Monday, October 30, 2017

Making Changes

This has been a year for growing. And growing is not easy. Actually it can be down right painful. For so long it seems as if I/we have been doing things just because it seemed like we should be. Or because everyone else is. Or because "they" say it's important. Things like sports. Things like this perfect curriculum. Things like this particular plan for a clean house.

We have to figure out what works for our family. What we like and don't like. What is worth spending time and money (and thought!) on. So spending 6 hours a week in the van and at practices and games for one member of the family (and there are 3 currently in sports!) is insanity for a family like ours that doesn't really get into sports. But we've done it this way for so long, because we felt we had to in order to have well rounded kids. But guess what? There are other ways to get excersise.

This is applicable in other ways too. Why do I feel like I have to spend so much time "teaching" something from a particular book that really doesn't give with anyone, in a manner that really doesn't work? And why, when I used the same thing last year and had the same results, did I force us to use it this year in the same way? Because the curriculum guide told me to, that's why. But the moment I set the program aside, to be used at leisure, while I read aloud, it's getting real use.

Of course there are things that simply must be done. Math, Language Arts, Latin. (These are my non-negotiable subjects). These must be done daily. They must be reviewed. And they are a big part of virtue development. There are things that we really want to do. Shakespeare, poetry, art, science, reading, HOUSEWORK. And these things always get pushed to the side because we are too busy getting ready to go somewhere we really don't care to be. It's crazy.

And so, when the chance came, I signed up for Sarah MacKenzie's Read Aloud Revival Membership. The price was a little steep. But I desperately needed inspiration and guidance. And I found plenty. The first thing I did was take the Focus and Align Master class. I looked at all this and more. I came up with my Rule of Six (seven for us).

 I had a plan. I made changes. And when this sports season ends other changes will come. I won't say no more sports, I have a daughter that really enjoys them. But they will be put in their proper place. I also recently signed up for Misty Wynkler's Smile and Sweep class (registration is still pending for that one). I need a plan there too.

All this is really just to say that of you feel like you are drowning, you are not alone! And if you find yourself wondering why you are doing something just because it sounds like you should but you really don't see the benefit to your family, then drop it. I read a quote somewhere, maybe it was Sarah MacKenzie's book? that said "Keep cutting back until there is peace in your home." This applies to stuff, time, you name it. I'm still in cutting back mode, but I'm getting there.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Morning Read Aloud

This is what Froggy came to me with this morning. St. George and the Dragon by Margaret Hodges. 

After the first two pages, he asked, "How long is this book?" I told him pretty long and asked if he wanted me to stop reading. He said no, he wanted to see what happened on the next page. So we read the next page and then I asked if he wanted me to stop. He said no, one more page. So we read another. And another. And another. Until we finished. And then we both enjoyed the early morning comfort of a cozy couch, a warm blanket, and a good book to reflect on. Much better than Saturday morning cartoons.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

I8 Musings

Just thinking a few thoughts as we travel on our way home from LegoLand.

Why is it that some people are grown up almost from the time they are born. And yet others never do seem to take that plunge? They are like Peter Pans Lost Boys.

And I wonder at the stark landscape here in southern California. It inspires my imagination. I like to think of the people who first settled this area. Who they were. What they thought about. I see trails that seem to lead somewhere...anywhere. It doesn't really matter where, because this is a land of wandering. I try to imagine myself as such a person. Settling here. With just the wind and the sky and the dust and my family around me. I think I am not as strong as I imagine myself to be though. One taste of thirst and I think I'd give it up.

There is a pass we drive through. It is nothing but rocks, and signs of mountain goats, though I've never seen one here. This too I wonder at. Why did God make places like this? I sometimes think about God creating the world. And as he carefully sculpted the incredible beauty of the mountains, perhaps he put the materials he didn't need here. And then I come and imagine all sorts of things about it.

And all the power lines here in the desert. Where are they going to? Do they go all the way to Mexico? And why is there always black smoke over in that area? The first time I came through here, I thought it was maybe the cartels having some sort of battle, Breaking Bad style. My husband says they probably are burning trash. I like to think it's maybe a group of people having a fun bonfire or something.

Have you ever driven this road? I8 between San Diego and Yuma? I find it facinating. There is an area of sand dunes. A few days ago there was a big windstorm through here that was blowing the sand across the road. Does it get blown into Mexico? And would anyone even notice if it did? Probably not.

I did think about how I had to hold my steering wheel at 30 degrees to keep the van from being blown off the road. And then I wondered if I balanced the forces, if I could figure out the wind speed. What information would I need? I asked my husband when he woke up and we had a fun discussion about it.  I realized how much of my math I have forgotten and promised myself that I would get out my old Calculus book and Statics book and do some refreshing.

And now you have probably had enough of seeing what goes on in my brain when it is left to it's own devices. :)

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Basil Basil

I recently had a plethora of basil from the garden.

Thanks to someone who shall remain nameless...and cute.

All right, not too nameless.  Introducing Ranger, our newest addition (and yet another reason my life is crazy).
 I had two sweet helpers....

And then found myself without a key ingredient to complete my plans.  So a run to the store was in order.
Must have lemons.
 But in the end, it was so worth it.  We made a little "crown" cake for the Queenship of Mary from this recipe.
Lemon Basil Yogurt Cake
 And of course we couldn't have dessert without a main course (why not?!) so I made a yummy pesto to go with our chicken pesto.

