Monday, January 31, 2011

Day 10 of 365

My cutie boy....not interested in the normal reading lesson. So we played tic tac toe on the window. Trick have to read the word before you make your mark. Mom can choose all the words and strategically plan so her sweet reader hast to read the challenging words. This game never gets old!

And I took one more out the window a bit later....'cause this is just such a boy photo. That is Nate's fort in the background...the squirrels love it.
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Friday, January 28, 2011

day 10 of 365

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Day 9 of 365

Affection is responsible for nine-tenths of whatever solid and durable happiness there is in our lives.

To my Dear Friends who peek at the blog...

I'm so grateful for you, that you do spy, and that I can peek into your lives. I never grow weary for your enthusiasm for life, your love for others and the whole hearted desire to love life and to be gentle, loving and encouraging to me.

Please do come by more and more, please do share with me your stories, and please, please, let me call on you again when I'm drowning in doubt and need a voice to remind me that today is just a moment in a life time, that my sweet boys are souls to be loved and led, prayed over and hugged while they grow into the men God created them to be.

I am in desperate need of your kind words, and I breathe deeply when I see how you all grab life hard and taste it, smell it, and love all of it and your family. You make me want to enjoy better.

No one should be alone in this parenting gig. We should walk together. You quietly walk into my life and wrap your arm around my shoulder and say, "I know, I know."

We can hold each other up over the miles.


I have gone through a bit of a blogging crisis in the last few weeks. Not that I'm stumbling over what to write, but that I've been searching out WHY I'm blogging. I have, quiet honestly, had to address my desire to impress others, or to prove myself.

I had to stand back and rethink things, I want my life to be small and quiet, so why am I trying to prove myself to whomever reads my blog?

And I'm steeping in these thoughts and remembering that my goal is to please God not man....and that I need only prove myself to Him.

So then, what? What is my blogging for? I started it as a bit of a photo journal and a way to share stories and photos with family. But today, I'm quite certain none of my family visit the blog so that's not a good purpose.

And this week,

I dumped my heart out a little....and I got this.

Kind, kind words. I was encouraged, laughed with, met and agreed with. And Sweet Hilary even has the perspective to whisper to me what a wonderful little life I have, without even saying it.

Thank you, friends. I know why I'm blogging. I have like-minded friends out here that my heart holds tightly to.

Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art... It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.
C. S. Lewis
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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Day 8 of 365 (forgiveness in the shape of brownies)

For some odd reason my camera isn't downloading or uploading or unloading...whatever. At any rate I'll have to wait to share that photo but I should share this one anyhow.

Every.single time I turn my back these days the boys have pulled out Sorry or Chess. They LOVE playing with each other and I love my life. Last weekend Ralph pulled up a chair adn played with the boys. I took a few quick photos and then the opportunity.

I ran upstairs and drew a hot bath, grabbed my book and some chocolate.

This week has been tough, I didn't know I needed that bath to store up patience. When people ask if I like homeschooling I used to feel the need to prove homeschooling. "Oh, I love it!" I'd say. Now, I tell the truth. "Oh, I love it almost every day. Then there are days when I don't. It's like any other job, good parts and bad parts.

Yesterday left me reeling with my newly-changing 9 year old.

He didn't want to do Math.
He didn't think I dealt with his brother appropriately.
He didn't want to do Reading.
He didn't want to sit down.

Oh, good grief.

I didn't do so well with it. It was not a shining moment for me. I grew weary of the whining and snapped at him then sent him to his room before it got worse. Then I crawled up to my room again and prayed for grace and wisdom, peace, peace, peace.

By the end of the evening I had a quick but needed conversation with another mama of 9ish boys and she encouraged me in just the way I needed....9 year olds, they want control but aren't able to follow through yet. They get angry and need time, and comfort to cool down.
They need brownies, sometimes.

I got up and made brownies. I hugged my son 8 times and put him in bed with the usual sloppy kisses. This morning he climbed in my bed and we talked and snuggled and he was the happiest kid on the planet. "Aren't I having a much better day mom?"

It's good to be reminded. Days are rough and attitudes spin us round but so many offenses can be covered with love in the shape of forgiveness, brownies, or hugs.
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8 of 365

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Sunday, January 23, 2011

7 of 365


Climbing is for getting to the top.
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Day 6 of 365

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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Day 5 of 365


What do you have up your sleeve for Valentine's day? I'm wondering what to do myself....

Any inspiration?
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Friday, January 21, 2011

Etiquette, please!?

