What I learned on my summer vacation

Summer Vacation meaning homeschool retreat, of course. The main theme I heard through out the conference was one of Faith. It stood out to me in all three of the main sessions as well as much of the smaller breakout sessions and even just in my talks around the table with other moms. 

I did a quick narration on the forum the day after the retreat and came up with a couple bullet points but as I've been thinking, I've added to them. I'm not sure if it will make sense to anyone else because honestly, I'm taking hours of talk by woman with years of experience and trying to reproduce it in one blog post but I'm going to try anyway. 

Faith in the mind - the mind of a child to assimilate and process the mind food of ideas we offer and grow as they need and our minds as mothers to apply Charlotte Mason's principles in our family.

The very first talk, given by Karen Glass, was about believing in the Mind. We as Christians can't fall for the modern worldly trap of believing that the mind is the same as the brain. The big question of the day during Charlotte Mason's times was "What is consciousness? What is the mind?" but in today's modern times, "we" don't even think it needs to be answered. But "we" are wrong. A person is more than a data machine. Our children have souls and minds that need to be nourished and feed with ideas.

What we believe we are doing - filling a brain with data or feeding a mind - impacts how we educate. Charlotte Mason's principles require belief in the mind. But we can trust these processes (Narration, learning through literary works, etc) because they are natural and inate. A child will assimilate the ideas it needs. He is  eclectic and he may reject 9/10th of the ideas in a book but still take what he needs as long as we get out of the way. That seems risky, but it really isn't anymore than feeding a child a meal with a variety of flavorful real foods is riskier than figuring out what vitamins and minerals that meal contains and giving it to the child in a pill form. It does requires faith though. Faith that God designed the human brain to grow on ideas just as he designed the human body to grow on food.

Anne White also talked a little about this in her session on Living Books. She describes the need for a living book to have many ideas because part of the will's function is to choose. A mind can't choose what ideas it needs to grow if a book doesn't offer lots of choices. But again, this means that it won't choose them all - and that's okay!  That seemed so obvious when she stated it that way but it was a huge shift for me. But it comes back to trusting the mind and having faith that it will grow. 

Faith that the little things we do day in and day out, the habits we develop, will produce God's fruit in due time.

Cindy Rollins also talked about Faith. Faith that all those little things we do, day in and day out, really do make a difference. We can't see the fruit after a week, we have to wait for it. She gave practical ideas for both moms of littles and bigs but I focused on those for littles - to guard your "10 minutes here and there," to find time to read the bible even if its short, to make your top priorities habits and not allow other opportunities to interfere with those. I had to laugh when she mentioned that habits wasn't always her favorite topic because it isn't mine either but after hearing her talk, I might have to retract that. She talked about decision fatigue and moral fatigue, how habits free you to use your energy on other things and how we can have faith that those little habits really do make up the essence of your home and the lifetime of education you want it to contain.

I really enjoy all the seasoned mother's talking about fruit. Because, I'll be honest, while I may have fun moments now and then when I see teeny tiny buds forming, Jonah telling Craig to "Do it properly, with breadcrumbs!" and Lucy amazing me with her observations at the aquarium, for the most part when it comes to fruit - the pickings are slim. But they reminded me that I really do need to add a "for now"  to that last sentence.

But the emphasis wasn't just on the future part of the fruit, it was also on who's fruit we are to be expecting. Karen's food to body/ideas to brain analogy helps illustrate that we don't feed a child's mind in order to manipulate the outcome anymore that we would try and control what color hair or eyes our child has by what we feed them. We offer a generous feast, the child's mind takes what it needs and the natural (God ordained?) results occur in time.

Cindy brought this up on a more personal level. She spoke of being amazed at how God used the things she had included in her morning time in her children's lives in completely unexpected ways. Someone else brought up in a Q&A session that neither you nor your child knows enough to decide what doesn't need to be in their education. You don't know, or get to control, what God's plan for your children entails (of course, there is a balance there, but generally speaking). They aren't yours to manipulate into what you want (although having two large car repair bills lately, I can't help but think having some sort of mechanic in the family in the future might be nice :-) but are simply entrusted to you by God for a short period of time. So prepare a feast for them and see where God takes them! 

Faith in the Personhood (of the child and the mother)

Faith in God's fruit ties in very closely with the idea that children are persons. I've always thought of that mostly in immediate terms of what avenues are open to me as educational tools and how I treat them in the now, but it also plays a huge role in long-term planning and expectations. 

BUT, the flip side to that is that mothers (and fathers) are people too. We were reminded that CM believes in the minds of mothers. I've heard AO and CMers being described as always philosophizing when asked for practical tips but Charlotte Mason believed nothing was as practical as an idea. And that she offers parents her philosophy because she trusts that those who understand her ideas and principles can bring them to forms of vitality in their homes. 

