Thursday, December 31, 2009

If you could learn anything at all.....

In the next year...what would it be?

I love homeschooling the boys.  I really do.  I love that I know them so well because I am home with them.  I love that they are free to learn at their own pace and that they can follow their interests.  Every once in awhile we ask the boys (over breakfast) what they want to learn and we make a big list.  It helps me guide them in their interests and to be a little better about having the things (books, art materials, etc.) around that they may be needing.

Here are their lists. Scratchily written on a notepad with initials by each idea while they ate eggs and sausage in their pjs....

Badger said....
4H - interested in showing a chicken at the fair because he heard you can make money at this
How to make Candy 
Making a huge cardboard Castle/playhouse
Ice Skating
Hermit crabs (can we please get some?)

Cricket said...
Birds, especially Eagles
Horseback riding

Owl said...
Sharks, Dolphins, and Whales
and Crocodiles

Papa added...
Explorers and How to make Ice cream (is that what you want to learn about or what you want them to learn about?!)

And me?  I admit I have a voracious appetite for learning new things.  I'm going to try to keep it simple this year and focus on what I already have before me as I have a lot on my plate just now.  It will take a lot of effort I'm afraid to ignore this crazy need I have to learn how to spin and felt and mosaic and paint and learn how to make my own butter and cheese and kefir. Not to mention the grain mill in the kitchen just waiting to be tried.  Oh and there is also this little sweater pattern that I wanted to try knitting for Hen and the wool slippers and the Harry Potter scarves and......eeeekk! I better stop writing this and go DO something.

What would you like to learn this year?  Leave a comment. I'd like to know!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Some balm

Last night was.....rough. I was an absolute grump.  About something rather silly even. (Although it did seem like a matter of principle to me then....but arguing for want of being "right" is neither practical nor kind)  So after J and I butted heads a bit....I headed upstairs to read stories with a hurting heart (my own doing) and a sore tongue. (harsh words hurt!)

Then I settled in to read with the boys.  They were all snuggled up together in their beds.  It just happened that we were on the chapter in "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" titled Deeper Magic from the dawn of time (or something like that).  It is the chapter right after Aslan dies and Lucy and Susan are mourning for him.  Then he comes to life again and they kiss him, and put their hands in his great mane, and he romps with them through the woods and fields.  Remember that part?  Yeah.  My soul really needed that just then.  Some balm. (like "some pig"?) I opened this soap earlier in the day and it had these little word magnets in the box! (can you see them?)
And also as we were reading together last night....Hen in my lap....I read the words "down, down, down he lept.." and Little Hen clear as day said, "down, down, down."!!!!! The boys laughed so hard they practically rolled out of their beds, and of course there was much repeating of "down, down, down" by everyone.  This morning he still is saying it.  Now he says it and looks around to see if anyone laughs and then when they take notice of him HE laughs. Oh man, is this boy ever turning out to be a handful!  Here is a picture of the little monkey just after his bath this morning.  Look at that hair! 

It is amazing to me that I can still be such a grumpy grump (yes that's a real thing) even when surrounded by so many beautiful, amazing things.  And I am wholeheartedly ashamed of myself for being so selfish sometimes. (it's true. i am.)  But the good news is there is forgiveness and fresh starts and love.  Today as I look to fill our family with "some balm" the words of the book of Corinthians keep coming to mind.  

Love is patient. Love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.....

I'm going to go practice this now as I take the dog out in the cold and snow...and find homes for all the new xmas gifts...and wipe noses and settle them in for some quiet times.  I'll let you know how it goes...

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Cozy times and Colds

The boys came down with a bugger of a cold right before Christmas. (sorry we got you sick Grandma J)  It is the kind of sickness where you are still able to function for the most part except for the snotty nose and foggy head. Ick.  Even poor Hen is sick and J came home from work last night and crawled right in bed. *sigh* 

The good news is that I was glad to have an excuse to not let the kids gorge themselves on sugary treats over Christmas and also that sickness often leads to quieter times.  We've been curled up on the couches with tea and books and even some Harry Potter movies. (j's xmas gift from my mom)  And even in this tougher circumstance I am glad for the comfort of our warm home and for the comfort of being with each other.  There have been some really lovely play times with the boys that I have been privileged to share in.
Playing with the new SCUBA playmobil sets in the sink.  Finished up today with some playing in the tub.  They were delighted to find that the submersible actually sinks, thanks to the metal floats, and the guy inside stayed dry! 

There were also some pancake men for supper to cheer us up yesterday after our long day of mama not having too much time for anyone other than Hen. (snot and teething do not make for a happy baby) The boys have been wanting to make these ever since reading about them in Little House in the Big Woods.  We also made homemade doughnuts from the Little House Cookbook, which is the recipe that Almanzo's mother would have made when he was young.  (no not for the same meal...i think it was this past weekend?) Sorry no pics of those, they were gone before I could grab the camera! 

