7.30.2014

Spring K-Drama Overload Part II

I hope that the title of this post, especially the Spring part, shows that I really don't watch 60 hours of k-dramas a week. But here is what I've been watching in the somewhat recent past.

Creating Destiny/Seeking Love - 3

I think this most have been a family drama or maybe it's just a family drama wannabe? It's longer, has lots more characters and extended family and well, it just has a family drama feel. Like most family dramas, it can be a tad ridiculous with its plot whiplash - "You have to marry her! 10 seconds later "I forbid you to marry her!" and I must say I fast forwarded a lot of the sister side plot once I could see it wasn't going where I wanted it to, but was taking a really long time to not go there as well as almost all of the random other girl's plot with her little sister crush. But I do love seeing the Korean adult child/parent relationships and the main couple is really cute. Especially when you find out they got married in real life. Watch it with your finger on the forward buttton, you will easily be able to figure out the plot but can still appreciate the sweetness.

Coffee House - 3.25

Cute. I really like Kang Ji-Won and it certainly nice to see him in something that isn't good but I'm watching for him anyway. He's really good at playing quirky and he really plays quirky here, my goodness. But that is what is nice about this drama, neither he nor the two female leads are terrible typical. Some parts of the plot were very interesting and different and others were way to standard (mostly the second lead male - although that might also be because Jung Woong-In will always and forever be a creepy serial killer in my mind so no matter how good his acting or the plot is, I just won't find him a reasonable love interest. That's not really the shows fault though). The beginning and end were the best, the middle dragged a bit and lost the funny which really is what this show did best. But a nice funny romantic comedy.

A Witch's Romance - 4

I wasn't originally interested in this one. The title just didn't strike me and I don't remember seeing many previews to catch my interest. And maybe the Noona romance turned me off which makes no sense because if you look at my reviews, I obviously have no issues with Noona romance storylines. And this one was pretty good. Because the main characters (and the actors) had some great chemistry and really worked well together. and for those of you with more, completely legitimate, issues, everyone is legal in this one so no worries.

It wasn't perfect, the middle dragged a bit when Mr. polar bear came back even though we all knew that wasn't going to work out and it was just a matter of time before she realized she who she was supposed to be with. There were also some weird editing issues. I'm not generally that particular about those sorts of things, but this was obvious. So if you watch it, yes, episode #5 is the episode after #4. you might not think that if you watched 4 and then started 5 but it is true. I know I wasn't the only one confused. I mean, the whole comment section was confused as well.

But the main characters were great together and separately. I loved our main female lead because she really wasn't a "witch" at all. She wasn't that stock successful but cold business woman that you might expect. Yes, she was successful but also this caring daughter to the world's cutest drama mom and a good friend in an still honest and real way. You didn't just see a scene or two to tell you that these were her important relationships and that was it, you really saw those relationships in the show which I appreciate in a rom-com. I like the romance to be developed but not at the expense of every other relationship in the show. And our male lead was just adorable. I really loved his bromance with his best friend "spinach." My guess is that character wasn't originally that prevelent in the show but the actor just brought him to life so they kept adding more scenes with him. Really, all the side characters were just spot on. They were well developed and the casting was perfect.

In terms of the main couple's development. I liked that they didn't focus on the age alone because that often involves the main conflict being how the parents are upset then close to the end the parents randomly change their mind with no logic so we can have a happily ever after and that always bothers me. With having all these awesome characters, they could have probably explored more without being tedious. Because even though it had flaws, tedious wasn't one of them. You could just tell the whole cast was having fun making this and that made it fun to watch. It was just adorable and fun and a great way to relax with a bowl of ice cream.

