Thursday, April 30, 2009

5 Habits Of The Highly Pregnant Unsinkable: Habitual Update

At the beginning of the month I set out some habits that I wanted to work on during April to prepare our household for the arrival of the new little one. Here's how it's going (and no, the picture really has nothing to do with this, but it is funny :) ):

Habit #1: The Morning Report

Meh. I've been getting up earlier, making a hot breakfast each morning, and doing much better in general attitude-wise, however, I still haven't been getting up before the kids. I will note that our mornings have been much nicer and we've all been in better moods as a whole, but there is still room for improvement.

Habit #2: Internet Limits

Hahahahaha. Again, I've done much better (including stepping back from blogging a little, in case you'd noticed) but I haven't gotten quite to the goal I desired. I've been spending more time doing things up and around the house, which has a lot to do with just having more energy in general, and so I haven't been on the internet near as much. But still, I'm falling pretty short of my original goal.

Habit #3: Daily Read Aloud

Now this I've actually done great at. The kids and I read an average of 30-40 minutes a day together. Like I mentioned on Monday, we are reading through Little House on the Prairie and they are loving it. It helps that the kids are actually interested in reading and that they really do want to sit and listen. We've been making weekly trips to the library and loading up on books (seriously, loading up. I don't know how we get them all in one trip.) and then each day we read a few of them in addition to the Little House book. Score for the Unsinkable on actually achieving a goal!

Habit #4: Rest Time

Oh yes, I've totally been doing this. I've actually been taking a real live nap most days, in fact. I really am just getting that tired and the nap time is such sweet splendor. I try not to sleep too long (so I don't wake up grumpy) and it's been fantastic. Little David normally naps two hours, and Tot has been doing great at having "quiet time" in her room and letting me sleep without tearing the house down. Score number two for the Unsinkable!

Habit #5: Thoughtful Grocery Shopping

We'll give this one a "meh". I've done better at shopping at our farmers market more and at cooking more, but I'm still a little lacking in the actually-ingesting-more-healthy-food thing. Today, though, I did get a whole bunch of food and snacks I'm pretty excited about, and I've pretty much cleaned the house of all candy, so hopefully I can keep this ball rolling.

So there is the update (I know, scintillating). I'm going great on two, meh on two, and yuck on one. Not too shabby! I think that I chose some good ones to work with and I can see a definite difference in how our house is running. May's goals will be two-fold - working on getting better at April's goals and starting two new ones. I'll post May's goals tomorrow since I can't really think of two I want to start right now :)

What are you working on lately?

Monday, April 27, 2009

A Visual

All home schools look different, and even ours changes from day to day and during different seasons. But this is what ours looks like today:

Usually we start around 9 or 10. I put Little David at the little table in the corner, where he can color or read library books while I'm working with Tot at the table doing reading and writing. He's really just now in a place where we can do this. Before we would usually wait to do school until Little David went down for a nap and then Tot and I would do school together. Thankfully, he's in an older stage now and having him in the room isn't as big of a distraction.

After Tot and I are finished, we all go to the living room and work on group things like counting and sorting and doing our daily reading. We have these great little counting bears that we love, Dave's mom got them for Tot and we use them all the time. Little David works on his colors and counting and them I use them to do little bits of addition and subtraction with Tot. Then we just throw them all around and play with them. For our daily reading, we are reading Little House on the Prairie and the kids love it. We try to do a chapter a day, which is perfect for Tot, but can be a little much for David. His attention span isn't quite there yet. But I try to let him just be in the room playing quietly while we read. It isn't so much training him to be still as it is training him to listen and enjoy books - especially books that have no pictures. We started off with Little House in the Big Woods, and I plan to take us all the way through the series, which is nine books long. I have a feeling we'll be reading them for a long, long time :).

