Preschool by any other name would still be fun

I don't really like the term Pre-K. I think everything before school should be called preschool. Instead of having preschool being an option for 3-4 year olds to go and play for a few hours with peers, we now have preschool, Pre-K3, Pre-K4 and maybe depending on your areas cut-off Pre-K5 which makes it seem like there are all these "grades" that your kid might be missing out on. I understand that it can help keep class names organized to have different names for each age level but still, it's a pet peeve of mine. Up there with kindergarten graduation and calling daycare for 1-year-olds "school." If your kid is in a diaper, it's not school. It's daycare.

And now that I seem like a old crank, I will admit that we are calling this year Pre-K. Lucy overhead me talking to some moms at church about her Sunday School class which is called, you guessed it, the Pre-K and K class. So later on when I told her we were starting up our new preschool fun times in a few days, she turns to me, gives me a look of confusion and says "Don't you mean, Pre-K? I am in Pre-K now!" When I printed out her sign, she wanted to make sure it said "Pre-K." I've started calling it both Preschool and Pre-K with the hope that maybe eventually, she's let it go, but at this point, she still (politely) correcting me most of the time so I'm not really holding out much hope. What can you do?  She's a stickler for the rules. So Pre-K, here we come!

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A little pun for your wednesday

This is me officially announcing that we aren't doing the activities schedule for August WOL. Mostly because I wasn't excited about them and wanted to start the new stuff. So we did. And we are on our second letter already and having a blast. And I'll say more about it sometime soonish but for now....

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could they BEE any cuter? Lucy insisted we do a craft on our first "B" day and luckily 30 seconds on pinterest came up with something that only needed items I had on hand.


A Mother's Daybook - The edition in which I seem to be obsessed with everything but Kombucha

Watching - Emma Approved. I'm pretty sure I've mentioned it before but I don't even care because I'm that obsessed with it. I have others webseries going too but this is by far my favorite. Partly because Emma is my all time favorite book and partly because Pemberly Digital modernizations are really amazing. They manage to really convey all the characters and emotions while still making the modernization aspect make sense - not an easy thing to do, especially considering the confines of the many short episodes with a web-cam format. Okay, and partly because Emma and Knightly are just adorable as are the actors that play them and are dating in real life. They are just too cute and I want them to get married and have very cute babies.

It's also so much fun to read the comments. There are two big groups of people. 1) The Jane Austen fans like me that are so excited when certain plot points finally arrive and we see how they are done in this version and high fiving each other when some the classic lines are kept, "there was the badly, done! They kept it." 2) The confused people that start off complaining that Emma is kinda selfish and they don't like her, then later add insightful comments like "does this seems really similar to Clueless and oh, guise, is this based on a book because why do some of you know what's going to happen and pls, no spoilers!" They are quite entertaining as well.

There are only 2 episodes to finish it up which is really sad. But that's okay because I've just started over! In fact, I'm rewatching listening right now. What? My kids are asleep, my husband is away for the night and I'm spending my Friday night watching a literary based web series while concurrently blogging about my obsession with it. Are you implying that is not completely? Don't answer!

Drinking - My first batch of Kombucha. Part of my new health protocol is supposed to be high doses of probiotics, in food and not just pill form. But my sensitivity to cabbage rules out all my favorite ways of eating fermented foods. Enter - Kombucha. That said, it's a bit weird. Even for me. And you know I do weird a lot. It could even be said that "weird" is one of my things. But scooping up a plate of symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast off my tea is pushing it and calling it a "scoby" doesn't really make that disappear. But I drank some of it. My first try was decent, maybe a bit too sour/vinegary for my taste. I keep trying though. Perseverence is also one of my things.

Listening - To lots of stuff but only with one ear. Craig and I had a date morning and went to a local shooting range. It was fun. But since then my right ear doesn't seem to be working quite right. And yes, I did wear ear protection! It's getting better than it was so I'm hopeful that this will be temporary. (Update - it's been 3 days now and its almost back to normal, not quite but not completely bothersome all day either)

Reading - Plutarch! I just finished my first life, Poplicola, and I'm shocked but I loved it and can't wait to start my next one. Now I'm actually a bit obsessed with Roman history right now which is odd because I'm not normally a history girl with the exception of a couple certain periods (see Austen fan girling above :-) So if you have any roman history books to recommend, hit me with them!

