Wednesday, January 30, 2013

We don't get to choose our crosses




Life is a vale of tears someone once said. Not sure who...but I know someone once said that.  Heck..I just said that..so that counts, right?

Life became a lot easier once I was able to accept that it's not supposed to be easy..  It took awhile.  It took a lot of suffering.  It took a lot of crying and mental temper tantruming and "why me, God."  But, accepting that life is just plain tough, was the first baby step towards greater spiritual maturity,.  Not that I'm spiritually mature or anything...I think it might have just bumped me up from a spiritual newborn to a  slightly older newborn...like from a 1-day old baby to a 1-week old baby...and even that may be overly generous.

We've had a difficult past couple of years.  Not super hard or terrible or anything..but difficult.  Dealing with unemployment and underemployment and then my husband deciding to move us all 1400 miles south to attend law school has not been easy.  At some of the worst times, I was so tempted to think that other people's crosses were  not as hard.   I was tempted to think, I'd rather be dealing with your X than my Y.   Which was a totally immature, selfish way to think, because no doubt, if I was dealing with Y, I'd think I would prefer X.

This past summer I had a scare..a major scare...the big C scare.  After about a month of worrying and stress (and oh..the stress was awful, totally completely awful) and depression and anxiety, and way, way, way too much time on google...the biopsy came back normal and all was well.  But, it was scary, it was really, really scary and being pregnant made it all the scarier. I was so weak under that stress...I didn't want to talk to anyone, I didn't want to see anyone.  Just going on with daily life was a struggle.

But, I also learned a lot from that month.  I learned to try to rely on God more.  I learned that I can't give in to anxiety and fear and depression.   I learned to rely on my husband just a bit more.  And, I'd like to think that I learned to appreciate the really important things in life more...my children, my husband, my family.  Not to say that I haven't forgotten those lessons at times...I have.  But, I still have the memory of that month, that awful, scary month to remind me of "what almost was" and to try to hold fast to God. To remind me that life will not always be easy, at times it will be downright painful...but all I can do is trust God and forge on.
 
I also learned that we don't get to choose our crosses.  We don't get to say...I'll take this cross, God..but not that one.  I'll suffer through this...but not that.   God knows exactly what we need.   They say God doesn't give us more than we can handle.  But, sometimes I think God wants to stretch us a little bit...to increase our burden just a bit, to make us stronger.   But, the learning curve is painful..oh so painful sometimes.  Sometimes, all we can do is just grit our teeth, throw up our hands and pray.

Jesus, I trust in you.  

 I've heard people talk about choosing a word for 2013...and focusing on that word. .My word is trust.   2013 promises to be another stressful year...what with Ben graduating from law school and job searching and moving and taking the bar and all that jazz.  So.. 

Jesus, I trust in you.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Stick it to the State!


Forbes Magazine recently published an article online with the oh-so-amusing title of   Want To Tell The State To Stick It? Homeschool Your Kids.

 I have mixed feelings about this article.  On the one hand, it's EXTREMELY favorable towards homeschoolers..maybe even ..just a teensy, tiny bit too favorable.  After all, homeschoolers are like everyone else and homeschooling isn't a magical formula for turning your kid into a super smart, responsible, entrepreneurial, virtuous, moral, upstanding member of society that always pays their bills on time, attends church every Sunday, never, ever exceeds the speed limit and discovers the cure for cancer, all while coaching soccer and running a successful restaurant that sells only locally-grown organic, grass-fed, free-range food.

And, most homeschoolers I know, don't actually want to "stick it" to anyone.  In fact many even enjoy a rather congenial relationship with their local school department...even using the school for special services, extra-curricular activities or sports.  Furthermore, many families drift in and out of the homeschool lifestyle.

My major beef with the article is that it paints all homeschoolers with the same broad brush.
  The God-fearing, flag-waiving, gun-toting homeschool crowd
I mean...really....we don't even own a flag.

One common criticism of homeschooling is that it lacks diversity.  And, to some extent, that is true...homeschooling families, for the most part, consist of married, college-educated, single-income parents.  Not to mention, that most homeschoolers have messy homes and bookshelves that look like this. Not us, though.. Ok..so we do too (except we don't own any bookshelves, so our books are even messier).



