Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Lost but not forgotten

I wrote this small blog entry back in January but for some reason, never posted it. I don't think it was intentionally skipped but I'm glad I just discovered the issue because I have more to add. So here's the original post from Jan 30:

An interesting thing happened yesterday that is the perfect example of how we learn things around here. Many of you have asked, "What if your child doesn't want to...learn about the civil war (for example)?" I'm glad you asked. ;)

Yesterday morning, we had beautiful weather. Though it was very windy, it was in the upper 60's, unheard of for January in STL. So the kids ran outside and got to blow some cabin fever off. While they were out there, I took the opportunity to do some housework and turned on the TV for some company. "Planet of the Apes" was on and though I've seen parts here and there and I know the gist of the story, I've never seen the whole movie. So I chose that to watch (for, as many of you SAHMs know, there's basically NOTHING worth watching during the week day mornings).

The kids came in a while later, Matthew first. He asked what show I was watching. I told him the name. He asked me what the story was about and I told him. He asked why the apes were talking and wearing clothes. We discussed that as well. He started to get really interested in it, eventually asking why the human was being treated so badly. This led to a really interesting discussion about slavery.

I found it hard and embarrassing to explain the actions of our forefathers but it was a really good talk. I'm sure, that at the age of 7.5, the Civil War has more meaning for him than most of his peers in school, who won't touch the subject for five more years.

As I mentioned a few posts back, Matthew told me that he wanted to study the US Presidents in succession, starting with Washington. I have to say that it's quite a challenge (in my library at least) to find good living books about Presidents.
Living Books = books that are well-written and engaging---they absorb the reader---the narrative and characters "come alive"; living books are the opposite of cold, dry textbooks.

But I was able to find one for Washington, Adams and Jefferson, as well as a historical fiction about Jefferson's childhood that looks promising. When I brought them home, Matthew was excited to get started on Washington. He glanced at the other books and picked up the Jefferson one and said, "Oh yeah, this was the one who was President in the Civil War." I started to say, "No," but he cut me off saying, "No, no...that was Lincoln." The kid has an amazing memory. I'm not sure if it was from our original talk about The Planet Of The Apes or a book along the way or something else but he made a connection because the information was important to the story line or the wasn't just a list of facts and dates that someone said he needed to know in seventh grade. The information was presented in a living book form: The details absorbed him and the players came alive...the opposite of cold, dry textbooks.

Monday, January 14, 2008

My little Jedi Knights

It's so good to see those baby blankets that Grandma spent lots of time making are still getting good use. ;) Guess I should have wrapped one around the baby too but she's busy EATING! Yes, she's finally decided to eat at 9 months. Every few days, since she was 6 months old, I've been spooning baby food into her mouth only to have it spat back out at me as she showed me her new trick, raspberries. This might be cute to a brand-new mom but by the time you get to your 4th kid, you've had EVERYTHING done to you. You've had spit-up galore all over yourself, vomit, poo, urine and every kind of food imaginable. 'Raspberries of food' is no longer cute to me. So I'd wait a couple days and try again. Nuttin. I finally decided that perhaps her waking me every 2 hours all night for a feed would be helped if I pushed food a little more. So I got those cereal puff things. For those of you non-moms (or ones with older kids) out there, they're similar to cheerios in that it's a crunchy finger sized food. With a big "Melts in their mouth!" slogan on the front, I decided to try them. She chews on anything else I put in her mouth - why not these? So last week, she got them. She immediately picked it up and put it in her mouth. LOVED them. And though they most definitely do NOT 'melt in their mouth', she had no trouble with them at all. So we did those for a few days and then Cheerios for a few days and yesterday, I tried the baby food again. Pears. *NO* raspberries. She slurped it off the spoon, swallowed it down and looked at me in that "can I please have some more, Mom?" way. Today I smooshed up a banana and she loved that too. Thank goodness! Life becomes easier, as a mom, when baby starts eating solids. Now I can tide her over for a bit if I'm stuck in a store at feeding time. :) That's worth its weight in gold, especially if you have 3 more tired hungry kids as well. Oh yeah, and she's working on sippy cup techniques too.

