Frances gives us permission to be whiny

It’s choir concert week here, so with dress rehearsals and extra practices and two performances, everyone here is TIRED. In addition, Bryan was gone from Monday to Thursday evening. Unrelated, a week or two ago, Micah got the entire ¬†Frances book collection on cd to listen to during quiet time. On it, we have Frances and the New Baby or something of the sort. In that story, the incredibly spoiled Frances has a problem. Because of the new baby, her mother hasn’t had a chance to iron her favorite dress or buy raisins for her oatmeal. She begins by saying, “Things aren’t very good around here anymore, Mother,” and ends by saying she’s going to run away to under the dining room table. So earlier, Emma announced in her whiniest British accent, “Things aren’t very good around here anymore, Mother. I have to hold my brother while you make my food, and I have to do lots of school, and I have to do my own laundry.” I complained like Frances for Isaiah, “I have to wait 15 whole seconds for my milk, I have to be held by my sister instead of by you, Mother, and no one will let me crawl around on the kitchen floor after someone breaks a glass.” Then, Emma looked expectantly at me, and I said, “Things aren’t very good around here anymore, I think I’m going to run away to under the dining room table. There are many, many dishes to wash, and I have to fold several hundred pieces of clothing, in addition, people keep expecting me to make food for them five times a day. Yes, things are not very good around here anymore. I think I shall need a kiss from you, Isaiah.” And he gave me a little baby kiss and made it all better.

So, today, we’ve been imitating Frances and sighing over how things aren’t very good around here anymore, and tomorrow (or tonight when the older ones are at the concert), we will work at making things a bit better around here because even though Frances freed us up to whine a bit while we are tired and it is cloudy and windy and gearing up for our first snow of the season, to stay there is a dangerous thing. We must get up, we must work, we must do the things that are ours to do. And we must remember to be thankful for those things because although there is much to do, it is for the best of reasons: children, food, books, education, clothing. These are undoubtedly somethings for which to give thanks.

Tell me in your best British accent. Are things good around where you’re at?

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A Nice Relaxing Way to End the Evening

One of the most perfect ways to end the day is to take a walk in the evening. The night is cool and still. If it’s early enough, you can see the sunset. I love it. Or I did. Until this summer.
It was then that our nightly walks turned treacherous as legions of frogs and toads descended on our sidewalks in an attempt to warm their cold blooded bodies. I don’t know if it was the overly warm summer or the overly wet spring, but never have I seen such multitudes of amphibious creatures.

Hardly a block could be walked without unwelcome nocturnal creatures hopping under your feet. I lived in mortal fear of one hopping into my leg, or worse, stepping on one and hearing an unfortunate squish.

This led to a new cadence on our walks, instead of steady stepping, we would walk, pause, investigate a shadow, determine the best course around it, and then cautiously step past. No route near our home was hop free. I had to start using my phone as a flashlight to investigate.

This all would have been made simpler if frogs and toads had some modicum of intelligence and a predictable pattern of behavior, but no. Obviously, we were larger than they and could easily crush them. Beyond this, they are not camouflaged on the sidewalk. It would behoove them well to flee ahead of us in terror, but alas, only some would hop away while others like overly tired toddlers who want screen time held their ground. If they would just choose to either freeze or hop every time, it would have been extremely helpful. But that was asking too much, apparently.

Sometimes Emma would bring a stick along to shoo them out of the way, but it seemed to only make their behavior more erratic. Also, the thought of touching them with a stick grosses me out.

This is all to say that, although I probably won’t give up my evening walks until it gets too chilly for them (thankfully, not having a coat as I do, all amphibious creatures seem to have hibernated for the winter), treadmills do have their advantages.

Are you also skittish like a little girl?

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Identifying learning gaps

Some people get very worried when people homeschool their children that the children will have learning gaps. I think we all have learning gaps. I was in my 30s before I learned that dilemma didn’t have an n in it, something I learned incorrectly at public school. Beside that, things keep changing. Pluto is/is not a planet depending on who you talk to. I guess there’s a Southern Ocean now? The whole of Eastern Europe switched up AFTER we all memorized the USSR stuff. We always need to keep learning.

However, a great way to catch learning gaps is by simply talking with your children. For example:

Micah has his money bank in the school room and pulls out a dollar bill.

“Who’s that?”

“George Washington.”

“What’s he doing on my money?”

“He’s a president.”

“Does he live a long way from my house?”

“He’s dead.”

