Thursday, April 3, 2014

Milestone: Steps

Sven has been experimenting a lot with walking this month.  Yesterday, he took 2 consecutive steps and I realized that it was time I recorded this milestone.

He has been taking one step to get to things for a while now.  Recently, he has learned to walk while I hold onto one hand (although he doesn't like to do it for long distances).  And he loves to use the walker his Grandma bought for his first birthday.

My friend told me a funny story about him recently.  She said that he was playing alone in her kids' room and she went to check on him.  He was standing in the middle of the room, shuffling his feet.  She said it looked like he was experimenting with walking.  But when she said, "Hi, Sven!", he looked up at her and then sat down.  Like he didn't want her to see him.  Sure enough, when she came back later, he was standing up again and shifting his weight between his feet as before.  He was practicing but he wanted some privacy to do it in.

With all that practice, I'm pretty sure it won't be long until he switches to walking as his primary mode of transportation.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Homeschool in March

Spring is here!  Oh joy!  The weather this whole month has been so fine and everyone seemed re-energized by the changing seasons.  Our homeschool has been blissfully sunny.

I have been thinking a lot this month about my responsibility as not only an educator, but an example of a learner.  If my children are going to take seriously this lifelong quest of growing in skill and knowledge, they need to see that I also take it seriously for myself.  So with that pep talk, I have been working on learning scary new skills a little bit everyday.  Like new music.  And writing speculative fiction.  And memorizing Mandarin vocabulary.  At first it was really scary, and then disheartening.  But now I am excited about the journey, which is exactly what I hope for my sons.

In Kindergarten

The Pancake - A friend recommended a lovely anthology to me called Nursery Tales from Around the World and from this anthology, I found the story for our first unit in March.  It is a variant on "The Gingerbread Man" that features a runaway pancake instead of a runaway cookie.  The kids really got a kick out of the story, especially Soren who quickly saw the similarities between this story and "The Gingerbread Man".  I had a great time accessorizing this story.  For nursery rhymes, I shared rhymes about baking ("Bat, Bat Come Under My Hat", "Patty Cake", and "Sing a Song of Sixpence") and we learned to sing "Merrily We Roll Along".  For our outdoor time, I taught the kids to do somersaults and they suggested that we play tag.  For our (art) projects, we painted plates to look like pancakes and frying pans, colored pictures from the story, and made pancakes (of course).  On the last day of the unit, all the kids had a chance to make up their own runaway food story.  I told a story about a runaway pizza, Soren about a runaway loaf of bread, Carl about a runaway egg, and Michael about a runaway cake.  The kids were so bright and happy; I really enjoyed teaching this unit.

The Little Blue Frog - Megan's unit this month was centered around a sweet (and sad) story from Korea.  She said it came from her favorite cooking blog.  Carl was surprised by the sad ending but everyone seemed to enjoy the story anyways.  I love bittersweet stories like that.  The kids made kimchee as part of this unit and said that they liked it.  (When I asked Megan about it later, she said that they were very positive about it but only ate half a bowl.)  I know that they sang "5 Green and Speckled Frogs" and learned to play "Leap Frog."