Today I, busy, when I heard the phone ring. I called to Joe to have him answer it, "take a message, please!" I called to him.

"Hello, this is Joey."
"My mom is in the bathroom right now. I'm sure if you call back in 5 minutes she'll be out."

Hello!? Oh, really, time for some phone etiquette!

4 of 365


Nothing amazing today, but we've had a lovely time watching Mr. Squirrel protect the nest where his Mrs. is...this is the month of love for squirrels.
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Thursday, January 20, 2011

3 of 365

Lose an hour in the morning, and you will be all day hunting for it. ~Richard Whately
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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

2 of 365

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Monday, January 17, 2011

1 of 365

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Sketch Tuesday "T"

These are our entries for Sketch Tuesday this week. The assignement was to sketch something that begins with "T". Eli made a Teddy Bear, and his bed in the background. He sleeps on a bunk, do you see the ladder?
Joe took advantage and drew up several "T" things....tomato, Tom Sawer, "take", Twix, and of course Tsunami. :)
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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Lego Challenge

The boys took part in the Lego challenge again this week. The assignment was to build a coral reef.
This was a fun assignment. The coral reef absolutely fascinates Joe. He's constantly reading about it, or we find National Geo shows. His creation has a lever that you can pull to make an eel come out of a cave.
This is Eli's little underwater sub, going to visit the coral reef. :) Join us each week with our challenges, the link for the Lego Challenge is in the margin to the right.
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Eli says...

Eli says : "Mom, me and Nate think that Jabba the Hut dressed Princess Leah impolitely. She is dressed way inappropriately."

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Gifts That Keep Giving- Part 2

"There's no great loss without some small gain." -Pa Ingalls (Little House on the Prairie)

Piled up on my bed in jammies, we did it. The boys and I finished Little House on the Prairie tonight.

I am convinced that I will never regret all the reading that the boys and I do together. Boys snuggled up to me, twirling my hair, playing with a pillow...doing nothing. Just listening and waiting for the next sketch in the book.

this is a favorite photo of my Mom In Law, reading in her pool

Joey had a disappointment today. For a nine year old, a big disappointment. We were just heading up to read and he really wanted to tell me about it, but I asked him to wait. Listen to the book and then he and I could talk about it. (Sometimes this boy needs to simmer a little so he can use his words well. Um, so do I. ) So we snuggled up on the bed, he pulled a blanket over his head in grief and I read the final two chapters of our book.
Joe, always a book in hand, on a Canyon hike

I tucked Eli in bed, when I went to the kitchen Joe was waiting for me, "Cup of Tea, please Mom?" We chose our tea and put the water on to boil. Joe looked square at me. "There's no great loss without some small gain." he said. Then he rattled on the bleak gain he saw that he pulled from his loss.

Thank you, Pa Ingalls. Because it sounds better coming from you.

Joe and I sat down and discussed disappointment. We talked about the idea that sometimes the things that we want aren't the best things for us. Sometimes we just don't get what we want and it's just plain disappointing. It was a wonderful opening for good discussion.

Eli & Waldo: quality time

From the coziness, quiet and stillness of reading together to the ideas and discussions that it brings, reading to your kids is a gift that keeps on giving.

A Few of Our Favorite Books:

For the Younger Crowd:

Curious George by H.A. Rey
Little Critter by Mercer Mayer (and all others by Mercer Mayer)
The Cozy Book by Mary Ann Hoberman
I Can't Said the Ant by Polly Cameron
The Tale of Peter Rabbit series by Beatrix Potter

For the Bigger Ones:

The Magic School Bus books
The Magic Tree House books
Mrs. Piggle Wiggle books
Encyclopedia Brown books
The Story of the World books
All Books by Holling C. Holling
The Litte House on the Prairie Series by Laura Ingalls Wilder, of course
Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

Oh, I have more but it's getting late. Perhaps I'll return with other favorites. :)

What are your favorite read alouds?

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Gifts That Keep Giving- Part One

Early January brings the after-Christmas-toys-everywhere blues. As if it's not enough to ward off the dim Winter skies, the weariness of Holiday activity and removal of all the twinkle-lights.

But now, there are exactly 32,734 new little teeny ever so important toys sprinkled on the floor. This makes me anxious. My perfectionism kicks in, I don't want pieces to be separated from their home-toy. When we're talking about Legos, Playmobile, sigh. 32,734 pieces.

So this is what I've done this year. While my boys, who were very happily playing with ONE of the thousands of toys they've accumulated, were occupied, I snuck around the house and collected the new & overwhelming toys and have put them away. The new toys haven't been missed. I will give it a few weeks and then sneak one toy out and put it on a sleeping boys' bed so they can wake up to Christmas all over again.