We were reminded to cultivate our minds as mothers. This means a lot more coming from a mom about to send their last child out into the world after having been a homeschooling mom for 10, 15 or even 20 years. As hard as it is for me to imagine that day (I still can't imagine a day when I don't have to help someone "potty"), I know it will come.

Faith in God

This was everywhere. Everything I mentioned above really starts with faith in God. But our closing session brought me, and others I'm sure, to tears when Donna-Jean implored us to remember the reasons we have for being here, the blessings we are trying to educate. I'm going to completely fail at narrating this talk because it was so encouraging and uplifting and all I can think of to summarize the message is - love your children and trust God. But isn't that the point of the whole thing? God loves us, God loves them. And he has entrusted them, these little (but soon to be not so little) people, into our lives so that we can love them and show God's to them. So never forget that. Be faithful to Him and love them with the love that He has given us. That's all we can do so. Rest in that and don't be afraid. 


Heading down the mountain

Ah, the Monday after an exciting(AO at home) retreat weekend. It's always part - "whew, I'm exhausted and ready for our schedule to return to normal". And part "oh sad, it's over." Yesterday was no exception.

I was a bit worried about how my body would handle the trip. I tend to get motion sickness at the best of times but apparently, zofran helps with that too because that part was fine. And I did my best to balance out the time I spent sitting in the car - the first day the kids and I spent 2 hours at a park walking around before the drive and once we got to day 1's destination, we walked around Ikea (it was for my health! Not the cute teal cart I got out of the it. No, certainly not).

The next day we spent a few hours at the aquarium. Nature study + indoor in July + lots of walking = yay! But between sitting at the conference and sitting in the car, and letting myself get dehydrated and paying for it with lots of braxton hicks contractions, by Sunday afternoon, my body was done. I actually fell asleep around 8pm. Craig had to wake me up for my shot and then I went right back to sleep.

And the kids were feeling the effects of super fun weekend too. In addition to the aquarium with me, they got to go exploring with dad while I was "retreating" so they - swam in a hotel pool, toured a dairy factory and saw a calf being born, made several stops at a playground, ate ice cream, visited a farmer's market and a nature center and then we all went to a wolf park for howl night where we both howled and were howled at. So basically, they suffered for my sake.

Okay, maybe not. But even if they had, I think it still might have been worth it. My basic feeling through much of the weekend can be summed up like this:

I got to listen to some incredible woman give talks and answer questions. Woman that I, against their own recommendation, consider homeschooling gurus, like Karen GlassCindy Rollins, and The Headmistress (and yes, I did talk to her about k-drama, I don't even care if that is shallow of me - I went there)...

Funny story, I was standing around the registration area with a couple of other forum ladies that I knew and we all spotted Cindy. But she was a last minute speaker and we hadn't heard she was coming yet so we were all trying to nonchalantly see if we read could her name tag or hear someone talk to her. We were pretty sure it was her but well, you just don't run in to Cindy Rollins every day. Finally, we saw someone else we knew talk to her and yes, it was her!

And hearing them speak would have been encouraging enough but I got to meet them and talk to them and they were all just as wonderful in person as you think they would be from reading their words. And then to meet-up with some of the woman on the forum whom I've been talking to and doing book studies with and being able to put real faces (and voices!) to those screen names. It was great.

I learned so much its hard to put into words but I do want to try and sum up my learnings - to give a short narration if you will. I've already started that post. But for now, it's time to get back in the daily grind of life. It's hard, but "luckily" Jonah has seen fit to be oh so very two this week and I've got no other option but to jump in with both feet. Wish me luck!


Joy and Imagination

I'm still chugging away at my "magical tidying" experience - and making lots of progress. I'm sure I'll talk about it more and give you total bags of trash/donations later but I wanted to talk about one of her main points, and it's critisicms, first.

Joy. Marie Kondo's method for when deciding whether to get rid of something is not if that items is used or has been worn in x months or anything like that, but simply to ask yourself if that item sparks joy. And one of the big criticisms that I see thrown out a lot is that it only sorta works because you can't throw out your toothpaste or laundry detergent just because they don't spark joy.

Now, I won't say that that there isn't any chaff to be thrown out from this book but every time I see that particular remark, I have to laugh. And yes, I've seen more than one person refer specifically to toothpaste and laundry detergent. After laughing, the next thing I want to tell this people is to go read Anne of Green Gables (and perhaps Pollyanna too) because they need to develop a better imagination!

