Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Bedtime prayer songs

Our bedtime routine as I tuck each of my sons into bed a few minutes apart is to sing some songs of their choice from our current bedtime repertoire. Songs that are prayers, parts of our church service music, or easy hymn refrains. I introduced this a few years ago when the older son began resisting bedtime prayers. Over the last month or so our younger son, age 4 1/2, has been asking lots of questions during his songs, and tonight was quite a time.

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of power and might.
- Mommy, what's 'might'? (before I could answer) oh, that's being strong (makes strong-man arm motions)

Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.
(On to our next song, which I often sing after Holy Holy Holy)

Glory to God in the highest and peace to his people on earth.
- Where is God? God is all around us (we'd talked about this before, and that was the best I could come up with!). Is Father D--- God?
[Me] No, Father D--- is a person. God is... God, and is with us all of the time.
[Son] Is God with all of the people?
[Me] Yes, God is with all of us all of the time.
[Son] God is right next to us, right?
[Me] Exactly! God is right next to every one of us.

Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father, we worship you, we give you thanks...
- Mommy, what is 'worship'?
[Me] It's giving honor; we worship, we honor... (I didn't know how to explain it off the cuff!)
[Son] (thoughtful silence, I hope)

...we praise you for your glory. Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world...
- (I knew this was coming) Mommy, what is sin?
[Me] Sin is when we do what we shouldn't do, the opposite of what we really should do, what God wants us to do.
[Son] Like when people hurt someone or kill someone
[Me] That's right, or when we say or do things that hurt people
[Son] Hurt their feelings, or hit them like this (mimes hitting!). That's not good.
[Me] That's right. That's sin. We should choose what's right.

...have mercy on us; you are seated at the right hand of the Father...
- Mommy, what does that mean?
[Me] It means Jesus is in a place of honor next to God the Father. He is God too, they are God together (arrgh, what have I gotten myself into!). (Now, mindful of the next phrase in the song) Jesus hears our prayers in a special way and brings our prayers to... to God. (mumble mumble)

...receive our prayer. For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord, you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father. Amen.


I had an inkling that this song might teach my kids something of the faith, but I had no idea it might go like this -- all in just a few minutes!

By the way, our current repertoire is
  • "Holy, Holy, Holy"

  • "Glory to God in the Highest"

  • "All Things Bright and Beautiful" refrain

  • "Our Father/the Lord's Prayer" to two different tunes (published one I learned in another parish, and our current organist/choirmaster's composition)

  • "The Lord Is my Shepherd, I'll Follow Him Alway"

  • The children's prayer, "Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, bless this bed I lie upon," set to a charming tune.

Each season of the church year I try out a few new songs. The songs must be fairly quick to memorize, as there's very little light at bedtime in their room, and I don't want to mess with that for the sake of reading music or words. I'm reminded that I'd like the boys to sing with me again, at least more often.

Bedtime song as catechism tonight, I guess!

Political, believe it or not

After watching the TV coverage of the Republican National Convention last night, I did something I've never done in my LIFE. I stopped at the local party headquarters and picked up yard signs for our front yard. My husband was okay with it, the several times I asked him. We'll see if we get any drive-by or walk-by "embellishment" to our signs. They are:

1. Kerry-Edwards / A Stronger America
2. (Our Democratic candidate for Senate)

It's a pretty weird feeling letting my colors show in any forum whether here, in face-to-face conversations, or in our front yard. Yet I'm a lifelong Democrat and voter.

And that's all I'll say about that. Other than:

— Exercise your hard-won right and VOTE —

Project pressure

Today I feel time/project pressure. I'm not exactly sure how to wrap up two volunteer projects that are due, launch a for-pay longterm task, and stay focused on my kids, home, and ministry. Arrgh. The answer ought to be to keep the focus steady and do the baby-step thing with the due projects, and quickly they'll be gone from my days. And then deal with the longterm task and whether I really ought to be doing it.

I think I'm getting mixed up between my struggle to complete projects, which is typical me, and my doubts about doing the longterm task that would bring in some money. My feeling of being under pressure will ease when I force myself to actually complete the first two projects -- they're very close -- so I need to at least deal with those two.

