Saturday, September 29, 2007
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
But the face! When I think back on it, especially how bad it was this spring, it amazes me that he could ever have smiled. Here's the face we were accostomed to seeing. He went through such a tough time, so many nights of scratching and bleeding.
When the entire family was infested with oak mite bites this summer, , our oldest got up one morning, scratching incessantly and said "Now we know what it's like to be the Little Guy!"
I don't know what has cleared him, any more than I am certain what triggers him. He snuck corn chips at a party this weekend, so can he really be allergic to corn? Has he outgrown any of his food allergies, are we up to the consequences of a challenge gone bad? Will he flare up again once the neighborhood lawn chemical warfare begins in earnest fall treatments? Will his face explode in red, itching oozes once he gets his next cold?
I'm taking the good. I'm remembering this day when he didn't ask for a kleenex from the back seat to mop up blood from his eczema zone.
Monday, September 24, 2007
I was in the mood to hear some frogs yesterday, so we chose a forest preserve with a slough for our hike. The kids seem to prefer bike rides to hikes, but I wanted them to get out of their crankiness by feeling the earth a little closer up than on a bike.
It was a hot day, so the walk wasn't long. We stopped a lot along the way, looking into snake holes, collecting acorns, peering at spider webs - poking through the abandoned ones. The leaves are starting to change and the black walnut trees had their very un-walnut looking fruit hanging for the picking.
There was no path cleared to the slough, so we walked through a nicely maintained savanna to get there. Obviously this preserve has a corp of volunteers that have been restoring and reclaiming it from the buck thorn, native grasses and wildflowers are growing in the spaces between the trees.
While the boys headed back to the car to use the porta-potty, I watched my daughter wade through the cattails in search of the animal she could hear in there. She was completely lost in her task, oblivious to anything around her. I sat on a glacier-littered stone and thought of the hours I spent as a child doing just as she was then. There was a creek running through the neighborhood where we would make boats of out leaves and float them, catch frogs, toads and salamanders, make houses for bugs, larger structures for ourselves and generally get lost to the world for hours at a time. There was also a slough down a meandering path across the road and my family would hike it every weekend, cross country skiing in the winters.
My girl turned around after about 20 minutes to make sure someone was still there with her. I would never have had to do that, my mother would not have been there. We could just walk out our front door to get to the wilderness around us. We lived with the mud, the bugs, the birds and snakes. The snakes! My parents yard was full of snake and chipmunk holes. Where I now live, holes in yards are almost as evil as dandelions.
My children have to be loaded into the car for the same outdoor experience. It makes me wonder if we should move even farther away from our friends and activities so my kids can gain that eight intelligence, be in touch with the natural world.
My girl never found her muskrat in the cattails, but she did get to pet a horse on the way back through the woods. And she felt the earth beneath her feet, smelled the season turning to fall and took a nap when we got home.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
This is a fine example of an egg coddler, although most are more elegant than cute. To make coddled eggs, you break the eggs into the ceramic vessel, add herbs, cheese or whatever suits your fancy, place the coddler in a pan of gently boiling water up to the rim of the coddler and wait for 6 or 7 minutes. The eggs gently cook. And toast and enjoy.
Why we have so many of them is another issue entirely, and all my fault. Mark and I were wandering through an antique store one day pre-children and I spotted one. I hadn't had coddled eggs in a long while and decided to buy it. Mark had never had coddled eggs and became fascinated with the coddlers. He started collecting. He has a collecting thing.
Collecting then meant going from store to store and hunting them down. It was partly the chase that got him engaged and partly the sheer number of patterns out there. We ended up with maybe 80 of them. Now we are selling our collection of collections to gain more peace in our lives. Some of the more common patterns don't sell, so we can still have eggs on Thursday nights.
I'm always amazed by eBay and how it has changed the face of collecting. Within minutes of posting new coddlers, I'll have a bid or a bunch of watchers. These people must have their favorite searches linked to their blackberries. It's no longer necessary to go from store to store, searching for a needle in a haystack. There are so many collectors of so many things and so much for sale, it's mind boggling. Selling things can be every bit as addicting as buying them. I like to think selling is a little healthier than buying, but I suppose it could be a bad habit too. If all the furniture, pets and kids get sold, we're in trouble.