“From a laser beam?”

Obviously, we have a little educating to do here. 

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Sabbath Rest vs the To Do List

I’m prepping for school this fall. Never mind that Emma starts back to her co-op on Tuesday. Never mind that I started doing school anyway just because we needed to get some things done. This fall will be prepped for, it may just take until spring. I’m still working on redecorating the school room. It’s time to purge the household goods again to make them more manageable. I’ve been switching the kids’ clothes for fall weather. I guess what I’m trying to say is: I have a lot of things to do and I have negative time to get them done in. All these projects are due or past due.

Yet, I keep encountering stuff on Sabbath rest. It’s everywhere. So, I’m being told I need to rest. And, unfortunately, I deal with being told to do things about as well as my three-year-old.

Unrelated, his favorite thing right now is to tell me how much he loves me when I tell him to go to bed. “It’s time for nap.” “But I LOOOOOVE you.” He’s tricky, that one.

So, resting. I did it today. We went to church. We ate out. I took a nap. I took a walk. I watched a movie with the kids. I did load and start the dishwasher, but that’s it.

And I feel a little like Toad (From Tomorrow in Days with Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel)

“Blah,” said Toad.

“I feel down in the dumps.”

“Why?” asked Frog.

“I am thinking about tomorrow.” said Toad.

“I am thinking about all of the many things that I will have to do.”

“Yes,” said Frog. “tomorrow will be a very hard day for you.”

Now, in the book, he decides that he will start on his to do list today so that tomorrow he can take life easy. But, I’m being asked to rest. And it’s sometimes hard to listen to that. But, unlike Toad, if I choose to work today, I will still work tomorrow. I have children. There are always things to do. It will never be done. So instead of following the call to try to get ahead, today, I rest in obedience. And obedience, in the end, will trump productivity and getting ahead because it’s reward is better than an organized home, it is peace and renewal.

What’s on your to do list for today? Do you take a Sabbath? What does it look like for you and your family?

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Micah time

I just finished our three day practicum for our homeschooling program, Classical Conversations. I needed to attend to complete my tutor training for the class I will tutor next year. Since Emma would be at our church’s Bible camp, I had to sign the younger kids up for the kids’ camps. Hannah went to history camp, Isaiah hung out in nursery camp for naps (and not much else, he’s fond of mama right now), and Micah went to play camp.

Day 2, I started hearing about Micah in the morning. “Oh, Micah, he has a lot to say! What is this ‘Micah Time’? Is that something you have him do while you school the girls? We’ll encourage him to join the group, but he keeps going off to the corner to quietly read or play and he tells us it’s ‘Micah Time’.”

I laughed. Did I have a thing where Micah quietly read or played while I did school with the girls? Oh, that would be lovely, but no. The more I heard, the more I realized, he was playing them. He created this magical thing so that he wouldn’t have to participate in unfamiliar or undesirable tasks. It wasn’t malicious. It was born out of anxiety I’m sure, but I still clued them into his wiley ways, and the teen volunteers became quiet amused with Micah Play Time and Micah Mommy Time and Micah Coffee Time (I’m really not sure what happened here. I wouldn’t put it past him to con someone out of their coffee, though.)

By the end of the practicum, we’d walk through the halls and random people would call out, “Is it Micah Time?” like he was some tiny celebrity with his own catch phrase.

But really, I need this to work in my adult life.

Oh, you want a snack? Sorry, it’s Mommy Reading Time.

Oh dear, I can’t go to the dentist right now. It’s Mommy Spa Time.

Someone else will have to do those breakfast dishes. It’s Mommy Coffee Time.

How do I make this happen?

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Micah: Hey Mommy. I want to tell you a story from my mouth.

Me: Ok

Micah: Chapter 2, Micker Mater was going up a tree, and he found some bees. He got stung right in the bottom.
Mommy, this is an open eyes story.

Me: Sorry.

Micah: And then, Dicker and Jicker went in a fire truck and chased the bees away.
*starts singing a song*
*ruins up to nursing brother and yells “HONK!”*
I love you, Babyyyyyy! You’re my brother, and when you get bigger you will play with me!
*grabs baby’s foot and shakes it around*

Me: Micah, I need you to go out and find your sisters. Please.

I still love that kid.

