Sunday, December 30, 2012

Reading with Intention 2012

I always look forward to my annual reading list sum up. Even if it is the only thing I end up blogging all year... I read FIFTY-FIVE books this year. NOT including the ones I read to/with Elie. I felt like I did a pretty good job of reading "intentionally" but I realized as I was looking back that it wasn't quite as faultless as I thought. I mean besides reading the entire Harry Potter trilogy, I also read a couple other kid's fantasy books. Call it research for when Elie gets to that stage. I need to be well informed, right? Anyway, one of the books made it to my top list of books that I read this year. Well, technically it is a saga, so there are currently three of them.

(In no particular order)
The Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson. Andrew Peterson is one of my all time favorite musicians/ songwriters. All his music is very storytelleresque and I just love the imagery of all of his songs. I read an article by him that actually was what convinced me to read Harry Potter. When I found out he wrote a young adult fantasy series (my guilty pleasure) I just had to read it. It was definitely worth reading.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy- One of the best books I have ever read. I actually read it twice. I read it once and then immediately read it again. It is beautifully written. It is also very bleak and a little gruesome (post apocalyptic). It kind of has the same feel as "Book of Eli" without the violence. I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone, but it is definitely worth the read.

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell- I heard this described as "Jane Austen with meat." It is roughly the same era as Jane Austen, but not quite as silly. I loved, loved, loved this book. I actually read this book twice too. This is one that I will pick up in the future when I need a little romance fix. There is also a BBC miniseries that is also fantastic.

Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson- I read this on recommendation and I am SO glad I did. Bill Bryson is a comedic travel writer and this is his memoir on growing up in the 50s. It is hilarious. And I did not grow up in the 50s. I laughed so many times. I was even in tears.

Bossypants by Tina Fey- This was a quick, funny read. I read it without ever seeing 30 rock (which I am now a fan of) or really ever watching SNL so there were some parts that were kind of boring for me, but overall a good laugh.

Peace Like a River by Leif Enger- Another very well written book similar to The Road but not gruesome at all. VERY VERY well written.

Les Miserable by Victor Hugo- UNABRIDGED. The story is classic and amazing. If I were to ever read this book again I would get the Abridged version. There is a lot of extraneous detail (about 200 pages on the benefits of recycling human feces) that doesn't really pertain to the story. The story itself is very well told and I loved the humanness of the characters.

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas- Unabridged. This book was amazing. It had the length of Les Mis without the superfluity. It was so well told. Reading these books and a couple by Gaskell made me realize how inundated with Christ the culture used to be. If you ever want to teach a non-Christian about who Christ is have them read Ruth by Elizabeth Gaskell, or the abridged version of Les Miserable.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

September... a month of beginnings

September went by in a whirlwind. We started so many new things in September (and promptly quit a few). I felt like I needed to chronicle some of it to keep track.

I started working again. On Thursdays and Fridays through December I will be working back at North Marion Primary. It is a completely different position than I was in before (less biting, scratching and screaming. More paperwork and wiggly first graders). So far I am enjoying it, but it is hard to be gone two days a week.

Since I am working in Aurora and "my horse" is in Canby, I have been hanging out at my Aunt's house sans kids. I had hoped that I could be in Canby by 6:30 and work with Nina before school, but that did not work out. It was fun while it lasted. It did my heart good to be out on the farm with sun rising, scooping horse poop and handing out hay. There is a deep, physical longing in my soul that I someday get to live that life. As much fun as pretending is... 

Homeschool started full swing this month. I am still struggling with what is really important and what is doable. I have all these visions in my head of what I want school to look like (lots of crafts, awesome, meaningful activities) and then reality hits and I feel like a complete failure. But Elie is really great at reading and is way ahead of where she *should* be, so I keep telling myself that. Being in a school has helped keep things in perspective.

I ran a 5k! I am not a runner, and am really not very good about being self motivated to do ANYTHING, so this was definitely a struggle for me. The only time I could really train was if I got up at 6:00 in the morning... so I definitely did not end up where I wanted to be. BUT the 5k itself went really well and I never hit a place where I thought "I. must. stop. now" so I was proud.

I started a 30 day 24 hour diet similar to the Paleo diet. That went well.

Elie and Lainey started AWANA. Lainey is a few months shy of the cutoff date for the Cubbie's class, but it is a super small church so they let her and a couple other *almost* 3 year olds join. Wednesdays are a lot more peaceful in my house right now.  It is funny to see my girls love something that I HATED so much. For me, social events that involved tons of people and REQUIRED participation were pure torture for me... But my girls love it. I am learning memory verses like crazy.

Nick FINALLY started rebuilding our fence THAT BLEW DOWN IN APRIL. No bitterness or crazy nagging wife here, I promise. So weekends have been a continuation of me having the girls by myself all day while trying desperately hard not to be frustrated at the seemingly lack of progress outside. My wonderful father-in-law came down last weekend and put boards up. Now at least it looks finished out my window. I am not anticipating it ACTUALLY being finished until next summer. Thank you hunting season.

