Tuesday, August 30, 2016

School this Fall

We are gearing up for an incredibly busy school year.

Bean and Fish will be attending a small private school.  I can't tell you how excited I am about this.  I found out about this school shortly after we moved here, and I was drawn to it like a magnet.  But last year it just didn't work out.  I was very disappointed.  This year, however, things are falling into place.  It will be a sacrifice for our family, even with the generous financial aid we are receiving.  But it is worth it because it is JUST what we need.  It's what Bean and Fish need, and it's what their exhausted, spread-too-thin homeschooling mom needs.

I am homeschooling Roo (grade 5), the Rabbit (grade 3),  Peanut (Kindergarten), and Frog (preschool.)  Our year got underway last week and so far it's going great.  Roo and Rabbit do a great job working independently for a majority of their assignments, and that frees me up to work with the little ones, who got completely neglected last year.  Peanut and Frog need a lot of one-on-one attention.  It feels funny for me to go from teaching advanced grammar and composition to teaching letter recognition and fine motor skills.  Somehow you think the younger kids are just going to pick it up by osmosis, but mine don't, and they need my help.

In addition, Frog is involved in a co-op preschool with some other little kiddos from church.  This means that I get to take a turn teaching every few weeks.  I did this with Bean so many years ago, and I wanted to do it with the other kids but I just couldn't because I was too busy with homeschool.  Even now it wouldn't be possible if Bean and Fish were still homeschooling; I would be spread too thin.  I am excited about this little co-op and what it will provide for Frog.

The minor challenge this year will be managing schedules and all the drop-offs and pickups that need to occur.  Roo and Rabbit have already shown that they can keep their school work moving along while I'm running shuttle service, so I have hopes that we can keep things running smoothly.

The MAJOR MAJOR MAJOR challenge this year will be the twins.  Teaching goes great as long as they are happily playing in the living room with their toys.  That doesn't happen very often.  More often they are acting as a massive force of disruption and destruction.  We have to be flexible and constantly on our toes.  So far it hasn't been too bad since Bean and Fish haven't started their school yet, so they have helped out a lot.  The tradeoff to having the burden of my older boys' education lifted from my shoulders is that I also have the benefit of their help lifted as well.

It will be a wonderful year, as long as I can figure out how to manage the twins.  If I can't, I think I am going to take a page from this guy's book.

If you see me, be sure to say "hi."

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Tomato Sandwiches

I grew up eating tomato sandwiches, and so did the Badger.  A tomato sandwich as we know it is a very simple open-faced sandwich.  You need homemade bread, mayonnaise, and fresh garden tomatoes.  They just don't work with store bread or store tomatoes.  But with a vine-riped tomato, they are heaven.  I am glad my children are learning to like them, too.

Twenty One Months

We've rounded the third corner and now we're on the home stretch to the twin's second birthday.

They have gotten a lot harder lately.  They are really a handful, and it's exhausting.  They tear around the house giggly madly and destroying things.  They climb, they unload, they dump, they splash.

They do play with toys more though.  I can get out a tub of Little People or blocks and they will sit on the living room floor for quite awhile with them.  This has really helped with homeschool.

Working on the computer is hard.  If I sit at the computer they come running.  They fuss at me and climb up on me and then proceed to bang on the keyboard and grab the mouse, etc.  In fact, at this very minute that is what they are doing.

I love hearing them say the names of their older siblings.  I love the way they adore their older brothers and sisters.  Leaf likes to order Roo around.  She will take Roo's hand and lead her here and there and indicate what she wants her to do.  She knows she can get away with it with sweet Roo.  And Fish and Twig have a special relationship that is just adorable.

Sleeping is still a huge issue.  It will get better, then it will get worse.  I think they are just light sleepers, so anything that could possibly bother them while they are asleep will wake them up.  And when one wakes up the other wakes up.  Last night Twig woke up at 1 am scratching some mosquito bites and crying.  (I don't think I have ever had a kid wake up in the middle of the night with mosquito bites before... many times it has made them have a hard time falling asleep, but it has never woken them up before.)  Anyway, Leaf woke up too, and it took me over an hour to resettle them.  Then Twig woke up bright and early (about 6) all cute and cheerful.  She woke up Leaf and there was no hope of me sleeping in.  So I am struggling today, which is why I am sitting at the computer instead of deep cleaning the bathrooms, which is what I was supposed to do this morning.  They badly need it, but I just can't.