I'd much rather read.

Or stitch.

(Or blog, LOL!)

I could use those as incentives. After 30 minutes of project finish work, hang out with the kids and read a little chunk of any book with a bookmark in it or do a small section of either needlework project :) Somehow. Today. Between people errands (a/k/a chauffeuring), someone's dentist appointment, and planning dinner.

Hmm. Enough stalling. Gotta go!

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Schoolish and schedule stuff

Both boys started school last Wednesday. Son1 (8 1/2) started his fifth year -- third grade -- and Son2 (4 1/2) started his first experience of school -- pre-kindergarten, 2 1/2 hours each afternoon. Both are enjoying school. Son2 happily tells us all about whatever caught his interest each day. Son1 seems relaxed and interested in his school stuff, a good sign, though not very talkative about it, as usual.

But -- on the third day of school Son1 already had a bad interaction with a kid who has been a bully in past years and was gone last year, but is back in Son1's class this year; I need to email the teacher today with a heads-up about the incident. We will NOT let this kid bully ours. Sigh.

Life was hectic this past week, and I give us all another week. Then I think the kids and I will be more adjusted to the new constraints and routine. I'll bring back The Story of the World at after-school snack time again, and offer some Cuisinaire rod work. Perhaps a bit of Miquon or Family Math from time to time -- or play more card games! If Son2 is still interested, we'll pull out the Bob Books again and alternate with "Little Stories for Little Folks" from CHC/Catholic Heritage Curriculum. Son1 really enjoyed those when he was first learning to read.

We have one car and are a transfer family to the school that used to be our little neighborhood elementary until we bought a house last year. We're now about 10 minutes' drive away, in another school's area. We transferred to keep the boys at that little school where we know many of the families and we know and like most of the staff, their morale, the way they teach, and so on. This means that I'm now puzzling over my driving schedule: drop off Son1, return home; take husband to work (10 minutes away too), return home; take Son2 to preK, return home; pick up both boys, return home; pick up husband from work, return home. Aack!

My goal is to do errands or MOMS Club activities or go to the library with Son2 most mid-mornings between dropping husband off and dropping Son2 off at noon. That way I can go home during preK and do whatever I need to do, yet preserve my reluctant-chauffeur sanity for the day. What's really funny is that the dropoff/pickups are only 10 minutes each way, but it's a big deal to me.

Re. homeschooling, I will only say that I would LOVE to do it, and 2 1/2 years after my homeschooling "aha!" I have become deeply resistant to being enmeshed in the schoolish way of life. And yet, here we are. Schedules, structures, constraints... that enable teachers to work with a large number of kids at once and try to support the kids who don't have enough or any support at home. Apparently slow support for my son where he is advanced in subject areas (far ahead in math and way ahead in reading). A typical self-preserving organizational hierarchy that goes all the way up to the school district. Et cetera. Things I don't like about any organization, and this one has my kids and, therefore, us. Thanks to homeschooling I know my family doesn't need this and can untie ourselves from this if we dare. That's all I'll say about that.

Son1 is interested in a couple of activities this fall: the upper elementary strings program offered by the university music education folks, and the city parks and rec league basketball program. Dear husband and I are keeping an eye out for announcements of the swim club tryouts, because we think he'd actually love the swim club. We'll see; they're all monetary commitments as well as time, and we had always said we'd limit the kids to one sports, one music, and one church activity. Yet with just one child involved it can have a huge impact on family life. I see why some parents direct their children to the same or similar activities.

The plan is to get more info on all of the above activities, we parents and Son1 discuss, and then we parents make the decisions. He's not quite old enough to acolyte at our church, so that's out at least until he's nine. Decisions, decisions.

Anyway, that's what's up after the first three days of school in our neck of the woods.

Friday, August 27, 2004

15 minutes, card games, book toss

When I have more than the 15 minutes I just used writing this, I want to blog about: the kids starting school / schedules and possibilities / not home at once and together / guilty pleasure of TIME. And Stuff again (progress! good!).

