Saturday, September 6, 2014


My first week of homeschooling has been surprisingly draining.

Before the big first day, I felt mostly excitement.  My research was done and my choices were made.  My plans were in place and I was confident in them.  My son was eager and ready to learn.

I thought that homeschooling would be either a) a blast or b) not that different from normal life.

It was both of those things.  But it was neither.

That makes no sense and yet it is true.  My first week homeschooling was both fun and terrifying.  And while it was not that different from normal parenting, I felt different and not in entirely positive ways.  All of a sudden, I felt afraid.  Afraid of falling short, of messing up, of unforeseeable complications and very real impending complications, of missing things, of going too fast or too slow, of getting bored, of being isolated, of everything.

And while I have plenty of good coping mechanisms for dealing with these issues, they have still been draining a lot of my mental resources.  The wheels in my head have been spinning along the same non-productive paths all week and by the end, my brain felt like an exhausted hamster.  It wasn't the schoolwork or the kids that zapped me dry.  It was the worrying.

But this post isn't about what took it out of me.  It's about what gave it all back (and more).

I went to a church meeting tonight.  It was just what I needed.  I had been looking for refreshment all day and couldn't find it anywhere else.  There, at the meeting, I found it in spades.  I am so grateful for that tender mercy.

The best things about the meeting, though, weren't exclusive to that environment.  I realized that I don't need to wait for a great church meeting to be refueled.  I can carry this feeling with me through my worrying and my working if I bring the best of that meeting into my home.

These are the parts that really touched me:

1. The music.  The singing of hymns has a very powerful effect on me.  More than any other part of the meeting, it was while we sang that I felt my mind and heart being healed.  And I can sing anytime I like!  I feel certain that if I fill my time with singing and my home with good music, that will go a long way toward lifting me up.  I used to sing a lot more to go with the rhythm of my days.  I had songs for waking up the kids, songs for doing our chores, songs for going out to play, songs for taking a walk, and songs for snuggling up at bedtime.  I was always actively memorizing a song.  I want to be that way again.

2. The stories.  There was good doctrine taught but--ah!--the stories!  Good stories are so nourishing for the soul!  In my homeschool, I know how important it is to feed my children good stories from the best books.  I need to take that same care with myself.  Rather than surfing the internet and reading what often amounts to poorly written drivel, I want to spend more of my time in good books.  And in The Good Book.  Any recommendations would be welcome.

3. The praying.  There's really nothing better for the soul than really talking to God.  When I lay my concerns at his feet, I feel that I can finally lay them to rest.  He helps to make my thoughts about them productive rather than circuitous.  And He reminds me about what's really important.  Those reminders fill me with hope.  Because God has a plan for what is really important.  And it's a plan that has provided generous accommodations for my weakness.  This reminds me of a lesson from the Lorenzo Snow manual which said, "When we seek God's will, we follow a course in which there will be no failure."  I feel that confidence when I pray.

These three things are going to make a big difference in my second homeschooling week.  I am grateful that I was able to go to my church meeting this evening; it revitalized me when I desperately needed it.  But it also taught me how to revitalize myself.

That's one less thing I have to worry about.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Four Reasons Why Four Boys are Better Than Three

I am pregnant with another boy!  I was surprised by how much this surprised me.  My mom only had three boys so, although I always wanted lots of boys, I really expected this one to be a girl.

He's not!

So, without further ado, here is my list of four reasons why four boys are better than three.

1. There's a sense of balance about four.  Everyone has a buddy!  Plus, the four of them can be a kick-butt team.  Think of all the awesome foursomes: the four Ninja Turtles, the four gospels, the four hobbits, the four horsemen of the apocalypse, the four skillful brothers, the four Hogwarts houses, the three Musketeers (who are actually four), the four Ghostbusters, and the four archangels.  In a great foursome, each person has unique and necessary skills that aid in the accomplishment of the groups goals.  I hope that my four boys can be that kind of team.

2. The symbolic aspect of four suggests completion as it is a representation of all earthly things.  There are four seasons.  Four cardinal directions.  Four elements.  Four humors/temperaments.  And four Duede boys.  When I think about it like this, it feels right that we should have another boy.  How could it have been any other way?

3. I had three brothers and it was a blast.  I know that a sister's relationship to her brothers is probably different from a brother's relationship to his brothers but it still makes me feel glad to think that my boys will all have this in common with me.  They will all have (at least) three brothers.  I enjoyed it.  I hope they do, too.

4. Even though I am having "another" boy, there really is nothing "another" about each new child.  All of my boys up to this point have been very different from each other.  Each has been new and surprising in some ways.  They didn't have to be a different gender to be delightfully different.  This child will also be unique.  Although he will be "another" boy, first and foremost he will be a new human.  Why are four boys better than three?  Because I am excited to know this one.

Carl's Fifth Birthday

I think that this has been the most anticipated birthday in the history of the Duede family.  Carl has been dreaming and talking and planning for his 5th birthday all summer long.  He was relatively gracious about my many amendments to his grandiose schemes and I think that he had a pretty good day in the end.  I take it as a good sign that he prays almost daily: "Thank you that I am five."

