About this time last year, Grammy asked me if Matthew would like a magazine for Christmas. It sounded like a great idea for my great little reader however he was less than enthusiastic when he received a pair of binoculars with a note that said he'd be getting a subscription to "My Big Backyard". But as soon as it started showing up, it fast became a favorite bedtime reading for him. Rose started getting "Baby Animals" at the same time and has thoroughly enjoyed it this year.
For this Christmas, subscriptions have been renewed or upgraded to the next age level as appropriate and Grandma is adding "Highlights" to our reading materials.
I believe I (and the kids) have shown the grandmas how very much the kids love their magazines but I don't think *I* have ever shown my gratitude.
Every evening we have 'crazy hour'. This is when Daddy is on his way home from work, the kids are up from their afternoon quiet time, I'm trying to get dinner going and the kids decide to go stark raving mad. They run, they scream, they wrestle. It's different every night but usually starts with a friendly game of tickle or chase or something that's relatively harmless that soon spirals out of control. This starts roughly around 5:30 and continues until we sit down for dinner. And it's highly compounded by our hardwood floors - no carpet to absorb all the noise. Who knows why this happens every night? I have tried to guess for a couple years but have come up with no great explanation except the fact that they know I'm preoccupied with dinner and (typically) a phone call or two at the same time. Somehow the family likes to call during crazy hour so I'm sure we come across as good and sane over here in the background. ;)
Tonight, at the apex of crazy hour, combined with the dark rainy day and a busy morning at MOPS, I was just about to...how does Bill Cosby say it, "she held the yardstick over her head like a Samarai warrior and said, 'I have had ENOUGH of this!'" Yeah, I was about to do something like that. When Daddy enters the house. This usually makes crazy hour ten times worse. However, tonight was different.
Tonight, there were two magazines in the mail.
Putting together the last minute touches on my slaved-all-day meal, tacos (teehee), I suddenly realize that I can actually HEAR Hubby talking next to me...and he's not shouting over the roar of children. I find a toy and yell loudly ask nicely (assuming the kids are upstairs) for Rose to come and put it away. Rose comes running in from the living room and puts it away. I watch her and she goes back to the couch and is totally absorbed in her magazine. I quietly walk into the living room and Matthew is in the chair, totally absorbed in an article in his.
Bless you, Grammy and Grandma. Bless you! [And, as if by magic, the song playing on XM radio just now is "I Believe In Angels"...and I certainly do now.]
But at least this time I have somethings to SHOW for myself! :) I told you I was working on an unusual shaped afghan. Well, here is the finished product. I call it a "Blended Rainbow Round Ripple". I'm still having video card issues so I hope you can see it in all its glory. Colors are red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet. The kids love it and ever since I put it on the floor to take the picture, they think it's our new living room rug.
In other news, our planting experiment has gotten quite exciting. (Check out the previous post to get the original story.) The beans that have been in the dark cabinet grew about twice the length of the one in sunlight but didn't produce leaves and were yellow, almost white. The kids and Grammy decided to move it to the sunlight to see what would happen. It is turning green and starting to grow leaves - surprise, surprise. The going theory around here is that while it was in the dark cabinet, it thought it was still underground and shot up so it could reach the sunlight above ground. The beans in the bag have finally sprouted, quite a while behind the "normal" planting and a couple of the beans in the jar have sprouted as well. The "normal" planting is quickly outgrowing it's tiny Dixie cup and will have to be transplanted soon as its roots are beginning to surface. Eeks! Yes, more pictures abound...
1. Mr. Normal
2. Mr. Started In Dark Cabinet (see the baby leaves emerging after only one day in the sunlight?)
3. Ms. JarHead
4. Ms. Bag Lady
And of COURSE you didn't actually think I'd post all these pictures and not leave a very cute one of at least one of the kids, did you?? Surely you know me better than that. Meet our newest learning-the-joy-of-reading kid, Jade... (This photo was NOT staged by anyone but herself. She pulled up the table, put the book on top and happily gaga'd all over it for about 20 minutes, stopping only to look at me and giggle to her hearts content because she was so very proud of herself.)
