Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Big Concepts, Deep Thoughts

Part of our reading each week involves Caedmon choosing a book we brought home from the library for me to read aloud. (We bring home about 20, so there’s never a shortage of options.) He then does a “book report.” I made a form, and it gives us a place to list the title, author, (illustrator, if applicable), and a note about the book.  He tells me what he would like to remember about the book, and I write it down. At the bottom of the page is a place for him to draw a picture about the story. It’s not fancy, but it has been a great thing for us. We’ve read a lot of books this year, and it’s a great way to not only keep track of them, but to help Caedmon learn how to transfer what he hears/learns to the page.

Caedmon is in love with battle. Of all kinds. I know some find it disconcerting that a 6 year-old is completely obsessed with weapons, war, and battle strategy. But God made boys to be interested in battle. Boys grow up to be our warriors. So, we are allowing Caedmon to pursue this in what we feel is an appropriate way. Lately, that’s included finding the war section in juvenile non-fiction at the library and bringing home as many books as I’ll let him have.

War is a tough thing to talk about with anybody, but especially a 6 year-old. And it’s even more difficult when your 6 year-old is a deep thinker. He’s not into dates and facts. He wants to know why and how and because. Realities are harsh things, and the other day, I found myself explaining not just the reality of war, but of another difficult topic.

We read “The Tuskegee Airmen: African-American Pilots of World War II.” And I quickly found myself trying to adequately and appropriately explain segregation and discrimination (the book doesn’t give much background on the topic). Yes, Caedmon was asking questions about it, but I also wanted him to grasp just how big a deal it was for these men to become fighter pilots, and how much they sacrificed in order to do so. And even how much they dealt with as they were fighting for and alongside men who didn’t necessarily believe in them. And when they came home to America, they were not considered the war heroes they should’ve been. I’m not sure all of that “stuck,” but Caedmon was super impressed that not one bomber was shot down while be escorted by the Red Tails (the 332nd Fighter Group’s nickname), and that no other escort group’s record was as good. 

Yes, it was kind of a hard discussion to have. Lots of questions were asked, and I answered to the best of my ability, which is less than perfect. But this is one reason that I’m so thankful we homeschool. As Caedmon is learning about war and history, we can also talk about how we were all made by God. A God who doesn’t make mistakes, and doesn’t make people with different colored skin, hair, eyes, or size by accident. We all look different, and He made us just the way we are on purpose. And no, I don’t really understand why everyone doesn’t see that. People make mistakes and they sometimes think and act in a way that’s not right. And it doesn’t excuse their actions or make them ok, but God still loves us, and He loves them.

Those little conversations have been sneaking in more and more lately. Bigger concepts. Deeper thoughts. Conversations that are made sweet by having them in the moment, with the heart, instead of after-the-fact with the head (if at all).

Homeschooling can be hard. I’m the first one to admit that. But moments like these make the hard and so much more worth every second.

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Friday, April 04, 2014

Tales from Upstairs

Now that we live in a two-story house, I often send the kids up to their rooms and/or the playroom/guest room to play. (They’re not unsupervised, they’re just audio supervised.) Some of the things that I hear (and sometimes have to respond to) are interesting, or let’s be honest, just plain ridiculous. This is a chronicle of a few of those times.

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Sending Caedmon up to watch a movie on the guest bed for his rest time, I warned: “Don’t get up until I come to get you.”

“But what if my movie is over before rest time is over?”

“If you fast forward through all the slow parts and watch all the good parts of your movie before time is up, then have to go back and watch the slow parts again, that’s not my problem.”

(The lesson hasn’t been learned, by the way.)

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The kids were upstairs in their respective bedrooms for roomtime. (Roomtime is when they play alone in their rooms for a little while each day. It’s a wonderful practice.) Caedmon was told he must pick up his room before he was allowed to get other toys out to play. As this was not the news he wanted to hear, he proceeded to pitch an epic fit – behind his closed door. Before I could get upstairs to put a stop to the tantrum, I heard Honor yelling across the hall, “Caedmon! Stop your fit crying! You’re ok!”

It’s good to know the fullness of my gift of mercy is being passed down.

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While playing together upstairs:

Caedmon: Honor, my LEGOs are in the playroom, and I don’t want you to mess them up. So, I guess we can go in your room and have a tea party. *deep sigh*

Honor: YES!

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(A different day than above)

Caedmon: Honor, do you want to have a tea party?

Honor: YES!

Caedmon: Ok, but will you let me shoot all your stuffed animals with my Nerf gun if I have a tea party with you?

Honor: No, that’s not fair!

Caedmon: PLEASE?!

Honor: Ok, you can shoot them.

There’s a heavy price to pay for a decent tea party around here.

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Monday, March 24, 2014

What We’ve Been Up To

We’re still dealing with the ups and downs of home warranty repairs. Yes, still. But we’re starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Hey, at least all my walls and ceilings are the same color now. Which is a bigger deal than it should be.

