Shapes?

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
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But then it deteriorates quickly
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Because clearly clocks are the best representative of the square shape to easily confused babies and toddlers

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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.
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Hearts? Heart-shaped soap from the 80s is just the thing!
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Now, let’s just start making stuff up. Rings are a shape, right?
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No need to do things like call things by their correct name. Let’s call these cylinders “tubes” just for fun.
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All right, I’m running out of pages here. Pentagons, hexagons, and octagons are kind of complicated. Let’s go with “leaf” and “shell”.
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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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Mjölnir

That’s the name of Thor’s hammer. When Bryan and I watched the Thor and Avenger movies, the most impressive thing to me about this hammer is not its destructive capabilities. No, it’s that when he holds out his hand, the hammer returns to him.

When we had our last baby, I joked with Bryan that I needed this ability with my phone. If I actually remember to have the ringer or vibrate on and the phone rings, it’s never easily accessible to me. It’s always on another floor of the house or buried under books and papers. I missed two calls tonight alone. Imagine if, when I heard my phone ringing or vibrating somewhere, I could simply hold out my hand, and it would fly to me so I could actually answer it. This would be amazing. But let’s not stop there.

When I’m nursing a baby, I’m often stuck in a chair or carrying a baby or short on time when I need an item. Here are a few other items that should come when I open my hand:

  • Burp cloths-So much spit up.
  • Wet wipes-terrible blow out diaper, messy toddler, jelly on the table? This handles them all.
  • Writing utensil-I can never find them, and I buy pretty much all of them when we start the homeschool year, so they must be somewhere.
  • Water bottle-Mom-ing is thirsty work.
  • Socks-No one in my family ever has these when it’s time to walk out the door.
  • Coffee/soda- I’m not caffeining now, but that day will come again, and it will be a glorious day indeed.
  • Chocolate-Because sometimes there are those days.
  • The toddler-Then I won’t have to set down the was-nursing, now-crying baby to assert my authority.
  • Fingernail trimmer-Mostly because I can never find it.
  • Keys-same
  • All the toys in the room-Because then I could gather them together in my hand and slam dunk them into the toy box like some globetrotting wizard of awesomeness.

What I’m really saying here is telekinesis would be amazing right now, especially if I could accomplish it without needing to know the location of an item. How can I gain this superpower?

What would your Mjölnir be?

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When the best is the worst

We really want to be the best parents ever. This isn’t a terrible longing when we use it to make good choices for our family, but I think it’s the main reason we’re all stretched too thin on time, on money, on rest.

We make a choice, probably a good one that we wanted to make (like homeschooling for us), but then we have another choice (extracurriculars? choir, sports, scouting, musical instruments, field trips; co-ops/classes? science, history, math club, arts, writing), and each of these choices come with more opportunities and choices (games, performances, social activities, parties, tshirts, trips, etc.). Now we’re making several choices a month instead of that one initial choice, and each choice gives us the opportunity to doubt whether or not we made the best choice or if our child is now somehow missing out.

Homeschoolers hear this whatever choice we make (what about socialization/prom/pro sports/college?), and most of the time I don’t think most of us stress the “big stuff” because we know that what we’re doing is more valuable for our families (not your families, public/private schoolers, you be you, no judgement here) than whatever it is we’re supposedly missing out on. But it’s the little things that have us doubting ourselves and borrowing against time or money that we don’t have. Should we get this activity t-shirt they’ll never wear? Should we try to squeeze in sledding tomorrow? Do we want to do that park meet up? Study sessions? Private lessons? Birthday parties?

It was the activity t-shirt question that got me today. It was just innocently sitting in my inbox, not intending to bog me down, but it did because I debated whether they would be missing out. I had no need and no desire for probably ill fitting choir shirts that cost more than an Old Navy tee but get worn significantly less. But I stopped and I wondered anyway because I want the best for my kids.

But then today as I drove around with my napping boys waiting for choir to end, I remembered that this is a decision that doesn’t matter. Most of these little bonus questions will make absolutely no difference in ten years.