Yes, we've been busy! First, I promised some pictures of my crochet creations so here are a few... Poncho that Rose was willing to model for you:
Skull Cap on a not-so-willing model: (this one turned out really pretty but waaay too small to go with the poncho as intended so I gave it to Jade)
And a sling for Rose's stuffed animals. She typically makes a habit of carrying around her animals stuffed in her shirt or top of her pants so my best buddy suggested I make her a sling (DUH?? Where is my brain???) and she adores it. :) And I apologize in advance for her dirty shirt - it seems snack appeared before I realized it.
I'm also in the middle of an unusual afghan (the first one that I'm going to finish. I've started many in my lifetime but never have completed one yet.) and will post a picture when it's complete.
On the unschooling front, we've been doing a study on plant growth, started by Grammy one day when she was babysitting. They planted some Great Northern Beans several different ways: 1. In a cup with dirt and water and sunlight. We add 1 tsp of water every 2 days. 2. In a cup with dirt and water in a closet. We add 1 tsp of water every 2 days. 3. In a plastic bag with dirt and water and sunlight. This is a mostly self sufficient bag but I do open the bag every couple days to give it a little oxygen. 4. In a mason jar with a wet papertowel and sunlight. We add 1 tsp of water every 2 days.
The results so far aren't quite what I expected... 1. Our "typically planted" beans:
2. Our plant that is in a dark closet. I myself was surprised that it grew at all but it's interesting to look at the differences. Because of my video card issues, it might be hard to see the color difference but #1 is very very green and healthy looking. It has nice thick leaves forming. #2 is yellow, almost white, and hasn't grown any leaves yet. I suspect it will die in the next week. Matthew also observed that it has a funny smell and we discussed mold and the conditions necessary to grow mold.
3. All of them but you can see the plastic bag one here. They put staples halfway down the bag, placed some water in the bottom, put in the dirt and beans on top. This one is a good look at what happens both above and below ground with plants:
4. This is a closer look at the jar beans. They're starting to sprout but they're not moving along nearly as fast as the others, and some of the beans on the opposite side of the jar aren't doing anything yet:
I now have a Daddy's-girl. It happened about this age with Rose but it wasn't nearly as abrupt. It shocked me until I remembered it's part of being a little girl.
Jade will be 19 months next week. First it was Friday night when she fell down and started crying in the other room. I could tell it was more a "I'm tired" than a "I'm hurt" and called to her in a sing-songey voice. "Jaaaaade....did you get hurt? Come here sweetie." I immediately hear her pitter patter coming towards me as she's crying. I turn around as she passes my chair and goes straight to Daddy. He looks at me apologetically and shrugs as he hugs her tight. I admit, I was hurt. But thought that maybe she saw him first when she came in the room since the chair I was in had it's back to her. Yes, I told myself, that was all it was.
Sunday we took our annual fall drive into the country and found our favorite pumpkin patch, even though there are hundreds between here and there. She wanted Daddy to hold her hand on the gravel and carry her. This was fine because I had my camera bag, camera and purse, overstuffed with snacks, already hanging around my neck. Jade fell in LOVE with all the pumpkins and came home with a little decorative one that entertained her all night. [I'm having video card issues so I hope the lighting is OK on these pictures!]
As I started dinner last night, I needed some items from the garden and sent Hubby out to get them for me. Jade started calling for him, "Daaaa..eeee.....Daaaaa....eeee" and would follow up her calls with a fake sputtering cry. She continued on in this fashion until he came back in, despite my telling her that he'd be right back. At this point, I'm still thinking it's all 'cute'.
Then, THE sting of all stings. I made a fabulous chicken roast recipe from allrecipes.com. I cut her up chicken, cooled it, cut up her veggies, mashed them down a little, put some butter on for flavor and, letting my dinner get cold, started to feed her. She violently shook her head "no" at me. I knew she was very hungry - we'd done all that walking at the pumpkin patch, she didn't eat much for lunch and we were eating a late dinner. So I tried a bite of something else. Still, violent head shaking continued. She cried and whined. Finally, Hubby said, "Let me try something". He took the same fork I used and tried to feed her. She opened wide and happily accepted the food. I was shocked. Heartbroken. Stunned. When did my little girl turn into a Daddy's girl? Then I started remembering that Rose had done the same thing around the same age. It just wasn't as fast and didn't sting as badly.