Coming soon...Matthew's latest obsession...and is Rose reading yet...and does Jade have any hair left on her head or have her mothers dreams (i.e. nightmares) come true?

Saturday, January 12, 2008


Yes, I said that yucky O word. ;) You might see a mother of 4 kids and automatically think, "She must have been born organized!" Well, this one was definitely not. I'm a disaster walking. So whenever I see organizational tips, I jump on them. Yesterday at MOPS, we had a speaker come and talk on the subject. I thought I'd share with you.

[Side note - I will be back soon to blogging! I'm still dealing with back issues and can't sit at the computer very long but I will be back soon, I hope!! Please send prayers for a speedier recovery!]

1. She bought a white plastic drawer for her kitchen/pantry that is the “snack drawer”. It’s filled with individual snack packs of goodies. Sometimes when she’s being really good (frugal), she will get the big goldfish (or whatever food) container and put single servings into small ziplocks. This way, she doesn’t have to stop what she’s doing every time they want snack – they can go pick out a snack themselves.

2. she highly recommends the book Desperation Dinners (hers was used so much that the cover had been burned off!). Easy 30 minutes or less meals.

3. Dippy Dinner – if you give kids dip, they’ll eat anything. So she has a dippy dinner every so often where it’s toasted ravioli with spaghetti sauce, carrots with ranch and apple with caramel. She says her 13 year old still asks for dippy dinner.

4. She has 3 boys and a husband and they all wear the same size socks and sorting socks was a total nightmare. So a friend told her to buy a different brand for each person. So #1 son has Hanes socks, #2 son has Champion, etc.

5. Hand-me-downs. Once you hand clothing down to the next child, sometimes you forget who it belongs to. And you could do letters on shirt tags but then you scratch off when you hand it down and it can get messy. A friend told her to just put one dot on the tag for child #1, and add a dot when that item gets handed down to child #2, etc. (I LOVE this idea!)

7. Kids have a lot of trouble figuring out which shoe goes on which foot. So she puts a permanent black marker dot on the inside heel of each shoe and then the kids get to “match” the dot so they know which foot it goes on.

8. She has several different backpacks for different events. Her daughter has 3 older brothers so they’re constantly at sporting events. She has a backpack filled with activity stuff for games. Then she has a quiet backpack for church and doctors appts, etc.

9. She color codes her kids sippy cups so everyone knows whose is whose and she would fill them up the night before and set them in the fridge. A couple years ago, Jean1 told me about this related tip and I LOVE it - I also assign each person a certain color for their hangers – it’s much easier sorting when I get upstairs with an armload to disburse)

10. A friend of hers started something years ago where she got a white cotton tablecloth and it’s her Thanksgiving tablecloth. Each year, whoever is there signs it. Now that her dad has passed away, it’s really turned into an heirloom. (You could also ask them to put down what they’re thankful for on it.)

11. She recommends the magazine called Real Simple because it has good practical advice for organization

12. She talked about all the artwork floating around the house that the kids make. What do you do with all that stuff? She said some people put them in frames. One of her friends painted a few frames on the wall and can change out the artwork frequently. She keeps a labeled accordion folder per kid per year that she keeps the extra special artwork in and at the end of the year, stores in a box in the basement. She has a friend who puts clear packing tape on the back of artwork so that when you place and remove masking tape to hang it, the paper doesn’t rip.

13. She also picks a family Bible verse each year (I think Marge talked about this already this year) for them to think about. Ephesians 4:29 and 1 Peter 3:8 were ones she’s used.

14. A friend said during small group discussion that she used to have a toy basket downstairs and before bed, they’d all toss toys in there…but then she’d have this basket of crud that didn’t get emptied. So she went to Target and got some small canvas totes for each kid (color coded) and they put their own toys in there and can carry it up to their own room.