Nonetheless, there is a lot of diversity too...I've known homeschoolers of different races, religions (or no religion), and homeschooling philosophies.  From the unschoolers to the classical educators..homeschooling spans a wide divide...with most people falling somewhere in the middle.

However, the one thing almost all homeschoolers have in common is that they are fiercely independent and fiercely  protective of personal liberty and the right to choose how to best educate their children,.  
“Expect the rapidly expanding homeschool movement to play a significant role in the revolutionary reforms needed to rebuild a free society with constitutional protections.”- Ron Paul
Homeschoolers, for the most part, don't take affronts to personal liberty sitting down.  And, that's a good thing.  After all, by homeschooling, one of the most important thing I want to teach my kids is to think critically and to learn how to learn what they need or want to learn. Got that?

There are so many different reasons why people homeschool, and the reasons one family chooses will be wildly different from those of another family.   But, one thing almost all homeschoolers have in common is that the parents are, almost by definition, highly involved in the education of their children.  And, that is likely the reason why, homeschoolers are seeing such success when it comes to test scores and spelling bees.

I love being part of the homeschooling community.  I love being in charge of my children's education and I love spending time with them and watching them learn.  I love learning right alongside them.  But, most of all, I love the independence and freedom that homeschooling gives our family.  And, that is why we homeschool...not so we can "stick it to the state"..but so we can live our lives the way we choose, teach what we feel is the most important and educate each child in the best way for that child.   My 12-years of public school education taught me nothing more than how to get an A, I want my kids to learn more than that.

Blessings,
Amelia

Friday, January 25, 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday


--- 1 ---
Today is the annual March for Life   in Washington D.C.  I waver between wishing I could have gone, and then looking at pictures friends have posted on Facebook and being all "Man, it looks cold there...like, really, really cold..like we don't even have warm enough clothes for that level of cold."   Living in Florida sure can spoil a girl.   The last time I attended the March was back in 1999, and I must say that it was an awesome experience marching with so many other pro-lifers in defense of the unborn. 

 Photo taken from here.


--- 2 ---
Speaking of living in Florida, I think the thing I like least about it is that I feel such a disconnect from the rest of the country.   Everyone else is posting on Facebook about playing the snow and the cold temperatures and showing off their cute boots. 
  
And, we're down here sweating.
--- 3 ---
One thing I don't miss though, is dealing with this! 

--- 4 ---
My kids want to make "healthy cookies".   So, I made up the following recipe.  They came out, really, really yummy.  

Molasses Cookies (Gluten-Free)

1/2 cup softened butter
1 cup unprocessed cane sugar
1 cup blackstrap molasses
2 eggs
2 cups gluten free flour (I used a 1:1:1 blend of potato starch, rice flour and coconut flour)
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 cup ground flaxseed
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon nutmeg.

Cream sugar and butter.  Beat in eggs, molasses and vanilla.   Mix in dry ingredients and drop by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until done.

And unlike most gluten-free baked goods...I didn't even add xanthum gum.  Shazaaam!!

Don't they look yummy.


--- 5 ---
We've been following meatless Fridays here in the Bentrup household.  For a variety of reasons, which I will perhaps...maybe...someday address in a future post, I've been trying to stay away from cheese-heavy meals.  So, much to the chagrin of the other members of the household...we've been eating more fish.  Which they protest..loudly.   But, I think I finally made a way to make it *slightly* more acceptable to the miniature members.   I've been making fish cakes out of everything...cooking the fish and them mixing it with eggs, bread crumbs, spices, minced onion and garlic..etc..making little cakes and baking in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or so.   I wouldn't say anyone LOVES them..but they eat them... and get their protein and omega-3's..  So...it works.