Elie started CC the last week of September. I am really excited about this. I am thrilled with what she (and Lainey and I) are learning. I am again amazed at my sheer lack of knowledge and it is so fun to get to see Elie be successful in a school setting. I am really hoping and praying that this group gives both of us some community. I have been really lonely the last two years and I desperately want a friend.

I started a little preschool in my house with my kids and two of the neighbor kids. They were coming over two days a week in the morning and we did circle time and arts and crafts. Them being there was a little more motivation for me to get more organized with fun activities with school. I quickly realized that having them two mornings a week, working two mornings a week and Elie's school the other day, left me exhausted and no time to shop, clean or have fun. SO I only have them one day week now. It is still a lot for me, but we are making do. I move down to one day a week of work in January and I am definitely looking forward to breathing a little easier.

I think that mostly sums it up. Life has been busy. My girls are all at a pretty fun stage in life right now. Elie is so grown up and entertaining. Lainey is hilarious and goofy and Delia is just starting to be independent and have personality.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Adventures in Homeschooling...

Elie *officially* started Kindergarten in July. We have had 18 days of school since then. I am going to be working two days a week in the fall, so I thought we would start doing school a few days a week in the summer to compensate. One thing is for sure, doing school consistently will be a LOT easier when it is rainy and cold outside. As it is, 18 days is not much to show for a months worth of time. =) I have learned SO much in that time period though. I am really excited to start "real" school this fall. I fully recognized that the first few weeks.. uh hem.. years might be a lot of trial and error and every day I learn something. Elie is doing WAY better than I anticipated her doing. She is such a smart kid and is so open to learning (properly presented material). I am learning a lot about how she learns and who she is. I did an online assessment for her math in order to know which curriculum to buy and she tested into first grade math. So far, we haven't hit anything that was really new to her. She is also doing such a great job reading!

We will be starting Classical Conversations in a few weeks. It is a Christian organization that provides supplemental material for homeschool families. Elie (and I) will be attending once a week for three hours. We will learn SO much. I am very anxious to get started. I am also praying that we will both make some good friends. It will be good for her to get some "classroom" experience and spend regular time getting instruction with someone other than me.

I have sort of ignored Lainey for the last few years. Not really ignored her, but with Elie I spent so much time doing songs and finger play and working with her on colors and shapes and all that. Lainey was/is so busy playing with Elie that I haven't really done any of that with her. Elie being in school has given me the opportunity to spend some pointed time with Lainey too. When Elie is doing copy work or a math worksheet, I am spending some one on one time with Lainey. I can also include Lainey in a lot of what I do with Elie; bible stories, memory verses, "circle time", etc. It has been really great and I am learning how unique she is.

Homeschooling also provides a whole new opportunity for me to grow as a person and put more confidence in myself. I (and I hope I am not alone in this) am constantly second guessing my choices and decisions in regards to my kids. I am so worried I am going to do something that will screw them up for life. Now, not only can I potentially emotional scar them, damage their bodies by feeding them sugar or non organic peanut butter, I have the potential to destroy their hopes and dreams of going to Harvard or Yale. I think we are doing pretty well and then I look on Pinterest and see these mom's whose homeschool rooms are cute and crafty and organized, where the kids are learning three languages and are reading Hemingway in Kindergarten AND having time for karate, soccer, swimming and arts and craft classes. The feelings of inadequacy can so easily start to drown me. I have to work every day to be comfortable in doing my best and showing that to my daughters. We all carry calculators everywhere anyway, right?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

28 and counting...

Birthdays have always been a time of reflection for me. During childhood I always felt excited about hitting that next milestone. I vividly remember how excited I was to turn 10 and hit the DOUBLE DIGITS. I turn 28 this week and I think I have finally hit that place where my heels are starting to drag in the dirt a little as I cry out "wait, wait. I am not ready yet!" I think it is worse because of Nick. He is a year older and therefore I feel like I have lost a year of my life just by association. I am going to have a really hard time when he turns 30, I think. Anyway... in the spirit of reflection I decided to do a quick snapshot of who I am at the ripe old age of soon to be 28.

Favorite books- I have been a pretty voracious reader this year. I have talked about before my "reading with intention" and I have been pretty proud of my literary accomplishments in the last three years. This year, I already have 27 (and two halves) books under my belt. My favorite books are (in no particular order and as I remember them)
1. North and South
2. Anne of Green Gables (the series because the pressure of choosing is really too much)
3. The Raging Quiet
4. Lonesome Dove
5. The Road

My favorite things to do-
1. Sleep
2. Eat chocolate
3. Bake (not exclusively) chocolate
4. Read
5. Ride/ spend any amount of time on or near horses
6. Walk/hike with my family

What I am obsessed with right now-
Surprisingly, I am not really obsessed with anything right now.  There are plenty of things that I could easily slip into if I allowed myself, but I am trying to be more controlled.