But perhaps it's more than just a lack of imagination. Perhaps the meaning of joy is just as misunderstood in our culture as the meaning of love is. Joy isn't some magical giddy feeling I get when I hold something I like. I know that feeling (new soft tiny cloth diaper fluff!) and it's nice and it certainly makes finding joy easier, but it isn't joy. Joy doesn't come from giddiness, it comes from gratitude. That spark of joy comes from feeling thankful.

My understanding of her book is affected by my religious convictions and while I am fairly certain that Marie Kondo and I do not share those convictions, I do think we must share an understanding of what joy because I have no problems following her "spark joy" mantra. She's right - you should be thankful for everything you choose to have in your home.

And if you don't, there is a problem. Perhaps that problem is with your attitude and you need to go spend some time with Paul in the New Testament. And no judgement from me if that's the case. Let's just say there is a reason God called me to lead a study on Philippians - he wanted me to study it! But that's not to say it comes easily to me now either though.

I just finished reading both The Small Woman and The Hiding Place. Either book alone would have me feeling convicted about the lack of gratitude I show in my daily life - the combination was brutal. And at first they left me confused about whether I should be finding joy in material possessions at all. Then I realized, it isn't the objects themselves that are the issue, it's the choice to own things or not. That's really where we differ from so much of the world when it comes to material possessions - we have lots of choices.

And it's not more righteous of me to choose to keep things I don't need and then struggle (or fail) to be grateful for them when I can instead choose to be thankful those things were in my life and that I can now let them go. Yes, it's a bit kooky to send a text to your old phone thanking it for its service so that is one example of hers I won't be following, but I don't find it difficult to thank God for his provisions. In fact, I'm really enjoying it. I'm going through what I own, category by category, picking things up and choosing to have joy and to be grateful for what God has provided for us - the parenting book I learned a lot from but now that I have gained knowledge from it and grown in my parenting skills, I can pass on to someone else. The clothes that kept me warm and cozy that I can now donate with the hope that someone else can be kept warm and cozy. And after a season of struggling to find joy and being frustrated by my failure in that area, all this practice has been a great blessing (and one I'm grateful for :-)

 So while the "Spark Joy" idea may not be helpful to others trying to tidy (aka declutter), it's been the key for me to finally get that last bit of stuff out of my house.

The ugly cardboard box of needles and progesterone in my closet that makes me cry on a twice weekly basis - no giddiness there. But joy? Yes! Joy in the knowledge that God has provided doctors to help my body do its best to grow a strong healthy baby. It stays, no question (at least until that strong healthy baby makes his/her appearance - then I'll have a lot of joy in dumping it all in the trash!).

Those few dresses of my mom's that I have had for three years and could never bring myself to get rid of? The one I took from her closet to wear to her funeral? The yellow outfit she wore to my wedding? There are a lot of emotions in those. But joy? No. I have joy when I see the picture in my wedding album of her wearing that dress. In fact, I don't even need the photographs, I have several vivid imagines in my head even without them that always make me smile. But the dress itself. No, it's gone and I haven't looked back.

Does it spark joy? It's not that hard if you have a bit of imagination.


Classics Challenge - The Europeans

Who would have thought that the Novella selection would be one of my hardest to pick? I had planned to read 1984. It is one of several books that has been in my tbr pile for far too long. But I realized that it, along with several of the others, have stayed in the tbr pile because I have no actual desire to read them. I want to want to read them but when it comes to picking them up and reading them, I'm just not interested. So then I tried The Vicar of Wakefield. It wasn't necessarily bad but it wasn't very interesting and despite its short length, I was not making much progress. So I tried again! And this time, my choice stuck...and now for that choice.

The Europeans might be my first Henry James*. Unlike my failed attempts at a Novella, this one was a pleasant read. Not much happens. Basically, two siblings (the Europeans) come to America and stay with some relations. Eventually, some people may or may not get married. Between those things, people do a lot of talking. Yep, that's about it.

It's really more of a character study and in that it does a great job. It's not clear at the beginning, exactly who we are supposed to root for. Is Ms. X good? Or Mr. Y? Even at the end, one can't really divide everyone into a good column and a bad column although if forced, the good column would probably be much fuller. This makes it excellent for thinking about the individual decisions and personalities and conversations. So it is fun on a light superficial level and if you want to go a bit deeper.

Having said that, I'm not sure I totally understand the ending. I mean, I can tell you what happens but I feel like their is some lesson that I'm supposed to have learned but don't quite get. I wonder if I looked it up on Clif Notes if there would be a sentence explaining the moral but I don't really have a desire to spoil my reading experience by doing that. Perhaps I'm just trying to read to much into it.