Thinking - About the news. I'm normally not one to read or watch a lot of the news. I stay up to date but honestly, I do so mostly through a Craig. I just let him tell me what's happening and since he is so news obsessed, it works out well. But when its happening in your backyard and effecting people I know and care about, I can't avoid it. I like checking facebook to see if friend's babies have been born, I don't like checking facebook to see if friends are safe. I've started probably three posts about this but can't seem to articulate any of my thoughts so don't worry, this isn't going to become a long post about Ferguson but right now it's just sad because so far, it seems like everyone is responding poorly. Like Oprah "everyone gets a car!" but with bad decisions. So I'm praying, for those I know and for those I don't.



Since it's already been a couple weeks since the CM conference came and went, my post of notes in the draft folder will probably stay there but I just have to share my favorite part. But first, a disclaimer. I sometimes feel like the only tips and tricks type of things I share are really obvious (like it's easier to get your kids outside if you plan to do so) and I have these fears that people are reading this going, "Well, Duh" to everything I say. But I say it not to insult you, my readers, but because at some point, often times in the recent past, it wasn't obvious to me! This is one of those things.

A indispensible part of the Charlotte Mason method of teaching is Narration. The idea being that a person has to form their own connections with the material and the ideas it contains. By narrating, or telling back in their own words, what happened in the story, the person has a chance to do that. To process and work through it and make it their own. It's not a test of knowledge but the key to a child gaining that knowledge and is done for everything a student reads.

I agree with all of that but until I went to the conference, I hadn't actually done any narrating. Hangs head. Nancy over at Sage Parnassus gave the plenary talks and excellent speaker and CM expert that she is, required a variety of narration from us - drawing narration, silent narration, group narration of a picture and the classic narration (with the person sitting next to us). I could immediately tell the difference in my comprehension and now a few weeks later, I know I retained more of those talks then the rest of the conference.

Since then, I've started self-narrating two different things I'm reading - Charlotte Mason's 6th volume and my first of Plutarch's Lives, Poplicola. I've been reading Mason's works with a group since the beginning of the year but her sixth volume was getting a bit deep for me. I could tell you the basic idea she was talking about but I know I was missing out on a lot. And Poplicola was something I had started and really struggled to understand. So for that one, I completely started over, reading a paragraph a day and  narrating. I'll be honest, I had to narrate sentence by sentence at the beginning but now I can finish the whole paragraph and narrate it back just fine. It only takes a few seconds for me to close my eyes, give myself a little narration and move on but its doing so much! If I wasn't a believe before, I certainly am now.


The long awaited for basement update

Actually, that title is probably a lie. I don't think anyone is anticipating this update. I haven't mentioned the basement in such a long time that I'm sure you all are assuming it's all finished and we just forgot to mention it, right? Hahahaha!

I think this has been the slowest remodel ever but at least we are making progress. The first few months were full of permit issues that I'll skip over because 1) It's been a while and I don't remember details now and 2) It had to do with sewage and unlike other bloggers that do polls and request feedback about topics, I'm just gonna assume you feel similar to me in that sewage is just not that interesting. But we did get all the communications communicated and finally got that precious piece of paper to hang in our window!

Next up foam insulation and then was framing/re-framing. Craig worked on this pretty much all by himself and it wasn't easy because the room with most of the work has a vent that leads right up the air vent next to Lucy's bed. She's a pretty sound sleeper (remember, she slept through our whole kitchen remodel demo!) but any sawing or hammering basically sounded like it was happening 3 inches from her head. So he worked in 30-45 minutes sessions after he came home from work. But he got it done!

After that, things have been pretty speedy - at least once we made some decisions. We're working on two rooms, the main one with the egress window had major layout changes so it was reframed completely. The other just had the closet removed to make more space for first room. I was torn about whether to take down the wood paneling and put up drywall but in the end decided that we could just patch the closet opening with the wood paneling we had taken down elsewhere and paint it. This will save us quite a bit of money and work. Yah!

But then I decided that we should go ahead and replace the ceiling. The previous owners had used thinner drywall than they should have and it was sagging and the seams where showing. And since we were taking down the ceiling, we should update the lights while it was open and we were having other electrical work. No more boob light! But this is costing us money and work. Boo!

Actually not boo. I'm really glad we made that decision because when we Craig opened up the ceiling, he found a lot of electrician issues. I'm pretty sure you don't have to have even my limited electrical background to realize that this is not what you want to find in your ceiling!

