Archive for December 2010

7 Quick Takes (v. 37): New Year’s Resolutions

December 31, 2010

One New Year’s Resolution is for chumps; that’s why I got seven.  Surely, I can keep one of them…mostly.

1.  Save money:  We need to get on budget and stay on budget.  Our biggest money-waster is food, so I’m trying to reorganize some things to make grocery shopping and meal planning run smoother and help us avoid eating out so much.

2.  Quality time:  While I spend large quantities of my time with my kids, I realized that I might not be spending very much quality time with each individual child.  I’m going to start with the goal of spending 15-30 minutes per day with each child doing something they like to do and giving them as much of my undivided attention at that time as is possible.

3.  Curtail the cussin’:  I actually have quite a potty mouth, especially when I’m exhausted.  I’m going to try to avoid the big bad words at all cost and watch my temper.

4.  Be a better wife: I don’t think I’m a horrible wife, but I’ve become really aware lately that I’m not nearly as good of a wife as I should be.  This discussion about the Biblical injunction for wives to be submissive to their husbands has given me a lot of food for thought.

5.  Get dressed before noon:  Really this is indicative of how time manages me these days rather than me managing my time.  I really need to set up a series of systems to make our days run smoother and includes me being dressed for the day with my teeth brushed at some point in the morning instead of the late afternoon.

6.  Catch up Sabrina’s baby book:  The poor child is six-months old and I think I’ve filled in one page of that thing.  And while I’m at the other girls’ books need to be updated, too.

7. Day by Day:  I’m still working on the what, but I need to make a daily devotion habit in addition to my usual prayers of thanksgiving and petition.  I may just go back to the daily Bible readings as my first internet act of the day.

7 Things: Homeschool Fail

December 14, 2010

This post was partially inspired by the 7 Quick Takes by the priest’s wife a few weeks ago. Her #5 so hit the nail on the head for us.  But these are 7 things in which I fail at being the ideal homeschooling parent that you read about in homeschooling books and on homeschooling blogs.  Some of them I hope to be able to change someday, particularly #1 and #5, but until then here our 7 ways in which I fail at homeschooling:

1.  Too much screen time:  Yes, we have a television and it is on all day long.  And when one kid isn’t watching something on the television, another is doing something on the computer, and a third is watching a DVD on the other computer.  My kids spend a lot of time in front of a screen.  Yes, I know too much will rot their brains and undo all my grand homeschooling work.  Do I get any points for not having cable, though?

2.  No Arts or Crafts Here: I can’t sew or knit or crochet, so my kids aren’t learning any of that from me.  I am HORRIBLE at craft projects and I don’t have the patience to supervise or clean them up anyway.  Markers and Play-Doh are verboten.  They are allowed all of the white paper, crayons, and color pencils they want.  On a good day they are allowed tape, glue sticks, and scissors.  So, we won’t be sewing our own togas to reenact the last days of the Roman senate or constructing our own Jesse tree from piles of felt.  Maybe at Granny’s house….

3.  Workbooks:  Probably the most derided thing in all of homeschooling is workbooks.  They are just so….school-like.  What’s the point of homeschooling if you aren’t going to be creative with your teaching methods?  Well, I don’t have the time, energy, or patience to be creative…and my oldest daughter would rather just crack into her workbook, get her formal studies done, and move on with her life.  It works for both of us.

4.  Twaddle:  To start off with, my oldest daughter (and my only reader at this time) does not like fiction.  Do you have any idea how hard it is to find non-fiction for a second-grader with a fourth-grade reading level?  Or even a second-grader with a second-grade reading level?  So, I don’t care if a book is not on the list of “Greatest works of literature ever written that will make your child the wisest, nicest, and most witty person ever”; as long as it is not inappropriate and she will read it, I’m not going to stop her.

5.  No Reading Aloud Allowed:  Ah, can you picture the serene homeschooling mother in her rocking chair nursing a baby while her other children ranging in age from 2 to 12 gather around her on the floor to listen as she reads a chapter from the classics of childhood?  Yeah, well, that’s not me.  Picture a mother on the couch and nursing the baby trying to read a chapter of a beloved classic while her eight and five year old roll their eyes and sigh and ask every five minutes if she’s done so they can do something less boring while the two-year-old draws on the wall with red crayon.  That’s me.

6.  Family Lunch or Tea:  While I try to have us all sit down for dinner like a civilized family, it just never seems to work out for lunch.  For one thing, I hate cooking.  And having lunch as a family would require me to make an actual lunch menu.  Plus, my kids each wake up at different times and each approach the day differently with their hunger needs.  At this point I basically require that they eat two healthy “meals” from a selection of easy to make breakfast and lunch foods before they are allowed to have any junk food.  We also eschew an afternoon tea time where we eat home-made cookies and discuss the “issues of the day”.

7.  Leaving the House:  I do try to keep the two older girls in one activity outside the house each.  Otherwise we don’t leave the house much.  We aren’t a part of a big homeschooling group or co-op.  We aren’t hitting the museums and zoos on a regular basis.

The main reason is because we only have one vehicle which my husband needs to go to work.  But I also find traveling around with four kids very stressful at times.  I’m kind of conflicted about it.  On one hand my kids aren’t getting those grand homeschooling experiences and opportunities, but in reality most adults don’t spend every waking moment of their lives having grand experiences and opportunities.  Maybe I’m just protecting them from supreme disappointment when they grow up and most of their life is made up of uneventful days at home.

November 2010 Reading List

December 9, 2010

1.  Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton:  See a full review in this post.