Next fall things will look a little different, obviously. Tot will have more work to do (we'll be adding science and phonics), I'll have separate things to do with Little David, and a whole 'nother kid to look after. I'm certain that the first few weeks of fall will be an interesting adjustment, but since we are currently planning to do school year round, I don't think it will be too bad since we won't be dealing with starting back after a long break (can you just hear the naivety seeping from the words I type?). Regardless, I'm glad we've found a little routine that works for us in this season. I guess we'll just change when need be :)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Sleeping Tooty

This is where Dave and I found Tot last night before we went to bed. The rules clearly state that the crib is not to be messed with. Obviously, she's a compliant child.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

We Call This...Good Day.

I know it's a little early in the day to call the entire thing, but I think that I can say with fair certainty - We Call This... Good Day.

I woke up before the kids today, which is rare and fantastic in and of itself. My kids are such early risers, that I usually just let them start the morning and wake me up when they do. But since they went to bed a little later last night, they slept in a little this morning and I woke up at 7am to the smell of coffee brewing (I love you, automatic coffeepot) and sun streaming through my windows. Those of you familiar with my house may be questioning that sun I'm speaking of, because up until two days ago our trees out front were so thick and overgrown that not a stitch of sun could make it into the house. Well, we got our neighbor boy (who is actually closer to 20, but whatever) to trim the trees up and boy howdy, that kid trimmed the trees. We can actually see the sun inside our house now, and from the street you can actually see our house. It's fantastic.

But back to the morning.

I got to see sun streaming through our windows, hear the birds chirping, and not hear the sounds of my kids flooding the bathroom or whatever unsupervised activity of choice they usually start the day with. I just sat on the couch pleased as punch. Then :Little David toddled out of his room all sleepy and he snuggled with me for a moment and then we started our day. I got coffee for Dave, Tot woke up, we opened all the blinds in the rest of the house and made beds, and Little David helped me make oatmeal for everyone. We turned on Jerry Jeff Walker on the iPod and ate breakfast to soothing music and good chatter. Then we all got dressed and made plans to go to story time at the library, Dave went out to his office to work and the kids sat down to watch Sesame Street.

And now I'm listening to Lyle Lovett (it's been a Texas music morning), blogging away, and enjoying the slight breeze through the windows. On the schedule for the day is Story Time at the library, a little laundry folding, dishes, playing outside and digging for worms, laying on the hammock, going to church, taking a nap, and making spaghetti.

See? I told you - We Call This... Good Day.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Good Enough.

As most mothers do, I am sure, I tend to denigrate myself thinking that I am dropping ten thousand balls when it comes to raising my children. I am not a perfect parent. There are times when my children are disrespectful, they are lazy, they are disobedient. They are unruly, they are bullies, they don't finish their plates at dinner and do not ask to be excused.

It's in these phases, when it feels like my children are exhibiting every single quality that I am hoping to discourage them from, that I wonder why in the world God gave me children in the first place. Surely, I am not qualified for this. Surely, I am not meant to be a mother. Surely, there is no way I am going to raise productive adults that know how to read, how not to pick their nose, how to be kind to the downtrodden, and how to sit still for more than three seconds and not ask for the tv to be on all day.

Surely someone else is doing this better.

And then, I will go to the store with both kids in tow. The day will have been a hellish one, I will have given up many, many times. There will have been no good nutrition, no good bible lesson, and no patient mother. We will go to the checkout register where I will restrain three thousand hands grabbing at the alluring fruit snack display and I will be sure that everyone is looking at me and wondering why on earth I am allowed to procreate for a third time. But in a moments notice, a kindly cashier will ask if my children would like a sucker. And of course, they do. But instead of grabbing maniacally for the bucket, one child will reach carefully into the bucket and take one sucker for each of them and say "Oh thank you so much. This is my absolutely favorite flavor. You are the best." And then say "Excuse me, Ma'am. Could you show me where the trashcan is so I can throw away my wrapper?" And the cashier will say to me "What wonderfully polite children you have."

And I will walk away thinking that while I may not be doing a perfect job, I am doing good enough for right now. And sometimes, that's really all you can ask of yourself.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The List (Also, A Relatively Long Winded Explanation Of Our Educational Philosophy).