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Children: God’s instrument of humility

We were sitting in church today. Bryan was ushering in back, and I had my posse with me, an entourage, if you will, of my favorite little people. Eventually, Isaiah was brought back to his daddy and I had Micah on my lap which is where he behaves best during church. He’s had a runny nose of late, and he kept wanting to pick the dried boogers. We sit up in front in church so beside the fact that nose picking is a disgusting occupation, it could also be distracting to others, so I reminded him many times not to pick his nose. Then, as we were singing the last song, he starts holding Hannah’s hand. I turn to look at this sweet sibling bonding moment only to witness him using Hannah’s finger to pick his nose. Later, recounting the story with Hannah, she remarked, “He really is a problem solver.” Only Hannah could appreciate someone’s problem solving abilities after being used as a human tissue.

What type of creative problem solving solutions do your children employ?

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What it’s like or Hey! That’s where my socks went!

No one has asked me what it’s like being a mom of four, probably because it doesn’t seem that different from three, but it’s pretty different. It’s great because I have adorable and fascinating children, but it’s busy. Very busy.

The other morning I showered and grabbed my socks, heading out to the other room to get Micah dressed and get him out of the girls’ hair so that they could focus on school. I got him dressed, switched out laundry, went over some school, fed the baby, made the lunch, more school, more baby, more Micah. It came time to leave for choir, and I couldn’t find my socks. Emma found me a different pair and off we went.

Two days later, I was getting Micah dressed, and I saw my socks on his dresser! Since I hadn’t found socks yet that day, I grabbed them to put on and helped Micah get a pull up on for nap. In the time it took to wrestle him into his pull up and pants, I lost those socks again! I tore the room apart, but he needed to get to nap, and those socks were gone, again.

Later that afternoon, we were all sitting together in the school room. Micah is wrestling around with Bryan. I’m feeding the baby. One of the girls was reading with us, one downstairs. Bryan got an odd look on his face and asked if Micah had pooped in his pull up. Micah says no, then maybe yes. Bryan pulls out the pants to do a visual check, gets an even stranger look on his face, and pulls out my socks.

Needless to say, I still picked out a different pair.

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Self control

I realized something today as we were sitting at lunch. We had an incident after church. Bryan found it hilarious, but, then, he didn’t have to try to wrestle a cookie stealing toddler while holding a nursing baby. Bryan had a meeting after church. He had just purchased some girl scout cookies. I decided that we could have a little snack while waiting for lunch and sent Micah to fetch said cookies. He brought them to me, and we each had two. Then, in a fit of thin mint induced insanity, he grabbed a tube of cookies and raced out of the nursery. Seeing that he would be caught, he ripped open the bag, spilling cookies on the floor and attempted to shove several in his mouth. I put him in time out and placed the cookies out of reach.

But normally, he doesn’t do that. He was both hungry and tired today, and those trigger crazy behavior in him. He generally is quite adorable and loving, but he’s decided naps are a sometimes thing, and well, sometimes dinner gets delayed. And then, Micah becomes a wild man.

It occurred to me today, though, that his hunger or fatigue were causing him to lose his self control. And if that’s the case, he is exerting a crazy amount of self control all throughout every day. That has to be difficult.

So when your kids get sick or tired or hungry and go crazy (What?! That’s just mine? Sigh.) Think about their normal pattern of behavior and what they normally hold in check and then marvel at how great they are doing. Don’t let them get away with it, but do give them a little grace because holding back that much crazy must take some effort. We should  know. Ahem.

Have you ever pondered the self control of a toddler/preschooler?

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We received this as one of the kids’ free books from some doctor appointment. This book is clearly free because the author has given up on creativity and possibly life in general. It starts out well

But then it deteriorates quickly

Because clearly clocks are the best representative of the square shape to easily confused babies and toddlers


It goes on to throw in cassette tapes because a generation who has never lived without iPods will definitely be familiar with cassette tapes. An iPod itself would surely not have been a better choice. That would make the book too dated.

Diamonds? Diamond shaped candies, of course.

Hearts? Heart-shaped soap from the 80s is just the thing!

Now, let’s just start making stuff up. Rings are a shape, right?

No need to do things like call things by their correct name. Let’s call these cylinders “tubes” just for fun.

All right, I’m running out of pages here. Pentagons, hexagons, and octagons are kind of complicated. Let’s go with “leaf” and “shell”.

And we’re done. Now that I’ve blogged about, I can get rid of it. It’s been driving me crazy for years, and I just needed to get it off my chest. Let the healing begin.

Surely, we can do better than this. What would you put on the square (or other) pages?

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