Thursday, July 31, 2008

A Mountain of Clothes

Sarah has changed her clothes no less than 17 times today. She has taken off her shirt that many times-and not every time in the house. She has worn her older brother's shirts, her older sisters shirts and occasionally her own. She has removed her diaper at least the said amount of times-it's turned out to be an expensive day.
I've watched her pull her shirt off outside in front of all of the neighborhood kids at least 5 different times today. It takes her less than a minute to strip down to nothing!

Every time she takes her clothes off she has to get new ones...I'm left with my very own Clothing Mountain Range.
Sarah modeling Sam's shirt with her very own sweater acting as a hooded shawl.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Preface: Yesterday I went shopping at Lakeshore Learning, a divine place for learning. I purchased science kits-one on plants, another on the solar system. Two electricity kits-one basic, the other inventions. (which by the way, Sam has already powered a motor, a buzzer, made a switch from a paper clip and is having a great time). I bought other random things...spent way too much money but easily justified when it's spread out over 5 kids.

A conversation just took place between me and Paige:

Me: Wow! I spent alot of money yesterday on learning stuff. I could have bought a Wii.

Paige: Hmmm! Learning stuff? Wii? Learning stuff dings the bell!

Is that not the greatest statement ever?! Learning stuff dings the bell!

It's poetic, descriptive, memorable and is better than a thumbs up from Ebert and Roeper. I asked Paige where she heard that. She said "I'm pretty sure it came from me".

Learning stuff dings the bell! (I'm such a proud mama right now... she chose learning stuff over a wii- yea!!!! )

Friday, July 25, 2008

A bucket of swords

Last Saturday I went out yard sale-ing. I love to go to yard sales. I had a couple of items on my list-a mattress-which I found for $10. A bicycle-$10. Two kids wet suits-$10 and a bucket of swords-$5.

They were selling each sword for $1. I asked for the whole bucket and it was only $5. There were 23 swords in all. I brought them home to Sam and you would have thought he won the lottery.

Since the arrival of the bucket of swords, all of the neighborhood boys-8 in all, have been practicing for a war. We've been reading alot of Medivial Knights of the Round Table stuff, Civil War and Revolutionary War books. I believe that they are fighting a Knights of the Round Table war. They practice sword fighting every day. They choreograph actual fights. They have been making shields out of cardboard, bow and arrows out of sticks and string. They have decided that they need more archers than sword fighters because archers can stay alive longer due to being able to shoot and duck. The most surprising thing is they have requested 2 catapults.
They are very, very serious about this request. The specifications from them are: the catapults need to be 3 feet tall, moveable and be able to shoot large tinfoil canonballs across the cul-de-sac. I've been researching this online. There are lots of catapults that are little-not good enough for them they tell me. I've found one that is large made out of PVC pipe and I think I may adapt this one. From swords to catapults. I tell you, I didn't quite see this coming :)

Kylie's Quilt

Kylie is getting ready to head off to Girls Camp for the first time next week. She will be gone all week. AGH! How did she get so old? I'll keep pondering that on my own time.

She and I decided that she needed a quilt to commemorate her first camp experience. Kylie went through my fabric stash and picked out some darling fabrics. She has cut the fabrics into squares, laid out a random pattern and is in the middle of sewing the top. Kylie still needs to finish the squares, add the border, sew the backing and batting to the top, flip it and quilt it. We have a lot to do before Tuesday.
It's a joy to see her work so hard to accomplish such a fun task.
I'll post a photo when it's completed!

Observing Nature

I've always been fascinated with Charlotte Mason. I like narration, copywork and nature journals and I've used them all extensively. I've always thought about nature journals as just a way to get kids outside and see if they can observe and draw changes. I was so short sighted about this. I came across a post the other day that turned a light bulb on for me. The post is here. She quotes a famous scientist Richard Feynman and this is where the lightbulb happens...

