Hello, 2018

It is now 2018. I have a third grader and a first grader. My third kid will be starting home-preschool in the fall. My youngest will be potty-training soon.

WHERE DOES THE TIME GO???

Sucked into the same vortex that spews out laundry, crumbs, and dirty dishes.

This year of school has, in many ways, been a lot easier than last year. Last year was my first time schooling two kids, and it was definitely a learning curve trying to a) figure out how to teach two kids who both needed me to read EVERYTHING to them because they couldn’t read themselves yet, b) trying to get two boys to DO their school, especially the younger because he regretted growing older and wanted to go back to playing all day, c) how to keep the younger two OUT of everything and telling them “No” every thirty seconds because they don’t understand why they can’t help their older siblings with math/handwriting/reading/crafts, or better yet, just grab a pen or scissors or glue and do it for them. Which they did. All the time.

September through June. Eight and a half months.

That is a sum up. The exact details are too terrifying. I won’t do that to you.

So this year is a bit easier in some respects. Mostly because my oldest conquered reading and is now doing superbly, which means he can do a lot of his school by himself now. Except for his history, which he needs me to explain to him (he’s only in third grade). My second, not to be outdone by his brother, has taught himself to read and now shows off by reading EVERYTHING (no competition there!). So math, handwriting, and the activity work in the spelling tests they can do BY THEMSELVES!!! WHOOPEEEEEEE!!!!

This year has other challenges. Many. Many. Challenges. (see: 2 1/2 year old, page 2,952 in the “Challenges” handbook.)

But our homestead is still here, and so am I, and so is Sacket Man.

God bless!

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The antisocial society

A "Wise" Man's Thoughts

Introverts. The very name sends shivers down the spines of extroverts everywhere…

Why?

Seriously, I don’t understand why it is so hard for people to understand what being an introvert means. We are not actually antisocial. I love hanging out with people. I just can’t deal with it for extended periods of time or in rapid succession. So, I’ll try to demystify some of what being an introvert is.

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But I Did This and That!

The saying “Two is better than one” is perfectly described here. Appreciate the work your significant other has done, don’t compare to see if the workload between you both is perfectly even. “Equal” does not mean “the same”. Equal is very often different. Different chores, different demands, different effort required. What matters is not if your workloads were of the same weight, what matters is sitting down next to each other at the end of the day and appreciating each other.

A "Wise" Man's Thoughts

Any parent will have heard this and likely said this at some point. They ask you to do something and you respond with, “but I’ve already [insert super difficult parenting job here].”

Why do we do that? Parenting should be a team effort, but why do we focus so hard on splitting the chores? I’ve heard of mothers telling their husbands that they “were up with the baby last night.” Please understand that I appreciate that they do that. But also understand that, during the middle of the night, men aren’t what the baby is looking for.

If your significant other uses this on you, it’s not fair, but be gracious and do what they ask anyway. But don’t feel entitled because you worked hard. They worked hard to. Maybe not the same work, but chances are that they are just as worn out and hoping for a break as…

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The calm after the storm

A "Wise" Man's Thoughts

Oh my goodness it has been a while. I really have no excuse for it, though if I really wanted to, I could fill a book with reasons. What it really boils down to is I haven’t made time for my blog. I have been filling every moment with family, work, and life. But I am back, and hopefully I can make a go at blogging again.

With multiple children now, I have found myself asking, begging, and demanding that my children ocassionally calm down. Yesterday, the contradicting nature of being calm struck me like our mini van when my wife is late for an appoiment… I’m kidding of course. My wife is an excellent driver and would never recklessly run me over with our mini van. She’d do it deliberately because I was the one who made us late.

The word calm can be used several ways. It is…

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I can’t handle it.

This is excellent, especially for parents with multiple kids. Anyone out there feel like an overstressed Dad? Overstressed Mom? This is to the point, and right. Something I need to practice more.
Thank you, Wise Man. Your thoughts were much needed today!