As long as our items sell and get to their new homes safely, I'm happy. My house is less cluttered, our checking account a little less lean and someone out there got a good deal.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Monday, September 17, 2007
Saturday, September 15, 2007
Friday, September 14, 2007
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Once we got there and paid my suggested contribution, the place was a fantastic compliment to our slow progress through The Story of the World. Many artifacts from Mesopotamia, implements used to make the cuneiform writing, a replica of a stela showing the Code of Hammurabi, remnants of carriage wheels, etc. The Little Guy particularly enjoyed the touch screen interactive computer set up. We'll be coming back.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
This is the second day in a row we've used dice for math practice. I dislike the word drill. The kids take turns instead of competing for an answer. I've learned that our Buddy gets too caught up in the competition to remember even the most basic of math.
This worked today, but for the occasional too vigorous roll onto the floor or the fit of giggles as they came up with a smarty-pants negative number answer. The Little Man was playing his Jump 'tart with headphones on and didn't ask to join in.
This is, however, something considerably less than a permanent solution. Interesting, though, that the two are on the same level with dice practice instead of a workbook apart on paper!
I decided on a peaceful image for an unsettling day.
Six years ago, I was watching the Today show, as I did every morning. My sister called after the first plane hit, not because of it, but because she had lost her high powered job. We shared those first moments after the World Trade Center attacks. I was glued to the TV. I remember my kids, who were only 2 and 3, getting up late, changing them on the bed and having the TV on. How long was it before I realized they, too, were staring at the planes flying into the buildings over and over again in TV reality? 10, 15 minutes? On such impressionable minds!
We went shoe shopping, because that's what we had planned to do that day. The shop was right along the train line and we watched commuter train after commuter train packed to the gills bringing people home from downtown Chicago. The skies were eerily quiet, the trains eerily busy.
For days I would set the kids - only two of them then - up for lunch in front of a video and go to the other TV to catch the latest news. I didn't sleep well. The sound of the firefighters and rescue workers alarms ringing after they had been killed when the towers fell wouldn't leave my head. It was a constant high pitched whine. Weeks later I stopped watching TV news all together. I still don't watch it. I can't stand the images in my head.
I remember talking to the kids about 9-11, telling them that the planes only flew into the buildings once, not over and over again like instant replay on the TV. I remember trying to tell them that they were safe while not entirely believing it myself. I don't know if they felt unsafe, probably they just felt unsure because we were so unsure.
For a time after 9-11, I actually contemplated putting them in school. I took them regularly to a Mom's Morning Out program at a local church. Then Buddy started acting out, hovering over other children as if to bite (he never actually bit)and eventually striking out at a caregiver. That brought me to my senses and I brought them back home.
Six years is such a long time ago, we didn't even have a digital camera back then. We didn't have Little Man back then. And I didn't have any grey hairs...
Monday, September 10, 2007
The Little Man poured almost a pint of maple syrup on the sun room floor, dumped washable paint in the dining room, used an unidentifiable stamp on the foyer wall and 'pilled his juice in the kitchen. We buy the wipes in huge tubs at Costco.
Someday I'll write an ode to the Clorox Wipe, but not before my ode to the library. And to Roomba, the hardest working member of our household.
The other issue is that I can't complain that our kids don't have any time management skills if we don't help them manage their time! We spent a lot of time last year going to this class and that activity, sometimes three in one day. It was exhausting. And it was emotionally draining because we were always late, or just barely on time. I turned into the Wicked Witch of the West just to get us out of the house.
So, now I wake them up every day at the same time. And now I get up every day at the same time. We have routines - what a concept! Little Missy here actually combs her hip length curls every day. The dishes get done, the house is vacuumed, math, science, reading, history, etc. are all on schedule. Now, I realize that most grown-ups understood the power of routines and schedule long before me, I'm just celebrating our victory over chaos! The Little Man still gets to sleep in as long as he likes, but he needs more sleep at his age, especially as he refuses to nap most days.
Sunday, September 9, 2007
I've added computer games to their math assignments, which is at least a fun way of doing math, but I'm not convinced they are getting any faster at memorizing their math facts this way. I'm interested in doing a free trial of Mathscore, as the Homeschool Buyers Co-Op has a discount currently offered.