The Europeans is in the public domain and available for free from gutenberg.org. It was my Back to the Classics Challenge Novella selection.

* I am not sure if I have read The Turn of the Screw or not. I didn't think I had but I picked up Craig's library book of short stories one day and started it and while I couldn't remember what happened next, everything I read seemed awfully familiar. But then he returned it and I was never able to finished it/find out. Perhaps I should.


Finally Friday

This was a bit of a crazy week. We started school up again which I mentioned earlier but, because I'm me,  I couldn't stop at just starting school this week. That would be too simple. No, I had to start on a week Craig was gone on a business trip. And then the day after he left, the library emailed to let me know my e-copy of the The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up was available. I feel like everyone and their mom is talking about this book right now but I've officially jumped on the tidy-up train too.

Perhaps the week we are starting school and I'm solo parenting two small children while fighting third trimester hip and back pain is not the time to start a major decluttering project, but why let those things stop me? I've made it through (my) clothes and books this week and have 3 garbage bags full of clothes in the breezeway and several boxes worth of books waiting downstairs for Craig to haul up for me. Up next is paper!

Now, on the energy input side, I am finally able to take vitamins again and just last weekend started iron. I know I tend to run low during my pregnancies but it was amazing how much more energy I have when I add a good iron supplement. My midwife checked me yesterday and its still a bit low so I can't imagine what it was like last week. But even that boost has enabled me to get up early (between 5:45-6:30) and get a good start to my day. I really am a early morning person. I have to adapt this as baby/toddler/sleep seasons come and go but my preference is early to bed, early to rise so an early start with my bible just sets a good tone for my day.

Although I'm currently having to stop myself from feeling bad knowing it might not last long. These have really been the first days since Lucy was born that I have be able to get up before the kids. I've always had at least one morning snuggler that seems to sense when I try to get up and feels the need to join me. So normally I get up with them and lately it has been after them. But Jonah seems to be past that magical sensing period now and even when he does get up, he's been well trained over these past few months to get himself a snack and play quietly. And miraculously he seems to be able to keep that routine up whether I'm in bed sleeping or on the couch reading! Although if I'm up he does feel the need to come over and show me his snack and tell me what he's going to play with. I doubt I'll be able to keep it up after the baby comes but I will try to enjoy it while it lasts!

I also committed to stay off facebook which I'm sure helped my productivity. It's my big social media time suck and I'm surprised at how much I didn't miss it. I think I end up there out of habit more than I realize. I've got several really good groups there that I don't want to leave permanently so I need to work on a balance with it somehow. And while I normally feel a bit adult-deprived when Craig is gone and thought the facebook fast would exacerbate that, I actually had several great people activities this week, all one-on-one or small groups which, as in introvert, is my favorite way to interact with people. So it's been a crazy but very good week.

But I'll be honest, with all that and a midwife appointment, a chiropractic adjustment, several playdates, a trip to the pool and a wonderful night catching up with one of my best friends (sans kids! well, except a baby but babies don't count) and a trip to drop off a computer at the repair shop, another to pick it up but - just kidding, it's still broken and then a third to really pick it up, I'm a bit pooped. Craig comes home tonight and I am definitely counting down the hours!


Classics Challenge - Cold Comfort Farm

Cold Comfort Farm is a book I've been meaning to read for quite a while but kept forgetting to put a ILL request in for. So when I finally asked for and received it, I was so excited.

I liked the first chapter or two but after that, I was underwhelmed. I just had a really hard time keeping track of who everyone at the farm was and reading the dialogue. I had heard it was so funny but kept wondering if I missed the joke or if I just had set my expectations too high. I stuck with it though and by about 1/3-1/2 way through, I had completely changed my mind and started loving it. It is the classic British humor - dry and sarcastic and if I hadn't already had a comedy selection (which was also British and highly sarcastic :-) this would make a good choice for that category too.

Flora, the heroine, is recently orphaned, but mostly in a financial way, so she heads to her extended families home where she is appalled by their backwards ways and begins to reform everyone and everything there.  I've heard others describe the heroine Flora as too perfect and a bit of a know it all and its true that she gets her way in the end but I think if you really give her that description, you've kinda missed the point. It's almost the equivalent of  Mr Bean is a sad show because bad things always happen to him. While technically true, that sort of review just leaves you scratching your head.

Anyway, I ended up liking it a lot so I'm glad I stuck with it and now I need to go watch the movie, which I've heard is pretty good too.

Cold Comfort Farm is my Back to the Classics Challenge 20th Century Selection. For more about the Back to the Classics Challenge information, visit Karen over at Books and Chocolate.