These are the things that feel big, but aren’t. Sometimes the most important things are the ones that feel small. Reading one more story, letting a wiggly little one with cold feet snuggle in your bed on a Saturday morning, movie nights, a little note or text to show your thinking about them–these are the small things that make the big difference. Would your child be playing in the Philharmonic if you had signed up for those private violin lessons? Maybe, but in the realm of eternity that will mean nothing if you don’t take the time to communicate your love and the love of God to your child.

This is your reminder and this is my reminder that almost every opportunity that’s in your inbox, mailbox, and backpack is not as important as the opportunity to connect. I’m not condemning activities. We participate, too, but when it’s stressing you, your children, your spouse, or your wallet, it will never deprive your child to say no to an activity in order to say yes to a relationship.

What’s your kid’s favorite family activity?

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Too efficient for my own good

As everyone is talking about fitness in the new year, I’m reminded of my own failings/strengths.

Actual conversation:

Me: What are you doing?
Child: Putting away this book.
Me: Look, there are five books that need to go downstairs along with some other things. Put them all in a stack and when you’re done cleaning the room, take them downstairs and put them away.

It would not occur to me to stop working where I’m at to run one item downstairs when I know there will probably be multiple items that need to go there. This could possibly be an acquired thought pattern, I’d have to ask my mom, but it’s a good and effective pattern for a mom of four. However, as I sorted my newly folded towels in the basket with nearest location on top on my way to run the towels and basket to their homes, I realized that this is why I was on my way to go walk on the treadmill. If my brain was less organized and efficient, I would probably clock a few thousand more steps on my fitbit every day. So, yes, I’m saving time, but then I have to use some of this time to exercise. This seems like a vicious cycle.

Are you too efficient for your own good?

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Our resident hair stylist

This year Emma has become quite the hair stylist. She’s been using her new smartphone privileges to study the wonders of hair tutorials on the internet. Hannah and I, especially Hannah, are glad recipients of this gift. It’s really quite nice to be able to sit down and say, “I don’t feel like doing my hair today, Emma, will you do it?” Here’s a few of Emma’s favorite styles she has done on Hannah over the past year.

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Many times they even coordinate the outfit with the hairstyle.

Would you let Emma do your hair? What hobbies did you have at 12?

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2 out of 3 is actually very, very bad

This past Monday, I was in a funk. The kids were starting to irritate me. I had things to get done, the house was messy, so I decided to do something fun and spontaneous to break out. I suggested to Bryan that we grab drive-through and go look at lights. It was fun and good. But Monday night was not. Midnight had us awakening to sounds of crying and vomiting from Micah. After round two, we made him a little bed in our bathroom and continued our rounds of clean up. He puked on so, so many blankets. The next day, he and we were completely exhausted, but Micah started to get slowly better.

I was really, really hoping that his chicken nuggets were bad, but no. Wednesday night, technically very early Christmas Eve, both Bryan and Hannah succumbed. Emma came up the next morning and told me, “Hannah threw up, but we got Daddy to take care if it because he was already sick. And Daddy throws up really loud.”

Hannah seemed fine between bouts of sickness.

“Mom, I just threw up my Starburst.”
“Why did you eat your Starburst?”
“I thought I was fine”

but Bryan did not. Probably because of lack of sleep, the virus pretty much killed him for two days.

We did, however, get presents opened. Everyone received things that they really enjoyed and everyone enjoyed giving their gifts. Micah was very excited to open his presents, but he tried really hard to wait for his turn, most of the time.

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With Micah feeling better and Emma not yet sick, everyone generously agreed to let me go to church which was the one thing I wanted to do this year. So we popped in a movie and Isaiah and I went to church where I sequestered myself in the back like a leper. We snuck into the back of the sanctuary for the candlelight portion of the service, and I loved watching Isaiah’s little head bob back and forth as he took in all the lights. But when I got home, it was clear that Emma has taken a turn for the worse. After she threw up, I made a little bed for her in a bathroom. Then I spent all night being awoken by poor Emma, Isaiah, and early the next morning by an overly excited Micah. By midmorning on Christmas, I felt quite yucky, but I never did throw up, something I credit to either the probiotics I take or nursing hormones. That night, people feasted on pasta or rice because still queasy stomachs weren’t having much else. Luckily, Bryan had bounced back just enough so that I could nap and rest a bit.