So what else have we been up to?

1. Nana came for a visit. She’s back from Ireland and came to hang out with us for a couple of weeks. We enjoyed spending time with her and the kids loved having some extra attention – and an extra grown-up to read books to them.

2. Starting our garden. Yes, it’s barely spring…at least, I think it is. The weather can’t quite decide. But instead of buying all plants this year, the kids and I thought we’d try growing some things from seeds. So just in case you were to check out the ledge of my bathroom window (one of our only south-facing windows), you’d find a tomato plant, some cucumber plants, and a couple of green bean plants. I promise. They’re legit vegetables. Or fruit, depending on how you land on the tomato issue. We’ve had some failures, too. The jalapeno plans do NOT want to sprout. Neither do the bell peppers.

3. School. Kindergarten is still going well. I think we’re both about ready for a break though, so we will officially be on spring break for part of this week. I’ve discovered it’s more difficult to start back (both practically and in attitude) when we have a long break. So a three-day break may be just perfect for us.

4. More school. I’ve already begun to plan for 1st grade next year. Pause for a second while I take a deep breath. It’s a bit overwhelming to me, realizing that we basically double our course load next year. It’s a shame we don’t come into this world knowing how to spell, you know?

5. Frozen. We’ve drunk the kool-aid, folks. At least, Honor has. We’ve watched it daily since we got it. And I know everyone talks about “Do You Want to Build a Snowman” and “Let it Go,” but my favorite song is the one Olaf sings about summer. And I won’t even go into the plot holes. How did Kristoff not realize Anna was the girl he’d seen the trolls heal as a kid? Or did he? And if he did, why didn’t he tell her? And how did the girls know all of the “princessy” things if there was no one (limited staff, remember?) to teach them? And don’t even get me started on the fact that if Elsa and Anna’s parents had ever actually watched a Disney movie, they would know better than to try to hide Elsa’s magic. That only leads to…bad things. But I did like the movie. And I pink puffy heart Olaf. How can you not?

6. We’ve discussed the fact that Disney needs to, nay, MUST make a spin-off for Sven and Olaf. You know, if they care about me at all.

7. Cleaning. Now that most of the dusty repair work is done in the house, it’s time for some deep cleaning. I don’t typically “spring clean,” because I prefer to follow a schedule to deep-clean the house year-round. But since I’ve basically just kept my head above water since right after Christmas, knowing that the repairs would cause a huge mess, the house is in dire need. I tackled the master bath & bedroom on Sunday. The kids get to help this week, too. Won’t they be so surprised?

8. I have a couple of artsy projects I’ve been waiting to hang, too. They’ll be going up this week. The house is still a long way from being decorated, but it’s a start.

9. Just heard from upstairs: “I think Honor hates me today!” What? All she did was tackle him. He tried to blow snot on her. I think it was justified. The kids love each other as much as ever.

10. The blog is still suffering. And I’m still sorry. I’m much more active these days on Twitter. 140 characters at a time is much more my speed these days.

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Friday, March 07, 2014

Construction Zone

Part of the craziness going on at our house the past several weeks has been because of our house. We’ve hit our one-year mark with our builder (which means we’ve been in our house a year! Yay!), and that means it’s time for warranty repairs on several minor things.

Well, it’s all minor until it disrupts your life.

We had our original home inspector come back out and do another inspection. I am so thankful we did. He found several things (especially on the exterior) that we might not have seen, and gave me some confidence in some other things that I had already seen and wondered if they should be addressed.

So, our builder sent their warranty guy out, and we got rolling on the list. For the past month, we’ve had contractors in and out. One day, I had four contractors here at the same time. Another day, three different flooring crews were here, followed by the plumber. It’s been a little crazy. Not to mention the two who have had to come back to fix what they broke while trying to do their repairs in the first place.

We’re still waiting on a couple of things, but here’s an idea of what’s been going on at our house the past few weeks.

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Don’t get me wrong. I’m thankful all of these things are covered under warranty, and that our builder has (at least, so far) fixed everything we’ve turned in for service. It’s just kind of a pain. And it solidifies the feeling that I never want to renovate a house while I live in it. These repairs have been plenty.

I have worked on a few projects and have been waiting to hang them until all the work was done. Hopefully I can get them up and show them to you soon. After, that is, I do some deep cleaning. One thing about having repairs done is that it makes a big mess!

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Thursday, February 13, 2014

This Good, Crazy Life

I love my life. I love being a wife and mom. I am so grateful to be able to stay home with our kids. And I’m glad we have made the decision to educate our kids at home. I’m also thankful for the opportunity to work from home and contribute financially to our family (and exercise my pre-kid, working brain). But it’s hard, y’all.