Don't get me wrong - I'm happy for Hubby. He gets less time with the kids than I do and I'm happy that she loves him and loves spending time with him. But I have to say that it still hurts a little.
Of course, on Saturday, I took Rose out for some garage sale exploration and then took Matthew out for grocery shopping later that day. Maybe Jade is jealous??
I am from The Letter People, from an Atari 500 and boomboxes. I am from a small yellow five room house on land big enough for twelve. From apples and lilacs and horses and tire swings hung from climbing trees. I am from the sweet honeysuckle, the cool dark woods filled with stick directions and a field of jonquils. From rabbits and cats and dogs and gerbils and guinea pigs and mice. I am from French Dip and Writers, from Burtons and Pratts and Grandpa Clark who loved to read and take long walks and fight for justice. I am from the tellers of rich stories and lovers of rich music. Quotes from birds and cats who wouldn’t go away. From 'think before you speak' and 'get a good education so you can support yourself' and 'be brave like a soldier'. I am from Agape Love. From the beginnings of CCM. From long bus rides to GA camp and hot float trips down ice-cold spring fed rivers. I'm from Missouri and California and Michigan and Ireland and Germany, from egg rolls and apple pie and biscuits and gravy and warm blueberry muffins on crisp Christmas mornings. From the blizzard of ’82 when we were without electricity for three days and I was sick with 103 fever, from homemade Halloween costumes, and the aunt who was a year younger than me and still my best childhood friend. I am from boxes buried in the basement, from collages hanging on walls, from Super 8 films and yellowed newspaper clippings stored in dust covered containers but not forgotten.
[If you decide to do a I Am From poem, please send me a link! I love to read them!]
Ahhh yes...unschooling. Learning what you want when you want. Yes, that was the point of this blog! teehee...sorry, I've been sidetracked lately because this little alien has taken over my body quite literally. But I'm feeling a little better each day and I can get back to 'normal' for a while.
So the really great thing about unschooling is that we've STILL been learning, even through all the mommy-is-very-sick-go-find-something-quiet-to-do-for-a-while.
Matthew figured out how to count to 100 all by himself, just because he wanted to. He's been working on math lately too. He's been adding numbers up to 12 + 12 from playing around with his "fun" Math Gear book, and has asked me to get him the others that show subtraction, multiplication and division too. I just asked him what else he's learned and he said, "I'm getting SICK of staying in this house! THAT's what I learned!" Touche and Ditto. Hubby brought home a box of books from a work friend a few weeks ago and one of them was called "Deadline at Spook Cabin". It looks like it's about 40 years old and I never imagined he'd pick it up at all but there he was, zipping through it in just a couple hours yesterday instead of playing xbox or legos or running around screaming with his sisters. (Ha. Copyright 1958...so I was right...40 years) We've gotten into some theological conversations lately too. Matthew had done something he KNEW he wasn't supposed to do...and he'd done it like 3 times in the span of about 2 hours. I reminded him of the rules, I'd talked to him about it, I'd given him time-out and on the last one I said, "Matthew, if you do that again, I am going to spank you." He props both of his hands on his waist and says, "Mommy, God doesn't want us to frighten people!" I sent him to his room while thinking, "There IS such a thing as holy fear and you're about to find out exactly what that is, boy!" :-D See, I get as frustrated as the next mommy...maybe MORE because there is never a real break for us from each other. After I gathered myself, I went upstairs and we discussed my role as a parent and what God wants me to do as a parent when my children don't behave. And we discussed the "Children, obey your parents" verse as well. That same wrong behavior hasn't come up since.
Rose has been very busy with arts and crafts and her stuffed cats. She LOVES to draw and color and she's getting quite good at drawing stick people and really uses her imagination when trying to draw something new. Whenever she draws me, she always puts a tiny dot in my belly for the baby. Awwww. She's also been playing quite a bit with a LeapPad keyboard thing. It has all the letters and there are multiple games to play on it like "what letter sounds like uh?" and "press the letter R" and "press a letter to play a song", etc. She's also been asking me to write words for her lately. "Mommy, write cat above my picture." She also loves to play with Matthew's Leap Pad (especially his SpiderMan book). She writes pages and pages of letters every few days. She painstakingly practices 'iiiiii jjjjjj iiiiii llllll mmmm jjjjjj iiiiiii ccccc' I need to scan in one of her pages so you can see them. She may have better handwriting than Matthew at this point.