After months and months of research (most of which probably could have avoided but I kindof like doing it so whatever), I have finally finalized our homeschool curriculum for this coming fall. You wouldn't think picking out curriculum for a Kindergartener would be so hard (I didn't at first) but there are just so many, many options and ways to teach things that it can be a little overwhelming to pick just a few. There are tons of "styles" of homeschooling, there are eighteen thousand different ways to teach a kid to read, and everyone and their mother has an opinion on what subjects are appropriate to teach and in what order.

I've been totally paralyzed by all the choices the past few months and I was pretty sure that I was never going to be able to pick anything until one day a random book I had reserved at the library came in and completely made the process easy for me. The book is called The Well Trained Mind: A Guide To Classical Education At Home by Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer.

Um, wow. First of all, whenever I had read about Classical homeschoolers I always thought they sounded stuffy and prissy "Ooohh, We'll be starting Latin I as soon as Johnny starts first grade mwah mwah mwah". And I sat there and thought that they were nuts, Johnny would never need Latin, what a dumb idea.

Until I read this book.

And now I'm all "Of course we'll be doing Latin! I find Latin to be such a useful tool!" (By the way, please hit me if I start sounding like a useful tool.)

Anyways, after reading this book (and going over the high points with Dave, who isn't a big researcher but is a much better long term decision maker than I), Dave and I have decided that we are going to be Classical Homeschoolers. What it basically boils down to is this (a highlight from the book):

"Classical education depends on a three-part process of training the mind. The early years of school are spent in absorbing facts, systematically laying the foundations for advanced study. In the middle grades, students learn to think through arguments. In the high school years, they learn to express themselves. This classical pattern is called the trivium. ...The classical education is, above all, systematic -- in direct contrast to the scattered, unorganized nature of so much secondary education. This systematic, rigorous study has two purposes. Rigorous study develops virtue in the student. Aristotle defined virtue as the ability to act in accordance to what one knows to be right. The virtuous man (or woman) can force himself to do what he knows to be right, even when it runs against his inclinations. The classical education continually asks a student to work against his baser inclinations (laziness, or the desire to watch another half hour of TV) in order to reach a goal -- mastery of a subject. "

I know it sounds completley boring and dry and way over the top for a Kindergartener, but if you read the book I think you'll become a believer. It really made Dave and I think hard about what kind of education we want to give our kids, and to realize that we really do want to give them an education not just the ability to test well, or to memorize, or to get along with 30 kids the exact same age. It's really easy to get wrapped up in the shiny boxes and books of curriculum and flash cards and manipulatives and forget that you have a goal. And I know that at this early in the game, it seems silly to have such a serious goal. But just as you must start parenting your child so that they become a mature Christian - able to make wise choices, you must start educating your child so that they become able to educate themselves. It's important to me that our kids are able to read and understand and come to their own conclusions - not just parrot back what someone gives them.

So in the end, our choosing an educational philosophy helped me weed out those curriculums that were not in line with what Dave and I want our kids to learn. It's small potatoes at this point, I mean, we're really just working on Reading, Phonics, Math & Science, but I feel like we'll do well with these and I am actually pretty geeked about getting started.

Here's the stats, yo:

Tot (Kindergarten) -

Reading - How To Teach Your Child To Read In 100 Easy Lessons

Phonics - Explode The Code (Get Ready, Get Set, Go For The Code & maybe Book 1, depending on Tot's grasp of the subject)

Math - Math U See (Primer)

Science - Living Learning Books (Level 1)

Little David (Preschool) -

Rod & Staff Preschool ABC Series

So there you have it - our stab at beginning a "Classical" education for the chitlins. Here in the next few weeks, I'll be making final decisions on schedules and such and finishing up buying curriculum (I've already purchased the reading and math books and got CRAZY good deals - for those of you famililar with Math U See, um wow. Craigslist rocks.) and I'll probably post about how I'm going to wrap up this preschool year, how I plan to schedule around Baby Girl's arrival, and what our basic schedule will be for next year. So, stay tuned for that, yo.