My bucket list-
1. Live in a foreign country
2. own property and have horses, chickens, pigs and cows
3. Raise lovely, God-loving, independent, wise, confident, intelligent, happy children
4. Go to South America again and THIS time visit Antartica
5. Swim with sharks

My ideal birthday-
Waking up fully rested and spending the day in a forest field somewhere riding with my family. Eating a picnic lunch somewhere with amazing food that I didn't have to prepare or even think of. sigh. That sounds lovely. I just read a book that had a magic tablecloth in it (yes, it was a children's book) and if you said to it "tablecloth, please set thyself" it would magically fill with wonderful food. That is a great idea.

Hmm. I can't really think of anything about myself at this stage of my life. I have been very happily married for 8 years. I have three little girls that that make me laugh, cry and scream in frustration (often within seconds of each other). I definitely have few complaints about my life right now (I'd rather not be quite so exhausted all the time) and have a great life so far.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Delia Jayne

My baby. When I was pregnant with Delia I prayed for an easy going baby who loved to sleep. I did not get that. She is seriously high maintenance and some days I feel like all I did in that day was try and get her to sleep. She just turned 8 months and is already so determined and stubborn. If she doesn't want to sleep, she will not. If she wants to nurse, she will scream for HOURS until she gets what she wants. She is also so attached to me. I did not do anything differently with her than I did with my other two, but for whatever reason, she is an INTENSE momma's girl. She will scream and scream if I leave the room, house, 3 inch vicinity. It makes things difficult for me and whoever is with her when I am not. We get paged every week at the nursery at church after about 15 minutes and I never get to work out. I get really great cuddles though. She is at the stage where she really wants to be mobile but she has a serious aversion to being on her stomach. So crawling is pretty much out of the question. She loves to grab my hands and walk around and she is getting good at cruising around the furniture. I am hoping she will get a little bit easier once she starts walking. Then she can follow me around and grab my legs instead of me having to carry her everywhere... oy vey. When I am around and holding her though she is a great, happy baby. She is always smiling at people and making them think she wants to be held by them. She is such a tease. It is pretty incredible to be loved so completely though. How can I not reciprocate?
Plus, she is stinking cute.

Lainey Kate

My Lainey is my goofy, crazy, easy going, happy kid. She makes me laugh every day. And she has THE greatest laugh. She has recently discovered her inner two year old and is embracing it fully. She asks me the same question over and over and over. Even if my answer is yes. If she doesn't get whatever she asked for IMMEDIATELY I get to hear about it indefinitely. Patience is definitely not something she is skilled at currently. She is also a mischievous little thing. I always know if there is silence she is in trouble. One of my favorite Lainey stories is one day I walked into the kitchen and saw her digging in the silverware drawer for a spoon. I told her to put it back and she slumped her shoulders, said "oh man" and put it back. She then walked to the table with the same dejected manner, screwed the lid back on the jar of Nutella and put it back in the cupboard. Apparently, I had walked into the kitchen just in time. I have also discovered her completely naked covered head to toe with jam. She knows exactly how to push Elie's buttons too and what used to be friendly play no frequently involves shouting matches. She calls Elie "Elie Fae" and "my sisssy" She has this particular way of tilting her head and opening her eyes really wide when she is trying to be insistent about something. Her answer to every "no" lately is "but I am two and a half now." Which she says with her two fingers held up and her head tilted. "No Lainey you can't have ice cream for breakfast." "But I am two and a half now." I love to tickle her. She is such a fun kid and I adore her. She is also my only sleeper. Although she is not ALWAYS happy...

Eliahna Fae

Blogging just hasn't really been my thing lately but I felt a profusion of words today and needed an outlet. So... I am going to write do an update on my children. Eliahna turned 5 in February. She is an amazing kid. Her imagination is incredible and I hope she never stops finding "friends" (aka kindred spirits) everywhere she turns (real and imagined). She is so smart and surprises me with how she processes and thinks about things long after they've been mentioned. A few months ago, Nick and I decided to homeschool her next year. It was a serious roller coaster decision but I finally feel peace about it (most days). We enrolled her in Classical Conversations, a really neat program that she will attend once a week as a supplemental curriculum. There she will get the classroom setting for a few hours as well as other kids her age to interact with. A couple factors went into our decision and how much I agree with the philosophy and material that Classical Conversations has was one of my main reasons. I am SO excited for all that she will learn and all that I get to teach her (and all that I will learn as well.) We have sort of started doing a few subjects and she is doing very well. She can read some simple books independently and the more success she has the more enthusiastic she is to continue. I have learned so much about her in the last few months. About what motivates her, what scares her and how she learns. I am so excited to see the woman she will become. And terrified at the same time. She is a great big sister and loves to carry Delia around and boss Lainey. She is a great helper and can keep Delia busy long enough for me to get something done. I love her so much.
She loves to take self portraits of herself with my phone and text the picture to people.
She is rarely actually dressed in normal clothes. Still.
crazy girls.
She can entertain herself for hours. She came out of the playroom one day and had kept herself busy making a diorama and a whole wardrobe of kleenex clothes for her barbie.