Sunday, January 15, 2017

January living

























It feels like we zipped through Christmas week which was spent with my parents and helping my youngest deal with a chest cold. The first week in January was a full week of house cleaning, organizing, purging and lesson planning.

I posted back in early December how we moved Kate upstairs to sleep on the bottom bunk of her sister's bed, which left her crib empty except for afternoon naps. I couldn't justify the space it took up even if it facilitated a better nap/quiet time session, so down it came. My mom bought us that crib second-hand when Seth was born in Pennsylvania. So it was bittersweet (to me!) for him to be the one who disassembled it for garbage day.
Shane did some basement organization back in late fall that helped clear up the floor space, but left some things inaccessible for Laura to play with. So part of the reorganization task for me was to make the toys and pretend play items more visible and accessible for the kids to use. It also meant I needed to be willing to part with some things. Several large bags and boxes later, the deed was done.

I also moved a tall bookcase from our bedroom which held a ton of my books, papers, magazines, and stuff to the basement and moved up Seth's old desk that had been slated for donation. I had been thinking for months on how to give myself a desk space and finally settled on removing my bookshelf in exchange for the desk. It means that my 'new nightstand' and desk are competing for space, but the desk is too far away to perform double duty, so I'm fine with a desk drawer that cannot be pulled out all the way.

(Mom, do you recognize Grandad's cupboard? It was in Laura's room, but her new Ikea dollhouse needed the space, so I took it for my new space. The little china cupboard is now in the hallway. I love having these pieces in my home. Btw, we are back to using our newlywed quilt that you bought for us since I haven't been able to find a new one to replace our tattering one. This one has been used outside for picnics in recent years, but I had recently washed it, so on it goes.)

We headed back into our lessons this past week and did very well after taking almost three weeks off for Christmas break. Laura is a more eager reader and gaining some fluency, slowly. We began to work on her cursive in addition to continue to work on her printing. It was a bit of learning curve, but making the paper angled correctly made her sweeping motions much easier. I purchased a pdf workbook for cursive from Logic of English before Christmas and I am printing off the pages as we need them. I plan to try their manuscript pdf workbook and see if she does better. So far we have been using Explode the Code and it's just okay. She has trouble remembering where to start for all the different lowercase letters. I used Handwriting Without Tears for Seth and have an extra unused workbook but I would like to try Logic of English Manuscript. We are also really taking off in her math, using Rightstart, the same as her brother did. I love this curriculum even though it is teacher intensive. It makes so much mathematical sense and builds so well on the previous lessons. It makes me feel math smart.
The rest of their books and lessons really need their own post, maybe just a bunch of photos of their books, that's about all I will likely take the time for.

Out back along the river is still fenced off and construction vehicles go past throughout the day, but they haven't been digging behind us lately.  I was given instructions today to go outside this week and offer the workmen muffins and ask about their finish date. (Thank you, Vanessa for that idea.)
I'm afraid to hear what it is and how long it will take to get some grass growing back there again. Spring is going to be very muddy and I'm wondering if the bees will even come to my garden if there are no wildflowers growing. I'm trying not to worry about the mess and think about my upcoming garden plans instead.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

May to November Book List

Somewhere back in June, I fell off the book list wagon and didn't look back until now.
Whoa, Nellie.
I was dutifully working on reading books already on my shelf and interrupting those stacks periodically to throw in a book or three from our local library system when I obviously made the fatal mistake of buying more books both online and in real bookstores here and across the border this summer.
A couple of friends also brought me some interesting books to borrow because they obviously hate me.
In addition to all of these books, I dug out the books that Seth will be reading for his Grade 8 year and began to do some pre-reading.
It's a sickness, but I heard there is no cure. None at all.

So to keep my sanity, I'm just doing a bare-bones list. No reviews (I have enjoyed all of them), just the books I've actually finished this year.

Here they are in mostly the order they were read.

May

Carry on, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham
The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey
Tree by Britta Teckentrup



June

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling (first started this in June 2003, finally finished this after giving series to the son who was born in June 2003)
Worms by Bernard Friot, illustrated by Aurelie Guillerey



July

Climbing Parnassus by Tracy Lee Simmons
The Awakening of Miss Prim by Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera (second time, for a Mom's book club meeting)

August

Mere Motherhood by Cindy Rollins
Miss Spitfire by Sarah Miller (recommended by my friend Karla)
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
A Latin-Centered Curriculum by Andrew A. Campbell (reread for lesson preparation)



September-November

Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott (a read aloud from Year 7 finally finished)
Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate Dicamillo (reread for book club)
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster (reread for book club)
Finding Wild by Megan Wagner Llyod, illustrated by Abigail Halpin
Teaching from Rest by Sarah MacKenzie
Once an Arafat Man by Tass Saada and Dean Merrill (recommended by my friend Janet)


Library Loans Mostly Finished

The Lifegiving Home by Sally and Sarah Clarkson
Shop Class as Soulcraft by Matthew B. Crawford
Homesteading in the 21st Century by George Nash and Jane Waterman


Monday, December 12, 2016

true bedtime stories

Bunk beds are a very average item.  Perhaps even below average, more like items that you mention in the same sentence as sauce pot. People have them, but you don't really talk about them, unless your bedtime routines have encountered them. Then it's something to talk about because we seem to talk about our sleep habits, the good and the bad, with friends and strangers, right after we finish up the topic of the weather. It's something we all have in common, sleep. Not all done in bunk beds unless you are seven, or eight, or almost a new nine year old. Or on a boat or a train or in a camp cabin.

We have had bunk beds in our house for years now. The first set we put up were from my own childhood, although we had not got very far before we realized that the amount of sway they had accumulated over the years was very close to that of a hammock. Not the type of sturdy bed frame we were planning for our oldest. Down came the frame and end boards, and up went a brand new set courtesy of that big store that starts with a W and ends in -mart.