Also, I really should put quotes around the word "schedule" because I'm sure there will be plenty of balls in the air while I adjust to life with number three.

Oh, and on a totally similar note, I think I've found my dream planner.

But that is a whole 'nother post.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Family That Protests Together...

The kids and I attended our first protest together today. We joined my Mom and her husband Tim at the Tea Party in Bryan, Texas and I have to say, while I didn't agree fully with everything said, I heartily agreed with the sentiment of the day: Less Government Is Better. I'm not a hugely political person, but I do have a large problem with my state representative voting in direct opposition to their constituents wishes (cough...Kay Granger...cough). When a clear majority of your people ask you not to do something and you do it anyways - Bad form, man, bad form.

And so, the kids and I loaded up with Mom and Tim, got our camp chairs and signs, and went to the park to listen to some flaming retoric, a poem by a John Wayne impersonator (Seriously. Not the highlight of the day), some very well thought out points, and some people that were just glad to be heard. The kids got a great civics lesson (because, you know, they'll remember it) on government and democracy and how it's important to listen, but don't believe everything you hear. I wanted them to know that just because you hear it, doesn't make it true.

Anyways, my political/parenting views aside, the kids were hilariously adorable and the hit of our little section of the Tea Party. They got their pictures taken many times, and Tim thinks they'll make the paper - LOL. They were by far the cutest little protesters there.

And so - the pictures - enjoy!

Monday, April 13, 2009

An Exhaustive Look At The Last Three Months.

The Terrible Twosome.


My Mom and I.

Playing out back.

First day with Annie.

During some backyard fun, Little David attacks Tot with a "sword".

Tot attacks back.

Dave has an idea.

And the Great Fight Of '09 begins.

Tot had the biggest sword, but Dave won in the end.

The ubiquitous Family Easter Picture.

Tot, Caleb & Little David

The (indoor) hunt!

Little David found his Bob the Builder pliers and decided they were more fun than Easter eggs.

And then we slept.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Thankful Thursday

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood, folks. Here's why:

1. The dog and the kids are in pleasant moods, even after waking up every 30 minutes from 9pm until 4:30 am. Yes, you read that right. Every. Thirty. Minutes. We'll just say that I wasn't at my sweet mothering best all night and leave it at that.

2. I ate Captain Crunch this morning and it was DElicious. Nom nom nom.

3. Dave is ON HIS WAY HOME right now!! He got to leave early today from Arkansas and I'm totally excited. It makes the day move so much faster when he's not getting home late at night. However, this does mean that he will not be coming home to a house full of clean laundry. But really, when does he ever?

4. I'm thankful that Annie has been a perfectly wonderful addition to our family. She's the calmest puppy I've ever seen and happily lets the kids tote her around in a laundry basket for 6 hours of the day. She's mostly crate trained/house trained, and seems to understand the appropriate potty times and such. Her favorite place to be is to sleep on our dirty laundry (of which there is plenty) and if she's missing we can always find her curled up in some pajama pants.

5. I got a TON of stuff done yesterday, including mowing our sizable back yard and cleaning it up and making it look nicer. I love our house but the selling point was always the huge backyard. It's totally abnormal to have such a big space in here in our area of Texas, and we compromised by getting a smaller house, but I've never regretted it. We spend SO much time out back that it's always been worth it. And yesterday, the kids, dog and I all cleaned it up and next weekend I'm thinking we'll dig a small vegetable garden and get some flowers planted. And if I can swing it, a clothes line. But that may be a bit ambitious.

6. I am thankful that for the next 10 days we are supposed to have gloriously warm weather with sunshine, spring rain, and warm evenings. I'm thinking about planning that camp out in the backyard that we keep trying to do. We've got the tent, we've got the fire pit, we've got the marshmallows - what doth hindreth us?

7. My favorite flowers are on sale at Kroger this week :). I usually try to buy a bouquet each week because it makes the house feel so cheerful, but lately flowers have been SO expensive and I haven't gotten any in a long time. This week, however, I found huge bouquets of Peruvian Lilies for a little over $3 and I snatched them up and have really enjoyed seeing them. I'm hoping this price sticks for the summer, because I will be buying them every week!