You're All Surrounded - 3.5

Finally I can see the appeal of Lee Seung-Gi. It only took three dramas! No, really. My Girlfriend is a Gumiho was okay but I didn't love it the way others did and I had major issues with The King 2 Hearts. I think I just don't like Lee Seung-Gi in that party boy that needs to grow up role. Maybe he's too good? But this, the hurt damaged hard shelled boy who's stuck in the past, that I can get behind. He was adorable! And I really this mix of fun action cop drama with our rookies figuring out how to be cops of the non-bumbling variety and our little quartet of newbie cops had great chemistry and of course, Cha-Seung Woo as Pan-Seok was a great reluctant mentor which I'm sure surprises no one. He's just amazing, from his expressions and deep emotions shown by one blink but also with the humor. He pretty much nails it every time. But I loved them all.

But going back to humor, why did that go away? It was so funny to start out then the cop story of the week took over and then our main mystery was the focus on the humor seemed to be dropped. I'm sure that had its benefits because the writers clearly had trouble at times keeping the balance - uhm, I'm glad Pan-Seok and his ex-wife were able to work on their relationship but considering the seriousness of what happened to them plus the whole divorce thing, his ex seemed a bit too flippant about things. Was that just me?

But while the whole group had great chemistry and the two side cops had a good bromance going on, I did feel like our main couple didn't really have great chemistry. That's not really anyone's fault but was a bit sad. They made it work because their relationship was a romance that wasn't all about romance but more about their friendship and respect and partnership. I do wish it was developed a bit more. I also loved Pan-Seok and Dae-Gu's relationship and how it begrudgingly evolved. And Chief Kang was probable the most interested female side characters in a k-drama ever. She was so perfect because she was so realistic and heartbreaking.

Basically, I wish this show had better writing. The acting was great but that was mostly in the acting. The villians were really flat and way over the top. The mood was kinda floppy. And there were a few plot points left dangling at the end.  All that said, I really really enjoyed it because of the acting and the relationships and character development. It was heartwarming and sweet and fun and overall enjoyable. I just wish we had seen more of that, but this show is really much more enjoyable than I'm making it out to be, I guess I'm just disappointed because it could have been so much more.

Movies!

I finally branch into Korean movies. They aren't as great as dramas because they are movie length, but these couple have been cute. It's been a while since I watched them so you are getting my several months later really short recap. Also, keep in mind that while that korean movies are not nearly as clean as dramas tend to be. These aren't horrible or I wouldn't be recommending them, but it is something you might want to be aware of.

Finding Mr. Destiny - Super cute. I was confused about one actor playing two characters without the main female ever commenting on how they look similar. I guess it's just a "superman is wearing glasses" thing.

My Girlfriend is an Agent - This was fun but kinda weird. Again - Kang Ji-Won being quirky. I didn't really care about the spy plot line but the rom-com part was enjoyable. I think the Korean title for this is the same as Level 7 Civil Servant but I'm not sure if that drama was based on this movie or not. I haven't seen it (and based on reviews, don't plan to :-)

The Righteous Thief - I needed a bit more Lee Beum Soo after the let down that was The Prime Minister and I. I think this movie does the best of the three listed here at retaining some of what I love about dramas, especially the family interactions and relationships. I loved both his family and hers (especially "dad" from the answer me series. I've got a soft spot for him after watching him and his real life kid on Appa Odiga/Dad, Where are we going?). And unlike the last one, I actually did kinda care about the Hong Gil-Dong (Robin Hood) plot. The bad guys were a tad ridiculous and I know in a drama I would have been annoyed with them taking up screen time but a movie short enough that it worked. It's silly but enjoyable.

7.28.2014

Helping your Preschoolers Go Outside and Play



Several people have asked me about the practical work of nature study/time and getting little kids outdoors. This is subject near and dear to my heart because I wanted it long before I was able to make it happen. This, along with nightly bible time and reading aloud were probably the biggest things that I really wanted to make a of our family culture. Reading aloud was easy. The other two took a bit more work and a large part of that is that, unlike reading aloud, they weren't as big a part of my life growing up. But we are making it happen. Hopefully, these few tips will let you benefit from what I've learned these past few years.

It starts with getting the kids outside. Yes, to study nature you should probably be spending at least some of your time in nature. And it seems so simply, just go outside! But it was really hard for me at the beginning. So if this is difficult for you to, don't be discouraged! Instead...

