Showing posts from August, 2012

A tale of two mothers - part 2

You all crack me up. Clearly, my readership is fixated with dessert. Maybe someday I will write a post on under-appreciated desserts, but for right now I must stick to deserts because otherwise my clothes won't fit and I will still have no lesson plans made. I will share a tip to keep the two words straight that a homeschooling friend shared with me yesterday when we were laughing about this. Dessert has two s's because there are more of them and with dessert you always want more.

I want to go back to the second of the two mothers. This mother of three I came across when I was reading the book about habits. She appears in the chapter about self will because of her horrific gambling addiction, but it is her initial circumstance I want to address. Before she lost everything because to her gambling, she started out as a mother of three who, when her last child went off to school, was so bored and lonely she didn't know what to do with herself. So she went to the local casino …

Society for the Promotion of Under-Appreciated Deserts

This is the group that evidently needs to be created. I have created Stonehenge in books on the rug in my kitchen and have spent more than a few hours sitting inside of it and planning our school year. My thought was that we would spend the year studying the deserts of the world. This seemed very easy in my head. I would go to the library and look up deserts and check out of few books. I would bring them home and read them so that I would know which areas needed further research and create our unit study. It sounds like a good plan, huh?

Well, if the books existed it would be a good idea. There are a couple of books about deserts and they served their purpose of helping me define the parameters of our unit study, but the problem came when I went to do more in-depth research. There just are not a lot of books on the individual deserts of the world. I can find enough material on the Sahara and the Sonora (plus, I grew up in the Sonora desert, so that's easy), but the other deserts? …

A tale of two mothers - part 1

I'm feeling much better today, but since I've had a lot of time to just sit and read over the past few days, I have a lot of thoughts to share. In my reading, I came across the stories of two mothers, each with three children, and both in places where they are miserable. I believe they are two sides of the same coin and wanted to reply to each of them. So, one today and one later.

The first woman responded to an advice columnist who published a letter about another woman who wanted to be a mother. (Confused yet?) In her (the mother's) letter, she felt as though the advice columnist hadn't done due diligence in her reply because the woman felt that motherhood wasn't all that it was cracked up to be. She had three children and she felt tired, overwhelmed, and pretty much a slave, chauffeur, and maid to her family. It wasn't what she had signed up for. The advice columnist's response was along the lines of, thanks for giving the whole story.

I wish the columni…


I'm still trying to fight this cold and have not been overly productive. For instance, on Sunday I pretty much sat around and read which explains why I was able to finish The Power of Habit: why we do what we do in life and in business by Charles Duhigg. It is a fascinating book all about how habits influence our lives and how they can be changed (or not). What I find the most interesting is how one seemingly small habit can affect the rest of our lives in a huge way. And of course, I love reading a paragraph such as this:

"Studies have documented that families who habitually eat dinner together seem to raise children with better homework skills, higher grades greater emotional control, and more confidence. Making your bed every morning is correlated with better productivity, a greater sense of well-being, and stronger skills at sticking with a budget. It's not that a family meal or a tidy bed causes better grades or less frivolous spending. But somehow those initial shif…

Frugal large family meals: chicken noodle soup

I'm not feeling well and have been eating the chicken noodle soup I made over the weekend and really counting on its curative affects. I wasn't going to share the recipe (such as it is) with you at first because it seemed like such an obvious thing, but it has been pointed out to me more than once that what seems obvious to me isn't necessarily obvious to anyone else.

So, here is how I make chicken noodle soup. (It isn't going to look like a recipe, though, because I'm going to describe how I make it.) Chicken soup is a very frugal meal, especially if you have saved the carcasses from one or two roast chickens. (You can freeze them if you know you aren't going to use them right away or if you want to save up until you have a couple.) If you don't think there is enough meat left on them to be enough for soup, you can always buy a small package of chicken legs and use them as well.

