Sunday, April 20, 2014

A Day in the Life--April

 I'm linking up with Tristan at Our Busy Homeschool :)

The kids have loved reading over our past few “Day in the Life” journal entries.  They think I choose  boring days, though.

“Mom!  You need to choose a day when something happens to write about!”  they nearly chorus.  “Write about a day when we go to dance!”

Today--Thursday, April 10--is a dance performance day.  

It is a day when much will happen.


Frustratingly enough, my day begins at 2:46 am when I2 wakes up thirsty.  He takes it upon himself to bring his empty cup to me, which doesn’t seem like a problem at all as I fill it, give it to him, and tuck him happily back in his bed.  He seems perfectly content.

Before I can even go back to bed, H4 cries out.  She’s fighting a cold . . . and losing.  She has to dance today, so I gave her garlic and honey before going to bed last night.  She’s sleeping better than the night before, but now she’s awake and afraid, “I heard a dog, Mom.  I think it is the men who broke into our van.”

(I suppress a flash of anger; our van has been broken into 4 times in 3 months.  It won’t fit in the garage, so it has to be left out in the open.  No one has been hurt, and only a few dollars have been stolen, but clearly my 4 year old’s sense of safety has been violated.)

“It’s just the neighbor’s dog.  Our van is safe.  You can sleep.”

She trusts me, “Okay, Mommy.”

I hope I have told the truth.

I go back to bed only to have I2 come join me.  He’s wide awake.  “You can sleep with Mommy, but you may not talk,” I whisper, “It’s sleeping time.”

“Okay, Mommy,” he whispers back around the binky in his mouth.

He’s restless.  We lie in silence, but I cannot sleep because I feel him moving, moving, moving near me.

After 45 minutes H4 cries out.  I wait to see if it is a sleep cry or if she needs me.  

It is just a sleep cry.

I2 climbs out of bed.
“Where are you going?” I ask.

“My hrhoom” he says.

“Okay.  That’s a good idea, “ I reply and follow him down the hall to his bedroom.  I tuck him happily into his bed once again.

It lasts less than 30 seconds.  Before I can even lay my head on my pillow he’s back, climbing into bed with me.

“It is night time,“ I say firmly.  “It is time to sleep.”

“Okay, Mommy,” he sweetly answers.

But he cannot sleep.

And H4 needs me again because her cold symptoms are irritating her and she cannot sleep.
Sometime after 5:00 am I doze off.  

I wake at 6:19 am.

Time to get up.

I head to the kitchen.  I give in to temptation and take a few leftover picnic cookies and a cup of milk over to the computer where I begin drafting this post.  I would normally start my day with prayer and scripture study, but I am tired and unfocused.  I realize I will focus better on my scripture study if I get these words out of my head and on paper, but I have written long enough.  S11 is awake, and because my scriptures are not out, she is talking to me.  
It is 6:52 am.

I spend the next half hour reading and journaling Mosiah 8 from The Book of Mormon along with Doctrine and Covenants 103.  They aren't necessarily related, but I'm reading from The Book of Mormon because I'm doing Personal Progress with 2 of my daughters, and I'm working my way through the Doctrine and Covenants because I've wanted to for a long time.
After that more kids are awake and doing chores around me.  As I2 sits at the counter eating some graham crackers and milk, I start printing copies of the show order and directions to the show location.  I get very frustrated trying to find the emails I need as they are embedded in long email conversations between members of the performance group.  

E14 is only 6 days away from being allowed to wear makeup.  She’s been experimenting with it this morning.  She comes to show off her artistry.  She wears it well—accenting her best features with a subtlety that surprises me.  I compliment her.

I also get another request from E14 and S11’s birth mom to visit them.  For a while we stopped visits because she got so unstable, but she’s claiming she’s in good shape again, and has been pleading for visits for over a year now.  Happily we have a family wedding to attend in August, so I’m able to tell her we’ll be in her neck of the woods at the end of the summer.  I copy the social worker in on our email so that she can reserve the conference room at her office on one of the dates I suggest.