1) Be Convinced

I'm trying to limit this post to the practical aspect of outdoor time so I'll try not to get off track but practice comes from our philosophy so you really do need to start out with convictions. Don't do nature time because I say so or because another homeschooling family does and you feel you should too - or even simply because Charlotte Mason does. That won't provide real change. Be convinced in your own mind. I think reading section II of Charlotte's first volume would be a wonderful place to start but checking out Last Child in the Woods from the library could probably get you started as well.

My guess is that mother's of girls need more convincing than mother's of boys. Lucy enjoys spending time outside now and I know it benefits her but Jonah NEEDS it. When Lucy was sick last week and he was stuck inside, it was not pleasant. He doesn't seem to be particularly active outside, more walking and exploring than running, and our inside space is kid friendly so I wouldn't have expected it to make such a big different but by the third day of very limited outdoor time,  it was like trying to contain a tornado. So maybe you need convincing, maybe not.

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What better time to take a hike than a couple hours before a snow storm was about to hit our area? I knew we needed to let Jonah stretch his legs while he could so why not?

I can't possible leave this section without including what might be my absolute favorite quote of Mason's and it is her response to those who say the long hours outdoors she is suggesting are impossible.

Let me repeat, that I venture to suggest, not what is practicable in any household, but what seems to me absolutely best for the children; and that, in the faith that mothers work wonders once they are convinced that wonders are demanded of them.  Charlotte Mason (Vol 1, Home Education, pg 44)

Basically, she says what she thinks is best for children (and in the full volume, the why is included) and leave it up to mother's to make it happen because she believes they can and will. What faith!

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Jonah's first hike at less than 2 weeks old. 

2) Aim High, But Not Too High

I don't mean for this to counteract the first section but be reasonable as well. Don't go from the only time you spend outdoors being the walk to the mailbox to shoving your kids outside for 6 hours a day and expect everyone to be happy. We started with 30 minutes in the morning, 30 minutes in the afternoon and when we started, that felt like a long time for me to keep Lucy happy (and by happy, I mean not completely whiny and miserable until my head is about to explode and I've used up my allotment of patience for the day). We've slowly built up.

These days, my reasonable goal is 4-5 hours total. 2-3 hours in the morning, 2-3 hours after nap and if possible at least one meal outside. That works for us at this stage and season since we've actually had a fairly cool summer. On a really hot day, it won't be that much and if you live in Texas, July is probably not a good month to start trying to increase your time outside. But if you start with 30 minutes now, then increase that as the weather gets nicer, you'll be doing great!

I find Nature, being God's world, has a lot in common with the Bible, God's Word, in that the more time you spend with it, the more time you crave.

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3) Schedule it In.

I don't just mean fit it into the remnants of your schedule but actually arrange your schedule to best fit ourdoor time. I love the idea of getting up and getting bible done first, then chores done and dinner prepped first then move on to fun for the rest of the day. It sounds great on paper. In reality, that puts us going outside at 10:30 am just when all our shade is gone over the big toys and driveway and within 20 minutes the kids are whining that it's hot.

So for the summer, we get up and eat breakfast then go outside. I do take my bible but I leave the kids stuff for later. I do the basic kitchen cleaning, I'm not leaving dirty plates on the table but I don't waste the wonderful 8:30am weather on cleaning toilets. So by 11am, we've gradually gotten used to the heat so it doesn't feel so bad and we're even okay eating lunch outside and when it really gets too hot, we are all ready to head in and do some of our indoor activities and chores before quiet time.

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In the fall as it starts to get cooler, I'll change it up so we do things in the morning when its still chilly then head outside before nap when the noon sun keeps us warm. I realize that this time period where I really can completely change my schedule to accommodate outdoor time is fleeting. Soon, demands of "real school" and activities will probably start encroaching but for as long as a I can, time outdoors is going to be a major deciding factor in our schedule.

We are really lucky in that our backyard area is large but even so, we try to branch out to other parks and nature centers regularly. If you don't have a great backyard, this is even more important. So make it a weekly event and let the kids know that Thursday is park day. They wont' let you forget.