8. I mentioned that Dave was on his way home, right? Because DUDE that is what I am most thankful for today. I missed my pal a lot this week, and I am ready to have him home. We've got great Easter plans and the kids have saved their egg dying fun for when Dad gets home. Tot didn't want him to miss out on all the fun :). While I would have never chosen to have Dave travel so much as a first choice, I can't deny that it has made me appreciate him even more than I did. I've always thought I had a pretty awesome husband, but having him gone a lot makes me realize that not only is he awesome, he is integral to our family and we just kindof limp along without him. Like Tot said, "It's just not as fun without Dad here."

I'll leave you today with a picture of what our week has been like - lots of fun with laundry baskets :)

Monday, April 06, 2009

Puppy Days

We still love our puppy.

She's still adorable.

However, she has also chewed through a computer wire and pooped twice on my floor.

But it's good practice for having a baby - I've spent the last day picking up every tiny little chewable thing off the floor :)

Friday, April 03, 2009

Meet Annie

Meet our new puppy, Annie. We picked her up at the animal shelter today :) She's part Basset Hound, part Shepherd, and all adorable. Seriously. What a snuggle puppy.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

5 Habits Of The Highly Pregnant Unsinkable

I realized the other day that I don't have too much longer until I have three, count them, three children. What on earth am I going to do with THREE kids? Not what I'm doing now, that's for dang sure. I've decided that while I'm still in the middle of this second trimester energy burst, that I should probably get some good habits worked on.

And so, I'll be working on 5 Habits Of The Highly Pregnant Unsinkable. During the month of April (well, April minus one day, but I didn't think anyone would believe me if I posted it yesterday :) ), I'll be trying out things to make me a more effective and pleasant person, run a more efficient and calm household, and set up things so that hopefully (hopefully!) our transition to a five-person household won't be so jarring. At the end of the month, I'm hoping to have these habit securely under my belt and to be able to work on a few new habits each month until the baby comes. Then I'll just work at not leaking milk through my shirts in public and remembering to zip my pants after months of wearing only elastic. It's the little things, friends.

5 Habits Of The Highly Pregnant Unsinkable

Habit #1: Morning Report
BoldThe Morning Report (you know, like in The Lion King?) is my attempt to start my day with purpose. For me, that means getting up before the kids and having some bible time, drinking something warm, and doing a quick internet check. It means that I won't start my day in a perpetually snoozing state or resentful of the little people that woke me :). I know that post-baby this won't look exactly the same, but it's better to have an established habit beforehand that I try to adapt than to try to start it all brand new with a tiny thing attached to me :).

Habit #2: Internet Limits

Ah, Internet Limits. The habit I least look forward to. I was noticing the other day how much time I spend online completely aimlessly. I mean, total, complete, useless rechecking of sites I know haven't updated with anything new. Bloglines hasn't really helped any, now I just recheck that. It all adds up to ridiculous amounts of wasted time. So, the habit that I will be working to establish is limiting my recreational internet time to when the kids are asleep. That means, Krisen, that you can check the weather before you go to the store but not whether or not any spoilers have been posted for The Office. So, I'll be doing a quick run through in the mornings, probably popping on at naptime to blog, and then doing a little mindless Facebooking in the evenings. A nice, healthy, normal activity level that I can then adjust as needed, with the adjustments always moving to the "less" column.

Habit#3: Daily Read Aloud

Now, this is the habit I'm actually looking forward to focusing on. I usually read outloud to the kids everyday. But like most energetic kids, their attention span is a little lacking. Tot can now sit still for a pretty good chunk of time and listen to a story, but we're working on Little David. It's my plan to work them up to 30-40 minutes of out loud reading at a time, with me on the couch and each of the kids on one side. It's not just for educational reasons (although that would be enough), I'm hoping that this will help me particularly after I have the baby and will need to spend large chunks of time sitting still and nursing. It would be great to have them already trained to sit for at least one nursing session and be read to quietly, without fuss. That would let me keep the tv time down, them occupied with something worthwhile, and all while I keep the baby happy. I'm going to assume that this habit will carry over for a few months, and that we won't get that large of time down in just one month. But we'll give it the Unsinkable Try.