E14 is furious.
S11 is curious.
I’m caught in the middle.   Visiting her is both a blessing and a curse.   I know the blessings outweigh the hurts, but I wish it were easier . . . for all of us. 

Map, instructions, and show order finally printed and stowed in my bag, I turn to prepare breakfast.  But for a moment I pause because M12 comes up behind me and starts braiding my hair—heaven!

While I get oatmeal and blueberries set out along with the necessary dishes and toppings, E14 practices the piano, S11 works on her math drills on the computer, and J10 teaches I2 how to empty the dishwasher.  He is perched on a stool, and she is the picture of patience as she hands him one utensil at a time and waits for him to find the right place in the drawer.

We have our morning devotional and review the day ahead while we eat.

After breakfast I gather the girls to practice their “Sisters” number for the show.

Then Daddy gets home from work.  I welcome him, give him some breakfast, and clean up the kitchen while he eats.  He talks about his night (a patient coded and died!) while A7 plays with her gem and mineral collection, the older girls work on their independent school work, H4 gets dressed, and I2 plays with his Nemo puppet.

I try to get dressed, and get as far as brushing my teeth and hair, but H4 begins crying when S11 tells her to stop playing the piano.  I have to uphold the “No piano during school hours” rule (a frustrating rule, but the sound can be heard all over the house and distracts the older girls).  She is really mad, so I hold her on my lap.  She seemed to be feeling better when she woke up this morning, but I wonder if she’s still fighting that cold.  I’m about to offer to read her some stories when she says, “Can I just do my school?”

I answer that she indeed can, and the tears dry up as she hops happily off my lap.

At 9:56 am we sit at the table together to practice handwriting, phonics, and story narrations.

While we do that A7 and I2 play independently with games—Princessopoly for A7, Fancy Nancy Perfect Parfait for I2.  They just have fun manipulating game pieces in patterns.
At 10:33 I call A7 to do school with me.  E14 finishes her schoolwork in record time and then happily(!) changes and dresses I2 for me. 
Just before A7 and I read Betsy-Tacy and Tib together J10 comes downstairs with math questions.  I pause to help her. 
E14 does her math drills on the computer.
S11 turns in her school work.
M12 has a math question, too.
E14 spends 10 minutes on Facebook, then starts making bagel sandwiches for us to eat on our way to the show.

 M12 finishes her school work and starts collecting hair-doing supplies.

S11 reads the grocery ads.

H4 is finally allowed to have a turn on the piano.

A7 and I take turns reading until I2 slips and bashes his face on the corner of the kitchen table.  It’s pretty bad—a bruise immediately starts swelling and turning colors, and he’s bleeding in his mouth.  I hold him and croon to him as he cries.  M12 grabs a cold, wet washcloth and the binky he’s usually allowed to only use at bedtime.  A7 finds a favorite car and tempts him into playing.

