Saturday, October 29, 2011

Seasonal Confusion

When it snows in Maryland in October these native Marylanders just don’t know how to handle it. 072
“Ummm…I think there’s something about hats…? Well, I’ll just rub my bellybutton and scowl at Mom until she steps in.”

Take a look at who were born in Michigan though, and we see people who know just what to do with winter weather:




There’ll be a good deal of Fall still to come down here but today got me all excited for winter! Hopefully this early snow portends lots more for this winter! We’ll have to get those Marylanders up to speed though…

Friday, October 28, 2011

Quick Takes Friday–The Money Beets

Here are five ideas, one of which I think is good enough to make me money and the other three are good enough to make someone else money. These are the “money-beets.” Bonus points for recognizing that quote.

First: Using Plexiglas as a modern day slate. This one I’m super proud of. Last year I started putting all of our worksheets (math, spelling, etc.) into plastic sleeve protectors and writing with a dry erase marker instead of using them as consumable workbooks or copying them which is likely more expensive then consuming them. This is a decent idea. But last week lighting struck and I took it to the next level! I got a piece of Plexiglas (out of an outdoor table) and laid it over the workbook and used it like a slate. I need to add a large binder clip to the top to steady it and need to cut a piece down to the right size but it’s a great idea. This saves you from having to rip out all the pages and put them in plastic sleeves (quite time consuming, especially if you reuse the plastic sleeves with new pages each term). Also, no time consuming erasing of each page at the end of the term, it has to be done right away. LOVE IT.

Photo Oct 27, 12 24 00 PM

Second: This one I shared here before but it’s worth repeating. If, and when, you get majorly backed up on laundry take yourself, a bag of quarters, load of the car and fill all the machines at the Laundromat at once. You will be done with weeks worth of laundry $20 and 2 hours later.

Third: Use diaper pins to pin three corners of the top sheet and bedspread of the kids bed to their fitted sheet. They can then make their bed no matter how little they are. AND the sheets and blankets are off limits for fort building which, I’m sure you know, is a huge mess-reducer. (I don’t want to ruin the fort-making fun though…I have a whole bin of old blankets and pieces of material for fort building. In the basement. Thanks you Ginny Seuffert (?) for the diaper pin idea.

Fourth: Bulk pregnancy tests. There’s no reason to go broke at the grocery store or pharmacy. Also, if you are in a hurry then the dollar store carries them too. Also, if you are near the time of your expected period there’s no need to wait until the “first morning pee.” Not that I have any experience with that.

Fifth: And if you get a surprise positive from that test you might in the market for a newborn size onesie that reads, “Phase One- it’s shorter then you think.” Thanks to Kristina L. for the last two brilliant ideas.

Visit Jen for other people’s Quick Takes.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

An undiscovered goldmine

So the first week back from vacation was a little rough. It seemed like let down after let down. And it was quite a bummer since I had been relatively satisfied with my life before going, bringing into question the wisdom of going on vacation at all. But things have settled back down and life is now enriched so far beyond what it was B.V. It was the right decision.
God love the children but man, do they suck the you out of you. I’d rather have this problem then the other. In other words, I’d rather have selfishness dragged out of me by these little people then letting it grow as my insulation from discomfort grows; the fate which might have happened to me without them. But surely there’s a way to have the selfishness dragged out without the self being dragged out with it. As parents we need to hang onto who we are outside of our office of mommy and daddy for three main reasons.
One, yourself. Waking up one day after 20-30 years of parenting to the fact that you are a person(!)just like all those other people out there is no way to spend a life. That person would be much happier having experienced life and participated in it then to to have (exclusively) facilitated it for everyone around them. Facilitate, by all means, but participate also.
Two, your spouse. They married you, not “mommy”, not “daddy”. The marriage relationship no doubt grows and deepens in the great partnership that is Parenthood. But there is something more foundational then that bond. It is the bond of matrimony. It took me a full day to disentangle myself from my role as mother (the image of all those little hands grasping and pulling at me is what comes to mind) and to disassociate John from his role as daddy in order to get down to basics again: Him and me and God. I would also be sad to wake up in twenty or thirty years and realize that either this wonderful relationship was there all along and we could have been enjoying each other this whole time, or…God forbid…that it’s been at the bottom of the pile for so long that you can no longer find it.
Third, your children. Parents so decidedly set the tone in the home but all too often we actually give up that power to the hooligans because we are reacting to their antics rather than raising ourselves and the others above them. Since vacation John and I have been so much more connected to ourselves and each other that the kids frequent unpleasantness doesn’t have nearly the same power of transformation over the home as it had before. We set the tone again. And, being reasonable adults instead of pintsized-loons, the tone is much pleasanter. Go figger. In fact, those pintsized-loons deserve to grow up in a happy, pleasant, even – dare I say it? – joyful home, even when it seems that they are dead-set on sabotaging that plan.
Will this last? For a while. Will the hooligans take over again? Almost certainly. What then? Another vacation. Regular retreats enrich the life that we’ve chosen. I initially thought of this vacation as a once-in-a-lifetime experience and came soon to realize that it can’t be, it’s simply too important to treat as a luxury. Jamaica…well, Jamaica can be a luxury. But the retreat? The connecting to yourself, your spouse and God? I have tasted and have seen…there’s no going back now. There’s only one way to really enjoy those kids – to get away from them…sometimes!
October 111