But the electricians came and added some can lights and outlets in both rooms, we passed our first inspection and have added the rest of the insulation. And while we were waiting for a chance to fit the drywall installers into our schedule, we went ahead and painted the wood paneling. I'm really glad I stuck with it, it looks awesome!

But the big news is that the drywall people started yesterday. So we are well on our way to ceilings and walls and finally finishing up this basement. So maybe I'll be back with an update (and pictures?) in less than 6 months.


Night lights

Last night I was able to relax in bed and read before I went to sleep. Then when it was time to sleep, Craig turned off the light and we went to bed. It was glorious. You might think glorious is too strong of a word but then again, you might have the option of doing that every night. I haven't been able to sit in bed with a light on for almost 2 years because someone else has always been there too. A little someone. And before that little someone was there, another little someone was in his spot although I might have had a few months in between. While it can be inconvenient at times, not having lights on while searching for my pajamas is not nearly enough of a hardship for me to give up the joys of the family bed.

But last week Lucy decided she was ready to move from her floor bed to the big bed. Both are twins and have been in her room for a while but she kept saying she wanted to sleep in the high on, then changing her mind about 30 minutes after we tucked her in. So when she announced completely out of the blue that she didn't need her night time music anymore and she was ready for a big bed, Craig and I were smiled incredulously at each other and helped her move up there. Surprise, surprise, it stuck this time!

The next morning, I told her that since the floor bed was free, Jonah could have it and they could share the room. That got her excited and right after breakfast she helped me move over his clothes, blanket and green baby (yep, green baby is still around albeit she is now a he).

They are both pretty excited about sharing a room although I'm not quite sure why. Since they still can't fall asleep in the same room (too much talking and playing), Jonah falls asleep in the master and I move him over. Then he wakes up about 1am and toddles back over to climb in with us again. So she never really sees him in that bed although they do make their beds together in the morning so I guess she knows he was there at some point.

Either way, the arrangement is working out really well for me. I wasn't quite ready to go cold turkey with having a  nighttime toddler buddy. But that doesn't mean I'm not enjoying my new ability to read in bed relaxed with a light instead of huddled under the covers with the kindle fire for the time I've got it. With lights, I can read a real book! Whichever one I want! And if I read something interesting, I can turn to Craig and say something in a semi-normal voice. Oh, the joy!


A Mother's Daybook

I've got a kindle again. Hurray! If you has asked me the not-age-old question of e-book versus paper I would have been torn and said I use both but prefer real books. But this non-kindle week really showed me how much I use it. My reading pretty much ground to a halt when it broke.  I'm still not back to reading as much as I was because I'm working on organizing all my books. It's taking a while but my last kindle got completely out of control so I'm determined to do better. I'm really good about organizing physical things but not quite as organized with files and folders and such.

Dairy products. We get 1.5 gallons of raw milk every week. I can cancel or change our order but didn't think about it last week because we weren't even going to be gone 48 hours. But we must have had a low milk drinking milk because we have so much milk now! I've already made one batch of ice cream and one batch of chocolate pudding and I've got another recipe for ice cream to try. I know I could freeze it if I have to but our freezer is pretty full right now - and I like ice cream and pudding and it's nice to have the excuse.

I'm still sorting over all my thoughts on the CM conference. I learned so much but a lot of it is hard to put into words. But I still want to try.

Planning and Preparing
For being a (daytime) diaper free house. We are so close! And by we, I mean Jonah obviously. We've taken a similar approach to him as we did with Lucy, although I've been much lazier in application. Basically, he's just been naked for the vast majority of the last 2 months. He's so prone to rashes that it was our only option for him even if I wasn't hoping for potty training as an outcome but luckily he's doing really well. Last week he's started initiating so now I'll ask right when he wakes up but other than that, it's on him. He does have false alarms but I'd much rather him try to go potty when he doesn't need to than the other way around and to be honest, I think he knows he doesn't have to go since he often requests "potty potty" when he's asked for me to read him a book but been denied. He knows he gets a story when he's on the potty. He's a smart little stinker.

The result is that we are down to diapers at night and on longer trips out of the house. The only issue there is that he refuses to use public bathrooms. Not a tiny portable potty, the same potty seat he uses at home placed on another toilet or even the fun toddler sized potty our church has that most kids love. Absolutely refuses. So we are fine for quick trips to the library or up to Neighbor J's house but church and long mornings at the park are issues. Lucy never liked public potties either (well frankly, does anyone?) but she would use them if she had to so I'm not really sure how to solve this problem. Any tips would be appreciated. But the rest of it is going well so I'm not too worried.