11:26 am.  It is time to get ready for the show.  But first I need to get dressed and run to the dollar store for new water bottles; ours are all broken or missing their lids.  (How does that happen?)
12:37 pm.  Costumes are organized and bagged.  Kids all have their tights, camis and shorts on.  Time to do hair!
4:30 pm.  We’re home.  Show’s over and Daddy has just left to take E14 to soccer practice.  I forgot the camera, and I couldn’t have taken pictures anyway, because I never stopped moving even once. 
We did hair until 1:00.
We packed all of the costumes in the car—6 bags, each with 5-7 costumes
We all went potty one more time, kissed I2 and Daddy goodbye, and then packed ourselves in the car.
As we drove we ate our bagels and apple slices.
We arrived right on time at 1:30.
Once we found the right room at the nursing home we hung up our costumes on the garment racks the group directors set up and chose a spot for changing.  Everyone changes in the same room—boys, girls, teens, tweens, littles-- so everyone wears underclothes that can worn in “public.”  For the next hour moms posted performance schedules, got kids dressed, set up the prop table, arranged the performance  hall, ran last minute rehearsals, passed out costume accessories, and herded kids.
2:30 pm.  Show time!  25 song and dance numbers showcasing American music through the 19th and 20th centuries.  I had 6 kids performing in 22 of the numbers.  The whole show passes in a blur of costume changes, entrances, and exits.  I’ve never seen the show because our group is run by volunteers, and if you’re in it, you’re a volunteer.  It’s high energy . . . even higher for the kids who are dancing and singing in it. 
3:36 pm.  The final number ends.  The next 45 minutes are full with cleaning up, finding the right hangers, packing up costumes, and sorting out the props and accessories.  Older kids help put the nursing home furniture back the way we found it.  Another mom, done packing up her two daughters, helps me pack up my last two.  I’m grateful for the help.  As we work, discussion flies back and forth about next week’s show.  What time do we rehearse?  When should invited guests arrive?  Are we expanding the show or not?  Decisions are made and changed.  Just as we start to get frustrated, final decisions are made and we know to show up next week at 11 am for 2 hours of rehearsing.  My older girls shuttle bags of costumes out to the van, and then make sure all of our kids are in the van.  I help the group directors get the last boxes of props and accessories out to their cars. 
It takes several trips to bring everything into the house.   At the same time E14 has to change immediately into soccer gear and leave almost before arriving home.   I need to make sure everyone has taken off their tights, camis, and shorts so I can hang them up and air them out for next week. 
I also have to make dinner.  I am usually a champion cook and household organizer, but I’ve been in a slump for the past few months—ever since we moved, actually—I haven’t found my rhythm or joy.  I send the kids on a treasure hunt to search through fridge, freezers, kitchen cupboards, and pantry closets for something motivating.  I think S11 has some ideas. 
J10 is entertaining the little guys with her tablet.  M12 gave everyone half a bagel as a snack because they’re hungry after dancing.  I2 is fussy.  I don’t think he feels well.
I look over S11’s list:  granola bars, pumpkin bars, sweet peanut butter and graham crackers, quesadillas, pork chops . . . hmm, breakfast foods get me thinking, and I remember that I have 2 pints of homemade syrup in the fridge . . . pancakes it is.
Everyone but E14 gathers around the computer to play games while I do a load of dishes and start the pancakes.  A tiny light in my brain inspires me to grate some fresh apple and add cinnamon and nutmeg to the batter.  The house soon smells very good.  J10 joins me at the stove.  I take advantage of her help and set the table.
The time passes quickly.  Soon I hear the garage door open; Daddy and E14 are home. I call everyone to eat.  E14 shows up in her pajamas.  She’s tired after school, dancing, and soccer.
We pray and read from The Book of Mormon during dinner.  I2 cries because it is not his turn to pray.  Sometimes scripture reading is a struggle, but tonight it is fun.  We’re reading from 2 Nephi, when he quotes Isaiah a lot.  The kids all respond to the poetry of Isaiah’s writing and recite favorite parts along with Daddy’s reading.  It is a spontaneous moment of shared joy in the scriptures.  H4 raises her hand to ask, “What does ‘sorrow’ mean?”  Daddy answers her question, but E14 whispers, “Good question,” to her little sister.  I am thankful for her encouragement.
Poor I2 is exhausted after staying awake so much last night.  Daddy whisks him off to a bath.  I work in the kitchen.  A7 finally gets her computer turn because everyone got a turn before dinner but her.
I remember that Thursday is “Kids Clean the Kitchen Night.”  Knowing that they’re all exhausted I offer to help them out and just get the job done really fast.  They’re too distracted by the Wonderopolis videos A7 is watching to even be aware of me.  I get irritated and tell them they’re on their own in the kitchen.  I clean the living room.
While Daddy bathes H4 and A7 I read Richard Scarry’s Please and Thank You Book to I2.  He refuses to pray, instead deferring to me to pray on his behalf.  I acquiesce quickly tonight.  He’s half asleep already.  After kisses and a good night song I leave him in his bed, cozy and happy to be there.  I hope he’ll sleep better tonight than last night.
I come out of his room at 7:30 pm to find E14 at the piano, picking out a song as she sings aloud.  S11 is trying to harmonize.  I hate to stop them, but with I2 in bed, music is over for the day. 
I send girls off in four different directions to get pajamas on and brush teeth.
S11 told me earlier that she left her MP3 player in the van.  It is locked up tight, and as she left it open earlier today I refuse to give her the keys.  I go out to look for her treasured little device, making sure to relock the van—H4’s concerns about “bad men” who break into our van are my concerns, too.
We’re gathering for read aloud time now.  We’re reading a chapter a night out of B is for Betsy by Carolyn Haywood and two chapters a night out of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.  We tried to read Alice  twice in past years and had to put it away for lack of interest.  Something is right this time.  We have a paperback copy of Cooper Eden’s edition.  The illustrations are to die for, and the kids gather around close to see what’s coming next.  I thrive on hearing the spontaneous laughter from E14 as she “gets” the jokes.  The other kids simply love the odd, odd twists and turns this story takes.
Tonight Betsy gets a puppy of her own, and Alice talks with the gryphon and mock turtle.  The kids are nearly rolling on the floor as they laugh over lines like this:

'Well, there was Mystery,' the Mock Turtle replied, counting off the subjects on his flappers, '—Mystery, ancient and modern, with Seaography: then Drawling—the Drawling-master was an old conger-eel, that used to come once a week: HE taught us Drawling, Stretching, and Fainting in Coils.' 

'What was THAT like?' said Alice. 

'Well, I can't show it you myself,' the Mock Turtle said: 'I'm too stiff. And the Gryphon never learnt it.' 

'Hadn't time,' said the Gryphon: 'I went to the Classics master, though. He was an old crab, HE was.' 

'I never went to him,' the Mock Turtle said with a sigh: 'he taught Laughing and Grief, they used to say.' 

'So he did, so he did,' said the Gryphon, sighing in his turn; and both creatures hid their faces in their paws. 

'And how many hours a day did you do lessons?' said Alice, in a hurry to change the subject. 

'Ten hours the first day,' said the Mock Turtle: 'nine the next, and so on.' 

'What a curious plan!' exclaimed Alice. 

'That's the reason they're called lessons,' the Gryphon remarked: 'because they lessen from day to day.'
 8:35 pm.  I close the book and send the kids off to bed to be tucked in by Daddy.   It is a little early, but the smallest girls are tired, and the big girls can read in bed on their own for a time.  They don’t rush off, reluctant to see the end of what has been a happy day. 
H4 reminds me that Percy, the guinea pig, hasn’t had his bedtime treat of fresh veggies.  I get some broccoli out of the fridge, and as I walk over to his cage he tweetles and squeaks happily.  But he is disappointed by the broccoli—it is not his favorite.  He keeps sniffing around for something he likes better but finally settles for what is in front of him.  S11 and I laugh because his resignation is so very obvious.
I settle into bed with a copy of Words Their Way.  E14 struggles with spelling.  This summer we’re going to dive into intensive remedial spelling.  I’m preparing now.
Kids tucked in, my husband joins me in the bedroom.  We talk about whether or not to let E14 and M12 go stay with their aunt and uncle for a week this summer.  We talk about whether or not to sign up for Google Fiber—budgets and goals forever struggling for balance.  Our discussions are not conclusive, but at least we have more food for thought.  My husband goes to call his brother and gather some more information.
10:26 pm.  I try to wait for him.  I can hear him laughing and talking in the other room.  He and his brother are good friends.  I cannot keep my eyes open.
I fall asleep.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Winding Down

Last night was our final show for the 2013-2014 American Rhythm year (that's our dance troupe).  It was a friends and family recital, and some friends did, in fact, come.  My hands are so busy in rehearsals and during the show that I have no pictures at all.  My husband says he filmed most of the numbers our kids are in (22 of them!) with his phone, so we'll see how they came out when he gets a chance to upload them to the computer.