"ALL of science is about trying to describe nature--whether it's biology or the known laws of physics. See, Nature is always out there, she's always doing what she does, and it's our job to try and trick her into revealing her secrets to us. It's a dance, because Nature doesn't always give up her secrets easily. You have to look closely at her; you have to experiment to really find out how she actually behaves!"

Science is about begins with nature journals and observing changes and describing through drawings and words what you see. Without knowing or understanding, by being in and around nature, you are in and around science! I love that!

Nature journals have a new meaning to me now.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A great speech...

Trust the Children -one of my favorite blogs has a great post today about preserving creativity in children. He links here to a very thought provoking speech. I just finished listening and it is funny, creative, insightful, less than 20 min. and I highly recommend it!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Colored Pencils

Sam is playing with colored pencils right now-7 packs of colored pencils. Of all things to play, he is playing army. There seems to be a fierce battle happening between the red/oranges and the blue/purple/blacks. He just announced that the red/oranges are outnumbered. I asked by how many...he answered by alot. He's counting-the numbers are going too high and he's losing track. Oh... now he is lining the pencils up man to man. I can see his brain spinning. Aha! They are outnumbered by 7. Hmmm? What is he thinking now? "Mom I need the yellows to help out the red/orange team. "Why?" I asked. "So they'll be even." How do you know they'll be even" Wheels in the head turning...comparing soldiers "because each color has 7 soldiers! Duh! Yeah!"
The red/orange/yellow team has officially decimated the blue/purple/black team. Casualties lay all over the floor while those who have won are marching down the table held by a 6 yr. old fist.

Interesting how much problem solving and learning occurred...estimating, counting, sorting, adding...interesting.

Letting go

I'm finding it hard to let go of that which I'm comfortable with. Every year of homeschooling I have used K12. A great program that is rich in content, enjoyable to teach and learn and is laid out in such a way that nothing is missed (from a PS perspective). I take comfort in that. I'm familiar with that and I know what to expect with that.
I was talking to a mother today who is new to homeschooling and is using K12. It was so much fun to talk to her and share my 6 years of experience with the program. Help her let go of things that were taking over her day and how best to love the experience. When I got off of the phone with her I felt slightly panicked. I'm not using K12 next year. I need to let go...why am I letting go?
That's right! Because it doesn't suit two of my children and is destroying their love of learning. Because I have enough experience to provide them the environment which will enrich their lives. Because I'm willing to let go of something great for something more excellent. Because everything within me says it's time to let go. I can trust myself. I can trust my children.

This is really, really hard!

Monday, July 14, 2008

4th of July

Okay, I'm a week and a half late and a dollar short but I'm finally posting about the 4th. It was a great day!
It began with a ward (our local church congregation) breakfast over at a park. The kids brought their bikes and decorated them for a parade around the park. Men were busy cooking pancakes, eggs and bacon. There was fresh fruit and lots of OJ to go around. It's a great ward.
Then we did some work around the house. Hubby and I went shopping for a BBQ at our house later that evening. We invited our neighbors-the Martinez family-and Eddie and Mindee-over for a BBQ.

Our menu was: ribs-lots and lots of ribs, potato salad, fresh fruit-baked beans-corn on the cob-hot dogs and homeade ice cream and texas sheet cake. YUM!!!

Sarah and Mindee shared a lime for dinner...

We didn't eat till about 8:00. The kids swam and swam in the pool. We chatted and just had a great time.

Check out Sarah in the back corner of the above photo...close up of what she is doing follows.

The fireworks began at around 10:00. We live in a neighborhood that has amazing fireworks. I've never encountered anything like it. There are competitions between houses. The fireworks lasted until past 11:30-for real. They were HUGE!

During the fireworks the kids went out into the cul-de-sac and played with some fireworks that the neighbors purchased. Sparklers, shooters...stuff.

Smokin' Sam!

Me & Sarah

This is a crown that Kylie made from the firework debris.

It was a great night with great food and friends. Happy 4th of July!