2.  Meet the Austins by Madeline L’Engle:  I loved reading about the Austin family, especially the chapter “The Anti-Muffins” that was originally edited out.  I can’t help wondering if I identify more with it now that I have four children of my own than I would have if I had read it when I was younger.  But I plan on reading more about this wonderful family.

3.  When Lightning Strikes by Meg Cabot:  Another addictive Meg Cabot book, I read this in one day.  I love that Jess is a little rougher and tougher than some of Cabot’s other female leads.  This is the first book in the 1-800-WHERE-R-YOU series, in which a teenager girl is struck by lightning and develops the psychic ability to find missing people.

4.  Rainbow Valley by Lucy Maude Montgomery:  Even though, I had read books 1 through 6 and number 8 in the Green Gables series, I never read this one.  I think it was because the Anne and her family are really supporting characters in this one.  It was still a sweet little story, though.

5. Shadowland by Meg Cabot:  This is the first book of her The Mediator series about a teenage girl, Suze, who was born being able to see, hear, and touch ghosts and is trying to start a new life while helping those who have died move on.

6.  The Ninth Key by Meg Cabot:  This is the second book of The Mediator series in which Suze tries to solve the mystery of how to help another stuck soul move on.

7.  Rilla of Ingleside by Lucy Maud Montgomery:  This is the 8th and final book of the Anne of Green Gables series and mostly follows the maturation of Anne’s youngest child, Rilla, through the experience of World War I.  It’s a sweet and sad story.

8.  Code Name Cassandra by Meg Cabot:  This is the second book of the 1-800 WHERE-R-YOU series in which Jess tries to work as a camp counselor, reunited a kidnapped girl with her father, evade an angry and murderous kidnapper, and keep the Feds from realizing that she still has her psychic power.

9.  Safe House by Meg Cabot:  This is the third book of the 1-800-WHERE-R-YOU series, but this time the kidnappings hit very close to home for Jess.

10.  Sanctuary by Meg Cabot:  Book four in1-800-WHERE-R-YOU series.

11.  Missing You by Meg Cabot:  This is book five in the 1-800-WHERE-R-YOU series, but it takes place almost two years after the last one.  It has a bit of a different flavor.  This is because her original publisher discontinued what was supposed to be an 8-book series after book four, but her next publisher let her go back and give the series closure with this.  It also has a shout out to the television series that was loosely based on the first four books.

12.  The Moon by Night by Madeline L’Engle:  This is the second book in the series about the Austin family.  I don’t really know how to describe it, although it does kind of offer a snapshot of American family life in the late ’50s and early ’60s.

13.  Miles to Go by Miley Cyrus:  I pre-read this before handing it over to my daughter.  Thankfully it glosses over her controversial photo-shoot and tattoos.  Bailey and I will be talking about how the Cyrus home may not have had any “rules for love” as Miley puts it but the Cobb home certainly does.

7 Quick Takes (v. 36)

December 3, 2010

1.  I spent almost all day Wednesday cleaning out and reorganizing things.  I especially focused on the girls’ toys.  I did a massive paring down.  They just had too much stuff and didn’t seem very grateful for what they had.  Some things went into our donation pile like the Weebles (dangerous projectiles in the hands of my kids), and some of their things I boxed up and put away in other places.  We’ll see how long it is before they even realize that some of it gone.

2.  Bailey’s birthday was almost two weeks ago.  My mom picked up this very interesting birthday candle.

The directions said to light the spot in the middle of the flower and from there the 8 little candles would be lit and “Happy Birthday” would play.  So, I put the lighter in the middle of the flower and large sparkly flames shot up like a firework.  The music didn’t play, but the flower opened with the eight little candles lit and spun.  It was awesome!!  Now Piper wants one for her next birthday.

3.  The downside of that awesome birthday candle is that it set up such high expectations for all other candles.  The next day at Sabrina’s baptism I kept imagining that when Deacon Bob lit her baptismal candle sparkling flames would start shooting out.  Ditto for the Advent candles at church and home.  Oh, well…

4.  I moved Sabrina into 6-9 month clothing.  She’s filling it out so well that I don’t understand why I kept cramming her into those 3-6 month sleepers.

5.  We got a big box delivered via UPS the other day.  The kids got excited thinking it was Christmas presents, but I told them it was Christmas for me…in the form of homeschooling supplies.  Their brand new recorder flutes were in the box, too, but I have temporarily hidden them since we are not starting our recorder lessons until after Christmas and I don’t think my nerves could stand the sound of shrieking recorders all the time.

6.  So, we have this weird heating system in our house that is dependent on the water heater.  When I want to switch from heat to air and vice versa I have to turn a lever to open or close a valve on one of the pipes to the water heater.  Last winter I couldn’t remember which lever, and I had to experiment a little bit before I got the right one.  This year I had it marked and could have sworn that I had put it in the correct position.  But we have been absolutely freezing in the morning.  So, I checked it yesterday….and it was in the wrong position.  I think I switched it to the cold position when we had a freakish warm spell.  Drat!!

7.  This is my new kitchen table for six to 10 from IKEA.  It’s so spacious that I can keep our Advent wreath on it.  Even without the first leaf it, I could probably squeeze eight people around it.

And this is our new private study area/extra computer terminal made using our old kitchen table and an older computer we had in storage.  I can have one child do schoolwork here while another one works at the kitchen table.  Plus, it also made a good place to set out the chocolate-filled Advent calendars.

(If you look under the table you can see two cases of computer paper.  Technically they were birthday presents for the two big girls from my mom’s best friend, but they are really presents for me. LOL)