Monday, October 17, 2011

Oh incongruity, thy name is vacation

What a morning in Jamaica looks like

What a morning at home looks like

The company I kept in Jamaica

The company that keeps me at home

My surroundings in Jamaica
My surroundings at home
The real me is back to my real life. Re-entry is definitely causing some whiplash but ultimately regular life will be enhanced and brought into clearer vision after such a complete and clear break from it for a few days. Incongruous though that may seem.
And in the interest of full-disclosure the pictures of vacation-Love-life are in real-time but the pictures of homebound-Love-life are figurative. The laundry was all clean and folded when I got home, thanks to the over-the-top care that my mom and sister-in-law took of the kids and house while we lived like rock-stars in Ocho Rios. Thanks and gratitude can not be overstated!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

iPad as homeschooling tool

Note: I wrote this last week and randomly scheduled it to publish today and forgot all about it...when I saw that it had posted I was struck by the serendipity of the situation. As I was doing some school prep on my iPad last night an AP news alert popped up, "Apple reports that Steve Jobs has died." I'm glad to have something with which to honor Steve Jobs this morning. I, for one, am grateful that his mom chose life and gave him up for adoption instead of the alternative, and that he then went on to persevere and share his gifts and vision with the world. Grant eternal rest unto him and may he rest in peace.

This iPad situation ought to be discussed. I realize that I railed againt technology the last time I mentioned it. But, "doth not the appetite alter? A man loves the meat in his youth that he cannot endure in his age! Shall quips and sentences and these paper bullets of the brain awe a man from the career of his humour? No!" The iPad must be used! I use my iPad almost exclusively as a tool. A tool for EVERYTHING IN MY LIFE. This is my homeschooling edition of "why the iPad is better the sliced bread" series. In all seriousness though, I do hope that this answers questions that people have about whether or not to get an iPad and then how to use it to it's best advantage. It may bore most of you though so here's the summary: How did my mom homeschool me without an iPad?

Specific school related uses for me are...
1. Audiobooks app. It's libravox (free audiobooks) in an app and you can download whole audio books onto your device and use it offline , i.e. anywhere.
2. Kindle/iBooks apps. Same as above. Free books...
We use the audiobook and iBook at the same time, we listen to the audio and follow along with our eyes.3. I have downloaded all textbooks and teachers guides (sotw activity guide and text, Salsa TG, homeschool in the woods timeline figures, etc.) that I can so I'm hauling less, a lot less. More school on the go and more school outside.
4. I put all of the CDs that we need for the year into my iPads iTunes account. This year we are using IEWs, poetry memorization CDs, and SOTW audio , various christian music for devotions, and all of our music for our composer study. No more misplacing CDs! [Friday Anthony and I laid out in our backyard watching the clouds go by while listening to our Mozart and to Grammarland...wouldn't have done that if I'd needed the computer and cd player.]
5. I use Evernote as a a homeschool journal, I can take pictures with the iPad of our little projects and field trips and write as much or as little as I want. It's so much easier to do it on the go then try to remember later. I can't say enough about Evernote, it's got load of uses other then this...more on that in a later post).
6. Not to mention the calendar function...lesson plans, field trips, co ops, all synced with my computer and my husbands work schedule.
7. File storage. All of my excel and word documents I store in Dropbox so I can access them from any of our computers or my iPad. So my school schedule, all my templates for planning things, resources, library book lists, etc. With Documents To Go you can also edit and create them. I'm never without my important information.
8. I actually don't use it for drills or educational games much because I use it for my home organization so much. but I do use Chore Pad HD for a chore chart with the kids and it As Christine put it, "nobel peace prize worthy".
9. Netflix, all there educational videos anywhere, anytime.
10. Nature study resources. We have Peterson guide apps, tree identification apps and Handbook of Nature study on there. Nature hikes are much lighter now.

I would never do any of these things on a computer because it would be too clumsy. The iPad is so easily portable but not a tiny screen and weird keyboard like a phone. It is "the marriage of two minds." (Gosh, pardon the excessive use of Shakespeare here, I don't know what's come over me.)

As an do not need to pay for a data package every month necessarily. I pay $20 for a prepaid plan that I can turn off and on at will and it is a lot more economical then the $50/mnth min. That the phone companies try to get you on.

And that is just the school stuff! Don't get me started on grocery lists and recipe storage, on packing lists and to do lists, trip planning, maps, audio libraries, garden tracking and planning, DVR management!
I'm pretty sure that there must be an app that cleans my house and changes diapers. It is unREAL how many things it does. Sometimes I think it must be magic because surely technology can't be this awesome.
And I am not a techy AT ALL. I don't even like technology most of the time. But this puppy is worth every penny. Just make sure you get the biggest size you can, you'll use all the space.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

More Rosieisms

On finding a toy shark in the backyard, long buried in the meadow lawn:
"I rememorize that shark!"

On watching America: The Story of Us
Shaking her head dejectedly...
Rosie: It's too bad they killed those Red Coats.
Anthony: No it's not. The Red Coats are the bad guys in this war.
Rosie: Oh. But...they're cooooool.

On watching What Not to Wear with mommy:
"That shirt is just freaking me out! It's so beautiful."

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Funnel Cakes

Here are my kids at the County Fair...and here's our funnel cake. Mmmmm....fried dough and powdered suger, what's not to love? Well, my kids poked it for a while, licked it a bit and then decided to run races on the empty picnic tables around us. Rosie persisted a little bit longer then the rest but in the end, joined the others, saying to me, "Mommy...I don't like this kind of chicken anymore."
The jury is still out on whether this is a commentary on my chicken or the Fair's funnel cake...