Sam can swim!

Sam can swim! On Wednesday he needed to use a life jacket or floaties to be in the pool. On
Thursday he got a 15 min swim lesson. On Friday he was swimming. Sam can swim all the way across the pool with his head in the water and his arms moving in the funniest little way and his legs kicking. He can swim! I'm amazed by this boy. You give him a little direction and off he goes. Sam can swim.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Snap! There went my ankle...

Warning! This post is very long-it's for me to reflect on a day that changed my life in extreme ways this past year. It's a way for me to acknowledge what happened so I can continue to heal both physically and mentally and even spiritually. Proceed with caution!

A year ago today I was in Wyoming participating in a Pioneer Trek. We had taken the youth of our church from Seattle Wa. to Martin's Cove Wy. to dress up like pioneers, push and pull handcarts and walk the trail of our pioneer ancestors.

It was an amazing experience and one we were glad to be a part of. My hubby and I were Ma's and Pa's to several fantastic kids. We left Wa. on Monday, arrived in Wyoming late Tuesday after many, many mishaps of which I'm not sharing right now. We trekked out Tuesday night and continued on until Friday when we prepared to head back to WA.

This story begins early Friday morning...

Hubby and I woke up earlier than normal (pre 6 am) that day so we could have a moment and get a head start before we woke up the 'family.'

We were camped right next to the J family. There was a spot between our tents that was perfect for brushing teeth so that is what I was doing. Brushing teeth! While walking back to our tents-calling for the kids to 'Rise and Shine' I stepped into a gopher hole.

My ankle rolled, snapped and I fell to the ground. A hole that small took me down! Man!

The pain was excruciating.

I have sprained my ankle before but this was NOTHING like that. I remember thinking "this must be bad because I can't stop crying and I'm surrounded by teenagers."

I yelled for E.J. to push my ankle back in. He held it instead until the cavalry arrived. Dr. S came and removed my shoe-AAGH!! (I believe I was saying NOOOOO! Don't take it off!)

Dr. N (who is a foot/ankle surgeon and happened to be a Pa on trek) arrived several moments later. He squeezed my upper calf and I screamed well lets just say that I reacted loudly to this event. Dr. N announces that 'I think it's broken! Don't put any weight on it at all.'

Now, I'm in the middle of Wyoming laying on the ground surrounded by tents and kids. I have to get home to Seattle by bus/van which is over 35 hours away. I'm not suppose to put weight on it. Ha!

During all of this, while crying occassionally whimpering and uncontrollably shaking because of shock I was directing kids to get another adult to take over the music for that mornings meeting, find the music in my backpack, pack up camp and go to the meeting without me. The kids thought that it was really funny that I still remembered the things that had to get done that morning and that I maybe shouldn't worry about that stuff and worry about my ankle. Hubby went to get the kids settled at the early morning meeting.

Laura ( of taco soup fame) stayed behind with me. I am soo, soo grateful that she was there. Dr. N needed to stabilize my ankle and wrap it and place it in a boot. While he was doing that Laura held me tight and I cried and cried in her arms. I was crying from the pain of it but I was crying more from the abrupt end to my trek experience. It was over for me. No more hugs and chats with my kids, no riding home on the buses and laughing and singing and being with them. I love these kids and I was not prepared nor ready to have our time end. We had no closure. No goodbyes. It was so sad for me. In one fell swoop it all changed. That darn gopher hole!

This is me with my kids before the hole.

This is me after the hole.

Hubby eventually came back from settling the kids and I was helped into a cool handcart for injured folk. That was now me darn it! Injured! After the meeting it was really busy for everyone. All of the camps needed to be broken down and packed up. Everyone needed to be fed breakfast. The buses needed to be loaded with all of the gear and kids...It was a busy time. No one accounted for a serious injury. I was forgotten.

Picture me here alone without hubby. My leg propped just like the photo.