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Snack breaks - a wonderful thing. 

4) Make It Easy

Inertia can be hard to overcome and if going outside takes a lot of work each day, it's not going to happen. So make it easy to get outside and make it easy to stay outside. This part is key when you have little people. At first I felt like I was spending all my time dragging everyone back in because someone needed water, or a toy or a diaper or to use the potty. It was exhausting. So all pottying/diapering needs to be done first, take water bottles with you, keep their sandals by the door. When Lucy was smaller, we even kept a small potty in our garage. Yes, it's a bit redneck but it made life so much easier - and luckily our neighbors aren't that close. Now that it's our boy that's potty training, the potty is unnecessary (ah, the joys of a boy!).

If you don't have a backyard and have to rely on parks and playgrounds, get a tote bag for your bubbles, a blanket, snacks and babywipes so after breakfast you can just grab it and go. I keep a picnic blanket in the car at all times along with an extra babywearing device so if I want to make a last minute decision to stop at a park, I can.

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5) Make It Enjoyable

This comes fairly easily for kids so let's start by making it enjoyable for you. I really enjoy getting outside because now that the kids are used to it, its a bit of free(er) time for me. I do my personal bible time in the morning while they play and after that I normally get some other free reading done too. Make sure you have a comfortable chair and water for yourself. If you're trying to spend your time sitting on the corner of a sandbox, you'll max out at 30 minutes. I've set myself up to get lots of outdoor time because I really enjoy sitting down in the share and reading and watching them play. It's fun and relaxing, why wouldn't I put in a little effort up front to make it happen?

Also, this might be hard at first, but don't try and entertain your kids the whole time because if you are anything like me, you probably won't enjoy it. Wait, did I just admit that while I love my children, I don't enjoy playing with them for hours on end? Yes, I did. I'll pull them in the wagon for a while or draw Lucy a "hot-spotch" board but for the most part, they know outside time means they play. It's not just for my sake but for theirs. They play differently when I'm directing them or even just tagging along in their games. I want them to be bored, to go off exploring, to look under stumps for bugs or find all the different types of leaves and make a pretend nest out of them or lying in the grass watching the clouds.

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There is a balance to that though. A good portion of my time outside is still spent kissing knees, tying shoes, putting helmets on, taking helmets off, and the list could go on. I don't ignore them, especially when they are doing the things I hope to encourage (like observing things, but more on that next time).

Once you are comfortable, make sure they are too. We've got rain gear, snow gear, sunglasses and hats if its really sunny. And yes, some toys are good. It doesn't have to be a toy store and shouldn't be because you want them to get out in the yard but a few things help. Our bikes, sandbox and dome are all loved but outside toys don't have to be expensive. Bubbles, chalk, a jump rope (neither of my kids is old enough to use a jump rope as it is intended but they still love it as a pretend play prop). A friend passed down a water table which we love for our front porch but in our backyard, we normally do buckets and measuring cups of water and that's just as fun. But even with all that, I will admit that at least once in the past week I have had to tell Lucy to stop staring at me and go play!


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With the right gear, a little rain won't slow you down. And if the rain stops before they are done jumping in puddles, you can always make some more :-)

6) Mow the Lawn

So what do you do if your kids don't play? They just sit there and look at you? Or bug you to play with them they whole time? This was our biggest issue in the beginning until I realized that my husband does not have this issue when he is outside with them. And that's because he's working. He's watering the gardens or pruning or fixing things or mowing the lawn. They would normally start off "helping" him but gradually get bored and find things to do to occupy themselves. So most mornings, I start outside time by trying to read my bible but if they kids just seem stuck, I get to work. Hanging clothes on the line and checking on our vegetable are easy jobs and while I don't particularly care about dandelions in our yard, I've been known to spend a good 30 minutes weeding. But mowing the lawn is my last hail Mary. Craig knows that if he sees a portion of the lawn mown when he gets home, I was struggling. I And if the whole lawn is mowed, well, he probably needs to offer to let me take a nap that afternoon because they must have been super clingy!