--- 6 ---

Despite my best efforts to discourage it...Elsa seems bound and determined to be a thumb-sucker.
Is there anything cuter?
--- 7 ---

I've been getting so crafty lately..which is pretty unlike me.  I had an old stained white cardigan shirt from Newport News which I loved..except for the fact that it was a white shirt with a blue ink stain on it.  So, I picked up some blue dye from Wal-Mart the other day and tried dying it this afternoon.  Not too bad.  I probably would have liked the color to come out a bit darker..but oh well.  It was my first time dying anything..and I even managed not to dye myself or the baby or anyone else blue!

 
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real


round button chicken

{pretty}


 Who knew the swamp could be so pretty??  This picture was taken at a nearby nature refuge/swamp.  This is one of my favorite places to hike here in FL.  It is so pretty, we've seen owls, alligators, woodpeckers and other birds.  Plus, it doesn't smell swampy...it smells nice and cypress-y.

{happy}




Happy, happy, happy baby!!  



{funny}


This is how John frequently falls asleep at night.   In case you can't tell, he's sleeping inside a plastic bin.  Good thing he's such a skinny minny, so we can still easily lift him out and place him in his bed. 

 
 {real}


This is how I spend many a day, especially school days.  Elsa had just finished nursing and Heidi wanted to snap a picture.  I had to quickly cover up to make it presentable!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Unplanned Joy

Tomorrow marks the 40th Anniversary of the landmark Roe vs. Wade decision.  I've always known what abortion is.  My parents were active in the pro-life movement, and I have this distinct memory of being on the playground in the 3rd grade walking around and talking with two friends.  One little girl said her mother had just had an abortion, the other little girl asked what that was, and I oh-so-blithely piped up "Oh, I know what that is, that is when they kill a baby before it is born."

I *knew* but I didn't really *know*.

I've always considered myself pro-life.  I can remember arguing against abortion in Spanish class (of all things...can't quite recall why, I think our assignment was to argue something in Spanish).  In college, I took a bus down to Washington D.C. with a few friends and marched in the March for Life.

I *knew* but I didn't really *know*.


It wasn't until I had my first child that I really and truly understood what abortion is and what a travesty it is.  It wasn't until I saw the 2nd line turn pink, saw that first ultrasound, felt a baby moving around and then gave birth to a little, tiny, brand new person that I really understood.

I can remember after giving birth, seeing those little arms and legs kicking and head turning and thinking "Oh, so THAT'S what I was feeling when you were still on the inside".




That is when I realized in my heart, what I have always known intellectually.  That the beginning of a pregnancy is the beginning of a brand new life and that life precious...life is always precious....everyone's life is precious.

It always amazes me how "easy" it is make a baby.  I know couples struggling with infertility don't think it is easy..and my heart goes out to them.   But, I find it amazing how a single act of sexual intercourse *can* lead to a whole, BRAND, NEW, PERSON. It's almost like magic...conception occurs and then POOF, there is someone there who wasn't there before and the mother doesn't have to DO anything (other than continue to eat and nourish her own body).  If all goes well, the baby grows and develops and is born and grows up and leaves his or her mark on the world.   Because, everyone...no matter how long they lived in this world or what they did, somehow leaves their mark.


Patricia Heaton (of Everybody Loves Raymond fame) and honorary chair of Feminists for Life said

“Women experiencing an unplanned pregnancy also deserve unplanned joy."
And that's what a baby brings...joy.  Sure, pregnancy is hard and painful and birth is hard and painful and raising a child is hard and painful..and giving a baby up for adoption would be very hard and very painful.   All those things require lots of work and sacrifice...but amidst the sacrifice and work and pain, there is joy...there is always joy.

After Elsa was born, when out and about, I was amazed at how total strangers seemed to take such joy in seeing a new baby.  Maybe it's because I live in an area dominated by retirees, or maybe it's because she is exceptionally cute (okay, I know every mother thinks their baby is exceptionally cute...so I'm just a bit biased... sue me), but I was always being stopped in the grocery store, or on walks by people wanting to see her and admire her and just look at her.   Just by being a new baby she seemed to bring at least some small measure of joy to others.

And, that is why abortion is such a travesty in our society.  It destroys a life, it destroys a person and it destroys a mother's chance to experience joy through her child.