Saturday dawned with everyone feeling much, much better but still tired. We did some cleaning and some resting, then I overly ambitiously cooked up our Christmas dinner. Despite a meltdown by Micah over our choice of Christmas music

Micah yelling at Amazon Echo, “No, Lexa, don’t play that song!”

dinner was tasty, and we closed out another wondrous Christmas season. Although no one puked in public, spending 2 of the last 3 Christmases with stomach bugs is really putting a damper on my ability to make magical family memories. I’m hanging big hopes on New Year’s this year.

How was your Christmas? Please tell me someone had fun this year.

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Christmas 2015

Another year, another cheesy Christmas letter from us. Taking a page from elementary school, I decided to go all acrostic on you all.

C-The Chickies moved to one of the rooms downstairs. One of the biggest benefits to two girls headed into adolescence is the large Closet they now share.

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H- Hannah got her braces off (woohoo, popcorn feast!), on the exact same day that Emma got her braces on (sad trombone).

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R- Recliners. We picked up a two of these during our rearranging for baby this year. They are the most sought after and fought after items in the school room.

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I- Isaiah. He was born. He’s cute. We love him. ❤ ❤ ❤

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S-Senior mobile developer. The job title Bryan took when a new job found him this spring. His current job title there is Lead Mobile Architect.

T-Toddler. Probably my most used word on Twitter this year where I recounted Micah’s many, many antics.

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M-Mission trip. Emma went to her first mission trip. It was in town, but she stayed at the church the whole week. Bryan joined her many nights. Hannah and I tried to hold down the fort on our own.

A-Anniversary. Bryan and I had our 15th anniversary this year. I guess the gift for that is crystal, but we just went up to the cities all by ourselves for a day or two. We like that better than crystal.

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S-Stroll. The family walked a ton this summer which was great exercise while I was pregnant. We made discoveries.

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And later in the summer, Bryan and I would head out while Emma babysat in the mornings. It was magical.

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2-The number of trips Bryan has taken to California for his new job. Also, the number of times we have survived his absence.

collage0-The number of full nights of sleep I’ve had since early September.

1-The number of dimples on Isaiah’s sweet face.
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5-The number of strands in Hannah’s braid. Emma has become our new resident hair stylist, and she’s quite talented.

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Praying that this year brings you joy as we celebrate Jesus, who came that we might have life and have it abundantly!

And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
Luke 2:10-11 ESV
http://bible.com/59/luk.2.10-11.ESV

Merry Christmas!

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Too many vowels

Micah is a fairly good communicator, but being two, he still has many idiosyncrasies of language. One of his troubles is many vowels in a row. If I ask him to do something or if he is something, he’ll answer with “I mam” instead of “I am”.

This is somewhat problematic at our house because

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So, Micah has adapted his brother’s name, and refers to him as I-zay-ga. Because of this, baby’s nickname has become Zega (rhymes with Sega, as in the gaming system). He’s in good company with Emma Boo or just Boo, Hanno Nano or just Nano, and Micah Man or Cakers.

What things did you or your kids call their siblings besides stupid head?

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The state of the homeschool address

How do you homeschool with a baby?

You just do it.

I know that sounds overly simplistic, but it’s the best explanation I can give. People talk about how to keep your house clean or get the dishes done or be more productive at work. In the end, it really comes down to just doing it.

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The first week, my parents were here and largely managed the toddler. The second week, Bryan worked from home and handled stray contingencies like toddler poop and homeschool community day. Both of these weeks, the girls did not do math which knocks an hour off their day.  The third week, we had no homeschool community, so we took vacation and I planned out lessons for the next six weeks for Hannah and streamlined Emma’s planning sheet to make it easier to fill out after her seminar day.

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Until this past week, we were back to full school with math and mom tutoring the Essentials class and taking everyone to our homeschool community day all by myself. How did it go?