So now you know my tips and tricks for getting your kids outside. There aren't any miracle solutions but hopefully I was able to share at least a dose of encouragement. I didn't even touch on what to do with nature once your out there so I might be back later with that if you all express an interest but at the tinies and tots stage, getting outside really is half the battle.

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7.24.2014

Thoughts on thoughts

I'm testing different ways to write about the small stuff in my life. I really want to get back into doing that. Big topics I've been thinking about are nice and those posts help me mentally sort my thoughts but I want to capture the story of our days right now. The backyard full of bubbles and baby pools and no where to go but the grocery store days. But I am finding it surprisingly hard. I'm not sure if it's a case of too little to talk about, too much or perhaps just no structure. I've done the "quick takes" before and of course there is always the random bulleted list but nobody really wants to read that, not even me. I guess I'll try a day book sort of post next. All that to say -  please be patient with me if you see all sorts of random posts but feel free to chime in if you particularly like a style or have any ideas.

Reading 
So many things. Ack! While I like the practice of keeping several books of various easiness levels, I kinda got carried away and had seven going at one point last week. But my kindle broke so that took off two temporarily and then I finished two and I can breathe a bit again. But I'm sure my list will start expanding soon. I do need more light hearted and easy reads. If its 9:30 and I'm trying to choose between Guns, Germs and Steel and Charlotte Mason's 6th volume, I am apt to choose C and go with a k-drama instead.

Listening
Elizabeth Foss' Summer in the Little Oratory podcast. I just finished the book (see above) but I really want to go back and read it slower and think about how to apply it to my (protestant)life. I might blog about that.

Watching
Illnesses are the one time I pretty much let the kids have free reign with tv programs. Nothing really works as well at keeping vomiting toddlers in one spot as a screen to watch and that really is a key part to surviving a tummy bug with a child who doesn't understand the idea of a bucket. TV and towels, lots of towels. But since they aren't used to a lot of tv, I have to scramble to find things they want to watch. Peter Rabbit and friends on youtube was a big hit since Lucy knew the stories already. They are nice and slow and I don't mind watching them myself. The kids are all better now but Craig had a meeting tonight so he helped me get everyone ready for bed early and we watched The Roly Poly Pudding until it was late enough that they would actually fall asleep.

Thinking
Where did summer go? I love school supplies at least as much as the next gal but it makes me a bit sad to see them so early especially knowing that many kids are headed back in just a few weeks. We're still trying to soak up as much fun and sun while we can though. That said, I do have education on my mind because...

Planning and Preparing
I'm getting ready for my first real homeschool conference! I'm headed to the Continuing the Conversation Charlotte Mason Conference in Peoria, Il this weekend and I don't think I've been this excited about an event in a long time. Craig and the kids will be coming along but exploring the city (and hanging out in the hotel pool) on their own which means I will have all that time to think and talk to like minded mamas and go to the bathroom whenever I want with no one complaining about how I'm abanding them. Bliss!

Doing
Checking for eggs multiple times a day. Our chickens started laying about a week ago. It's amazing how exciting it is. Thinking back to my fairy tale post, it's another example of the miracles of God's world. I know where eggs come from but when its your chickens and you look and nothing is there and then suddenly, there is a egg. Joy! The kids are even more excited which is why we have been checking every time we go outside and every time they see a chicken leave the coop or enter the coop or look at the coop. But I can't blame them. It probably won't be as much fun to trudge out through the snow this January so I might as well have fun with it while I can.

7.22.2014

Preschool Priorities #2/#3 - Interests and those pesky Rs

If you missed Part I(plans and priorities) or Part II (A Rich Feast), check them out.


As I said earlier, my second priority is learning about what the kids are interested in followed by reading, writing and arithmetic for Lucy. Right now, for Lucy at least, those are often the same thing. 