A story about a house - by Lucy

Last week while I was cooking dinner one night, Lucy asked for her oil pastels because she needed "to make some books right now." Since my hands were busy she "wrote" the story herself and then asked Craig to write it again when he got home. She's been making these pretty much non stop ever since. This is my favorite so far but its really hard to pick just one.

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"I like all my rooms. I do not want to be moved from my hillside. I like where I am. I see the movers coming down the winding road." 

The movers thought that the little house could be moved. The house frowned. The house said to the movers "I do not want to be moved." 

The movers said "You don't have to be moved, little house." The movers went away. The house smiled. 

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I may be a bit biased, but isn't she just the cutest thing?!


June/July WOL

WOL Curriculum update - Thanks to Craig's help I was able to set my Scribd account to opt out of their subscription services which means you should be able to download it for free. You'll need to sign up for a (free) account but you won't need to buy a subscription. 

It's finally August and just finished up our World's of Learning fun for this period. Now let's see if I can remember what we did way back at the beginning of June. 

This was probably the loosest themed period. I think it was supposed to be cities and towns but we also talked about businesses and money. I lucked out when the post office gave me change for my 20 dollars in rolls of dimes and quarters. I was actually really annoyed at the time because I didn't really want $15+ in coins and if he had told me he only had coins I would have used a debit card but then I realized that it would be fun for the kids to play with real coins instead of paper or toy ones as part of our "A Chair for Mother" lessons. They sorted and stacked and made patterns. We also read through a poem about money. They liked the poem but matching coins to their name/value isn't a concept that seems to be sticking yet. Oh well, there is time for that. 
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Then I gave Lucy $1 in change and let her decide what snacks to pack for our picnic at the park. I could have made it more pinterest worthy with little toothpicks and labeled signs but post it notes worked well. 

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She really liked making her own snack mix, paying for each scoops of raisins and nuts until she achieved the perfect combination. 
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After practicing with me, she got to try buying things again at our local farmer's market. This activity was a bit of a disappointment. I had planned it for the city's market where there are lots of fun things for kids to buy for under $3-4 from small containers of fruit to one of my favorites, the chocolate croissant. But Craig had a volunteer job at a smaller one closer to us so we went there thinking there would still be something for them. Womp womp - nothing. It was a couple booths of honey, jam and tomato plants. There was a food truck though so I ended up splitting (because she didn't have enough money) a mango smoothie with her and the man was nice and put it in two cups.  

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But she did get to plant a tree with this nice handsome volunteer. He was really good with her, you'd think he knew her or something :-)

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After we focused on the market part of "Market Square Dog" we moved gears to the dog part. I traced ears for her to cut out and glue. Jonah didn't get to do his own cutting but he's getting the hang of glueing.

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And both kids have excellent dog face making skills.

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But cute puppies need food so next we made some puppy chow. It's not healthy at all but it is gluten free so I got to share in the mess fun.

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We timed it just right and got to Lentil just in time for our cute local 4th of July parade. 

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After tasting some lemons to see if they really did make our mouths pucker, we made some lemon-lime soda sweetened with apple juice concentrate. This was Lucy's first taste of "Soda" which we have always called a "daddy drink" along just like beer and wine. She was shocked when I said we were going to make a kid version at home. But she didn't like it! Well, she didn't like it with soda water. I mixed a little of the lemon/lime/apple juice combination with plain water and she thought it was good because "it was only those bubbles that were too spicy so I didn't like it at first"

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Lots of counting, measuring and pouring going on. 

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Counting out ice cubes. 

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Jonah liked it either way, as did Craig and I. 

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For the little house we did the classic moon phases/oreo activity. I didn't get any pictures but I've seen it everywhere so I'm sure you know what I'm talking about.

We also drew pictures of our house in all four seasons and talked about what colors the artist used in the book and what colors we were going to choose to help show what season we were drawing. You can see she's using greens and blues and pinks on the left side for her spring house and the right was winter so she used whites and grays (because sometime snow gets dirty mom!) The other two seasons were on the back. I had planned on using different items to make it more of a collage but this ended up being a slow day. She was just getting over a tummy bug and had enough energy that she was complaining of being bored but not enough that she felt up to doing much. Oil pastels worked really well though - a little more exciting that just crayons but still easy and not much mess for the mom who was still frantically trying to keep up with laundry.