Habit #4: Rest Time

Now, I know that I am swiftly heading towards the business end of this pregnancy and that I'm going to be getting tired and I'll be getting that way soon. By the end of this month, I'll be in my third trimester (YIKES) and there is nothing I need to do more in those last few weeks that make sure I get plenty of rest. So, here's the plan. I'm going to be trying to take regular resting breaks this month. I plan to get all of my household chores done in 15 minute sections, and then spend the 1-2 hours the kids are napping/resting doing the same thing myself: napping or resting. No more trying to clean the whole house during that time, or trying to fold eight loads of laundry. Nope. I'm going to be sitting somewhere with my feet up or laying somewhere with my head down. Maybe this should be the habit I'm most excited about.

Habit#5: Thoughtful Grocery Shopping

And finally, food. I have a good feeling that on Fetus Friday this week I will have made a sizable leap in the weight department. This would be totally great if I had been stuffing my face with fruit and grass fed beef or something, but I've been instead stuffing my face with cookies, milkshakes, and pizza. Not exactly a good nutrient base for baking a small person. I hear they like vitamins and such. And so, this month I'll be making a more concentrated approach to eating a little healthier and trying to snack on foods that are more fresh and less packaged. After all, we're getting into the best season for fresh fruits and veggies and I should be taking advantage of the cheap bounty :). The goal is to do 60% or more of my grocery shopping at Sprouts (the rockin' farmers market type place around here) and the other 40% at Kroger on things like diapers (yes, he's still in diapers. Sigh.) toilet paper and such. I would like to eventually do all of my shopping at the farmers market, but for right now it's just not feasible. Babysteps, babysteps.

Anyways, there are my 5 Habits Of The Highly Pregnant Unsinkable. You could call this an extravaganza if you want to (it totally is) and you are welcome to join me in starting some new habits in April - what do you think you'll work on?

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Interview With The Tot

I found this on another blog, and hilarity ensued - I asked the questions, and Tot answered:

1. What is something mom always says to you?
Go to your bedroom.

2. What makes mom happy?
When I say nice words.

3. What makes mom sad?
When I disobey

4. How does your mom make you laugh?
Say jokes, make funny faces like this

5. What was your mom like as a child?
About this big. And this wide.

6. How old is your mom?
27 - (WOW!! She totally got that right!)

7. How tall is your mom?
about this wide. 18 feet tall (how flattering.)

8. What is her favorite thing to do?
work and call people and play with us and watch tv and see Daddy

9. What does your mom do when you're not around?
have a boring day

10. If your mom becomes famous, what will it be for?
call out to me - will you miss me?

11. What is your mom really good at?
hanging on trees, good at making stuff like houses, being in charge of us and tv and cookies. taking care of us when I fall out of trees

12. What is your mom not very good at?
Sometimes you can get mad at us. When I get things and am kindof sneaky.

13. What does your mom do for a job?
Being in charge

14.What is your mom's favorite food?
carrots. cookies.

15. What makes you proud of your mom?
You got really good at hanging stuff. Like trees. That makes me proud of you. And for teaching me some rules and how to listen without wiggling my nose. (a couple of days ago I reached up and hung from a tree branch in our yard and apparently cemented my awesome status. I have no idea about the nose thing, though.)

16. If your mom were a cartoon character, who would she be?

17. What do you and your mom do together?
School, letters, numbers, also I'm getting really good at reading. And the counting bears, and playing games.

18. How are you and your mom the same?
We jump together. We run the same - squirly.

19. How are you and your mom different?
You are eighty feet long and I am three feet long.

20. How do you know your mom loves you?
because you have a big heart. You say nice words like I love you so much.

21. What does your mom like most about your dad?
You listen to him and he makes you laugh.

22. Where is your mom's favorite place to go?
With Dad to the store.