Writing – This is her subject of the day season. She loves to write. If you come over to our house you’ll see tiny pieces of paper and notes all over the place. She’ll sound out words  by herself. Her CVC words are pretty accurate but the rest gets interesting. I just love sounded out some of the things she writes down because it normally makes a lot of sense auditorily although not visually. She also loves to write silly words such as “lulululubababawee” and then laugh hysterically when I read them to her.  And sometimes she actually asks for my help so I always take that as an opportunity to reviewing or teaching some phonics.

I’ve been hesitant to start anything in terms of lessons when it comes to actually handwriting because I know as soon as I do, she’ll move on BUT she consistently writes certain letters incorrectly and I don’t want her to learn bad habits so we’ll be working on writing. (She draws an e in three parts, first with a line across, then a swoopy bottom and lastly a curve at the top. This is probably the least efficient method possible. But it does look like an e!) While she’s interested we’ll do the copy work part of Alphabet path but if she starts to baulk, it will get dropped, especially the fine motor work.

Math – MEP 1 when requested (plus all that general everyday number fun we have). She's not in as much of a crazy math period as she was but she still asks for it a couple times a week. 

Reading – She got to Lesson 60 of The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Reading and stalled out. I tried not to ask if she wanted to do a reading lesson and just let her request but we had finished one of two lessons on the voiced and unvoiced th sounds and my ocd self couldn't take it and tried to at least finish up that but nope, when she was done, she was done. The little stinker wouldn't even finish the last half of a lesson! But letting that go, I realize that if where she is now is all she knows when entering first grade, I’ll still be happy and since we are getting review in with writing, at least for now, I’m content with letting this rest for now. 

If she or Jonah have other big interests that come up, I can probably fit them into a letter somehow or just take the week off to do fun stuff with that topic. With a whole year and only 24 of so letter weeks (a couple are combined), we should have plenty of time even if we take december and april off. And that's my plan.

I know it took me a long time to say it, but honestly, it isn't much at all and leaves us lots of time to play outside and in.
  • Daily Table Time with bible work, hymn, poem, folk songs and French song practice (probably not each subject each day though).
  • Music – Opera!
  • French – Get me caught up, read few French picture books.
  • Art – Daily open ended art time plus weekly picture study
  • Alphabet Path Extension – Read lots of books and maybe do a few activities
  • Monthly Preschool Co-op 
I think that's really reasonable. We shall see. I'm getting really excited for fall now - and not just because I'm ready for some jeans weather. 

7.20.2014

Counting my cold creamy blessings

With all the dietary changes I've had to make recently, I've been counting my blessings on what I can eat. And I'm ever so thankful that my favorite food is still on my okay list. And that my friends, is ice cream. Today was National Ice Cream Day which seemed to fit this weekend for me. Friday was a church lady book club night combined with a ice cream social. Sitting around talking about a book with a group of wonderful women while eating ice cream - what's not to love? Well, nobody really liked the book that much (are you curious? It was The Book Thief) but everything else was a win. Basically the only kind of ice cream I don't like is coffee flavored, which makes sense since I also hate coffee. 

I can justify my ice cream intake because I mostly do homemade and use raw cream and milk, sucanat and grass fed eggs. And since our chickens recently started laying eggs, my next batch will be made with super local backyard eggs! Even if that wasn't the case, I'd still eat it. I've given up gluten but you'd have to pry ice cream out of my cold dead fingers. Yes, they would be cold, because they would be holding tight to my bowl of ice cream.

I've made many different flavors. From the plain vanilla - I like alton brown's recipe although take note of the typo there. Nobody puts peach jam in vanilla ice cream. That would make it peach ice cream which is all very well and good but its' not vanilla, kwim?! I've also tried some crazy ones like peanut butter cookie dough, lemon cheesecake, blueberry mango and salted butterscotch (all from this e-book). I still haven't found a really good chocolate recipe and I really must remedy that because chocolate is my favorite flavor, especially with some sliced bananas (only in the past as bananas are on my no list for now) or strawberries (still MacKenzie approved!). I'll keep trying though. But let me know if you have one I should try - it's for science. The perfect chocolate ice cream recipe is out there and I am determined to find it.