Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Milestone: Somersaults

Sven can do a somersault.

He's very proud of himself.  Up until tonight, he has needed someone to help him get his legs over his head.  But now he does it all by himself.  His obvious delight is pretty cute.

I think it is also pretty amazing.  Maybe this kind of gross-motor development is normal but it seems really advanced to me.  

Then again, he does nothing but practice.  All day long, he climbs on everything in sight.  Using his body in new ways is his only delight.  Toys don't entertain him at all; only challenging new spaces can capture his attention.  And failure doesn't bother him.  When he falls, he picks himself right back up with a laugh.  

As a result, Sven can do all kinds of things that surprise me:  
* He gets himself in and out of the bathtub (sometimes fully dressed).
* He goes up the stairs while holding onto the railing.
* He climbs the ladder to our neighbor's bunk bed.
* He sits on top of the child-sized table.
* He uses the play equipment at McDonald's.
* He pushes himself down the slides at the park and then tries to climb back up them.
* He does somersaults!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Carl Speaks

CARL:  Cat food tastes a lot worse than I thought.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Midsummer 2014

As Midsummer approached this year, I found myself thinking a lot about change.  The kind of change that John the Baptist advocated when he preached: "Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."  The summer solstice, which fell on Midsummer's Day this year, is a turning point in the Earth's seasonal dance.  And I wanted to make it a turning point in my life.  A time to make a change that would help me "prepare ... the way of the Lord" and "make his paths straight".

I prayed a lot in the days leading up to our Midsummer camping trip, hoping that I would have the change of heart I needed to make a change of habits.  I had a list of character defects and bad habits I felt particularly discouraged about and hoped that God would grant me the strength to be better.  He did just that but not in the way I was expecting.

I didn't really feel like I was receiving an answer to my prayers.  I didn't feel confident about going out into the desert and laying down a goal for myself.  And what I realized is that I can't change overnight.  Change in my life, like change in the seasons, is incremental.  And rather than casting off in one fell swoop all my weaknesses, God encouraged me to cast off my guilt.  To forgive myself as He has forgiven me.  To make my fresh start knowing full well that I would make mistakes.  And to spend less time obsession about the past and more time living in the moment.

It was a marvelous feeling: going out on our camping trip, casting off my burdens, and enjoying the moment.

Here are some of the things we did:

1. Before bugging out entirely, I taught a harp lesson in Provo.  Scott took all the boys to the Bean Life Science Museum at BYU.  They had a great time together, just the boys and all the taxidermied animals.  Seeing Scott successfully managing all three of his sons solo was a great start to the trip.  
2. It is a two-and-a-half hour drive to Topaz Mountain from Provo and, although we have been there many times before, we got lost this time.  And so it was about three-and-a-half hours.  Our portable DVD player only made it halfway.  So I taught the kids to sing "There's a Hole in the Middle of the Lake", which they requested over and over and over again.  
3. Sven, who was pretty upset about the car ride when he woke up from his nap, was very happy to arrive at Topaz Mountain.  It was like a giant sandbox!  We all checked our drinks before taking a sip every time, just to make sure that he hadn't added some local flavor.
4. Getting the site set up was an especial challenge this year because the wind was so fierce.  Our tent was blown down several times and Scott had a hard time getting the fire going.  But we opened the cooler and let the kids enjoy whatever snacks they wanted, which significantly improved morale.  
5. We hiked up into the mountain to look at wildlife and do some shooting (at targets).  Scott gets into teacher mode whenever we are out in the wild, which is fun to see.  He pointed out lizards and gopher droppings and rock formations.  There was a giant lizard that followed us around for a while, much to the kids amusement.  Most excitingly, we found an intact snake skin, complete with eye coverings!  The shedding snake is a symbol of rebirth, which seemed appropriate, given the season.
6. We had the best hot dogs for dinner: cheddar wurst.  We also took a stab at dutch oven cobbler, which turned out pretty gross.  Only Sven really seemed to enjoy it.  Oh, well.  We learned something valuable.
7. I was able to coax Carl into singing around the campfire with me.  He was a good sport about it, which was fun for me.  We took turns picking songs to sing; "There's a Hole in the Middle of the Lake" was still a favorite.  Amusingly, the kids protested whenever I picked a Primary song.  "No church music!" they would say.  I didn't push my luck because, after all, I was just glad to have someone willing to sing with me.
8. Carl got tired of sitting around the fire once the food was finished so he went to bed first.  Soren stayed up to watch the stars come out.  Although I attempted to put Sven down as soon as he looked tired, he didn't want to go but stayed up snuggling on Scott's lap.  When the boys were finally all sleeping in the tent, Scott and I stayed up to enjoy the quiet night.  Getting away from civilizations ambient noise is one of my favorite things about Topaz Mountain.
9. The next day, we couldn't get a fire started.  It was too windy.  So we had granola bars for breakfast.  (Sven had more gross cobbler.)  
10. We did some more shooting a little closer to the campsite.  I used Scott's revolver and actually hit a glass bottle!  That was enough for me but Soren wanted Scott to shoot his very loud rifle, which he was happy to do.  We had a repeat of last year's lessons about how to be safe around firearms and how a gun works.  
11. And, after that, Sven just wanted to go home.  He'd had enough of family vacation.  He cried at the car door until I let him in and then he just huddled in his carseat, waiting for us to pack up.  Fortunately, he slept most of the way home.
12. We stopped at the only our favorite malt shop in  Nephi for chicken nuggets and shakes.  There is a park across the street, which makes it a great place for a mid-way stretch your legs.  We had to do a lot of pushing our kids on swings but it certainly refreshed our spirits.
13. One of the best things about the Topaz Mountain trip is getting home.  No, seriously.  Getting a shower, sleeping on a bed, using a toilet ... these are luxuries you really don't appreciate until you have spent some time away.  I love the peace and the stars, the bugs and the animals, the closeness and the adventure of our favorite camping spot.  But I definitely prefer home.  Especially since I left my guilt behind in the desert.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Best Things About Sven (at 15 months)