Jade...well, what can I say an 18 month old has been learning? Everything. She understands everything I say to her and can follow two step directions. But she still mostly refuses to speak English. Go figure. Though she does try to buckle and unbuckle her carseat straps. ;) So maybe she's been focusing on her small motor skills instead of her verbal ones. Or maybe the other two talk PLENTY for 3 kids and Jade, out of the kindness of her heart, has decided to give Mommy a break for a bit longer. Either way, I've seen her putting forth a much more concerted effort lately to make sounds that really work. So I'm sure it won't be long before she has her first huge language explosion.
And me?? Well, I've picked up the art of crochet. I've made a few very simple repeat pattern blankets in the past...ok, well...I've STARTED a few of them anyway. ;) But last week was Hubby's bday and since we agreed our super duper top-of-the-line camera would be our gift for the year, I couldn't buy him anything. So with hunting season coming up, I decided to make him a hat and scarf. That way, if it turned out lopsided, the deer wouldn't tease him as much as say....coworkers. ;) The first hat was probably too small for him so I made another, using a different pattern and it turned out CUTE (well, in a manly cute way).
Fits well, isn't lopsided and I was amazed how quick and easy it was for someone who really hasn't done much crochet before. He was impressed and since I've been feeling so awful and not doing much but sitting and recovering and resting, I have now been keeping my hands busy. So I then made a bookmark for my secret sister in MOPS (shhh, don't tell her!)...
And, I'm now working on a poncho. I was making it for my niece Christine but it's turning out so cute, I may have to keep it for Rose. But then again, Christine is so much more a girly-girl than Rose is, Rose may very well refuse to wear it and Christine may win in the end. I'll post a pic when I'm done.
So there you have it. Learning going on all around us though I could easily answer "nothing" to the question, "What have you guys been doing this last month?"
As I'm laying down with Rose tonight for a few minutes at bedtime: (fyi - Rose's cats are stuffed, Grammy's are real)
R: Mommy, I only have my one big cat in my bed tonight. Me: I noticed that. Where are all your other cats that you usually have? R: There wasn't enough room. Me: Ohhh. (pause) R: I have 4 girl cats and 5 boy cats. Me: Well watch out because they'll soon be multiplying in that ratio. (pause) R: What? Me: Nevermind. (pause) R: Grammy doesn't have any boy cats but I have 5 boy cats. Me: Grammy does have at least one boy cat. R: What's his name? Me: Linus. He's all black and he's a big cat. R: Oh. (mumble mumble) Cricket. Me: What color is Cricket? R: He's black. Me: [testing to see if she thinks all Grammy's cats are black now] What color is Oreo? R: She's black. And white. (another pause as a sly grin forms over her mouth) And pink. Me: (laugh) Pink? Where is she pink? R: On her nose! Me: Ohhhh (pause) Me: What's your big cats name? R: I don't know. Grammy gave him to me when I was a baby. Me: Well I bet Grammy expected you to name him. R: Ohhh. Maybe Himalaya's daddy or Himalaya's mommy or Himalaya's brother or Himalaya's sister or Himalaya's grammy (on and on and on)...I think I'll name him Himalaya's daddy. Me: So he's a boy cat? (pause) Me: Because daddys are boys. R: Daddys are not boys! Me: Your daddy is a boy. R: No, he is a SIR. Me: (laugh) I think you mean he's a man. R: (very stubborn now) NO, he is a SIR. Me: Ok
As I get up to leave: R: Mommy, what's that woo-wooo sound I hear in the middle of the night? Me: Probably the train going through town. I can hear it very faintly in the distance at night when all is quiet too. R: Well, you stay up until you hear it and then go outside and tell them, "Be quiet and don't wake up my Rose!"
This is the same girl who was so moved by Grandma punching out some perforated characters on the side of her Happy Meal box tonight that she actually said, "Wow" in that awed voice of wonders.