Wednesday, October 30, 2013

from the daybook...


Outside my window...  beautiful orange and red leaves on the tree in the front yard. I can see them from the schoolroom window, and every glimpse makes me smile.

I am thinking... that we moved into this house almost 5 years ago when this tree was aflame. It was Halloween weekend. Seth was 2, and Evan was making himself known in utero. I had just started showing when we moved in. 

I am thankful... for a working washer and dryer. I have a lot of sheets and towels and coats to clean from our wonderful week in the mountains. And that I have enough leftovers in the fridge to keep me going for another night's dinner while I re-enter regular life and school days.

In the kitchen... loving all the great soups I made while we were in the mountains. I made beef daube provencal from Cooking Light (it's amazing!), minestrone, and potato soup. I even hauled the breadmaker along for fresh rolls. I've decided that eating really well on vacation makes a vacation more special to me. :)

I am wearing... old gray maternity lounge pants that I bought 7 years ago (that I will never stop wearing because they're so comfy), brown boot bedroom slippers, a workout shirt, and a random cream colored jacket I got at a yard sale. I'm stylin.' 

I am creating... hmmm, does the model of teeth that I created with mini marshmallows and toothpicks count? Seth lost his first tooth a couple of days ago, so I decided to strike while the iron was hot and make it into a science lesson. He's asked to read his books on teeth over and over today.

I am going... to "Holidays Fit for the King" at my church this Saturday. I enlisted a sweet friend to come with me. I haven't been to a women's event at my church yet, so I'm a little nervous. 

I am reading... "Emma" by Jane Austen. I realized that I hadn't re-read some of Austen's works in years, so I downloaded a cheap collection from Amazon onto my Kindle. I started with "Sense and Sensibility," and I realized I'd never read it. I've heard that it's nothing like the movie, and since I haven't watched the movie, I may do that to compare while its still fresh. 

I am hoping... for many things, but most of all, for God to answer my prayers for the patience that I think He's trying to teach me in just about every area of my life. It couldn't be more clear that this is the big thing He wants to teach me if He hired a skywriter, so here we go. :) 

I am looking forward to... dressing the kids up in their adorable Halloween costumes and going through the neighborhood tomorrow night. I think I'll have 2 pirates and a dinosaur this year. 

I am learning... to grab the moments when Seth is pleased about the progress he's making with reading and shows initiative to read signs, words, whatever and to sear them in my memory. It helps when he complains that he "hates reading." He's 6. He appears to dislike a lot more things in name this year than he did last year, but I find that him saying that he dislikes something may not mean much.

One of my favorite things... lit candles on the counter while I cut up vegetables for dinner. 

Friday, October 18, 2013


Wearing homemade "pirate hats." While creating race tracks. Wearing underwear.

Sometimes the end of the week comes, and I feel pretty good about it. And other times I feel shakier than I'd like. "Did we do enough school? Maybe we were at the park and rushing through assignments too much this week. I think Evan is left handed. What am I going to do about that? I know nothing about being left handed. We can't go to the mountains with the "SRS" light on in the van because that means the airbags won't deploy if we hurtle over a hill to our doom. Oh, that's going to be a bijillion dollars to fix? Fine, just fix it. The dog. Oh, the dog. Why won't you boys stop harassing the dog. You're going to deserve it if he bites you. I can't wait for Mom and Dad to pick up their dog. Ben, please don't dump out the entire contents of the stick vacuum cleaner container while I read about humpback whales to Seth and Evan. Too late." 

That's when it comes in handy to make a list of all the good from today. And there is so much good from today and from the whole week, really. This is one of those "think on the good, the just, and the beautiful" times, and I realize again why the Bible has to ask this from us. It's all too easy to focus on the worrisome, the frustrating, the icky....

So, good things....

- Playdates at the park with friends
- The joys of stick finding
- A boy who wants to carefully copy a sentence from his alligator book to make his own "alligator book", complete with illustrations.
- Evan's treasures from outside- the tiniest, most delicate of pine cones, rocks with "mica, Mommy!", an intricate, hollowed out insect skeleton that we are going to have to take to a scientist for ID... and that he wants to bring them to me and use them to create his own "museum." 
- We read many books this morning, and they asked many questions about what we read. 
- Ben begging for two readings of "The Adventures of Awesome Man," calming my fears that he wouldn't be as interested in reading as his brothers because I let the TV become a regular part of life upon his arrival. (It's a long book for a 2-year-old.) 
- Excited outside play with sticks and rocks and found things to make forts and houses and beaver traps.
- Brothers who run to bounce the littlest on the trampoline.
- "Mom, can we keep reading?" when we stop at an exciting spot in "Benjamin West." 
- That a box of macaroni and cheese can keep the toddler sitting happily at the lunch table long enough to get a few short chapters read.
- Folded laundry. 
- The power of "I'm sorry. Will you forgive me?" 
- Grace.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Fall in the country...

I'm typing this listening to the sounds of my mom finishing up a pumpkin pie in the kitchen with my oldest. Papa took the littles to the park this morning so I could get some school done with him.

We're at my homeplace for what is becoming a fall tradition. Yesterday we took them all to the local fair. I tucked Seth and Evan under my arms and walked them to the ferris wheel for their first ride. "Oooh, Mommy, the people look like dolls." They watched the chainsaw artist while munching on kettle corn. They cheered on the racing pigs.

And then, we came home to a blustery day in what Seth still calls, "The Hundred Acre Wood." My dad, wearing the heavy leather boots he always wears to walk the property, took the boys exploring. They gathered hickory nuts and berries, mushrooms and pinecones. They leaped into gullies. He told them what they'd found as they roamed hill and dale. Plant identification? Check. (And done with the best, I might add.)

This is generational wisdom passed on in the most natural of ways. It's a way for us to enjoy different "teachers" and fun extra activities.

But really, there's nothing for me like fall at home...

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Dude, homeschooling with a toddler is hard...

Sooo, David and I went to a wedding this weekend. We handed the kiddies off to grandparents at a McDonalds on the side of I-95 and then proceeded to enjoy 2 days of sleeping in, afternoon naps, meals not bolted down in 5 minutes flat, and some sitting and talking in nature. Oh, yeah, and a wedding. :)

And in the process of having some quiet to think and the contentment that comes with having clean hair and a daily shower, this earth shattering thought came to me:

"I have never done anything harder than trying to teach 1st grade with a toddler on the loose."

And I've done some hard things.

I got a 4.0 in my master's degree in History, and this involved lots of long papers involving primary research as well as comps to finish me off.

I was the student body vice-president at Campbell, this involving lots of coup busting and meeting running and budget haggling and running Homecoming with teams of committees and a golf cart and a megaphone...

I have moved from state to state to state on an average of every couple of years for the first 6 years of our marriage....

The point of all these examples is just to say...trying to teach your son about hieroglyphics while his little brother sneaks out the back door and sticks his hands into a bucket of paint and water left by the painters working on the house? And having these kinds of moments repeated over and over for the last month?

Harder. I don't know why, but... harder. (Ok, maybe I know why. Maybe it's because I care more deeply about succeeding at this than I have about anything else I've done. So, yeah... that.)

So I'm trying to grab onto contentment with a desperate iron grip this week as I clean up streaked windows the power washer left behind, a month's worth of thick dust on furniture, and walls covered in crayon from the 4-year-old's "rest time."

Anything worth doing is worth doing with everything I've got... and it may take all I've got. And whenever I sit and read to them while they eat their PB&J's, I decide its still worth it. Even if the hand not holding the book has to shoot out and clothesline the toddler running by...