I was in a ton of pain. I couldn't take the pain medication yet(which Dr. S so generously supplied) because I needed to eat. After the meeting my cart was parked in an out of way place. The 'powers that be' assured hubby that they would get me food and water within minutes and bring around a van so I could get out of the hot, hot sun and get my foot settled.

Hubby needed to go with the kids and make sure everything was taken care of for them. I told him to go. Hubby believe the 'ptb and I believed the 'ptb' (acronym for powers that be) So, there I sat. The cart propped on a bucket. My foot propped on a thin bar. The sun shining overhead-getting hotter and hotter. I had no water, no sunscreen, no food, a broken ankle, no way to take the pain medication and no one around me. It was BAD! I was left there for over 2 hours- (3 hours had already passed before this part began)

On a side note, this moment truly helped me understand a smidgen of what the pioneers went through. This particular place was refuge for hundreds of trapped pioneers who were waiting to be rescued. Many died and all suffered because of the elements which they were stuck in. They however were waiting for days and weeks not just hours. Also, those who ended up rescuing the pioneer company were ones who took matters into their own hands as well. I was about to be rescued by those who took matter into their own hands.

I love you Amy and J.P. for finally rescuing me! Thank you!

Now, back to my story; My dear friend Amy happened upon me and asked me what in the world was I doing there? I lost it! I truly went into hysteria. I think I cried and shrieked over and over again 'They forgot me.' 'I'm not suppose to be here.' 'Help me! Help me!'

Thank goodness for great, inspired and responsive friends. Amy took immediate action and ran and found the closest staff member. It was J.P. My dear friend who has always been around to help whenever help has been needed. J.P was busily loading the buses. He dropped everything and ran to me and asked what I needed. I couldn't respond in any coherent way so he took action. I remember very distinctly J.P. leaning over the handle bars and looking at me very intently. He spoke very earnestly to me and apologized to me for being left alone for so long. (although he had no knowledge of my situation before this very moment -he didn't need to know to understand that something had gone horribly wrong) He promised me that he would remedy this immediately and take care of me. J.P. then went and got a van and within a moment he had pulled up, pulled out the seats and was putting me in the van.

I cannot express enough right here what gratitude I feel for the action that took place on my behalf. For the acknowledgement of my feelings. For being willing to make quick decisions to remedy a very bad situation. For kindness, for friendship and for true, Christlike love!

Amy meanwhile had gone to get Hubby. He was horrified. He ran to the food area to get me food-they had already packed it all up. He opened coolers and found me food anyways. He brought it to me and I could finally take pain medication. (5 1/2 hours since the break occured)

I was in the back of the van in unbelievable pain, crying into a pillow and trying to understand what I was experiencing when the 'ptb' pulled up. Ptb started talking very loudly with J.P. I was not suppose to be in that van they said. I had to go in another van. J.P. stated that he would not move me. PTB insisted on moving me. J.P. said 'absolutely not!' J.P. won. I sobbed. On top of it all-being abandoned, in pain the PTB was actually angry that action was taken without their permission and the action didn't fit into their plan.

It is obvious that I still have issues with this part of the story. I'm working through them. I just got around to acknowledging them a few weeks ago. Boy do I have issues!

Our trek family in SLC

J.P. assured me that he would not leave my side until I was safely home in Washington. He kept this promise. Hubby and I drove with him and his wife the whole way home. Even when we stopped in SLC for a few hours, he stayed with us.

It was on the drive home after internalizing the previous days events and talking aloud in a safe atmosphere that I realized I had experienced hysteria. It was very scary! Very raw! and a very vulnerable feeling! I hope to never feel that again.

Upon arriving home, I had x-rays and yes my ankle was broken. The bone snapped clear off and had significant ligament damage. I was in a bright pink cast for 6 weeks-and I couldn't put any weight on my ankle at all. Then into the black boot for several weeks, followed by a brace for several weeks. In the middle of this we bought a house and moved. I was out of the brace for 3 weeks when my ligament showed itself to be a problem. Back into the boot for several weeks and then the brace until surgery on April 18th to repair the ligament and cartilage. In the hospital for 2 days, no walking for 7 weeks, a couple of complications, extreme and unexpected pain and difficulty.