Kindergarten Plans!

We'll be starting up kindergarten in a few weeks. I'm not sure when exactly but about the time I start saying, "let's go inside, it's too hot out here" before 10am arrives will be my guess. (Update: I started this post 2 weeks ago. Tomorrow is the big day!)

 I've spent the last month or so really working on the kid's morning routine (from breakfast to ready to play stuff) and with the exception of putting toothpaste on their brushes and checking to see the teeth are actually clean afterwards, they don't need much help. I hope that adding these few things and getting a firm routine in place will help us be able to pick it back up after the baby break relatively easy.

The basic schedule:

Bible ~ 10 minutes
Table Time ~ 10 minutes
Math ~20 minutes
Reading/Phonics ~ 10 minutes
Piano Practice ~ 5 minutes
Loop Activity ?

I didn't schedule breaks but I promise there will be some! When we start will depend on the season (outside first in the summer before it gets too hot, outside later in the fall/winter so we don't freeze :-) We did Table time and sporadic (as requested) Math/Reading last year plus I've already added Piano since she got the books as a birthday present so not much is changing. If I feel like its too much, we'll go to switching to doing either math and reading/phonics daily instead of both. On the other hand, if it isn't and we end up starting AO Y1 in the spring, I'll only be adding copywork and 1-2 readings a day and that's just another gradual adjustment.

Jonah is not like Lucy and doesn't seem to need anything more than a couple picture books a day and plenty of time to play. He does like to sit in with (or climb on) us so he'll be around but I'm not planning anything for him specifically for now other than keeping sands alive, play dough and crayons nearby for our table work times.

The nitty-gritty - This will be long but since I process by writing, its for my sake not yours. 

Bible - We'll continue reading through Catherine Vos's Story Bible. Craig still does the Betty Lukens Felt Bible study in the evenings that we started a few years back but we are almost through now (or as Lucy would say "Finally, Jesus died!" - she loves the crucifixion story and had to wait quite a while for it). Once he finishes, I'm not sure if he will take over the story bible or not. Right now, we do this in bed before breakfast while I wait for my medicine to take effect but it would be nice to move it into table time if he doesn't.

Table Time:

-Bible Memory Verses

-Song time - Loops between Hymn, Folksongs, and a French song. I'll use the AO rotation for Hymn but my own Folksongs selections with accompanying picture books because I can't turn down an excuse for buying more pretty picture books.

-Poems - I've created my own list of poems but we are working on semi-memory based on a talk by Andrew Pudewa that I can't seem to find to link to although I thought it was on the Circe Site. It's similar but not nearly as intense as his IEW program, mostly because we stay on a poem "a while" and not to complete memory because I'm more concerned with learning and loving poems.

Math - MEP 1. We took a break from this to work through the first few sections of Arithmetic for Young Children because Jonah was being Mr. Destructive about it last fall and oral work was easier but we've started up again now that he can behave better. I've also learned to let him color on Lucy's older pages and to ask him math questions similar in style to Lucy's but much easier while we work so he thinks he's doing math too. Lucy's still loving it.

Reading/Phonics - She finished up the first of three first grade Pathway Readers a month or two ago and hasn't done much other than read an Elephant and Piggie book or two since then. I think she was ready for the break. Okay, actually I was. We've had some habit issues to work on in this area (more on that below). I have the second ready for us to start but we'll go through the first Treadwell Reader since it relies more on phonics and less on sight words. My guess is when she starts asking for it again, she'll have made or be ready for another big leap but if she can wait, I can too.

I did pick up a workbook for her though (I know, a workbook, gasp!). Friends of our passed down some phonics worksheets and she loved them and I do think she needs more phonics review so she doesn't forget her blends as we use them less frequently. I went with the (old 1995 version) Memoria Press Plaid Phonics book based on Leila's recommendation. I got A but probably should have gone with B because A is really review for her with nothing new but I bought it used for just a few dfollars so no great harm, I can always skip pages and get to B faster. I'm not necessarily convinced this is the best way to get phonics review but it is easy and enjoyable for her and the open and go part will be nice come October.

Piano Practice (skipped if its lesson day)

Loop - The super fun stuff! Craig has every other Friday off, Lucy has dance lessons once a week in the morning and I want us to have the freedom to spend the whole morning at the park instead of just a few hours out back if its nice so the goal is to get all three of these done each week but if not, we'll just start the next week where we left off and keep going.

Piano Lessons using My First Piano Adventures.

Art Lesson using Artistic Pursuits - This was my big splurge of the year. The program isn't cheap but Craig's parents got Lucy the art supplies part for her birthday and that allowed my school budget to find room for the lesson book part and I know she is going to love this. She's always asking for "real art lessons" and loves it when I find time to do a drawing lesson with her but I need something open and go if I want it to happen regularly. I have high hopes!

