Saturday, January 30, 2010

Enjoying the Sunshine

I find it amazing the effect that sunshine can have on a person's life, especially in the wintertime. The last couple weeks were so gloomy. Last week was rainy all week, and while that isn't quite so bad as the low overcast we get so much, it was still cloudy. But this morning... the sun is out, the sky is blue and there are these cute little birds in our trees. I don't know what they are... sparrows I think, but they are so sweet and they are eating at the yogurt container bird feeders we made and hung in the trees. (Oh dear, they all flew away. I think the cat approached) But, I'm looking at all this out my living room windows and I feel my spirits lifting. The little things that seem like such burdens really melt away when the sun comes out.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Mummification of Chick-menotep

I mentioned in a previous post that we have decided on a new course for history in our little homeschool. That new course being - Ancient History. We've been thoroughly enjoying our studies about ancient Egypt and have decided to try our hand at mummification. So, today was the day - we mummified the Pharaoah Chick-menotep. First, we had to wash him really good and dry him and then wash him again in rubbing alcohol to kill all the germs.
Then we mixed up our drying compound - 2 boxes of salt, and a half a box of each - baking powder and baking soda.
Then, we put him in a plastic bag, filled his inside with the salt mixture and then we filled up the bag, so he was completely covered.
Then, we put him in yet another plastic bag, zipped him up and we'll check on him tomorrow. If the salt mixture is wet, we'll mix up another batch and re-salt him. The process takes about six weeks and then we get to oil and wrap him.


Saturday, January 23, 2010

January in California

While children in other parts of the country are bundling up in boots and caps and mittens and getting out their sleds in mid-January, my children are running around outside in their underwear playing in the mud.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Finally piqued their interest...

I have spent so much time agonizing this year over what history to teach the boys. Now, they're just in first grade, so it's not like they're going to remember a whole lot, but I also believe that it's not that they remember the details per se, but that they have an overall picture of the way things work, and where they are in history, even if it's not a conscious thing. My basic overall educational philosophy is of a classical bent and I get most of my instruction in homeschooling from "The Well-Trained Mind" by Jessie Wise and Susan Wise-Bauer. They recommend teaching history in four year cycles, beginning with ancient history in first grade. I bought "The Story of the World I" which is written by Susan Wise-Bauer, but I decided not to go with it because I wanted to give the boys a really good foundation in US History. So, I bought another curriculum that began with the Vikings and continued through the colonial period. We started out the year with that. and it was ok. I tried to include a lot of interesting things, we did a long, hands-on unit on the Native Americans, but finally by Christmas I had to admit that we were all rather bored. But, I was going to plug on. So, one day we're reading the whole two paragraphs this curriculum had on Sir Walter Raleigh and I got out "The Story of the World II" which had more on the guy and read that and the boys were fascinated. Of course they were. Talked about the time Sir Walter Raleigh's servant dumped a bucket of water on his head because he'd never seen his master smoking and thought he was on fire. Of course, smoking was unheard of in Europe until that time because tobacco was only grown in the New World. The boys also thought it was pretty cool that Sir Walt was beheaded for treason. All of these little details our curriculum failed to mention.

So, it was then and there that I decided to switch gears. I don't think it's healthy to switch curriculum in the middle of the year like that, but in this case, it was either kill us with boredom, in which case the boys wouldn't learn anything anyhow, or do something else that would interest them and hopefully they'll remember some of it. So, a couple weeks ago we started "Story of the World I" and have really enjoyed it. It is written in narrative form and the boys like that. It includes details that are interesting, not just the basic facts. Today I read them a book on being a kid in ancient Egypt and the kids were fascinated. We went into a whole discourse on the mummifying process. There were some great, albeit creepy, pictures in these library books. So, I'm glad we switched. We won't finish the book this year, but that's ok. I'll probably continue on with it throughout the summer and then pick up book 2 when the boys are in second grade, as recommended. So, we are leaving the boring behind and heading with joy into Ancient Egypt.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Various and Sundry Thoughts...

Nothing really new going on here, but I do kind of feel like something is going on. It's a strange feeling. For one thing, I've been spending less time surfing the Net and I've been doing some reading. I've picked up the biography of Amy Carmichael by Elisabeth Elliot. It's a pretty good book, but I'm getting a little annoyed by her because she's so... not me. She is the type of woman who I admire, but I never could be. She is passionate, intense and driven by her convictions. She is disciplined, courageous and... passionate. In case you've never heard of her, she's a woman who lived in the late 1800's and was a missionary first to Japan, then to Ceylon and ended up in India. I haven't read the whole book, so I'm not sure exactly what she did in India, but she was there and did something important. Afterall, they did write a book about her. In some ways, I'd love to be that way. Most days I feel lazy and undisciplined. I don't feel terribly passionate about anything and I'm wishy washy in my convictions. I know I should get up early and exercise and study God's Word, but I turn over when the alarm goes off and snuggle down a little deeper. I want to eat only healthy foods, and then only at meal-times, with an occasional snack, but I find myself standing in the pantry with an open bag of chocolate chips in my hands, looking over my shoulder to make sure the kids aren't watching. I feel anxious and unsure about my parenting skills. And what really bugs me is that I'm not disciplined enough to move toward becoming more disciplined. So, I've really been lifting this up to the Lord in prayer. I know I'll never be an Amy Carmichael, but hopefully I can do a little better job at being me.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Theological questions from a three-year-old

Missy Lou: Mommy, how old is God?
Mommy: Uh... uh... well, I don't know. (really, how do you explain that one to a three-year-old?)