Card games

We're all about Go Fish at least three times a day with some combination of Son2, Son1, and me. Fun! They were playing War just before breakfast this morning. I've also taught Son2 (age 4 1/2) a type of solitaire where he removes pairs of matching cards in an array of eight cards; he really likes it. I taught Son1 (8 1/2) to play the same game but to pair the cards that add up to 13.

Yesterday Son2 and I learned a clock solitaire game and Son1 told dear husband and me that he learned a "really cool" card game in school. On hearing his description, I decided it ought to be called Addition War; each player lays down two cards at a time, and the player with the highest combined face value wins the hand. They also played it with three cards at a time. I want to play this with Son1.

This morning I told them about Crazy Eights. This card stuff is fun! I don't think they've learned so many games in so few days before, LOL!

Book toss

I'm returning a bunch of library books this afternoon, using my "get rid of it!" Stuff attitude. Son1 received Harry Potter 5 from Grandma and Grandpa last week, and then checked out HP2 from the school library (he owns it!?! what's that about??), so he's simultaneously rereading both books. And the 2nd in the Wrinkle in Time series. And the 7th in the Young Underground series. And The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (Narnia). Yikes. This is looking like my stack of books. The books on the ancients and the Olympic games have slipped out of favor, and all of the Bionicle books have been read, so back to the library they go.

I'm returning some of my books as well. I really enjoyed Suburban Nation, and How Cities Work is also extremely interesting. I thought it'd be redundant, but it's a different approach entirely.

I'm also going to pick up Running Out of Time, by Margaret Haddix, thanks to a blogger's mention of it in the same sentence as M. Shyamalan's (sp?) The Village...

Monday, August 23, 2004

Shuffle those cards, and deal

The book of family card games has waited patiently for nearly two months of the summer. Tonight was the night. I told the kids we were going to learn card games, and learn we did.

We learned that 7 pm is too late for a 4 1/2 year old to both recognize the Jack and be able to shout "Slapjack!" before his cardshark older brother. Or maybe there is no time of day at which this is possible, and tears are always the result. We moved quickly on to learning "Snap" -- like Slapjack except we look for a match between cards. We learned that this game still does not make a happy 4 1/2 year old when the cards go against him or big brother is lightning quick and gets many of the matches.

Aha! Mom thumbed further into the War chapter and decided to try War for Three. It worked pretty well for a while. Son2 (the 4 1/2 year old) caught on quickly, and happily this game depends completely on the luck of the draw. There were no tears... and then, after initial success, the game began to drag on and on. And on. Or at least that's what Mom forsaw.

Okay, Mom found a reasonable stopping place and pulled out the book again. The three cardplayers finally founnd just the right card game. Not too fast, not too slow; not too hard, not too easy; just right. In fact, Mom thinks we might actually play this again tomorrow.

Go Fish.

"Minnow"-style, with a twist. In Go Fish for Minnows, according to the book, all of the cards are dealt, and the aim is to collect pairs. I changed that to dealing out 9 cards each and having the "fishing" draw pile in the middle. Happy cardplayers! The youngest had fun, the older son began to catch on to some strategy, and Mom enjoyed it too. It is possible we will be able to move from collecting pairs to collecting 3 of a kind and, ultimately, to the book-stated four of a kind. We shall see.

Of course, the kids thought we were going to learn poker, thanks to dear husband's enjoyment of televised poker tournaments lately!

I'd nearly forgotten that dear husband and I used to play Hearts with others, cribbage together and, sometimes, Spades. He enjoys Euchre and taught me once. He plays poker with friends. I used to play Gin Rummy all the time. The kids have no idea!

Now they are long asleep and I'm off to play some actual, physical, non-virtual, non-Microsoft(tm) solitaire before bed.

Hospitality redux

I continue to mull over hospitality. Two more elements have popped up from the deep waters.

The More With Less Cookbook, by Mennonite author Doris Janzen Longacre, is a wonderful resource for cooking from your food stock, eating simple yet delicious frugal foods, and welcoming others to share a meal together. Over the 15 years or so I've had this cookbook, I return to it again and again for the first two reasons, but the third is starting to resonate with me now.