This is my ankle 3 weeks post-op. Ewwww! Gross. Funny story-I came home from the hospital with a drain tube that needed to be removed on day 3. I was suppose to go back into Dr. N's office but I couldn't because I was just in too much pain and I have too many stairs. So that evening, Dr. N came here to my house to remove the drain after t-ball. (Hubby was the coach and Dr. N's son was on the team) My bed was surrounded by several t-ball players and all of my kids plus 2 of the neighbor kids. They thought it was so cool! A house call in this day and age. Amazing!

It's been a difficult, difficult year. I didn't see this coming. At the one year mark, I'm finally walking again. I'm in quite a bit of pain still. I wear a brace. I'm at about a 30% activity level and everything I do is affected by this accident. Dr. N does tell me that surgery was very successful and I can expect to be at 95% in about 6 months.
It's been a very difficult road mentally and I've been surprised by that. I believe it's because I haven't had one day of being pain free this entire year. It's affected my patience level tremendously in a negative way. I've gained a significant amount of weight due to inactivity. My 2 closest friends whom I treasure and need have walked away from me, I believe due to the move and because I just haven't been myself. It's the only thing I can think of and they both say everything is cool. It's not. I miss them so much. They were brightness and laughter to me and always made me a better person.

It's 11:00 p.m. now. I've been writing and re-writing this all day. I've been thinking about it and I've been talking it through. I genuinely feel that this one year anniversary is a healing anniversary for me. I'm finally on the healing side of this accident. My pain is lessening and I will continue to heal emotionally and spiritually. I know that I would go again on trek. We had amazing experiences; walking, pushing, pulling, loving, sharing, singing, crying, bonding, feeling, helping...there is a connection with our kids that will last forever. Next time, I would just be a little more careful when it comes to where I'm brushing my teeth :)

Thanks for hanging in there with helps to have friends! Goodnight!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

My plea for help was answered

You know, this blog world is an amazing world. I can't believe that I just discovered it a few weeks ago. I feel so lucky. I put out a plea and within a couple of hours it's answered.

Thank you Miranda for quickly answering my questions. See here. Ha! I did it! Yea!!

Okay the next challenge is to learn to strike through words . Amazing!

For all of you (all 7 of you) who haven't discovered Miranda's blog, I cannot recommend it enough. Travel on over here to take a look. One day when I was uneasy (example here) and knowing I needed to change some things with our homeschooling I came across Miranda's blog. I was in bed due to ankle surgery so I had a lot of time on my hands. I actually went back to the very beginning and read forward for several hours. Miranda inspired me in so many ways. I knew by the end of that day the types of changes that would be taking place in my home in regards to homeschooling. Later that week as confirmation I suppose, I came across this amazing blog. Once again, helping me to let go of conformity and trusting my kids and myself more and working with their needs and desires. It's a really exciting time for us. (see here)

On a funny note; I didn't know that blog owners could see how long people spent on their blogs. I'm sure that the owners of my 4 favorite blogs think I'm a stalker! (I kind of am but in a really, really positive way. )

I'm think I've mastered the hyperlink 'move' really well. I'm so excited!

Please! I Beg of You! Help Me!

Okay I have two questions that I'm desperate to have answered. So please, anyone? HELP!?

1. How do you cross out words while/after typing. Mrs. G over at Derfwad Manor uses this all the time and I need to know. So I type (now imagine a line crossing out 'so I type') How do I do this

2. How do I link to something via a word: 'here' becomes a different color and it magically links to a previous post or an entirely different website.

I'm begging anyone who knows the answer to these mysteries to please reply to me and help me!