My heart goes out to women who have experienced a crisis pregnancy.  I never have.  I will admit, I don't know what it's like.  My heart goes out even more to women who have experienced abortion.  I pray they only feel compassion and love and gentleness from the pro-life movement.

Friday, January 18, 2013

7 Quick Takes- January 17. 2013.


--- 1 ---
This is like what...the 5th theme change my blog has gone through since I resurrected it in December. I think I've FINALLY settled on something I like..for now.
--- 2 ---
I switched my blog over from wordpress to blogger. I like blogger better, and I find it more user friendly.  So, if you actually care to note the address...note that it is at blogspot now, instead of wordpress.
--- 3 ---
When I switched it over, I discovered that I have ANOTHER blog that I started a few years ago..that I had honestly, totally and completely forgotten about. Seriously! How does one forget about their blog? It's like forgetting about your own child! I think I'm a serial blogger..is there a 12-step program for that? FYI..the old blog I just remembered is Real Food, Real Learning With Less.
--- 4 ---

We ran out of milk and cream...so I put a small spoonful of pumpkin ice cream in my coffee. Sssh..don't tell my kids.

--- 5 ---

Typical dinner conversation at our house
John (age 4):  Dad, what would you do if you were half-wolf and half-sheep and you ate yourself.
Dad: add ketchup


--- 6 ---
 I was going to put a picture of ketchup with that last take..but I just couldn't bring myself to do it.  Every picture I found squicked me out.  I shudder just looking at pictures of ketchup. Oddly enough, I have no problem eating it...just looking at pictures of it.
 
--- 7 ---
   It was super cold today by Florida standards...only 53 degrees at 10 AM and I LOVED it.    While everyone else was all
I was all

The cold invigorates me while the heat makes me feel sluggish and lethargic.  Clearly, I am living in the wrong state. 
  
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Biscuits that are really Popovers

Image

(This photo and these popovers were made by Ann Larie Valenine...because my popovers didn't look nearly as pretty, so I just hopped on over to flickr and found a beautiful photo that was available for sharing via the creative commons license.   So, we'll just pretend that my popovers looked as pretty as Ann Larie's did...okay?)

So, for the last, oh, 5 years or so, I have been serving soup with either drop biscuits or no-knead 5 minute artisan bread, which if you haven't tried yet, you absolutely should because it is so, so, so, so easy and so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, good!  Is that enough so's for ya?   Seriously, this bread is like the one thing I miss most about being gluten-free.  Well..besides breaded/fried mozzarella cheese sticks that is-- the ONE food I totally craved in my last two pregnancies.  I can't even tell you how excited I was last summer when I discovered that a local grocery store in Rhode Island carried GLUTEN-FREE fried mozzarella sticks!   Those were no doubt responsible for at least a couple pounds of extra baby weight I am currently trying to lose.  Thankfully, I haven't found them in a store down here in Naples yet, otherwise I probably would have gained like double that weight.

Anyway, back to the popovers, so I've always served soup with either biscuits or bread, because that is what my mother did..and well you know, we do things a certain way because our mother did them.   Except my biscuits never, ever came out the way I remembered my mother making them.  Never, ever, ever, ever.

And today..I FINALLY figured out why...because my mother wasn't serving biscuits all those years...she was serving POPOVERS.   Awhile back, I noticed a recipe for gluten-free popovers on the back of a box of King Author gluten-free flour blend.  And,  I said to myself, Self, those popovers sound good, you need to try them.  So, today I did..except I had long used up that box of flour, so I hopped onto my trusty laptop and used good ole' google to find another recipe for gluten-free popovers.

So, I made them tonight for dinner, took one bite and was instantly transported back to my childhood.  I remember sitting around my kitchen table on long wooden benches and eating green onion soup (yuck....no offense mom..but I hated it) begrudgingly just so I could eat those delicious little balls of crusty goodness on the outside and delicious airiness on the inside.  I can even distinctly picture the bright yellow bread basket, covered with a towel, she used to serve them in.  And all this time, I thought they were biscuits!!  I'm so embarrassed.

Anyway, these gluten-free popovers are DELICIOUS!  Greta even said they were "super, incredibly, amazingly yummy" and for her to say that about a recipe that doesn't even contain any sugar is pretty darn amazing!