1. I love his smile in the morning.
2. I love how friendly he is.
3. I love the way he climbs into my lap and snuggles me.
4. I love it when he brings me books to read.
5. I love that he doesn't fight me about diaper changes.
6. I love it when he gets measuring cups and pretends (messily) to measure the rice in the pantry.
7. I love that he understands lots of simple requests.
8. I love that he is experimenting with lots of words.
9. I love the way he giggles and smiles in anticipation of impending rough-housing.
10. I love that he cleans up his own toys.
11. I love that he takes two naps a day!
12. I love the way he looks at me when he wants me to chase him.
13. I love how confidently he walks.
14. I love it when he brings me shoes; it's a way of asking me to take him outside.
15. I love to carry him in my baby backpack.
16. I love to kiss his chunky baby cheeks.
17. I love it when he tries to comb his hair or brush his teeth.
18. I love to watch him play with Chomsky, the cat.
19. I love that he wants to be where his brothers are and do what they are doing: biking, LEGOing, puzzling, and drawing.
20. I love to rock him in the rocking chair while we read stories at the end of the day.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Homeschool in May

School's out for the summer!

We finished the Kindergarten year strong with two really awesome units and a pretty consistent schedule.  That feels really good.  I also spent a lot of time this month thinking about what I will do next year!  I am planning to keep with the Waldorf-y stuff for Carl but I think that Soren (who will be in first grade) would benefit from a more rigorous and varied curriculum.  So I've been exploring our options, which is daunting as well as exciting.

Soren is so ready for first grade.  He is bored with the many repetitions inherent to our Kindergarten structure.  He is also excited about formal math instruction, getting his own library card, reading Grimms' fairy tales, and possibly learning to play the piano.  He has asked me several times in the last month to start first grade early.  I am glad that he's excited about it and glad that I have three months to get it exciting for him.

Carl, on the other hand, has loved every minute of Kindergarten.  He especially likes having other kids in the neighborhood join us on a regular basis.  He enjoys the stories so much that he looks for books about them at the library, wanting to continue them beyond the bounds of our school time.  He also incorporates them into his free play, drawing pictures and making up games about them.  He kind of wants to learn to read but not enough to sit down and do daily lessons, which is fine by me.  If he asks, we work on it.  And if he waits until first grade to learn, that would be awesome.  I can think of nothing better for him than another year of play.