Thank you and have a nice day!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Reflections on an old Honda, 6 kids and a sack of spuds

It was July and I was about 12 years old. It was time for the family reunion. My mom LOVES reunions. Nothing makes her happier than being in a 24 hr/day social situation. This reunion was always our version of a vacation every other summer. Head up to Idaho, spend a couple of days with a lot of people who are 2nd and 3rd cousins and head back home. This year was special. It was the year of the Honda Civic Hatchback. Imagine this car brown...

Now, I have 9 siblings. That makes for a family of 12; 7 brothers, 2 sisters, me, a Mom and a Dad. (That right there was an example of my brilliant teaching method in math) My Dad doesn't do trips so he stayed home. My older brothers were working so they stayed home. Now, take another look at that picture because into this car piled my Mom and 16 yr. old sister Karen. They got the front due to driving ability and age. Into the back-through the hatchback of course-piled the rest of us; me, Paul-10, Rachel-8, Matt-6 and Chris-4. Plus all of our clothes, pillows, sleeping bags, food and toys. I am not kidding. We packed our clothes in Hefty garbage bags so we could lay on them. I remember the traveling part of this trip soooo well.

We drove from SLC, UT to somewhere North of Idaho Falls, ID. I distinctly remember how we were laying on the soft garbage bags, pillows and sleeping bags and everytime a curve would come up in the road we would try to get on the same side of it in the car so we could roll with it. What fond memories-it makes me feel so sad for my children who will never have that experience of rolling around in a car while speeding down a highway... Hmmm! I think there might have been a few safety issues here! Nah!
Anyways, I remember my mom stopping at a grocery store to pick up a loaf of bread and jar of peanut butter for our lunch. She opened up the hatchback and out came tumbling not 1, 2, 3 or 4 kids, but 5 kids. I can still see the lady's expression who saw us tumbling out of that car in the grocery store parking lot. Her jaw opened so hard her chin seemed to be touching the pavement. I believe she was aghast! (the definition of aghast: struck with overwhelming shock or amazement; filled with sudden fright or horror. )( Prime example of vocabulary being taught-I tell you-I'm here for your furthering education)
We thought it was soooo great. I mean we were going on our family reunion vacation.

I don't remember one thing about that reunion once we arrived BUT...
when we were ready to head back home a thoughtful potato farming cousin sent us home with a 100 lb. bag of Idaho Spuds.
They ended up in the front seat on the floor under my sisters feet. Nice!
I don't think that Honda was ever the same again. I also believe that we are the reason seatbelt laws are now on the books. I'm really not kidding-7 people jammed into a tiny, tiny brown Honda Civic. Memories!

Too much to say!

I have too many things that I want to blog about! So, until I can get focused I'm going to make a list and then soon I'll blog about those things.
1. Why I'm so pleased with Kylie's results in school and how that relates to homeschooling
2. My garage, overflowing and chaotic from the move last year was cleaned out yesterday by me and the neighborhood kids to almost perfection before the rain began. It's some great photos
3. Why I homeschool!
4. Why I send a kid to public school
5. Our racoon
6. The change a backyard pool can make in the running of a household
7. The change a backyard pool can make in the happiness of the household
8. The change a backyard pool can make in the laundry pile/now laundry mountain of the household.
9. Otterpops
10. Lilly-because all of my other munchkins have gotten a post all to themselves and she hasn't yet
11. My day at a glance-because I want to document this for future generations
12. Why do I not use a Menu Plan?
13. The story of the ankle-pictures and all (EWWW! Sooo disturbing and Frankensteinish) (I know I made up that last word but it seems to fit)
14. Therapy from the blogworld-it is so much cheaper, can be done on your own time and I'm constantly surprised by the therapy that occurs when I didn't know I was attending a session-I thought I was just roaming blogs (ok, that may end up being the post in its entirety but I needed notes for myself )

All right-that's all I'm going to list as a reminder for myself. I may have alienated you my 5 readers but I will have my thoughts and year documented. Yea! for me!!!!
I'll post when the last of the garage is done!