The kids are sleeping in.  Yesterday was long with rehearsals all through the middle of the day and then the show set up, show itself, and show clean up in the evening. 

I'm tired, too.  I'm glad for a break, but I can honestly say that I look forward to signing up for another year.  I'm so very nervous about it because it's a lot, a lot, a lot of work, but the rewards are good.  Really good.

At one point H4 tripped and fell.  She fell hard, and it really hurt.  I picked her up to comfort her, rocking her and crooning to her, but also reminding her that we were backstage and had to cry softly.  Bless her little heart, she really tried to be quiet!

I set her down when she seemed to feel better, but just as she was lining up with her class for their next number (Toot, Toot, Tootsie) the tears she'd been trying to control escaped.  Poor little thing!  Just 4 years old--over-tired, over-excited, over-wrought--and trying to hard to put on a great show.  I knelt beside her, took her sweet face in my hands, looked into her tear-filled blue eyes, and helped her breathe in and out, in and out.  All of her little friends were holding their breath as they watched us, their eyes filled with compassion and concern for my girl.

The breathing helped.  I felt everyone sigh in relief--not for fear of ruining the show, but genuine relief that little H4 actually felt better.  I'm so thankful for their sweet compassion.

In the car on the way home the girls laughed and laughed over E14's mishap.  During the Mary Poppins medley E14's hair got caught on her umbrella.  As she flipped the umbrella from behind her head to the front of her, her head jerked forward, too!  She recovered quickly, smiling hugely for the audience, and the dance went on smoothly, so it was not an incident that caused tears or embarrassment--just a funny story to remember. 

Daddy made popcorn for everyone while I oversaw costume tidy-ups and the putting on of pajamas.  We sat around the family room munching and talking until we were too tired to munch or talk any more.

We will miss singing and dancing this summer . . . at least formally.  I'm sure that singing and dancing will always go on.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A Few Things I Like About Life Lately

We got up to watch the lunar eclipse last night.

J10 read a book about Helen Keller that had a copy of the Braille alphabet in the back.  She voluntarily spent hours writing messages in Braille (not actually raised dots--just drawn dots).

We didn't have dinner until 7:00 pm yesterday because the sun eventually came out, and my husband was building bunk beds, and I had to return an overdue book to the library, and no one had anywhere to go, so we didn't have to have dinner at a certain time.  I offered apples to anyone who got hungry before that.

I2 likes games.  He's destroyed our games closet because he knows how to carry a stool out of the kitchen, but he spends long hours arranging and rearranging pieces of games.  The floor is a mess, but my boy is so very happy.

H4 is learning to read.  She asks me almost every hour of the morning, "Is it time for my school yet?"  Her happy blue eyes fill my spirit with light.

We went barefoot on Saturday. 

It snowed on Monday and E14's soccer games for 2 days were cancelled.  Our busy week got very quiet very quickly.

I'm reading A Girl of the Limberlost.  It is satisfying reading.

M12 works on her Personal Progress every single day.  She has such a sweet, conscientious air.  Her journal is filling rapidly, and I love to see how happy she is as she works.

The woods are green and purple and white and yellow right now.

We're almost done with math books for the year. 

Our house is filled with music at all hours of the day and night as kids sit down to the piano to pick out tunes, pick up recorders and puff away, or pick up a violin and see what happens.  It is noisy, noisy, noisy, but it is beautiful, too.

My husband wasn't assigned Sunday night shift at work for the first time in weeks.

 I baked bread and made chicken noodle soup last night.  It felt good to be in the kitchen.

Everyone is healthy.

We've committed ourselves to a no-lessons, no-classes summer.  We actually have nothing on the calendar for all of July, and we're keeping it that way.  We're going to use that time to thoroughly explore the lake that is closest to our house.  We'll invite some friends to explore, too.

We just started The Swiss Family Robinson for family read aloud time.  The kids LOVE it.  I love watching them love it.

It's a good season, this spring time season.  We're rather a happy bunch.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Who Is She?