Friday, March 28, 2014

Friday Favorites

1. Carl and I have been doing reading lessons (almost) every day for a few weeks now.  The lessons are from a book called Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.  While the methodology of the book really grates against my ideals (aka "better late than early" and "no twaddle"), Carl is really happy to be learning.  And it's fun for us to spend that time together.  I feel an inordinate amount of pride at his burgeoning abilities.
2. My friend, Michelle, has been running up against a hard deadline for her writing class so I babysat her daughter (Kylie) every morning this week so that she could write.  Kylie and Carl have been really cute playing together.
3. Soren has been having trouble controlling his temper recently.  He has been getting mad (for legitimate reasons) and then grabbing the offender and punching them (which is a completely illegitimate response).  This is something I always think we are done with and then pops back up again a few months later.  The outbursts, however, have been followed by some really good talks between the two of us and a sincere desire on his part to be more patient next time.  I feel like there is some really teaching happening there, although it has yet to take hold in the moment of anger.  Just for clarification, the violence is not a favorite.  But the times that we have spent honestly discussing the problem are.
4. Visiting my siblings on Tuesday was really fun.  Timothy told me all about the drama in his apartment complex, which was immensely entertaining.  The weather was so fine, we ate lunch in the sculpture garden outside the MOA and then sat talking while the kids climbed on the pixelated ducks.
5. Megan is doing a really cute story in Kindergarten this unit called "The Little Blue Frog".  I went to help on Wednesday and got to hear it.  Her storytelling is engaging and just right for the kids.  I was really glad to sit in on her Circle Time and even more glad that my kids have been sitting in on her Circle Times all year.  Hooray for the homeschool co-op!
6. Also on Wednesday, we started a new role playing game.  This time, Megan is the DM.  I am really excited about being a character for a little while.
7. The freak snowfall yesterday made me appreciate the sunshine all the more today.  Spring is here and I am so excited!
8. This is totally bragging but ... in the My-Life-Is-A-Video-Game game that I made up, I have gotten to Level 5 every day this week.  It feels super to be working towards my goals every day.  It also feels busy (and sometimes a little draining).  I think I might be developing a better work ethic, though, which will serve me well as my family life gets more complicated.  For now, I will use my increased self-motivation to chip away at my creative goals.
9. Speaking of my creative goals, I had an epiphany about my protagonist today that has got me excited about my novel again.  I have been writing every day this week and it has been really discouraging.  But this morning, I made a real breakthrough on my main character.  Now I have to go back and scrap pretty much everything I have already written.  But that's ok, because it will be better now!
10. I got summoned by the court to appear as a witness in a trial next month.  So that will be interesting.
11. Sven has been doing longer and longer Room Times recently.  He enjoys playing by himself when he isn't constantly distracted by the possibility of playing with other people.  That's a relief right now, because when he isn't confined or currently being entertained by a parent, he is into everything.  And by everything I mean "all the stuff that babies can't play with".

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Different Children, Different Characters

Because I have been writing a lot recently, I've been thinking about plenty of different characters and trying to pin down what makes them distinct from each other.

As a by-product of this, I've been looking at my children through different eyes.  I have been looking at them as characters and watching to see how they will respond in different situations.  And since they are real life (and not the kind of flat fiction that comes unbidden from my clacking fingertips), they are each unique individuals.  They each respond differently to the same stimulus.  Part of that is because of the age differences between them but part of that is all personality.

Here's an example scenario.  This is real life, something that has happened to each of my kids, and they have all responded in a way that tells you something about the singularly special boy that they are.

Here's the scene:  The boy is wearing a T-shirt or sweatshirt with a recognizable superhero logo on it.  An adult notices and smiles at them, then greets them by the name of the superhero whose logo they are sporting.

Soren's response:  Indignation.  "I'm not Superman!  I'm [insert long, foreign-sounding name here]!"  And then he will boycott that article of clothing for the rest of his life.

Carl's response:  Glee and wonder.  "Mom!  That man called me Batman!"  And then he will check his hood to make sure that his bat ears are properly displayed to maximum effect.

Sven's response:  Affection.  "Eh!"  And then he will lean towards the speaker, reaching out his arms and resting his head on their chest if possible.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Singing Diapers


These are The Singing Diapers.  So Soren tells me.  When he folds and snaps up the diapers in the morning, he lays them out on the couch like this and explains to me that they are Singing Diapers.

"Some of them have three eyes and some of them have one," he says.  And he laughs like he just made a funny joke.

Soren's humor is often inscrutable.

But I think I know why The Singing Diapers sing.

Sven woke up from his nap this morning, full of smiles and pee.  I took him to the couch to change his diaper and announced, "Let's put on a Singing Diaper!"

Soren was coloring at the table but he whipped his head around and smiled so big I thought his face would crack.

"Then it will sing louder!"  He said joyfully.  I must have looked quizzically at him because he explained further, "Because he will toot!"  And then he laughed and I laughed, too.

I got that one.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Road Trip with Sven


This last week, I went on a long road trip with Scott and Sven.  Scott had a job interview in Roswell so we left Soren and Carl with neighbors and busted out the 13 hour drive down to New Mexico.  Then, after the interview, we drove the 13 hours back.

Talking hour after hour with my husband was really nice.  We never did get our book on tape working so we learned a lot about each other.  I came back with lots of ideas about how to be a better wife.  I also felt really excited to do something besides sit in a passenger seat.  That means I came back with lots of energy for working on my current goals (teaching, writing, harping, and homemaking).  So I loved being able to spend lots of our trip just talking.