Despite these cozy times, I struggled a bit these past two days as I often do when circumstances seem to get the better of me.  I admit that a fussy (think biting) baby and snotty noses and a messy house and a rambunctious puppy had me utterly worn out yesterday by 6pm, and when J called to say he was going to be late and that he was feeling really ill, I was such a grump in my spirit! (ok maybe on the outside too?)  I am learning to get through it though with less disastrous results for those around me.  I don't have any magical answer for you all as I don't have it all figured out yet.  But I do know that it has to do with prayer and patience and a willingness to be humble enough to change.  (and that phone call from you dear A, helped so much too! )

I think I'll pray about this some more as I catch up on my chores.  God....I'll meet you in the laundry room.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Our Brood

Four boys. Yep. Four.  And we are so very glad for each of them!
(Now for the record here...i wanted to do a post on j and i first since "we" were first. But...that would require a picture....and a picture would require us to both be clean and dressed and in the same room at the same time with enough forethought to have the camera and a it'll have to wait.)  But for the record, J is my favorite boy.

Badger just turned seven.  He chose the name badger because of his love of Redwall, his favorite book series.  We thought the name fitting too, as he is very fond of his den and has a noble heart just like the great Badger Lords of Salamadastron.  He loves to read, to build, to draw, to be with his brothers, and to play outside.  He also loves to read recipes and can be found helping out in the kitchen more often than not.  Oh, and he loves sports.  If you ever come to see us you can be sure he will ask you to play baseball or soccer if the weather allows. (or to go sledding!)

Cricket is 5 1/2.  He is always singing.   Always moving.  Always hugging and crawling into a lap and telling a story.  We love that about you dear boy!  He also loves to build things, loves to draw out his imaginitive stories and loves to be with his brothers.  He is quick to see the beauty in things and to tell you what he is thinking.  This picture of him shows his pensive side, which I like.  Most pictures have his contagious grin!  One last thing which I admire about him is that he is both incredibly sensitive and incredibly tough.  He can put himself in others shoes (when he's not off in his world of imagination) and yet he didn't shed a tear when getting his cast on his broken elbow.  What else do you have in store for us dear boy?

Owl.  Little owl is 3.  Named after the bird from Owl at Home by Arnold Lobel.  Especially the story titled, "bumps".  He likes to read stories, to play dress-up, to sing and play piano. He loves being included in what the older boys are playing and loves to chat about his day with us.  He is also a great snuggler and is learning how to help out in the kitchen and to fold laundry. (for which he is really proud of himself.)  I always enjoy myself when I am around him.  His little songs and conversation keep me in good company, and I am proud of how he is turning into a sweet older brother and helper to me.  Oh, and did I mention that he likes to watch the birds at the feeder.  Especially the two different kinds of woodpeckers that visit us.  I forget which ones they are but he could tell you.

Our baby we call Little Hen.  He is 9 months old.  Scooting all over the house 
and exploring everything!  He is a happy boy, and even when it's the middle of the night and he is up for the second time and we are tired, J and I find ourselves smiling because Hen is so darn cute!  He (does that count?) and his brothers. He giggles more for them than for anyone else.  He loves his blanket and to read stories and to watch the cars go by out the window.  He likes going for walks in the backpack with papa and he loves baths.  The only thing he doesn't seem to like is eating food.  We are still working on that, but I'm sure like the other boys he'll get the hang of it all too soon.  Little complete our family and we love you. 

And here's our 
girl.  Millie. Always ready for a walk, a wag, a snuggle.  She wholeheartedly believes I want to walk with her every morning, for which I thank her. She also inspires me to pick up the toys and laundry more frequently.  The boys adore her and she has helped us through the loss of our dear cat Solomon.  I love how the boys are growing up with her and that she is becoming one of us.  We love you Milford. (j's affectionate name for her, especially funny when coming out of Owl's mouth.)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Journey Begins

Sunday night is upon us.  J and I are getting settled in for the last few hours of his vacation.  (He may or may not be in his pjs on the couch already.) Christmas was delightful.  It was really nice having the festivities at our home.  The boys are still lingering over their gifts with all the excitement that new Legos can bring, and J seems relaxed and refreshed from his time away from work.  I am so thankful for having this long holiday with those I love.

And...tomorrow is Monday.  Dear old Monday....with all its challenges and opportunities.  

As 2009 wraps up this week....I am looking forward.  New things are on the horizon.  The boys are growing and changing every day.  J and I are slowly gathering more time for each other as little Hen starts being a wee bit more independent from me.  There are grain mills to test out (more on that soon!) and new board games to try.  Walks to be had. (millie had me add that part in.)  And then of course this new blog!  

There is so much growing here at our house.  We may not have a dairy cow (yet...) but J and I decided we are indeed a "farm".  Mostly because farming involves intentional cultivation.  Plowing and sowing, weeding and watering.  Doing the hard work that is necessary for a bountiful harvest.  And that is what we do here.  Whether it's digging potatoes, pruning apple trees, or cleaning out the chicken coop.  We are invested in our harvest.

Growing these boys is our most important endeavor.  Our most precious harvest.  I'm looking forward to having a place to archive our journey this year.  So much is happening here, under the trees, that is worth remembering.