I've been thinking and thinking and thinking about my oldest child.  She's been a puzzle to me ever since she was old enough to voice her own opinion (and she did that rather early).  I love her.  I love her so much that I am often blinded to both her faults and her strengths.  I pray daily that I might see her as God sees her and that I might be a blessing to her.

She's 14 now.  She has a season of monumental growth right on the horizon.  Of late, she and I have been deep in question-asking and decision-making.

The other night Daddy was frustrated with her.  "She won't do anything!" he huffed.  "I'm trying to help her out, and she just refuses."

Because I wasn't the one she'd been difficult with, it was my job to listen to him blow off steam and to be the voice of reason.

Except I wasn't reasonable.  "I know!  I can't understand it either.  She just refuses to work at anything on her own.  I've been watching and waiting and letting her try new things, but nothing interests her enough to work for it!"

But I've been thinking (and praying) since then.

I did not speak the truth.

She begged for gymnastics, but didn't try.
She begged for guitar lessons, but wouldn't practice.
She begged to join a soccer team, but says it interferes with her free time.
She begged for voice lessons, but refused to sing in the church choir (my prerequisite for expensive voice lessons).
She begged for piano lessons, but wouldn't practice.
She begged for dance lessons, but said they were boring.
She begged for a job, but tried to find excuses not to report for work.

All of these are true, and they sure paint her in a bad light, but they do not highlight who she is--only who she is not.

If she is completely free to choose what she does, she does her hair and the hair of others.
If she is completely free to choose what she does, she builds things.
If she is completely free to choose what she does, she sings and messes about at the piano and taps out rhythms with her hands and feet.
If she is completely free to choose what she does, she shops for cute clothes and high heeled shoes.
If she is completely free to choose what she does, she makes beautiful wildflower bouquets.
If she is completely free to choose what she does, she reads.
If she is completely free to choose what she does, she makes animal habitats for lizards, snakes, turtles, frogs--any wild creature she finds and successfully captures.
If she is completely free to choose what she does, she spends time with friends.
If she is completely free to choose what she does, she bakes.
If she is completely free to choose what she does, she makes up games and adventures for other kids.
If she is completely free to choose what she does, she practices putting on make up.

She's actually a rather interesting person.

She's rejected so much of what she's thought she wanted, and I've been frustrated to watch money be spent and feel that it has been wasted, but it hasn't.  At least we've found out what doesn't work. 

She could be so good at anything she's tried if she would only try more, if she would only risk failure to achieve greatness.  I want her to realize that!

We'll keep trying. 

Perhaps it will be volunteering at the local nature center that lights the fire I know is waiting to be lit.  Perhaps it will be a theater make up class that looks interesting.  Perhaps she will someday embrace the astonishing leadership skills that are latent within her.  Perhaps she will design houses or clothes or weddings or  . . . whatever her heart desires. 

I don't know.

But she's not impossible
She's not a failure.

She's only growing, trying, testing, learning, accepting, rejecting, wondering.

And I'm going to really look for who she is rather than fuss over who she isn't.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Family Friday

Yesterday was a joy. 

I woke up with absolutely not one item on my calendar.  Nothing framed our day, not even Daddy's work schedule.  And I milked it for all it was worth.

We didn't even have a proper breakfast.  Instead as soon as kids had their chores done, they were allowed to fix themselves a pancake left over from last night's dinner.  As I made large, whole-grain-apple-and-cinnamon pancakes that the kids piled peanut butter, applesauce, and homemade syrup on top, this was more filling than one might imagine.

Once everyone was awake I sent the big girls off to do their independent school work while I discusses triple bunk bed plans with Daddy.  We're building the green ones, only switched so the doubles are on the right with the single on the left, and we're modifying them slightly using these plans for inspiration.

H4 asked if she could do school, so we did.  She read her first 4 words--at, fat, mat, rat.  We called Grandma to read them to her over the phone.  H4 read for Daddy, for sisters, for me, for herself.  It was one of those moments when the whole world simply sparkles for joy.