Tea Time (Composer and Picture Study)

We'll listen to Mozart (Fall) and Vivaldi (Spring) using spotify lists I've made. I'll have the Classical Kids Mozart and Vivaldi cds in the car and at some point we'll go through these two picture books on Mozart and Vivaldi. I also found this on gutenburg so we might read that as well. But mostly just listen as we snack :-) Then we'll do a bit of picture study time. Cezanne in the fall along with this picture book then we'll start the Ambleside Online Rotation.

Not in the schedule

Handicrafts - We just did some weaving and next I think we'll try hand knitting first. I've never done any but it seems easy and I have a ton of yarn lying around that needs to be used. Another option is Paper Sloyd.

Body and Birth stuff - Lucy wants to learn about how a body works and has asked especially, and repeatedly, for a book about the body. I haven't gotten anything yet and was thinking about one of these two Usborne books (not sure what's the difference between them?) but Usbourne books tend to drive me a bit batty with all the words in all the places. I kept looking and recently found a recommendation or two for Big Book about the Human Body by Joe Kaufman so I might buy a used copy of that. And I'm sure we'll be reading a picture book or two about babies and birth soon. Not necessarily the reproductive parts aspect, just the general having a baby stuff.

Literature - We won't be adding any addition reading material into the school part of our day yet. We read a chapter book at naptime and bedtime in addition to each child's picture book choice (plus whenever the kids ask throughout the day). I always have a list in my head of the next few chapter books I want to get to. We just finished up More Milly Molly Mandy (which we loved!) and my choices for next include:

-Little Pear and Friends (we loved the first)
-A Bear called Paddington
-Sarah Plain and Tall
-Winnie-the-Pooh (a repeat, we haven't read it front to back since Jonah was a baby)
-My Father's Dragon (another repeat, for Jonah especially, if I can manage to find my copy)
-No Children, no pets
-Another Astrid Lindgren series?

Habit Training - Trusting Mom/Listening to our Body/Making Mistakes

This is actually my biggest goal for the fall but its hard to quantify exactly. So far Lucy has been setting the pace for things but when we start "Kindergarten", she'll be learning that I say when we start and, more importantly for her, I say when we stop. The stopping part has been a big issue lately. She just wants to go and go until either her body is worn out (hand cramping, rubbing her eyes, etc) and gets upset if I say we are done for the moment OR if she comes upon something she isn't immediately perfect on, she'll run out of the room in a fit. This is an issue with non-school stuff just as much as school.  I'm not saying that we'll be a slave to a lesson. If I see she needs a break, we'll take one but I don't like her getting in the habit of stopping math every time she gets a question wrong or doesn't understand something.  I've been calling her back and making her finish the question she starts so we can end on a happy note. Of course, once she gets it right, she doesn't want to stop so then we have the first battle! We've had several talks about trying and learning and what exactly "practice" is for as well as talking about listening to our body's clues (if we are "writing" a note and our hand hurts, lets stop and finish it later) and she's starting to get it but she's a perfectionist and its hard for her. So, well, we'll practice! And I'm on the lookout for a cute timer to help make the whole thing a bit less emotional.


On to the Third!

Trimester, that is. Physically speaking, the glorious second trimester wasn't quite as glorious as I was hoping for but I've been slowly creeping down my dose of Zofran and am currently on day 2 of none at all. This isn't my first attempt to get it completely out of my system but I'm hoping this time it will be for good. Either way, I can say I should certainly be done with it in 13 weeks or so! I'm also counting down my blood tests and shots. The guys at quest now greet me as a familiar face but I should only have to see them 5 more times!

And there is other good stuff too. Baby is kicking a ton and both kids have felt it now. Jonah wanted to for a while but has zero patience so if the baby didn't kick within about 9.5 seconds of his putting his hand down, he gave up. But he was snuggled on my lap a few days ago and the baby kicked. His jaw dropped and he responded with a "Hey! Dat baby kicked me!" and then he laughed and laughed. Lucy loves to sit next to me and talk to the baby. It's a lot of fun being pregnant with preschoolers around.

Here's a 26 week belly shot

And a 26 week baby shot.

I'm not sure I should post those together, one is definitely cuter than the other. If you've been around this blog for a while, you might be surprised to see an ultrasound picture. We don't normally do ultrasounds and I've never had a late one but I had a few specific concerns so we changed things up. Everything checked out just fine and baby is even cuter than I imagined. 

Bonus: Baby toes!


Z is for Zoo!