I really try to just enjoy the nighttime episodes.  I'm stuck with them, so I might as well.  It's uninterrupted time with my sweet babies, who won't be babies much longer.  I take them into the rocking chair, I squish their chubby legs, stroke their soft fuzzy heads, and hum softly to them.  Bliss in the middle of difficulty... isn't that what motherhood is all about?

Late Summer Garden

To be honest, I have been ignoring my garden for awhile.  It's no fun being out there in the heat, and once football practices start I can't spend my evenings out there.

The summer heat has broken now, and we are looking at several weeks of lovely warm weather.  Yesterday morning after I had school under control I went out and poked around, mostly to see how bad it was.

The kids' garden area isn't too bad.  Other than the section of grass that I have still never finished digging out, there weren't very many weeds.   Probably the worst thing going on out there is that we haven't been picking our tomatoes regularly and there were many rotting on the vines.  Shame on us!  My pioneer grandmothers would be appalled.

I looked at my little patch of parsley and said, "hey!  Someon'es been eating my parsley!"  And then I saw who it was.  Can you see him?  He's going to be a black swallowtail, that one.  I'll forgive him the parsley for that.  I don't use it much, anyway.

Fish's exemplary tomato plant...  I must say, those nice tomato ladders I bought from Gardener's Supply a few years ago are so much better than the $1.50 tomato cages I bought at Aldi.  All those cheap cages have fallen over with the weight of our very abundant plants.  

The Rabbit accidentally dropped a packet of sunflower seeds in the dirt last spring.  I thinned them a bit when they first sprouted, and then left them alone.  They ended up growing about 10 feet high and producing some nice-sized flowers, which are now dying off and looking brown and yucky.  So this is the best picture you'll get of our sunflowers this year.  

So, my back garden is an absolute mess.  Totally overgrown with grass and bindweed.  The squash bugs got the zuchinni, and now they're after the pumpkins and melons as well, but I can't even hardly get at them to apply the Sevin Dust I finally broke down and bought.  (I would really like to be an organic gardener.  But I have tried and tried to organically control squash bugs for years and it hasn't gone well.)  If I can just get back there and clear everything out...

I did poke around back there and find a few tomatoes and a pepper.  The twins thought these lovely red balls were super fun.

I love watching babies mess around in gardens.  It just seems so natural and right.  And I hope it means that they will carry on a love of gardening to the next generation.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Football Fundraiser Blanket

I needed to produce some sort of item for Bean's football silent auction fundraiser.  I decided I would go with handmade, and I thought it would be a fun excuse to put together a quilt.  Okay, Mom, since it's tied and not quilted it's technically not a quilt.  But it is patchwork.

I went with fast and easy.  I just used two charm packs, which are stacks of precut 5 inch squares in coordinating fabrics.  I arranged them randomly and then sewed the whole thing together in one sitting.  It was still really fun, despite the simplicity.

It didn't get much attention at the auction, and I felt kind of bad about that.  It probably wasn't a very good venue for something like this.  The stuff that was selling really well was the stuff like tickets to various events and food packages.  No one was bidding on my quilt, so finally I bid the minimum just so it would have something on the bid sheet.  Near the end of the auction one other person bid, so I didn't end up having to buy it back.  I hope that person enjoys it.  They certainly got it for a a great price.

While I was at the auction I did end up talking to the woman who bought the skirt I made for the auction last year.  (I didn't attend that one, so I had no idea how my skirt had fared.)  She went on and on about how much her granddaughter loved it and wore it all the time.  That was very gratifying to me, to know that it had been loved and appreciated after I had sent it off into the void.  Maybe this quilt will be treasured also.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Me and My Brother

I mentioned that my brother and his family visited last week.  Here is a picture of the two of us.  There are eighteen years between us.  He is very accomplished in his professional field.  I am still in awe of him, and yet he wanted to come spend a couple of days with obscure little me and my brood.  Gawsh.

When he was freshly home from his mission, he lived at home for a time.  I was three or four years old.  He used to come in and sing to me at night when I was going to bed.  He has a beautiful tenor voice and I particularly remember him singing "Abide With Me, 'Tis Eventide."  I have always remembered his voice singing "O Savior, stay this night with me, behold, 'tis eventide."