There are days I feel productive, things get done, and the kids even wear something besides pajamas. At home. We get our school work done, and even manage to play a game as a family without meltdowns.

Other days, well, Honor pours her own cereal (all over the table…and the floor), then dumps a dozen eggs into my grocery cart (bright side – she only busted two of them), and while I’m cooking dinner, throws a chair down the stairs, gashing the wood floor. (Yes, that all happened in the same day. For real.)

I don’t expect life to be easy. And things worth doing usually aren’t. But the past few months have been a real challenge. As soon as I feel like things are under control just a little bit, it all comes unraveled. I miss blogging regularly and the outlet it provides, but honestly, by the time I get a chance to sit down to write, I’m completely spent. My body is tired and my brain can’t form a complete thought, much less put one to paper (or keyboard). I don’t know how many posts I’ve started and couldn’t finish. Twitter seems much more my speed these days, not because I don’t like the blog, but because I don’t seem to be able to think in much more than 140 characters at a time. And that’s not my favorite. When things are crazy, something has to give, and it’s usually the blog.

I’m not complaining. Or at least, I’m not trying to. I wouldn’t trade my people or life for anything. I might, however, pay big bucks for a couple of nights of uninterrupted sleep. And a kid who just poops in the potty already.

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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Pizza, Penguins & Fishes

We took a fun trip this past weekend. Husband had a work trip in a nearby city, and we decided to crash his hotel room! He was working when we arrived, so the kids & I enjoyed some pizza. Also? Mad props to the guy at Mellow Mushroom for bringing the pizza out to the car for me so I didn’t have to park in a paid lot & drag the kids across a busy downtown street in single-digit temps.

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The next morning, we had breakfast at the hotel, then headed to the aquarium. The first thing we saw were the penguins. The kids loved them.

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And they loved the kids. These guys rival Oz with their photo bomb skillz.

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Shark cage? Maybe I need one of these at home.

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And one of the sharks that go with it…

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We got to see the divers in the big tank.

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The jellyfish were beautiful.

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We went back to the big tank and hung out for a while. The kids loved this little dome where they could lay and watch everything swim by.

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They had a “touch tank,” where we could touch several different kinds of rays, a horseshoe crab, and even a shark. The kids were a bit timid at first, but once they got the hang of it, they loved it! I have tried for two days to embed a video right here, so play along and imagine it’s here. And if you really want to see a super short video of Honor almost touching a shark, click here.

We had lunch with Husband and then went for ice cream at Ben & Jerry’s…the kids had never been before. Judging by Caedmon’s face, I think they enjoyed it.

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Then, it was back to the aquarium for the fresh water critters…which somehow included a flying squirrel and this possum. The kids went nuts over these guys (no pun intended), and actually got to pet the flying squirrel.

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We saw some giant fish in their big freshwater tanks – almost as big as the sharks in the ocean tank. But the kids thought the diver was pretty cool again. He was friendly and posed for pictures through the glass with several different people.

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The aquarium was lots of fun, and we were worn out by the end of the day. Which you would think would mean that the kids would actually fall asleep. But you would be wrong. I think it was 10pm before Honor finally gave up and went to sleep. And Caedmon got to experience the gloriousness of The Mighty Ducks for the first time, watched from his own hotel bed. At which point he declared his deep, burning desire to play hockey. (I don’t even need to tell you how much that is not going to happen.)

The next morning, we ate breakfast, then loaded up and headed home. But not before stopping at the Lodge Factory Store. Momma got some goodies!

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I love cooking with my cast iron stuff so, so much. And I got some great deals on “factory seconds,” which means they have a little dimple or a spot somewhere. So do I, and that doesn’t keep me from being awesome. So these will do just fine, especially at half of retail (or less). (The white spot on the skillet above is paper.) I used the Dutch Oven for dinner on Monday night. I couldn’t wait any longer!

That was a fun little get away. Now it’s time to get back to reality. It’s been pretty crazy the past few weeks – for good reasons – but it’s time to get back to the real world!

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Wednesday, January 08, 2014

I Couldn’t Make it Up if I Tried

We’re settling back in from a wonderful Christmas. We enjoyed spending Christmas Eve & Day at home, then left the day after Christmas and drove home to Arkansas to spend several days. We enjoyed every minute with our friends and family. Except for the ManCold that came home with Husband.

You’re familiar with the ManCold, right? It’s the same cold that women get, except that it attacks the male of the species. It’s much, much worse. Well, that, and they refuse to heed the advice that got you through the same crud a month previous when you still had to spend 2 days cooking Thanksgiving dinner and go hunting for a Christmas tree. Not that I’m bitter. Or lack mercy.