I don't have beautiful pictures to show you of it all dished up on pretty plates.  By the time I got to this point, we were all so hungry we didn't worry about the pictures.  We enjoyed the meal and each others company.

There are a lot of episodes like this in our lives here.  Memorable happenings, blog-worthy anecdotes, almost no pictures or time to even think about blogging.  But our lives are definitely not dull.  They are full and messy and crazy and delicious and wonderful.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Happy Father's Day To My Dear Husband With Love

I'm not sure if it's possible to do justice to my husband through a blog post on Father's Day.  After a month long deployment, I have a huge appreciation for him and for what he does for our family.  I have been blessed with a husband who works ridiculously hard for us.  When he gets home from a deployment like this, he is completely exhausted.  But he still takes his family on our homeschool group's campout all weekend, simply because we have all been looking forward to it.

He takes his wife to dinner and ice skating on date night.  And then agrees to take a selfie with her.

When the faucet has been leaking, he takes his whole family on an adventure to the home improvement store and then makes it a family affair to fix it.

He deals with my desire to take pictures of the process as well.

After a long day, when he would perhaps rather relax on his back porch with a cold drink, he pulls his little boys in the wagon around the yard.

The amazing thing about my husband, is that I didn't have to search hard for examples of how he lives out his fatherhood.  This was one day.  This is every day.

Happy Father's Day Dan.  Your family loves you very much.

The righteous man walks in his integrity; 
His children are blessed after him.
~Proverbs 20:7

Sunday, January 15, 2017

A Gem To Share

Yesterday, I was blessed to be able to go on a wonderful retreat with my fellow homeschooling moms. A whole day of adoration, Mass, confession, talks, chatting and being encouraged by other women, yummy food, and facials! So amazing!

So of course my brain has been spinning (but peacefully) on how to apply the gems I have gained. I will not go into many details, mostly because it's Sunday and there is only a bit of time left where I might actually get a nap in (!) But, I wanted to link to this article by my favorite blog on discipline. It's an old post, but I do find myself going back to it every now and then, when I need to remember just who is the authority in my home after all. And after reading that one, go on and read her other posts on discipline (check the links along the top of her blog). So balanced and full of tried and true wisdom. And read the comments too!

Happy Sunday!

Monday, December 26, 2016

Handmade Christmas 2016

Each year, during Advent, our family preps for Christmas in the usual ways: tree, lights, ornaments, ect.  But each of my children also work hard on handmade gifts for each other and mom and dad, and I also usually try to do a little hand-making myself.  This year, even though (or maybe because of?) my husband traveled for work, we managed to make quite a few gifts.

Fritter (age 10) made:

Fritter does quite a bit of work with leather.  We got him a starter kit a few years ago, and then Grandma got him more tools and stain this year for his birthday.  These are simple bookmarks, but they are really the best.  Plus, you can't beat the smell of leather every time you open a book.

This is a little drum for Teddy, it has a few beans in it, so it also makes a great shaky toy.  And the noise isn't terrible.

Perler bead play kitchen food, including mint Oreo cookies for Sunflower.

Fritter put together this little tool box for Froggy from a kit, and then spray painted it.  Mom and Dad contributed to the gift with a set of screwdrivers.  These may or may not have been used to disassemble part of the play kitchen yesterday when we weren't looking.

This little mailbox was part of a kit also for Ladybug.  Dad attached it to the play house outside and the kids have been busy sending letters to each other.

Ladybug (age 8) made:

This wreath was made by both Ladybug and Sunflower for Mom and Dad.  It colors up my bedroom door nicely.

I had been hinting all Advent that I really needed a matchbox.  I have one nice one for our prayer table, but nothing for the candles on the dining table.  We found this tin in our Celestial Seasonings Tea, and Ladybug snatched it. 

Much better than the ugly box I had.

This stuffed duck is for Teddy and has a plastic Easter egg with a few beans stuffed inside it to give it a gentle rattle sound.

Ladybug made five of these airplanes for Froggy.  Note to self: Glue first, then paint.

This might be one of my favorite things made this year.  I saw this made elsewhere online, and passed on the idea to Ladybug and she took over.  Five little fairies in a flower bed for Sunflower.

This is a Perler bead maze for Fritter.  Once it was ironed, we glued it into an empty CD case, added a small bead, and glued the case shut.  This is Dad's favorite handmade item this year.

Sunflower (age 5) made:

Froggy is really into magnets, so Sunflower made him this little craft, and Mom and Dad contributed the magnet.  Froggy has been running around testing everything to see if its "Magnets".

I know one of these pipe cleaner creations is a spider...I don't really know what the others are, but Sunflower made them for Fritter and he seems to like them.  :)

Sunflower sewed and stuffed this little bear for Teddy.  She really did a great job.

She made this little drawstring bag (with Mom's help) and made "story rocks" for Ladybug.

And I made:

I find it hard to buy presents for the baby of the family.  So this year I made him a little rattle, again with the egg and bean shaky inside.

These blankets are simple to make, but so satisfying and are probably the coziest blankets ever.  This one is for Ladybug.  I love the material.

And this is Fritter's.  Both Sunflower and Froggy were given blankets a couple of years ago.  I made these ones a bit longer for the bigger kids.
The best part about all of this handmade stuff, is most of the materials came from our home.  Very few purchases were made.  Also, these end up being almost everyone's favorite gifts (even if I do find myself repairing some of them). 

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!