Open Heart, Open Home: The hospitable way to make others feel welcome and wanted, by Karen Mains, has been on my bookshelves for many years. I think I read part of it in my mid-20s, but I have no impression of it now. Recently I've heard it mentioned again. Though I'm sure my copy is not the most recent version, I'm going to crack it open and see what she says about "a biblical and spiritual approach to using your home to care for others."

Saturday, August 21, 2004


The last few days just flew by, and along the way I got some lessons in hospitality.

On Wednesday morning we went to a MOMS Club playdate at a good friend's house, and my boys and I ended up staying until late afternoon! We had a great time. Her two kids and my two played and played, and my friend and I chatted about everything under the sun. At first I couldn't believe the kids and I didn't have to be somewhere else or do something else, and that it was really okay to stay. It was! We had food, and coffee, and plenty of room for kids of varied ages and two moms for an afternoon. The two of us moms even rocked on the porch swing and enjoyed cool breezes! It was so relaxing, such a pleasure.

Beginning Thursday evening, my family hosted another family to help them out of a tight spot. The mom was having outpatient surgery very early Friday morning, and the dad couldn't get out of work until later that day, so we figured out that their two kids would stay overnight with us, and in the morning I would pick her up and deposit the three of them at home.

Oh, but it didn't work out that way. Instead, at 7:55 am Friday morning, about 15 minutes after I'd gotten up — as I was about to start measuring and mixing up my Busy Mom's Coffeecake — her nurse called and said she was ready to be picked up in 30 minutes. Um, er, the surgery center is across the next town from us, 30 minutes from my house. And the kids and I are not dressed. Well, I did my best and we got there in 65 minutes, she checked out, and we bundled her into the van and headed back to our town. The kids and I hadn't actually eaten, so I suggested we all head to my house and eat breakfast.

It turned out to be the best thing. She dozed and relaxed on my sofa all day while our kids played and I kept her supplied with water and crackers... and chitchat when she was awake. (The pain meds really knocked her out at first.) The kids played really well together all day, both inside and outside. The next-door neighbor kids joined the outside play a couple of times. I remember reading at the dining table for a little while as the kids played. A friend came over for our regular playdate (with a phone call heads-up on the situation) and added another kid to the mix and that went well; all three of us moms enjoyed ourselves, too.

The whole day was remarkable for me. I used to actively avoid these situations, sure that I'd be too frazzled hosting other kids for a significant amount of time and that I wasn't very good at hosting gatherings. But over the years in MOMS Club I've learned to host playdates better; we've started having annual parties in winter (Twelfth Night, Jan. 5) and summer (Independence Day, July 4); and in this new house we're starting to have more people over (say, two families at a time) more often.

This went really well! I was fairly relaxed and yet kept a good eye on the kids. It was what my "outpatient friend" needed. Everyone was reasonably well fed. Conversations and such were good. There was enough variety in play ideas & locations and food and company that no one got to the irritable stage.

Of course, after we said goodbye to everyone and had our family and house to ourselves, I was tired! We ordered pizza, I treated myself to a beer, and I went to bed a bit early.

I'm still thinking about the hospitality thing. Hmm.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

It's GONNNNNNE! Time for the evil laugh the kids have been practicing: Mwa-ha-ha-haaaaa! Posted by Hello

Stuff on its way out

I did it! Three boxes and four grocery sacks of decluttered Stuff from the garage, a big box of more didn't-sell-at-the-garage-sale Stuff from the house, and it's all sitting in the entryway for a charity to pick up. WOOHOO! They better leave the dogwood tree alone, heehee, as it's not labelled for pickup. Posted by Hello

Now I have that look, the one that scans every nook and cranny of the house for more Stuff to get rid of. Time to put the true junk in the trash can, finish sorting the kid detritus for the keepers and toss the rest in the trash, and fill the car trunk with recyclables. Then I'm bagging up magazines for the boys' school's paper-Stuff recycling drive. We're gonna clear out the corners; she's on a roll!