And they are SO easy!  I will never, ever,  make biscuits with soup again.. I am forever converted to a popover fan.

Anyway, dear readers...here is my wonderful recipe for gluten-free popovers that taste JUST like how I remember my mom's regular old, gluten-containing popovers tasting.

2 1/2 cups gluten-free all purpose flour blend (I really like Namaste Foods, Gluten Free Perfect Flour Blend_

1 1/2 tbsp melted butter

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 tsp xanthum gum (omit if you are using a flour blend ..like Namaste, which already contains xanthum gum).

1 1/2 cups milk

5 eggs..slightly beaten

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Whisk all ingredients together until smooth.  Grease 18 muffin tins and fill each tin about 1/2 way with batter.  Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes.  Prick each top with a fork to let steam escape and then bake 5 minute more.  Remove from oven and ENJOY, ENJOY, ENJOY!

Blessings,

Amelia

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Birth Take 2 (or is that 4?)

So, I was reading through some old, old, old posts of my mine on this blog, and came across one entitled Birth, which surprisingly enough is all about birth.   This post was written about 6 weeks or so after John's birth...but back then I was all paranoid about the internet and didn't use my kid's real names and tried to be all secretive and anonymous and stuff, so I called him "Baby Son."  Now..I'm just all "eh..whatever" and figure that as long as I'm not posting anything I wouldn't want my mother or my neighbor to read then it's all good.

Anyway...back to the topic at hand.  So, I was reading that old post, and it made John's birth seem so dramatic and scary.  And, I suppose it was.    John was born at a hospital, under the care of a CNM (that's certified nurse midwife for those of you not familiar with that particular bit of nomenclature).  My labor with him was pretty stop and go and *I* ended up asking for my water to be artificially broken to speed things up...and speed things up it did.  But, after that, fetal-John started to go into "distress" and there was some heart decelerations and I had to get him out NOW and it was a lot of hard pushing and stress and pain.  It was not an experience I wish to repeat again..although he was (and still is) pretty darn cute, so it was all worth it in the end.

Heidi and Greta had pretty typical hospital births with almost textbook labors..both using regular OBs and nothing scary or exciting happened.  And, while labor certainly wasn't fun and there was a good bit of pain involved (especially towards the end), overall they were pretty ho-hum...just your typical, textbook, hospital, labor and birth (except without the epidural..which I guess most people typically do get).

Elsa's birth on the other hand was totally and completely different from all my other births.  The other ones, generally all followed the typical pattern of easy contractions, go to hospital, labor stops, walk around to get labor started again, labor starts again,  progressively more painful and closer contractions,  exceedingly painful-cut-me-open-NOW transition contractions, to pushing, to baby's born..hooray!

Elsa's labor and birth was almost like a non-event.  In some ways it feels like I didn't even go through labor and birth at all, she just sorta fell out of me and..oh look..here she is.  With Elsa, for a variety of reasons, we decided to go with a homebirth.  It was something I had put a lot of thought and prayer into..even reading a lot from anti-homebirth blogs and sites.   There were several reasons we chose homebirth, but the main one being that in the past, as soon as I get to the hospital, my labor always stops.  This is super, super, super annoying because we had gone to the hospital to have a baby and just wanted to get on with the business of having the baby.

Anyway, because I was planning a homebirth with Elsa, I wasn't paying too much attention to contractions and basically just went about my regular, ordinary day doing all the regular, ordinary things I would be doing on that day.  As typical of any homeschooling mom, this involved lots of walking around and being on my feet..which I think definitely helped labor along.  Anyway, along towards evening, after cooking dinner and washing the dishes, the contractions started to get un-ignorable, but still pretty far apart and we decided to call the midwife.  She arrived and contractions were pretty intense, but still like 10-15 minutes apart and very manageable as long as I was walking around.    We thought we had HOURS and HOURS left.  Then boom, while in the bathroom...all of a sudden I had like 8 strong contractions which were about 30 seconds apart. I started to feel nauseous (as I always do during transition), I started to feel pushy and somehow managed to walk out of the bathroom and call to the midwife and Ben to get there.  I was going to ask the midwife to check me, since I thought I was pretty far along, but didn't think I was fully dilated.  However,  just as they walked into the room, my water broke..I started pushing and baby was born like 2 pushes later. The whole "intense" part of labor and birth probably lasted no more than 20 minutes (while with my other labors it was 2-3 hours).    I'm not kidding when I say that it totally felt like a non-event and it was EASY.  Almost, like one minute things were just pretty ordinary and the next minute, I had a baby.  After she was born, all I could say over and over again was that I couldn't believe how fast that was and that it was already over.