The main problem with our most recent bout of the ManCold is that Husband and I see things differently. Surprise, surprise. (The Great Syrup Debate of 2010 continues to this day. And need I remind you of the “jelly jar” incident?) While in recent years I’ve begun to treat illnesses with a more natural approach, Husband prefers his remedies to come in blister packs or containing Red #5. (Honestly, I used to think the same thing, but have since discovered that stuff isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. He’s just not as on-board quite yet.) As I couldn’t convince him that my way was the right way would help him feel better sooner, he continued on with his self-treatment. I tried to help him feel better and keep my mouth shut at the same time. I wasn’t very good at it. (I also lack sympathy.)

Then Monday rolled around, and he left for work. Honestly, I was happy to be sort-of back to our routine. The weather was frigid and I’d already done my grocery run, so I was looking forward to getting back to school with Caedmon and getting things under control at home. We were rolling with the chores and I was feeling that things, well, they were going to get done.

And then? Husband texted and told me his car was telling him the brake fluid was low. Not normally a big deal, but with single-digit temperatures and sub-zero wind chills, I was afraid that his car had busted a hose or started leaking somewhere. And no brake fluid = no brakes. So it made me really nervous, especially knowing that he would have to drive a while to get home. So we decided he’d re-fill it before he drove home and be really careful and we’d arrange to drop it off at the mechanic’s on his way. It needed an oil change and to have that pesky on again/off again check engine light looked at anyway.

Meanwhile, Honor decided to wet her pants. And when I say “wet her pants,” I really mean that she peed all over the place. As in, through her pants and onto the rug in her bedroom. She hasn’t done that in ages. I got her changed, threw the rug into the washer, and tried to get back to a few things before her roomtime was over. Just a few minutes later, she called out, “Mom! I pee on my legs!” Which is Honor for, “I stood here and just peed, and I might or might not be standing in a puddle right now.” So, again with the clean-up and wardrobe change and a conversation about where pee pee belongs.

(If this is grossing you out, either stop reading or get over it. Because it gets better.)

Husband called, and told me his boss was sending him home. I couldn’t really blame him. And Husband did feel awful. But that left us with having to plan to get the car to the shop to have it checked out on his way home now instead of later. No big deal – I’d just throw the kids in the car and we’d meet him there.

And just about that time, Honor yelled, “Mommy, I need to go poop!” Which, translated, means, “I already pooped in my pants, I’m just pretending I actually tried to go to the potty.” This has been a huge struggle for us, and it’s getting a teensy bit better. But that didn’t help me right then, and now we’re in a time crunch.

I grabbed Honor and took her into the bathroom to get her cleaned up. And, unfortunately, this was not one of those neat little packages that could be handled swiftly. While not truly awful, it still required some scrubbing and a partial bath. I got her cleaned up and dressed. She went to her room to get her shoes, and piped up, “Mom, I got poo poo on my carpet.”

What was that?

She showed me. And she had, in fact, gotten poop on the carpet. How, I do not know. Why, I don’t even want to know. Luckily, after having pets for so many years, I know how to quickly and effectively clean poop out of carpet. Who says having a puppy doesn’t train you for parenting? I got that taken care of, knowing that Husband was going to end up waiting for us to pick him up at the mechanic’s, but it couldn’t be helped.

That’s when I discovered there was poop in her hair. HER HAIR.

I had just given her a partial bath. It was just a tiny little spot on the ends, and I was not about to put her in the tub again with Husband waiting for us. So I grabbed a wet wipe and went to scrubbing. With her hair finally poop-free and smelling like a freshly diapered baby’s rear, I threw both kids in the car (Caedmon was still wearing pajamas and slippers. Let’s be honest – that was the best that was going to happen at that point.), and we headed to pick Husband up.

He was, indeed, waiting for us. And on my way there, the “low tire pressure” light came on in my car. Of course, because why not? I swung in, picked Husband up, and we stopped on the way home in single-digit temperatures to air up my tires. It was as fun as it sounds.

The rest of the afternoon was a blur. It consisted of Husband finally relenting to my “voodoo” remedies and napping between nearly coughing up his lungs, the kids acting like wild little hooligans, and Honor deciding that naps are for babies. The mechanic was able to get Husband’s car finished and we picked it up as he was closing at 5pm. The brakes were fine, but that little check-engine light was the source of about $200 in repairs.

I think we had several people’s Monday going on over here.

But we survived it, even if we did have to end the day with watching Auburn get beat in the National Championship. (Yes, we are Razorbacks. But we cheer for the SEC in bowl games, especially the National Championship. And we know and love Gus and Kristi.) Yes, I wanted to pull my hair out. Or at least go sit in the corner by myself for a while (I’d even just settle for getting to go to the bathroom alone). But I’m thankful for my family, that I get to stay home with these little pooping people, and that we have a warm home and (decently) reliable cars. Also our health. I’m glad to report that Husband is feeling much better and the ManCold seems to be on its way out. The children are even still alive and well. And Honor managed to poop in the potty today. On purpose. It’s shaping up to be a good day.

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