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Milky Way vs football season

It's August, and the Very Big Lights for nighttime practices and games in the Local Big University's football stadium are on most nights now. As they will be until December. I can see them from our upstairs windows looking north about 2-3 miles. Besides the blinding experience this provides when we drive -- frequently -- on a certain street near the stadium at & after dusk (I use the sunvisor to block the lights!), my main thought is: will this light wash out my chances of seeing the Milky Way this fall? Maybe it's not a problem; our backyard is on the opposite side of the house, and the biggest light pollution (!) is the single light on the street near the park, a yearround thing. I'm still delighted to have seen the Milky Way from my backyard.

Book Stack Changes

Yep, another library trip. Yet again Son2 got some novels (Star Wars) despite my efforts to steer him toward books with pictures! He loves to "read" in the car just like big brother, and announce things like, "I'm on Chapter One, page two!" He also practices his counting to 100 with the page numbers.

Son1 (and I!) picked up the requested Book Six in the Young Underground series; I got mixed up so we checked out books 7 and 8 last week and are impatient for book 6. More fun in post-WW2 Denmark with kids' adventures and a little faith mixed in, very nicely and with a light touch despite my doubts. We're both hooked on this series.

Son1 also got two more Bionicle "novels," and the second and third Wrinkle in Time followups, A Wind in the Door and A Swiftly Tilting Planet. I read the first and second books as a kid, but not the third. I'll be reading these too.

My requests and interlibrary loans arrived! I waited for a while for Bill Clinton's My Life. I wonder how many people requested it -- they have nearly a hundred copies in the regional library system! I used to read autobiographies and bios all the time, and this summer I've picked it up again. If I'm still up for it, I'm planning to try George and Laura again after W.J. Clinton's book.

Interlibrary loans: How Cities Work: Suburbs, sprawl, and the roads not taken and Suburban Nation: The rise of sprawl and the decline of the American dream. Yep, I really like urban planning, smart growth, community stuff. I heard an author interview on public radio awhile ago with some great discussion about suburbs. After some Amazon wandering and the library catalog, I found these books in the system.

I also borrowed Edge City (sort of about suburbs becoming their own economies), but I'm going to wait on that 'cause the nonrenewable ILLs go to the top of the stack.

Only now, upon blogging about it, do I search the Diane Rehm Show archives and find what I heard was the second hour of the June 29 show, with David Brooks, author of On Paradise Drive. A request has now been placed via the library's online catalog.

Two of the ILLs' back cover blurbs refer to Jane Jacobs's The Death and Life of Great American Cities, which I loved when I read it long ago. I may or may not be able to concentrate enough to read all three of these books over the next few weeks, but we'll see.

Oh, and I returned From My Mexican Kitchen (just couldn't get into it right now).

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Pics from the last 8 days

Son2 observing Son1 being "crushed" by the giant woolly mammoth (sculpture) at our local natural history museum. Posted by Hello

The boys frolicking near the Celtic cross on the church grounds after our all-ages evening vacation church school a week ago. It's all about the wall. Silly boys! Posted by Hello

This wasn't all on one day -- you knew that, right? I mean, it could've been, technically, but it wasn't. Anyway, check out the at-dusk visit to the snow-cone stand. Flavors: Son2 - peach. Son1 - toxic waste (it was grey, I kid you not). Dear husband - lemon lime. Me - brown cow (chocolate and coconut). Posted by Hello

For your viewing pleasure: a simple yet effective way to display books for the kids. Summertime only, believe me! Have I mentioned that we decorate in Children's and Family Activities?? On the left: ancient history and Olympics, with fiction in front. Middle: Vote! and related books. Right: a mix of mostly picture books. Posted by Hello

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Let's learn to read... tshirts!

Lately Son2 (age 4 1/2) has been asking to read. I've brought out the Bob books that Grandma C gave us and we've worked through the first four books. After we've sounded/read through each book, Son2 reads it again to anyone breathing — Son1, Daddy, me. Daddy is very patient at teaching him to sound out the words.

Just now I heard Daddy patiently teaching Son2 to sound out "Nittany Lions" from the Penn State tshirt he's wearing. LOL!