Now, don't get me wrong...I'm SUPER thankful that I was BLESSED with such and easy and quick birth..but in some ways it feels weird.  Like, I didn't work hard enough or get exhausted enough.  Labor and birth is supposed to be this great, big EVENT, but between NOT going to the hospital and having such a quick birth..it almost felt like a non-event.   It's wasn't this super challenging mountain to climb and conquer, it was more like this little walk in the park with this tiny little hill at the end.

But, as with all my births, no matter where or how they were born, we ended up with a beautiful, healthy babe...and that is after all the most important thing.

And now, I have nothing more to say, so I'll just leave you with this cute little picture of Elsa when she is just a few hours old!  Notice her ear.  When I first saw her, all I could think was "OMG, she has pointy, elfin ears.  Everyone's going to think she's a freak.  Aaaaaaaah"  Then I calmed down and was all "Oh, she's so cute...look at those little pixie ears, she'll have a fun, distinguishing characteristic.".  But, alas..her ears have since rounded out to just regular, old, ordinary looking ears...so I guess she's not really a pixie after all.

Elsa

Friday, January 11, 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday...01/11/2013


--- 1 ---


So, like all the cool Catholic bloggers are doing this whole 7 Quick Takes Friday thing..so I figured I would try it. Surely...even I could think of 7 quick things to post about. And, obviously posting about 7 Quick Takes counts as my first Quick Take..right?

--- 2 ---


Yesterday was one of THOSE  days. You know those days...the type of day where any homeschooling mom starts thinking that boarding school sounds really, really good. Greta just about did me in with learning multiple number 3-digit addition with estimation to boot. I didn't like all those long math problems as a kid...and I hate them even more as a parent. Then I came to my senses and realized that even if she went to school, I'd still have to help her with her homework and I'd still be banging my head against the wall..so it's all good. How come no one ever told me before I had kids that I'd have to deal with things like super long, annoying math problems AGAIN?

--- 3 ---


Believe it or not, I actually used to be on the math team in high school...so I'm not teaching my girls something wimpy like "Math Class is Tough" (anyone else remember that Barbie controversy from like 20 years ago?)...but I hated all those long problems back then, and I still hate them now..can't wait until we get to fun stuff..like calculus.

--- 4 ---


We used to have this one, rickety, falling apart bookshelf. It was one of those cheap, particle board things that someone I put together incorrectly. Yesterday, we had to look behind it for the missing Kindle Fire charger thing which somehow got kicked behind there. Super Mommy found it..but when I moved it, it started falling apart and we ended up taking all the books off and throwing the bookshelf away. Now the corner of our living room looks like this and we have to find a way to store these for the next 5 months (or 8 months) until we move.

books

Otherwise, it will almost definitely guarantee that Elsa will start crawling and pulling up before then, because what baby can resist wreaking havoc on a stack of books like that?

--- 5 ---


Speaking of Elsa..last night she did something almost UNHEARD of in this house. Are you ready for it??? She fell asleep WITHOUT NURSING!! I know, I know...I almost passed out from shock too. Last night, I was busy cutting out little sheep shapes for our coop project today and she was lying on the bed, in the dark, sucking her hands and I go in there and the next thing I know..she is ASLEEP...ALL ON HER OWN!! Woo hoo! Of course, then she woke up an hour later and refused to settle without me next to her...but it was nice while it lasted.

