up for.  There were a lot, and most of them sounded really fun!  I felt at that moment that I wanted to do them all.  And then graduate to 10ks.  And then half marathons.  

I had to remind myself that I hadn't even run one 5k yet and I have no idea if I will even like it.  I might do one and then say "okay, I did it, but I don't need to do it again." I might rather go back to walking or biking just for exercise. 

My visiting teachers came over that evening and I asked them if they ever ran 5ks or the like.  Marianne said she set a goal to run one once and then after she did it she didn't need to do any more... just like what I described in the last paragraph.  Karen, who is very physically active, said she runs all the time but doesn't run 5ks because she doesn't feel the need to pay money to run.  That made me chuckle-- she has a point! 

So we shall see if this ends up being a one-time thing or a new hobby.  For the time being, it is a wonderful motivator as I try to get back in shape after having twins. 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Two Months Old

These babies are growing!  They are alert and smiley and fun and we are really enjoying them.  These pictures were taken a week ago when they turned two months.  Leaf, on the left, is wearing a size newborn outfit (it's the one my mom bought for Peanut when she was tiny) and you can see that she has not yet outgrown size newborn but will soon.  Twig is wearing one of my favorite 0-3 months size outfits and it's baggy on her.  There are little garden tools on it and it says "watch me grow."  My sister bought it for my niece and then all my girls have worn it as well.   

It's hard to get them to both smile at the same time.  These pictures make me laugh because when one of them is smiling the other one is looking kind of sad.  But really they were both in a happy mood when I was taking these pictures.








Sunday, February 1, 2015

Homeschool at its Best


Wouldn't you like to go to school sprawled out in front of a nice cozy wood fire?  My kids have it so good!

The January Halfway Challenge was a great success.  Roo earned all possible prizes, Bean and Fish earned most of theirs, and even the Rabbit earned some.  I have such a hard time motivating that Rabbit of mine to do her school work.  All month I kept trying to get her to work on her math and she would do just a little bit and then go run off to play.  But at the very end of the month she realized she wanted her prize.  She finished her last math page at 9:15 last night.  

So now we are not behind in a number of things including math and most of the kids' language and the younger kids' history.  Bean is still behind in a few things like history and grammar, but he has made good progress and thanks to the January challenge I don't feel so far behind that we'll never catch up.  We will have to keep doing a few subjects through the summer, but only just a few.  

We still haven't added spelling back in since the twins were born.  The reason is that it is the most time-intensive for me, and thinking about it is a little overwhelming right now.  But we need to get back to that because all of my kids need a lot of help with spelling and I really love the way All About Spelling teaches them what they need to know.  So we need to get back on track with that.  

We also have dropped all our "secondary subjects" except History.  We haven't done anything like science, government, art, or music.  I have a plan for that though.  I liked the way we were really focused in January with a month-long goal.  So we are going to make one of these subjects a focus each month for the next few months.  In February we are going to go through the books on government I bought that I originally had planned to do in little bits throughout the year.  Another month we will do an art lesson and project every day instead of one a week (that will be when I can get the art stuff out of storage!)  We will probably work on science during the summer when we have less other things like math to do.  I love our science curriculum, but there's a lot to it and since science isn't my favorite subject overall, it tends to take a lot of my mental energy just to tackle it.  So if we have less on our plate overall I won't be overwhelmed, and if we are doing it every day for a month I will have the momentum to keep going.  

The reward for the kids was book and a candy bar of their choice.  I had bought a box of Usborne books awhile ago and forgot about them, and when I remembered them they were the perfect thing to give out as rewards.  But they weren't exciting enough by themselves, so I added in the candy to really make the kids excited.  Most of them picked a bag of Lindt truffles for their prize.  

Ah, the luxurious life of a homeschooler!

A New Skill


Grandma taught Roo and Rabbit how to knit.  I am so glad she did!  I have always wanted to learn to knit and I never have.  Now they can teach me!  Watching Roo, it looks easier than I thought.  I need to just sit down and tackle it one of these days.  

They both really enjoy it and it's so fun to watch them.  Thank you so much, Grandma!



Good Night and Good Morning

Every night when the twins finally settle down I wrap them in swaddle wraps and then lay them down to sleep next to each other.  If it's a cold night I also cover them in a fuzzy blanket (I think fuzzy blankets are my favorite baby item this go-around!)  Sometimes I put hats on them too.  I put a flannel blanket under them so that I won't have to change the sheet if they spit up.  And I make sure there are binkies nearby.  And that is how I put my twins to bed.  Right now Leaf always falls asleep around 10:30 and Twig around 11.  We are working on getting that to be earlier.  They sleep until 4 am or so and then after a good feeding they go back to sleep for another three or so hours.  Nights are actually going pretty well.  


And then this is our good morning!



What a great way to start the day!