Well, on this visit, he asked if he could sing to my kids at bedtime.  Um, YES!  But only if I can be there and you can sing to ME too!  I am not too old to be sung to at night.  I never will be.

It was a very tender experience to listen to his voice in the dark singing all those familiar bedtime songs, feeling like I was three years old again.  Closing my eyes, I could imagine I was lying on the bottom bunk with my orange blanket in the room with the airplane wallpaper.  Oh, wow.

Thank you, Uncle Owl.  I will never forget that.  I hope my kids will remember it, too.  Thanks for coming to visit us.  Thanks for playing with the twins, reading the Mr. and Mrs. Green books to Peanut and Frog, and going on a long run/mostly walk with me.  Thanks for blazing the trail for me all these years and always being someone I can look up to.

The Rocking Horse

The twins' latest obsession is Peanut's rocking horse.  They can climb on and off by themselves now.  They love to climb up, squeeze the horsie's ear to make the sound effects turn on, and then rock and rock and rock.  We love watching them!

Saturday, August 6, 2016

This Week

On this lazy Saturday afternoon I have decided to write a rambling blog post about whatever. 

I am lying here next to some sleeping children.  I just had a nap myself.  I am grateful for naps.  And grateful for sleeping children.  They are so much quieter in that state. 

We have survived a week of two-a-day football practices for Bean.  To kick off the season, they started with a bang.  Every morning at 6 am and every evening at 6 pm he had to be there.  The 6 am wasn't too bad for me once I figured out that after I drove him there I could climb into the back seat of my big Moose of a van and go back to sleep.  I think I slept better there than I would have at home with teething twins waking me up all the time. 

Bean was dreading this week, but now that it's over he is glad he did it.   He is in much better shape.  He has the makings of a really fine football player if he will work hard.  He certainly has the size for it. 

My mother's birthday is coming right up.  We are not one of those families that makes a huge deal out of birthdays; usually a phone call suffices.  However, a couple weeks ago,  during the flood of inspiration that I always have during church on Sundays, I had a fun idea.

My oldest brother and his family have a game that they have been playing for years to celebrate birthdays at their house.  It is simple.  During the family birthday dinner, everyone takes turns guessing the birthday person's favorites.  So, someone will say "what's Bobby's favorite flavor of ice cream?" or whatever, and then everyone in the room gets a guess before Bobby tells his answer. 

The Badger and I took inspiration from this several years ago and started doing it with our family.  The kids love it because it makes them feel so special, and it's a simple way for us all to know each other better as we are more aware of what makes each other happy.  We recently enjoyed playing "The Fish Game" on Fish's birthday and "The Bean Game" on Bean's birthday.  

The idea that came to me was to play "The Mom Game" with my siblings by email.  I emailed my mom and asked her to email me a list of her favorites.   I emailed my siblings and asked them to fill out a list of what they thought her favorites were.   They all thought it was a fun idea.  I have had so much fun getting their emails back and reading their answers.  It has been a very warm fuzzy experience and I can't wait to compile everyone's guesses and send them out with the answers. 

Speaking of my family, we enjoyed a visit from my oldest brother (Uncle Owl) and his family this past week.  He and Aunt Tofu and their two youngest boys stayed with us for three nights.  We showed them a few sights, but we mostly hung around the house talking and eating and laughing together.   The cousins played endless card games.  Everyone enjoyed watching the twins.  It was wonderful.   Family is precious.  

I am re-reading the book "Yearning for the Living God," which is the memoirs of Elder F. Enzio Busche, a former General Authority of the LDS church.  I enjoyed it tremendously years ago and am enjoying it again.  I am hoping I can get Bean to read it too.  I am always looking for ways I can help my children keep the Sabbath day holy.  Every age has its fresh challenges on that front.  For my teenagers, I am hoping to encourage them to start reading books like this.  When I was a teen I began to discover that some of the books on Gospel topics that my parents had were not as utterly boring as I had always thought.   Some of them were actually quite interesting.   (Most of them were still boring until I was grown up.)  Looking through the eyes of a teenager though,  I am hoping to compile a list of books that my teens would enjoy reading on the Sabbath.  Any suggestions?