This is what we did to celebrate:

1. First thing in the morning, he opened a couple of presents.  There was new chalk from his dad and a new bike from Grandma Berg.  (I was very grateful to finally get that bike out of my storage unit where it has been hiding for the past two months.)  Carl got up on the bike and whizzed along the driveway.  He told me, "I could ride this bike all day!"  Then I taught him how to use his new bike lock, which has a word combination.  He promptly taught Soren to do it for him and I'm not sure he has unlatched it himself ever since then.

2. Soren had bought a game at DI a few days previously, which he decided that morning was a birthday present for Carl.  He wrapped it up himself and presented it with pride.  The game did not include any rules (as it was used) and so the two of them made up their own.  They played on the rug in the living room for awhile until Carl got bored; he felt that the game involved too much of Soren calculating scores.

3. We made cupcakes, inspired by the cupcakes he had at a neighbor boy's birthday party last month.  He specified that they should have blue frosting, sprinkles, and Swedish fish on top.  So, after making and frosting the cupcakes, I let him sprinkle and be-fish them.  Then we drove to meet up with our neighbors at the Children's museum, where we ate said cupcakes and then played for a good two hours.

3. Since the Children's museum is close to Scott's work, we met up for lunch.  We used my birthday coupon to go to Tucano's where we all ate but paid for only one meal!  (Kids under seven are free!  Cool!)  Soren and Carl are such big boys, they went to the buffet and filled up their plates all by themselves.  For some reason, that was a big deal to me.  After the food, the servers came and sang Happy Birthday to Carl in Brazilian.  He was not as pleased as I thought he would be; he looked decidedly uncomfortable.

4. Here you can see the rainbow silk that I gave Carl as a birthday present.  He was pretty pleased with it.  He told me that it was softer than our other silks.  I don't think that's true but I was glad he liked it.  He told me that he could use it to be a rainbow superhero.

5. Some friends from the ward came over to play after naptime.  Carl's bike was the envy of the group and everyone took turns riding it.  We shared blue cupcakes with them, too.

6. I made Carl's favorite for dinner: orange chicken.  This is a favorite of everyone!

7. After dinner, I told Carl the birthday story.  This is the first time that I have been brave enough to do it in front of anyone else, even Scott.  But I think that Carl really enjoyed everyone listening attentively to a story about him.  During the part about what he learned each year, I tried to focus on a different aspect of his personality.  I talked about how social he was as a 1-year-old, learning to walk for hugs and learning to talk in clear, complete sentences by the time he went to nursery.  I talked about how creative he was as a 2-year-old, how he loved to play pretend, draw, and sing.  I talked about how strong he was as a 3-year-old, how he learned to ride a bike.  I talked about how brave he was as a 4-year-old, how he was excited to persevere through hard things and how he learned to swim even though going under the water was scary.  I told him that we were all excited to see how he grew and changed as a 5-year-old.

8. Then there was a big cake.  He made a secret wish and blew out all the candles (although it took two blows).

9. His birthday extended beyond August 20th.  In this picture, you can see how excited he was when the legos he ordered with Nan's gift card came in the mail:

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Soren Speaks

SOREN:  I have finally figured out what parents are.

SCOTT:  Is this the kind of thing that is going to get you sent to your room?

SOREN:  No.  They are what I don't like.  So when I grow up I'm going to have no wife and no kids ... and I will end this madness!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Boys Speak

SOREN:  Guess why the Jews lived in Judea?  Because they were Jews.

CARL:  Yeah.  Their last name is "-Ew" so they live in Jewdea.

SCOTT:  Well, the two things are not unrelated.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Best Things about Soren (at 6 and a 1/2)

1. He is generally cheerful and is generous with his good cheer.
2. He talks candidly about his anger, sorrow, and frustration.
3. He loves to read.  His favorite books are manga but I can occasionally catch him caught up in a good chapter book.
4. He has a wild and wonderful imagination.
5. He is excited about homeschooling and first grade.
6. He bonds readily to other adult authorities.  He loves his primary teachers and his swim teacher.
7. He has a beautiful, innocent faith in God's love.
8. He stands up for himself in increasingly positive ways.
9. He is enthusiastic about life and learning.
10. He helps me a lot.  (That is, when I can grab enough of his attention to make a request.)
11. When we go grocery shopping, he can fetch items from the next aisle over.
12. He can also fetch Sven when he toddles down the driveway.
13. He can assemble the ingredients when I am trying a new recipe.
14. He can execute all the different stages of the laundry chore: putting in a new load, switching the load, folding the clothes, and putting everything away.
15. He can play games with Carl and is a good sport.
16. He also can read to Carl and often does during their Brother Playtime.
17. He can dry the dishes lickety split.
18. He can take out the trash.  He enjoys that chore so much that he often volunteers to do it when he is bored.
19. He takes great pride in being able to do things on his own.
20. He has a big personality and I love it.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Carl Speaks

CARL:  Dear Heavenly Father, We're so grateful for this day.  Please bless our breakfast.  And please bless Mommy that she will remember to come and get these dinner leftovers off the table.