In the meantime, summer is here!  Our plan is to learn new chores, play outside every day, read lots of books, and get ready for a new school year.  I am so excited!

In Kindergarten

Thumbelina - This was my last unit for the year so I pulled out all the stops.  The story I told was adapted from the Hans Christian Anderson Tale, a simplified version I found in The Book of Virtues.  It includes Thumbelina's rescue of the wounded swallow, which our visiting girls (Kylie and Evelyn) enjoyed very much.  Because I wanted to keep it fresh for Soren, I tried to vary the telling of the story a little every day.  One day, we did a finger puppet show.  On another, I played a Thumbelina song on my lap harp.  The kids told the story for one of the days and on the last day, we used a beautiful picture book of the original story.  I wanted to make thumb cookies for one of our projects but I didn't think of it until the last day.  For nursery rhymes, there was "The Wee Melodie Man", "Little Tommy Tittlemouse", and "There was an Old Woman", all rhymes about little people.

Robin Hood and Little John - For Megan's last unit, she told the story of Robin Hood and Little John.  Soren was, apparently, very distressed by her opening, which talked all about how Robin Hood was an outlaw.  But the story did inspire some awesome stick fights.

Monday, May 5, 2014


I have been taking a mom-cation.  This means that I have been doing the bare minimum to keep my children fed and clothed while working on other projects.

I haven't been doing homeschool.  I've skipped helping them with chores most days.  I haven't really been cooking all that much and I haven't scrubbed or bleached anything.  I haven't been doing boundary training with Sven or teaching Carl to read.  I have even tried to sneak out of story reading and song singing at bedtime.

It's been all right.  My children are still alive.  And, surprisingly, they are still (mostly) happy.

But I'm back.  I'm ready to be a parent again and not just a babysitter.  I'm ready to go on walks and supervise art projects.  I'm ready to kiss boo-boos and custom cut peanut butter sandwiches.  Wait, scratch that last one.  I never did that in the first place.

Let's just say I'm back in the game.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Homeschool in April

I have thinking a lot about what I should post this month.  I thought about posting and pretending that everything had gone according to plan.  I thought about posting and leaving out the slacker bits.  I also thought about not posting at all.

I decided that honesty was the best policy.

So here's the honest truth: I just didn't want to do it this month.  So I didn't.

We had an awesome one-week long unit to start the month.  Then we had a very, very long spring break.

Part of the problem was that my neighbor went on vacation.  And I went on vacation.  And there was some time in between when neither of us had a lot of gumption.  And since I didn't have any kids but my own to teach for most of the month, it was very easy for me to opt out.

This is worrisome.  I cannot let this kind of thing happen next year when Soren is doing first grade.

Don't you want to know what I was doing while the kids were running free range?  I was writing a novel.  It's pretty cool.  But I'm having a very hard time finding the balance I desperately need if this is going to continue.  Because I can't spend all day writing and admiring my writing.  If I do that, I won't have time for my regular household responsibilities, not to mention homeschool.

May is a new month.  And it's he last month of our homeschool year.  I am going to finish strong.

In Kindergarten

The Selfish Giant - I love this story by Oscar Wilde and I thought it would be perfect to prepare the kids for Easter.  I won't spoil it for you but I will say that it features all the right things for a Kindergarten story: lots of seasonal details, fantasy elements, and an overtly Christian allegory.  I paired this story with a fun circle game to celebrate springtime.  The kids took turns wearing a green cape and floral crown and dancing around our circle as the personification of springtime.  I made sure to invite all the little girls in our neighborhood for this unit, which was a fun change from our all-boy class.  For nursery rhymes I used "Mary, Mary Quite Contrary" and "Round and Round the Garden".  We also sang "For the Beauty of the Earth".  If I had been thinking ahead, we would have learned "Christ the Lord is Risen Today".

The Nest of Gold and Willie and the Oriole - I did do Kindergarten two other times this month and I chose a different story for each of those Circle Times.  Both stories were about birds (a robin and an oriole) making nests, which seemed appropriate for the season.  After telling the stories, I showed the boys pictures of the birds on the internet and we listened to their calls.  Soren was especially excited about the bird call recordings.