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Overall things went well. School got done. We made it everywhere mostly on time. Everyone got fed everyday. We did some cleaning up everyday. We held the baby. We read stories. Children played outside. We had dessert. People got clean. The furnace inspection happened.

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Things could have gone better. We could have gotten school done earlier. Perhaps, the laundry could have gotten folded more often. Sometimes, we had grumpy attitudes. Mom could have better insured that all children were dressed for the weather.

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But overall, we were successful, and beyond just doing it, here are a few reasons why I think we didn’t go under:

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I’ve been trying to prioritize my rest. I’m generally terrible at this, but as I’m getting older, I’m maybe getting a little wiser. If I’m not getting around 7 total hours of sleep, I’m going to be crabby. No one wants a crabby mom. Better to wake up Bryan for help or let baby sleep on a sister or something to ensure that I can function because people need me around here.

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Along with that, I’m taking all the help people will offer. Someone asked, “Do you need a meal?” I have freezer meals in the freezer, but I replied, “We would never turn down a meal,” because that is one less thing that I have to think about. Also, I’ve realized as I get older that if someone wants to help and you refuse them, it’s kind of a jerky thing to do. This includes help from in house family members. Do you want me to change the baby, Mom? Yes, please.

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I’m managing my expectations. If the house is getting messy, I’m trying to determine what we can do right then or soon to help fix it. Five minute pick ups for the kids with candy rewards when they make their goal are working wonders. Should I bribe my children? It’s working, so yes. When I’m limited to what I can do with a baby in the carrier when I’m not feeding him, I’ll take what I can get.

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We’re trying to incorporate the fun. Things slow down. I said no to at least three field trips in October and several other activities, but this gives us more time during the day and at dinner to play and sing silly songs or just to appreciate the humor involved with toddlers and babies.

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Finally, I’m slowly working on getting a regular schedule for baby so that now, he’s only really getting up once a night which, although the nights are still short, helps quite a bit. And he’s getting older which means that he’s getting better at playing and staying entertained for short time periods so that I can get a few things done.

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Now, throwing Christmas preparations in with this has been a little tricky, but we’re getting there all the same.

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What questions do you have about homeschooling with babies and toddlers?

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Friday

After the trauma of Wednesday, Thursday was a quiet day of recovery, I think. I was really too tired to notice much other than what was directly around me. Friday dawned anew, though, and with it came those troubles of its own warned about in the scriptures. During Isaiah’s first feeding, he threw up most or all of his feed. I’m thinking about what wonderful germs we must have picked up in all those clinic visits Wednesday. He refused to eat after throwing up, smart kid, but since I’m nursing, this required potential action on my part. If he wasn’t going to nurse well all day, I was going to have to pump. Boo. I went to get my pump and sterilize the parts. Isaiah went down for nap, I put everything in a pot on the stove to boil. I turned on the burner, and Micah had to pee. I take him potty and get him dressed, and when we come out, we both smell something. I hurry downstairs expecting to see some hot metal or melted plastic because I was sure the cause of the smell was turning on the wrong burner. I was right about the burner, but the smell was a rag, on fire. I tried smothering it with a pot lid, but that was awkward and taking too long, so I poured my teapot over it. The smoldering rag sizzled out. Now I turned on the oven fan and ran about the house opening windows. Thankfully, the smoke detectors didn’t turn on and wake the baby, but they probably need replacing. Finally, I turned my attention back to Micah and got him some cereal. He decided to try milk on his cereal which he immediately drank out of the bowl. While chasing the last few Cheerios with his spoon, he upended his bowl onto the floor, so I paused my fire clean up to do soggy Cheerio clean up.

Much as I do when ants invade my home, the fire situation flipped a slightly OCD switch which led to compulsive kitchen cleaning. So, I suppose an upside to all this drama is a shiny clean kitchen. The girls probably wouldn’t agree though as they became conscripted labor for tidying up.

As the day went on, Isaiah didn’t throw up anymore, and we even made it to Walmart to get some gifts we needed for Sunday, but by the end of the day, we decided pizza was a great idea for dinner.

This week has obviously been one for professionals that your shouldn’t attempt at home, or one that causes me to need professional help, one of those.

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