A "Wise" Man's Thoughts

In your everyday life, this is a false statement. You can handle it. You just don’t want to. Life gets stressful sometimes. Kids drive us crazy, bosses are overbearing, spouses are irritating. But you can handle it. Humans are some of the most amazing and resilient beings in the universe. I understand that life gets stressful, so I have some suggestions to help get you through the crazy bits.

First, stop thinking about yourself. I know you want calm and peace and quiet, but life isn’t going to just give it to you because you want it. So stop obsessing about what you want. The kid wants you to play with them? Just play with them. The spouse wants you to help pick up the house? Just help pick up the mess.Have more than one child and both are demanding attention? This is the tough one: Pick one and ignore…

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Fairytale Heroes

I love fairytales. I mean I really, really love them, and I’ll readily admit that I LOVE Disney. Sleeping Beauty and Beauty and the Beast were my favorite growing up, and recently Tangled, Frozen, and Brave? (Yes I still watch them as an adult, and go around singing with great exuberance).

October, in my kindergarten school list, is marked as Hero Month. And according to the calendar, Oct. 1st is the Storytelling Festival, so I have made it Fairytale Month for my 2nd Grader.

Everyone should know the classic fairytales, and everyone should see the Disney films… I love showing them to my boys, and this year, after every movie, I asked them, “Who was the hero?” They were confused at first, and hesitantly said, “The Princess?” and I realized that boys are rarely taught about the heroes of fairytales. Fairytales are thought of as girl stories, with heroines, not heroes. But that’s not true. I want my boys to learn about courage, perseverance, bravery in the face of fear and danger, nobility, honor, and true love. So I began to talk about it, starting with Snow White, the first movie we watched…

Me: “Look at how kind those dwarves are… they are opening their home to this poor, scared girl and they are going to protect her. Look at how brave they are when the wicked queen shows up!”
Kindergartner: “Yeah, they are running as fast as they can to try and save her!”
2nd Grader: “Even though she is like a witch, she does bad powerful magic. That’s really brave.”
Me: “What about the prince?”
2nd Grader: “He’s not really the hero. He just shows up.”
Me: “But look at what it says… that when Snow White disappeared, he looked and looked and looked for her for a year. Does that show true love? How long is a year?”
2nd Grader: “But he only talked to her once.”
Me: “They show that in the movie, but he was a prince and she was a princess. Do you think they’ve met before? Do you think they spent some time talking? Would a man look for a year for a girl he didn’t love?”
2nd Grader: “You’re right… he must have been sad and worried when he couldn’t find her! And then he heard about the sleeping girl, and came to see, and it was Snow White… he must have been so sad.”

Right there we got to have a talk about bravery, about helping someone in need, about jealousy and vanity, and about love and perseverance and how love never gives up.

We watched Sleeping Beauty, and, boy, does Prince Phillip show boys what a hero is… when he falls for Aurora, he commits to her completely. He is not so enamored of palace life that he clings to it, but is willing to go from being a prince to a peasant just for her. When Maleficent captures him, you can see his distress at the thought of what’s happened to his love, and when the fairies free him and give him the Sword of Truth and the Shield of Virtue, Phillip does not hesitate to rush to Aurora’s aid. He fights through goblins. He is caught in a forest of thorns (my sons have gone blackberry picking, so they sympathized), and when he finally gets through that he has to fight Maleficent who has turned herself into a great black dragon, using the powers of Hell.

(I would like to point out that this opened a great talk about how Satan will trick us into feeling powerful, or even give power, but that the only true and good power is God’s, and anything else is evil. And with the Sword and the Shield, we were able to talk about God’s Power, how He gives us weapons to fight against wickedness… see the Armor of God.)

Prince Phillip felt fear, felt hopelessness, but he kept fighting and didn’t give up. Ever. And in the end he won, and he woke Aurora up, and they got to live happily ever after.

Fairytales are not just about the Girl or the Princess who must be brave under attack, who must be strong in bad circumstances. They are also about the Men and the Heroes, who don’t give up, who keep fighting. Fairytales are for girls and boys.