We went to the Zoo last week and spent over three hours visiting the new polar bear, differentiating between all the different penguins and puffins and exploring the herpetarium. Then we read Zin, Zin, Zin, A Violin and A Sick Day for Amos McGee (which doesn't have a Z in the title but is about a Zoo and as one of my favorite modern books, we couldn't possible skip it) and today was our last tea time to finish up Museum A-B-C with a page about zig-zags.

And with that, Lucy's preschool years are over. Kinda. We are doing a light kindergarten year but I still don't consider it "real school," with all the pressure on the mom to actually get it done, until first grade. And I'm not having to pack her a lunch and put her on the bus so no tears yet.

But before we talk about kindergarten,we need to wrap up preschool! As I mentioned here, we followed Elizabeth Foss's Along the Alphabet Path guide. Looking back on my excessive plans, we did pretty much what I set out to do. With the exception of the worst of the worst of hyperemesis, we kept up with table time (although we combined breakfast and lunch table times into a mid-morning, no food table time to leave me free to address Jonah's food throwing issue - an ongoing battle) and a weekly/semi-weekly tea time with our art book.

Some weeks we did several fun activities to go with our letter, some weeks we did whatever fun activity we wanted but often I was able to stretch it to make the letter fit anyway, and other weeks we just read the fairy story and poem and a picture book or two. We discovered lots of great picture books, enjoyed a variety of poems, and sang many fairy songs. We did a great job of going outside and exploring new places like parks and museums. And we spent so much time outside. So while this year hit me with more healthy issues and struggles that I expected, looking back, I think we did pretty good!

With each letter, Lucy would make a page with the letter and drawings of things that began with that letter. I loved watching her drawings and writing improve over the year. I didn't do nearly as good a job at documenting what we did this year (other than my post for the letter A and B) as I did last year for Worlds of Learning so I want to take those papers and find a way to put it together into a book (maybe have it comb bound at a teacher supply store?).

I do hope we get to do the Alphabet Path again. Lucy was three when we started Worlds of Learning and while Jonah is turning 3 this fall but doesn't need anything structured at all. He's just such a different kid. If he's up for it the next year when he's 4, it would be fun to do Worlds of Learning with him and that would leave us a year to do the Alphabet Path again before he starts first grade. Those plans are very loose but I do like the idea of revisiting this "curriculum" because it was a lot of fun!


A K-drama update

I'm way way behind in rating my k-dramas so these "reviews" are probably going to be pretty short and sweet and I'm just hoping I remember everything I watched.

Marriage Not Dating - 4 stars

This show is a wonderful example of how you don't need a crazy innovating plot to have a good rom-com (although if your the Hong Sisters I say go for it!). Well developed characters and solid writing and bam - 4 stars!

Secret Hotel - 3

This was a weird mish-mash of murder mystery and rom-com. Had the potential to be cute but spun its wheels in the plot department and didn't end up doing either very well.

Pinocchio - 3.5

I enjoyed this at the time but now that it's been a few months, I don't think I remember a whole lot about it. Despite my love of both main actors, it was just kinda there. I do remember that I liked the main couple and loved the scenes with the family. But the show was mostly about their work. Not bad but not amazing.

What's with this family - 3.75

This is a family drama. Which means its long and slow. I won't take any stars off for that because when you watch a family drama you know what you are getting yourself into. You just have to feel free to fast forward the story lines you don't like which in this case was the in-laws. I did wish my favorite story line, which appeared to be the main one at the beginning, got a bit more screen time. I also have to say that had I known what this would be about, I wouldn't have watched it. Just so you all know, it's about a father who finds out he is dying of cancer and how he choose to live his last few months with his family....so not my personal favorite topics for a relaxing hour of tv watching. But once I found out that part, I was already pretty far in so I stuck with it and I'm glad I did. I enjoyed it and its realistic but sweet ending. For me the best part was that it was realistic. It's not that once dad has cancer, everything else in life becomes roses and hearts and love in comparison. The family still struggled with all the different relationships and family dynamics (I loved the youngest brother's girlfriend and the other brother's new wife struggling to get along) and emotions. But they also realized what mattered. The dad's goal was to use his time to impart his last few life lessons and teach them to enjoy life and it took 50 hours of screen time but he somehow managed to do it.

Healer - 5 stars

Healer, you complete me. No seriously, this is drama crack. When you start watching dramas live, you have to take your chances. Sometimes shows let you down and other times you remember why you love dramas so much. I have a lot to say but I'll try to refrain myself from just gushing for paragraphs on end.