Missy Lou: Mommy, was Jesus ever a dad?
Mommy: No honey, he never got married. (thank goodness my children still believe that you have to be married to have children)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Quote of the Day:

Missy Lou: "I don't like you Duh-duh! You're different!"
Duh-Duh: "I'm not different! I'm the regular kind!"

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Paradigm shift...

Boy, talk about an over-used phrase. But, I thought it was appropriate for the subject matter. Since having my boys, I have experienced a paradigm shift... "broken does not necessarily equal bad". Most people would look at all the broken toys in our house and think, "hmm, those poor children have nothing to play with but broken toys". Or, they might think,"Wow, why don't those parents teach their children to take better care of their things?" I would have thought so myself, except that ever since the boys have been able to play with toys they have been removing wheels from their cars. None of the cars in our house have wheels. It's been a little frustrating for us, but... what are you going to do? And it's not only wheels - they dismantel all their cars and trucks. For the longest time we were really frustrated until one day Duh-duh squeals in delight when the bumper comes off his van and he says, "Look, the bumper came off. Now it needs a tow truck". Then, I finally realized, that they do not equate broken with bad. They do this on purpose. They are not being destructive, and they don't ask for the toys to be fixed or replaced. They love their broken things. So, I figure, if they don't mind, why should I mind? As long as they don't break my things, I don't care what they do with theirs.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

My apologies...

There was a nasty thing made on my comments a couple of posts down. I didn't notice till today (I haven't been here for a couple of days) and I hope no one read that yucky comment. I don't want to do comment moderation or that copying down words thing because I find that to be annoying. But, if I get some of that yucky stuff again, I will have to do that because I don't want that junk on my blog.

Once again, I apologize if anyone saw that trash.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

I bought pepper spray!

I got the fright of my life this morning. In fact, my voice is still sore from screaming. See, I've been trying to get back into my routine of an early morning walk. I used to walk from about 5:15am till 6:00am and then eat breakfast and do my devotions, but then the newspaper delivery lady told me she'd been chased and seen people standing in shadows and she kind of wigged me out. So, I now get up at 5:15, but do my devotions first and then go out and walk when it's starting to get light and the neighborhood is a little more awake. Well, this morning, I was out walking and walked to the end of Kings Drive (which dead-ends and you have to turn right and go down the hill into our subdivision). I was right there at the corner when this huge black and white dog comes bounding out from around a car parked on the street. He's barking and growling at me and I am terrified. I started yelling at him and then I just started screaming, "Help! Help!". Unfortunately, he was barking too loud and I don't think anyone could hear me. I kept walking and he eventually left me alone, but I was freakin' out! I've never seen that dog there before, so I don't know if he was a stray, or he belonged to that house and he just got out. Usually if dogs are out in our neighborhood their owner is somewhere near, but not this morning. So, this afternoon, I ordered pepper spray!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Love that white stuff!

Snow is wonderful. For about a half an hour and then you need to go back inside, get warm and dry, have something hot to drink and then maybe think about going outside again. That would be my ideal way of playing in the snow. But, that requires some wonderful cabin somewhere with high windows, a huge stone fireplace, and comfy couches. And, we don't have that. So, we must resort to plan B, which is... just pack up the kids, lunch and dry clothes and head on up there anyway. Which is what we did on New Year's Eve. The kids haven't been to the snow in a couple of years, so we decided to give it a whirl and head on up to Grant's Grove. We didn't have any snow play toys, so we stopped at the general store in the village and bought a saucer for $12 (and that was the best $12 we ever spent, btw). The ranger said there was a snow play area at the Columbine picnic area so we headed in that direction. Well, I must say, even though we didn't have the cabin and the comfy couches, we did have a wonderful time.
There was a pretty good sledding hill and the kids had a ball with the saucer. It was also fun to watch the family with the teen-age boys tumble down the steeper hill and crash and fall off their sleds and almost run into a tree. Missy Lou was a little young for too much sledding, so after a few times she'd had enough of that and we went walking around in the snow. After a little while of that she'd had enough, so we headed to the car, changed her clothes and sat in the back and ate chips and watched another family of teenagers have a snowball fight. But, the boys couldn't get enough of the sledding and went time after time. We spent a couple of hours up there, enjoying the snow and the sunshine, then changed clothes, ate lunch in the back of the van and headed on down the hill. What a wonderful day!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

New Year, New Viruses, New Resolutions?

I had hoped to do more blogging lately, especially since I sent out my Christmas letter with an invitation to "visit my blog". But, a lovely virus infected our computer and it took a while to get that taken care of, and then I've just been a little hesitant to get on the Net. I certainly haven't been on Facebook because I've just about gotten another virus from two of my poor unsuspecting relatives via Facebook. Sorry, FB, but ya gotta take care of things like that. Anyhow, it is indeed a new year. It's actually the third day of the new year. The holidays are over, Christmas is packed up and put away for another year and now my thoughts turn to... dormant spray (we have this awesome fruit salad tree, and I also have roses. Sorry, I'm not an organic gardener), seed catalogs and spring. I am very lucky I live here in California where we have a... well, a year round growing season, really, but a pretty short winter. I can't imagine living in Duluth where the growing season is like... I don't know, 45 minutes?

So, I'm afraid I haven't made any resolutions this New Year. I made one several years ago and have managed to keep it, so I'm not going to tempt fate. But, I will try to blog a little more! I guess that's a pretty good resolution.