It was such a joy watching the light turn on in my boys’ eyes, watching them swell with courage and a desire to be noble and brave. After two weeks it has become second nature now for them to come to me and tell me who the heroes are. My daughter can identify with the princesses (her favorite is Rapunzel), and now my boys have characters they can identify with, too.

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DC – The Prince and Snow White (color) by vanillacoke-disney on DeviantArt

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Prince Phillip by FreeLikeWater on DeviantArt

Columbus and My Children

I have two children in school now. My oldest is in 2nd Grade, and my second oldest is in Kindergarten. With Columbus Day coming, my oldest is learning about him in his history book and marking him on the timeline we’re creating about the discovery and settling of the Americas.

There is a huge controversy over Columbus. I never gave much thought to it before, but I have become very aware of it as a homeschooling mother these last couple of years as I look up and purchase school books and create crafts and teach my sons.

There is argument over the day celebrating Columbus. There is argument over what we should teach out kids, and even talk of striking him from the history books. I’ve thought about it long and hard, since what we tell our kids shapes them. In 2014 I wrote about my oldest’s first learning about Columbus, and our run in with a critical family member who ruined the experience for him. So this year, when the explorer appeared once more in my son’s history book (in greater detail), I wanted to think about how to present him. As a hero? As a murderer? As an explorer?

What is Columbus Day about?

I think it would be wrong to strike him from the history books, or to remove his day from our year. Here’s why. Because what we are celebrating is not the man himself, but the first time the continent of America made its appearance on the maps of the world. Before then no one knew of America, no one knew that the world they knew was actually only half of the world God created.

Was Columbus a hero? No. Was he a murderer? Yes, and a slaver. Many ship captains were back then. For some reason there was this prevailing thought that if a being was not white and did not speak one of the white languages, they were meant to be enslaved. It was their purpose, and it was okay. Sin makes people do awful things. His greed took him to dark places, and he did wicked things for his love for gold and power.

Was he an explorer? Yes. He went where others were too afraid to go, and explored and explored, originally for a greater cause. He encouraged those who were frightened. He mapped where he went so that others could follow safely. He was brave; one would have to be to take on the journey he originally took… setting off into an unknown vastness of ocean that he might never return from, in an effort to find a safe route to Asia so that merchants could retrieve and deliver their goods more safely than they could across the vast continents where they were besieged constantly by robbers and thieves. That is a noble cause.

And in the end, we learn about him because he’s the one who put the continent of America on the map. So in the end, that is what I am teaching my 2nd Grader. How the Americas were found.

He can learn about the murdering and enslavement later. When he’s older and learning about slavery.

Summer, Diary 4, 2016

Tawny Scrawny Carrot Stew.

Doesn’t that sound divine?

My kids love the book The Tawny Scrawny Lion by Kathryn Jackson. Incidentally, I do too… the copy we have is mine from when I was a little girl. We read it at least twice a week at bedtime, and lately James has been talking about having bowls of carrot stew and heaping his bowl with berries, and soon enough Roman and Rose started relishing the idea too.

So last week I made Tawny Scrawny Carrot Stew.

I looked up several recipes for cream of carrot soup, and then modified slightly to match the stew the rabbits make Tawny Scrawny in the book. The description was a carrot stew, with fish and herbs and mushrooms.

Oh my gosh… it was so good! I wasn’t sure at first, as it’s not a combination one often sees, but it was delicious and easy and I would make it again in a heartbeat.

My kids ate it for supper, grinning from ear to ear, and then we heaped our bowls afterward with fresh raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries. A perfect finish to this dish.

I LOVE to cook from a good book. Redwall, Narnia, Lord of the Rings, Little House, Boxcar Children, The Tawny Scrawny Lion, Miss Suzy… gosh, there’s so many wonderful books out there that just make me want to eat! 🙂

(Not the best picture. Sorry. I took it with my phone, after my growing hoard had all but consumed the pot.)