--- 6 ---


I'm reading a really good book right now.
Warnings: The True Story of How Science Tamed the Weather
41WMr2XunYL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_

It was a Christmas present (the kindle edition) and I'm really enjoying it..and it's kinda making me want to move to Tornado Alley so I can be one of those Tornado Chasers (ok..not really...Tornadoes scare the heck out of me..I'd much rather deal with hurricanes.) But, it is fascinating..especially to a science geek like me.

--- 7 ---


Elsa is FOUR MONTHS OLD TODAY!! Can you believe it? I can't believe it either..time is just flying by! Check out this cute little bundle of chubbyliciousness!

Elsa-4months

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Balance

After a lovely 9 whole days off from "school" we started our homeschool work back up again this Wednesday.   Wednesday is piano lesson day, which means we need to finish all our work before 1:40 PM or so, so I can take the older girls to piano.  For many homeschoolers...this is a piece of cake.

But...not...for us.  We typically get a later start to the day....which means we don't finish our actual "work" until a bit later.

Homeschooling feels like this huge balancing act to me...like if I lose my balance for just one second we all fall off and land face first in the ground.  Kinda like how this seal feels...I'm sure.

IMG_8124

This is how a typical homeschool day goes:

John is the only one who wants to do school...and the only one not legally required to be in school (ironic..no?).  So, as soon as I announce "It's schooltime" with a big cheerful, happy smile on my face he pesters me to do his "sublects"  and while I'm trying to help him, I'm also trying to get Heidi and Greta (who are considerably less enthusiastic) started on their work.

They each pick a subject and start working independently...for about 3 minutes.  Then, the inevitable happens.   Someone calls out "I NEED HELP" and if I don't help that child THAT.VERY.SECOND she wanders off to parts unknown.  Funny how a house that seems SO SMALL most of the time, can seem SO HUGE when a child wants to make herself scarce.

Meanwhile, while I'm helping Child A, Child B has finished her assigned work in that subject and had decided to wander off for unknown parts.

So, then I find Child B and help her and keep her on task..meanwhile Child A finished something and decides to wander off before I can assign her next subject.

I find Child A and get her started on something and while I'm teaching or helping Child A, Child B finishes and wanders off, so I get Child B started and then Child A finishes and wanders off.

And, the above scenario repeats..well...repeatedly (duh) until we finish (or um..don't finish) our work.

IMG_1667

Yep..this is how we do school in our house!  I have no idea what John is doing in this picture...but since this was taken last March and he's still running around, we figure he must be okay.

Now, I realize I shouldn't get too mad about this "wandering off" business...they totally get it from me.  I was raised in a family where we were modeled that time is never to be wasted..not even a second.  I can remember us all waiting for my mother to go someplace and she'd be off finishing this thing or that thing saying "I'm just using my marginal minutes while everyone gets ready."    So, I can't really blame my kids for wandering off...after all I hate to be idle and waste time too...so I always have a book (or kindle..LOVE the kindle) handy for waiting rooms, or I'm always finding something to do while waiting for something else.  I'll even admit to reading while giving the kids their spelling "tests"...I figured out that it takes them about the same amount of time to write a spelling word as it takes me to read a sentence or two.  This makes me super efficient...no?  So, I can understand their desire to be reading or drawing or playing something while they are waiting for me...but I still find it so frustrating.

After all, one of the hardest part of parenting is realizing that it is our own traits we see in our children that drive us the most crazy.   At least for me it is...I've come to realize that the child that is most like me...is the one that drives me the craziest.  Ha!

So..where was I...oh that's right..this post was about balance.  But, I'm having such a hard a time balancing everything that I've lost my train of thought and can't quite remember where I was going with this.   Other than to say, that I feel we need more balance in our lives and in our schooling.   I always envisioned us doing a lot more "fun" activities while homeschooling..you know...cool stuff like science experiments and art projects.

Never mind the fact, that we almost NEVER have those "basic household things" that most science projects call for.   Like an experiment will call for rubber bands or something, and I'll go to get the rubber bands and realize that our rubber bands are older than our oldest child, and they just snap in two.  So, there goes that experiment.