I made some pumpkin bars for a snack and had devotional some time in the middle of the morning.  Once older kids were turning in their school work, I pulled on my work clothes and put another coat of paint over as much of the 2nd basement bedroom as I could before we ran out of paint. 

Then I worked outside.  I'm creating a border along our front walkway.  I'm eventually going to fill it with native flowering plants (and probably a few bulbs), but I'll take my time about it.

I allowed boredom work its wonderful work.  Any child that said, "I'm so bored.  I have nothing to dooooooo," was acknowledged, but not helped. 

There was much complaining for an hour or so. 
A7 fell on the floor in desperation. 
 I stepped over her and went about my work.
E14 followed me around for a while, asking me to solve her boredom problem by taking her somewhere else. 
I just kept on working.

Eventually I noticed that everyone was busy doing things:
--E14 had gathered tools and scrap lumber and was banging away in a tree.
--M12 helped me paint and then bathed the cat.
--S11 pottered about outside and helped M12.
--J10 read books, played board games, and pottered with S11.  She also made quesadillas for us when we got hungry.
--A7 sulked in the hammock until she got up and put on her roller blades.
--H4 helped me dig in the front yard.
--I2 swung on the swingset, dug in the dirt, drew with sidewalk chalk, played Legos, and managed to cross the street into the soccer field without me seeing him even though he was standing right next to me 5 seconds earlier!  (I sent J10 after him.)

Daddy headed to the hardware store to buy wood for the bunk beds and paint for the bedroom walls, then to Aldi to grab take-and-bake pizzas for dinner.  He took the three oldest girls with him. 

I was still working in the yard when they got home, so M12 took the initiative to oversee the pizzas while S11 got the card table out of the garage and took it up to the deck.  We ate out pizza outdoors--the first picnic of spring!

Daddy took everyone but I2 over to the soccer field to play while I bathed a very dirty, very tired, small boy.

As the sky turned purple in the twilight, we gathered together for family reading and went thankfully to bed.

Family days are the happiest days.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

"Going" to the White House

Today a conversation with E14 about the common core turned into questions and answers about the president and his family.  We had to google some answers.

As M12, S11, and J10 joined the conversation we kept talking.  They asked if Daddy could run for president.  The answer to that question turned into a lecture/discussion about how presidents are elected and why some people claim you're "throwing away" your vote if you vote outside the two main parties. 

I was amazed to see the lights in the kids eyes as they listened, and I loved the intelligent questions they asked for clarification.

By that time we were at the table having lunch, so the little guys were listening.  They wondered how big the white house is.  We googled that one, too.  We clicked various sites until we found one we liked.  Because I was in the room and directly supervising their searching, they were allowed to click on a featured Youtube video that looked promising.  The kids were glued; even E14, who was claiming indifference and boredom by this point, couldn't stay away. 

Eventually an hour had passed from the first question about the common core.  We had imperative errands to run, so we had to cut off our research.

I wonder where we'd have gone if we'd had the freedom to just keep going . . .

Finding the Right Bird

J10 came to me a couple of days ago, "I'm allowed to spend unlimited time looking up things on my tablet, right?"

I wondered where she was going with this.  "Umm, not really unlimited, but you can spend extra time beyond your regular turn if you're doing research.  And you know you can only do that in a common room of the house that has other people in the room with you," I answered cautiously.

"I want to look up a bird I saw in the field yesterday.  It was beautiful--black with red markings on it."

I don't know why I was so cautious--this is my least-likely-to-try-something-sneaky child, "Yes, you may look it up."

She then spent some time looking for it.

And she found it!

It is a Red-winged Blackbird.  She pored over the site she found, reading all about it, feeling so proud of herself for what she'd accomplished.

She inspired her sisters, too.  They all ran together to our bird-identification posters to study and compare.  They looked at the pictures J10 found.  They talked about birds and hiking and playing outdoors. 


Now where are those nature sketchbooks I put safely away when we moved?