We are a Penn State family (we met there in grad school, meteorology) -- or at least we grownups are. Son1 is seriously inclined to the local school, OU, to our chagrin (did I mention we're a PSU family?!?). Son2, well... obviously dear husband is working to avoid a similar fate for him, our sole Sooner-born offspring.

News flash: Son2 just ran to Daddy from the bedroom and showed off his Penn State tshirt. For now the indoctrination is working, heehee.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Meteors, ice cream, wash-n-wear house!

I LOVED seeing even just a few streaks of the Perseid meteor shower last night. I was up way too late yet again, but just before I went to bed (midnight!) I remembered the Perseids. For the first time in years, it was a clear night.

I turned off all unneeded lights in the house, and stepped out into the backyard. After about 10 minutes of meteor- and star-watching, I was able to see many more stars than when I first stepped outside. I believe I also saw the Milky Way! I live at the southern edge of our town of 100,000; there are only a few much smaller towns beyond us; our subdivision property backs up to a 7-acre park; the land falls away gently in that direction (southwest), and... it was quite lovely.

I'm thankful for "earthgrazing" midnight meteors, not too many lights, and a cloudless and starry sky.


Recipe for a happy kids-and-mom moment yesterday: serve ice cream as snack and call it good. Son1 and Son2 were sooooo happy, and I love doing crazy things like that. Makes for joyful times.

I'm thankful for midday ice cream, "why not?" decisions, and happy kids.


It was windy this afternoon, and the clouds looked suspiciously rain-showery in an unorganized way. Then! Suddenly! The skies opened and big fat raindrops drummed on all surfaces! I ran to close the open windows near books and carpet (all upstairs), and afterward got around to closing the front windows in the dining area. No worries, even though it had rained about two feet into the house through those windows. No problem!

Our floors in the living areas are finished concrete and there was no furniture or anything else near those windows. I got a cleanup towel, wiped the windowsills dry (and clean -- bonus!), and dried the floor. The concrete is our foundation, which previous owners had prepped, stained slate gray, and finished to a gloss that's not slippery. It looks good, feels great on bare feet in our hot summers, and stands up to anything. Spilled oatmeal? Play dough? Bright colored drinks? Ill children? Super easy cleanup, and no worries about stains or what stayed in the carpet.

I'm thankful for the gift of a wash-n-wear house!

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Stuff update

News flash: if, after wayyyy more than 48 hours (and a sleepover, my excuse), the closet Stuff is still lining the hallway, the kids can help -- especially if some of it is their Stuff.

Here's how: keep drinking your coffee and reading when the kids discover that the row of containers on top have THEIR detritus from the last 6-12 months, and haul it off to their room to dump on the floor for seriously fun exploration. Let the floor remain covered in old kid detritus for two more days, then drag everyone's derriere in there, and start sorting.

A trash bag within arms reach is extremely helpful. Also, I made them put their sorted things in common. I.e., put Lego stuff in the Lego bin... huge pile of goofy little toys in a big bucket just for goofy little toys... stickers and animal-shaped erasers from Grandma C to the art and writing/doodling cupboards, respectively...

As it turned out, I was DONE allowing them to pile up every semi-demi-hemi-precious object in their small "it's mine" boxes. Instead, all cars together, all Lego together, and if you can remember which is yours, enjoy the thought while you play. Extra-special stuff may still be squirreled away, but let's discriminate a bit as to what is "special," shall we? I ought to write that thought on my arm in pen for my own Stuff!

Now, to finish the ex-closet Stuff. Perhaps I ought to direct the kids' attention to the other containers of their Stuff. Or, now that I've gotten rolling, drag the trash bag over and deal with it myself, eh?

The last part of this Stuff turns out to be kitchen Stuff that I've lived without for 15 months. I'm putting 90 percent of it out for the charity pickup that's coming next Wednesday. My goal: a HUGE pile for charity, and get the nooks and crannies of the house clear once again!

