We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. ~Isaiah 64:8

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

First Steps!

Yes, we have a baby walking at 9.5 months - that just makes me crazy, but I'm still encouraging her to keep practicing!

Friday, June 19, 2009

the less he said

. . . Later, I came to see that Mr. Dickens and Mr. Wordsworth were thinking of men like me when they wrote their words. But most of all, I believe that William Shakespeare was. Mind you, I cannot always make sense of what he says, but it will come.

It seems to me the less he said, the more beauty he made. Do you know what sentence of his I admire the most? It is 'The bright day is done, and we are for the dark.'

I wish I'd known those words on the day I watched those German troops land, plane-load after plane-load of them - and come off ships down in the harbor! All I could think of was damn them, damn them, over and over. If I could have thought the words 'the bright day is done and we are for the dark,' I'd have been consoled somehow and ready to go out and contend with circumstance - instead of my heart sinking to my shoes.

p. 63, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

That which demands my attention

What has been demanding my attention this week:

  • Three day Parent Practicum for Classical Conversations (down in Rock Hill, SC where you there?) I now know how my kids feel when I present them with an intimidating lesson only to have them complete it with a pleased smile and the comment, "Wow, that was fun!" We tried out some Logic excercises, which I was dreading, and found the challenge relaly enjoyable!

  • Mother in Law coming to meet Baby L for the first time tonight! Busy, busy cleaning the house and changing beds, making meals and cleaning bathrooms.

  • Speaking of Baby L - she took her first few STEPS last night! So a good deal of our cleaning time has been spent coaxing her into a few more steps . . . who can resist?

  • And finally, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, a delightful book on loan to me from Dear Neighbor (on loan to her from her mother). I'm on page 33 and thoroughly attached to Juliet Ashton!

  • I'm so behind on my blogging, but those cute little baby legs are far too distracting. . . . I hope my blog friends will forgive if I'm slow to respond to comments or get promised posts up. I know you will, right?

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      Monday, June 8, 2009


      Civilization has never been the product of armies and factories. It is the fruit of the always tenuous marriage of the farmer and the merchant.

      Andrew Kern, Quiddity blog, May 10, 2009

      Thursday, June 4, 2009

      the frailty of modern science

      The only science we have or can have is human science; it has human limits and is involved always with human ignorance and human error. It is a fact that the solutions invented or discovered by sciece have tended to lead to new problems or to become problems themselves . . . Our daily lives are a daily mockery of our scientific pretensions.

      p. 32-33, An Essay Against Modern Superstition, Wendell Berry.

      Summer is HERE!

      Sometimes you just gotta pack it in and surrender to it. Yes, I mean SUMMER!

      I had another 4 weeks or so of school planned out to try to get us all caught up on the lessons we've missed this year due to the adoption (various appointments, meetings, days where I had a ton of paperwork to finish, and of course the extended travel). My plans were so wonderful! The kids were willingly going along with them, too. But on Tuesday morning I woke up and was just, well, D-O-N-E. Ever been there?

      At about 10:05, after putting Baby L down for her morning nap, I looked around at my children happily entertaining themselves and engaged in some really great unstructured playtime, and I made the decision: School's over.

      Even though we will continue reading, independently and together, and playing edu-games during our summer break, most of our days will be fairly free and relaxed. So, what did we do on our first day of SUMMER?

      Here are some pictures:

      Baby L enjoying her "cruising" abilities.

      S says he's "dressed for every occassion". Dress-ups don't get boring, do they?

      The boys found an old stash of Dixie cups, which were perfect for biulding a great wall. This is about as high as it got before it toppled over.

      Every year we celebrate the first and last day of school with an "ice cream dinner". Of course they are all hungry for "real food" within an hour, so we came home to burgers, too.

      Not one to skip out on a little something sweet.

      Baby L was a bit unsure about the whole thing. She did eventually give it a try and LOVED it, but she looks quite uniterested here. (Although from the look of those legs, you'd think we feed her ice cream all day long!)

      Welcome, Summer. I'm so glad you are here!