At some point in the early to middle afternoon I will start the stock. In a la…

Cookie Monster

You had L. as Superman a while ago, and my mom requested pictures of G., so now you have G. as Cookie Monster.  (Pictures by B.) Perhaps there will be some real content next week.

Still summer

We're still very much in summer mode around here. We are enjoying the nice weather and the relaxed schedules and taking advantage of fun things to do in the area. Tuesday we spent a good part of the afternoon at the Lincoln Park Zoo. 
We have a membership, and this year the membership came with a punch card for free rides on the endangered species carousel. (Something we don't normally ride on.) This was a treat for everyone.

H., L., and G.
K. and P.
We realized that it was the first carousel ride for G. and L. They LOVED it. They loved it so much they didn't want it to stop. When the ride slowed down and the stopped, G. looked hopefully at A., who was standing next to her, and asked, "It go again, right?" When A. said that it didn't, G. crumpled up into a ball of despair while L. went into full offensive mode and decided that no one could make her get off the carousel. She was grabbing on so tightly it took two people to pry her off. Add the app…

My big blank wall

I realize that when I shared about organizing our craft supplies that I never showed you my solution to the big blank wall in the kitchen. Here is what it looks like now (ignore the piles on the white cupboard... some of it is school stuff that I'm ignoring for the moment):

These are three long wires that are strung in different lengths across the wall. They are from IKEA and the wires have mounts that go into the wall and which are used to tighten the wires. I also picked up the clip sets so that all we have to do is clip the artwork to the wires. The bottom wires have a rotating display of the children's various artwork and across the top is a long piece of paper (supplied by a good friend) with a Scripture verse. This is Hosea 1:7.

I wrote out the verse in pencil and then let everyone 9 and up go to town. They colored, they traced, the added pictures. I love how it looks. And there is absolutely no permanent commitment which is what I was avoiding for the past four years.

Worship notebooks

A while back, I did a short class on how our family uses worship notebooks to help our children during the 'long parts' of the weekly worship service. I thought perhaps you, my blog readers, might be interested in the topic as well. We have long been proponents of families worshiping together, through the whole service, as opposed to sending them out for part of it. I know this puts us in the minority of North American, white, evangelical worshipers, but I'm OK with that. I have written several posts about this before which, if you're new, you might find interesting. Here are the links:  Worship; Unintended consequences; Worship revisited; and Expecting too much of our children?

But back to the worship notebooks.  I must say up front that we have been heavily influenced by Edith Schaeffer in The Hidden Art of Homemaking and by Robbie Castleman in Parenting in the Pew in how we go about doing worship with our children. So, as much as I would like to take credit for what…

Resorting to bullet points

I'm finding it really difficult to top yesterday's post about Superman (go ahead, you know you want to look at the cute L. pictures again), so, I'm going to stop trying and just bore you all with some humdrum family items.

Yesterday H. had a sedated MRI done. It meant that she and I had to be at the hospital by 6am. It's not an hour I normally like to be up and about, but we made it. H. was a trooper and did very well. Because the MRI was going to be longer than usual because the types of imaging they were doing we opted for sedation. I also (on the advice of a friend) had them put Versed in the IV just so she wouldn't remember anything unpleasant. We have too many more medical procedures to go to start having stress about them now. She handled the anesthetic very well, though it seems that when she is first coming out of it she is a real grump. It was a little odd to see her in this mood since she is normally very cheerful. I knew she was fully awake when the cheer…


Even though the little girls still look pretty much alike, they are very different personalities. G. still love to talk and will talk and talk and talk and sing songs and talk some more. L., while she does talk, is more of an action kind of girl. For some reason, she has taken a very strong liking to a Superman costume we have and wears is nearly every single day. Her own touch is the boots. And you can't call her L., while she is dressed up, because she is Superman and must be addressed accordingly. Well, she calls herself "Doo Doo Man", because she still has a bit of trouble with the 's' sound. 
She very nicely posed for some pictures last week. Our very own little super hero:

Finally, a good recorded book

And then it was time to go home. We said our good-byes...
D. and his cousin who have kind of an identical cousin-thing going on.

and spent a little more time with our baby nephew who will be much bigger the next time we see him...
and drove home. No one really wanted to leave, but it's probably better to leave while everyone still wants to be there (and your hosts still want you there!)
The trip home was pretty uneventful, but the constant question-asking was absent because we finally found a good book to listen to. I heartily recommend Stowaway by Karen Hesse. It is a fictionalized account of Captain James Cook's voyage on the Endeavor when he circumnavigated the globe. It was very well done and the author kept as much historical accuracy as possible. It was one of the rare books that held everyone's attention (OK, not the 3 year olds or the new English speaker, but they also tend not to talk when something is being read). The college student enjoyed it just as much as t…

By the sea

Back to our trip... On our last full day in New Hampshire we decided to drive the seashore. (It's just an hour away, too.) We got there in time to eat our picnic lunch. We stopped at a spot right next to an old WWII bunker which thrilled some of the boys, especially B., our WWII buff.
D. in front of the bunker
After we ate we headed for the beach.

The whole group
H. looking at something someone found on the beach
This is the little bay we were exploring... the tide was still fairly low, but on its way in. Tides still baffle my great lakes crew.
But it was the rocks which called to everyone and they needed to go climb on them.

And explore the tide pools.

G., B., and P.
The little girls didn't want to be let out of the fun, so found willing carriers.

G. and B.
I want to stop here for a moment and mention a not-so-small success. You remember my description of helping H. move up and down the mountain a few days ago, right? Well it seems the effort paid off. The shoreline was v…

Family togetherness

I still have a bit more from our trip that I want to share with you, but I'm going to take a break today and do something different. I am going to start doing a blog hop with the people at Hearts at Home. This happens the third Thursday of every month and the topic that each of the bloggers will be writing about will be related to home and family. This month's topic is connecting with your family... how do you make time to stay close?

As children get older and start to be involved in more things outside the home, I find this a bit challenging. It could be so easy for everyone to be so busy with their own schedules that doing things as a family can fall by the wayside. There are a few things we have done to try to mitigate this.

The first, and I know I can sound like a broken record about this, is we eat dinner together as a family every night. It is pretty non-negotiable. Oh every so often a child will have a babysitting job or an activity that takes them away from home during…

A love letter

My Dear Child,

You know, you are not so very different from your son, yet I love you both. The difference is that sometimes you despair for him, yet I never despair for either of you.

You become frustrated when he can't seem to see that he is treated no differently than his brothers and sisters. You think he should be aware when another person is corrected, or asked to do something, or given a punishment, but all he seems to be able to focus on is when that brother or sister gets a reward when he doesn't. You see the equity of your home, yet he only sees the unfairness; what he doesn't have.

Yet how is this really different from you? Don't you do the very same thing? I care for each of my children as they need. I admonish, correct, discipline, and reward those whom I love, yet all you can focus on what I've given others and not you. You focus on what you don't have instead of what you do have. Just as there are things you do not give your son even though he des…

The day everyone learned to dive

Our second full day in New Hampshire was spent relaxing and just enjoying the company. (Plus, J. had some work he had to do, so he got to do that. Lucky him.) Later in the afternoon we all headed over to a friend of the other Currys and used their pool. Everyone had a great time.

The younger set pretty much stayed on the steps and played in the water.

There was a lot of sliding.

And sometimes a big person would take a little person out into the pool.

The diving board was very popular.

There were two big events of the afternoon. The first was this:

If you scroll back up and look at the first picture, you will notice that H. is sitting with just her feet in the pool. This is how she has approached pools and beaches for the past five months. She is happy to have her feet wet but absolutely refuses to get wet above the knee. As the afternoon progressed, I watched her slowly get wetter and wetter. First she moved slowly down each step until she was a lot wetter than she had been before. Th…