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Off to school soon enough

As of yesterday noon, both boys are enrolled, registered, paperwork-all-done for starting school in two weeks (Son1: 3rd grade. Son2: afternoon preK). I've started a mental to-do list for school stuff, such as checking their clothes and see what if anything we need to get. I realized that, for me, this is the beginning of the end of summer. The time when I start to look and plan for what's about to happen, and let go a bit of what is ending. Last week was still full summer; this week I'm antsy to find out which teachers my boys will have, and who their classmates will be.

Many friends are really looking forward to school starting. I know my kids are looking forward to it. I have mixed emotions, because I would love to homeschool them. I feel as though we've just gotten de-schooled (decompressed) at this point in the summer, and right about now would be a great time to add Prima Latina and some Singapore Math, to ease us into homeschool.

Instead, I've pulled out the Cuisenaire rods, the 1-digit addition/subtraction with C. rods book for Son2, and the multiplication/division with C. rods book for Son1. We keep reading along happily in The Story of the World Vol. 1: Ancient times. The kids and I continue enjoying plenty of play time and reading time. Summer is almost gone, but not quite. School is starting, but not yet.

Limbo, yet in motion. En route.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Sleepover hangover, or somethin'

There was a sleepover. It involved four boys age 8 1/2 or so. It involved 3-5 hours of sleep for said boys. It was two nights ago. It was at someone else's house. Our entire family is just now recovered!

How is it that a fun Friday evening cookout with three families, in which two families leave their boys for the night and return the next noontime to pick them up, somehow sucks all of the energy out of the weekend? Not in a bad way, but it's completely amazing.

Son1 had his first sleepover, spent the evening 'til late playing in their pool, went to bed after playing a 'civilization'-like computer game and a midnight Yu-Gi-Oh tournament (he reported). That night Son2 went to bed immediately upon arriving home -- about an hour late -- and dear husband and I both stayed up wayyyy too late.Son1 slept poorly 'cause he was cold -- so it goes -- and played in the pool again after breakfast. We picked him up just before noon.

Half an hour after we got home, he dragged himself off to bed. I sung him to sleep as always (sung prayers from church), and he slept for two hours. During which time dear husband laid down for a nap. Son1 got up and dear husband continued sleeping. Son1 read, watched TV, drank a bunch of water, and went back to bed a couple of hours later, then both sleeping guys got up for dinner -- ?!? Son1 and Son2 went to bed agreeably at their regular times, and I went to bed not too late; no idea what dear husband did. Son1 is still tired today, but seems to be somewhat caught up on his sleep and eating and drinking of water.

So Saturday was really odd for us, with half the household in bed at any one point in the day (or so it seemed). Son1 had a wonderful time with three of his best pals from school, and yet appreciated being back in his family routine. I'm not sure what I think of all of this!

Book stack reshuffled

I returned Hillary Clinton's Living History, unfinished. Amazing how oddly freeing that is. Better to return it when the interest wanes, and know it's available to check out another time to finish, if I get interested again.

The books in the sidebar, well, I'm in a bit of a lull right now re. longer books. Most of them are being IGNORED for the moment, in favor of:

Homeschooling, the Middle Years: Your complete guide to successfully homeschooling the 8- to 12-year-old child, by Shari Henry. Finished this today. I love reading interesting tidbits about other people.

How to Talk to Your Child About Sex: It's best to start early, but it's never too late, by the Eyres. Read the under-10 parts today, skimmed the rest, and it's ready to return. It's pretty good.

Next I'm going to read the next several books in Son1's "The Young Underground" series (kids' adventures in WW2 and post-WW2 Denmark). Pure fun, and that's what I want right now. Maybe I'll peek at Son1's The Magical Worlds of Harry Potter: A treasury of myths, legends, and fascinating facts, by David Colbert. He gobbled it up.

I reserve the right to dump all books in the library's return bin when I lose interest, no matter how long I waited for my request to be filled. Freedom!

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Peace is under the bed?

When we moved into this house last year, I tried really hard not to stow things in the closets and other storage places unless they really belonged there. Unfortunately, I gave in and stashed a bunch of stuff in the under-stairs closet. In a search for something tonight, I pulled out everything that didn't belong there. Now it's lined up along the entryway walls, and I don't want to get comfortable with that (been there done that shudder), so I have about 48 to 72 hours in which to sort and toss.