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      Wednesday, June 3, 2009

      RePost: Establishing a Summer Routine

      Boredom is the big beast of summer isn't it? Nobody wants their kids to be bored! Well, I have a GREAT PLAN that will help you eliminate boredom from your summer... A ROUTINE!

      I know that sounds like a contradiction, right? But seriously, I find that one of the biggest reasons my kids get bored is that they don't have a reliable structure to their day. This works fine for a few days, but very soon they are like little spinning tops roaming around the house spinning from activity to activity. However, when I have some sort of regular routine (not a schedule, mind you!) we all do so much better.

      Our schedule this summer will include: morning and afternoon chore times, family projects (household projects like cleaning out the playroom), outside playtime, Read or Rest time, screen time (TV, video game, computer), Read Aloud time (where I read aloud or we listen to a book on tape) and game time (educational games to keep schooling, but in a fun way).

      So, do you want some help getting your summer routine started?

      1) Decide on the big rocks of our daily life. Plan for these and let them be the "anchors" of our day.

      Some examples are: regular meal times, planned snack time, chore time, learning time, play time, read or rest time. Pay attention to the flow of these various "anchors". Try to plan for good variety of structured vs. unstructured and active vs. passive.

      2) Provide some visual cues for the expected flow of our day.

      If your kids are pre-readers or highly visual (verses verbal), make a picture chart. Find or draw simple pictures of each of the daily "anchors". These also help with #4 - transitions. Here's what I did last year: Visual Schedule

      Help for Kids' Speech offers suggestions for visual ways to cue children in to expectations for the daily routine. The article mentions the website Do2Learn which offers various picture cards that can be accessed for free. There are loads of other resources in their subscriber areas, too.

      Another idea comes from Family Fun: a doorknob daily reminder. You could use this to remind kids of special events or "themes" for each day. (Park Day, Errand Day, Class Day, etc.)

      3) Set distinct moods or tones for certain types of activities or times of day.

      Quick moodsetters are music and light - moodsetting will also help with #4 - transitions. For example, if you want to get your kids up and going (maybe for chore time or because you are going out for a playdate) make sure the house is bright and try turning on some cheerful or exciting music. In the evening when it is time to wind down, lower the lights in the house and turn on some quieter music. We love the Putumayo Kids CDs (you can listen to samples).

      Another important aspect of moodsetting is tone of voice. Pay attention to the tone you set, too. I read somewhere that parentss should be the thermostat not the thermometer of their home (a thermostat sets the temperature; a thermometer just reacts to it).

      Collect some CDs that are particularly energetic or quiet or whatever you need and keep those handy. Or do the 80's thing and make a mix-tape! :) "Mom's Quiet Down Music" or "Mom's Get Up and MOVE Music".

      4) Work on establishing good transition habits.

      Some kids are very easy transitioners and other kids need a lot of help in this area. I have one of each and one inbetween. Here are some quick ideas:

      • Five Minute "Heads Up" - particularly useful when ending a fun, unstructured activity

      • Assessment and Feedback- After chore time is an excellent time to gather the kids and assess how well they did or to "go see" their work. In fact, a "go see" to point out what might have been overlooked followed up with some "good job" kudos is probably a good idea. If you use a chore system or reward chart, this might be the time to incorporate that.

      • What's Next? - Encourage the kids to complete what they are doing by telling them what is coming up next. "When you finish cleaning up the breakfast dishes, we are going to walk to the park." or "After lunch it will be time for Read or Rest."

      • Until tomorrow - Sometimes kids are satisfied to transition to a new activity when they know the one they are currently being asked to stop is one they will get to do again another day. "We'll come back to the park next week." or "You'll get to do playdough again tomorrow."

      • Consolidate- consolidate activities to reduce the number or transitions. (But don't go so far as to spend hours doing the same thing - like chores!) An example might be cleaning up from breakfast and moving right into chore time instead of letting them have playtime after breakfast and chore time later in the morning.

      5) Make it a team effort.

      Sit down together and go over the daily routine and your expectations. Talk about the fun stuff you all want to have time for this summer and how your daily routine is going to help you have time for the fun stuff.

      Want more ideas for beating the boredom beast? We ARE That Family is hosting a "Mom I'm Bored" Works-For-Me-Wednesday and there are TONS of great links!

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