Really, I think it's going to work! My boys have a million new things, and half a million old things (going through those too). They don't miss a thing yet.

Truthfully, the weeks sneaking up to Christmas this year were painful. The boys were living in such anticipation of all the excitement that lands on one day. It was a miserable time for them.

A day after Christmas, I sat visiting with my Mother-In-Law and noticed that my cranky-anticipating-boys were happily off playing make believe with NO toys at all.

I'll be darned if they weren't just relieved.

...and I just made it better. I put away more than half of the gobs of toys, PEACE again.

Peaceful home, peaceful home....

A little help?

First off, I found a link to add to my favorite homeschool links. I guess I should say that someone else found a link and sent it to me. This website has all kinds of fun "School House Rock" esque shows that review/explain different things we've been studying.

This week our Science question is regarding the States of Matter. There are four. Do you know what they are?

I didn't.

Liquids, solids, plasma and gas are the states. We learned more about solids, gases and liquids on this site....I welcome supportive explanations when I'm teaching things like Science, Latin. Eh em.

Friday, January 7, 2011

DIY: Magnetic & Black Board Paint

The school room is coming along! The center stage of our new school room is the new black board. Our school room is graced with a sliding glass door and a huge set of windows on two walls, so now the third (and last) wall is covered in a blackboard.

Step One: I pondered and pondered again whether I want a white or black board. Black boards just look so neat. Charming. But then there is chalk dust.

White boards are a big WHITE board, but the markers are simple to wipe off. But then there are those nasty marker odors. Could those be bad for myself and my kiddos to sniff all day??

Step Two: No decision on that yet, but for sure I need to measure out my painting spot on the wall. Then sand, sand, sand that texture off the wall. I wish I would have sanded even more!

Step Three: Buy Magnetic paint. Save yourself a trip and buy two cans. I painted on 8 thin coats of the magnetic paint (2 cans), trying the magnetic force in between each coat. It takes a lot of this paint to get a good hold, and I don't think you'll ever get a fridge-force hold.
This isn't too long of a process. You only have to let the coat dry 20 minutes between layers. The paint smell was so strong. I advise doing this project when you can open windows. We did this, and got a big, fat fire going too keep the house warm.

So paint, dry, paint, dry.... ( don't forget that old jammies inside-out are great painting gear)

Step Four: Finally decide that black board paint will work best, as magnetic paint is black. I wondered if all the "white" coats it would take to cover the magnetic paint would cause me to loose the magnet? So chalkboard paint will do the trick.

Step Five: Call a dear friend and invite her over for coffee, painting and lunch. Then set her to work while you admire her careful paint job. It's good to share work. :) I wish I had thought to take photos of Jen painting my chalk board wall!!

Step Six: Get approval all around (especially little ones) and wait a few days while the paint cures. This is the cleanest the board will ever, ever be!

Step Seven: Using chalk, treat the board to it's first, most important rubdown. Rub chalk all over the board for it's first use. Then wipe the chalk off and hand the chalk to your anxious kiddos to draw away!!

Step Eight: After the initial fun has worn off, (and when you need to school again) set up the board for use!

The Results: I simply love having the teaching space on the wall. We hang our timeline cards here and have schedules and calendar and math problems and penmanship.

I am still not sure about the chalk. I have to use a wet cloth to clean the chalk off and even then there is a fine layer of chalk on the board, smeary residual. I'm pretty committed now so I'll be working on how to perfect the cleaning of the board and the best types of chalk/eraser to use.

Fun! Fun stuff!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

good trade

Forfeiting a clean, tidy house for a peaceful house today. Brothers are challenging to each other...

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Standing and Staring

Did you ever have so much to do that you got stuck?

Standing and Staring.

This is me today. I want to sit down and quietly blog, but I have to clean.

We were sick over Christmas AND we had guests AND we were gone over New Year AND we started school this week AND my neighbors house had a serious fire, they lost their little dog and the sadness is nipping at the heels of my production. I really, really need to clean. Laundry shooting out of the chute and a dripping dishwasher. Dog hair on the floor and dust laughing at me from the shelves. Laugh away, I'm coming to get you.

I'm a little swimming in good hard manual labor. It's good but I wish I could just sit and share some photos and doodle on my blog, just a little.

Oh well, there will be too slow days sometime when I'm 88, I'm sure.

Oh, and I have an important meeting tonight. Please pray for me in it!!

All my love,