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Tawny Scrawny Carrot Stew

Ingredients
• 6 cups Carrots, chopped
• 6 cups Liquid (all water, or a mix of water and vegetable broth)

• 15 oz White Fish (I used Cod)

• 2 T Butter
• 2 cans Mushrooms (4 oz each), drained

• 1/2 tsp Thyme, dry
• 2 tsp Garlic, chopped • 2 T Butter
• s/p to taste

Directions
Put the carrots and liquid in a pot and boil, uncovered, till carrots are soft (about 15-20 minutes). Scoop out into a bowl, leaving liquid in the pot. Add the white fish to the pot, another 2 cups of water, and simmer till cooked (about 10 minutes), till opaque and flaking. Pull fish out, and add the carrots back in. Add the thyme and garlic. Use an immersion blender, or a regular blender, and puree the carrots and liquid.

In a small pan, sauté the mushrooms in the 2 T of butter.

To the creamy carrot soup, add the fish, the mushrooms (and mushroom/butter drippings), and another 2 T of butter. Mix to break the fish up. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

Enjoy.

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Summer, Diary 3, 2016

We may or may not have strep throat. As a family. Whoopee!

So I made blood jello with my kids today.

As in: I mixed up raspberry jello and called it plasma, and they dumped in strawberries (red blood cells), marshmallows (white blood cells), and strawberry licorice (platelets).

Homeschooling is the bomb. 🙂

Waiting for cultures to develop and results to come in, it seemed a good day to learn about the human body. So we watched some Magic School Bus episodes, and went through a book on the human body complete with little flip up tabs with extra facts and pictures. My focus for this day was on blood. What makes it up? How does it work?

Strawberry flavored Australian Style Licorice, mini marshmallows, and cheerios glued to red tissue paper made up the four components of blood: plasma, red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Of course the kids LOVE to make things they can eat, too, so we made the jello, which unexpectedly helped them have an “Aha!” moment in regards to why blood needs plasma, because all of the add-ins just stuck together in the bottom of the dish, but as soon as I poured in the jello it all began to flow and move freely.

Sore throats and mild temps… and a lot of fun.

Summer, Diary 2, 2016

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Today is Memorial Day, a day where we remember those who have given their life for our country. To honor their sacrifice, their love, and their courage, so that others might be safe, might be protected, and might be free.

I know my country is not perfect. It is a large land full of many different people from many different backgrounds, beliefs, cultures, mindsets, and circumstances. But here is the thing… we fight so much because we have the freedom to. This country has immense freedom, more than we realize or even wish to acknowledge.

So I want to remember the good of my country. I want to uphold what is right in it, so that the good will grow and grow until there is no more room for the bad.

In America we are free. Rejoice in it. Use it. Do not squander it.

We have the freedom to pray. Cherish that and pray for those who don’t.

We have the freedom to worship. Worship without fear and celebrate.

We have the freedom to form our own lives, to choose to sit back and do nothing, or to work hard and make something of ourselves. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” We do not have the right to happiness, but the pursuit of it. Whether you have a happy life, a good life, or not depends on you. That is your freedom. So form your life well.

We have freedom with our children. Realize what a blessing this is— to be given charge of a brand new life who will rely on you to train and guide them so that they can grow up and live their own life. Don’t squander this! Raise them with all of your might, or give them the hope of a good life by finding the best parents possible for them. In this land of freedom, don’t abuse yours by taking away theirs just because you don’t want the inconvenience. There are too many options out there. Be that child’s blessing, however that might be.

We have the freedom to make our voice heard, through online blogs, social media, sitting in a cafe with friends, or voting. Use that freedom. Don’t waste it by saying “My voice will never be heard, my vote means nothing.”

We have the freedom to help. Pass it on, no matter who it is.

We have the freedom to do our best. Reach for the stars!

With freedom comes responsibility. Freedom is a gift to be cherished and utilized. It is an amazing tool that can become deadly by those who take it for granted, who use that freedom to take instead of to give.

Our founding fathers did not begin this country, and our men and women who have fought and died, did not sacrifice to gain and keep freedom for us to abuse it.

Make their sacrifice worth it.

Live well.

 

“This is my family. … It’s little, and broken, but still good. Yeah, still good.”

Lilo and Stitch

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1st Peter 2

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.