The time came this fall when we decided to go with a loft bed for our oldest with his desk and storage space underneath and his youngest sister inherited his beds. The plan had been to move the middle sister up to join her little sister at some point, but that seemed like a complete life-wrecker idea so it was put off for a long time.

Last Monday night, that long time ended and we put her to bed on the bottom bunk at her usual bedtime which is earlier than the other two. We fussed over the bed gate, the pillow and the amount and placement of pillows. We took photos, we prayed, we kissed her little face and then we turned out the lights. Then the checking and worrying began.
Would she get out of bed in the middle of the night and cause havoc or worse take a tumble down the hallway stairs?
Would she make strange noises that woke us all up, or just me?
Would she wake up at the ridiculous hour of 5am and think we should all be getting up?

In fact, she had a good night.
Too good.
I woke up a little after 5am wondering what she would be doing, couldn't fall back asleep, and so began my morning routine very quietly and way too early. Neither girl stirred until close to 7am which is unheard of in this house. Also it made me think we could do this without the horror I imagined.
The next night, we followed the same routine, minus the picture-taking and ribbon-cutting.
The details are now fuzzy, but at some point in the night, I heard a noise, got up to re-settle her and discovered that her very full diaper was soaking her pajamas and her bedclothes. I quietly rummaged for clean items, moved her to the other end of the bed and put her back to sleep. No one slept-in that morning, and I was grumpy and ready to swear-off this experiment.
I was persuaded that she needed to be given another chance. Bible verses from my oldest, although not necessary and definitely taken out of context, may have been invoked to convince me.
Trips to the potty were secured before lights-out and we tucked her in for another night which was uneventful, the way sleep was meant to be. Her defenders rejoiced and backslapping was heard round the house.
We are now up to Night # 7 and although I have woke up at some point most nights or early mornings to settle her down, it seems to be an overall good arrangement.

In other news, I noticed last week in my sidebar that this year had the least amount of posts written of all the last ten years. Wow, did I feel pathetic. I also noticed back in November that my posts about books read or quotes from books dropped right off sometime in early spring.
It's like this year,  I just gave up on all my literary activities and forgot to care. And I also can't tell you to look for an upcoming book post because if I tell you I'm going to do it, that guarantees I will not post any such thing. So to stop the navel gazing, I end with a dark and grainy image of one of the world's newest bunk-bed users.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

making tea

 I first saw the idea of fabric play tea bags on Pinterest  a long time ago, but when my girls and I were invited to celebrate a dear little friend's four-year-old birthday earlier in November, I decided to give the idea a try.
I didn't have a good tutorial, so I fumbled my way through two methods before settling on this style.
Looking through my fabric stash, I found this Beatrix Potter cotton print that I had purchased many years ago. This was perfect for our little friend who has been watching the sweet animated cartoons for the last year or so with her little brother.
I decided to stuff some whole clove pieces in with the quilt batting to give them a pleasant scent during tea time play.
I decorated a little storage box that was easy to open and close and included a set of four demitasse-sized spoons from Ikea. I lined both the tea box and the spoon box with pieces of felt for beauty and softness.
It came together so nicely and my seven year old requested some to be made for her kitchen.








In the meantime, I decided to break into my Christmas fabric stash bought on sale after Christmas last year. And while searching for project ideas, I decided to just continue the tea bag theme, this time adding a dash of peppermint flavoring to the quilt batting. The tea is ready!






Saturday, October 29, 2016

earlier in October

October feels like May going the opposite direction. At the beginning of May around here, spring is just really starting to show itself in leaf buds and uprising flower bulbs. By the end of May, everywhere you look is full on green, insects and birds are busy inspecting all this new growth and warm days have you putting away the heavy coats and sweaters.
Now, rewind all that and you get October. Still so much green turning yellow turning red and orange, but as the month creeps on, the colder temperatures shock the system into scrounging for warm clothes and hats and mittens. Then suddenly there are more leaves on the ground than on the trees and everywhere you walk, your path is softened by leaf litter, the best specimens tucked into many different books to keep flat as they dry and maybe even waxed later.
The frost dates become numbers on the roulette wheel as I take chances on frost warnings, covering carefully and faithfully and then that one night I forget or miss the weather report and find myself making tear water tea in the morning. 
Almost two weeks ago, I woke to find a heavy, heavy frost had settled so I grieved over the loss of my uncovered celery. I did not go out into garden for almost 48 hours and upon closer inspection of the celery leaves, I broke a stem in disbelief that my celery crop had been apparently spared. The week that followed brought very warm and comfortable temperatures and I made a date with the celery to harvest it in the rain this past Saturday. 
The carrots were harvested in stages as needed for the soup pot and by two little cousins playing in the garden on Thanksgiving weekend.








































Is this post too long? I just mentioned Thanksgiving so I thought I would slip in some photos from that weekend.
Once I had the kitchen under control and the tablecloth kind of ironed, I took a few minutes to raid the garden for some floral centerpieces. The flowers are legit, zinnias and marigolds. It's the greens that look suspicious: celery leaves and carrot tops, thyme and oregano. Somehow it all seemed to work and the arrangements lasted for close to two weeks.
My husband is not big on centerpieces; he would prefer to not have to look through or over or around to see the food or his fellow diners. So I've learned to keep the table trinkets low-key and maneuverable.
The little girls' table also was given some attention this year, including a very exciting tea candle which was immediately the center of much attention as to when they would get to blow it out. It lasted a couple minutes after the last forkful of food had been consumed and then the candle was promptly extinguished. Ambiance appreciation comes with age, I think.