So, this year, in 2013..my goal is try to find a better balance for our school..find a way to keep all children engaged at once and find a better way to balance our time, so we have more "time" for the extra, fun stuff...like Latin.  Ha...bet you never saw the words "Latin" and "Fun" in the same sentence before.

Anyone else have any cool goals for 2013 they want to share..feel free to use that nifty little comment box below.  I think all the cool bloggers call that a combox..but I'm not sure what that means...so I'll just call "that box where you can add your own comments."

And, carry on fellow homeschooling mamas..carry on!

Blessings,

Amelia

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Sleep in Heavenly Peace

The Christmas Season is almost over ...but not yet.  It's STILL Christmas until the Epiphany, which means I'm totally, completely justified in writing about a line from a Christmas Carol on January 1st, right?

Lately, I've been musing a lot about the last line from Silent Night ....you know, the one that goes "Sleep in Heavenly Peeeeace.....Sleeeeep in Heavenly Peace."

What I want to know is exactly what is heavenly peace?  And, how come my baby isn't sleeping in it?

You see, with a young baby, the topic of sleep seems to come up a lot in conversations.  And, I'm never quite sure how to answer the question on "how is she sleeping".  I just want to say "like a baby" and leave it like that, because well..she sleeps like a baby....which mean she wakes up a lot and doesn't like to be put down.

The thing is, Elsa spends a good portion of the day,  NOT napping..she is basically a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad napper.

This is how a typical Elsa nap goes..she is tired, she fusses, she nurses, she falls asleep and sleeps..oh...typically about 8 1/2 minute before *something* happens to wake her up.   That something could be like

I dare to shift her in my lap..she wakes up

.I try to put her down...she wakes up.

Someone whispers near her...she wakes up.

A butterfly flaps its wings in China...she wakes up.

The only way she really naps well is if she is in the sling, and I'm basically running walking a marathon.  Don't get me wrong...I love walking with her in the sling..but I generally can't do that more than twice a day (once in the morning during *my* exercise and once in the evening when I take my kids.)   Of course, if I did, I might be a lot skinnier.  Alas, I have other duties I must attend to and other children that must do important things...like school..so I end up just holding her for most naps..which isn't so bad because they only last about 8 1/2 minutes anyway and I can happily sit and surf the 'net for 8 1/2 minutes.

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And, that's okay..because she is only 3 months old and a baby needs her mama..and that's the way it's supposed to be.

But nighttime on the other hand...nighttime is different.  Nighttime sleep is glorious.  We sleep cuddled up together and Elsa frequently goes 6 hours or so without waking up.

Ten years ago, when Heidi was born, someone gave us a beautiful bassinet. We set it up in the bedroom and that first night home from the hospital, I laid her in it and then  went to bed and tried to go to sleep.  Thirty seconds later, I popped out of bed and had to peek at her...just to make sure she will still breathing.  I lied down again and tried to sleep...only to do another breathing check about a minute later.

Then I realized, I've never get any sleep that way, took her into bed with me and have been co-sleeping with babies ever since. (my kids typically move into their own bed  and room sometime around age 3).  There is nothing more delightful than cuddling up in bed with a sweet infant and falling asleep together while they nurse.  That is what heavenly sleep must be like...snuggled up safely next to your most, very favorite person in world (and since I have the "nana" I'm obviously the most very favorite person in the world).

When I took Elsa to the doctor when she was only a few days old, the pediatrician asked where she slept and  if she slept with me and when I answered in the affirmative she was all "oh, well, I did that too, but we don't recommend it and I have to advise against it, even though I also co-slept with my kids".   At least she was nice about it.

I realize other people manage to get their babies to sleep in a crib and different sleeping arrangements work better for others..but co-sleeping always just felt so natural to me. Or maybe I'm just lazy and will do just about anything not to have to get up out of bed again (okay, no maybe about it..that is a definite).

Thankfully however, she does, on occasion, sleep by herself...here is photographic evidence...sometimes she even does this for up to 9.5 minutes at a time..which is what let me write this blog post.

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But, now she is about to reach the 9.75 minute mark..so I best be off.

Blessings,

Amelia

p.s Isn't that hat just too adorable...I call it her "granny hat."

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