I didn't start watching it at the very start because I don't think it was well marketed. An errand boy action show? But I'm so glad I listened to the hype and picked it up a weeks later. It was nice to be able to binge watch it. It's very similar in style to City Hunter, which I also loved, but with a slightly less complicated plot and more time spent on the relationships. Not just the OTP, although its a great OTP, but the main character and how he re-enters the world. Lots of tension but not a lot of angst with just the right amount of humor thrown in - at the right moment too.

I love all other characters two - the dad, adjussi, ahjumma who is every k-drama every (seriously, what kinda of role has that lady not played!), the clueless co-worker. The second male lead and how he fit into the story is something I wish more k-dramas did. 2nd male leads don't just have to follow the female lead around looking mopey! Even the bad guys were great in an awesomely scary but not ridiculous way.

But back to the OTP. They were pretty awesome. Park Min-Young was great. It actually took my into the 2nd or 3rd episode to realize she was the same female lead from City Hunter. I didn't think she was bad in that although I know others thought she was kinda flat there. This show just gave her a lot more to work with I think and she delivered. I think the whole k-drama world is sad that Ji-Chang Wook has not done more stuff because he was amazing in this and nobody really wants to watching Bachelor's Vegetable Story just to be able to see more of his acting. I loved their relationship and how it developed. I'm guessing if you could check viki/drama fever stats you'd see that the beginning of episode was watching at lesat 3-4 times as much as the rest of the show. But being a k-drama, that means its a cut-away - which implies there is something to cut away from. Other than that its pretty clean and still action packed but less violent than City Hunter which I did like (mostly just the 1st and last episode of City Hunter). And I didn't have an issue with the City Hunter ending because I have an imagination but this one was more satisfying. I could have seen another hour of just show cuteness but that's because its pretty much perfection. I even liked the slighty corny soundtrack and if Craig calls me, I get to listen to it a bit more. Okay, I think I got the Healer addiction out of my system.

Hyde, Jeykl, Me - 2.5 stars

Only my love of Hyun Bin kept me watching this to the end. Luckily, he played two characters so we saw him a lot. Unluckily, the female lead was awful and the writer didn't seem to know what the point of the show was. And what a waste of Sung Joon's talent.

Superdaddy Yeol - 2.5

 No. Just no. I don't even know what this show was trying to do. It had its cute moments, but then they would be followed by the main character being a horrible human being. To her own young daughter. All because she loved her so much? And why is it cute to show a woman being violent towards a man? Hint: It's not. If you complain about the amount of wrist grabs in the k-drama field, you should be just as appealed by this.

Girl Who Sees Smells/Sensory Couple - 4

Despite the name, this show is not nearly as weird as one might think. It's another cop procedural/rom-com. This show did the rom-com part really well. The main couple is adorable and I loved the way their relationship developed. So sweet and realistic. And the seeing smells and sensory part, which could easily have gone all weird sparkly vampire, was actually really well done. In fact, I almost wish there was more of it. The cop part, not so much. It was just a little ridiculous how inept this crime fighting team was, especially when they had been put on the case of a high profile serial killer. That said, I was totally in it for the rom-com so I was able to overlook the logical flaws and enjoy the cuteness. All the cuteness!


Lucy's Art

I won't try to hide the fact that this is a total mommy brag post. But I just took a bunch of pictures of Lucy's recent art work to save for posterity's sake and I figured if you have, either in the past or currently, the same last name as me, you might enjoy seeming them too.

This was a story picture and the story that went with it was quite extensive. It involved a fox that had eaten a hen and then some pirates (she said she didn't know how to draw pirates so those are the two angular line people in the middle towards the top) who were following it's path looking for treasure, that I believed turned out to be cheese. The purple is Jonah's unwelcome contribution.There was also a castle but I'm not sure how it was involved. I actually couldn't quite follow the plot because she was telling it quickly and it was lengthy but I'm sure she could repeat it if you asked.

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She does lots of what I call "Classic girl art" with rainbows and flowers and princesses. This one is mostly funny because it's her, as Princess Rapunzel with lots of hair (far left) a couple of other princesses (two on the right) and her real life friend "M", who she "didn't draw as pretty because she's just a girl in this picture, not a princess. So she's pretty, but not as pretty as me". I don't think we'll be sharing this particular picture with "M."

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A scene from Phantom of the Opera. And judging by all the empty chairs at the bottom, not a very popular performance (or maybe just rehearsal?)

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More flowers and hearts, plus a camel? and her "fancy letters" which are usually so fancy that I can not in fact, read them.

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Some fairies. One of which is just learning the subtle art of lipstick.

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The arch. Which we all know, she loves dearly

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And to be fair I had to include one of Jonah's. He's more into modern art these days.

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