However, for many of those hours, Sven was awake and requiring attention.  I kind of thought he would play happily with some toys we borrowed from our neighbors while enjoying diluted juice in a sippy cup.  While he did that for about five minutes, for most of the trip he wanted something more interactive.  Because he was not happy about being stuck in the car.

I brought a canister of sweet potato puffs, which I deposited one by one onto the baby's waiting tongue.  That would entertain him for 30 minutes at a time.

When the puffs could no longer hold off his boredom, I tried nursery rhymes.  He wasn't very impressed with those.

I tickled him with a toy car while making "Vroom" noises.  That got old for me a lot faster than it got old for him.

I read Baby Dress Up about a million times.  He wanted to lift the flaps over and over again but couldn't handle it by himself.  So I would hold the book open for him and exclaim, "Peek-a-boo!" whenever he revealed the costumed baby.  I had a bit more patience for that game.

He also liked songs.  That was the sweetest part of the trip: singing his rage to drowsiness and then to sleep.  I sang all the lullabies I know, which took me on a walk down memory lane.  It reminded me of singing to Carl and Soren when they were babies.  Some of those lullabies don't get used around our house very much anymore.

He would be so happy when the car stopped and I would unbuckle his carseat.  He fits so cozily on my hip.  And he loved crawling around on the floor at fast food places and I, germaphile that I am, just let him do it.  He would explore a bit, come back and squawk at me, receive a french fry, and then hurry off again.

The saddest part was looking at his face while I buckled him back into his carseat.  Heartbreak.

Being the amiable baby that he is, though, he wouldn't cry about it for too long.  Especially if I was willing to begin the entertainment circuit again.  More sweet puffs, more hidden babies in adorable costumes, more songs and games.

This trip was much much easier than the trip we took last summer when he was five months.  It was a bonding trip, rather than just a scream-fest to be endured.  That said, bonding isn't quite the blissfully romantic experience I sometimes expect it to be.

I was happy to get home and be done bonding.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Favorites

1. Soren made a Minecraft Alphabet book for the baby.  Since he couldn't think up items in the game for all of the letters, he made up some of his own.  Like "U is for urine".  His pictures, which are all pixelated are really cool.
2.  Kindergarten this week was AWESOME.  I will probably write all about it in my monthly homeschool update but I just want to say right now that I was really happy with school this week.  It was fun.
3. We played Robot Turtles for our FHE game on Monday night.  This is a new game that we got last month and I really love it.  It teaches kids about basic computation and is really fun.  The goal is to navigate the turtles through a maze (which changes every time) to reach a jewel in the center.  I got to be the "Robot Mover", which means that I pretty much played the role of the computer.  The kids wrote "programs" for their turtles and I executed them.  While making goofy robot noises.
4. The boys got invited to a birthday party at Jump Around Utah on Tuesday night.  Even though my day was super busy, it was still worth it to tag on one more thing just to see their faces while they jumped.  Even Sven had a wonderful time.
5. I wrote a scene in my book on Wednesday that made me really happy.  Mostly, writing has been a rather draining endeavor.  But on Wednesday, I wrote something that I was emotionally involved in and it was exhilarating!
6. Carl and Kylie have been best buds this week.  They have been pretending to be Link and Zelda; it's really cute.
7. Friday was Pi Day!  I made five pies and my neighbors brought over two more.  We had a big pie picnic on the lawn.  The highlight of the event for me was that Emiline came; she's a woman from our ward that I really admire.  I invited her rather last minute and didn't think she would come but she did and seemed to have a good time.  Yeah!
8. Also on Friday, Scott was raised to Master Mason.  He is almost a dues-paying member of his lodge!  I am really glad that he is finally doing the Free Mason thing and that it is every bit as awesome as he thought it would be.  I love to hear his thoughts on the history and the philosophy of masonry and I love the way that going to lodge meetings lights him up inside.  I love how it is strengthening our love of the gospel as well as providing opportunities for Scott to grow into the kind of man he wants to be.
9.  Did I mention the pies?  I made: 2 chicken pot pies, apple pie, berry pie, and key lime pie.  Darcy made a huge (and beautiful) chocolate pie.  Megan made a chess pie.  The chocolate went the fastest.  The chicken pot pie got the most raves.  The apple was my favorite.