All this to say, I looked in that under-stairs closet later and it was a pleasure to see... (a) what belonged there, and (b) open floor space. It reminded me that earlier today I'd peeked under our bed, and realized there were — only — two underbed storage boxes, and lots of bare carpet. It was great. And quite unfamiliar to me — she who has no empty corners or tables. Sigh. I am thankful that I'm much improved at this; mostly I do toss and streamline rather than shuffle stuff around the house. Yet, it's a huge effort to tackle the old stuff.

Stuff, stuff, stuff. Arrgh. George Carlin says when it's yours, it's stuff. When it's someone else's, it's (er, animal droppings). Yeppers. Gotta let go of the stuff.

I read some books on Feng Shui when we were househunting. One of the few things I used (imperfectly) was the advice to keep the area under your bed completely clear. It really is a wonderful feeling to see open space under my bed (and in a closet) (and in our living areas) (and in the playroom) (and...!). It feels like a big "Ahhhhhhh!" As though my psyche is relaxing. Peace?

Next thought: Use this, and get rid of more stuff. The idea of decluttering right into streamlining was already rattling around. Now my goal is to simplify the corners and tables and closets, to edit this place into a peace-filled house and life. I think I might be onto something here. I'll start with that old under-closet stuff.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Needlework night

My husband dropped me off at the weekly needlework night that I haven't been to in weeks, and took the boys to the mall. How strangely wonderful it was! I made progress on my project, a lovely little colonial-esque row of petite samplers. All the while, I enjoyed the company of about 15 women with our needlework. Much counted cross-stitch around the room. Plenty of intricate work and charming simple stuff, silks, perle cottons, cotton floss, fine scissors and handmade scissor fobs, and life stories and challenges were represented in that room tonight. Lots of laughter wove it all together.

Ahhhhhhhh. The sound of me relaxing a bit.

Book Stack Changes

Another library trip, though the haul is minor for me. I borrowed a book on making baskets (a quick read; I'll drop it off tomorrow) and the long-requested pioneer cookbook for kids, Skillet Bread, Sourdough, and Vinegar Pie: Cooking in pioneer days. I requested it when I was reading lots of Oklahoma and pioneer history during my Colonial House period.

Tomorrow Hillary Clinton's Living History will be overdue, so I need to concentrate on finishing that! It's been interesting to read her take. I'm on the list at the library for requesting Bill's My Life when it becomes available. I may have to return George and Laura before I can tackle it, at this rate.

Son1 now has The Magical Worlds of Harry Potter: A treasury of myths, legends, and fascinating facts (he'd already started reading this before we left the library -- it looks great!), Vote! by Eileen Christelow; The Adventures of Wishbone: The mutt in the iron muzzle; and a kids' biography of Grover Cleveland, whom Son1 had noticed was president twice, thanks to the presidents cards from Grandpa-who-works-at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum.

The best part of the whole trip is the ancient-world stuff. Two short videos from Schlessinger's video series "Ancient Civilizations for Children" Ancient Aegean (Minoans and Mycenaeans) and Ancient Greece. Lonnnng ago we enjoyed those on ancient Mesopotamia, ancient Egypt, and ancient China.

More good ancient-world stuff came home with us. The Children's Atlas of Civilizations for the maps of ancient civs, How Children Lived, a DK book, for leaving around on tables to entice the boybarians, and D'Aulaire's Book of Greek Myths for Son1 to browse.

Why the ancients? We've reached the midway point of The Story of the World, Vol. 1: Ancient times, and are entering the world of ancient Greece. We read about the Olympics yesterday, and the rise of Persia. Next, as Son1 puts it, "the Greeks go to war!"

Monday, August 02, 2004

The view from our doorstep of our river birches, newly pruned. I LOVE their peeling bark! It was midday when I took these photos; they cast nice shade, and you can see beyond them even though they offer a bit of screening. Posted by Hello

Up close, from the sidewalk. Now you can really see the peeling bark! Looks great in winter, too. Posted by Hello

The view from inside our house. Posted by Hello